Remina (New Zealand)

Metal-Roos: The creation of Remina and does its name come from Lovecraft/ celestial influence?

Mike: Sort of Lovecraft-adjacent, we took it from Junji Ito’s brilliant 2005 manga Hellstar Remina which is basically about a planet that roams around the universe devouring other worlds. We’re both huge Ito fans, and I’d recommend anyone that hasn’t read anything by him to go and pick up any of his short fiction or Uzumaki first since they’re great places to start. Hellstar Remina actually got a recent official Western release just called Remina which is very cool and well worth picking up. So yeah, the whole reference to the unknowable Lovecraftian planet sort of fit the darker, cosmic doom vibe we wanted to explore with the band.

MR:  Does it also reflect the importance of human life?

Heike: Or perhaps even the unimportance of human life on a cosmic scale, since we might be genuinely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. That is a scary and fascinating thought when considering the great unknowns and chaos of the cosmos. It makes human life seem fragile and important in the sense that we’d like to survive long enough to discover more. For better or for worse, because Remina and Cthulhu alike may be lurking out there, of course!

Mike: Yeah, I think exploring cosmic themes carry so much more weight when it’s set against the backdrop of humankind’s place and experience in such a vast, unknowable expanse. In some ways, the fact that we’re insignificant on a cosmic scale makes our lives and the fact we’re even here against all biological odds even more beautiful. Human life is absolutely valuable, but it carries much more weight when juxtaposed against what’s out there beyond our sphere of existence.

MR:  Remina is very different to your work together in Light Field Reverie. What was the deciding factor to create a completely new project?

Mike: Light Field Reverie started as our chance to explore all sorts of sounds we don’t get to in our other projects, but I think we realised that we wanted to explore both the doomier and more darkly atmospheric Spacey side of things as much as we wanted to explore the more progressive side of the sound, so we decided to split them in two directions so that both can be as free and fully formed as we want them to be without sacrificing anything on either side for the sake of balance.

Heike: We were quite excited about being able to create a fusion of all our influences in one project but didn’t quite account for just how much of that would be doom. Since Light Field Reverie was always intended to be more modern and energetic, we didn’t want to choke the potential of our next release and agreed to compartmentalize. Now we can do both to the fullest.

MR:  Remina is a much heavier/ doomier? project. Was this a natural evolution and is there an overall philosophy to the band ?

Heike: I’d go as far as to say this is most natural for either of us since our roots are doom and we both have a love for vast atmospheres, crushing tones and thought-provoking stories that leave profound impressions. As far as philosophy goes, I think I speak for both of us when saying that we want to create audio backdrops for concepts that seem incomprehensible and eerie.

MR:  Together you have created some excellent music do you feel pressure/ expectation when creating new music, considering your formidable musical backgrounds?

Mike: I think the pressure creeps in mentally sometimes even if you don’t want to admit it, you read some comments that get kind of unnecessarily personal or compare you to the other projects you’ve been involved with and that can sort of put you in a weird spot for a while, but in the end, we just try to remember that we’re not competing with other bands or our previous projects. We’re just trying to do new things we haven’t really done before. You ultimately just have to do things for yourself and hope that people like it too, otherwise it’s kind of disingenuous.

Heike: Personally, I never consider pressure, because I like to keep moving forward and express all the different ideas saved up over the years. None of my other or past projects (apart from my solo project) allowed for enough of a creative platform to also co-write music, so they are just that – a background. New projects to us mean full control and the ability to do whatever we want and if anything, that relieves pressure. To add to what Mike mentioned – our only hope is that listeners will take this into consideration rather than expecting more of what they are used to. We’re both creatively restless, hate stagnation and want to experiment to our heart’s content.

MR: You obviously make a great team, when writing is a natural process and how do you discern what inspiration belongs to each project?

Heike: We’ll just write music we want to hear ourselves and share it with each other for comment. We immediately know which project it can work for and it’s often based on what concepts it evokes in the mind. Sometimes we write music that belongs to neither and joke about having some ambiguous third project ala a smorgasbord of music.

Mike: It just feels kind of natural, as Heike said we just kind of know what we’re writing for when we sit down on any given day for the most part. Each has its own flavour, so we don’t struggle too much there, but if something comes out while I’m writing that I know would fit one of the other projects better I record it and save it out in an ideas directory to work out later.

You are also undertaking a different release schedule for your music rather than the interminable wait for an album ? 

Mike: Yeah, this was something we went back and forth on a lot before we decided to go with it for Remina. We were actually going to do Light Field Reverie that way first, but then we signed to Avantgarde early on and that kind of shot that plan in the foot a bit, though we love Rob and Andrea at Avantgarde so that wasn’t a problem. If you’re not writing a bunch of fillers but really putting your all into every track it can be a shame to have the kind of fade into the overall album without much fanfare on release, so this way every song gets its own time to shine.

Heike: The idea of releasing singles has always appealed to me because sometimes a song is timely and significant. The synchronicities of life and what inspires us at any given moment serves as great inspiration for art and music. It feels like an apathetic afterthought to wait and compile all those moments and release them as one package later on. I always felt it dilutes the emotion that went into each offering. Subjectivity aside, I’ve noticed more modern, independent and electronic artists willing to try new methods that don’t necessarily adhere to industry or label standards. It accounts for a new digital age; for malleable workflow according to one’s own schedule, and who knows, maybe is better suited for the fast-paced attention span of new generations. We’re happy to embrace the singles method with Remina, especially because it’s a side project that doesn’t aim to rob us of large chunks of time we’d prefer to spend on Light Field Reverie.

MR: Does this allow for a more free-flowing immediacy with your followers with feedback? Will a physical release ever be a possibility?

Mike: Definitely! It’s great to hear people enjoy it and interact with people on a song-by-song basis, and obviously while less positive feedback isn’t always fun to hear it can help work out if something you’ve done really isn’t hitting how you hoped. Obviously, there’s always the odd troll or person that just can’t move past the impact a previous project might have had on them, but generally, we’re really lucky with how incredible people have been. In terms of a physical release, that’s the plan! We’re basically writing and releasing albums, we’re just releasing them incrementally first.

MR: Heike there is a beautiful melancholy to the lyrics, where does this ethereal quality come from?

Heike: Thank you kindly! It certainly comes from having my head in the clouds too often. For better or for worse, I tend to spend a great deal of time romanticizing and philosophizing different aspects of life and people. There is an inexpressible longing inside me for something greater and more beautiful for humanity’s future. For more freedom, compassion and respect for each other. For symbiosis with natural principles instead of spiralling into superficiality and nihilism – For a ticket into the cosmos. But when contrasted to the harsh realities of this world, I’m left deeply emotional and often feeling alienated or troubled. Most of my lyrics reflect this feeling in some capacity unless I’m writing according to a clear concept inspired by a book, game or film.

MR: Does art, literature and film provide inspiration over current events?

Mike: Oh definitely! Art, literature, science and films/series are what keep us going both in terms of inspiration and life generally. With the state of the world, it just gets a little depressing at times, so escapism is how everyone is getting by I think.

Heike: Very much so. I’m always a bit in awe of how creative and masterful people can be. There’s always more to discover or even rediscover. I’m grateful that Mike shares the same level of passion for minute details and we can easily spend hours talking about one small aspect of a piece of media. Getting excited about all these things together does offset some of the current shittiness going around.

MR: What is the greatest book we’ve ever read?

Mike: Jeff Vandermeer’s Area X: Southern Reach trilogy, Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, and all of Laird Barron’s work (but especially The Imago Sequence, Occultation, and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All). Also Thomas Ligotti’s short fiction and Matthew Bartlett’s Gateways to Abomination. This is a dangerous hole to go down, I’m going to stop now. Oh wait, also Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, that had an enormous impact on me. One last one, Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! Manga had a massive impact on Remina as a band thematically and in terms of atmosphere, perhaps more than any other piece of media.

Heike: I’m surprised Clive Barker’s ‘Imajica’ is not on Mike’s list, so I’m adding that!

Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ left a big impression on me when I was young and so did Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’.

Mike: I was trying not to get too carried away haha but yeah, Imajica, Weaveworld and The Thief of Always if we’re going to go further down the Clive Barker route.

MR: Mike what’s the greatest riff of all time (if it’s not yours?)

Mike: Haha oh god that’s a hard one…I can’t pick just one, but a random selection off the top of my head are Anata’s ‘Better Grieved Than Fooled’ opening riff, Opeth’s ‘The Night and the Silent Water’ opening riff, Rotting Christ’s ‘Demonon Vrosis’, Katatonia’s ‘Brave’, Akercocke’s ‘Verdelet’ middle section, Agalloch’s ‘Falling Snow’ opening riff (all Agalloch could be on here to be honest), Fields of the Nephilim’s ‘The Watchmen’ opening riff, Tool’s ‘Schism’ middle section, Metallica’s ‘Welcome Home or ‘The Unforgiven II’, and finally probably a little controversial but Cradle of Filth’s ‘Midian’ album is wall-to-wall with riff gold. So many classic riffs from In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Arsis, Iron Maiden, Draconian, and just countless other amazing bands. I could never pick just one and even this list is missing hundreds I could’ve put here.

 

MR: What inspired you both to pursue music and with your numerous projects is your passion all-encompassing? Where do you find the time?

Mike: For me, I just always loved music, all the great 80s and 90s stuff I heard growing up and then metal as I discovered it later on. It’s definitely all-encompassing, I work as a Producer at a games company in Sweden, even though I’m back in Dunedin at the moment, and I spend every moment I’m not working there hanging out with Heike, making music, or audio engineering for other bands. I find the time by not sleeping nearly as much as I should haha.

Heike: Can confirm. I nag Mike often about his lack of sleep! Totally denying that I do the same of course. I was born in the 80’s with parents who loved to party and music was always playing. There was something so unique about melodies and artists back then. My father always used to play the guitar and his love for music inspired me. I started with the choir in primary school as well, but quickly realized I wanted to sing and write on my own, and it has been a growing experience since then. I’d go as far as to say, music and art is the only way I am able to express myself comfortably. There’s never enough bloody time and far too many chores for my liking, but being a reclusive creature who likes to get immersed in projects or spend time with my other half (and prefer to game than go out), I reckon we’ve got it all figured out.

MR: Do you remember the moment or song that made you both realize the importance of music to you?

Heike: So many moments. The first time I heard Pink Floyd’s album ‘The Final Cut’ was in surround sound. That helicopter, followed by an explosion, followed by violin – So cinematic it gave me goosebumps. The first time I heard Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ and ‘Nights In White Satin’ by The Moody Blues, I realized my obsession with broody romantic atmospheres. My father was a big fan of Queen and to this day, it’s hard to match the admiration I felt the first time I heard Freddie Mercury belting ‘The Show Must Go On’. But the most important moment for me in life was the first time I heard Tool. It felt like finding myself without knowing what I was looking for. I think every diehard Tool fan feels that way, so I’m not special in saying that. Lastly, discovering Draconian changed my life, and quite literally so. It was my biggest inspiration and I wished to sing in a band like that. Careful what you wish for haha!

Mike: For me there were so many songs that had a huge inspiration to me growing up, the specific dreamy melancholy of so much 80s music seeped in when I was really young, but I think the three big moments I could pinpoint from memory would be hearing ‘Hotel California’ in the car during a family trip through the beautiful scenery around Central Otago and Queenstown and being so fascinated by how sad and wistful the lyrics made me feel, another time was probably even earlier than that when I just become obsessed with Phil Collin’s ‘Another Day In Paradise’ and how incredibly sad the song made me feel…I was probably only five or six haha. Then when my brother introduced me to Metallica and those bands everyone gets into early on that was it, once I found metal there was no going back to a life without music. Also discovering extreme metal with Agalloch, Opeth, Tristania etc. was huge as well. Heike and I share a lot of those influences with Pink Floyd, Queen, Tool etc. so we really couldn’t be a better-matched team to be creating stuff haha.

MR: Should all music be without limits and classification?

Mike: I think so, yeah. Classification is useful for finding other stuff you might like in a similar vein, but it’s also a product of its time and I think we’ve moved beyond that. With algorithms on platforms like Spotify and YouTube etc., the need for strict genre classification is long gone, the recommendations are so much more tailored based on much more complex patterns than the weird granular genre conventions of the past. I think it also helps get rid of some of the elitism that exists both consciously and unconsciously, people even act as their own gatekeepers and it always surprises me…they won’t listen to a band they would otherwise like that might cross over into X genre because they have labelled themselves exclusively a fan of Y and Z genres. I can’t talk because I was just as bad as a teenager, but eventually, I just stopped caring once I realised it was only myself I was screwing over.

Heike: I think there are two sides to this. On the one hand, it feels like we’ve moved beyond classification in the digital age by way of algorithms, as Mike mentioned. Music gets recommended based on whatever we listen to, regardless of what genres we assume we stick to generally. I say this because once I look into the recommendations, I see genre names I never would have guessed or thought to look up myself. And judging by the very vague and vast descriptors of subgenres these days, I’m glad I don’t have to mentally keep track of that. I might be listening to what I classically term darkwave, but algorithms suggest artists from genres called ‘witch house’, ‘hardwave’ or some ‘neo’-something or other. This way we discover more music we enjoy without even being able to preconceive of all these new terms. Simply put, the exponential growth of subgenres and AI sorting of data is making classification redundant in a digital space.

That said, walking into a music store and not having it sorted by genre would drive me nuts. Perhaps even this would be antiquated soon, depending on how these technologies get implemented in our physical reality.

MR: When can we expect the next Remina release?

Mike: Pretty much a song a month is the goal! We have some really cool stuff on the boil, I’m pretty excited about it.

MR: Your numerous future plans?

Heike: I’m most excited about the new Light Field Reverie and Remina, but finishing my solo album is a top priority at this stage since it’s been pushed back 7 years already. Things are a bit slower in the Draconian camp, as our latest release isn’t even a year old and my involvement there doesn’t require as much time and energy. Other than that, I enjoy carving wood and collecting vintage items that I’d like to turn into a side business in the near future. Most of all, we’d both just like to freely create whatever we want together while living a peaceful and prosperous life.

Mike: Keep Remina rolling, through an eventual physical release and on into the future beyond that. The new Light Field Reverie album is underway as well, which is coming together nicely. I’ve got a bunch of mixing and mastering work I’m finishing up, but I’m always keen to take more if anyone reading needs a producer. Other than that I’ve got the new Sojourner album to write and record sometime, but I’m taking a bit of personal time away from that, I was just finding myself a little burned out on it after doing pretty every single aspect of that band for the last six years.

MR: Top 6 ( each ) albums of all time?

Mike: Oh god…okay. I’m going to cheat and do an ‘all time’ list off the top of my head that is totally not definitive, and 6 that I’ve been listening to most the last few years because that’s a lot easier.

Super rough all-time favourites list that’s missing a load of stuff:

  1. Agalloch – Pale Folklore
  2. Sleep Token – Sundowning
  3. Katatonia – Viva Emptiness
  4. Coheed & Cambria – In Keep Secrets of Silent Earth
  5. Opeth – Blackwater Park
  6. The Birthday Massacre – Walking With Strangers

A little more accurate favourites of the last few years:

  1. Sleep Token – Sundowning
  2. Health – Vol.3: Slaves of Fear
  3. Idle Hands (now called Unto Others) – Mana
  4. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
  5. Crywolf – Cataclasm
  6. Loathe – I Let It In and It Took Everything

I’d also chuck the Mushishi OSTs and Silent Hill OSTs in there, both some of my favourite pieces of music ever.

Heike: Okay, I’m going to have to do the same here, because some newer favourites might be more important than the classics, but too new to warrant the ‘all-time’ title. Also, I second most of Mike’s list, so I’ll try to keep it varied.

All-time:

  1. Tool – Lateralus
  2. Khoma -The Second Wave
  3. Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
  4. Agents of Oblivion – Agents of Oblivion
  5. Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance
  6. Clint Mansell – The Fountain OST

Recent years:
1. Empathy Test – Monsters

  1. Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
  2. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
  3. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
  4. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty

Remina: Facebook

Interview Date: 2021-08-25

Interviewed by Sparky