A New Darkness Upon Us
CoC chats with Aort and Kvhost of Code
by: Jackie Smit
Code's debut effort _Nouveau Gloaming_ may not quite be the masterpiece that a pedigree like Ulver, DHG, Ved Buens Ende and Void might suggest; but as anyone who has heard the record would attest, it is literally bristling with potential. The album's opening salvo, "The Cotton Optic", is enough to make this point abundantly clear, and thankfully it looks like this is just the beginning. I recently sat down with founding members Kvhost and Aort to discuss the future, the new record, and the virtues of being "true".

CoC: Now, normally I wouldn't ask a question like this, but Code has sprung up as a bit of a surprise on a lot of people, and considering how cryptic all the background information has been on you guys, can you give us the low-down on how the band actually got started?

Kvhost: We formed in 2002, and I guess it really birthed as it were when I got together with Aost [guitarist] and heard some of the demos that he had been working on. We started making music together and then we got in touch with the drummer [Aiwarikiar, from Ulver] after that and then the bass player [Viper, a.k.a. Vicotnik, from Dodheimsgard and Ved Buens Ende]. So, basically it was us two who got together first before we brought in anyone from any of the other bands.

Aort: In terms of coming out of nowhere, we didn't really want to release a demo to the public and then take things from there. We wanted the first thing that people heard from us to be something that we were 100% behind, you know what I mean? And this album was definitely something that we could get behind and that we could really get passionate about.

K: It was quite a coincidence that we got members from abroad. It was through a mutual friend of ours that we got in touch with the drummer, and then I was friends with the bass player, who offered his services to play on the album, and so things came together really naturally and in a really quite random way.

A: It's a really solid line-up though and it's definitely not going anywhere. We're very happy with how things have turned out.

CoC: Well, that's something I wanted to touch on as well, because it's not really clear from the information that Spinefarm have released as to whether Code is simply a side-project or a fully fledged band.

A: Well, with the next album we'll probably go in another direction, because we aren't going to make the same record twice. But having made this album together, our heads are all in the same place in terms of where we want to go and there's absolutely no reason for us not to continue doing this.

K: And just in terms of the information on the band being quite cryptic; that was really to get people's interest in the band peaked and to get people's imagination going. I would hope that this album has reinforced that level of interest, but prior to the release of the record we certainly didn't want to say that we're a cross of band A and band B or whatever.

CoC: So, has Code taken the focus off of Void or any of the other members' projects at all? Will this be your number one priority from now on?

K: Well, I'm the only member of Code who came from Void and we're taking a break right now, since our main songwriter has left for South America. So, things are kind of on ice at the moment, but who knows? Maybe one day we'll get together and make some more music. But that's beside the point really, because whatever we're doing with Code at the moment is completely separate from everything else.

CoC: _Nouveau Gloaming_ is quite a hotpot in terms of converging styles and I'm curious to know: when this band started, did you have any preconceived concepts or ideas for how the first album would have to sound?

A: The primary thing for us with this first record was to get the emotion and the atmosphere right, and we kind of realised along the way that there were several ways of doing that. We didn't intend on doing the same thing over and over again, but we wanted to basically create really creepy, dark material that blends a lot of crazy ideas but sounds really menacing and grim as well. We definitely didn't want the record to paint us into a corner.

K: Plus, I don't think that this is really something out of the ordinary for us. I mean, I think that in terms of the styles that are on the album, I doubt that anyone will be that thrown by what they hear or think that we've put something in for no apparent reason. It's all there for a specific purpose and it all works with the music. I don't think that we have all that many different elements; it's just the way that it's all put together that's making people come back to us and say that it's a very extravagant album. I mean, if you like this kind of music and you're into it, then you know how it works. This is a black metal album. It's not an experimental album, and maybe it takes a little while to get used to, but at the core of it, it's a black metal album.

CoC: Personally I think that what is slightly throwing about the record is the way in which it's sequenced. You have an opening track that's all about old-school grimness, and then the track thereafter goes off in a completely different and more avant-garde direction.

A: I guess the way that I see it is that it's consistent all the way through. It's definitely a record that has songs that sound different, but there's a common thread running through things in that the songs are all dark and they're all unnerving. So, it all makes sense, I think, in the bigger picture.

CoC: How was this record put together, given that the members live in different countries?

A: Primarily it's myself and Kvhost that write the music and the lyrics, and we knew exactly how everything was going to turn out and how we wanted everything to end up sounding. What we got from the other members were embellishments in terms of them adding their own style and adding their own touches. We sent off the material to them and they worked on it in their own time, and that was followed by a couple of weeks worth of very intense rehearsal to make sure that everything sounded coherent and that we could run through and incorporate any new ideas that had come up. So, by the time we went to the studio, we had everything nailed down and sounding exactly the way we wanted it to.

CoC: How did the deal with Spinefarm come about?

A: Spinefarm were one of the labels we sent our demo out to, and to be honest, we were quite picky about who we approached and who we were willing to work with. We wanted a label that would be big enough that we would have the budget to be able to sound like we wanted to, and then have the distribution behind us to actually get that out to people. I mean, I suppose it would be "truer" to have made a demo, kept it underground and limited it to 200 copies, but we want people to hear this. <laughs>

CoC: What are your thoughts on the increasingly more prevalent argument in black metal over what's "true" and what's not?

A: As far as I'm concerned, whether the music is "true" or not comes down to the music and nothing else; whether two people hear it, or two million. It's about how honest the music is, and if it's not then people will see through it. I don't think that you can formulate music to true and black and underground just by not having a website, only releasing tape demos or whatever.

K: It's interesting as well when you look at the stuff that has attained the status of "true" -- stuff like Burzum or Mayhem. That's great music, and it's not because these were bands that had a couple of grim photos and didn't release any CDs.

A: Burzum and Mayhem and Darkthrone are probably the truest forms of black metal around, and thousands upon thousands of people have heard them.

K: For me, I think our album is definitely a black metal record in every sense of the word, and it's in keeping with everything that drew me to the genre in the first place and that feeling I had when I first heard the old stuff.

CoC: So, on that topic then, let's conduct a quick opinion poll. Emperor: true or not?

A: <laughs> That's really harsh. In the sense of themselves, they probably were true and I have huge respect for the stuff they've done. But if you think of things in a purely primal black metal level, then it can easily be argued that the first mini-album that they did was the truest thing they released. At the end of the day though, I think they just made the music that they wanted to make and one should take it as that, if you know what I mean.

K: I'm really into their early stuff and I have a lot of respect for the later stuff as well, because as far as I'm concerned they did a lot for black metal and took it to a new level without selling out and adopting an image in the way that Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir did. By the end, I wasn't really into their last stuff, but I respect the musicality behind it and that they did what they wanted to do with their music.

CoC: On the same note then, Dimmu Borgir: true or not?

A: <laughs> Shit, I don't even think I should start on that!

K: I really liked them in the beginning, when their music was really atmospheric and really interesting. I think their old demos rule, but present day it's not really something that I want to listen to. I have a lot of respect for the amount of work that they put into their music -- they're hard working guys and they honestly believe in what they're doing, and I don't think that they're doing it for money or anything; they really believe in what they're doing and in their music. It's just not something that I want to listen to. I can't connect with it.

CoC: It's an interesting argument though, because when you speak to Shagrath or Silenoz (as I did prior to the release of _Deathcult Armageddon_), they will be quite vehement about the fact that they are black metal in the true sense of the term.

A: Well, they definitely have their core in that and they are some of the originators in the scene, but to be honest -- I don't really have any authority to say anything about that. I think that the big difference lies in how the understanding of the term "black metal" has changed. Back in the early '90s it meant something very specific, and these days it can mean a whole lot of things within reason. In that respect, I think that they are black metal.

CoC: So in that sense, what do you think is missing from modern day black metal, and in what way do you feel Code works toward filling the void?

A: Well, Code is based on an appreciation for the old days -- the early '90s, which is a period that I think a lot of people look back at with rose-tinted glasses, and with good reason. It was a great time for this music, and what we're trying to do more than anything is to bring that back and put our own little twist on things.

K: It was the atmosphere and the mystery and the different elements of the music; the hypnotic elements and the brutality. There was so much to those old albums -- the early Emperor and the early Burzum. It wasn't all about playing fast and brutal music. There was so much to those albums and the music had so much to offer, and I think that we're trying to bring that out. And I think that we do take it slightly further, because we're not creating music in 1993, we're creating music now. So it's taking the hypnotic and atmospheric elements of the early music and taking that concept forward in trying to create new and original sounding music.

CoC: Will you be following Darkthrone's example and not playing any gigs?

A: We're probably not going to play gigs, but if we do it will be one-off gigs. We're not trying to do that to emulate anyone or anything like that. I think that the important thing is that when we do it, we want to make sure that we do it right and that we don't end up losing anything from the album in the live environment.

K: I respect a lot of things that Darkthrone do, and I think that they're very true to their music in that they don't accept any awards or that they don't play live. We don't really have all that many plans and we haven't decided to be misanthropic for the sake it, but we'll do whatever suits our music.

CoC: What's next on the cards for Code over the course of the next couple of months?

A: We're writing material now, which is more than likely going to be end up on a mini-CD, and then we'll probably do another album after that. We're just trying to hone in where we're going with this next album, because we want to do something that we're going to find exciting and that's not going to be a repeat of what we've done before.

CoC: Is there a chance of another album by the end of the year?

A: I think that's really unlikely. It will take us a while before we feel comfortable and confident with the direction the next record needs to take. We may be recording by the end of the year, but we won't release anything, I don't think.

K: The one thing that I never want to do with Code is to get into a situation where it feels like we're creating a product, if you know what I mean. We're creating something more for people to get into than just another album, and hopefully this record will take some time for people to get into, because there's so much going on, I think it's something you can't instantly pass a judgement on.

A: The last album took a long time to make and get right and I think that if we want to keep up that level of professionalism and keep the music at a similar level in the future, then we need to take our time.

CoC: Guys, thanks a lot for your time -- do you want to add anything?

A: Just that we hope that people will check out the new record. We really believe in it and we hope that they will too.

(article submitted 31/5/2005)


ALBUMS
2/14/2010 P Azevedo 9 Code - Resplendent Grotesque
4/19/2005 J Smit 7 Code - Nouveau Gloaming
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