miércoles, 29 de mayo de 2013

Interview: Mike Hubrovcak (Azure Emote)

It has been a long time since I made an interview. With the limited time that I usually have, doing these kind of stuff is really pleasant. And it's even more pleasant when you get a guy like Mike Hubrovcak to talk about his personal project, Azure Emote, an Experimental Death Metal band, which has two remarkable relased albums, one of them previously reviewed in this blog.

Hope you like it.

H-Eradicate: Before we start, I would like you to give a little introduction to Azure Emote, for those readers who don't know about the project.

Mike Hubrovcak: Azure Emote is an experimental avant-garde death metal band that incorporates elements like industrial electronics, violins, saxophone, keyboards and other things into the music. Azure is all about freedom and doing whatever you want to do creatively, but always centered around the negative expressions that Death Metal embodies. It currently features members of Monstrosity, Fear Factory, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Tristania and tons of guest appearances from other experienced musicians in the scene as well.

H-Eradicate: What made you start Azure Emote? Did you wear a lot of time with the idea of experimenting with Death Metal?

Hubrovcak: Azure Emote was formed in 2003 after the breakup of my other band Divine Rapture at the time. It was a traumatic breakup for me, and I felt the need to keep going. Most importantly I just needed a personal outlet for my all my negative emotions, so I got together with my good friends Ryan and Pat from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder and made something crazy happen. “Chronicles of an Aging Mammal” was then recorded and put out on Czech based Epidemie Records. I then put Azure Emote into hiatus though as I joined Vile and Monstrosity and Ryan and Pat continued on with Rumpelstiltskin Grinder and other projects. It wasn’t until 2011 that I got the itch to write my own music again and get creative with all the crazy things that I don’t really have the freedom to do with the other bands I’m in.

H-Eradicate: What are your main influences for this project?

Hubrovcak: Perhaps bands like Bethlehem, Arcturus, Dead Can Dance, Kovenant, Masters Hammer, Laibach, Lux Occulta, Samael, and bands not afraid to let their ideas go beyond what is expected of them in certain genres. It's not about gearing yourself towards any style of music, but letting go and letting whatever flows inside you to come out.

H-Eradicate: In your debut album, the experimentation was centered mostly into the Industrial side, with preponderant electronic sounds. How hard was the compositive process, having in mind the inconvenience that can be to create a good genre fusion?

Hubrovcak: I never really set out to create anything specific. I just starting creating and went with whatever ideas popped into my head and I liked what I was creating and having fun with it so I just kept going with it. I never really set out to make a fusion band or anything, things just came together as I was writing and I never stopped to question what people would think about it. It was always more of a creative emotional outlet for myself and I never thought or cared about what the public's response would be. The second you start writing for what the masses may want, is the second your music loses all soul and personality. 

H-Eradicate: Why was there such a big gap until the arrival of the second disc?

Hubrovcak: I was so busy recording and touring all the time with the bands Vile and Monstrosity, and Ryan was super busy doing Rumpelstiltskin Grinder all the time. I wish I could do it all, but there's only so much time in the day and only so much I can juggle. After so many years though I felt the need to get crazy and creative again and resurrect Azure Emote.

H-Eradicate: In 'The Gravity Of Impermanence', there's a change of sounds, a renewal. Was it, like, a natural thing, or was it deliberated?

Hubrovcak: Yeah, the new album differs a lot, and not just because it’s different members now, but also because that first album was my first time writing my own music. The albums were also written 10 years apart, so just as I can say that I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, that also applies to the music as well (pulling from different experiences and influences in my life at those particular times). The root and darkness of Azure Emote is still there though, and I think this new album is more refined, more focused, and a bit angrier. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I guess life has taken just as much as it’s given and I think that experience shows through on this one.
So it wasn't really deliberate, it's just how it came out.

H-Eradicate: How did you get that great crew for the instrumental recording? It's not very easy to get people from Malignancy or Yakuza so quickly...

Hubrovcak: Well a lot of them are just good friends of mine from the scene. Most of us have either played together before at the same shows, or even in the same bands, or just have hung out a lot at shows. The others I had come to know via the internet, or I had reached out to them specifically to do parts on the album since I loved their other work so much, like with Pete Johansen who played violins, I had loved his work with Tristania and Sins of Thy Beloved, so I contacted him in Norway, he was my first choice and I’m just super lucky that he was totally into it.

H-Eradicate: How influential were these participations? Did they all provide their interpretative capacity when recording the instruments?

Hubrovcak: Some I directed specifically and others I just gave them the songs I had and let them pick and choose which ones to go off on. With the female vocals, I had sung demos of the parts and ideas I wanted, and then had them run with the idea. I tried to give everyone as much freedom as possible though and then would re-arrange things once I got the parts and made sure everything fit and flowed with the song structures I had built.

H-Eradicate: Are you satisfied with the results of this album, or there was something that left you unhappy?

Hubrovcak: I'm very happy with how it came out, definitely one of my best achievements so far, and I wanted this album to be epic. Of course there are things looking back that I might have changed, but whatever, I’ll just keep those things in mind for the next album. Like for instance the album is almost 2 albums worth of material, (16 Full songs on the LP version even) it's almost too long, especially being so intricate and layered, it's a lot to take in for the normal person, but for those willing to sit down and experience the entire album from beginning to end, I think it'll be worth it, and make for a much involved experience then just popping it in your car stereo for a song or two. This album is meant for a good attention span I guess and meant to be taken in as a whole.

H-Eradicate: Will Azure Emote maintain its course with continuity, or will it be another gap? Will they keep the same artistic line or will they go on with a "new level" of experimentation?

Hubrovcak: I'm not sure. I'd definitely like to keep pushing it and do a lot more, but Azure Emote knows “nothing lasts forever”, hence “The gravity of impermanence”, but whatever Azure shifts and morphs into will be honest and dark. I just hope that I strike some chords within some people and give back those epic feelings that I got from bands that have been there for me in my times of trial. So for now I’m focusing on the moments, and hoping that other people’s interests will spark a new movement and push Azure Emote to wherever it will go. If you want to see us play live - ask for us at your festivals. If you want another album from us - buy our material so we can break even on our recording costs and afford to do more! It's up to the fans really, if they want more from us, they have to support!

H-Eradicate: I don't think that this will be possible here in Argentina, but, is it possible to have a live show, with every musician? With good sound, that would be something really spectacular...

Hubrovcak: I agree! That would be awesome! I’m open for it, and even got asked by a few festivals already, but organizing everything would be expensive, so I would have to work with a promoter who truly believes in Azure Emote and making it happen. If I can't afford to fly the members in from all the other countries they live in, then I would have to get live session members instead. Either way I’m open to the idea, so if there is anyone interested in booking us, please get in touch.

H-Eradicate: Off topic question: is Monstrosity preparing some new material?

Hubrovcak: Yes! We may actually be touring South America later this year, and also have a whole album of new material that we need to record very soon!

H-Eradicate: Last question: is there any band you can recommend, that you find fresh and interesting?

Hubrovcak: Hmmm, I've been digging Ne Obliviscaris and Kartikeya a lot lately… Good stuff. 

H-Eradicate: Thank you very much! It was a great interview.

Hubrovcak: You're welcome! Hails!

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