EX ANIMO (for ROCK HARD #46)

2018 06 10 185902Ukrajinská metalová scéna je veľmi široká a asi z každého metalového štýlu sa tu nájsť niekoľko kapiel, ktoré výraznejšie prerazili i na svetové pódiá. Možno si niekto Ukrajinu spája s výraznými pohanskými a folklórnymi vplyvmi, no nie je to vždy pravda. Príkladom je aj kapela EX ANIMO, ktorá začínala ako doom metalová formácia, no v priebehu času sa do jej tvorby čoraz viac presadili gotické a symfonické prvky a jej vývoj pokračuje ďalej. Možno sa k tomu hodí aj moderná nálepka dark metal, ale to už nechám na posúdení každého fanúšika. Priznám sa, že s kapelou EX ANIMO sa stretávam po prvýkrát a asi nebudem sám, takže trocha osvety z úst jedného zo zakladajúcich členov Andriya Lunka nebude na škodu.

Interview was prepared by KREMATOR (ROCK HARD #46)

 

Even though the band EX ANIMO functions for 18 years already I admit that I have just recently heard your music for the first time. I would like to ask you to tell us shortly about the history of the band, about the former members and the beginning of the band.
Sure, actually it’s about 15 years I guess but we don’t track the exact number. The band started as an experimental studio project of Victor and Me (Andrew) when we realised we want to record some of our numerous music ideas. So it happened in a shape of self-released “Solitary” album in 2004, there were only two of us working on that record, after we realise us as a band and started shaping the live line-up. That process ended in 2006 or so I believe, in 2007 we gave our first “real” show in Kharkiv. The first line-up included Andrew Lunko, Victor Kotlyarov, Eugeniy Pavlov, Ivan Zhila and Anna Belyakova. Then it was several years of gigging and band members shuffling for different reasons, at the same time we started working on the next record, releasing several songs one by one from time to time, but apparently all collected and recorded material got shaped into the new album only in 2015 when we basically re-recorded from scratch all the ideas we gathered, added a couple of more songs and there we have it, “Neverday” was born. We have a joke that the name perfectly reflects the album creation process which seem to never finish for quite some time.
That’s a very short story of us spending last 15 years as a band.

Your band was founded in 2000. What bands were your inspiration to start your own band? What do you think about current music scene?
Oh, we were real music addicts when it started. Some of the names we admired back then include different genres classics such as Metallica, Pantera, The Gathering, Therion, Tiamat, Moonspell, Anathema, Tristania etc. Some of them are still heavily rotating in my playlists.
Current music scene is way harder to grasp because of the internet, you literally get bombed with dozens of names each month, it’s really hard to memorise the specific ones and track the activity of all those bands.
People changed their listening habits, nobody cares about the whole albums anymore, now it’s more about the specific songs, genres and mood playlists. I don’t consider that as good or bad, it’s just the way it is and we as musicians need to adapt.
Talking about the music itself I like the fact that now releasing your record to the public is way more accessible, there are more people involved into music, more experiments, more ways to be heard which drives the music evolution further.
Mentioning the specific bands, to me the brightest discovery of last several years is Leprous, those norwegians are just killing it when it comes to progressive melodic metal music.

I believe that you had some problems with the stability of members, especially on the post of percussionist and keys player. Why were there such problems and why specifically on these posts?
Yes, I mentioned already the timeframe of “band members shuffling”, mostly it’s related to drummers, fun fact is I’m not even sure I can name all of the people we tried to play with.
It’s hard to tell exactly why this is happening, the kind of music we were playing for the last several years is considered to be “old-school” and not widely popular in Ukraine and especially Kharkiv, so getting the right people on board is a tricky task. Drums is one of the toughest instrument to master so the overall number of drummers “on the market” is already quite low and we have quite a high requirements to the drumming skills in our songs. All of this makes it quite hard to find the right guy or girl, sometimes it took us several months and more.

In the last few years however, the members in the band are stable. How did you achieve that ? What do you do to keep it that way?
I hold their passports and all of them have the GPS locators implanted, haha)))
Well, technically last time we changed the drummer a year ago, so we are still struggling a bit. But in general probably we’ve improved in our skill of finding the right people to fit the way we do things in the band

I read that you did not have a female voice in your band during your beginnings. When and why did you come up with the idea of including one into your band?
I was not even close to be considered a good singer, so the demand in finding the dedicated person with the right skills was there from the beginning, at some point while listening to a couple of candidates we realised that female voice fits very well into music ideas we had in our minds back then.

Your current music style could be described as symphonic melodic dark/doom metal. Did you plan to play this type of genre or did the style evolve after some time?
It’s an ongoing evolution, from the beginning we were not following any specific music genre on purpose, we mostly just do the things that feel right and people label them with genre categories. I consider this a good thing when every next album of the band is somewhat different from the previous one, this means the band is evolving, people are changing so does their music.

Your debut album „Solitary“ came out in 2004, which was 4 years after the band was founded. The next record in form of EP „Souglass“ came out after 6 more years and the second album „Neverday“ after 6 more years. Why are there such long pauses between each record?
Well, I guess we are not very good at doing things fast, haha)
Mostly this is connected to 2 things that I briefly mentioned already, firstly this is not our main activity but rather a hobby, so sometimes we can’t dedicate it as much time as we would like to, and the second reason is various issues with band members shuffling from time to time.

The name „EX ANIMO“ sounds really romantic. Why did you choose it?
We think it’s a good reflection of how we try to compose the music and do the things in general, later we realised that those words are widely used in romantic context, but we couldn’t care less. Maybe at some point people will associate those words with us more than some romantic postcards, rings or whatever, haha

Your lyrics are in english, aren´t you planning on recording something in your mother-tongue ? If not a whole album, what about a bonus song to an album?
There were some ideas about recording a song in Ukrainian someday, but it never got enough priority and passion to make it happen. In general we strongly convinced to produce international content and not limiting the outcome to a specific country or language, especially seeing the absence of wide interest to metal music in Ukraine.

The last album „Neverday“ came out 2 years ago probably on CD´s only. Aren´t you planning on releasing it on a vinyl too? What do you think about this old school way of releasing records?
That can be a nice thing to hang on the wall to show-off to friends, apart from that we don’t see any good reason to focus on that. I would rather welcome the technological progress than deny it, even the CDs are currently nothing more than a nice souvenir, people are willing to get music online.
Fun fact, the only device I was able to use to listen one of our freshly released CDs when we received them in 2016 was my XBOX.
So currently I’m not even sure we’ll have our next album released on CDs.

Before you actually record an album, do you have more songs to choose from and you only include the best on the album, or do you compose exactly as many songs as there are on the record?
Usually when we decide to actively start shaping the new record we have several song prototypes already, then we go with a creative flow and see where it gets us.
There is no plan, we just compose the songs and then stop when we feel it’s enough.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming album?
We are on a pretty early stage right now and have only a couple of drafts, but seeing where things are going I can say for sure that it’s will be somehow different from the “Neverday”. We would like to experiment more with the progressive side of things making the songs less straightforward and simple while preserving the melodic base.

Where does you inspiration come from when you write the lyrics?
Anywhere basically, at some point you realise there is something you wanna say. Inspiration is a combination of real world experiences, life events, books, stories your heard etc. And we try to not only reflect that in words but give it our own personal touch, and this is a very important part.
We always preferred a personal approach to every song, when the words dig into your very heart and make you think, make you feel, bring back your memories. As a lyricist in Ex Animo Julia always tries to imagine telling her own story, imagining what feelings, what words would be the best to describe it and make a listener believe. Moreover, some songs from our new album actually are connected with certain events in her life.2018 06 10 190611

When and how did the cooperation between you and Metal Scrap records start? How long do you cooperate with them and what are your plans for the future?
We started at the beginning of 2016 I guess, so it’s been 2 years now. We’ve started to cooperate in a quite boring and usual way, we were looking for a label and Metal Scrap responded to us with the proposition we agreed on. While there are some things that we would like to do differently next time, in general we satisfied with their work. I’m pretty sure we’ll consider them as one of the options for our next releases.

Ukrainian metal scene is known for its positive relationship with traditions, history, folk instruments and so on. A strong wave of pagan or folk metal are a proof of that. What do you think about this scene ? And how is it viewed in Ukraine in general?
As someone who is not very deep into folk metal I mostly observing this scene from aside. There are a number of bands that I like but one thing I see from time to time with folk bands is they stick to the traditions too much limiting their possibilities to grow and evolve, releasing more or less the same records again and again. I would like to see more open minded folk bands here in Ukraine to give this style a fresh take so people stop consider it as oldschool kinda thing.

What are you going to during the upcoming summer festival season?
Currently we are trying to get us in lineup for some of the Ukrainian festivals, apart from that just do our usual stuff, compose and record new songs, do live shows, seasons don’t influence us that much usually.

Thanks for the interview, the last words are yours.
Thanks for reaching us! We always appreciate any possibility to spread a word about the band and let people know more about what we do.
And for all the metalheads out there, keep on rockin’, support the local bands in your area by going to the local gigs, that’s the thing that makes an impact on the whole metal scene in the end, spreading the metal culture further and returns back to your with cooler gigs, cooler bands and lot’s of great music!

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