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Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief): “Todavía tengo la pasión de agarrar mi guitarra y componer”

Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief): “Todavía tengo la pasión de agarrar mi guitarra y componer”

Con casi un disco cada dos años durante un cuarto de siglo de carrera, los ingleses The Pineapple Thief son una banda que no parece cansarse nunca. Cultores de una […]

Cristian Rodríguez (Avernal): “El mejor legado que tenemos es nuestra música”

Cristian Rodríguez (Avernal): “El mejor legado que tenemos es nuestra música”

Desde el búnker general de Track to Hell nos comunicamos con Cristian Rodríguez, el encargado de las voces y líder de Avernal, una de las legendarias bandas de death metal […]

Cross Roarr: “La gente estaba muy loca”

Cross Roarr: “La gente estaba muy loca”

Siempre es curioso cómo los primeros minutos después de la hora en la que citan los carteles el ambiente en el Anexo Independencia siempre parece un tanto desértico, y cómo […]

Aron Bragi Baldursson (Aaru): “Creemos que hay una falta de diversidad en Islandia sobre los tipos de metal que se tocan”

Aron Bragi Baldursson (Aaru): “Creemos que hay una falta de diversidad en Islandia sobre los tipos de metal que se tocan”

Aunque Islandia es una tierra que ha sabido dar su aporte al mundo de la música pesada, con casi cualquier estilo metalero teniendo algún nombre importante proveniente de esta isla, […]

Aron Bragi Baldursson (Aaru): “We feel there is a lack of diversity in the types of metal being played in Iceland”

Aron Bragi Baldursson (Aaru): “We feel there is a lack of diversity in the types of metal being played in Iceland”

Even though Iceland is a land that has managed to give a lot to the heavy music world, with almost every single major metal genre having some well known band […]

Fernando Lamattina (Svdestada): “Nuestra música de cabecera no es ni el crust, ni el punk, ni el black, es el tango”

Fernando Lamattina (Svdestada): “Nuestra música de cabecera no es ni el crust, ni el punk, ni el black, es el tango”

Considerando el desarrollo de Svdestada desde su debut hace cinco años, ¿puedes analizar la progresión musical de la banda a lo largo de sus tres discos, especialmente en relación con […]

Iván Flores (Greengoat): “Escuchamos desde metal hasta flamenco, e influye en todo lo que hacemos”

Iván Flores (Greengoat): “Escuchamos desde metal hasta flamenco, e influye en todo lo que hacemos”

Estuvimos hablando con Iván Flores, guitarra y voz de los madrileños Greengoat sobre su más reciente trabajo A.I y ahora les  vamos a consultar sobre como se gesto esta idea […]

Mind Driller: “No hay una fórmula que te abra las puertas del paraíso”

Mind Driller: “No hay una fórmula que te abra las puertas del paraíso”

Con motivo del lanzamiento de su nuevo disco The Void, que estará a la venta este mes de enero vía Art Gates Records, me junté con Javi Industrial (Guitarra), Estefanía […]

Emiliano Obregón (Lörihen): “El negocio de la música está volviendo al modelo del rey llamando al bufón”

Emiliano Obregón (Lörihen): “El negocio de la música está volviendo al modelo del rey llamando al bufón”

Lörihen es un nombre grande en la escena metalera argentina, con casi treinta años de carrera, siete discos de estudio y una gran selección de músicos tanto en la formación […]

Fátima (Rabia Pérez): “No sobrevive el más fuerte, sino el que mejor se adapta”

Fátima (Rabia Pérez): “No sobrevive el más fuerte, sino el que mejor se adapta”

Con motivo del lanzamiento de su explosivo EP Premonición, me junte con Fátima, vocalista de los metaleros Rabia Pérez para que me cuente un poquito todo sobre este lanzamiento y […]


Michał Kiełbasa (Whalesong): “We merge all the genres and we have no limits”
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Working as a guitar technician for Mayhem, Mgła and Watain is no joke, but Michał “Neithan” Kiełbasa has always had the need to express himself through music with an avant-garde attitude. Whalesong is his own creation, a very special Polish group with a touch of black metal, but which goes far beyond that. We talked about many different things in this long and interesting interview.


First of all, I wanted to thank you very much for this interview, Michał.

Hi Marcos. And I would like to thank you very much for invitation, I really appreciate that.

I reviewed the new Whalesong album “Leaving a Dream” and I must say it is a monumental record. What can you tell us about the creative process behind it and the differences you can find with the previous albums?

Thank you very much for kind words. I started to compose ‘Leaving a Dream’ around 2017-2018, so right after releasing ‘Disorder’ – our first album. When I started the band, I was mainly writing the music on guitar – that’s how our first albums came to life. It changed a bit with ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ – this one was originally supposed to be an EP, yet it evolved quite naturally into a second full length. I had already prepared riffs and guitars, but when recording the drums, we started to completely improvise in the studio. Then I added guitars and bass, changed some lengths of songs and started to add a lot of less usual instruments. While writing ‘Leaving a Dream’ first I was preparing arrangement sheets – writing down the ideas for whole composition, the way it’s supposed to evolve, colors I want to achieve sonically etc. Then I started to seek the sounds on the guitar or sometimes on different instruments. After that we recorded drums – again fully improvised. Next, I added main guitars, bass and started to orchestrate these forms – adding all the additional stuff. Write now I’m still writing like this; songs evolve slowly in new directions when I’m adding new textures and it’s a very interesting process for me as a composer.

By Aleksandra Wojcińska

Do you think of Whalesong more as a “collective” or just as a band? Why? What does it imply?

Both, but more like a band. The core members create the band – which is also our live lineup. All the guests and friends who help us record the albums – they brought a lot to this music, so we could say that the albums were done by a collective. I would like to expand the core lineup a bit – to let’s say a 6-piece, so the live shows would be even more overwhelming and have more layers – just like on the albums. Important thing is that our live lineup also can be evolving from time to time – we are able to play some shows as duo/trio/quartet/quintet etc. – all depends on the setlist, logistics and calendar of each of musicians. It’s also an interesting thing for us.

Your music avoids categorization because, even though it’s clearly experimental, it includes elements of industrial metal, black metal, sludge metal, doom metal, post-punk, post-rock, noise-rock, jazz, etc. Is that something you want to achieve deliberately or it’s just a natural consequence of your creative process and, eventually, it might very well end up with a, let’s say, a post-black metal or a neo-folk record, just to mention two random genres?

I have a clear vision of what I want to do next – not even now but let’s say 2-3 albums ahead. All the changes that appeared in our music are quite natural, what we’re doing now is what I wanted to do since the beginning and recording our debut EP ‘Filth’ in 2010. Finally, after the release of ‘Leaving a Dream’ we’re in the place where the record perfectly shows what is this band and what we’re doing. In the past it was a bit confusing – as live we were already performing some of the songs from ‘Leaving a Dream’, but we were right after (or once even before!) the release of ‘Disorder’ which was very brutal and kinda ‘metal’ record. ‘Leaving a Dream’ vibe also corresponds perfectly with our new songs that we already perform live quite often. Regarding the last part of your question – with this band we’re kinda escaping more and more from metal music, it’s still there, but it’s just a tiny piece creating what Whalesong is. And we’re definitely not gonna do a neofolk album – I have other band called Grave of Love which is a neofolk band – one is enough then, ha, ha. I don’t want this band to be a band like Ulver as well (although I am a huge fan of this group) – where every album is a completely different genre. I think here we merge all the genres and we have no limits, we are beyond that. We just play music. Hopefully a good one.

By Michał Borek

Do you have any favorite tracks on the album? If so, why those?

This is a tough question! It all changes all the time but currently my favorites are: 1) ‘Forgive’ – I like how dulcimer adds these few notes to the main guitar and I also love the beginning of this track – it sounds like a beginning of a rehearsal, everyone picks up their instruments, turn on the amps, someone hits accidentally a string, tunes in, joins and after few seconds everyone plays together; 2) ‘Leaving a Dream’ – for many years I wanted to write a noir jazz track, I’m really happy how it turned out with Elise’s voice, Steve’s piano and Aleksander’s saxophone, this song turned out to be very magical; 3) ‘Here I Am’ – this one is a very personal, I love it’s dynamics, how it goes up and down, up and down and then we get the overwhelming finale; 4) ‘Hope’ – this one is a very calm, silent and magical song, Elise’s voice added again a lot to this, recently we performed it live, the crowd was mesmerized; 5) ‘We Are Free’ – I love to play this one live, very mellow and hypnotizing track, I love it’s finale, so brutal and crushing; 6) ‘From the Ashes’ – the longest song on the album, it shows all faces of Whalesong, the loud and also the quiet, the final part is a total magic – thanks to Elise and great performance of Wukir Suryadi from Senyawa.

Michał, you work as a guitar technician for Mayhem, Mgła and Watain. Have those bands and your work with them influenced your music in any way?

My work as guitar tech did not influence my music in Whalesong – although thanks to it I learned a lot. Yet I must admit that Mayhem was always a huge influence for me since I was 13-14 years old. I’m pretty sure you can hear it somehow in our oldest riffs. Now when I hear those bands so often live – it definitely can affect me a bit when I write some metal riffs – but it will not affect Whalesong as we play something completely different guitar-wise and we have completely different arrangements, often based on improvisation.

I’m curious about your work with such great bands. What are the pros and cons of working with them when they are on tour?

The pros are: great time with people I like, travelling and seeing the world and different cultures, doing what I love to do. The cons: it’s not an easy job, a lot of stressful and unpredictable situations, you don’t sleep too much so you can get extremely exhausted after some time, especially when there is a lot of time zone changes. Yet we all love to do this and that’s what we chose to do.

By Michał Borek

What are your main influences when it comes to thinking of your music writing? What bands/artists do you listen to more often? Do you listen to new music or you usually listen to the same music you’ve already listened for a long time?

The musical ideas come and go in random moments, I just try to write them down so I don’t forget. Influences can come from everywhere – music, movies, books, articles, paintings and art, various life situations. It’s very random. Regarding what I listen to more often – it also varies from time to time, currently I listen a lot to new David Eugene Edwards album ‘Hyacinth’, new Hania Rani ‘Ghosts’, new records from Hexvessel, Wolvennest, new Chelsea Wolfe singles and also various albums by St. Vincent, Blood Incantation, Anenzephalia, UFO and Portishead. I constantly seek new music, every week I try to check some new stuff, of course I love to get back to some stuff I know, but again all depends on the moment. Yet I love to find new artists or finally check some older classics that somehow, I have not known to well.

Let’s talk about the guest musicians on this new album. I’m interested in all of them but especially Attila Csihar from Mayhem and Steve Blanco from Imperial Triumphant. I want to know about the decisions leading to those collaborations.

I know both of them for few years. I knew that Steve is an insanely great pianist, although most of people mainly recognize him as the bass player (even though he plays also piano in Imperial Triumphant). When I thought some of the songs on ‘Leaving a Dream’ need a piano he was my first choice to ask due to his jazz background – as I wanted this exact style of playing. What he did was mind-blowing and I am extremely happy it worked out! Insane stuff. Regarding Attila – I always wanted to do something with him and I thought his voice would fit perfectly the mid part of ‘From the Ashes’. Originally this song was supposed to be an instrumental track, but after Elise improvised her suberb vocal lines I thought this experimental part could also use something. In the meantime, Attila said he really likes this track and he could record something. The voices he did added a lot to this song.

Now something about other guests and friends. Aleksander Papierz – he recorded saxophone for us again (we already worked together on previous Whalesong album ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ and I also did a collaboration improv album with him called ‘Movements’, it was released by Antenna Non Grata in 2022). It is very natural for us to work together, we will definitely do something with each other again in the future, it would be also cool to perform together live someday. Lazarus – he is the vocalist and leader of Medico Peste. We’ve been on tour together last year. I don’t like to do any metal vocals myself, I’m never happy with that – so it was much easier to ask somebody to do it. I really like his style and also know what he’s capable of – fun fact is a lot of people think quite often t that Attila did vocals for ‘Ascend!’ and well, not at all, it’s Lazarus! In ‘We Have Never Really Lived’ there is a female voice drone in the background during a whole song – it’s Dancing Deadlips voice. She did a remix for us in the past and also did her vocal reinterpretations of two ‘Radiance’ songs that can be heard on ‘Radiant Suns Deformed’ remix album. I had an idea to have such a drone and thought her voice would suit it perfectly. Tomasz Herisz – another guest who already performed on our previous album. Tomasz is a great vibraphone player and percussionist. He plays in orchestras, wins a lot of percussion contests. I’m really glad he shared his talent with us again. Especially ‘Hope’, ‘Ascend!’ and ‘Leaving a Dream’ gained a lot thanks to him. Then we have Miro – great pianist, although he has completely different style to Steve. He is my very good friend and we work together in Grave of Love. I thought his very specific magical and eerie style would fit few tracks here. I especially love what he did in ‘We Have Never…’. Next is Pawel Pelka – great French horn player, we worked together on Grave of Love ‘All Those Tears Ago’ album and during recording session I thought we could also record some improvised parts for Whalesong. It was definitely a best choice ever. Last guest is Wukir Suryadi – I know him for few years and I am a huge fan of his work with Senyawa. I’m really glad he wanted to work with me on this record. He is able to create a total hypnotic magic on his self-made instruments. I thought something like that could perfectly end this experimental track. What you can hear in the end of ‘From the Ashes’ is one of my favorite parts of the album, especially since Elise added her out of this world voice.

What about the instruments you choose to create your music? You play a lot of instruments, including many “unconventional” ones in rock music (hammered dulcimer, tubular bells, vibes, mellotron, keys, lyre, theremin, gong, zither, sitar, violin, etc.) and objects such as plastic bags, saws and metal springs. Can you explain those choices?

With Whalesong I first write in my head the whole ‘song idea’ or the colors and dynamics. Then I seek the sounds on guitar and sometimes also on bass if it is more ‘post-punk’ vibe stuff. Since forever I used these two instruments to write ‘core’ elements of the song. Sometimes it’s electric guitar run through the amp or an acoustic one. Once we record drums and the first guitar layers – then I add other instruments and seek new melodies and textures following what I had in my mind or new ideas based on new instrument’s sounds. Nowadays I also started to write songs on piano, mellotron, vibraphone and hammered dulcimer – since I own them, I finally can do this, it also pushed me into new directions. From time to time, I also start with an electronic beat. When I don’t have ideas on one instrument – then I move to the other one until I get something I am fond of. I also like to create some ambient / noise textures on various synths or modular systems, this also can become a song sooner or later – like for example ‘shekissedmewithhervenomouslips’. You never know. Instruments like dulcimer, tubular bells, vibes, mellotron, gongs – these are things I always wanted to use in my music and own. I’m really glad that after many years I finally could afford them and get. It makes everything much easier and it also lets me to focus properly on the arrangements – I never liked to rent an instrument for one day and then seek the sounds in rush. One correction – I don’t use lyre, the thing in booklet is SOMA Lyra8 organismic synthesizer – it’s a great unusual synth, perfect for improvisations. More than a half of the ‘Leaving a Dream’ songs have it somewhere in the background. Regarding unusual stuff like plastic bags, saw and metal springs – me and also most of the band have industrial background where using various unmusical objects in musical way was always a natural choice. Just look at Einstürzende Neubauten, for example. I am huge fan of using metal saws. I really love how they sound when hit alone and also when stacked. Sometimes we bring this unusual stuff to our shows as well.

By Aleksandra Wojcińska

The lyrics are also very interesting. Tell us more about them, because, I think they are more or less connected, but I’m not sure if “Leaving a Dream” is a concept album.

Thank you very much for kind words. Although each song is a separate thing, still somehow the lyrics are connected in one way or another. Some of them are quite personal. I would not call this album a concept album, but at the same time it is not a compilation of random songs. One of the key questions appearing here and there is: What happens to dreams when the dreamer disappears? Are we somewhere between reality and dreams? There is a lot of possible answers. I am really glad how the lyrics worked out. They are not so obvious.

Considering the complexity of your music, the instrumentation, the guest artists, etc. What’s your approach to playing live? Do you try to recreate the recorded music the best you can or do you believe that playing live should allow you to create live versions with their own intrinsic value?

We definitely avoid playing the songs the same way as on the album. We usually rearrange them completely, sometimes the song is not even similar to the original version – like for example ‘Flesh’ from ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’, which you can hear in a completely different arrangement on ‘From the Ashes of the Past’ live album. I like to improvise around some elements of the original song and push it into a completely new direction. Thanks to that these songs ‘live’ and are not boring. Sometimes they can even evolve into something brand new – like current live version of ‘Forgive’, sooner or later it will become a brand new song that will be on our fifth record. The live arrangements also depend on the current live lineup and instruments we use that day – it all changes constantly. And this is another thing I like a lot in this band, it’s a bit unique. I also want our shows to by physical, they are loud so you can feel the frequencies and drones in your body – then this is the full experience. I tried to achieve this also on the albums– if you play them loud then you will gain even more from this music. During our live shows I conduct the others – so we never know what will happen, neither do I – in the heat moment I can get some completely new idea for a direction where we can take the song or for how long some riff/theme will resound. I want our shows to be cathartic, purifying, freeing and somehow, ecstatic: ‘We Are Free’. Right now, we have just announced three shows with Hexvessel in Poland in December. Hopefully we will play some shows in Europe in 2024 so you will be able to experience this by yourself soon.

What can we expect from the next Whalesong record? Do you already have any plans or not?

Actually, we already recorded drums for our next album last year and I finished main guitar parts two months ago. Now I am slowly figuring out all the additional guitar layers, instruments and textures. This time we will also record a lot of various synths. A lot of songs we performed live in the last three years, some of them are a bit heavy. There’s a lot of no wave influences, as well as some gothic Americana and trip-hop vibes. The next record seems to be a bit darker when compared now to the ‘Leaving a Dream’ songs. I also have a lot of ideas for the fifth album which I’m very slowly writing in the meantime.

Thank you very much for this interview!

And I thank you very much for the great questions and your time!

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Michał Kiełbasa (Whalesong): “We merge all the genres and we have no limits”
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Working as a guitar technician for Mayhem, Mgła and Watain is no joke, but Michał “Neithan” Kiełbasa has always had the need to express himself through music with an avant-garde attitude. Whalesong is his own creation, a very special Polish group with a touch of black metal, but which goes far beyond that. We talked about many different things in this long and interesting interview.


First of all, I wanted to thank you very much for this interview, Michał.

Hi Marcos. And I would like to thank you very much for invitation, I really appreciate that.

I reviewed the new Whalesong album “Leaving a Dream” and I must say it is a monumental record. What can you tell us about the creative process behind it and the differences you can find with the previous albums?

Thank you very much for kind words. I started to compose ‘Leaving a Dream’ around 2017-2018, so right after releasing ‘Disorder’ – our first album. When I started the band, I was mainly writing the music on guitar – that’s how our first albums came to life. It changed a bit with ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ – this one was originally supposed to be an EP, yet it evolved quite naturally into a second full length. I had already prepared riffs and guitars, but when recording the drums, we started to completely improvise in the studio. Then I added guitars and bass, changed some lengths of songs and started to add a lot of less usual instruments. While writing ‘Leaving a Dream’ first I was preparing arrangement sheets – writing down the ideas for whole composition, the way it’s supposed to evolve, colors I want to achieve sonically etc. Then I started to seek the sounds on the guitar or sometimes on different instruments. After that we recorded drums – again fully improvised. Next, I added main guitars, bass and started to orchestrate these forms – adding all the additional stuff. Write now I’m still writing like this; songs evolve slowly in new directions when I’m adding new textures and it’s a very interesting process for me as a composer.

By Aleksandra Wojcińska

Do you think of Whalesong more as a “collective” or just as a band? Why? What does it imply?

Both, but more like a band. The core members create the band – which is also our live lineup. All the guests and friends who help us record the albums – they brought a lot to this music, so we could say that the albums were done by a collective. I would like to expand the core lineup a bit – to let’s say a 6-piece, so the live shows would be even more overwhelming and have more layers – just like on the albums. Important thing is that our live lineup also can be evolving from time to time – we are able to play some shows as duo/trio/quartet/quintet etc. – all depends on the setlist, logistics and calendar of each of musicians. It’s also an interesting thing for us.

Your music avoids categorization because, even though it’s clearly experimental, it includes elements of industrial metal, black metal, sludge metal, doom metal, post-punk, post-rock, noise-rock, jazz, etc. Is that something you want to achieve deliberately or it’s just a natural consequence of your creative process and, eventually, it might very well end up with a, let’s say, a post-black metal or a neo-folk record, just to mention two random genres?

I have a clear vision of what I want to do next – not even now but let’s say 2-3 albums ahead. All the changes that appeared in our music are quite natural, what we’re doing now is what I wanted to do since the beginning and recording our debut EP ‘Filth’ in 2010. Finally, after the release of ‘Leaving a Dream’ we’re in the place where the record perfectly shows what is this band and what we’re doing. In the past it was a bit confusing – as live we were already performing some of the songs from ‘Leaving a Dream’, but we were right after (or once even before!) the release of ‘Disorder’ which was very brutal and kinda ‘metal’ record. ‘Leaving a Dream’ vibe also corresponds perfectly with our new songs that we already perform live quite often. Regarding the last part of your question – with this band we’re kinda escaping more and more from metal music, it’s still there, but it’s just a tiny piece creating what Whalesong is. And we’re definitely not gonna do a neofolk album – I have other band called Grave of Love which is a neofolk band – one is enough then, ha, ha. I don’t want this band to be a band like Ulver as well (although I am a huge fan of this group) – where every album is a completely different genre. I think here we merge all the genres and we have no limits, we are beyond that. We just play music. Hopefully a good one.

By Michał Borek

Do you have any favorite tracks on the album? If so, why those?

This is a tough question! It all changes all the time but currently my favorites are: 1) ‘Forgive’ – I like how dulcimer adds these few notes to the main guitar and I also love the beginning of this track – it sounds like a beginning of a rehearsal, everyone picks up their instruments, turn on the amps, someone hits accidentally a string, tunes in, joins and after few seconds everyone plays together; 2) ‘Leaving a Dream’ – for many years I wanted to write a noir jazz track, I’m really happy how it turned out with Elise’s voice, Steve’s piano and Aleksander’s saxophone, this song turned out to be very magical; 3) ‘Here I Am’ – this one is a very personal, I love it’s dynamics, how it goes up and down, up and down and then we get the overwhelming finale; 4) ‘Hope’ – this one is a very calm, silent and magical song, Elise’s voice added again a lot to this, recently we performed it live, the crowd was mesmerized; 5) ‘We Are Free’ – I love to play this one live, very mellow and hypnotizing track, I love it’s finale, so brutal and crushing; 6) ‘From the Ashes’ – the longest song on the album, it shows all faces of Whalesong, the loud and also the quiet, the final part is a total magic – thanks to Elise and great performance of Wukir Suryadi from Senyawa.

Michał, you work as a guitar technician for Mayhem, Mgła and Watain. Have those bands and your work with them influenced your music in any way?

My work as guitar tech did not influence my music in Whalesong – although thanks to it I learned a lot. Yet I must admit that Mayhem was always a huge influence for me since I was 13-14 years old. I’m pretty sure you can hear it somehow in our oldest riffs. Now when I hear those bands so often live – it definitely can affect me a bit when I write some metal riffs – but it will not affect Whalesong as we play something completely different guitar-wise and we have completely different arrangements, often based on improvisation.

I’m curious about your work with such great bands. What are the pros and cons of working with them when they are on tour?

The pros are: great time with people I like, travelling and seeing the world and different cultures, doing what I love to do. The cons: it’s not an easy job, a lot of stressful and unpredictable situations, you don’t sleep too much so you can get extremely exhausted after some time, especially when there is a lot of time zone changes. Yet we all love to do this and that’s what we chose to do.

By Michał Borek

What are your main influences when it comes to thinking of your music writing? What bands/artists do you listen to more often? Do you listen to new music or you usually listen to the same music you’ve already listened for a long time?

The musical ideas come and go in random moments, I just try to write them down so I don’t forget. Influences can come from everywhere – music, movies, books, articles, paintings and art, various life situations. It’s very random. Regarding what I listen to more often – it also varies from time to time, currently I listen a lot to new David Eugene Edwards album ‘Hyacinth’, new Hania Rani ‘Ghosts’, new records from Hexvessel, Wolvennest, new Chelsea Wolfe singles and also various albums by St. Vincent, Blood Incantation, Anenzephalia, UFO and Portishead. I constantly seek new music, every week I try to check some new stuff, of course I love to get back to some stuff I know, but again all depends on the moment. Yet I love to find new artists or finally check some older classics that somehow, I have not known to well.

Let’s talk about the guest musicians on this new album. I’m interested in all of them but especially Attila Csihar from Mayhem and Steve Blanco from Imperial Triumphant. I want to know about the decisions leading to those collaborations.

I know both of them for few years. I knew that Steve is an insanely great pianist, although most of people mainly recognize him as the bass player (even though he plays also piano in Imperial Triumphant). When I thought some of the songs on ‘Leaving a Dream’ need a piano he was my first choice to ask due to his jazz background – as I wanted this exact style of playing. What he did was mind-blowing and I am extremely happy it worked out! Insane stuff. Regarding Attila – I always wanted to do something with him and I thought his voice would fit perfectly the mid part of ‘From the Ashes’. Originally this song was supposed to be an instrumental track, but after Elise improvised her suberb vocal lines I thought this experimental part could also use something. In the meantime, Attila said he really likes this track and he could record something. The voices he did added a lot to this song.

Now something about other guests and friends. Aleksander Papierz – he recorded saxophone for us again (we already worked together on previous Whalesong album ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ and I also did a collaboration improv album with him called ‘Movements’, it was released by Antenna Non Grata in 2022). It is very natural for us to work together, we will definitely do something with each other again in the future, it would be also cool to perform together live someday. Lazarus – he is the vocalist and leader of Medico Peste. We’ve been on tour together last year. I don’t like to do any metal vocals myself, I’m never happy with that – so it was much easier to ask somebody to do it. I really like his style and also know what he’s capable of – fun fact is a lot of people think quite often t that Attila did vocals for ‘Ascend!’ and well, not at all, it’s Lazarus! In ‘We Have Never Really Lived’ there is a female voice drone in the background during a whole song – it’s Dancing Deadlips voice. She did a remix for us in the past and also did her vocal reinterpretations of two ‘Radiance’ songs that can be heard on ‘Radiant Suns Deformed’ remix album. I had an idea to have such a drone and thought her voice would suit it perfectly. Tomasz Herisz – another guest who already performed on our previous album. Tomasz is a great vibraphone player and percussionist. He plays in orchestras, wins a lot of percussion contests. I’m really glad he shared his talent with us again. Especially ‘Hope’, ‘Ascend!’ and ‘Leaving a Dream’ gained a lot thanks to him. Then we have Miro – great pianist, although he has completely different style to Steve. He is my very good friend and we work together in Grave of Love. I thought his very specific magical and eerie style would fit few tracks here. I especially love what he did in ‘We Have Never…’. Next is Pawel Pelka – great French horn player, we worked together on Grave of Love ‘All Those Tears Ago’ album and during recording session I thought we could also record some improvised parts for Whalesong. It was definitely a best choice ever. Last guest is Wukir Suryadi – I know him for few years and I am a huge fan of his work with Senyawa. I’m really glad he wanted to work with me on this record. He is able to create a total hypnotic magic on his self-made instruments. I thought something like that could perfectly end this experimental track. What you can hear in the end of ‘From the Ashes’ is one of my favorite parts of the album, especially since Elise added her out of this world voice.

What about the instruments you choose to create your music? You play a lot of instruments, including many “unconventional” ones in rock music (hammered dulcimer, tubular bells, vibes, mellotron, keys, lyre, theremin, gong, zither, sitar, violin, etc.) and objects such as plastic bags, saws and metal springs. Can you explain those choices?

With Whalesong I first write in my head the whole ‘song idea’ or the colors and dynamics. Then I seek the sounds on guitar and sometimes also on bass if it is more ‘post-punk’ vibe stuff. Since forever I used these two instruments to write ‘core’ elements of the song. Sometimes it’s electric guitar run through the amp or an acoustic one. Once we record drums and the first guitar layers – then I add other instruments and seek new melodies and textures following what I had in my mind or new ideas based on new instrument’s sounds. Nowadays I also started to write songs on piano, mellotron, vibraphone and hammered dulcimer – since I own them, I finally can do this, it also pushed me into new directions. From time to time, I also start with an electronic beat. When I don’t have ideas on one instrument – then I move to the other one until I get something I am fond of. I also like to create some ambient / noise textures on various synths or modular systems, this also can become a song sooner or later – like for example ‘shekissedmewithhervenomouslips’. You never know. Instruments like dulcimer, tubular bells, vibes, mellotron, gongs – these are things I always wanted to use in my music and own. I’m really glad that after many years I finally could afford them and get. It makes everything much easier and it also lets me to focus properly on the arrangements – I never liked to rent an instrument for one day and then seek the sounds in rush. One correction – I don’t use lyre, the thing in booklet is SOMA Lyra8 organismic synthesizer – it’s a great unusual synth, perfect for improvisations. More than a half of the ‘Leaving a Dream’ songs have it somewhere in the background. Regarding unusual stuff like plastic bags, saw and metal springs – me and also most of the band have industrial background where using various unmusical objects in musical way was always a natural choice. Just look at Einstürzende Neubauten, for example. I am huge fan of using metal saws. I really love how they sound when hit alone and also when stacked. Sometimes we bring this unusual stuff to our shows as well.

By Aleksandra Wojcińska

The lyrics are also very interesting. Tell us more about them, because, I think they are more or less connected, but I’m not sure if “Leaving a Dream” is a concept album.

Thank you very much for kind words. Although each song is a separate thing, still somehow the lyrics are connected in one way or another. Some of them are quite personal. I would not call this album a concept album, but at the same time it is not a compilation of random songs. One of the key questions appearing here and there is: What happens to dreams when the dreamer disappears? Are we somewhere between reality and dreams? There is a lot of possible answers. I am really glad how the lyrics worked out. They are not so obvious.

Considering the complexity of your music, the instrumentation, the guest artists, etc. What’s your approach to playing live? Do you try to recreate the recorded music the best you can or do you believe that playing live should allow you to create live versions with their own intrinsic value?

We definitely avoid playing the songs the same way as on the album. We usually rearrange them completely, sometimes the song is not even similar to the original version – like for example ‘Flesh’ from ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’, which you can hear in a completely different arrangement on ‘From the Ashes of the Past’ live album. I like to improvise around some elements of the original song and push it into a completely new direction. Thanks to that these songs ‘live’ and are not boring. Sometimes they can even evolve into something brand new – like current live version of ‘Forgive’, sooner or later it will become a brand new song that will be on our fifth record. The live arrangements also depend on the current live lineup and instruments we use that day – it all changes constantly. And this is another thing I like a lot in this band, it’s a bit unique. I also want our shows to by physical, they are loud so you can feel the frequencies and drones in your body – then this is the full experience. I tried to achieve this also on the albums– if you play them loud then you will gain even more from this music. During our live shows I conduct the others – so we never know what will happen, neither do I – in the heat moment I can get some completely new idea for a direction where we can take the song or for how long some riff/theme will resound. I want our shows to be cathartic, purifying, freeing and somehow, ecstatic: ‘We Are Free’. Right now, we have just announced three shows with Hexvessel in Poland in December. Hopefully we will play some shows in Europe in 2024 so you will be able to experience this by yourself soon.

What can we expect from the next Whalesong record? Do you already have any plans or not?

Actually, we already recorded drums for our next album last year and I finished main guitar parts two months ago. Now I am slowly figuring out all the additional guitar layers, instruments and textures. This time we will also record a lot of various synths. A lot of songs we performed live in the last three years, some of them are a bit heavy. There’s a lot of no wave influences, as well as some gothic Americana and trip-hop vibes. The next record seems to be a bit darker when compared now to the ‘Leaving a Dream’ songs. I also have a lot of ideas for the fifth album which I’m very slowly writing in the meantime.

Thank you very much for this interview!

And I thank you very much for the great questions and your time!

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