by Stina Isabel Gavrilin
With the first Friday of February comes the first BFTV of the year! This time, we have a very special live show lined up - our very own Bedless Bones will play on the Kabel stage! Her sound has developed through experiments with different noir genres; building bridges and bending borders between darkwave, murky EBM & techno beats and industrial sounds and abstract otherworldly atmosphere akin to IDM. It's quite rare these days to see BB play in her home country, don't miss it! But first, a little interview about her latest album Mire of Mercury, creating art, and doing live shows...
Much of your art and Mire of Mercury in particular revolves around the serenity and chaos of nature. It seems to act as a symbol for you through which to present your own inner nature. Why use the swamp as a centerpiece?
Music can be elusive and my process of writing and producing is oftentimes quite chaotic, so it helps to have that grounding element. The symbol derives from a self-imposed necessity to have something tangible, conceptually, and this album felt like floundering through a swamp. Sure, there are themes on the album that have a foundation in philosophy, psychology and alchemy, but the sensual aspect that relates the body to the environment was still in the forefront of my mind. The elements and forces of nature mirror the human soul and are a release and relief.
You’ve described the songs on Mire of Mercury as spells, and the album also certainly has a very psychedelic effect. Was magick something you intentionally wanted to incorporate?
Creation is magick. Whenever you have that aha! moment and get to something you didn’t know was there — it’s truly mind-blowing. It does take some practice to get into the space to be able to facilitate that, and that is the ritual. You put on your ritual robes (figuratively), draw the circle, take your tools and take the plunge. I often contemplate why I create any more music, because there’s so much of it in the world. Sometimes I still don’t know. It might sound pretentious or prone to mysticism, but I have to have that special transcendental element when I create; to feel like something important is happening.
You’ve mentioned that much of the album was created in a state of sleep deprivation. Is it a recurrent practice for you to deliberately push yourself near extreme mental conditions in order to understand and portray something through music?
Pushing myself to understand the aforementioned conditions, yes. Going through them, not so much. The human mind and emotional states are an endless source of curiosity, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of trying to figure out what makes people tick or how their particular world looks and feels like to them. Looking into myself goes hand in hand with that.
I recall this one time in the middle of a party when you suddenly took out a notebook and spent the remainder of the night scribbling. What triggers your creativity? Are there times where it’s not present at all?
Hmm, I don’t even remember that. Sometimes we need a different microspace I guess. But the art of others is always a good trigger. Or your own mind and dreams. The natural world. I don’t think you can be creative when you’re in a state of serious personal turmoil and grief or when your primal needs are not met. David Lynch has also expressed this thought of how suffering cramps the flow of creativity and I agree. You can create art about suffering for sure, but there needs to be a buffer time to process it. Fear is the mind-killer. Scribbling at that party must mean it was a comfortable and safe space.
Does the process of creation ever become counterproductive, almost torturous?
Some aspects of it can be very difficult, especially when you’re striving to perfect the form of it. For me it becomes arduous when I have to start thinking like an engineer. The technical side of things is not my forte. Of course, I could completely avoid the unpleasant part by just creating for myself, because the substance of it, the creative process, is always beautiful. Without having to publicize the results, there isn’t a need to polish the form. One could just live in the moment, what a bliss. But we do want to publish and share and take others along on the journey. And the control freak in me wants to be hands-on on the technical side too. And so we suffer,
Is there a certain level of absurdism in your art or the way you perceive art in general?
Art makes sense, life is absurd.
What does the Blood Citadel as an expression stand for?
It’s a love story. And that’s not a theme I have delved into much before. I wrote the chords and synth parts thinking about my own relationship and then expanded the story, when my mind wandered to the pain of something eternal, you know like in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker's Dracula, very stylized expressionist sentiment, or "Annabel Lee" by Poe.
It was interesting to me that you would place the tragic story of Tantalus to the very end of an overall bright album. What was the intention behind doing so?
It was a choice based on the music. I knew this was the closing song and this was how I wanted to end the album, with all the layers and moods that unpeel within the song. And I mean, the album starts with death and ends with an afterlife, so it makes sense.
What you create as Bedless Bones is a reflection of your inner world. Sometimes these creations can take on a life of their own, but in your opinion, is it even possible for the artist to be separated from their art?
It’s a difficult question, I don’t know. It’s extremely difficult to separate contemporary artists from their art since there are no mitigating factors like living in a different time with obsolete standards, as it is with historic artists, when even the most progressive minds of their own time seem very backwards according to today’s standards. All in all, it’s very subjective and up for the receiver. I don’t have a definitive rule either.
When choosing which songs in which order to play live, what’s the deciding factor? Do you try to create new storylines, different rituals, etc?
I just kind of know how the order has to be. I visualize the event and it’s usually a very easy decision. There are certain songs I like to keep somewhere in the beginning, as they are more encouraging and comforting for me (Realign and Reign), and some songs are perfect for an ecstatic ending (Ostara, In Omnia Paratus). Of course, I prefer to play new songs as much as possible, since that is the most gratifying for myself and there is a lot of fresh energy to share.
Most of your live shows have taken place abroad. Do you find foreign crowds to be more welcoming and is there anything about playing in Estonia that tops playing anywhere else?
Abroad I’ve played at festivals and events dedicated to goth, industrial, dark electronic music, and audiences there are familiarized with all sorts of obscure dark genres and hybrid forms. I haven’t really found my own audience in Estonia yet, feeling like an alien that I am. But playing at Beats From The Vault is truly special of course. One of my first shows was in HALL at Body Machine Body festival in 2018, and I have loads of precious memories from that.