Interviews page - last updated December 18th, 2007
(All interviews are copyrighted by Ethodius and by the respective interviewer)
It would be so much better if we know where Ethodius is based, when it was formed and the chain of events that led to its realization.
Ethodius is based in Harrison Township which is right outside of Mount Clemens, Michigan. I simplified this on the opening page of the website by mentioning the city Detroit. This is because it is a larger city that more people are familiar with. Downtown Detroit is about a thirty minute drive from where I live.
Ethodius was established around 1993. The chain of events that led to its realization was that I started playing piano seriously around 1984. My piano lessons started to become more intense as I was challenged with Bach three part inventions and Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas. A few years later in High School around 1989 I became introduced by some friends to bands such as Joy Division and SPK. After being very impressed with this kind of music for quite some time, I bought my first sound module in 1991. It was an Ensoniq EPS 16+. I soon after hooked it up via MIDI to an Atari ST running the software Notator. Later in 1993 I bought a DAT, a Shure Beta 58 Mic, and an Alesis Quadraverb GT. I also purchased a Tascam analog eight track recorder which I hooked up to an eight channel mixer. After putting down some music and vocals on the Tascam eight track, Ethodius was the name I decided to use for the project.
Where did you derive your band name? Does it have any significance at all to the kind of music you're making?
It was from the help my friend, Lynn, who I met in the SCA. SCA stands for The Society for Creative Anachronism. It is a group that is dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17th-century European history. We were looking for a medieval name for me to use in the SCA. She had a red thin hard cover book dealing with ancient and medieval names and she found the name Ethodius in it. She pointed the name out to me and immediately it caught my attention. Historically, Ethodius was the name of two Scottish kings, Ethodius I and Ethodius II. I thought the name would work for the music because I have often put tymps into the songs and have incorporated a somewhat ancient or epic feel to the music.
Forgive me, but what is your nationality and how would you describe the people and the state of life in your area ? I was just wondering if they are conducive to your band's identity/characteristics.
My family and I were born right here in the United States and this goes back a long way. As a result, I am American. The people around here are pretty easy to get along with which in turn makes the state of life pretty good. I often hand out postcards everywhere I go and even in a places that are considered businesses, they are often excepted with a good attitude since I am not directly trying to sell CDs to people. Sure, there is the option for people to do so from the webpage but if I am simply trying to create a community for new music, then that is the primary goal. For example, I could sell a lot of CDs to people throughout the world, and still lack local community. To have things the other way around may be just as important, because with local community, there is the local psychological support of other human beings. This, in my opinion, is very important. One will notice the importance of this if I play at a local music venue. Fortunately, the people are fairly supportive with their comments and attitude even if they don't have the money to buy the recordings.
I'm really impressed by how you're able to recapture a vivid medieval atmosphere. A world that's long gone, but never forgotten. It lives on through your music. Now, with such a lifestyle involved, would you ever consider other genres of music?
After trying to go after a medieval atmosphere when I started, I don't currently mind giving the music a more futuristic feel. As long as this is done with moderation, then I think it is acceptable. With all of the the sounds and effects in my studio, that kind of sound is sometimes difficult to avoid. It is good if I can make my music a mirror of the lifestyle that exists around me, but I think I am somewhat of a non-conventionalist with this issue. If my music is not a mirror of what exists in reality, then perhaps it may be something that mirrors a dream or surreal world. That may be just as pleasing.
Please share with us the stories behind every album you released from past until present.
The Ethodius self-titled album was the first one that I did. It is self-released but was promoted on a compilation by Black River Recordings. There are two songs from the Ethodius album that ended up on the compilation. They are, "The Clear Sky" and "A Noted Reunion Behind the Convent Walls of Santo Spirito." The Ethodius album starts out with a lot of tymps for a strong rhythmic backbone and then for the third track, "Existence," I decided to use modern drum sounds. I also used synth sounds from the K2000 on this track a lot more. This is an example of how there is a mixture of medieval sounds and modern sounds. I also started getting into the software Hyperprisim for effects which can be heard on the tracks "The Deepest Voice" and especially on "Merlin Lives in our Dreams now, He Speaks to us from there."
"The Aesthetic Myth" is the second album but ended up being an EP later. I decided to shorten it because I felt that the quality of the five songs that made up the EP went together nicely. The first track on the EP consists of spoken verses of poetry by my cousin Cindy and a lot of sounds processed by Hyperprisim played on an Ensoniq ASR-10. I like how this track turned out and so did the guys at Metal Age Productions. They put it on their fourth compilation which can be viewed on my ordering page. For the second track, "The Magi," I started getting into using the classical piano sample that is available on the PCM grand piano expansion card for the Triton-Rack. In the past, I didn't think that the piano samples that I tried out would be good enough for a project, but this one was. I also started doing more with real pianos for the third and fifth track respectively. For the fourth track, "Arethusa," I used the Kurzweil K2000R and the Ensoniq ASR-10 which were sequenced extensively by the software Emagic Logic.
My latest collection of pieces are ones that represent places that we can mentally explore. This collection of pieces makes up a CD called "Uncharted Territory." I would like to make this the most unique CD to date. With this in mind, it is difficult to estimate when it will be finished. A commentary can be found of these three CDs on the Ethodius webpage.
Is there a scene/society out there of likeminds that share the same musical adaptation? Have you tried to reach out and do collaborative works with them?
There is, but I consider it to be a subculture more than anything. The first thing that comes to mind when dealing with a scene, is the club scene at places such as The Labyrinth and at times, small coffee houses.
There is also the SCA that I mentioned earlier. As far as doing work with people in the clubs, it has been small scale work really. When doing the spoken verses with my cousin Cindy, she was over one day without any intent to read poetry like she did. It just worked out that she and I spent at least an hour recording. She doesn't usually go to the clubs to my knowledge, but she spoke the verses with a lot of depth and expression.
Do you sense a lack of interest among the listeners of today and their preference for easy-to-consume popular music and how does this affect your artistic journey with Ethodius?
I think that experimental and unique ambient new music will always be a minority in light of conventional music but the lines can not always be easily drawn. I say this because with the kind of music I record, peoples tastes change and sway quickly. For example, I have found that some people that listen to conventional popular music, seem to have an interest in my recordings. They may not be as intense of a supporter as may be desired, but it is still astonishing when I see how hungry some people are for new music. However, I try not to let these things influence how I record music because I feel that I should be true to the craft of recording.
I actually searched on "Ethodius" on the net and it's very popular. Do you have a lot of time to spare for promotion?
I have some time. A few minutes each day can be spared. As long as I get some exercise throughout most of the week, I have found that I can do all the things that are required of me. One of which is piano playing and working well with other people. If I don't exercise, then my health and mood tends to decrease in quality. This affects how I work with other people. As a result, I prioritize with health and everything else falls into place.
Is Ethodius a studio band, or do you also perform live in several places?
Ethodius is primarily a studio band but I have played at a number of venues. Coffee houses are ideal. Especially the ones with their own piano. There are a couple around here that have their own piano, one of which I have played at extensively.
What do you do outside of Ethodius? Do you like to go to old regions where castles or dark historical spots lie? Tell us about the places you've been and do you use them as a medium for your ideas?
I spend time running over at the beach throughout most of the week. Once or maybe twice a week I take a day off from running. I think it is a test of the spirit within us when we push ourselves physically. I also believe that it helps me perform music more expressively. This is difficult for me to prove but I myself am a believer of this. As far as historical places, I have visited the War Memorial over in Grosse Point, Michigan. However, I don't directly use historical places for my ideas. The exceptions to this however are the covers of the first two CDs. I have not been to those locations but I try to get the mood of the music to fit with the mood of the cover art.
What then is the frequency of band work for you? How much time does it take for you to craft a song or an album for that matter?
I don't keep a detailed track of the frequency of band work. I would say however that I work on the equipment and recordings at least four to five days out of the week and sometimes more. When I do sit down to work on something it is usually for about an hour or two. There are exceptions to this if I need to nudge a sample just a little bit so that things fit together better. Thanks to the new setup I have, I can retain my ideas so that the tracks are organized pretty well on my hard drive and in Logic Express. This allows me to pick up right where I left off since the last time I worked on something. Full albums and the new EP have taken around two to three years each.
Do you feel a sense of fulfillment on your part having produced your personal works of art? Is it more of a self-indulgence and amusement or do you yearn for others to fathom and appreciate it.
For the most part, it is something that I feel drawn to do on my own. The more material that I record that I believe has some kind of quality to it, the more fulfillment I feel. However, there is a bit of a yearning for others to fathom and appreciate my work as well. If I receive positive feedback from others, it is a good feeling. It is one of those things where I could say that this doesn't effect me but I feel that it does.
Your songs are minimalistic, yet they're not boring at all. The whole thing is a beautiful respite from the layers of electronic sounds being used these days by artists. When are you going to add more audio samples?
I assume that you are referring to "The Stoic" since that song is minimalistic and does not currently have very many different samples in it. I plan on adding a number of samples to this track as soon as possible. I will make a notice in the news section of the site when the track has been updated.
What instruments does Ethodius utilize?
I started out using Ensoniq sound modules but later on I started to use the Kurzweil K2000R with a 88 weighted keyboard. I also use the Korg Triton-rack. All of these sound modules are hooked up via MIDI to Logic Express 7.1. I also use the MOTU 828 audio interface with the computer to record audio into to the hard drive. As far as Microphones are concerned, I started out using the Sure Beta 58 model, but later switched to two replicas of the Audio Technica DR-3700. With these mics I use the Digitech VTP-1 preamp. Some of the older material has been edited with Digidesign Pro Tools or Session software but lately I have been getting into the software Audiodesk for post production.
What can we expect from Ethodius in the near future?
I have been getting a little more into writing poetry and lyrics aside from the actual music. I hope to incorporate this as much as possible into the material on "Uncharted Territory." A couple of tracks from this collection contain some poetry and I hope there will be a lot more later.
Please say your final words. Thank you.
Thanks for the exposure.
- Matt from Ethodius
users may need to wait a few minutes for this interview to
appear. It is a 400k pdf.)
Carlaont Catalin of
Ethodius in the fall of 2002: Read
(The authentic copy can be read by clicking on the link for Aborted Life and then by selecting interviews. However, if you are on a dial-up modem connection, you may wish to simply select the link above that is marked "Read." This will display the interview quicker in a text only fashion from this website.)
McAllister interviews Ethodius in the summer of 1999 : Read