Interview with Sin-Nanna
Posted: Apr 19, 2005
Cruel music from Van Diemen's Land
Sin-Nanna (a man of many names) started his musical career drumming for KRUCIFIOR and then BAALPHEGOR, but feeling a growing need to create even darker music, and obsessed by the idea of spiritual catharsis, he started his one-man-project KATHAARIA in 1993. Steady songwriting progress was made throughout the following year before a cassette release finally saw the dark of night in early 95. Entitled A Tragic Journey Towards the Light, it was an avant-black stab to the heart of the worthless and stagnant Hobart music scene, but needless to say it went completely unnoticed by the dull consumerist masses. In April 96 the second attack, Through the Forest to Spiritual Enlightenment, was unleashed, and this time the sound was more organic and personal. This one was not to be appreciated by the common people either, one of the ugliest, harshest, most tortured productions ever ensured that. The third and final release, Isle de Morts (inspired by the macabre isle of the dead at Port Arthur), was a complete masterpiece. Under the new title of STRIBORG, Sin-Nanna recorded the acclaimed Cold Winter Moon demo last year, alternating between gruesome metal and disturbing ritual ambient music. He will now be releasing his ambient stuff as VEIL OF DARKNESS and continuing his metal crusade under the banner of STRIBORG, and at one stage he was even an active member of the ALPHA CENTAURI conspiracy. This interview should shed some darkness on one of the more interesting characters in the Tasmanian underground. Let the questions commence!
Okay, let's start by discussing what's been going on with Striborg. It's a while now since you recorded Cold Winter Moon....can we look forward to another release anytime soon? The new Striborg and Veil of Darkness material that you've played me has sounded great, but when will the "general public" finally get to hear it, and what form will it eventually take?
Striborg "Misanthropic Isolation" and Veil of Darkness "In the Valley of the Shadow of Death" will be out on cassette LP at the end of the year with a professional cover and supreme quality studio and 4-track sound. Also there will be the second Alpha Centauri release and a compilation on the same format on my label Finsternis Productions. (No, actually I've just been signed by Warner Bros. - Paul) For promotional use there will be an 8" Striborg/Veil of Darkness split, as well as promo CDs of both bands albums (these will not be for sale). Also, Striborg will be featured on a compilation CD called "Banned in Tasmania". I also play in Mirk and Kirkegaard for that compilation. I will make a proper CD release next year, but am still after signing from bigger labels (not the trend ones).
As far as Cold Winter Moon goes, are you satisfied with the way it turned out? It's a lot more fragmented than any of the Kathaaria demo's, and encompasses a variety of styles; do you view it as a complete piece of music in its own right, or more as a collection of different pieces in the vein of Isengard's Vinterskugge?
I am 100% happy with "Cold Winter Moon". It is so ugly with it's cruel production, and has the atmosphere I wanted for it, only for non-collective listening.
So what's the situation with Veil of Darkness, what are your plans? Why do you feel the need to seperate your ambient stuff from your metal stuff? I thought the mixture of styles on Cold Winter Moon worked very well.
Striborg/Veil of Darkness "Cold Winter Moon" was done that way so it could open people's minds, for black metallers to hear the ambient stuff, and for the ambient fans to hear the metal. Although these days a lot of people are into both. Future releases they stand alone.
Looking back, what do you think you achieved with Kathaaria? Are you still happy with the stuff you recorded under that name? Could you describe for our readers something of the concept behind each of the three Kathaaria demo's?
I don't think I have achieved alot with Kathaaria, only as a musical and lyrical/conceptual project which has developed and released alot of catharsis within me, and now strives for more atmosphere and descriptive planes of existence, which is totally dark. I am happy with Kathaaria, but I prefer Striborg.
"A Tragic Journey Towards the Light" - most of the stuff was written 93-94 for that first release. It wasn't until 95 I recorded it officially. The original concept of Kathaaria was to release all catharsis within my soul, everything sad and depressed and an expression of that time. Trying to find my raison d'etre (reason for existence). Not really trying to find light as the title may suggest, complete opposite really, but equilibrium within me and close contact to Gaia and Pan, nature and harmony, the godliness within me, and strength and hatred towards mankind.
"Through the Forest to Spiritual Enlightenment" was a continuation to the first, with some leftover songs, although this one has a completely different sound/production, shorter songs. It is more atmospheric, darker and colder, a misty soundscape of Neika to it. The lyrics are darker and more descriptive/imaginative. Also, I have discovered my reason for existence. This is my best written Kathaaria album, also the coldest, but not the best produced.
"Isle de Morts" ends the trilogy for the cycle of Kathaaria. Kathaaria had no reason to continue as I had caught up with recording everything and lyric wise. I let all I needed out with that project. Striborg continues with a different approach, not as complex, just as dark and cold as possible. "Isle de Morts" is a very extreme release, very claustrophobic sound and brutal, again full of catharsis. That name Kathaaria suited what I felt and expressed at that time.
You have an extremely small, one could say "cult" following, even here in Tassie. Is this something you're happy with, or would you like to start exposing your music to a wider audience?
I would like to be more well known in the underground, to appeal to the anti-trend misanthropist. Fuck the capitalist bands out there! To me there is hardly any blackmetal/ambient acts dark enough, only some who stay true to themselves. My music will be like that forever, it will get worse and uglier, totally dark and cold, and even more so with every release, instead of getting nicer like everyone else. If I get richer it will just mean I will be able to affect more people with my music.
You claim that your ultimate goal is to create music so disturbing that you scare even yourself. How close do you think this is to happening?
It depends alot on the person, state of mind and the environment for this to happen. Sometimes I feel this, and if I do it does because I created it, and I wonder what it is from within me that is so obsessed with the dark side. I would like to affect people psychologically and spiritually. My music/lyrics are a transcendental chariot to the darkest and coldest planes possible on earth and in mind, dreams/subconscious and afterlife.
You have commented in the past that you view the electric guitar as rather a type of synthsiser than a "real" instrument. Explain further.
Guitar for me in Striborg is used for creating the atmosphere like a keyboard would, it is the sound which is just as important and production. I laugh when I see an advertisment saying "the coldest guitar sound you have ever dreamt" and it sounds so warm and dead, creating no atmosphere.
What sort of music have you been listening to lately? Any new artists you'd like to recommend?
Ildjarn/Sort Vokter, Graveland/Infernum/Veles, Vlad Tepes, Isvind, Taake, Bloodthorn, Strid, Carpathian Forest/Grimm, Black Funeral, Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Darkthrone/Isengard, Burzum, Azhubahm Haani, Arckanum, Thornium, Northland, Abyssic Hate, Baalberith, Kathaaria/Striborg, Kirkegaard, Von, Isfarne, Mirk, Veil of Darkness, Alpha Centauri, Fanden Lokker, Darkness Enshroud/Valefor, Aghast/Nacht, Tombstone, Lustmord, Raison D'&ECIRC;tre, Brighter Death Now, MZ.412, Merzbow, Tetsu Inoue, Inade, Dagda Mor, Amber Asylum, Cintecele Diavolui, Pink Floyd,
Siouxsie & the Banshees, Current 93, and the Sea Scouts.
What bands would you say initially had the most important influence on your own music? And what inspired you to start making music in the first place?
I have been creating extreme music since 1988 with bands like Krucifior/Baalphegor and Azimuth, and have been into black metal from the early 80s, so my biggest inspiration is nature and my background. Kathaaria started in 93 as rebellion to the trendy death-metal at the time, my biggest influence is me really, but band influence I would say old Bathory, Ildjarn, Darkthrone, Graveland. As for the ambient thing, I have always liked Pink Floyd, eg. "A Saucerful of Secrets", "More and "Ummagumma", and "Danse Macarbre" by Celtic Frost and the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Some of the best these days would be Darkness Enshroud, Tombstone, Aghast, Raison D'Etre.
Do you think Tasmanian landscapes have had a big influence on you? Which parts of the Tasmanian wilderness are closest to your heart?
Mostly south west Tasmania, Hastings, Southport, even Neika, Fern Tree (although that's not in the wilderness). Wilderness is untouched, unwalked land in the south west. If I went there it would no longer be the wilderness, but that is going to extremes. It is still undamaged, unroaded though. I love all Tasmania, rainforest areas the most. I get most of my influence from there.
Tasmania has had a dark and cruel history in the 200 years since the European invasion, including genocide, torture, mass-murder, and other forms of violence. Do you think this makes it an especially good place to create cruel and violent music?
I have read accounts of people walking in the Tasmanian wilderness, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, experiencing a terror so profound that they just run blindly through the bush until they collapse. This is supposed to have happened even to groups of two or three people. Do you think there is any truth in this, and what do you suppose might lie behind it? What sort of "presences" might lurk in the far reaches of the bush? Do you believe in bunyips?
I think there is truth behind it, there could be concentrated negative matural forces out there, undisturbed until someone comes along. There has been alot of trouble people have got into in the wilderness and caves "etc", nature can be dangerous as well as beautiful. Do I believe in bunyips? Probably not as a personified creature, I guess it is the Aboriginal version of the mythical troll of Norway.
You yourself have had an extreme haunting experience in the past. Do you think this has influenced your music at all?
Yes, but because it was so long ago I long for the feeling again. I think it caused nyctophobia for some time after. I would like my music to have the same effect on me and the listener.
Having played your share of live gigs over the years with Krucifior, Baalphegor and Azimuth, what are your views on live shows? Do you ever see yourself playing live with Striborg or Veil of Darkness, or are those days gone forever? What do you think of the Tasmanian audience? Describe what your ideal live show would be like.
I would like to perform live with Veil of Darkness once or twice. Only limited though, I don't like playing live because of all the people. I am a misanthropist. This music shouldn't be performed to people, only by CDs and LPs. The Tasmanian audience does not know of this style, let alone get into it. My ideal gig would be total darkness, everything black, smoke machines, dark forest footage projected on set, dim lights (blue or red), candlelight, everyone in gothic dress, sitting on the floor in trance/meditation state for the darkest vibes of Veil of Darkness. I want it to be so atmospheric, like everyone has stepped into hell. This will not be performed at a pub - it's theatrical!
What about this new band Folksvang/Kirkegaard?
Kirkegaard will be the only gigging blackmetal band I will play in except for Mirk, but only one or two gigs.
Concerning Alpha Centauri (even though you aren't the main person behind it any more), what would you like to tell people about that particular project?
Support it! If you like this mag then you will love the music of Alpha Centauri, as it is your (Fëanor's) project now. Your new stuff sounds excellent, alot more musical than the first one we did, although the first one is wicked, crushes everything! It is dark, cold, apocalyptic, astral, industrial space music for meditation. (Not any more - Paul)
Okay, I want you to comment on the following records. I know they're among your favourites, so now's your chance to crap on at length about them...
a) Pink Floyd - "A Saucerful of Secrets": From 1968, probably my favourite Floyd album, especially "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and the title track, broken into four parts, "Something Else", "Syncapated Pandemonium", "Storm Signal" and "Celestial Voices". This 12-minute piece was like a gift from the record company to do whatever they liked, improvised. It is so atmospheric and disturbing, as with "Sysyphus" off "Ummagumma", although the whole band created this one.
b) Current 93 - "Nature Unveiled": I like the second part of it the most. Some of it would have made a good soundtrack to the Exorcist II. I can see where bands like Raison D'&ECIRC;tre and Megaptera "etc" got their influence from.
c) Graveland - "Epilogue": This is my favourite black metal recording because it has such a dark aura to it, unlike 99.9% of black metal. I just hope one day it will be released on LP or CD.
d) Ildjarn - "Forest Poetry": It is hard to say what my favourite Ildjarn release is, but this is a good album. Very catchy and grey sounding with excellent titles, although primitive, and in English too. This also has real drums on it unlike the release before.
e) Darkness Enshroud - "Unveiled Ghostly Shadows": This was originally titled "The Wolves Hunger" (a title which I think you would like, Fëanor). (Aye! - Paul) Anyway, this is the darkest ambient album there is, darkness, cold, gothic nightmarish soundscapes. The perfect CD to listen to in a haunted house, as with Veil of Darkness too. I can't wait for their new one "Totentanz". This CD includes the use of human bone percussion and very slow, dark, distorted keyboards, male and female ghostly voices "etc". This CD is my most recommended to everyone, also Tombstone - "Gothic Land"!
f) Aghast - "Hexeri im Zwielicht der Finsternis": An absolute gem of an LP, as with Darkness Enshroud. Very cold and atmospheric. The new stuff, created just by Nacht, is good also. I await this release too.
Now let's talk movies. You are understandably a huge fan of Nosferatu, but you prefer the original 1920's version to the 70's remake. I have to disagree with you here, as I am just stunned by the atmosphere of the 70's version, but I can certainly appreciate the original as well. Anyway, please elaborate on why you like this movie so much, and seeing as there are 3 or 4 different soundtracks floating around, tell us which one you prefer.
I find it amusing that you disagree, as it is my opinion which is the best. Anyway, it is the original (1922), fuck the modern version (1979)! I prefer nostalgia, dark and gloomy black and white atmospheres. Although the story may be a bit more primitive, I love the music to it. I have two versions, and I know someone who has a third, but there are heaps more versions of it floating around with all the different edits/scenes, music, titles and translations. This would be my favourite film ever, especially one in particular, the music is so brilliant, so gloomy and gothic.
Tell us about some more of your favourite movies...
I also like: Evil Dead, Twin Peaks and Doctor Who.
Finally, could you end by giving us a personal overview of the Tasmanian music scene, and don't just confine yourself to our Pagan/Satanic oriented subculture...what are your predictions for the future of Tasmanian music?
The music scene here is totally dominated by alternative/punk/pop music at the moment. (Yes, it's quite sad really - Paul) Black metal is completely underground, only a few true people into it, we all live a lifestyle of it, belief, music, poetry, art, publications, labels "etc". There are enough people in the circle to get things done without the trendy people. It's not as stale as with the so-called "alternative scene". Black metal bands, ambient acts are MORE alternative! But I guess we are all alternative to the sheep conformists, the crappy normal people of society. The future of music here (blackmetal/ambient/pagan music) is that it will start to be more well known.
Anything else you'd like to share with the readers?
Support Veil of Darkness, Kathaaria/Striborg, Kirkegaard, Alpha Centauri, Von/Fanden Lokker, Isfarne and Mirk.
To contact Sin-Nanna, write to:
Hobart Town, 7001
Van Diemen's Land
The moon-god, Nannar-Sin, the Light of the World, was the supreme god of the Sumerians, Assyrians & Babylonians. Measurer of time, and regulator of the tides, he also was the supreme ruler and judge of gods and men, measuring them both against his divine laws and decrees.
In this detail from a Sumerian king's stele, or stone slab, we can see exactly what the moon god holds in his hands: the instruments and symbols of his rule.
His right hand holds a measuring rod and line -- a reel or roll of flaxen cord used to measure heights and lengths -- to lay out a temple or a city.
His left hand holds a basalt stone axe -- used for cutting clay into bricks -- to lay the first brick, execute the laws, and decide the fate of the dead.
A century or so later we find Lilith, the Babylonian goddess of death, wearing a similar four-horned crown and holding up in each hand a similar rod and reel -- apparently to take the measure of each man's life, just or unjust, and mete out his fate in the afterlife.
Still later, Hammurabi, ruler & law-giver of Babylon (1792-1750 BC), would show himself on a diorite stele greeting Shamash, the sun god, holding also the rod and reel of justice.
detail: Detail of the moon-god, Nannar-Sin, from king Ur-Nammu's stele commemorating his building of the god's temple at Ur, 21st century BC. Pennsylvania University Museum