medicine for thy soul
an ailment to thy madness.
The music of USBM solo artist Spiral Eyed and his project Apothecary exists in a space outside of time and the natural world, yet somehow buried deep within it. It’s not easily described; and could be considered the very antithesis of “easy listening”. Often seeming largely improvised the winding, wild, convoluted and beautifully abrasive compositions aren’t a series of carefully planned notes in an attempt to artificially manufacture some sort of “evil” or “darkness”, oh no. Instead, they are the result of a man totally throwing himself into these feelings and visions, screaming from the formless void; the audial ectoplasmic residue oozing from the throes of someone experiencing something overwhelmingly powerful. If you can tap into its wavelength I can almost guarantee it will be one of the most hellish and transcendent things you’ll ever experience.
Quietly crafting this astonishing raw art in the deepest shadows for years and through countless releases, Spiral Eyed himself is also one of the most unique, spiritual and just plain otherworldly people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in contact with. The man’s very essence vibrates at a different frequency than most and I’ve had an interview in the works with him for quite some time, but the planets had never fallen into precise alignment… until now. Tying in with the recent release of his split with Norwegian solo practitioner UtenHåp Waking In An Eternal Fade and the cassette A Mist Upon A Sacred Forest Floor, Beheld The Dark Flame through Psalm 88, I present our chat below – totally unedited because even the way he types has a resonance all its own and, when considered alongside his compositions, makes perfect sense and should not be altered in any way. It’s a fascinating and insightful conversation with an incredibly unique artist and individual who honestly deserves more attention, even if he almost certainly wouldn’t want it. Read on.
Hails Spiral Eyed! It’s a pleasure to speak with you here, I hope you are well.
– hails! the same for you man, indeed so..
Your latest audial emanation is the recent split with UtenHåp of Norway. This isn’t your first split together (in fact I think it may be your fourth?), but it’s an amazing release – can you tell us a little about what it means to you, and how it came to be?
– that.. was in the process for awhile, since Dec. 2018, Jan. 2019 and on, but i had not quite settled down with a.. sound.. of sorts. so i started brainstorming pt. B, which is recovering the written assessment, or the back piece that serves as lyrics for the most part.. there has to be this, energy.. manifested through everything together.. i oftentimes find myself falling asleep when editing certain parts. . . it’s overwhelming me, in a weirdly good way.
as for if it is the fourth.. ? i think we also were a part of a few other things like a 3 way split with 000 added on the bill. he is from New Zealand, awesome artist. that i believe is how all this started, through 000\Tegroth.. that was last year or two..
The two tracks you have on this split are ‘Exit Out’ and ‘the Waking Hour’. They’re both compelling pieces; what are the themes they both deal with?
– this particular split was endearing on my part, since the two given tracks are themed around suicide. and what happens right away, to that person. where they end up, go.. that is a question i know for a fact we have all thought about, wondered and even contemplated. so when i am going over these written parts, all this imagery starts happening.. in this case, it is a maze, somewhere ‘in time‘.. and in this massive, continental labyrinth, of silver marble.. does a suicide victim pretty much drop right to. of course it takes years, centuries.. to wander this thing, all while at the center of this, larger dark complex beyond your understanding- is the Source. or the Wanderers’ source of energy, who they were. everything that made that person, them. their originality persona. and the purpose to this is for the person to reconnect with their previous selves, or the ticking clock that is the energy they have left to Wander, that energy fades if they don’t make it to the center, in time. so it isn’t necessarily a ‘second chance fantasy’ i am dwelling in, there is actually universal points in the written assessment that anyone could make for it what they will..
i can post the lyrics to the two tracks.. there are a total of four, in this one written part. that basically chronicles themes of energy, recycle, despair, darkness. there are things beyond us, who we are.. that we can return to. if we choose to.
From our previous message discussions I know that you have a very idiosyncratic creative process, in terms of where you derive inspiration from and how you then translate that into your compositions. Can you tell us a little about that?
– well.. it is surely a different process. definitely not your average one either, since the idea of Apothecary was to be fluid in terms of the Arts.
i use things from writing, painting to photography and music. blending it all to be one canvas of, flowing gateways. . a window.. i know this much.
at times i can find myself, peering through the frames.. there is a grasp in that, so it becomes a physical presence by entering through that window. when i am recording the music, it is in terms ‘ghetto’ yet uncompromising as all ass, because i have got to get it out.
drives one mad, pressure.
The sprawling, warped, screaming and scarred music of Apothecary is incredibly unique, and definitely not intended for the masses – only those who understand and can tap into the correct wavelength, so to speak. How have you found the general reception to be for your work?
– mixed reactions.. some are downwards, most are still in a little box.. gazing outwards, instead of in.. just like anything in life, they have to feel for themselves which is what, about anything.
what i do, i have to get out of me. it is seething..
scathing even, after awhile. there are those within, as without.
and know, thy name
I’d like to enquire about some history, if I may. Where did the idea to begin Apothecary come from? Is this your first black metal project, or have you been involved in others?
– the idea started back in 2007 or 08.. as i was already writing and painting, photography darkroom sessions as well; around that time i had also been in a band for roughly four(?) years.. we were called As If They Were Animals, and i was the vocalist. we had a drummer, guitarist and me. later another guitarist joined and we were a four piece for another year and a half or so.. and hey, i won’t lie here, that was a sick.. rad fuckin band man, we gave you a show just practicing at our space. we gave no fucks man, 2am? so the fuck what. turn it up.. and just blasted through our set. we really delivered, and then again, we were a band with serious issues man.. no details about any of that will come out, but we all ended up elsewhere, stateside away and in and out and in and out and in and
a few years passed.. i missed it, badly.. but i was also ending up in the ER half dead, half a dozen times.. friends would freakdrive me to the ER and drop me off and leave right away. they were tired of it.. pneumonia and Valley Fever caused scar tissue in my lungs, making it hard to do vocals.. especially when coughing up phlegm and blood. that started to writhe away at me over time.. i started distancing myself from everything even more than before, drugs wouldn’t do drinking wouldn’t.. suicidal ideation is so, loud.. so loud man.
Apothecary formed because i had no way of making music, so i had to write it all out in words.. through memories.. photographs i take that induced the same soundtrack, every single time.. paintings.. everything i can look at that i was able to keep over the years since this became a.. need.. i see it all, and it comes back to me.. sometimes it doesn’t and it makes a new sound.. everything basically is a map, for when i was able to record it somehow, whether i am an actual audio engineer or not- i still have to do release It.
there is another project i was involved in, Learning To Rot.. an awesome, surreal and dark journey that was. my scream gave the next door neighbor a heart attack. true story.. had cops called.. helicopters circled us once.
am a part of a mystical Southern Desert Circle (this is what i am calling it now) and so far i am the only member. i guess..
T.R.A.L.E.S is another project, the mind behind Magic Incense and i collaborate in TRALES.. there is another member as well.
i am not sure of any other things i am a part of, what i do know is the years are a fuckin blur.
Another thing I also know from our discussions, and forgive me for bringing this up, is that you’ve unfortunately been through a lot of pain in your life to this point. I’m sorry if this is prying and you can disregard the question if you like – but would you be willing to tell us some of what you have gone through? Do you feel these trials have influenced your music at all, and does it make Apothecary a cathartic experience?
– absolutely. yes.. i am going to go ahead and bring everyone up to speed, in the briefest way i can..
i was born with one of the rarest blood conditions in the world, GATA-2 gene.. and it made me prone to sickness my whole life.. so pneumonia was often.. Dr’s told me i was to die that weekend and to get on the phone and start calling my family and friends
. ‘get your affairs in order Mr. Spiral Eyed, and godspeed’. and i can remember sitting there, in the hospital bed.. watching each coat turn to the door, the.. silent roaring.. those, clouds passing.. i can remember how the day was darker then, my hospital room lights were off so the natural light made everything a darker shade of blue.. i left the next week. they drew my blood and came back and said wow, you can go!
i was 17 or so at the time. from then on i had hundreds of episodes.. we didn’t find anything out until am extremely concerned group of specialists based in U.C Davis (one of the absolute TOP.. teams, in the world) were really wondering why i was born with one of the rarest things known to man.. i the science medical books, there are only 27 pages on it. that’s how much we know! or did, this was.. awhile ago. they found it by doing a bone marrow biopsy.. for those of you who don’t know what that is, or feels like-
you lay down. . face first. . they do not let you see A N Y thing. . lay. then they have to stick this needle, into the back hip bone, just to ‘numb it’. ha.. mother fuckers.. then, they get this hand crank thing, similar to a corkscrew or wine bottle opener, and they basically hand pump this machinery while the whirly screw needle thingy drills into the bone, breaking it, until finally this needle stinger thing SHOOTS the damn thing into the center of the bone to suck out a certain amount of marrow onto a slide.. for ‘ microscopic views’. the core of my bone they take out literally looks like an apple core.. they never let me take them, i have had around 11.. 12? maybe 10. i don’t remember, i was awake for the first half until i told them to start putting me under. after the fifth one i started to lose a little of my sanity. the sixth sent me over the edge. the very first time it happened, was the worst. the drive there, was my cousin taking me. we both thought it would be a quick run in and out, so he pulled out this joint of super danky stuff. we smoked it.. i go in, and man.. i was stoned i won’t lie.. they asked me, are you ready Spiral?
ready?! for what!
your bone marrow biopsy!
.. . . what! wh wh what? shit!
so, yeah.. that really was horrible.
i recently had a bone marrow transplant, because of what i was born with. i am now with my wife, and trying to put a lot behind me.. they took me off my painkillers after 10+ years of them, so i have been adjusting to that as well. you can probably hear that in my sounds, whether or not i was slipping away in withdrawals or if i was legitimately in pain.
i often am. there is much more i can speak of, about pain.. about me..
the Dark Arts saved me.. i owe it to Them, to speak through ritualistic energy. i am here on Their Time now.
Aside from your music with Apothecary you are also a prolific visual artist across various mediums, creating pieces quite unlike much I have seen before. Your photography is incredible and usually adorns the covers of your releases, but I’m especially interested in the large canvas paintings you do. How long have you been painting them, and what inspires these pieces?
– truly appreciate that.. photography is the stillness of a moment, captured as it passes. .
the paintings started as a way to get ‘music’ out of me.. it also started as a way to do Art.
i fell in love, with the Darkness at an early age.. 2nd grade.. i get my hands on those Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books, and immediately.. felt alive with the art. Stephen Gammel, that guy right there knew what was up.. Giger.. Beksinski.. so many greats out there, long dead now, with works speaking to us directly.. that is another form of Necromancy, to me.. so painting it out, was my way of speaking to others around me that could let it speak to them, for them. what i do, is what you alone make of it. i have several here with me, some have been stolen.. some have been sold.. lost, and some i destroyed in fits of rage and manic depression.
scars of abuse are so deep, they bloom at random times.
You’ve been quite prolific, releasing work at a steady rate over the years. Do you feel your motivations or the resulting work has changed since the beginnings of Apothecary? If so, in what way?
– it has, and always will.. to be fluid, is to be ever constantly in motion. when you see a pharmacy, you ever notice how it is a variety of things, going in and out.. people in for different reasons, ailments.. we all have a scar, that we bury beneath. i am here to say no one is ever truly alone. i often wonder if the pain of everyone is being recognized through my oceanic and receptive essence, that i speak to those who swim through.. whether it is through anything i do. ? maybe i am a medium of sorts, put here for reasons that i am still deciphering somehow.
an apothecary, is like a pharmacy.. so the forthcoming idea to the project was to be fluid in what is seeping out of the caverns inside of my haunted head. my soul.. the motivations i have are entirely to continue releasing stuff.. energy is constant, so much to tap into.. i just prefer the darker side of things, where i feel at home.
Aside from the split with UtenHåp, you have another special item for sale at the moment – a cassette box, if it hasn’t already sold out by the time we finish this interview. Can you tell us about this box?
– yes! the box is one of others i have planned out for a long, long time now.. was a matter of when and what that would be, and this release from awesome label Psalm 88 just felt right. overdue even, way overdue..
the box itself is hand painted by me, each with its own features yet mostly black. hints of dark red splatter on some, with a vibrant and darker violet on the others. they will each have lyrics painted on the inside, with special paint and a separate set of lyrics for each box.. some glow in the dark paint as well.. wax sealed with a certain seal, as that means it is official and from me directly. there is another seal for it, only those whom have it will know\see it, as a message will be included so people in this world can’t take my idea and try to pass it off as me. .
i have very, well thought out measures here.
each box bundle comes with three different photography prints from my personal stash.. each bundle will have entirely different images..
the tape Psalm 88 released in the box of course, as well as handwritten lyrics for the tracks.. personal art from my books, a surprise as well.. a skeleton key is different for each one, but the key symbolises my thanks to the buyer at hand, allowing them into a little piece of me, that they can have forever.
You don’t just live and breathe black metal, you feel it deep in your being like few others I have known. This may be a difficult question, but: what does black metal mean to you?
– black metal.. to me.. oh boy.. is many things.
it is passion, fire.. it is a message, a double edged sword that one must know where to wield and where to slay.. it is a power, energy to reveal. to speak.. to receive. it is a way of life, and some of us bleed for what we do.
And finally: what lies in the future for Apothecary, and yourself? Will we see a full-length from you soon?
– much is in progress! a split with Magic Incense, another split with a Canadian artist but unsure of the status of that one.. a full length is in the works indeed, and a couple EPs.. i do have a special thing happening, news on that later as well.
Sincerest thanks for your time once again Spiral Eyed, it’s been a pleasure. Any final wisdom you would like to leave us with?
– thank you for doing this! appreciate this, there is something i will end this with, and that is the lyrics to most of ‘the Waking Hour’.. the rest that is written, is going to the next two tracks, which brings all of this full circle. it is titled ‘the Waking Hour’, since i could find it that way when searching for it, so here it is, with editing help of a great and talented friend Nathan Hassall. he helped me construct it further, but this is the blueprint itself.
‘the waking hour’
thy energy is faded
and your gasps
came from under
an eternal fade
of broken light
centuries have passed by
like a grain of salt
all of us wandering
gyred core energy
lost and silent
in the center
of every maze
is a breath
of broken light
fighting to see..
to take form
breaking into shape
Purchase Waking In An Eternal Fade digitally from Bandcamp here, and purchase A Mist Upon A Sacred Forest Floor, Beheld The Dark Flame through Psalm 88 here or in an ultra-limited art box from the Apothecary Etsy Store here.
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