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Interview: Dis Pater of Midnight Odyssey

Just recently I had the opportunity of interviewing one of the most masterful and creative minds in atmospheric black metal, Australia's very own Dis Pater of one man band Midnight Odyssey. Cold, yet comforting ambient black metal from Brisbane. Midnight Odyssey's music takes you on a depressing and bleak aural journey with stunning soundscapes, doom passages and an impressively diverse vocal range. We spoke about his latest album Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains, the state of black metal, nature, his creative process and much more.

What were some of the very first black metal bands that you discovered and pushed you in the directions to create this type of music?

I first heard black metal in 1998, with bands like Destroyer 666, Dimmu Borgir, Samael and Gehenna. It was through Triple J’s then 3 Hours of Power show which I would religiously listen to each Friday night that I discovered many of these bands. Reading issues of Terrorizer and the Australian zine In Your Face opened up new bands and labels to me. This was before the internet so there was a real challenge in finding this music which I thought was simply magical. I think it was hearing Australian bands like Nazxul and Lord Kaos which made me realise Australian bands could hold their own. It really helped me to take the leap and try writing myself.

Your albums are very ambient and experimental, how did you come about making this type of music? Was it inspired by other musicians or just a creative outlet that came to you?

I’ve been writing ambient or neoclassical music almost as long as black metal. I think the fascination started with the intros and outros of albums and then grew when I heard bands like Dead Can Dance, Mortiis and Arcana. It has the same feel and atmosphere as black metal does, and so just kind of fits. I love keys and synths which was really always frowned upon by elitists in the metal world. I also like a lot electronic music so that side of music is there as well, though maybe not as pronounced until the new album.

Australia has some very talented one man band projects, especially in black metal. What’s it like creating a complex album from scratch entirely on your own terms?

I won’t lie, it’s fantastic. I work at my own pace, which can be slow or rather manic. It starts off as something small and just grows and grows and is such a cathartic exercise I don’t know how I would survive without doing it. I guess people have their own way of expressing themselves, but for me music has always been the avenue of escape.

Have you been in other bands before or have you always been a solo artist?

I have and do play in non-metal related bands, which for me is about the experience of hanging out with good friends and learning. I know what rehearsing and performing is about, and have played live in or with a couple of black metal bands here in Brisbane. They work very differently to how I work as an individual but I take those lessons away with me and try to grow as a musician. 

Are there other types of music that you are just as passionate about other than black metal?

Well metal in general is my main passion, but there are so many other styles of music from industrial to dark wave, synth pop to classical music that I am just as passionate about. But black metal for me is my lifeblood, it’s more than just music to me.

How long did it take for you to make this latest album ‘Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains’ and what sort of story does the lyrical themes on this release tell the listener?

I started writing about 2 years ago, and over that time have reworked songs on multiple occasions. The lyrics revolve around Saturn/Cronus in classical mythology. I always write from multiple viewpoints so my personal part is always that of the wanderer, someone who doesn’t belong here nor there. What he encounters is what he sings. Saturn is banished and exiled and that is ultimately what the theme of this album is about.

Does this mean that there will be a Part 2 in the near future?

Yes and a part 3. I had so many songs written that it would fit over 3 releases. Part 2 will be out this year, recording is almost complete as I write. It is stylistically different. 

You’re a very good singer, which in black metal can be often rare. Are you a self-taught singer?

I am self taught. I learnt piano from a very young age and then stopped when I was 6 or 7. But that musical knowledge has flowed through me all this time. I would like to be an even better singer of course so I might need some professional training!

With nature being something that inspires you as an artist and I’d imagine you are very passionate about. How do you feel that our country is burning right now and so much of our beautiful land and trees are now destroyed?

We fuck with nature thinking that we can tame her. She wins time and time again. Greed and unbelievable selfishness is behind the suffering of people, animals and land. Trees will regrow, some animals will come back, humanity will persist in its stupidity. It’s sad it takes something like this to enforce change, that our leaders are so weak that they can only be reactive, not proactive. It might be the wake up call we need as things have to change, and either we can make that decision or nature will force it upon us.

Do you think that listening to black metal alters your state of mind? Like if you listened to nothing but depressive suicidal black metal, perhaps you might become depressed and enter a darker place? Or does it depend on the persons mind and how they are able to adapt and cope with certain things?

Different for everyone I guess. Most people hear noise and turn away from it. It’s not something you just casually get into. For me I don’t think it altered the state of my mind, if anything it was a natural match for what I was  seeking. As an unstable youth it was an outlet of connection and gave a bit of meaning to life. I think if you listened to only depressive black metal you might find some comfort if you were already depressed, but being depressed from it might only come from being exposed to mostly terrible and sloppy music! For me black metal is majestic, it’s empowering, it makes you feel like your above the dregs of society and able to enter a higher realm, no matter how stuck in fantasy it might be.

You’ve kept your identity mostly secretive, do most people in your life know what you do in terms of the music you create and your Dis Pater persona? 

I’d say only the closest know. Most people I don’t tell, it’s not something I like to promote as I don’t like the attention and I guess I come from a time when black metal was still secretive and not as openly exposed.

2019 saw some terrific underground releases, and a couple of good ones from bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone also. What’s your take on the black metal scene currently? Not just in Australia but overseas as well. 

It’s in a very healthy state that’s for sure, between older and newer bands. I think the current world climate has solidified the scene a little more than it might have, good music is usually written when there are things worth writing about.

I very much enjoy listening to the type of music you create because it takes you on a journey, and commuting to work 2 hours each way 5 times a week really gives me a chance to digest albums like this and find new and exciting moments. So I just wanted to thank you for making my train trips a much better experience.

Thank you and I’m glad I can make that long trip a little more bearable!

Biolume Part 1 - In Tartarean Chains is out now via I, Voidhanger Records.

Bandcamp: https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com

Official Website: https://midnightodysseyofficial.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/midnightodyssey

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