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Interview

KYLE MORGAN: nomadic maniac behind ASH BORER, SUPERSTITION, & VANUM pushing American black & death metal into the next frontier

Ash Borer is a name that seems to have been lurking through the Pacific Northwest for an infinitely long time, with appeal and demand for booking from all corners of the regional heavy metal world, and even beyond.

It should come then, as no surprise, that the mind behind Ash Borer is one capable of great and intriguing variety, from punishing black metal, to meditative soundscapes, to introspective cascadiæ, caustic death metal, and even releasing as art.

Having twice welcomed Kyle Morgan to Vancouver in both Ash Borer and Superstition, we figured it was time to better understand the influences and aspirations behind one of the leading minds and one of the most prolific people modern American metal.

Kyle: no one seems to really know where you are from- or at least I can’t tell anymore. Can you settle this for me, and give a brief timeline of where your projects have been situated? I feel like my chronology is all kinds of fucked up.

I’ve moved around the country at a maddening pace for the last 10 years or so, with projects arising in every location. Between 2007 and 2012 I was in the upper reaches of the California Coast working on ASH BORER and CEREBRATE. Since then I’ve primarily been haunting Northern New Mexico other than a brief relocation back to the Pacific Northwest in 2014-15. PREDATORY LIGHT was formed in NM in 2013, though has partial membership in the PNW as of 2014. VANUM was conceptualized as early as 2010, but materialized in a more physical capacity in 2014 with myself in the PNW at the time. SUPERSTITION is the newest project that I’m involved with, formed in 2017 in New Mexico.

In 2016, Ash Borer released The Irrepassable Gate to the all but unanimous consensus that the band had released its masterwork. Now, with two years to reflect on the album, and the fall out there from, did the album complete its desired effect?

I am extremely proud of that release – it is the culmination of everything we have wanted to do as a band since we formed nearly a decade ago. Compared to earlier works it is a bit of a shift in tone towards a more overtly malevolent din, without sacrificing the explosive, dynamic nature that has always defined our sound.

When we started the band, most of us were in our late teens or early 20’s and in some ways lacked clarity in terms of what we were hoping to accomplish with the project, which served us just fine at the time, as what we lacked in vision we more than made up for in feral intensity. Which in my opinion is what makes our very early releases most successful (of course, there are some good riffs there as well!). However, over time it becomes necessary to distill this huge range of influences and ideas to its essence, which in my opinion is what The Irrepassable Gate is. It is the sound of Ash Borer: what we were chasing all along.

Both Cold Of Ages and The Irrepassable Gate have titles with an almost onomatopoeic effect in regards to the sound. COA is severe, cutting, (obviously) cold, and with a very shrill tone to it. TIG, on the other hand, has a majestic, deep, rich sound, and an ominous overtone that definitely makes it feel like there is no turning back. Talk to me about what happened between these albums that allowed, and made way, for the differences between them.

I tend to think of Cold of Ages as our “true” black metal record. Earlier releases had explored a more melancholic and hazy sound, still rife with harrowing darkness but not as an exclusive focus. When writing for COA we were more interested in exploring and expanding upon the darker, colder aspects of the band, as well as to deny ourselves the pleasure of easy musical payoffs to some degree (in terms of warmer passages and huge dynamic shifts primarily). It was also written and recorded during a particularly bleak winter, which certainly forced its way into the songs themselves.

For most of the members of Ash Borer, the 4 years or so between COA and The Irrepassable Gate were heavily focused on touring as well as seeing many other projects to fruition. Going back to the previous question, while focusing on so many other projects slowed the writing process down a bit, it also contributed to the distillation of the Ash Borer sound. Certain sonic characteristics, types of riffs, chord progressions, etc. couldn’t just be lazily thrown into the mix to provide us with enough material for an LP, instead we had to really spend time thinking on what makes Ash Borer “Ash Borer” beyond just a collection of riffs and drum patterns. This process necessitated a longer gestation period for the album as we have no desire in rushing things or putting out an album that we aren’t 100% satisfied with.

In terms of the sound of the records differing, we have always demanded of our recording engineers that an album’s production suits the atmosphere of the material, and have in depth discussions as a group about the more esoteric end of sound prior to beginning tracking, even if that results in an unorthodox sound compared to whatever production trends are in vogue at the moment. As you mentioned, the material on COA is sharp and severe, so it required a matching production, while TIG has what is essentially the opposite approach to production, again matching the material. We avoid working with engineers who have a specific sound associated with them, preferring to work with individuals who can also immerse themselves in the material and make calculated production choices that fit the music. No discussion about this end of the band (or any of my projects really) would be complete without raising a glass to Andrew Oswald who has recorded most of our material, as well as Randall Dunn who recorded TIG.

Going a little further back in time, the Predatory Light full length was released shortly before that to a great reception as well, but the band didn’t seem to capitalize on that wave of momentum with festival appearances. Were you busy with Ash Borer during this time?

We did do a fair bit of touring around the release, though limited only to the Western US. There was a small DIY tour of the SW/Southern California/Mexico, followed by a performance at Eternal Warfare festival and a short tour back through California with Mortuary Drape. We’ve since done another small tour of the PNW and a festival in Texas as well. All performances were well received and the MD13 shows in particular were insane.

While we have not managed to do very extensive touring outside of the Western US, the project isn’t going away any time soon and will continue to tour and release new material as time and logistics allow.

What is going on with Predatory Light now?

We’re (slowly) working on material for a new release. No specific timeline exists for that as of now but based on the rehearsals we’ve had I expect this to be the most psychotic and psychedelic material to date!

Another horribly demented project with which your involved is Vanum. There is a lot of ways to approach questions regarding Vanum, but I want to spend some time on the lyrics here. Whereas Ash borer’s lyrics are not easily available, and Predatory Light’s are heinous, short, punishing vignettes, Vanum’s lyrics and grand, verbose, and bearing an almost royal majesty to them. What is the essence channeled in to Vanum, and what are the influences (music or beyond) that are exclusive to Vanum, and left from your other projects?

As opposed to other projects which all have their own lyrical/thematic focuses, the lyrics for Vanum are meant to be victorious and empowering, rather than dark/frightening/evil. They focus on the individual’s place and potential within a world where myth still lives. A huge range of thematic influences exist, but Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell are two writers that are frequently referenced. It’s also worth mentioning that I am not the primary lyricist in Vanum so for a much more in depth look at Vanum’s lyrical inspirations and the philosophies behind them there are several other interviews out there with Michael Rekevics that explore this more fully.

Musically, Vanum is heavily influenced by the more triumphant and tragic sound of early black metal, with an emphasis on exploring the melodic commonalities that tie so many of our favorite records together, despite them coming from different places and different times. The early Hellenic sound, Bathory (Blood Fire Death in particular), and early Eastern European cults all share similar melodic sensibilities to my ears, and are the primary music influences on Vanum, at least in terms of other metal bands. That said, I rarely sit down with the goal of writing anything that sounds specifically like any of that, my goal is always to write a song that sounds like Vanum,but those are common points of reference for what we’re doing.

As outsiders, there is perhaps some confusion, or at the very least association, in many minds between Psychic Violence, Vrasubatlat, and Fallen Empire. Can you walk us through some history and context?

Psychic Violence started in 2010, initially with the sole intention of releasing the debut Ash Borer record on tape, as we were not affiliated with any outside labels at the time. Of course it has grown since then, and now is somewhat active on a consistent basis in order to showcase the exploits of like-minded conspirators and collaborators. This year we have released music by Vilkacis, A Story of Rats, Turia, and Sanguine Eagle, with more to come relatively soon.

R.F. of VT is a close friend and bandmate in one project, and Michael from Fallen Empire is a personal friend as well, but on the label end of things VT/FE/PV don’t have much to do with each other outside of the odd split release or performance in which bands from both rosters play together. One exception is that recently Fallen Empire has been brokering records at a pressing plant in the US, we’ve gone through them for a few releases now (as has VT I believe), but that’s a business relationship rather than an artistic or esoteric one.

Psychic Violence has an impeccable look and feel, clearly releasing only high quality, and carefully curated releases. Tell us what you look for in a project before you put your name on it.

I don’t take submissions and tend to only release music created by a small number of friends and collaborators. If a project is going to be of any interest to me in terms of releasing their music, it is created by people I already have a close personal bond with, and who’s music I have already expressed interest in. In terms of the aesthetic, I have fairly uncompromising (also limited) aesthetic interests when it comes to this sort of music, so I choose to work with artists who share a similar vision and don’t mind me being involved with the design end of things, as it is important to me for my releases to have a fairly consistent appearance, with respect to different artists of course. I stay out of the way in terms of guiding anything sonically as I respect my artists’ musical process and wouldn’t be working with them if I had any doubts about the quality of their output.

One of the worst kept secrets in the metal underground world is that you play in Superstition. When the demo dropped recently, it fucked MANY people directly in the ass (myself included), and though I try to stay away from blatant comments in an interview, we’ll just go ahead and call it a masterpiece. Let’s really zoom in on this one- specifically what old school releases are influential for the band (’cause it sounds like it came out in 1988), and what’s up next?

Ha! Thanks (I think). The reception to Surging Throng of Evil’s Might has been overwhelmingly positive across the board, and we’re very excited to continue spreading our plague across the globe with more tours and releases planned for the not-too-distant future.

Our primary influences are strictly limited to very early death metal from the Americas. Specifically, Necrovore, Morbid Angel (mainly Altars/Abominations), Incubus, Nocturnus, Mortem, Sepultura, etc. are major points of reference. For most of us this just happens to be the style of death metal that we’re most interested in listening to, and happens to be one that is hugely underrepresented these days, at least in the US where everyone is (currently) obsessed with mimicking early Finnish and Swedish bands. Of course we are also inspired by the likes of Goblin, Coil, Klaus Shulze, etc. in terms of creating a haunting sense of space for music to exist within, and those projects are hugely influential to the synth/ambient based material on the demo.

As for what’s coming next, we’re intensively writing for an upcoming LP that will come out on 20 Buck Spin. By the time this interview is public there will also be a new promo tape that you can buy of 2 new songs that will be on the LP in non-demo form. Plenty of touring with follow the release of the LP next year.

To close things, could you please tell us what does the rest of 2018, and 2019 hold for a man with so much on the go?

On the creative front, Vanum will have a new full length coming out in the Winter, either late 2018 or more likely early 2019, which will be followed by a sizable European tour in the Spring of 2019, as well as North American performances throughout the year. As mentioned above both Superstition and Predatory Light are writing for future releases that will be out in the not too distant future. As for Psychic Violence, we’re about to send the Sanguine Eagle dual LP releases to press, which are an absolutely monumental pairing of records. Easily some of the best black metal to come out in the last few years. Everything besides that has to stay under wraps for the moment.

Thanks and hails to Sebastian and The Covenant!


ASH BORER

VANUM

SUPERSTITION

PREDATORY LIGHT

PSYCHIC VIOLENCE

Categories
Interview

BÖLZER front-man Okoi Jones challenges controversy, reveals the source of inspiration, and will never surrender!

We here at Covenant, like many others, were utterly spellbound the first time we heard Bölzer. One resonant strike from the ten-string guitar, one primordial howl, and our hearts were instantly seduced.

The last four years have seen Bölzer appear near and far, bringing their singular two-piece magic to stages in five continents, release records both endearing and polarizing, and receive both the ire and admiration of the extreme metal world.

In 2017, Bölzer came to Vancouver, Canada (the home of our operations) for the second time to appear at Covenant Festival III, and in a swift lightning flash, entranced our festival with their work.

Having run into the duo around the world several times and host them now twice in our city developed a strong camaraderie and mutual respect between Bölzer and the Covenant. When we launched the magazine side of our operation a number of months ago, one of our first goals was to interview either one of these barbarians. In a characteristically candid chat, we’re happy to present to you Okoi Jones’ musings on the source of their inexorable power, neutrality in creation,  past controversies … and adult beverages.

People love to talk, and, however unfortunate, negative topics seem to interest the majority of them more than positive ones. In the meantime, Bölzer just keeps on smashing everything in its path, and moving on to the next target. You guys are now well-travelled men, so tell us- how is the world domination coming?

Hahaha hey Seb, nice to speak with you again!

Well things have not slowed for us this year with the band seeing many successful appearances on various continents and a further number of larger festivals debuted! 2019 is looking up to be a busy one too with new releases planned and fresh Terra Nova to traverse!

It has now been almost 2 years since the release of your long awaited full-length Hero. The great sonic shift, inevitable controversy, and a subsequent rise to power … While, some fans experienced the ridiculous heavy metal phenomenon of “betrayal” at any unorthodoxy, others found a great treasure in the album. It seems to have been a well-executed visionary decision on your parts!! Now that you’ve had time to ruminate and reflect in this recent time of silence … did all go as planned?

Haha you certainly lend a tantalising element of drama to the truth! Thank you?! I think it fair to say I/we simply wrote what seemed appropriate at the time, which was a rather turbulent period for me personally. I intentionally wandered into some new territory prior to entering and whilst in the studio with the intention of challenging myself and in order to ruffle a few proverbial feathers on the way. Wealth or knowledge seldom befall the indifferent and it was a stimulating experience to experiment with other tones for a change. So yes, overall a successful venture by our terms!

Thematically Bölzer seems to wield a mythical voice shouting at the heavens in ritual and lament! While you’ve evolved towards a more formless atavistic lens with each release, are you longing for a more heroic age? What would that look like to your mind’s eye?

The state of this world and its inhabitants ought to be inspiration enough for any conscious person to want to change something. I am increasingly convinced it is a perverse and tasteless dream I am living, hence the escapism via art.

I am far from succumbing to nihilism mind you, the dutiful call of action in the interest of change remains the noblest of causes. Call me a hopeless romantic but anything else would be surrender in my book. A vast majority of our society have no real reason to live aside from earning and consuming, a good healthy dose of hardship and unrest is the best that could happen to them.

The power in your live presence is nothing short of shamanic! Ancient, potent symbols clash with triumphant sounds and mighty delivery. It’s practically a tribal initiation into manhood … Meanwhile, your albums are full of arcane whispers and tones, adorned with art reminiscent of cave drawings … tell us more about your connection to this primordial current and where is it taking the music next?

Sebastian, seducer of hearts…!

A large part of me feels inseparably bound to the past, it is where my spirit seeks solace amidst a present age it understands but simply does not respect. There is something in me, I dare say in all of us that wishes to sing, dance, create (indeed, live!) – and music is the medium with which I manage to express a limited number of these desires with certain degrees of success and satisfaction.

Music carries me away to beautiful places of might and splendour, but it also allows me to experience emotions and visions of a violent nature which reality or its circumstances would refuse me. I can only expect our music to become more potent and honest as this is certainly my intention.

Your lyrics in Bölzer are always short, concise, poignant vignettes. This may be a difficult thing to trace, as it is both something preternatural and intrinsically subconscious, but what artists (musicians, authors, or otherwise) influence this style of speech and expression for you?

This may strike you as strange, ignorant or egotistical, although it would be far from the truth, but I try to remain somewhat neutral or immune as to what influences me when writing, at least on a conscious level. This is essentially a futile exercise given the preternatural and intrinsically subconscious factors, as you so aptly put it, we are subjected to when consuming or registering any form of sensory stimulation. Suffice it to say, I am more influenced by the forces that nature and the animal kingdom display than I am by the nobler deeds of man.

One thing that I really dislike is seeing an artist made to explain themselves. For me, art is meant to be something that transcends mundane interaction and dynamic, so when an artist is forced to explicitly delineate their motives, or thought process, they are intrinsically dragged down in to an uncomfortable plane. You’ve been made to explain yourself a lot recently. Has this changed the dynamic on the way you view Bölzer, and on how people view you?

I could not agree with you more dear Sir! Unfortunately free speech would dictate that also the crudest of minds be given a voice on matters which far exceed their expertise or sensibilities.

I have little against being confronted in a mature manner, but when no regard is shown for the principals of rational debate because the plaintiff is simply incapable of doing so, I switch off.
If anything, it has sharpened my tongue and improved my strength of character.

The world of the internet is a very strange one, and enables people to say a lot of things that they wouldn’t dare in the flesh. It is no surprise to you I’m sure that there are people with things to say about Bölzer online, but have any of these interactions ever transpired in real life?

Haha never, which is rather unfortunate I find, for I should like to shake the hand of a man so honest!

Heavy metal, and otherwise dark, emotive, spiritual music seems to be in this incredible flow-state, where well-informed labels have their niche cornered, great bands have their sound dialed in, and another magnificent release seems to drop on the daily. Do you struggle to keep up with what is coming out? What is catching your ear right now?

I do not make much of an effort to keep up with everything, but anything worth listening to usually makes its way to my ears eventually. Besides, when you miss something relevant it is all the more enjoyable being able to celebrate it without feeling like you are part of the crowd!

I try to refrain from naming specifics because there are often so many but Anna von Hausswolff is superb as are Drab Majesty! I have been keeping up with Enslaved for years now too because they are so good, otherwise digging Whoredom Rife and the latest yet unreleased albums from Obliteration and Paysage d’Hiver

Now, to finally address something important… it is no secret that yourself and Fabian are both fans of fermented barley and hop beverages. Surely the chance to travel as widely as you guys have has lead to some interesting discoveries on this front. Walk us through some highlights here.

Haha that is a hard one, there are simply too many and if you frequent decent bars at home or abroad there is no choice but to be inundated with godly juices.

I often select my beers according to mood or season and if that was not capricious enough there are young breweries kicking up a storm in the scene every month making it very difficult to favour any select names. Nevertheless we were recently blown away by the craft beers available in Lisbon. Portugal is well known for it’s Sagres/Super Bock monopoly and we had been served the stuff since entering the country 3 days earlier so it was a real pleasure roaming around the industrial district in search of institutions independent of Anheuser-Busch. Quimera Brewpub, Dois Corvos Cervejeira and The Beer Station are all highly recommended, offering world class beverages (brewed on site!) and plenty of great tapas with great service to boot.

Thank you again for indulging our over-the-top inquiries, as well as shedding some light onto some deeper (and not so deep!) subjects. Continue the conquest, sir! The final words are yours …

Many thanks for your time, my friend. The endless support you and the Vancouver scene have shown us is forever appreciated! See you on the road soon!


All photos by Shange Lange and Factory Worker Media taken at various Covenant events over the years.

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Festival Interview

KILLTOWN DEATHFEST’s mastermind DANIEL ABECASSIS gives a taste of life on the road and behind the scenes at Europe’s best death metal festival

We first met Daniel Abecassis off Vancouver’s Main St. in a hidden, locals-only bar called The Narrow. It was December of 2013, and we had met to discuss how operating a tour booking agency for underground death metal actually works, and to better understand the logistics involved. Since then he’s taken a few Covenant circle bands on the road, and put them on both of his past festivals.

A lot has happened since that night 5 years ago: Killtown Deathfest has been laid to rest, resurrected, countless tours have taken place with many now-pivotal bands putting their stamp on the old continent, and Daniel Abecassis has been reconfirmed time and time again to be perhaps the most important behind-the-scenes individual in this tight knit, yet massive scene.

We caught up with Daniel to help give our readership and all rabid fans of this genre a better perspective on what he does, and the answers are nothing short of elucidating. Enjoy!

I think we should start with something that will lay some good groundwork for the reader. To a lot of people, the logistics and dynamics of what you do is confusing. Some people think that tours for bands who have a decent following, but may not be tremendously “popular”, are more luxurious than they are. Other people think that these tours are a lot more punk than they are. Can you walk the readers through your process – from the starting point of a tour, to piecing it together, to how an average day on the road would look?

Hey! First off let me introduce myself. My name is Daniel Abecassis and I’m running Killtown Bookings and I’m part of the collective organizing Kill-Town Death Fest (KTDF). I’m based in Copenhagen, Denmark and so is the Killtown Bookings office and the festival.

I had quite a few ideas about touring life – like you mention in your question above – and some of them turned out to be true, but most of them didn’t. A lot of people romanticize touring and tour life, but from my perspective it’s mainly a lot of work, but of course good times and fun too. When I’m on the road I usually work up to 20 hours a day. Usually the day starts early and we get to bed at a very late hour. I drive during the day sometimes just a few hours, but for the most part 6-10 hours per day. Then you arrive at the venue for load in and setting up the stage and then sound check. While the bands are doing that I’m usually trying to catch up on some emails if I have a few hours. Then its dinner time, then doors and then the show. Usually there isn’t much time for sightseeing or walking around the town, so you end up seeing endless kilometres of highways, gas stations, venues and hotels… Not super romantic. And then there is the question about the girls. A lot of people think that there are a lot of girls at shows and that they are always running after the bands… Well maybe I’m in the wrong scene, but there isn’t a lot of girls running after the bands I tour with and not that many present at the shows in general. It is getting better with the male/female ratio, but there is still a long way to go. In general I don’t see a lot of band members hooking up on tour, so girlfriends out there who are really worried about their touring boyfriends (or the other way around) you don’t need to worry that much …

Since I book, drive and tour manage the majority of the tours I book – which is around 10-15 tours a year, I’m usually on the road up to 6 months out of the year. That’s tough and straining both physically and mentally, but I still really love what I’m doing and I’m super passionate about the bands I work with and the culture I’m promoting. I’m very picky with what bands I work with and I always try to curate my roster after the bands I’m listening to at home and that I think deserves more exposure here in Europe. So far I have been really blessed with most of the bands that I’m into contacting me and wanting me to work with them, so I cant complain about how things are going.

I have plans to expand Killtown Bookings more. At the moment I have Andrea Vissol working with me based out of Brussels, Belgium where he is running Killtown Bookings Belgium. There are also ideas to open up a branch in Germany and possibly also a Killtown Bookings North America at some point …

How did everything get started for Killtown Bookings exactly?

Killtown Bookings started after we did the first edition of KTDF back in 2010. Since we were flying in bands from around the world, more and more bands started asking if we could provide touring options for them. I had been booking shows locally since the early/mid 90´s and done my fair share of touring – mainly through the punk/DIY network – so I was familiar with how shit works, but had no real experience as an international tour booker… The first two tours I booked was for Funebrarum (us) + Undergang (dk) and Sonne Adam (il) + Cruciamentum (uk) back in 2011. Both tours went really well despite that I had to figure most things out while booking the tours. Everyone I got in touch with were super nice and supportive and within long I had mapped out the DIY death metal underground promoter scene of Europe. The budgets were very unrealistic cause I had never worked with tours with bigger budgets before but it all worked out fine in the end and all costs were covered and the bands still got to walk home with some cash.

After the pretty good start with some strong names it just took off from there. Daryl Kahan from Funebrarum designed me a logo (based of the KTDF logo) and did a website for me. At that point I had just finished my bachelors degree in political science and history at university, so I was kinda at a crossroad where I had to decide if I would go with the booking or with an academic career. I decided to go with opening my own booking agency and make that my primary work occupation from day one. I was lucky cause it worked out more or less from the beginning and it still does.

Let’s talk about something current. Kill-Town Death Fest has had an aura of mystique and a cult following unlike any other festival in recent memory. When it was laid to rest in 2014, the world cried out that it was all too early, and the plethora of people who did not get to go have grumbled ever since. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, KTDF is back from the dead. Why was this the right time to do this?

 

We decided to quit doing Kill-Town Death Fest back in 2014 due to a couple of different reasons. Mainly we felt that we had achieved what we set out to do which was promoting the best of the contemporary underground death metal scenes of Scandinavia and Europe in general. We had reached a point where in order for us to maintain a high level in our programs we needed to book bands we had already presented earlier on. The UG death metal scene seemed also to take a dive around this time compared to the wave that was happening when we first set out back in 2009/2010. We didn’t want to keep booking the same bands over and over again, so we decided to call it quits while we were ahead.

Last year we had a meeting in our association Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme (Underground Music Promotion) and decided that the time felt right to pick up where we had left off. In the 3 years that had passed when we had the meeting a lot of new and interesting bands had emerged – especially in North America – so we decided to turn our focus towards the North American continent. A lot of really good new, young bands had started putting out demos and releases on some of the labels that we have always worked with like Dark Descent Records, 20 Buck Spin, Profound Lore Records, Parasitic Records and Me Saco Un Ojo to just name a few.

So we set out to book the line up for what would be become “The Resurrection” of Kill-Town Death Fest. Through my booking agency I’m often in contact with a lot of the contemporary bands and David has a lot contacts throughout the world through Undergang and Extremely Rotten Productions, so the line-up came together relatively smoothly being booked mainly while I was on the road where we would communicate online in the KTDF collective. The outcome turned out quite spectacular – also for us. We had a meeting a week before we were supposed to start the announcements and sat down and compiled the whole line-up and wrote it out on paper. Since we had all been scattered and never had time to sit in the same room, the outcome came as quite a surprise to us. It turned out to be really good! We ended up having booked 12 bands from North America – a few old ones, but mainly fresh new young bands that have never played Europe before. Besides the 12 from North America, we have bands from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Australia and of course quite a few Scandinavian and some European bands. There are a few bands that have played before on there, but the majority of them have new releases since they played last time. We have a lot of special appearances from bands that have never played Europe before. Derkéta is a band we have tried to get over since years and I’m really stoked that we are able to host them for their first and so far only Euro performance ever! Also after trying for about 7 years to convince Runemagick to rise from their ionic slumber, we finally managed and can proudly present their first live show since 2005! Also we have the great honor of hosting Mortem from Peru´s first Euro show since 2004! Hyperdontia from Turkey and Denmark will play their first ever show at KTDF and Wormridden will play their first ever Euro show. Other special one off /first Euro performances worth mentioning are Sempiternal Dusk (us), Mortiferum (us), Cemetery Urn (aus), Ascended Dead (us), Triumvir Foul (us), Fetid (us), Scolex (us) and Torture Rack. Necrot will also play their first much anticipated Euro show before embarking on a month long Euro tour. All in all there is a lot of special performances you won’t see anywhere else. And that’s a deeply rooted part of the concept.

Our focus has always been on making a spectacular and varied programme with contemporary live acts from around the globe. We aren’t doing this to make a profit – we just want to promote the best bands that are around plus try to make some unique unforgettable live moments that will hopefully go over in history. Speaking about money – everyone in the organization and the crew working the festival (beside the venue staff) are all volunteers and working 100% for free. None of us in the KTDF collective has ever made a cent – all profit if there is any will proceed towards next years edition. Our motivation is promoting bands from the underground that we think are great and deserves a platform of exposure. That’s what we set out to do back in 2009 when we first started discussing this and hopefully that’s what we have created and achieved. We try to make a festival that isn’t part of the typical festival circuit where the same bands tour around all summer and play all festivals. We are a niche festival that only focuses on UG death metal combined with our Gloomy Sunday concept where we end off the festival with a chjll sesh afternoon/evening with the best of doom/death and funeral doom bands we can dig up.

So can stoners, sludgeheads, and doom worshipers the world over expect a similar reanimation of Heavy Days In Doomtown?

Heavy Days in Doomtown (HDDT) was the sister festival of Kill-Town Death Fest and was put to death back in 2015. It was organized by a different group of people under Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme and I was also part of that collective. The idea to HDDT came about after a trip to Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands back in 2011. After I came home me and my partner in Killtown Bookings at the time Nikolaj Jakobsen agreed to start a DIY doom/stoner/sludge event build after the same model as KTDF. We formed a collective consisting of friends from our immediate circle and was comprised off 2 Danes, 2 swedes and 1 American. We were all living in Copenhagen at the time we started, but after the first two editions the majority of the collective was spread out across the globe again – making it somewhat more complicated to work as a collective. But we continued as we had set out to do 4 editions of the fest based on the 4 elements; earth, water, fire and wind. HDDT I though IV were all huge successes and became larger and more popular than KTDF. Mainly because of the style of the festival which had a much more popular and broad appeal than KTDF.

It was sad to put it down in 2015, but at the same time it opened up for a me to put a lot more focus back on my booking agency. Also the amount of Roadburn copy-cat festivals were exploding so we felt that there was no need for the festival anymore since there were so many good curated festivals out there. Quite the opposite turned out to be the case for KTDF since there are no other (or at least very few) festivals solely dedicated to underground death metal. Every time I was out on a tour people would come up and ask me if or when KTDF would come back. That happened so often and so many times that I started thinking about that there is such a high demand out there for that exact festival concept and that it has a very special place in many people´s lives. For me personally that was one of the main motivations to doing this again along with missing the craziness of being responsible for such a massive production with just a few other people.

As for your question if HDDT will ever return; Never say never, but I have hard time seeing that happening for all the same reasons that we put it down in the first place.

What is the part of all of this that you enjoy the most?…and the least?

I’m a nerd about organization – I love to create events, to curate them, to make them come alive aesthetically, to promote them, to see them flourish and get their own lives and to experience the rush of the actual event itself. I’m not a musician myself and I’m not a person who enjoys being on a stage and center of attention. I prefer to be in the background and make sure that things work out and that everyone is having a good time. I have always been a worker and worked hard with music since I was very young. I have worked since the mid 90´s with stage building, rigging, backlining, security, graphic design, catering and bar-tending – everything that had something to do with music. I also started promoting shows from a very early age – already at 14 I booked my first show with a friend and then just did it on/off from there up through the 90´s, but always very low-fi and very underground. It wasn’t until the early 2000´s that I started doing it more seriously, but always 100% DIY without earning a single cent at any time. The first time I ever made any money with a tour or show was when I opened up Killtown Bookings in 2011 after having been promoting shows at that point since 1993…The downside of this life is that I don’t really have a life… Well I love my life, but there isn’t much time for anything else than work and touring – which is what I do all day every day. Weed and vegan food is what makes all this manageable for me – so if that’s provided at a show – which it usually is since people know me by now – all is good and I have zero complaints!

The list of tours you’ve put together reads like a death metal fan’s wet dream. What was the tour you’ve done that excited you most as a fan?

As mentioned before I try to only work with bands I’m really passionate about. I hate work for the sake of work – I want to curate the bands I work with so there is more to it than just a business transaction – I want to form friendships, to get involved and invested and want to see the bands playing every night. If a band or a tour isn’t like this I loose interest very fast and I really try to avoid that. I don’t like to bring highlight some bands over others, but of course I have crossed path with and been so fortunate to work with bands or people who have really inspired me over the years listening to music. One tour that was very special for me was when Tau Cross asked me to work with them on a tour. I’m a big Amebix fan since I was a young crustie and to work with and being on the road with Rob Miller was a really cool experience. Also having Michel Away from Voivod and Jon from Misery in the van was something that 14 year old me never imagined would happen. I have toured with so many amazing bands over the years and I’m really stoked and proud about the majority of tours I have put together. I’m really fortunate to be able to wake up every day and get to deal with bands whose vinyls are in my collection and spinning om my record player every day.

When you look ten years down the road, what do you envision as part of Killtown’s set up? What are you working towards?

The future looks quite hazy… Not just because of all the heavy weed smoking, but just because life is unpredictable. As I have already mentioned I have always been passionate about music and the music industry – at least to try to change it for the better – so I would have a hard time not seeing myself still working with music. If I don’t then something drastic will have happened and I hope that wont be the case… I just turned 40 and that was a weird milestone to pass, but not much has changed personally in the 25 years I have been involved with music. Im still as passionate and motivated as I have always been, so hopefully it will be the same in another 10 years. A family would maybe slow things down a little and keep me from touring constantly, but there is nothing pointing in the direction of that happening anytime soon… I really hope my taste in music wont get outdated or I will adopt a shitty(er) taste over the years. Would be awful if I would be sitting managing sell-out bands just to make a buck… but again I don’t see that happening ever!

At risk of attracting more business than you can handle, what would be some dream tours for you?

Not sure to be honest… I work with the bands that I care for and my experience is that when bands get bigger the focus change from being a band that loves to play and perform to a focus on money. The more money the better. And then my job is just to sit and make money for a band that isn’t passionate about what they do anymore… That’s of course a bit black and white and of course there are bigger bands that are cool and passionate about what they do, but the bands that aren’t have none of my interest. Of course I hope that some of the bands I work with will rise to prominence and have success because of their music and hopefully also my work. At the moment I work with a couple of bands I see great potential in; Blood Incantation (us) and Slægt (dk). Both fairly new young bands, but both storming forward with massive potential in each their own way. Lets see what the future holds for them (and me…).

Thank you Daniel! You’re doing the devil’s work and we applaud you eternally. You’ve said quite a bit here already, and we think this will be a very important read for ALL underground death metal fans worldwide. So at this point we’ll let you have the last word!

Thanks for the interest in what in I do and for reading through all my gibberish about myself and the stuff I do. Keep an eye out for tours coming across Europe and maybe soon on the other side of the continent. Maybe see some of you out there on the road.
Cheers,
A//E


The Resurrection of Killtown Deathfest is slated for execution on September 6-9, 2018 in Copenhagen at Pumpehuset. It’s been long sold out so if you were hoping to go … well, you’ll just have to kill yourself.

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