ThisIsNotAScene‘s Gilbert Potts was hugely impressed with the latest release from Atlantis, “Le Petite Mort“, an experimental and progressive instrumental rock/metal project from Holland. He spoke with Gilson Heitinga to find out more about the man behind the music.
When did you first realise you were able to create music? To what degree has it taken over your life?
That’s a difficult question! Well I always was into music as a kid, but never thought I was going to have it as a big part of my life as it is today.I just started to play in bands since I was 13 or so, and it just evolved as I grew older, and as my influences and tastes in all sorts of music expanded it turned from fun to hobby to passion, but still fun… if the fun factor is gone, I think you need to change it up.
Your music is rich in texture and layers. Can you describe the thought process you go through when composing? Do you visualise a sound and recreate it or play around until something works?
When I sit down and start to write and think about a new release, I always want to have it sound and feel different than the previous one, but always have that recognizable sound that makes this band what it is. So I start writing and recording in the free time I have until a certain song or idea has that right vibe or sound I have in my head. I always know what I want, but it needs a certain trial and error to get there.
Could you tell us a bit about Atlantis – is it a solo project that enlists help as needed for touring and recording, or has it evolved into a more permanent band?
It started as a solo project, and for the most of it it still is. Sometimes I ask someone to play something, or if it needs a certain style I’ll ask that person to add their flavor, or instrument.Same as with vocals, for the song ‘She Loves All’ from my second album (“Mistress Of Ghosts”) I knew I had to ask the singer BIG from Germany to sing on that song, and the same for ‘Esther’ on the “La Petite Mort” EP, I had a certain kind of vocals in my mind, and Johannes (from Cult Of Luna) fitted that profile perfectly, so I asked him.And besides that, I love to work with others.Right now I’m in the middle of writing and recording the next full length, and will be working closely with the Atlantis live drummer for the drum tracks.The fun thing for me is when we start to rehearse and play these songs live, when everyone in the band adds their flavor and style to them, adding note’s and such. Especially our synth player comes up with extra stuff for live which is very cool.As a band, we meet, discuss the live setting, setlists, live arrangements etc, but always under my creative control as it is my little baby
Which do you enjoy more; the creation of music or its performance?
Both to be honest! I can jam in my studio for hours on a single beat, guitar riff or synth arrangement, and as soon as a song is translated into a song we can play live, the feedback from the audience on that song gives me that exact same feeling when I’m jamming in my studio, only live you get this same collective high because we’re playing with six people.
How important was playing at dunk! festival to you? Did it create opportunities for you?
Well that particular tour we played on Dunk and Roadburn, which are maybe two of the important festivals for this kind of music, and I’m noticing how important it is to have played them. But we knew the guys from Dunk for a while, as they released the previous full length “Mistress Of Ghosts” on vinyl in 2011, and we played Dunk festival in 2009 for the first time, and it as great to be back.
It’s always a great opportunity to play at festivals, as they have a good crowd, great line ups. We had a great time last edition, the crowd responded very well, met some new people, got to meet the guys from Birds Robe, which was cool! And Wout and Luc (from Dunk) are such nice guys. We had a great time.
Does the title of your new EP “La Petite Mort” have a specific meaning or would you like the listener to interpret it how they want?
hmmm… Well everyone can interpret the way he or she wants to. I love the meaning about it, I think it fits my music very well.
The EP has a very cinematic quality, with each song having enough similarity to tie them together, but different enough to remain interesting. Was the EP written this way?
Yeah, I tend to write my albums and EP’s that way (or at least I try). I think it’s important that an album can be seen as a whole, as one piece of art. Like it’s a collection of paintings or photo’s, and the album is the exhibition.
I find music needs to work on an emotional level for me to fully engage, and the EP is packed with it. How important to you is emotion in your song writing?
It always starts with a state of mind I’m in, and I think the emotion I feel during that state of mind is the most important thing, and I believe every pice of music in history is written trough some kind of emotion. It sounds silly, but playing that certain guitar riff that makes a room just tremble, just by hitting the strings a certain way, that’s emotion too, or a certain drumloop or beat, with just the right atmosphere from the other instruments, that just takes you to a certain place… that’s emotion too… and when all these things combined tell just that what you’re trying to tell trough instrumental music than it becomes a song to me.
Your EP is dark, in fact sometimes when I listen it’s very, very dark. Is darkness more fulfilling to write about?
Well, I listen to a lot of dark stuff, but I never seen it that way, it just happens, and I can understand why people say of feel that. But I’ve heard a lot of interpretations of the music; dark, doomy, emotional, erotic even.. and I guess it’s all there.Personally, I enjoy music when the first time I hear a tune that it will hit me right in the face, and that can be any kind of music, acoustic, metal, electronic…
How has the EP been received by fans? What does it mean to you when people take pleasure from your music?
The EP has been received very very well! Beyond my expectations to be honest. I like the songs enough to release them, so having these positive reviews and messages from people around the world really means a lot. And off course I take some sort of pleasure, but it’s more of a feeling of being honored and humbled.
What’s planned next for Atlantis?
Right now I’m writing the new full length, which will see the light of day hopefully around April 2013. Working on a cover, and other side projects. We will tour Europe in May 2013, more news about this soon! But first we will support The Gathering on a string of shows during their Dutch tour beginning 2013. So pretty busy And we hope to play some festivals next summer
Thanks so much for your time and for making great music.
You’re welcome! And please go to our Facebook page for all the updates!