DARK FORTRESS - V. Santura

V.Santura is a multi-talented musician. He is the session guitarist of Celtic Frost, he is the guitarist of Dark Fortress and also, he is the guitarist of Noneuclid. Some months ago, when Dark Fortress were looking for a new frontman, this guy gave me the opportunity to fill this position. To be honest, there were many difficulties and the most important was the distance problem so, Morean of Noneuclid is now the new frontman of the band. Through this interview I want to thank mr V.Santura for his positive feedback and also I want to learn more things for his bands and his life in general. Total Respect!
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\r\nHello! As you already know, this is Vassilis of Greece’s Metalzone. First of all, this interview is a good opportunity for me to thank you for taking so seriously my vocal skills.. Its a honour for me to have positive comments from a person like you and from Seraph as well, because not only I am a fan of Dark Fortress but also, you are involved many years in the Metal scene and your opinion is really helpful and important. It was very hard for me to be the new vocalist of Dark Fortress for many reasons (the most important is that I don’t live in Germany) and as I can understand, it is difficult for every person who is not located in Germany... Anyway, I want you to tell me for the new vocalist that replaced Azathoth. As I already know, he is the guitarist of your project called Noneuclid (we will talk later about it). Which are your expectations that you have from that person? Is he as talented as Azathoth?
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\r\nHey Vassilis, I truly think that your voice is fucking killer and we probably would have considered you as the new singer, but I think that the distance-problem would have caused to many complications. And now we absolutely think, that with Morean we found the perfect vocalist for Dark Fortress. He is for sure one of the best musicians I met in my whole life and a great person with a strong charisma. I know him since ages, but I was not aware of the immense potential of his voice. As soon as it comes to screaming, shouting, everything that is extreme, his voice is extremely powerful and diversified. I think that Azathoth was (or still is) one of the best black metal singers at all and leaves big footsteps, but Morean will prove with the forthcoming album, that he is more than worthy to replace Azathoth. In fact I think that he is not just a "replacement", he adds a new dimension to the music. You will hear it, when the new album is out. I would be surprised if any fan of Dark Fortress will be disappointed with the vocal performance. \r\n

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\r\nBefore start talking about the band, I would like you to tell me how easy or difficult is for a person like you to be involved in many activities concerning Metal, at the same time. I mean that you are the guitarist and the song writer (if I am not wrong) of Dark Fortress, you already have an album with Noneuclid and in few months you will have the second and you are a session guitarist for Celtic Frost. Is there enough time for you? It seems very stressful. \r\n

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\r\nWell, I can not claim that I’m bored at the moment, haha. At the end of 2006 I absolutely didn’t expect that 2007 would develop the way it did for me. This year is quite insane. Actually, I just didn’t have the time to do anything else than music this year. I played like 60 shows with Celtic Frost, besides that I was working for several months on my own bands / projects, Dark Fortress and Noneuclid. Actually, my "main job" is audio engineer, but my work as audio engineer, besides doing all the technical stuff for Dark Fortress and Noneuclid, was reduced to the minimum. The only thing I did as a regular job for someone else, was mixing the new album of Metalium and doing one remix for another German artist. I mean, just look how long it took me to finish this interview, hehe. That shows, that I am quite busy. Well, or lazy.. \r\n

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\r\nHow does it feel to be on tour with an almighty band like Celtic Frost? Which are your impressions from that tour? Do you remember the show in Greece? \r\n

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\r\nJoining Celtic Frost as live guitarist surely was one the greatest things that ever happened to me! It was quite unexpected for me and I see it as a great honour. I really enjoy playing this music and what I especially like is the approach to the musical performance itself. Celtic Frost’s music is huge, dark and monolithically and in the slow parts it is possible to play each single note with a certain consciousness and groove, which is not possible if you have to pick 15 notes per seconds. Besides I actually like being on tour a lot. It is totally different from "normal" live and you experience more in two months than else in 5 years. One thing that I really like is getting many impressions from different countries, cities and landscapes. Well, the shows in Greece... You put your finger in an open wound. These two shows where the only two shows that I could not play, because those two shows were just booked around the moment I joined and I already had an important show at the same date confirmed for Dark Fortress and it was not possible to postpone that one. I still hate the fact, that I couldn’t play these two shows. So Anders Odden played these two shows with Frost in Greece. The thing that makes it even worse for me is, that everybody told me, that the Greece-shows must have been one of the very best shows on the whole Monotheist tour. Well fuck, and I missed it! The audience in Greece must be incredible from what I’ve heard so far. So at least I think, that we have to come with Dark Fortress next year! \r\n

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\r\nLets go to Dark Fortress now. Could you please tell us the reasons that Azathoth left the band? \r\n

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\r\nWell, the band situation was quite frustrating since already a longer time, for Azathoth and the rest of us. The reasons were not creative. I think that the combination of the music and his lyrics and performance worked pretty well till the very end, but we didn’t have the same opinion about many other things. I think we all wanted to push this band, but the ways we wanted to do that where totally contradictory. I felt, that I wasted lots of my energy for nothing, and I think that Azathoth somehow felt the same way. It was a very hard decision, but I think in the end it was the best for all of us. And we still wish him the best for his future projects. \r\n

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\r\nThere is a new album, which is almost ready. What do we have to expect from that release? You think that this album will be even better than Séance? \r\n

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\r\nI have no objective distance to the new album at the moment, because I’ve been working on it for too long and I have to say that I still love Séance, but what people, that are close to me and whose opinion I really respect, keep telling me, is that the new album is even much better than Séance. At least it is different, of course. I think Séance had a very intense atmosphere but it took you some time to get into it. It seemed to be a very complicated album for many listeners even though it mainly was quite minimalist. I think on the forthcoming album, there are more things happening in the music. The whole pulse is faster, but the whole atmosphere is again very intense. Generally the songs are more in your face, without getting tawdry.
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Could you please tell me the title of the album? In which studio is it recorded and who is the producer?
\r\nThe new title is EIDOLON. I think I don’t have to translate that to you guys... The concept describes in its nine chapters the initiation, dehumanization and unearthly rebirth of a transcending soul by mirror magic and astral projection. Well, I am the producer and I’m taking care of all the technical aspects, which means that I recorded everything and do the whole mix and mastering as well. We have our own place that we call "The Crypt". I’m just trying to find a new place at the moment, where I want to start my own professional recording studio.
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In my opinion, Stab Wounds and Séance are the best releases of Dark Fortress. The band seems to be more "serious" if you know what I mean, they have a professional sound, they are technical and the Black Metal feeling is very strong, but now, there are more things for the listener to earn with your music. There are melodies, there are high quality vocals, there is a strong production etc. Which are the reasons for that change? You think that the age is an important thing or you just learn to play your instruments different and of course better? \r\n

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\r\nI totally agree, by the way. I think that we made a huge step forwards with Stab Wounds, in every aspect. That’s why I sometimes say, that Stab Wounds is the first album of the "actual" Dark Fortress, because with this album it is the first time that we found our style and the quality of the whole song writing and production was way better than on "Profane Genocidal Creations". Since that we evolve and try to perfect our skills in song writing and capturing moods, performing and producing. I think the reasons for that change were just our growing abilities and the whole approach to song writing. I just don’t think that you get the best results, if you try to write your songs on jam sessions during rehearsals. I need to be in a certain mood to create real good music, with deep emotions, and the best way for me is to do that during long dark evenings in my home when there are no distractions around me. And often it is the best to do things on your own, if you can. I learned audio engineering in a professional way. During the time when we created "Profane..." I didn’t have the knowledge to do a whole production yet, but with "Stab Wounds" it was the first time that I took care about the production. Between Stab Wounds and Séance there was again a learning process, and with Séance it is the first time that I was satisfied with the sound.
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\r\nDespite the fact that Dark Fortress exists many years as a band, there is not an official video-clip or something. You don’t like that way of promotion or there are different reasons about it? \r\n

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\r\nDoing a really good video clip costs a shit load of money, and MTV won’t show it, haha. We can’t afford to create a good video clip and the record company won’t pay for it. That’s the reason. I mean, the whole YouTube thing changed the situation, because it gives you the possibility to distribute your video clips to a big audience without the support of the TV-stations. So it would be worth to have at least a decent live-clip.
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\r\nAre you satisfied with what you have done so far? Is there anything that you would like to delete from the past years and if it was possible to change it? \r\n

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\r\nI would like to change most of "Profane Genocidal Creations", to be honest. And the guitar sound of "Stab Wounds" is far away from what I wanted to achieve, but anyway, I still like this album a lot and people should not care about that fact.
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\r\nAre there any plans for European Tour? Have you ever thought to release a DVD? \r\n

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\r\nA DVD is not very likely at the moment, but we are eager to do a proper European Tour after the release of EIDOLON. After Séance, we fucked it up. We got lots of ok or even very good offers for tours, but due to several reasons, it was never possible for us to go on any of these tours. Now the situation has changed and we are ready!!!
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Now, I want you to tell me some details about your project band, Noneuclid. \r\n

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\r\nI would like to start to consider Noneuclid as a real band, not only as a project. We also are going to play live in the future. The main driving force behind this band is Morean, the new singer of Dark Fortress. Morean is not the singer of Noneuclid, because the music demands a very different vocal style, but he is the main songwriter and guitarist. We recorded one album so far, called "The Crawling Chaos", but we did not find a fitting business partner so far to release it. It’s a damn shame, because I really belief in this music, but music business works in mysterious ways. Well maybe it’s not that mysterious, it’s based on a quite simple principle: can you make money with it or not? And record companies consider this music as "too different", so they see it as a risk to release an album like this, even though, the fact that it is unique and different from other bands, should be the strength of the music, cause it doesn’t sound like anything else. \r\n

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\r\nIs this a band that you have expectations, or is a band just to play a different music from Dark Fortress? \r\n

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\r\nWell, we decided to try it again and just work on a new album, mainly for ourselves, because we want to play this music. I think the new album will be a total killer and I belief that we will get some good offers from different record companies, because the A&Rs will be blown away, when they hear it. Or they will hate it. Whatever... We know that it kicks ass, and that’s already a good feeling and maybe the most important thing. But it’s also a good thing to play different music, not only one style, because that makes you grow as a musician. \r\n

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\r\nNow I want you to describe both the music of Dark Fortress and Noneuclid to someone who is not familiar with those bands and give some "selling points" in order to buy your albums. \r\n

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\r\nI would simply describe Dark Fortress as black metal. Our main influences probably lie in the Scandinavian/ Norwegian black metal of the early nineties. Yet, I think that we evolved our own style and don’t sound comparable to any other band. Our music is very atmospheric, dark and cold, still quite aggressive. I think the terms "black" and "metal" are equally in our music, because opposed to many other black metal bands, we have many very incisive riffs, not only open-minor-chords-shredding. We spice our music with melodic elements, even though I would not use the term "melodic" black metal for us. The main core of the music is the intense atmosphere. Noneuclid’ s music is hard to describe. It is metal, that’s for sure. It has influences from Death-, Black-, and Thrash metal, but the combination is very unique. I also think that total different musical styles have been influential to our music, like modern classic or flamenco. If you are looking for something new and original, extreme music on a high technical level, without being technical for being technical sake, then Noneuclid could be the right band for you. With Noneuclid we want to move boundaries.
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\r\nThat’s all my friend. Once again, thank you for everything and if you want to send a message to your Greek fans, you can do it.... \r\n

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\r\nWell, check out our music and I hope that we will play in Greece in 2008! I’m curious if the Greece audience is really as great as I’ve heard! \r\n

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\r\nVassilis Mazaris \r\n

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