AAYUR from Tunisia is still quite unknown. The band has not released any full-length album yet, but we are often interested in these names, because we can draw attention to them and actually almost whole seventh issue supports such bands. They have been around since 2007, and there are only two EPs, two splits and one "Agurzil Screams" demo. AYYUR is certainly an interesting phenomenon, as its origin is in North Africa and the style they present is Black Metal. According to the music you would hardly expect such an area; their music mixes spirituality, darkness, visions, or an interesting insight into their historical and mythological context. The band also draws on the Berber culture that have been the tribes of African nations with their secrets and rituals. You will learn more in this interview. Answered by A.M. (vox, guit, bass).
Could you specify the name of your band, why just AYYUR? What does this name mean to you and how much it relates to your music? Also the logo is interesting. Who is its author and has it some deeper meaning for you?
Ayyur is an ancient Berber name, it means "moon", it is also a lunar god name and it can be used as a masculine name. I personally think that planets, astronomical and stellar phenomena affects living beings in one way or another, a fullmoon creates an aura of mysteries on a forest, on a plain or a field, a different form of beings, beasts and creatures wander under the veils of the moon, all that you have to do is to observe and listen carefully.
The logo was designed by me and a good friend "VSYN". The logo is composed by several symbols, like the moon, the crescent , the eye. The whole logo takes the shape of a head of a Bull. The Bull represents power and rebellion while the crescent represents the near end of a circle of time, the eye is a symbol of gnosis and an absolute control.
Could you also write something about your philosophy, why did you form AYYUR band? What were your intents and what was the basic idea? Why just Black Metal? For the African continent it's a bit unusual, but more exotic...
I formed a local Black Metal band in 2006 called Lord Ahriman, in which I was the composer and the bass player. After 2 years of doing some shows locally, some of these were clandestine events, I started composing and recording some demos for Ayyur to distance myself from the local scene, it was the fruit of my isolation at a certain period of time. Later Lord Ahriman was disbanded and I continued with Ayyur. I planned nothing for Ayyur in the beginning, I was doing some recording "experiments" using old analog material most of the time. That's how Ayyur started.
I did trades at that time with few friends outside Tunisia, I also received rare bootlegs, tapes and vinyls, I liked the underground spirit, attitude and the rebellious and mysterious side of Black Metal.
Geographically Tunisia is in Africa, but It is also on the borders of the Mediterranean, it is more related to the Mediterranean than Africa, at least culturally. The Great Desert in the south of the country creates a natural frontier with the rest of Africa, it is easier for the people in ancient times to cross the Mediterranean or travel along the coast than crossing the extremely hot Great Desert. I can say that it is a Mediterranean culture overall.
There's only one thing I can think of when listening to your music. Your harmonies are quite different from European or American Black Metal bands. How much are you inspired by your own folklore? What bands would you mention as a source of inspiration from Black Metal?
The folklore or the general culture impacts for sure how I perceive an image or a subject and my way of thinking and living in general, so it obviously impacts my music.
I don't get inspiration just from music and not from Black Metal only, but here is some bands that were and still the best for me : Nehëmah, Peste Noire, Mütiilation, Lurker of Chalice, Urfaust, Archgoat, Hate Forest, Strid...
You have released two EPs and two splits during the 11 years of existence as well as the "Agurzil Screams" demo. Do you avoid the release of longer material or do you think the right time hasn't came yet? Do you prefer short materials? Do we ever wait for a full-length? Do you have any idea how to design a debut album?
I have a personal appreciation for short material if it is well crafted musically and physically and well elaborated artistically especially if it is on analog format.
For AYYUR, I just take my time, no need to accelerate the process. Things need time to be done.
Although your Black Metal sounds a bit different in harmony, there is still a lot of darkness, spirituality, but also a gloomy atmosphere. How do you personally perceive your music? Expression of the absolute inside and metaphysic at the same time?
Without doubt, a lot of personal matters are reflected in the music, it is a mixture of many and complicated aspects that took shape as AYYUR.
You focus on Berber mythology or history in the lyrics. Could you write something closer about this? I think many people do not have a lot of knowledge about Berbers, who they were (or still are), what was characteristic for them, what are their knowledge from various areas, cosmogony and the like?
Berbers or more specifically Amazighs or Imazighen are the native people of North Africa.
Numidia is the most known Berber kingdom in history, fighting Carthagians, and Romans later. With the Arab-Muslim invasion to north Africa, Berbers led a feroce resistance against the invasion with some powerful chiefs and leaders at that time like Masinissa, Jugurtha, Micipsa, Dihya...
Berbers are like every other Mediterranean inhabitants, basically farmers, more attached to their lands, cattle and mountains in the northern part of Africa. Other groups in the south are basically nomads, the habits can very a lot from a group to another as they mainly live as tribes and cover a huge territory and also because it got mixed by other ethnics beliefs and cultures like the Grecs, the Egyptians, the Romans... They worshipped deities like Anzar and consider the moon and sun as sacred.
Could be said you are focusing only on the dark aspects of the Berbers in these topics? Could you say something about their dark side, their rituals, the magical abilities, the knowledge of the other side, the funeral rituals?
The topics of AYYUR are more about places and personal experiences, sometimes it is inspired by some Berber tales or mythes.
As I said before, it can differ from a place to another, for example, Berbers buried their deads but every group do it in a different way.
Some historical documents states that they cremate their dead or do human sacrifices, it is usually written by Arab-Muslim historians to demonaze and discredit the whole group of people and their beliefs, also the Romans did that and considered them as uncivilized and barbarians like they did with every other culture in the region.
How do Berbers perceive death? Many nationalities, ethnicities, or civilizations take death variously, it is completely differently perceived by Asian, Indian, North-European cultures, and so on. Is there a place after death in their religion, maybe something like the equivalent of heaven, hell, or underworld?
It is extremely hard and almost impossible to find details about the ancient gods of Berbers since that their history was written in local language that is very different from Latin, and it is believed that an important amount of books were destroyed by Romans, and Muslims later.
It is known that fighters that fall honorably in the battle will join Agurzil, the god of war but the name of the place is not known.
It is known that Berbers shared some Gods with the Grecs too like Antaeus.
It is also known that the Berbers of the Canary islands believed that Mount Teide is the hell.
How do you personally perceive death? Do you have a personal experience with clinical death or something similar? Do you think our body is just a box of energy that exists in it only in this reality and then it transform or goes to other spheres of existence?
I had an accident in the past and it was necessary to do an operation, during anesthesia, I had a relatively strong dose so I remained unconscious for a long time after the operation, then I felt like I am awake but looking to my laying body from outside, I felt floating, and it looked so real, then I automatically thought about that I am dead and this is definitely my soul looking to my dead body, I still don't know if I was dreaming or it happened really.
I think that we should experience real death to know, maybe it is that we just die, no soul, no energy, nothing.
Until then, the only thing that I know about death is that we become nothing than a corpse and we should be buried or cremated or whatever and that sucks.
A similar theme is certainly dreams, visions, hallucinations, these are all the processes that arise in our subconsciousness. Suggestions often come from our awareness and perception of reality. Do you sometimes have various sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis, somnambulism, nightmares, or do you use sleep deprivation to achieve some status?
I would say that there is a lot of difference between dreams, visions and hallucinations. Dreams can be experienced without being able to interfere in the course of events, the emotional impact on us when dreaming can't be too high, while a hallucination could be felt intensely, emotionally and physically.
I experienced Incubus in the past and still does with random hallucinations sometimes. With time and researches, I became able to stop it, by moving the only functional muscle on human body when having a sleep paralysis, which is the cheek muscle.
Like that I get full control on my body again quickly.
I usually don't sleep too much and stay awake for many hours, and I am the kind of persons that stay up late at night, I can't sleep with any kind of noise or light, so it is already hard to fall asleep and sometimes it impacts the perception and messes with the mind, so when I feel sleepy, I just take the opportunity.
Is there a place that magically attracts you from the childhood, maybe a place where you feel a special energy, maybe a negative energy, but at the same time it fascinates you and you returns there? Can these places inspire you in creating music, where once happened strange and often not very nice things?
There is a lot of history in Tunisia, so there is always a story in every place. In my hometown "SOUSSE", there is old Roman catacombs on the hill, it's a huge underground labyrinth which extends over all the neighborhood and beyond, it's called the catacombs of Bon Pasteur, Hermes and Sévere, a roman christian necropolis and refuge built by christians to hide and avoid persecution in the Roman Empire at that time, I was able to wander and discover the place when I was a kid multiple times. That place was later used by Germans and local people to hide from the allies bombardments of the city and mainly its strategic harbor during WWII and later used by independence fighters against the French occupation. A lot of mysterious events occurred, I always felt something special and strange there, it's a quiet place that hides a lot of forgotten stories.
In a simple walk in the woods or the hill, a small rusty piece of metal can turn out to be an old Italian WWII era medal, a piece of an ancient Axe, an old Berber key or an antique Ottoman coin. There is always something to discover with all the stories behind it.
There is also the old jewish cemetery not away from were I live with a special kind of graves, the old wine press on the eastern coast of the town with it's medieval bridge, traditional olive oil presses that we find in the region with all the symbols on its stones or the WWII era german bankers along the eastern coast of the city and more.
Every place has its own story so I find it exciting to try to find out what happened there and when I lay my hands on old stuffs, manuscripts or documents, I just sink in an ancient world with all its mysteries.
Ok, that would be all from my side, thank you for answering this interview, wish AYYUR perfect results and many interesting inspiration for the future.
A.M. 10.12.2018 Mortuary
He Who Dwells in the Trenches