Interview with Julio of SATURNUS

Interview with Julio of SATURNUS

- in Written interviews

Hi! “The Storm Within” is your fifth album. Can you tell us about the journey and inspiration behind creating this record?
The title somehow sums up the general feel since Saturnus went through an authentic inner storm for quite a long period of time, coupled with the global situation the world went through. There’s where the name came.

The title “The Storm Within” hints at both inner and outer turmoil. How did personal experiences and the band’s hiatus contribute to the artistic expression on this album?
The Storm Within is in a sense a concept album but based on real life experiences, guiding the listener through our journey. Somehow, we needed to let the steam off by pouring ourselves into the music and present what we all felt across the years and what we were going through. There wasn’t any hiatus but the need of moving forward while dealing with countless obstacles of different nature. All these struggles can be seen in all songs.

The themes of seas, rain, and stormy waters are present throughout the songs. How did you incorporate these elements to reflect emotions such as anger, loss, melancholy, and pain?
It’s easy to depict through a storm how what was left by numerous struggles faced through time leave, the overwhelming mess that eventually ends up passing. In that sense, and through all elements you are referring to, we guide the listener through our journey, from an inner turmoil to the truth, through pain and darkness, embracing it together with sorrow, but always with room for that silver lining through the acceptance of the depth of our pain.

Can you describe the evolution of your craftsmanship and songwriting on this album compared to your previous works?
Well, Indee and I joined Saturnus in 2020, and the agreement made was creating material from scratch. There wasn’t much material left by the previous line-up, and we all wanted to try new perspectives and approaches. In that sense, we were 100% free to create something not tied to anything else. Of course, Covid and Lockdown was a setback for us since it made us stop, but at the same time made us create more material; counting on technology, we could talk 24/7 if we wanted. If this happened in i.e. 1990, we would have had to chew and swallow ourselves at home. As said, ideas started from scratch but somehow sharing the essence of the band, always present through all members. Probably this work is more organized in structure and rooted on personal experiences we were and had been going through and the struggle as a band for keeping the flame alive while dealing with so many obstacles through the years.

Working with producer Flemming Rasmussen, known for his work with METALLICA, must have been a significant experience. How did his involvement contribute to the overall sound and quality of “The Storm Within”?
Flemming, as we always say, is a Brother In Arms to say the least. A good friend and part of the band, knowing how we work and sound. He knows where we come from and what we have been through since he was there the whole way. And his Sweet Silence Studios are the perfect place for a band, with awesome gear and tools we can always use. Flemming is not afraid to let us know how we are playing, how parts are being done, etc. His contribution is essential in Saturnus, since he’s been like a member since years ago, as you know.

SATURNUS has been active since 1993. How has the band evolved and matured over the years, both musically and personally?
Well, from my perspective, and considering that I have not been in the band for so long, I can assert that these 30 years have meant a truly enjoyed lifetime for them, with many pending things to do, not finished at all. Thomas and Brian are “the Old Guard” in this regard, and, to sum up it all, his comments and feelings clearly depict that it is all about emotions and will power, irrespective of the boosts you may receive from time to time. You stop conceiving it as something ephemeral counting on constant goals and a defined path. And I think that, irrespective of the fluctuations, this is what has happened within Saturnus; maturity through feelings and emotions, with a pace that, even when it’s seen as slow, it’s been solid and full of dozens of achievements.

Your debut album, “Paradise Belongs to You,” established SATURNUS as a household name in Northern Europe. How has your music and fanbase evolved since then?
As said, our music has evolved according to the experience and knowledge both about music itself and life that the guys have acquired through all these years, and our fanbase has done it as well since, well, I think that the band has been able to transfer the essence of its own identity and the fans are able to receive and recognize it without any doubt, feeling how it impacts in their hearts and letting them identify somehow with what is being told.

What were some of the challenges and obstacles you faced during the creation of “The Storm Within,” and how did you overcome them?
The main obstacle was, firstly, distance, both for Indee and me. The second obstacle came from Covid and the subsequent lockdown stage. However, even when it was a true setback for everyone, it made us create more material since we had time and remote tools for sharing it all.

Can you tell us about the guest musician, Paul Kuhr from Novembers Doom, and how his vocals added a unique touch to the song “Even Tide”?
Aside from Paul being a brilliant singer, he’s also a very good friend of the band. His voice is somehow unique and helped shaped ‘Even Tide’ into the song it is on the album. Thomas wrote to Paul and asked him if he would sing on the track and that could even write the lyrics himself, and he did. The result is pure emotion in audio.

The album was recorded at Sweet Silence Studios with Flemming Rasmussen and Cymatic Studios with Indee Rehal-Sagoo. How did these recording environments contribute to capturing the desired sound for the album?
As we always assert, recording at Flemmming’s is always a dream come true (particularly for the ones that haven’t done it before!), and now we could find out that it was a perfect combination with our brother Indee’s skills and studio, since he’s a producer as well and knows very well how to combine his approaches with Flemming’s. We counted on different tools and approaches when recording, way better ones, and that helped us improving our ideas and what we wanted to show.

“The Storm Within” features a mix of calm moments and brutal outbursts. How did you balance these contrasting elements to create a cohesive musical experience?
Most of times balance comes naturally when composing and when having in mind Saturnus’ essence through time. The parts added or played suggest at the same time where you are going while walking that path. We always think about adding all trademarks that makes Saturnus special and always considering its own origin, shall we call it. Composing is a process that means a source of calm for our souls, letting the steam off through it. Saturnus somehow has crafted its own approach to this musical experience through time, making all related anthems sound unique and familiar to any listener that knows about our essence.

The album artwork and layout by Mirko Stanchev are visually captivating. How does the artwork complement the themes and emotions explored in the music?
The artwork made by Mirko is a unique, raw, and pure illustration of our struggles, our battles, and the desire to keep the flame alive as well while fighting against our demons and obstacles. It’s not only a compliment but part of the identity of the album, that makes it better.

“The Storm Within” is available in various formats, including vinyl and CD. How important is it for you to offer physical formats in the digital age, and how does it enhance the listening experience for your fans?
In my opinion, I think the ‘album’ concept in different formats persists because there are still people liking that kind of walk through a band’s journey. In addition, in a world in which now it’s more about songs rather than about bands’ works, there’s still a certain level of appreciation for the efforts put on works and of old formats that somehow are making the album concept emerge with strength. In this case, the physical format of ‘The Storm Within’ helps the listener dive into a journey that depicts our inner turmoil from an inner storm to the truth itself, through darkness and pain to a silver lining through the acceptance of the depth of our sorrow.

Can you walk us through the tracklist of the album and highlight any particular songs that hold special meaning for you?
For me, all songs are special and remain relevant since it’s my first work in the band with the guys. All songs are made from our hearts and through past and current experiences, through lost battles or won strugglers, through real-life storms. Every bit of it, for me, remains special for a reason, and that’s what makes this work so personal and intimate in this sense.

SATURNUS celebrated its 20th anniversary and performed at prestigious festivals. How have these experiences influenced your music and live performances?
Experiences in big festivals are always good and makes both your way of performing and creating even better. It makes us bear in mind that we just play the music in the way we like it while converging in a point in which that sound and unique identity of the band is appreciated by our fans.

What are some of the major influences and inspirations behind the death doom style of music that SATURNUS is known for?
I think I can assert that Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise lost and the main influences from which the band took the very first spark. Of course bands like Mercyful Fate or Iron Maiden will always be there, but I think that those bands I mentioned are a kind of a cornerstone for our band’s existence.

As a band with a long history, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are starting their own musical journey?
NEVER GIVE UP. It’s a long-distance run, tough, but not impossible.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SCENE; since, without that scene, there wouldn’t be neither bands striving hard for music not shows or tours.

How do you see SATURNUS evolving in the future, and what goals do you hope to achieve with your music?
Saturnus will keep on walking under the pace we are now, creating more works on a regular basis and achieving more goals. We hope to get to more countries and to more people worldwide!

Are there any specific messages or emotions you want listeners to take away from “The Storm Within”?
The essence of the record is that, even when that perfect storm you can see there may leave an everlasting level of despair, it eventually ends up passing. Embracing darkness and pain leads us to feel between lines that there is a remote possibility of redemption or vindication in the middle of a wild sea of despair. There is always room for that silver lining through the acceptance of the depth of our pain.

From your point of view, how does sorrow shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us?
It changes how we conceive the world and make us see that the tangible reality is not the same for all persons. It can make us enter a process of questioning our own values and emotions, while re-evaluating paths and our personal growth. I refer to the perception of life itself because sorrow can make us share our own pain, becoming more aware of how others suffer as well, amplifying our appreciation for small moments of happiness and witnessing the human experience under a little silver lining through the clouded sky. Enduring and navigating through difficult oceans of despair can build inner strength. But yes, it’s our choice at the end of the day how we may respond, considering our background.

How does the contemplation of death shape our understanding of the value of life?
I think that, when done, the very first idea to emerge is that we are mortal, meaning that we are supposed to make the best of our time on the surface of this planet in this finite existence, and considering that we won’t be able to avoid that moment and that we must understand it as part of a journey from which we must focus on priorities and blessings.

How does the experience of loss redefine our sense of identity and purpose?
Loss shreds our souls and makes us question why we are still here and who we are. Somehow, a loss experience connects to what I was saying in the previous questions, since it makes you rebuild your identity, your priorities, the direction of your growth, and of your life’s meaning while cultivating appreciation for those sporadic silver linings we talked about.

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