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Soul Enema

Interview with SOUL ENEMA

Israeli prog quintet Soul Enema have recently returned with the release of their second studio album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” (reviewed here), which has been in the making for a number of years. The band collaborated with a few guest musicians, with the most prominent names being Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen and ex-Orphaned Land guitarist and composer Yossi Sassi.

Soul Enema’s keyboard player and composer Constantin Glantz spoke for Progstravaganza about the band’s origins, the meaning behind the band’s name, writing, inspiration, and more.

What made you go for the name Soul Enema?

No offense to the sensitive souls, but this damn thing serves the people. It comes to you in your sleep; it has wings of an angles and eyes of the world. Then you wake up and feel like a new man. That was a little secret, maybe I already told too much. The simplest answer is the obvious one – the name reflects what we do. It’s mainly about cleansing out the negative emotional stuff, which is a major catalyst for music and lyrics writing sometimes, and putting some soul into it – that’s how the creative process goes, roughly speaking. However, I can’t say we end up exclusively with the doom and gloom package – there is a whole palette of ways to channel different emotions, so there is a place for every kind of animal. Since we also have something that I would call “a punk element” and a (self)-ironic touch, there’s no real problem with using any kind of words and metaphors if needed. Maybe it’s a greeting from the era, when Rock, and Progressive Rock in particular, was influenced by an experimental forms of counterculture and had full inner freedom to push the boundaries in any direction, for better or worse.

How do you usually describe your music?

Well, it’s an eclectic ensemble for the post-post-hipster world of the late period civilization, so usually we face some problem with describing it. I could present it as anything from Abba to Zappa, from King Crimson to King Diamond – which isn’t miles away from the truth, actually. It has many contrasting moods, from melancholic to cheerful, pastoral, manic, satirical, absurdist, etc. It has many different ethnic influences; Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. Space or Psych Rock elements as well – I’m not sure which planet they come from. There is some Metal in it, though nothing too brutal to make your grandma really scared. Some “avant-garde” elements as well, but it’s still melodic and memorable enough for my four year old kid to sing along to most of those melodic lines and tunes.

Soul Enema

What is your writing process like?

Usually I create full demos in midi, and then revisit them to add or edit something in the composition. That’s the musical part. The lyrics mainly come afterwards, and generally they have a theme behind them; it’s not a “stream of consciousness”. The lyrics definitely have to sound good with the music, but sonic and rhythmic compatibility alone is not enough. The arrangements might be revisited during the recording process due to particular features of musicians involved. In example, we added more voice-like-instrument parts, and some sitar arrangements, when Noa and Michael became involved.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

There’s no single major inspiration, but I will provide a list of relevant connections, to make things more substantial: Devin Townsend, Ayreon, Orphaned Land, Faith No More, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Voivod, ABBA, King Crimson, Cardiacs, Eloy, Sparks, Black Sabbath, Secret Chiefs 3, Pelevin, Spengler, Machiavelli, Orwell, von Trier, Vasya Lozhkin, Ethiopian music, John Zorn, Guinea pigs, baboons, little kids, dear bollocks, Aral Sea, death, decay, techno death, death-grind with elements of hummus and paprika, life after death, and strangely enough – life before death. That’s just the beginning of the list, but I will have mercy on you!

What is your favourite piece on the upcoming album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

No way to tell, really. They all are different and essential elements of a puzzle. I can say that “In Bed With an Enemy” is a characteristic example of our serious side, and tracks like “Cannibalissimo Ltd.” represent our ultra serious side – the one you can’t even talk about, without including a serious amount of idiocy.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

What makes “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” different than other similar albums/artists in your opinion?

Look, it’s a problem to find albums that are really similar. Maybe if that was easier, I wouldn’t even bother to write music and lyrics this way. It’s done because this particular combination is what I miss as a listener, so it’s a pure case of “if you want to have it your way, do it yourself”. So, yep, it has different non obvious instruments, arrangements, this and that, but the more important thing here, is that it’s placed in a way that cuts through different dimensions. That’s how I see it, at least.

What should music lovers expect from “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

The things that struck me the hardest, as a listener, were those where I didn’t expect anything at all. I just happened to be there at the moment when that music was playing, asking myself: “Wow, what the hell is that?! I’ve got to figure out the name of this band!” So, expectations are not really essential – you may just come with a clean sheet, no prejudice, hit the play button and let it flow. Hopefully we have already done the rest of the necessary work.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

“Damn, I would marry this record!” Seriously, any kind of emotions are welcomed. The only unwelcomed scenario is no emotions at all. We have many colors and moods there, so in fact, it’s perfectly understandable to experience all kinds of different things on your way through.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

Life in the studio, of course – it’s far better suited to deal with an actual creative process, which is the main reason to engage in such a consuming activity as this kind of music-making.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

That’s a tough limit. Well, three albums for today only. Yesterday or tomorrow they may be different:

Cardiacs – “A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window” – this will do instead of a morning coffee. In fact, it might twist you the way no coffee would be able.

The Cure – “Pornography” – this will do for moments of sadness and desperation; after all it’s a desert island, not a five-star resort, so you are there to try and survive.

Pixies – “Bossanova” – this will do when I need some good-spirited easy going music. I thought of taking a Dillinger Escape Plan album to scare off the wild carnivore animals around, but… well, maybe tomorrow.

“Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” is out now and can be ordered here.

The Surrealist

Interview with THE SURREALIST

The Surrealist is a project founded by guitarist, composer and Berklee student Roopam Garg. Working in a trio setting, the band is about to launch their debut EP “Naked Awareness” on September 17th. Garg spoke for Progstravaganza.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life’s going great man. I’m about to start another semester at Berklee. The band is going really really well. We publicly announced the band a few weeks ago, and the reception has already been so positive. I also just received a new guitar from Kiesel Carvin Guitars, and it’s literally my dream guitar. It just looks so beautiful, like a work of art that came from the ocean, and I can’t stop staring at it. I couldn’t be happier right now.

Speaking of new music, you have an EP coming out on September 17. What can people expect from “Naked Awareness”?

Naked Awareness is a pretty experimental release. There’s a lot of exploration of texture and rhythm that I wanted to do on the guitar, as it isn’t just a melodic or chordal instrument. The guitar has a lot of rich timbral possibilities that I wanted to exploit. Listeners can expect some pretty interesting idea that they may not have heard before.

naked-awareness-album-art

What was it like working on the EP?

It was really inspiring and a lot of fun but at the same time also really stressful. The entire EP took two to complete in terms of the songwriting and recording process, which is not sustainable in the long term. This is primarily from becoming really judgmental during the end of the entire process, which really kills the creativity and flow. But it turned out really well and we’re proud of the release.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Naked Awareness”?

Oh yeah. We plan on touring early next year and it would be our first tour, so we’re really excited and looking forward to it.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

I’d love to tour Europe and Asia. Just the idea of traveling to different countries where there are a plethora of different cultures and audiences is really cool. I feel like being exposed to many cultures would impact my creativity somehow, which is something I’m looking forward to. India is also a country I’d love to tour in, as I rarely travel there but love it every time I do.

Who and what inspires you the most?

A lot of things inspire me in some way. In addition to musicians, I love reading about Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk and other successful entrepreneurs and follow what they do. Business and entrepreneurship have greatly impacted the way I write music, as I’m constantly thinking about innovating and looking for things that other people may not have explored yet. Questions such as,“how does one differentiate the customer experience?” can really force you to find ways of becoming more creative.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Definitely. I’ve made a conscious effort to not listen to much guitar-driven music, just to experiment and see if it spruces up my guitar playing. So I’m currently dwelling in a lot of film soundtracks, such as Angelo Milli’s Seven Pounds soundtrack, Hans Zimmer’s The Dark Knight soundtrack, and David Julyan’s The Prestige soundtrack. I’ve also experimented with taking a break from listening to music, and not hearing anything at all for a couple of months, just to see if it would impact my creativity. And interestingly enough, I find that there’s a certain creative headspace that’s achieved by doing so. I’ve been able to come up with certain ideas on the guitar are unconventional and that I become surprised by, like “where did this come from?”. It’s always nice when you surprise yourself.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

May you always do what you’re afraid to do! Thanks for having me.

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