This interview with Skepticism features questions by Y. Arkadin.
Reprinted from Metal Curse #11, 1998 by kind permission of Ray Miller.
Imagine yourself embarked upon a journey to a
land that has never been traveled before, an inner sphere of your frail consciousness
that you would be reluctant to share with any living being. Nothing is as it
seems. The shadows surrounding you seem to dance as though having a life of
their own. You look deeper only to find yourself immersed in an atmosphere of
utter dread and desolation, permeating through your very essence to create a
benumbing sense of what can only be the purest of terror. There is no turning
back now. Surrounded by palpable apparitions of death and sorrow, your only
salvation is to kill yourself...
This is no mere escapist diversion, friends, this is Skepticism. Follow me as I uncover more about this mysterious band and the mind held responsible for it's provocative tragedy...
1.Please explain to our readers your role in Skepticism. Also, what had inspired you to make such incredibly dark and profound music?
I play the organ and write the lyrics for
Skepticism. Even if it is usually me who is in touch with the underground,
inside the band I am just one of three key members, who are responsible for
virtually all of the actions and compositions of Skepticism.
There is not a single reason or inspiration for us writing and playing what we do. It comes from our personal aesthetic points of view and the fact that we are working together. I do not think we could end up making music of any other kind - at this time. As time goes we will move to a certain direction, but the direction is with all the probability to remain the same.
2.There is a recurrent theme in the 1st CD of storms, crows, fleet (hence the title of the CD). Is there any reason for choosing these subjects in your lyrics?
No reason at all. It was all pure intuition -
a picture of what that music represents.
Once when you see the lyrics and themes on our forthcoming releases, you will see some clear difference - and similarities. Someone might explain it by analyzing my personal history, but I'd find that very uninteresting.
What counts is how the whole works, how the lyrics, music and artwork feels...
3.Many people do not comprehend that all of the art (lyrical, aural and visual) in a particular release contributes to it's whole. All are the "analogous" brush strokes that render a release "complete"... but as completion, in itself, is arbitrary, how do you measure when your vision is at an end, ready for consumption? What constitutes the completion of a Skepticism piece?
From my own point of view the songs are not
stable - they flow. For the new album we wrote a song I mentioned earlier,
called "The March and The Stream." It took two years to write it and
we ended up recording two separate versions of it. We always do little changes
and adjustments to the songs as time goes. If we stop feeling something is not
right on the song we stop the active work on it, but it is never the same,
played in two separate sessions.
When we get to record our songs we have usually brought them to a point where there is nothing big we want to adjust anymore. The piece is complete when it is recorded. The flow slowly dies when we move to writing new songs for new releases. For example we virtually never play the Stormcrowfleet songs at our rehearsals. The version of a song on our releases is a snapshot of its life, but from the highest point. That is what matters for someone listening to the complete CD. That is the only thing there is - exists - of that song.
4.I realize that some band members are interested heavily in philosophy. Are there any philosophers in particular that have led to the development of the band members' ideology?
When it comes to theory - academic philosophy
- I am the only one. When it comes to practice - I'd say we all have a somehow
philosophic aspect. Still I am not certain any influences from that side could
be seen or heard from our releases.
My own interest has recently turned towards existentialism, which is enjoyed in its prose and practical forms also by the other members. This - I believe - is because of the fact that we are completely different kind of persons combined mainly by the same kind of attitude or aesthetics - which has a slight relation to existentialism.
5.I had always wondered about the general point of existentialism. I have a joke with my friends of the Dead Existentialist that comes back from the grave only to speak of his wasted efforts in real life. Not to sound impudent, but existentialism is a philosophy that appears to have no resolution outside of what the author deems it to be, whereas something along the lines of monism has a purpose, as far fetched as it may be to an empiricist. Existentialism is more of a poetic field of study. Your thoughts on this? [Note: My own view of existentialism has altered since writing this - Yury]
Existentialism is a more poetic philosophy than most. That is because many of the key existentialists were also known in literature, starting from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and ending up somewhere around Sartre and Camus. I find their (meaning the two last ones) novels somehow amusing in their cynical and nihilist visions. Still existentialism is not strongly connected with determinism - even if it is not the most optimistic view. I don't see a clear connection with monism... maybe some kind of subjective monism, placing weight on "subjective."
The general point of existentialism: in human being existence comes before essence. This means you are nothing before you make something out of yourself - create yourself. The freedom of choice is absolute - and binding. You choose even by refusing to choose.
I don't agree with everything these guys write, but I see the strength of these thoughts especially in describing reality. Their normative sides are less convincing, but as a description of subjective behavior and as simply enjoyable prose - I appreciate Existentialism highly.
Skepticism hidden in the woods...
6.I imagine that the Finnish landscape serves as a muse for the music of Skepticism. Is Finland as dark and beautiful as all of us America are lead to believe, or is it pure hype to sell good music?
It is beautiful, but a pure myth it is only
to ones who have not seen it. For us it is naturally something we can not think
of not having.
...And I must admit to being pleased to walk outside now, when autumn is at its best. Truly refreshing...
7.What fascinates you most about the glorious night?
It depends -
8.Some people consider Skepticism too
slow. What words do you have for these people? None.
Too slow for them means only that they should listen to something else.
9.You have a MCD already recorded and slated for release soon on Red Stream. How can you describe this new material? It is even darker and more unsettling I hope!
The MCD consist of a special version of a
song called "The March and The Stream" which is probably the heaviest
Skepticism song ever. I was pleased especially with how the atmosphere became
in this one. Maybe thinner but more powerful than any of the Stormcrowfleet
songs. Then there is one called "Aether" which is a flowing one,
smooth and somehow "beautiful" in the way we see it. As "The
March and the Stream", Aether will appear also on the whole CD, but as a
The last song of the MCD is called "Chorale" and is a different version from the 1993 Aeothe Kaear-tape. "Chorale" was the only song on that tape that was left out from Stormcrowfleet and we decided to bring it forth again this way.
The whole thing differs rather much from Stormcrowfleet, but in the same mentioned direction we have taken from our very first releases. I can t tell whether it is darker or heavier, but it has surely been brought further, much further than before - and I think there is a connection between these issues.
The MCD "ethere" is a part of our project which is currently going on. Now that we have now finished it, we are working on the whole CD that should be released shortly after the MCD.
11.Red Stream is one of the most honest underground label/distributors out there (this interview was obviously done some time ago - things have certainly changed with Red Stream's 'honesty' - ed). Some venture to call them an "elitist" label. Would you agree? You are satisfied with Red Stream?
I can not quite imagine what is meant by
Gentleman - style?
And I can not make clear whether "elitist" is seen as good or bad.
Yes we are satisfied with Red Stream. So far we have gotten everything we need and personally I get along very well with Patrick.
12.What I mean by elitism, and this is a term many undergrounders are apt to throw around today, is of a group, or, in this case, a label that specializes in only the best and most powerful matters. Of course, it could be a folly to argue over something as subjective and prone to opinion as aesthetics, but taking into mind the obscure and select music Pat carries, the appellation does seem to carry a significance...
I see...why focus on anything irrelevant? I see no reason for that. To be polite? To satisfy the varying audience? This kind of elitism sound natural is my ears...
13.Has Skepticism played at any live venues as of yet? If not, do you plan to in the future?
We have not played live within the last four years, but we will possibly play one show in two months. I only wonder what kind of crowd we should find...
14.What music are you currently listening to? Is there any unsigned band you have heard that you believe deserves more attention than it is presently receiving in the underground?
I can't say I follow the underground too closely these days, somehow I started feeling a scent of slow dying in it in the recent years...
15.Is man doomed to failure and self-destruction?
se. (I am not the kind of person who calls themselves gloomy, but are de facto
begging for pity.)
Man is "doomed" to be.
Anything further is more or less a result of a personal choice (right out of the existentialist handbook - ed).
16.I believe that to be all. Any skeptical last words for our readers?
interested in our music can get hold of our new material, first
"ethere" possibly before the end of 1997. The whole CD will come out
in early 1998. Information on these can be obtained from Red Stream.
For the ones interested in getting in touch with us, our contact address is: