Selbst Interview

Natasha Villamizar

After a nearly four year span between albums, the black metal artist Selbst just released his latest album Despondency Chord Progressions. Mainman N fills us in on the record and several other topics.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Despondency Chord Progressions compare to your first two albums?
N: What I would highlight the most is the somewhat experience I have now. I’m not an expert at making an album by any means; in fact, there were several technical aspects I had to overcome during the process. However, I have learned as I go, and now it’s a bit easier for me to get where I want. Everything progressed in a more fluid way (maybe).

How did you decide on Jonathan Heredia to be the drummer on the album?
This happened out of a necessity at the time because I was left without a drummer during the composition of this album. I usually work with session drummers, but since I already had a drummer in my live lineup, the idea was to record the new material with him. However, fate had it that he was given new opportunities on a personal level, so he simply couldn’t continue with the band. That’s how I ended up contacting Jonathan, who plays in Aversio Humanitatis and recorded the drums for my first album back in 2016.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I think the fact that I enjoyed it immensely stands out. For me, the process of composing new material is an exciting experience, and this time was the first time I was able to record with all my own recording equipment. Something more “professional.”

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
I spent a long time preparing and acquiring recording equipment and also learning some related stuff. I even bought my first electroacoustic guitar to record this album, so I guess this was the most challenging and exciting part. Also, the fact that it has been the most complete and complex album I made so far, due to the use of many layers of guitars and vocals.

Did you write more songs than appeared on the album?
I tend to discard any idea that doesn’t meet my expectations in the early stages of composition. It’s impossible for me to finish a piece and then set it aside, it would be a waste of energy and time. At least it hasn’t happened to me so far. I focus and invest a lot in potential ideas that could turn into a good song during the process to set them aside when finished. For me, each song is a story to tell within an album; there are no filler tracks.

How has your sound evolved from Relatos de Angustia?
It’s difficult for me to say for sure; I think it’s something that is more up to the listener, but perhaps it has to do a bit with complexity? I like to think that my music has become richer in different sounds and elements over time. But who knows.

What inspired the album title?
I wanted to incorporate an element that would relate to the aspect of the ‘new musicality’ I felt the new music had, a bit more melancholic if you will, while also describing the disheartening state of the lyrics and the concept in general.

What lyrical topics do you cover on this one?
My frustrations, the loneliness, the futility of our species in relation to the nature that surrounds us, and the simple fact that life and reality in general are often discouraging, as well as are the very extreme and weird times we are living in.

How was the video shoot for “Chant Of Self Confrontation” and how did you develop the concept?
It was quite strange for me to be in front of a camera and do those shots, but I wanted to give a special touch to the whole thing. I believe it is visually interesting to see the composer perform their work, so it seemed like a suitable element to add. This was also fortuitous because my good friend Alex (from Aversio Humanitatis as well) was in Chile for a few days for work, so we were able to meet in person finally, and he was kind enough to capture these scenes. He did an excellent job! The shots and concept of the girls was made alongside my friend Fabio Rincones. We wanted to represent internal struggles and how they can, in some way, constantly pursue and defeat you.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
My real expectation was to end with a work I felt satisfied with and to see it realized physically as it should be. And that’s how it has been. Whatever else comes is extra, so it will be well received. I don’t really care about anything else.

How much attention do you pay to reviews?
I find it interesting to know how a complete stranger can perceive the music I compose and express it in a few paragraphs, as long as they can articulate it adequately in words, of course. Although I don’t really take them into account when composing, it’s more out of curiosity. I even tend to read reviews of works I admire from other bands or movies, series, etc.

The album is also being released on vinyl. Are you a collector?
I’m not a big collector, but I do tell you that from time to time I get some vinyl recordings. Only the most important ones that have had an impact on me.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
For now, I’m finishing up the details with the band regarding the setlist we will play, rehearsing and related stuff. We’ll have a gig to announce in Santiago and we are planning Selbst’s first tour, which will be announced very soon.

Does your Unpleasant Records label mostly release Selbst material such as the recent Vortex Of Anguish and Death, or do you sign other bands as well?
I used to release some limited editions of some bands, especially from Venezuela, but I have stopped doing so to concentrate on Selbst material exclusively. I think unconsciously I always wanted to get to this but it takes time to materialize things, so I had to be patient. Just like with everything related to music.

You’ve lived in Chile for several years now. What was the biggest adjustment in emigrating, and how long did it take you to feel it was “home”?
This was very strange for me, but it didn’t take too long, actually. I didn’t feel comfortable in my country, due to the economic situation and certain cultural and social issues. Here in Chile, I found a different panorama and a country that is much more advanced in certain aspects, so I felt comfortable almost from the beginning.

Other than friends and family, what do you miss most about Venezuela?
I think here I should mention the weather. (laughs) I still struggle a bit to get used to the winter, to the point where it exhausts me.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Practically nothing else.

Are you able to make a living with music, or do you have a day job?
Of course, I have a job like anyone else. Occasionally, I do recordings or mixes for other bands, but more as a side job.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
These past few days, curiously, I’ve been listening to a bit of Blue Oyster Cult, Blut Aus Nord, Camel, Cathedral, Cobalt, Killing Joke, Craft, Fall of Efrafa, Tribulation, just to name a few.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just wanted to thank you for your time and interest in my music!

(interview published April 22, 2024)

Watch Selbst – “Chant Of Self Confrontation” Video


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