Among today's Black Metal bands we could find many interesting and original names, but I have to say that to the absolutely most deserving and most authentic ones we can no doubt include New Zealand's VASSAFOR. The band was founded by V.K. in Auckland in 1994. The record of 1997 demo has been known from this period only. V.K. always needed at least a drummer and it was D. Lomas, who was also part of Nazxul band on the vocals. Subsequently another releases came later in the form of demo tapes and EPs what culminated in "Obsidian Codex" debut album in 2012 which you certainly know. Between the second "Malediction" album and the debut, a couple of splits, compilations or live releases appeared. Today V.K. began to work hard on new material and we are more than happy he found some time to create this unique interview. Whoever meets VASSAFOR's music, he is right to say that it is dangerous, poisonous and certainly not easy to absorb, it requires a lot of time for complex performance and thick layers of riffs. But all that will already talk V. K., who has already helped for example both as a live member of Blasphemy, but also as a member of Irkallian Oracle, Sinistrous Diabolus, Temple Nightside, or Terror Oath.
Could you first explain the VASSAFOR name, its meaning, what personally represent it to you? How much does it describe the essence of the music you create?
Has been answered elsewhere, but essentially, from the depths of a dream a voice spoke. That is Vassafor and I learned to listen. The music is my interpretation of that.
VASSAFOR music is quite complicated probably for people who do not understand the darkness, depth of abyssal sound, and all the listeners who do not have Black Metal feel. Do you think the VASSAFOR fan is something special or it is quite an individual matter for everyone?
Good question, and I don't really know the answer! I suspect anyone that has the patience to allow the music to develop over the lengths of time some of our songs extend to is already fairly atypical of most general music listeners of today. The music comes out as it wants too, so if that means a 15 minute song like Ossuary in Darkness or 3 minutes of Servitude then so be it. That people write to us and tell us they are particularly possessed by different songs is a good sign and shows the variety within our listening audience.
The word depth is definitely a term that strongly corresponds with Black Metal, but with VASSAFOR it has totally fatal meaning. No superficial rhythmic passages or direct melody, just the opposite. Do you look at your work as a complex, a spiritual plane and the materialization of darkness?
I like bands that arenít just locked into a single format or paradigm of writing a song. I think of our music as being fairly simple for the most part, but layered and with depth. Certainly that is our goal anyway. The important part is itís purity and 100% channeling of the wairua of Vassafor. With that in mind it follows thatís our work is 90% metaphysical and 10% musical.
What we aim for is cohesion to the level where the individual layers are so intermeshed it becomes difficult to discern where one starts and the other ends. Where elements rise thru the music and disappear before the conscious mind even realizes its gone again.
How do you access to the writing process and the overall album? Do you have to put yourself into a certain state or trance or you can create music in any state of mind and at any time? Do you need some environment, the season, the dark and so on?
Once upon a time I would have answered yes. However now it can be willed into being relatively easily. But generally the lyrics are written first now, and the music follows the theme of the words. I do mediate a lot though, especially if I am having a difficult section to get thru. But no Casgaydian National Geographic moments are required. Fuck that shit. Black Metal is Satan, not daffodils and vegan fuckin unicorns.
What do rituals within VASSAFOR mean to you? Do you use them for recording, or live acts on stage? Do you think these tiny or even higher acts can get more authentic and deeper feelings into your work, so you can better and deeper feel and concentrate on playing, recording, composing? Here, naturally, arises another question, is your creation a metaphysical overhang for you?
Ritual practice is separate to performance but we conduct our live performances with a ritualistic touch that is informed by the main practice. However all of it is dedicated to our patron and feeds the conduit so itís just a variant form of the actual. Obviously it helps. For myself anyway. Whether an audience feels the same isnít the reason for doing it so thatís of no concern to us. But for me I can slip in and out of that mindset/ahua very easily now. And thatís because thereís 25 years worth of experience involved in it
Have you ever feel, for example, during composing, playing, or recording totally strange feelings, maybe something super sensible, powerful shivers like a flash of clear sky? Maybe such responses are a natural response to enter a sphere of creativity, something deeper and more spiritual.
Many times. In fact, if we donít then itís not good enough. He tohu/the sign shows us when its working at the right level.
How does your native New Zealand land affect you? I have read you traveled a lot of the world in a few months, but what about home? At first glance, it may seem that existing in New Zealand can be a little restrictive, as if in isolation, although natural beauties are rich there...
I am doing this interview in a desolate but beautiful rural township called Pawarenga on the far north of the north island. I have been to most corners of this land and I am a Son of Aotearoan soil. Yes, I have traveled to many places and will continue to do so, but it only makes me appreciate the beauty and wildness of New Zealand even more. It is extremely isolated, and not a good scene for seeing metal bands from elsewhere or having record stores with real underground music. But for the strong it is a perfect place to create music outside of trend or underground fashion. You only have to see some of our bands like Sinistrous Diabolus, Vesicant or Ulcerate to hear music with no obvious scene peers, that are forging their own destiny. We do the same.
The original population of New Zealand were Maori people known for their war culture, but also cannibalism and skull hunters. Have you ever been interested in this culture? It seems that myths, legends, religion, ritual practices of Maoris can be an interesting ground for general inspiration ... Did you hear some strange stories about Maoris?
Maori are known for far more than just that. Masters of celestial navigation across an area a third of this planet, carving whakairo telling stories across thousands of years, some of the most intricate tattooing (Ta Moko) to ever evolve. We have drawn much inspiration over the years. Especially the songs Nemesis and Makutu (Maori name for Black Magic, primarily in curse form). Both of us in Vassafor have affiliations with different iwi around the motu/island
Oh yeah, thereís plenty of warped legends and stories from this land. Maori is an intensely spiritual culture and the veil between worlds is thin in this country.
Bands from New Zealand and also Australia were always totally different for me, with a different perception of extreme Metal, with a specific spirit and special aura, but also with originality. Do you perceive this fact as special, or you just do your own work and do not care about the scene from this point of view?
Canít speak for Australia but certainly here in NZ there are plenty of shit trend bands playing the same garbage as other scenes or bands form any country, but luckily none of them have ever made it to any other part of the world. But since we are so isolated we have many original musicians who are following their own path without much influence from inferions. NZ supremacy!
As for us. We are just a band. Makes no difference where we happen to live. Vassafor is all that matters.
The sound of VASSAFOR is certainly another strong specificity that complements the overall picture of the atmosphere, but also the character of the music. Many ones might say all the instruments are always smudged and sound like a single ball. Personally, I think this idea is much more personal to you than to other Metal bands wanting to sound like some other band on a particular album...
We record real instruments in this plane and with purest passion. Plastic clean soulless recordings are achievable, but completely undesirable. Our sound is how we sound and play. If someone witnesses us perform, they arenít gonna to find it sounds much different to whatever record the song is from. I like morbid, dark and evil sounding metal with heart and guts. To me thatís the sound we always strive for, sometimes more successfully than at other times perhaps.
My guitar setup is pretty much identical to what Quarthon used on the Return and Under the Sign. Any fuckwit that thinks either of those records need ďcleaning upĒ should immediately kill themselves. Bass is a panzer. Again my favorite bassist have always been Blacky, Angelripper, Cronos, the Necromantia maniacs, Ain, Lemmy etc...
We leave it for some of these intellectual ďoccultĒ BM bands to sound nice and inoffensive and polished like a great shiny bombastic turd. Fuck those soulless bands and the great standardization of extreme art. Shame on you! Satan demands sacrifice...
Do you perceive VASSAFOR's overall work as a flowing stream still evolving in the sense that you are still moving forward or all the flow culminates in different directions, as sometimes it is some progress and sometimes regress or anything else?
We are the same conceptually as we were in the first era. Namely, that we are worship music venerating our patron, Vassafor. We exist outside of time so some songs are more effective than others. Hopefully we strike with more resonance as we continue but thatís not for me to decide. Within our scope of the abyss, all paths downwards are valid...
VK 29. 3. 2018 Mortuary
Devourer of a Thousand Worlds