Progressive and heavy metal, film music and musicals, a concept fantasy that is really an allegory to real life endeavors – all of these are the cornerstones of Orpheus Blade, a project led by Adi Bitran, who also writes the lyrics and music.
Orpheus Blade took part on Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence and we asked Adi few questions.
How did you come to do what you do?
Well, I do have some musical background, but I’ve came across the turning points by coincidence… In elementary school there were always the occasional school play or choir practice and I used to play classical pieces on the piano during most of my high school years, but it was not till years later that I “accidentally” discovered I can actually sing well. Yes, it was in the shower. I also had a guitar phase which was pretty mandatory for a metal lover, and I started composing some stuff seriously after listening to a friend’s “album” about penises. Believe me, everything looks so less intimidating after such an experience.
What is your first musical memory?
When I was a little kid I used to go with my dad to the park every weekend. I’d rule the swing and sing as I go up and down in it, and not just childish nursery songs. Some people still ask my dad where has the singer gone – she’s still here, only changed her style!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
When I’m in a creative mood, I’d usually go and read some favorite poems. Charles Baudelaire with his dark, gothic atmosphere, Oscar Wilde and his rebellion against the world, most of the old English guys – Keats, Yeats, Shakespeare… I’d also use some music of course – Pain of Salvation or Beyond Twilight, songs that have made me shiver or even cry… At times I’d choose film music or musicals. But sometimes the “visions” from the river of creation are so strong that I don’t need any of that, because I just feel I’m pulled into it and bye-bye world (for a while).
What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?
When I’ve wrote “Dismissal”, I was in a period of uncertainty and I could do nothing about it. I would go to work and eat and sleep but I felt dead inside, craving and crazed, on the edge of apathy that helps me shut myself from the world at times. I chose it as the first single because I felt I have succeeded to capture an honest, real moment in that one – it’s the one song we almost haven’t changed in the production phase. There was something genuine in the creation of it, and I’ve bled for those lyrics… Unlike other tracks in the album, “Dismissal” just flew out of me, bar after bar, riff after riff, without knowing what’s next but without stopping. You can feel the heart and soul of Orpheus Blade in this one – it’s mellow, it’s like a mantra, and I think the most adequate way to describe it would be a cold, harsh despair that’s conquering the heart.
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
As I don’t have much of musical theory education, it’s more intuitive for me. Being the logical person I am, I’m always seeking for patterns, the cause and the effect, an algorithm my mind could follow. I’m afraid to write music like that, so I usually just write what sounds right. If it’s good enough for my ear it’s probably correct, and we could always butcher it apart in the studio later… The process would always be: imagine it, find it on an instrument, write it down, build the rest of the parts, then proceed to world domination!
Orpheus Blade’s Adi Bitran
What is your method of songwriting?
Almost always, I write the lyrics first. They come rushing in, usually in bursts, when I’m feeling creative. I’m good with lyrics so that’s the easiest part for me. Then I usually just let a melody haunt my head… I know the piece is probably good when it starts to “breathe” as if it’s alive – there’s a point where the written words are starting to gather and “choose” their melody, where you simply FEEL how it’s going to sound like. Then I know it’s ready for composing, rearrangement, the regular nonsense. Note: this method involves humming some stupid lines to your cellphone, trying to avoid many nagging melodies driving you crazy when you’re most busy, and lots of headbanging. Towards the nearest wall.
How do you see your music evolving?
I think that the most important lesson I’ve learned from the writing process is that I’ve figured I know what I’d like to hear – and that’s a lot. Many people will try to bring you down – most of them unintentionally – but if you know what you want to hear, what emotions and atmosphere you’re aiming at – you’re halfway there. Every new song is a combat with my deepest fears in a way, I think I’m getting better at it. I think I’d be a bit more confident in my music and in myself, losing most of the “am I doing it right?” questions. I still don’t know how it would affect future tunes in matters of form and style, but I think I’ll allow more flow in the process. When speaking of future themes – lately I tend to get myself busy with abstract ideas such as the creator-creation relationship (hint: It’s Complicated), and less with epic fantasy concepts.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Don’t do it! It’s too painful to deal with, every step in the way. It’s a one big heartache and most probably it will steal all your spare money and time! Unless it’s stronger than you, and then you’re doomed – welcome to the club! I knew I was doomed for eternity when in my lowest of lows, when I got so angry and was just about to throw it all behind – not a moment has passed, and I was back on the piano, the only thing that could soothe me at this shameful moment. It’s a curse and a bless, so try to spend most of your time in the “bless” part, I guess.
What are you looking forward to?
My big fat Wacken concert, as the headline! Now seriously, looking forward to release this debut album, and I want to reach as many people as I can. I think that’s the whole point of music… Find the people who share my views or relate to my music and love each and every one of them. Already aiming at the second and third album that would hopefully help define Orpheus Blade in the metal world.
Also – world peace, endless happiness, blah, blah…
Bands, send your music submissions for the Progstravaganza compilation series to firstname.lastname@example.org