Photo by Jeroen Mylle

Interview: Amenra

Photo by Jeroen Mylle

You’re soon due to play Beyond The Redshift festival, curated by Cult Of Luna. What are your thoughts on the event? The line up looks fantastic.

We’re really looking forward to play the festival, and the Forum. It harbored one of my favorite shows of my life, Neurosis + Jarboe in 2006. I don’t think any band in history has been able to keep me staring at a stage for over two hours.

How did your relationship with Cult Of Luna begin?

I think I first talked to some of them on a past tour, I think it was in 2005. First impression was them to be really down to earth guys. Of course their album Salvation made quite an impression back then. We played a couple of shows together around that time. And we got along well, they’re quite solitary. And so are we so that makes a good combo. We leave eachother be. So I guess fate brought us together again.

In fact, the last time I saw you play was during a double bill with Cult Of Luna in London. The fluidity and momentum of your music is incredibly distinctive; I found there to be something very liberating about the energy of your music. Are you able to articulate what the live experience offers you as performers? Is there an element of cleansing or liberation? Perhaps catharsis, even?

It allows us to get lost in time. Everything comes together when all goes well (technically/logistically), and we’re able to disappear in our music, in the moment. It feels like you are invincible and all things negative and dark who threaten your wellbeing, can be conquered and dealt with, right that instant. You rid yourself of cancers on the soul. It is a fight, of sorts.

You’re currently playing a string of dates across Europe. How have they been so far? 

Really good actually, slowly but surely. We take the time. We don’t feel like we have to prove ourselves to anyone but ourselves. We do what we do.

In previous interviews I see the band make numerous references to “sincerity” and “honesty” when talking about the execution of Amenra, both live and on record. Personally I’ve developed an interest in this idea of “honesty” in music. I know that some musicians perceive their work almost as a form of theatre; the artist adopts a sonic persona in the creation of their work, which could perhaps be construed as an intentional sort of insincerity. Could you elaborate on how this sincerity manifests within Amenra?

We lower our guard for everyone, and let everybody in. We don’t care about being vulnerable. It is rare these days. People build walls to protect them emotionally/psychologically from harm, but in the end they just seem to entrap themselves in a lonely place.

You’re a very prolific band, and your work as Amenra manifests across numerous sonic shapes and mediums. With so many different musical projects maintained between the members of Amenra, are you able to articulate what it is that unifies the work under the Amenra name?

It’s not restricted to sound. It comes natural to us. We know or feel what goes where. The years of working together and evolving together just made us this way. AMENRA has a democratic way of functioning. we all need to stand behind anything we do, otherwise it just not cuts it. It’s not a one or two man product, like most bands. Sometimes we talk more than we make music. About structure, sentiment, about what WE want it to mean. To ourselves. What we need to be created in a certain period in time.

I understand that two of Amenra are straight edge. I feel as though I’m encountering an ever greater number of bands and artists that attribute themselves to straight edge, although I don’t know whether I’ve merely migrated toward the artists and genres most prominently associated with it. Would you mind divulging your reasons for being straight edge? From your side, have you seen any particular evolution in the outside perception of “straight edge” over the past 20 years, or any shift in the number of people taking it up as a life choice?

Being straight edge or not has never been an issue in AMENRA, but it is a fact that we have two of us alive that way, including myself. My reason would be that I want to be in full control of my actions, at any time. I have a responsibility towards my family and my children that goes 24/7. It started as a form of respect to my parents, I feel I have to treat this body with ‘care’ and poisoning it doesn’t conform to that. It also gave them rest, when I was away from home at night. One thing less to worry about. A lot of it happens without us knowing so anyhow, pollution, gen. manipulation, whatever.. If something happens I would like it to be, not by my hand.

Other than Beyond The Redshift, what does the foreseeable future hold for Amenra?

There’s always a lot of thing going on in our world. right now we’re finishing up our second book, that’ll be released on the 8th of june. We also plan a special COR show in our hometown ghent then. also laying the last hand on an artfilm, together with Jeroen Mylle that’s accompanied by an ambient album we’ve written the last months. Writing some soundtracks to short films, a dance performance co-op, a lot of teaming up with kindred bands, and releasing splits or cooperations, too much to mention really.

 

Amenra website – http://amenra-official.tumblr.com/

Beyond The Redshift on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/beyondtheredshift

Video of Amenra’s “A Mon Âme” by Willy Vanderperre – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCua7a201m0