Monday 11 August 2014

Interview: Sean von Helvete (Ritual Aesthetic)

Something to know you by

“I spent a long time trying to capture that of what we see in films and music videos that depict cinematic horrific, religious and downright weird "ceremonies" that human beings partake in. That in itself is something very odd and fascinating alone.”

A musician stepping out from behind his chosen instrument to take on the position of being a one man band is often difficult. But former Dawn Of Ashes and Belhor drummer Sean von Helvete has made the jump with his solo project Ritual Aesthetic with ease. Blending the metal leanings of his former band Dawn Of Ashes with a purer dark electronic atmosphere, von Helvete has unleashed a dynamic yet unique début album with 'Decollect'.
We spoke to von Helvete to talk about making the jump from drummer to one man band, and the influences that went into his début.  

Intravenous Magazine:
'Decollect' is your début as a solo artist. What has the reception been like so far?

Sean von Helvete: The reception has been just fantastic. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled feelings over how many people from around the globe received DECOLLECT with open arms and led me to some really interesting interpersonal experiences along the way. Especially all of you at Intravenous!
I was very humbled by your gracious review and it was really neat to interact with all of you the first time from across the pond. 

IVM: You've described the Ritual Aesthetic sound as being “not designed to be easy listening”. What would you say your wider mission statement is for the band and what can people expect from the album?

SvH: That's a great one. I think I would have to say that Ritual Aesthetic's wider mission when it comes to terms of the music we all share would have to be both enticing people within the genres sub-categories to branch out and embrace new things that they normally wouldn't. Things that are still tied to their own realm and appeal to those who wouldn't normally expect themselves to get into something within our taste. I think there's probably nothing cooler than people from polar opposite spectrums to find common ground in realizing they're both drawn to something and feel the need to express themselves within it regardless of the temperature or flavour of it's character or how far it is out of their comfort realm. I think music is probably the most powerful and potent / effective drug that we have to bring people together and de-program them from debilitating things like religion, statism, classism, racism and all the other bad 'isms the doctor told you an apple can't prevent.

IVM: How did you come to choose the moniker Ritual Aesthetic, and how does it compliment the music?

SvH: I came to choose Ritual Aesthetic after I had spent six months in heavy, heavy Colorado winter downpour kicking a daily booze and negativity habit in the winter of 2012. I spent a long time trying to capture that of what we see in films and music videos that depict cinematic horrific, religious and downright weird "ceremonies" that human beings partake in. That in itself is something very odd and fascinating alone.
I loved the aesthetic of candles, dramatic shadowing, wild artefacts, isolated locations, fire, etc.
Me being a film fanatic, especially that of horror I just really wanted to capture that whole deck of cards into a few words but couldn't seem to come up with it. I probably kicked hundred of word combos around until one winter day in the middle of a raging hot bubble bath after my basement apartment units power had gone out it kinda clicked to me that I was just hunting for the ''ritual aesthetic''. Seemed like it fit so I have kept it until now. 

IVM: You're known for drumming with Dawn Of Ashes and other metal acts. What led you to strike out on your own as a solo artist?

SvH: Drums were the first instrument and hobby I picked up and what I ran the longest with besides photography before I completely turned to solo musicianship.
The entire time I followed my other musical endeavours was because those were things (especially in the mid 2000's black metal scene) that kind of landed themselves on my plate first hand and I reacted to as far as playing. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I probably love more and have
more respect for than the drummer community but the whole time I was doing that stuff I was so mentally heavily influenced by the great rockers and innovative industrial artists I grew up on that I just couldn't resist trying to chase that idea of creating an entire forest of music based on your
every thought and emotion. As I progressed as a drummer and assisting my metal collaborators with things we would do I grew a slow understanding of contemporary DAW'S and mid 80's hardware doing things like making stage intros and silly remixes and it finally just blew up to become too much like a high school crush you can't get rid of (to make a terrible analogy) and so I just kinda flew off the deep end and spent weeks upon weeks hammering out all of these songs I was envisioning which all in some shape or another became 'DECOLLECT'.

IVM: Is Ritual Aesthetic your main musical project now or are you open to working with other bands again?

SvH: Yes Ritual Aesthetic is my main squeeze right now. I'm always looking to do wild fun stuff with new artists and cross wires and notes. That's a great question because during the production of 'DECOLLECT' long before I ever signed with JUGGERNAUT UK, in between takes and sessions I would always chill out in the little vocal room I had set up and just drift off to Iszoloscope. At least a handful of times I would crack jokes with people I would be working with "Let's just have Iszoloscope finish the album" because things would have been going on too long by that point and ironically enough he wound up doing a ridiculously awesome remix of one of the title songs off 'DECOLLECT', so yes I would say I’m open all the time.

IVM: Where did the title 'Decollect' come from?

SvH: 'DECOLLECT' is a play on RECOLLECT which means to recall, rehash or remember.
Decollect in my eyes when naming this was a faux practice of forgetting, unloading or ultimately deleting such things in our minds.

IVM: Musically and thematically, what were your inspirations when recording 'Decollect'?

SvH: Musically it was all over the grid. I was influenced by every little speck of all of my favourite albums so it made for a pollock like explosion. Thematically 'DECOLLECT' follows that of a lucid person living, recalling or spectating their various states of being.

IVM: How do you typically approach writing a song and what is your studio process like?

SvH: I always like to write songs based upon visual. I love freezing a film frame and creating
sounds and landscapes until they sound like what I’m seeing.

IVM: Looking back at your début, now it has been released, is there anything you'd like to have done differently that will likely influence the way you approach creating a follow up?

SvH: I wish it could have been 3D with Argento like boob shots.
No, honestly I feel like everything we do creatively just leads to higher extremes. No failure, only results.

IVM: You recently signed to UK label Juggernaut Music Group to release the album, how did this come about?

SvH: I was introduced by a buddy from Wax Hart in the USA to the lads in the UK who loved and believed in it and it's been a fun blur since.

IVM:In addition to your music career, you are also a photographer. How does this tie in with what you do musically?

SvH: My photography stays pretty divorced from music. I'm very interested as a long time photographer in what other artists have to display and I feel it's only right to give up what you have musically or vice versa to people of another craft to help shape it into what it can become. In other words no I do not cross the two. I shot the cover of 'DECOLLECT' but wanted to leave it at that to ensure RA would always be uniquely graced by someone else’s vision. The exterior booklet
is shot by Damien Grey of Atlanta GA and the internal and solo shots were done by the amazing and loved Vadim Monoilo of Denver, Colorado.

IVM: Are there any live plans for the band?

SvH: Oh yes big time. Just gotta make sure it's quality and good for all of you :)

IVM: Finally what are your plans for the rest of 2014?

SvH: Working on a fall basket of re-workings, live renditions and new tracks :) 

Ritual Aesthetic's début album, 'Decollect' is available to purchase through Juggernaut Music Group now. For more information on the band, please see their official website. 

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