Interview with NONSUN

Interview with NONSUN

- in Written interviews

Slava Ukraini! What was the inspiration behind your new album “Blood & Spirit”? Can you share some insights into its themes and concepts?
Героям слава!
The album draws its inspiration from delving into the profound struggles we experience during life’s most challenging moments. We’ve got five tracks that kinda act like yearnings or prayers that we throw out into the universe, not really expecting but still hoping for some answers.
We also want to create a space where listeners can connect with their own emotions and thoughts, allowing for personal interpretations and reflections on the themes presented in the music.
It’s all about exploring the human condition and seeking meaning within the depths of our inner turmoil.

Your previous album “Black Snow Desert” was intended to be like a single composition spread across six tracks, while “Blood & Spirit” is more a collection of distinct, standalone songs. What motivated you to take this approach for your sophomore effort?
A major factor was that the creative process took place in a home studio, whereas the previous album was created in live jams in a rehearsal room. You know, when playing together live, and there’s that chemistry between band members, the compositions can just keep on growing endlessly. It’s crucial to know when to stop, haha.
We didn’t have such a privilege during the making of “Blood & Spirit”. The composing process primarily occurred within the mind.

How has your sound evolved from your debut album to “Blood & Spirit”? Are there any new elements or influences that you incorporated into your music?
Our sound has been evolving naturally. It’s all about going with the flow. We don’t have a masterplan or a deliberate direction. That would just kill the creativity and magic. Instead, we let all the musical influences we’ve absorbed over the years mix and eventually develop into something. It’s always exciting what would come out, you know.
Our albums might sound different from each other, but that’s the beauty of it all. We dig bands that surprise their fans, and we like to think we do the same with our music.

The opening track of “Blood & Spirit,” “A Wizard Grieving Over The Loss Of Magic,” has a dreamy, almost post-rock adjacent intro that gradually builds up to a heavy guitar riff. Can you describe the songwriting process behind this track?
As long as I remember, the third part (sludgy riff) came up first, then it grew into the next riff. The opening intro and the first heavy (melo-doomy) part emerged after. Then it all was like puzzle pieces clicking together. And then all further arrangements were gradually built.
No forcing or artificial combining, it all flowed from one point. Just like in that Procol Harum song: “In the centre of the storm, Something magic being born”, haha.

Your music is often described as a blend of doom, drone, and post-metal. How do you approach incorporating these different genres into your music?
Our music naturally blends all those genres without us consciously planning it. As mentioned before, we draw inspiration from various music styles, but our main focus is expressing our psycho-emotional state through music at a certain point in time.
When writing, we start with a riff or melody that feels powerful, then let it lead the way. It’s a mystical and meditative process that shapes our music. Just like in that Queen song, you know: “It’s a kind of magic – One shaft of light that shows the way.” 🙂
No magic, no fun, man 😉

While your new album is technically an instrumental record, it features rumbling, guttural vocalizations and breathy chants that build a looming sense of dread throughout the album. Can you talk about the role of vocals in your music, and how you integrated them into “Blood & Spirit”?
Originally, we weren’t planning on having vocals in “Blood & Spirit” at all. We thought it would be like our previous album, “Black Snow Desert,” fully instrumental. But as we worked on the demos, something felt missing. This album is more introspective, dealing with emotions and personal experiences. So we felt we should add a touch of a “human” (and simultaneously “spiritual”) element.
It took several evenings experimenting with vocalizations and improvising until we found the right vibe. But the process of integrating the already recorded voice tracks into the songs took quite a while, as it was our first time trying something like this.

The album’s theme refers to spiritual struggles through the bloodiest of times. How do you balance exploring these heavy themes with creating an enjoyable listening experience for your fans?
Even though the themes may be heavy, we like to think that art can offer solace and catharsis. For us, music goes beyond just entertainment; it’s a spiritual experience, something that delves into existential matters and touches the depths of our souls.
People who’ve reviewed our previous releases often said they sensed that spiritual element in our music. With “Blood & Spirit”, we’ve somewhat cranked that up even more, emphasized, you know.
We hope our music connects with people on a deeper level and leaves them with something special after listening.

The titles of your songs on “Blood & Spirit” are intriguing and thought-provoking, such as “Guilt, Disgust, Disaster” and “In Your Eyes I’m a Cripple.” Can you share some insights into the meanings behind these titles?
Let’s keep them intriguing and thought-provoking, that’s the idea 🙂
The song titles arise from the vibe of a song, its structure, etc. They’re more like free associations, open to interpretation and personal connections.
Some of them may hold personal meaning for me at the moment they emerge, but once the song is done they start to live their own life and no longer have fixed, one-dimensional meaning, not even for myself.

As a band from Ukraine, how has the war and russian aggression in your country influenced your music and artistic expression?
It’s too earlier to say how the war and zombieland’s aggression will influence musicians here in Ukraine. For some, it may lead to darker creativity, while others might turn to escapism and create more peaceful art. For some, it may add more depth to their art, for others, it may kill all their creative capabilities. Not yet sure which our case will be. But it’s already clear that the careers and plans of most bands and artists from Ukraine will be destroyed or damaged. Many lose their lives. Our former guitarist was killed in April 2022 in battle against russian occupiers.
Until recently, Ukrainian bands were allowed to travel temporarily abroad for concerts and tours to gather some support and donations for our country. Now it’s been banned by our own government for most male artists, so we’ve lost even this opportunity. It’s disheartening to witness how these decisions can negatively impact our culture and, in fact, only help killing it, nothing else.

Lviv, Ukraine, where you are based, has a rich cultural history. How has your city and its artistic community influenced your music?
Lviv indeed has a rich cultural history. However, I don’t think our city and its artistic community have had a significant influence on our music. We have always drawn inspiration from other sources. Our connections to Lviv’s artistic community are limited. As one might hear in our music itself, it bears no resemblance to any other band from Lviv. While we do appreciate some Lviv bands and have friends among them, we consider ourselves more as outsiders, with our primary influences and inspirations stemming from elsewhere.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced as a band, and how have you overcome them?
We face constant challenges, and they’re becoming even harder. From economic and human factors to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the full-scale stage of the war, it seems they’re just piling up and never stopping. Ukraine is a very uncomfortable place for musicians even without war, and even more so now. To be honest, I have no clue how we’ve managed to overcome all these challenges up to this point or how long we’ll still be able to overcome them.

What’s next for NONSUN? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?
It’s hard for us to feel excited about anything in this circumstance. We’re exhausted. But despite all the doom and gloom, we still somehow manage to keep going and do something, like writing new stuff and even planning some local gigs while we can. Though, we’re aware that things can change abruptly at any moment. We’re trying to stay focused and take things one step at a time.

Thank you! I wish you all the best and a speedy victory in withdrawing the russian occupiers from Ukraine!
Thank you very much for your kind wishes and words of support! And thank you for this interview, really much appreciated. All the best to you too!

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