The man behind Italian gothic doom two piece Valkiria, Valkus, has a vision for his music. With humble beginnings as a one man band, and rising to his current position over the course of a 15 year career, he has never been short on ideas or execution. He sits down to share his thoughts on their new album, "Here The Day Comes," the thought of life as one long day, and where the Italian metal scene may have gone wrong. Special thanks to Angelo at Scarlet/Bakerteam Records for setting this up.
First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your work.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
Your influences are very broad, including Katatonia and My Dying Bride. What is it about those bands, and others, that inspired you to create music, and what effect do you think they have had on your sound as it is today?
I started playing Black metal in the 90’s, the sound I used to play included melodic parts, then I started to slow down the rhythm of the songs. I am a big fan of the bands you mentioned, in a certain sense they influenced my style mostly at the beginning of the new millennium. It seems to me they lost their primordial gloom, even if they keep on doing good music, but the 90’s “doom feeling” is definitely gone. With H.T.D.C. I also wanted to resurrect those unforgettable sensations.
Your new album, "Here The Day Comes," breaks the day up into seven sections, each represented by a song. How did you come up with this concept?
I began to compose a long, unique song. After a lot of variations the song has been divided into the seven tracks you find on the cd. Therefore all songs are interconnected, so I came up with the idea any songs could represent a single moment of the day, a day that synthesize the entire life. If only we could perceive life just as one long day, everything would be easier.
The artwork for the album is a pure representation of that concept, with the sun rising over the trees. Where did the artwork come from, and who is responsible for the image itself?
Originally I created a cover by myself with a lot of images pasted together. I imagined a room in a cemetery with an old man and a young woman, but after all I wasn’t satisfied with the final result, so we decided to change it in a more impressive one. I found that picture on internet and I immediately felt in love with it, I just added a little photoshop “ice” layer on it. The photographer gave us the right to use the entire series of shoots, so you can find other amazing images like that inside the booklet.
Did you have specific ideas in mind for each stage, and how do you feel that each song fits the time that it was named for?
I used to take my guitar, I had in my mind the concept I wanted to represent, sometimes it was like entering in a sort of trance, my mind was completely separated from the rest of the world. That was all, I just knew every riffs would have created the perfect atmosphere of this strange day. The only exception is the entire beginning of dawn, I started writing it thinking consciously of a quiet introduction, somebody commented that the light break forth vigorously in the dark of night, but in my opinion the day promises to be just as gently as in my "dawn".
We often ask about the challenges for one man bands. I imagine there is a list of challenges and benefits for being a two piece, as well. What are some of the best, and worst, parts of being part of a metal duo?
I started as a one man band even though it was not my intention. I have always looked for capable musicians who could join the band, because I firmly believe that union is strength. So we are willing to add other permanent members in the band, because we believe that sometimes to be two is a limit. Obviously more thinking minds could mean possible disagreements, but I have now developed a foolproof method: in case of divergence I’m the boss, I decide and .. go to hell with democracy!
Traditionally, you haven't used the services of a live drummer for your music. What led to the decision to employ a drummer, and how did Novembre's Giuseppe Orlando come into the fold?
I always asked myself how Valkiria could play with a real drummer, so when Mike proposed to contact Giuseppe Orlando I just answered that it could be cool to have him with us. Giuseppe accepted, so the only step left was booking the studio. He is a very talented drummer, he gave each song a boost. We worked on the drums for one week, we had a drum machine demo, I realized as accurate as possible, so everything was very simple.
You are far from a new band, having been around for 15 years. How would you say labels, distribution outlets, and the pure "business" of music affected your work, from an artistic standpoint?
I've always been making music without thinking of the consequences (searching for a label, distribution, selling…), that’s the most important thing and the reason why, the previous works are downloadable for free on our official site. The opinion of people, whoever they are (fans, journalists or labels) doesn’t affect me very much. I am adamant about this, if I made music influenced by these pressures would be an extreme failure.
After enduring all of those trials and tribulations, all in the name of your music, how would you say the music industry has changed you as people over your career?
The music industry has changed a lot over the last fifteen years with the advent of Internet, that has played in our favour. We never had bonds so we didn’t tie with a label until last year.
We kept up with the promotion evolution, since Internet has spread we caught the ball. In 2001 we created our official website, which was the first step to restart, after the stop that followed the first demo in the late nineties. So far internet was our only channel of promotion, and without internet we wouldn’t never get the will to publish and promote our music, cause the old system didn’t work for us.
From our work on the site, it would seem the Italian metal scene is extremely diverse, and growing by the day. Where do you think Valkiria fits into that picture, and how do you feel about the crop of new bands that are emerging?
You define Italian scene “diverse” I agree with you, in the sense that this diversity shows that speaking of German, French or Italian scene makes less sense nowadays. No nation has its own specific style in making Metal music anymore. Certainly the temptation to divide musical styles by geographic areas is strong, but it is a phenomenon that could have meant years ago. It seems that globalization has also taken place in the music and that’s good, the music has to break down the boundaries, not create new ones. Valkiria is a band that belongs to the world.
The new album is on the way, seeing a release through Bakerteam Records on April 16th. What comes next in the world of Valkiria?
The next step will be to complete the line up and play live. We are working on this, we understand how difficult these days are, promoters that don’t pay or even ask for money to the bands, poor organization, etc. ... If there is demand, all these problems will be cleared up, so everything is on fan’s hands.
Thank you again for the time, and your honesty. We appreciate your efforts. Looking forward to whatever comes next!
Thank you for your support!