Merciful Nuns this year released their eleventh opus in history. Driven by Artaud Seth –who will be always connected to The Garden Of Delight, “Kvltan” is a new and fascinating production wherein the band composed a sonic fusion between different music genres. Somewhere in between Industrial, Gothic and Psychedelic the album released on Solar Lodge stands for a totally accomplished and professional production. Dark atmospheres and powerful sound blasts will lead the listener to explore the origins of all earthly existence. I talked about it all with Artaud Seth.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Merciful Nuns is now active for more than ten years and can look back at a true accomplishment. Can you draw up the balance sheet of this successful story? What have been the main satisfactions versus the biggest frustrations/disappointments?
Artaud: There is no frustration at all. It’s all about art and doing what I want to do. And I love what I do. I also have the privilege that people listen to me. So all about the Nuns is a positive thing for me.
Q: When getting back to your first album “Lib. I” which was strongly influenced by one of your favorite bands (cf. The Sisters Of Mercy) and you next listen to your newest opus “Kvltan” I can only but affirming the band went through a serious evolution. How do you perceive and analyze this evolution as artist(s) and band? How much of the early songs do you still recognize in “Kvltan”?
Artaud: Of course, “Kvltan” sounds a lot different than “Liber I”. Although I still love this album to this day.The original idea to make an album like “Liber I” was to sound like bands from the mid 80’s. Actually, it was supposed to be just one album. I had no idea that it would end up being so successful. And then it went on. But just writing such, rather simple songs on and on is not enough for me in the long run. That could have been a bit more complex.AboutThe Sisters Of Mercy, they had some good numbers, especially older songs. At the latest after “Floodland” I was out. They became more and more of a simple MTV Rock-Pop thing. It’s strange that a band that hasn’t released anything new in 30 years is still relevant.
Q: Let’s talk about the new work “Kvltan”. How did the album come true? How did you prepare this work and what have been the different stages to achieve this work?
Artaud: To be honest after “Anomaly” I actually thought I was empty and burned out, and that I couldn’t write anything new. Obviously, I was wrong. In addition, someone died here at the Lodge and a deep sadness and melancholy lay over everything. All together were probably the reasons for the decision at that time. Maybe I just needed a break to regenerate. But afterwards you are always wiser than before. Incidentally, “Black Halo” was not originally planned as a Merciful Nuns-EP. I was actually trying out a few new things for a new project, but then quickly realized that it sounded very similar. I then asked myself whether I really couldn’t think of anything new. And suddenly the concept of the origin of all came to me. Actually, that was the logical consequence of all my themes: going back to the origin.
Q: I can’t get away from the idea that you’re a perfectionist in the production of your music but still about the entire ‘concept’ and artistic part of Merciful Nuns. How do you perceive yourself and how exigent are you with your own creation? What have been the main difficulties and challenges in the production of Kvltan XI”?
Artaud:It’s also important to me that we sound good. That’s why I attach great importance to a good engineering and mixing production. Writing an album like “Kvltan” takes forever. I worked on it for over a year. And that every day. For “Liber I” it took a month. This has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t use factory sounds. All the sounds you hear on “Kvltan”, whether synths, drums, guitars or bass sounds, have all been reinvented. This is extremely time-consuming. But in the end you have your own, incomparable sound. And that’s important to me.
Q: No need to say “Kvltan” and the entire artwork of the album reflect your fascination for rites and occultism. What are the threads of the new album? And do you think there’s any possible connection between rites plus occultism and the world we’re actually living in?
Artaud:I would call myself an agnostic. That is, as someone who does not believe in any god or deity that we know of, but still assumes that there is something undefined we have no explanation for. All my work will always incorporate the mother of all questions: Where do we come from (as a species)? And where are we heading (humankind)?
The philosophical aspects in my lyrics and conceptual art are those which surround me generally. Ancient advanced cultures like the Sumerians, Egyptians, Maya and their adoration for divinities from ‘beyond’ always appear to me as an effigy of the future. By now I have arrived at the inescapable conviction that we have already been visited by these so called advanced cultures. Nowadays these visitors are worshipped as God or Gods by us.
Q: Because of the ongoing pandemic artists were no longer able to play live. How did you experience this situation and how important is it to play live? How do you prepare live shows and what do you need to speak about a great performance?
Artaud:These are tough times right now. At least compared to what our generation has experienced so far. The current political-, economic- and pandemic situation is fatally reminiscent of the 1920s to 1940s. And those were certainly not good years. We learned nothing, absolutely nothing from them. In addition, we are destroying our basis of life, nature, sustainably. Man is naive, not capable of learning and simply too stupid to realize that we are slowly but surely wiping out ourselves. Also, I’m tired of all the power-crazed autocrats. Maybe we should only put power in women’s hands. I am sure that the world would then be significantly more peaceful, loveable and worth living in.
Of course it is important for us to play live. Fortunately, Omikron is no longer as dangerous as its predecessors and the whole thing is slowly starting to roll again. We have a lot to do: concerts, festivals, a kind of split EP… I hope the pandemic situation stays reasonably stable. Or better, at best.
A good concert? We always try to get a good balance between music, lighting concept and visuals. The overall mood has to be right. Then we are satisfied.
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