Hello guys, Slava Ukraini! How has the ongoing russian aggression towards Ukraine influenced your music and creative process? Has it affected the themes or lyrics in your songs, or the way you approach your performances?
Hi! Geroyam Slava! And thanks for contacting us. Yevhen GOREON Kravchenko is in touch – the leader, guitarist and vocalist of ORBSTRUCT. Oh! I have a lot to say about this. Thanks for asking. This whole war has certainly left its mark on everything and everyone it has touched. And of course, it is an indisputable fact that even if we do not see it explicitly, we are still subconsciously changing under the influence of such strong pressure. Specifically in the case of our band, we tried to do our best to minimize the damage to our creativity, but still, we face difficulties. For example, we had to completely rebuild the rehearsal process and the process of working on new material, because half of the band – two of us, left Kharkiv at the beginning of the war and now lives in another part of the country, while the other two members remained in Kharkiv. Now we get together only if some kind of concert is scheduled, and we need to have time to rehearse at least a couple of times before the next performance. Our drummer Volodymyr does not have the opportunity to travel anywhere now because of the war, so we had to quickly look for a temporary replacement for him for live performances and recording a new album. It’s the same with working on new material – unfortunately now we don’t have the opportunity to work on new songs all together, as it was before. Luckily, this didn’t show up in our live performances – we’re still playing and delivering quality shows to keep our listeners satisfied and continue to support us as much as we support them. And we tried to minimize the impact of the war on our music, because ORBSTRUCT never had anything to do with politics. ORBSTRUCT is about a person, his inner world, environment and mental changes. However, we couldn’t resist completely, and the new album will contain one song dedicated to the bastards who attacked Ukraine. In the music itself, I began to feel that we have become much more demanding of ourselves and more selective. Those tunes that used to turn us on, now do not please us. We began to change some parts of the new compositions in accordance with our new feelings and as a result, in my opinion, we got a great symbiosis of aggression and pressure, which were in our first album, with the gloominess and detachment of our second album. And all this is intensified by new emotions for us, which are caused by daily shelling of Ukraine, including the cities where we and our families live – this is a negative experience, but it is unique in its own way, because when you realize that the next shell can hit into your house, and enemy drones are already shooting down above it and the walls are trembling from the force of explosions, you begin to think in a completely different way and measure everything around with other values.
What was the inspiration behind your latest music video for “Reaper’s Path”? Can you take us through the creative process behind the video’s production?
Of course, death comes first! All our work is inspired by human as a perfect being, and death as an integral part of it. To be honest, at the very beginning, I wanted this video to be a kind of satirical joke, making fun of the old stereotype about fans of the heaviest forms of metal, like that we are actually going to rehearsals not to compose music, but to create all sorts of dumb things like perversions, sacrifices and other dumb shit. But at the same time, I really wanted to create a video that would preserve the spirit of old school death metal, and also show our vision of death in it. Unfortunately, we were limited in finances. For this, it was necessary to proceed from what is. Therefore, I decided that I needed to pay attention to some details, such as the color of the eyes, the attributes of the main character, etc. And during preparation, when I began to collect the images of the characters and combine them with the theme of the song and music, it was precisely those small details that I mentioned above that made it clear that it would be something different, something better than just a funny video with hairy men shaking their heads.
Your band’s music is inspired by iconic death metal bands like Morbid Angel, Bloodbath, and Vader. How do you differentiate yourselves from these bands while still incorporating their influence into your music?
Very simply – we live in a completely different environment, at a different time and under the influence of completely different circumstances. All these bands are certainly great for us and will always remain an example for us to follow. But by their example, they only showed us the direction, and we overcome this path in a completely different way, not like them. That’s what makes us different from all the other bands we’re compared to – we all have the same goal and the same passion, but we each make our own mistakes and deal with them in our own way. In my opinion, this is what forms the main image and position of the band as an independent, self-sufficient unit.
Can you tell us about your songwriting process? How do you balance creating music that is both heavy and atmospheric?
Our basic approach to songwriting is that the listener should not get tired of our music. To do this, in each song we try not to get stuck on the same riff for a long time. This approach forces you to think all the time about how to change the mood of the composition so that it is appropriate, but at the same time gives the feeling of plot development, as if you are reading an interesting book or watching a cool movie. This is how we get the very balance between heaviness and atmosphere. We ourselves have set ourselves these limits and we ourselves try to comply with them.
Your band incorporates themes of Death, Agnosticism, Atheism, Self-improvement, and Self-development into your music. Can you expand on how these themes are reflected in your lyrics and music?
Sure. Basically, when writing texts, I try to identify my life experience or emotional experiences, which became the basis for this or that text, with some images in order to untie my idea from specific physical objects and thus enable the listener to try on this story for themselves. This allows me to gain invaluable experience in creating abstractions, and the listener to draw their own conclusions, looking at the events of the song through the prism of my worldview. This is self-improvement and self-development, and it comes first. Then comes agnosticism and atheism. I will not now go into the details of these concepts. Any interested person who develops will be able to find all the information himself. The main idea is that relying on something invisible, especially in a difficult situation, a person thereby shifts the responsibility for his actions to some mythical creature and believes that in case of failure he will have the right to justify himself by that that being did not do his work for him or did not help him at the right moment. It interferes with human development. Therefore, a conscious rejection of such ideas, that is, Atheism, leads to enlightenment and an increase in one’s own strength and significance as a person. But there is also Agnosticism. We cannot know everything in the world and many things are hidden from our eyes. If we do not have clear evidence of an action or phenomenon, we are not required to doubt our own beliefs, but should be respectful and wary of what we do not know or do not understand. And of course, death. Death is the logical end of any path. I’m not just talking about physical death. Not only living beings can die. Feelings, interests, faith can die… And this death can open a place for something new and possibly more beautiful! Or maybe something even worse. We don’t know for sure, but when the time comes, we won’t have a choice, we’ll have to find out.
How has your sound and composition evolved since the release of your debut album?
As I said earlier, we have become much more demanding of ourselves and more selective in our music. If we compare our current stage of development with what the band was like at the time of the creation of the first album, then I would say that at first glance the difference does not seem so big and therefore it is not so noticeable to the naked eye, but as you know, the devil is in the details, and it is these details that make up the very specialty of each release of each artist. I really hope that listeners will notice these details in our new album. If so, then I will be calm and proud that I have coped with my task. If not, then either I did not do enough to convey my idea, or my idea is not suitable for being promoted to the masses. Let’s wait for the release of the new album and find out which of this is the truth.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music and live performances?
In terms of mentality, I really hope that listening to our music and attending our live performances, listeners will open their minds to meet us, realize the importance of a clear, bright mind, become stronger and more self-sufficient, feel confident in their future and are not afraid of trials that life had in store for them. And from the point of view of emotions, I would like the listeners to plunge into something like a warm, soft, viscous jelly that slowly irreversibly envelops them, and they want to drown in it, and this jelly is our music.
Your band is known for creating a dark and oppressive atmosphere in your music. How do you bring this atmosphere to your live shows and connect with your audience?
I think our music does it for us on its own. We do everything we need in the studio. And at concerts, we just remain ourselves. We do not have any pyrotechnic shows or other special effects. We just try to convey our energy to the listeners in all ways available to us – through looks, through gestures and body language. Literally a couple of times during the concert, I arrange a small monologue with the audience to tell them about things that excite me and which I consider important. And we also enhance the effect of the atmosphere of our performance with special ambient inserts between songs that we did not use in the studio during the recording of the albums, we composed these inserts specifically for live performances to enhance the effect of our music in the hall.
What challenges have you faced as a Ukrainian death metal band and how have you overcome them?
The main problem has always been and remains the low level of wages and the low standard of living in Ukraine as a whole. As you can imagine, this causes great difficulties for musicians when it comes to the need to buy better instruments and equipment, invest more money in recording and mixing, and so on in order to grow further. These difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that, due to the complexity of logistics, the prices for all this equipment in our country are much higher than in Europe or even in the USA! For example, a good guitar amplifier in Ukraine will cost at least half as much as in Europe, due to high customs taxes and expensive delivery. Therefore, most musicians and bands remain at a low level – not because they do not want to develop, but because they are simply not allowed to do so. All their income is spent on fighting social problems that the state does not help solve, but rather adds more and more new ones. Basically, all the musicians I know who continue to seriously engage in music and develop their bands, including myself, solved this problem by changing their main occupation to work in IT. And the second main problem is the concert logistics. Previously, it was difficult to travel abroad, because it was expensive for European organizers to bring a group from Ukraine to their fest, and before obtaining a visa-free regime with EU countries, it was very difficult for us to obtain visas to other countries to travel to concerts. With the introduction of a visa-free regime, the situation improved significantly, but alas, not for long, because the war began and now men of military age are simply not allowed out of the country until the end of martial law. These are our current realities. And, of course, death metal has never been a particularly popular genre in our country, but I think this problem exists in any country.
What are your future goals for ORBSTRUCT, both musically and as a band in general?
I have many more ideas that I would like to bring to life! That’s why I see the future of ORBSTRUCT bright and wonderful – many more interesting releases, a good label, concerts all over the world and meeting a lot of heavy music fans like us. So, I hope that in the foreseeable future we will be able to meet you personally when ORBSTRUCT comes to your city for a concert.
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