I recently had the opportunity to ask Erech Leleth some questions about his work as a musician. He is the creative force behind a multitude of projects, including the recent Narzissus album we reviewed. Read on to hear his thoughts on this and other projects.
Hayduke X: First, I’d like to offer my congratulations on the upcoming release of Akt III: Erlösung, as well as the vinyl release of all the prior Narzissus material. How are you feeling about the new album?
Erech Leleth: Most of all I’m feeling relieved that it’s finally being released. The base was already done two years ago and throughout the months that followed parts, were re-written, added, taken away completely etc. so it was a rather long process. The whole vibe of the album changed with every tiny piece, but in the end I’m way too close to have a proper opinion on it.
HX: Fair enough. My opinion after a few listens is that it’s fantastic. I expect it will be well received. Akt III is clearly a Narzissus release, but it’s equally clearly a noticeable evolution from the earlier material. Tell me about that evolution and what may have caused it.
EL: Thank you! I think all of my projects have gotten a bit more experimental since I began releasing music, because of the music I consume. You can tell I’ve listened to my fair share of Jazz Manouche while writing Akt III. Whenever I’m in a writing period I try not to listen to music that’s close to the outcome I’d like to have, but what actually happens are those genre crossovers, as in Summer Haze ‘99, Bergfried and Narzissus’ Akt III. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
HX: I definitely hear that experimentation. The two you mention from this year are two of my favorites from all releases in 2023. It seems like you are a part of an incredible amount of projects. Why do you have so many, as opposed to bringing it all together in one?
EL: I’m really glad to hear that. I think there are only a few projects and artists out there, where genre bending actually works, like Igorrr and Poppy and this demands top notch musicianship and songwriting skills, which I don’t possess, yet. On top of that I’m observing that the projects of mine which stay in their lane are much better received than the ones where I experiment, which is another point not to bring them all together as one.
HX: What can you tell me about your writing process, either generally or specifically for Akt III?
EL: I basically write and record simultaneously, so the songs are created organically. If I’m stuck, I’ll listen through thousands of riffs or melodies which I recorded with my phone and see if I can find something that fits. The lyrics are the last thing that I add. But usually I have cover art and sometimes even song titles before I start the writing process. This way I have a clear direction and also inspiration. With Akt III it was different and the cover art was created after, as well as some lyrics were written before the music was done, so it was a more unsystematic approach and maybe that’s why there are so many influences.
HX: The artwork is fairly unique in your discography. Tell me about the art, how it came about, and how it connects to the music.
EL: In this case I was in need of a clean artwork that works as the opposite of the kaleidoscope of genres included on the album. It is the final part of a trilogy, that’s no fictional story like my other projects, but rather my own personal tale. So I asked my friend Camillo to take some pictures with me and that’s how the cover art for the digital and tape version came about. I like the contrast of the high-rise buildings with the lake in front, as I’ve always lived in the city and therefore could always romanticize nature from a distance as a feral, but safe haven. Diane Reynolds then took some inspiration from there for her photography for the vinyl edition and added other layers with wasteland imagery but also notions of rebirth.
Salvation is the topical base layer of the whole album and I think both artworks cover it well, with salvation through figurative and literal baptism on the one hand and salvation through the apocalypse, so life and death in the end.
HX: Does that mean this will be the end of this particular project or will you do more beyond the trilogy?
EL: I don’t know. I’m working on releases for other projects right now and I can’t really tell what the future holds for Narzissus. I need to find another kind of focus for this one.
HX: That’s fair enough. How did you end up connecting with Shape of Storms Records?
EL: I’ve been a huge fan of Halo of Flies since 2013 and around two years ago he asked me to do a cassette version of my Grandeur – ‘Aurea Aetas‘ EP. We’ve been in contact since and I am more than grateful to be working with such a powerhouse and luminary of the scene.
HX: What else should we know about this project, these releases, or any other future plans?
EL: 2024 will see more experimentation, but also a return to my musical roots where it’s necessary. There are few new projects I’ve been working on, with some Pagan Black Metal, some Gothic Metal as well as some pure Power Metal. After a little creative hiatus the last months I hope to add the finishing touches to Ancient Mastery – Chapter Three: Regicide and the Grandeur full-length.
HX: That sounds exciting! Thanks so much for your time answering these questions.
EL: Thank you.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. He is also a contributor to The Metal Wanderlust. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.