Ukrainian experimentalists Septa launched their sophomore album ‘Sounds Like Murder’ back in November 2016. Singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Eugene Tymchyk spoke for Prog Sphere about the idea for the album, the creative process, and more.
Define the mission of Septa.
Make music we’d listened ourselves. Have fun doing it.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your new album “Sounds Like Murder” and the themes it captures.
Pretty much every song borns sonically first, lyrically second. I definitely had a vision for this album, I’ve always wanted to come back to our debut album “The Lover”, continue the story behind it, broaden the complexity of it. So when the time was right, we’ve started writing new songs along with fishing for some old ones in our backlog, so naturally “Sounds Like Murder” is the combination of our old ideas with some newer jams, and I was really afraid the stitches will show eventually, but in the end I think they all fit together perfectly and it’s all about the overall flow of the album. We play pretty dark music thematically, it captures the low points of our lives, like loss, breakups and alienation. It’s sad and gloomy, and it’s not in any way who we are and what we are about individually, it’s the part of the concept I create for every album, I just love the aesthetics of it and I suspect we aren’t capable of writing joyful music at all. I want for people to find themselves in our songs when they are broken and channel it into something positive, like “you’re not alone, it will get better”, we all need some healing done from time to time.
What is the message you are trying to give with “Sounds Like Murder”?
The main theme of “Sounds Like Murder” is domestic violence, the horrible things that people, especially couples, do to each other in their own homes, place that should be a harbor from all that is evil. It’s really terrifying for me, I always considered my house a fortress where nothing bad can happen, and it always has been like this. But some are not that fortunate like me and it deeply gutted me. And yes, I’m talking about women being victims most of the time: violence and rape behind closed doors scares me much more than something that happens on the streets, you may feel unsafe on the streets, but it’s not okay to not feel safe at home. So the message is simple: seek help, don’t stay in abusive relationships.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
Mostly, we record some live demos, and then go into a pre-production phase. Sometimes it’s helpful to write it down or reproduce it digitally to figure some tricky parts out or fix something that is bugging you while you play it live, like some broken harmonies or odd time signatures.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
It depends. Sometimes the energy of the song is so raw that it overwhelms us and guides us from start to finish and there is no need to rethink something or second guess ourselves. But there are completely opposite cases, too. Like when we have to push ourselves into thinking about the structure and flow of the song harder, often it turns into fixing something that isn’t broken and completely overthinking it, so the best course of action is to shelve such songs for awhile. The solution always present itself, it just needs some time.
Describe the approach to recording the album.
Coffee, stress-educing recording sessions, more coffee. We can work in the studio like for weeks, and then it’s just couple of days a month. It’s problematic, but there’s no need to work this horse to death, we still want to ride it after all this is done. But the recording is hard for us, it always has been. We didn’t try anything new this time, we just dived into it. Maybe next time we’ll do it in the secluded mansion somewhere in the mountains, or like just record in the field live, who knows.
How long “Sounds Like Murder” was in the making?
We’ve started pre-production in August 2015 and have recorded in the studio throughout the next year. So it’s more than a year, counting mixing and mastering stages. I’ve listened to the album in its entirety for the first time a week before the release, which was on November 31st. You can see that this was a very long and exhausting process with a very satisfying result. But still, very stressful. For me it was a never-ending battle with my perfectionist’s block: it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough… but when is it good enough? So one day I just had to let go, wrap up the recording sessions and stop struggling. I don’t think that I’m capable of being entirely happy with the results, I mean, I love what’ve done and are doing, but I still can see through it and locate all the flaws and think about what could have been done better. Maybe, our next record will heal me, but I seriously doubt it.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
Deftones, easily the main influence, we are all suckers for this band. Love how they keep evolving their sound and bring something new to the table time and time again. I think, this time around we were really hooked up on Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan while working on the album. As for me, I remember listening to Sam Smith a lot and to some turn-of-the-century post-hardcore, like At the Drive-In, Glassjaw, Thursday. And overall, I think “Sounds Like Murder” is a huge nod to Finch’s second album “Say Hello to Sunshine”, what a masterpiece.
What is your view on technology in music?
Not a big fun of it. I mean, today’s live shows is turning into playing over the playback like all of the time. It’s not what rock music is about. It’s about walking up the stage without knowing what’s going to happen, it’s about screwing everything up, it’s about being alive. As for the other end of it, I love how Internet changes the musical palette and old order of things, I love how we get closer to our fans with every new service and site that emerges. It’s marvelous.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Yes, for sure. I wouldn’t do it any other way. I believe it changes lives, first our live, then the others. It touches people, it connects people, some make friends listening to it, some fall in love. I never realized it until now, that there are a lot of people completely unknown to me that in some way or another are affected by our music, maybe little, maybe huge, bit it still amazes me so much. It’s like this passive connection that exists without your involvement.
What are your plans for the future?
Plans are pretty murky, not that it is dark, just blurry. We know what we wanna do, we know that it’s gonna happen, we just need the right form and shape for it. Recently I’ve started thinking that art is not about the result, it’s about the process, it’s not about the product, it’s about the way you do it, it’s about the adventure and capturing this exact moment in time infinitely.