Taken from Elitarian Music :
Given your remark on Frigidiis Apotheosia : Abstinencia Genesiis being the reflection of an ‘inner quest’ started back in 2002-2003, and the evolutionary interconnection that can be traced with Archaenae Perfectii – L’Arche Arcane des Parfaits on a spiritual level, I guess that postulating an harmonious descent of AP-AAdP from FA:AG – correlated to your own development – as I did in my reviews, would not be too far removed from the truth, although it’s a point most people seemed not to take into account.
Noktu: ‘My own evolution is hardly understandable from my own perspective, so I do not expect most people to understand me. Alas, I can deplore a certain lack of interest and knowledge on this new generation. The time passes and the distance between them and me is becoming more important. They hate me or they worship me, but, most of the time in both cases they fail to understand me. Unfortunately, I fear that I now clearly understand the human species, how they acts and they truly disgust me at the highest point.’
At the same time, both albums seem to retain – at least from my point of view – this sequencing formulation which is followed throughout the tracklist with a ‘story arc’ of sort that moves towards a consequential finale. Do you directionally architect an ideal sequence beforehand by allocating the songs and their narrative background by their role in the development of the album flow? Most importantly, were there any deeper principles at work in the process of constructing this progressive running order?
‘The composition of each album started like a puzzle, at least the instrumental part. Lyrics and vocals are always added at the end of the process. I have followed my own instincts and things are like they are. I must say that I am more than pleased by the final outcome. I do not try to set up a map of how things have to be done. The final result speaks enough for itself I think.
There is no recipe, except dedication and freedom of mind.’
Ghaast: ‘I think you have undestood the evolution of the two albums lyrics in a structural sense. However the lyrics do not present a storyline with characters, narration, etc. Perhaps more as a collection of thoughts that come together to make a final statement.
From a lyrical standpoint, Frigidiis can be looked at as the trials and tribulations of shedding the phsyical body and attaining the status of the translucent state of perfecti. The inner conflicts one must go through to deny earthly pleasures.The extreme discipline of adhering to a strict diet. The frustations of trying to walk this razor thin path, and so on.
With the Archanae album this status has been attained, and now we are looking at the world around us, and watching its rapid collapse’
Any listener who’s familiar with Catharian eschatology and beliefs is able to detect the notable influence this subject exerted in the contextualization of your present stage of development, displayed on AP-AAdP, something you even openly admitted on several occasions. How do you reconcile this fact with the criticism you previously addressed towards Black Metal musicians mutuating their inspiration from outer sources, especially related to the religious sphere?
Noktu: ‘The Cathar influence is something I will not deny, but this influence has been digested and I don’t think I have done something strictly Catharian. The Cathar religion had an impact on me but it was unconscious at the first place. This started with the Frigidiis album in fact. Later on, I realized that I was sharing some similar point of view with the Cathars. Then, and this was not planed at all, I was wandering in old villages in the mountains and I arrived in front of the last Cathar castle. I took it as a sign, a path to follow. So I projected myself in the Cathars history and I was particulary interested by the Catharian aristocracy, what they used to call at that time : the perfecti (the perfects). I recognized many similar points of view between them and my conception of things.
I do not like these urban Black metal people who are doing this “evangelicum” scene. They do not have anything to say, they usually do not have spirituality, they hide themself behind empty words and christian symbolism. Sadly, their music is usually also boring. Black Metal became the reflection of the actual world. Some of these bands are desperately willing to be Black Metal, but they can’t be. Their vulgar approach of the style ridiculise them to the highest point. They are just slaves of the modern world and they reflect what the modern world wants them to do. They are just following a tendency. When a band does a good album, you can be sure that many bands will follow the same direction. The most vulgar thing is that they are copying each others in the most vulgar way, the same kind of logos, the same kind of lyrics etc. They just fail miserably. They wish to be something they don’t understand, at the end, they are just alternative consumers with demusured egos who thinks that their opinion, usually expressed through the internet has a certain value. But, it’s not because they thinks like millions than their opinions are valuable. One hundred stupid people will never beat a smart razored mind. People who are willing to express their opinions right awy have more chances to be wrong than someone who is still thinking about what he is going to say one day. Those who are hidden behind their books have usually not enough distance to think from themselves. They hides behind religious books or symbols.
Celestia has nothing to hide but our aesthetic way of thinking and music cannot be analized or enjoyed by people who doesn’t have the necessary maturity. It’s not a question to be elistist or sound pretentious. We just reached a stage that took us almost 25 years, that’s a fact that need to be underlined I think.’
You’ve been transparent about your adherence to most of the positions held by the promulgators of Catharism, alluding at the common views affecting your demeanour and way of life. However, the Catharian movement, albeit strongly disparaging of clerical hierarchies and more oriented towards a docetistic esegesis of Christology that considerably downsized the role of Jesus Christ, did not dismiss the idea of God, and of a transcosmic, divine matrix, inhabiting the ontologically depaupered body, so I guess it would be fair to assume that there are naturally also many points of divergence between your own vision and that of the Catharism. Nevertheless, where do you draw the line in terms of sheer divulgation and actual identification? Are they even that far apart as it seems?
Noktu: ‘Each religion has evolved with time. We cannot compare the actual practices of religion with how these religions were practiced five hundred years ago. Fortunately things tend to evolve and I present today an evolved and personal vision of the Catarism. We cannot even call this religious or catharian anymore. The annihilating practices of the Roman Catholicism erased many ancient pagan cults and practices; they burned and eradicated so many things. We can even call that religious revisionism. The Holy Bible was translated and retranslated in so many languages after the years; do you think all these translations were correct?
It’s just Celestia at the end, but Celestia with a touch of religious spirituality. I am also willing to let music speaks by itself since I consider our music to have a spiritual key to the arch of knowledge and wisdom. But this is not a mass phenomenon; each of our disciples must follow their own path. We just try to guide them by awakening their senses and their sensitivity. The rest of the mass will probably not be able to see the light that shine in the darkness. They are condemned by a miserable long existence. We cannot do anything for them. Their ignorance blinds them and they are blinded by their ingnorance.’
Ghaast: ‘It’s true that the catharis did not dismiss the idea of god. My thoughts are that their views of God and Christ are even more esoteric in nature than is currently believed by scholars. Holding a deeper spiritual truth. A truth in direct opposition to Rome. An interperetation of god that had them nearly wiped out.
My relationship with Celestia’s lyrics and music is more of an exploration as well as a research tool and not so much of a personal interpretation. If the cathars are indeed holders of this deeper truth, as I suspect them to be. Then man is in no position to interpret them as he sees fit.’
Both the belief in metempsychosis and the aversion against the carnal practises brought the Cathars to banish meat and other foods connected with procreation (eggs, milk, etc.) from their dietary habits. In an old interview, you said that ‘flesh, dead or alive is disgusting at the same level, both smells abominable’. One would be coherently brought to assume that your disgust for flesh intersects with your alimentar habits in a similar manner, moulding a conscious way of eating.
Noktu: ‘All form of flesh tends to disgust me, this is still the case today. I try to avoid flesh as much as possible. I go out of my house only when it is neccessary or when I do it, I try to choose hours where I am sure to not see anybody in the streets. But I said, I try as much as possible. I unfortunately cannot live in total isolation, from time to time, I enjoy to travel and visit some places. I could eventually also enjoy performing live, this could sound paradoxal but it is the reality. I must prepare my mind when I have to go to the cities, it’s still me, but it is more a corpse guided by a mind who cannot be approached by others. They can still approach my corpse, but they will never be in touch with my real self.
Regarding my alimentar habits, I mainly consume non cancerigene food. I try to avoid sugars, alcohols and I completely avoid modern industrial food. I prefer to get things directly from small producers who cultivate fruits and vegetables in their own garden. Fortunately, I live in a place where there is many people like that. So, I try to eat as much as non cancerigene food.
But I am not vegatalian or vegetarian. I could do some exceptions and eat meat from time to time, but this is pretty rare in fact. Flesh, dead or alive… Both smells abominable but the taste of abominable is enjoyable from time to time.
I think that I support the genocide of the human race organised by the food industry. You may have noticed that since the apparition of the food industry the cancer rates have considerably raised. The food industry but also the medical industry are killing much more people than the nazis during the second world war. It is an organised genocide supported by the politicians. Just read the ingredients of some random food you can find in any supermarkets. Most of them are recognized to be very dangerous for the human health. I think that this kind of food is annihililating the entire Europe. I could say, tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.’
The artwork of AP-AAdP is an accurated and nearly ermeneutical digest of the album’s contents and concepts, both in symbolism and visual references in general. Even the outfit you wear on the cover art is able to provide an immediate reference, resembling the black robe that distinguished the Parfaits from the rest of the believers, while the transparency suggests an idea of immateriality, and extraneousness to the prison of matter.
Noktu: ‘Some people see things how they really are. You seem to have understood many things. This cover is symbolizing alot of things for me and fit exactly with what we have to say and what this album is saying. If you looks deeper, you’ll see much more things, let’s say, you are just seing the surface from very very far away. Come closer and gold will shine.’
Ghaast: ‘The artwork of the Archanae album was carefully and painstakingly created to conincide with the music within. A companion piece if you will. And in a sense just as important in conveying our message as the music.
In preperation for the artwork, we took the time to explore the old cathar lands, visited their places of worship, and in general absorbed the atmospheres of their world. All photography in the Archanae album acts as a window to what we experienced. While this serves as an immediate refference, I assure you that other references are more carefully hidden. Visable only to the enlightened.’
The Catharian view was also dominated by dualism. One thing that struck me is that Celestia always seemed rather taken up with a dualistic dimension: over the years you alternatively described it as a ‘male/female vomit’, an ‘abstract contrast between purity and decadence’…
Noktu: ‘Dualism is something I still have to deal with nowadays. I think Dualism help you to evolve since you can see things from two points of views. It’s a kind of equilibrium in one sense. I tend to always hesitate at the first place, then, I think, and I think during my sleep, I try to read the future in my cards and I see again, but no, I was completely wrong in fact. This is me, or no, this is this voice inside me who is talking, I am not sure in fact.’
Ghaast: ‘This is indeed the case throughout the history of Celestia, albeit in an instinctual way (at least during my stay in the band). One connection, as you pointed out, would be the more decadent aspect of ealier Celestia compared to our current incarnation of purity. On a different level altogether, I can consider our previous two albums in a dualistic sense. Frigidiis as the body, and Archanae as the soul of Celestia.’
Do you see the music you create as a mere vehicle to express the ‘personal quest’ you often refer to, or rather as an integrant part of it? Up to not so much time ago, ‘Cathartic’ was your adjective of choice when it came to the description of the finality Black Metal holds to you. Can music, and more specifically Black Metal music, also have a transformative power? Is Black Metal capable of shape the conscience and shake up perception and awareness, beside representing a mean for channelling them into sound form?
Noktu: ‘I tend to think that human beings should evolve. Black Metal for me, not only just as it musical form helped me to evolve in many points. Many people misinterprets Black Metal values and they are just alternative consumers in quest of the last die hard limited Lp released by all these plastic bands. Black Metal could not even have a material consistence for me. The fact to have a big collection of music doesn’t prove that you can really understand what the Black Metal ideology was all about. The more music you have, the more you hide yourself behind piles of cds. Usually people who have big collection don’t have much to say when it comes to interesting subjects. But there are exceptions of course.’
Ghaast: ‘One of the main goals of music in general is its transformative power, is it not? (That’s definitely my point, -ED.) Even in the earliest tribal cultures the drum was beated repeatedly to induce a trancelike state. If music is unable to evoke some sort of response then it is rendered useless. The same goes for Black Metal inspite of the nonsense that passes for it today. The primitive aspect and repetition that gave the hypnotic effect of early Black Metal made it a musical style ripe for transcendation.’
A literal quote from an old interview you answered reads like this: ‘Black metal is negativity for me.’ More or less in the same period you also stated the following: ‘Black Metal is a personal intellectual elevation.’ Where do these two concepts meet for you? Although ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ assume a rather relative connotation in similar context, do you really find the idea of personal elevation to have anything to do with negativity at all?
Noktu: ‘I absorb negativity and I transform this to something positive for myself. For some people, it will be like seing something eating dog vomit, but I can eat anykind of vomit. This doesn’t have any effect on me. I am like a statue, strong, immobile… I watch them, I observe them but they cannot read my mind while I can read minds of thousands of them.
By taking distance with human modern decadent society you can respire a better air.
Once again, this dualistic scheme can be seen here. You cannot elevate yourself if you don’t know what negativity is all about. You must learn others before learning yourself. Nobody can have an existence without sufferings.’
Even though it’s not desirable to put too much stock into something as shallow and ephemeral as this, I was particularly struck, in this regard, by a comment appeared somewhere on (ewww) LastFm, which claimed AP-AAdP not to be ‘dark’ enough for its own good. You once said that ‘The truth can be found in Darkness, then Darkness will become an immense source of light’. Connecting these two things might intimate that the ‘immense source of light’ is actually beginning to filter through, even to the most distracted listeners.
‘My music is definitively not for distracted or immature listeners, they have already enough bands to put on their mp3s players. I do not play music to please others. I play to satisfy my own needs to paint a musical portrait of my inner mind. Sometimes this could appear as abstract for many people, but it is enough rich in senses for me. If I will want to please these immature listeners, I will do it, probably very well and I will sign on a big label and I will make my life as a rock star.
But I will then lie to myself; I prefer to remain far from their world. There is enough of this crap around anyways.’
Ghaast: ‘Not quite. The distracted will stay distracted. They are too self absorbed with their comic book fantasies of darkness and evil to realize that their thoughts are all rubbish. The immense source of light will shine through to those chosen that are ready to see it. But this can come only after you have truly experienced darkness. Not in a black metal sense, but in a real life experience sense. Something far darker than any orthodox Black Metal release.’
To what extent would it be correct to assume that whenever you will feel you will have reached the culmination of your inner process, Celestia will cease to release albums? Is it a part of the reason you stated your ‘career’ in this scene is almost over?
Noktu: ‘Yes, this is almost over. I feel it. If we have to record another album, this one will distance us from the scene even more. And then, we’ll disappear forever. The more the time passes,the more the extreme metal scene is becoming pathetic and filled with idiots. Do you really think it will be respectfull for ourselves to continue to release music and be associated with the black metal scene’
Ghaast: ‘The truly evolved know when their creative limits have been reached. Celestia is not a band like Dark Funeral that continue to release album after album that is the equivilant of styrofoam. with no soul and no personallity. We have far too much respect for music to do that. We have said just about all we have to say and we realize our time is near.’
Insects seem to be a recurring theme in your iconography since a long time. You even reintroduced this specific allegory in the conclusive verses of Dogmatii Duality (… ‘Tu te brȗleras les ailes. Comme un vulgaire insecte / Attiré par la lumière… / Insecte des Ténèbres, / Tu as trouvé le salut. / Insecte des Ténèbres, / Tu survivras.’). My understanding is that you tend to strongly identify the insect as a kind of metaphore for the spurious and corrupted, even though on this specific song it resolves in an ultimate finality, accordant with the thematical field explored in the lyrics.
Noktu: ‘Insects where always used as a metaphore as you have understood. There are millions of them and they really disgust me. Meanwhile, they are really weaks and have no intelligence at all. The insects are everywhere… Well, you know what I mean I think.’
One thing that caught my attention is how whenever you’re singing French lyrics on AP-AAdP, there’s a sharper intensity to your vocals, halfway between the mystagogogic and the theatrical. You seem way more connected to what you are singing when you do it in French. Would you provide some insight on what differently makes English and French suitable for translating your impulses in an intelligible form?
‘I must admit I felt more confortable singing in French than English. After all, it is my native language. There is also a noticable difference when I sing in French. I think that if I will sing again in Celestia it will be in French again but well, maybe not?’
You stated that your inborn curiosity led you to try several kinds of drugs. Was this curiosity rewarded with any significant realization? Did the experience with drugs affect the music you were creating at that time? What determined you to distance yourself from them?
Noktu: ‘Effects of drugs cannot be seen as a reward, these effects are just illustions and they destroy your own perception of the world. Drugs are for weak people who do not have enough force of mind to lead their lifes. Once I discovered that drugs were just a chemical destructive weapon, I distanced myself from them. I am more looking for constructive things and experiences. Drugs are for losers and slaves of the system. It is amusing to see all the European people addicted to these fake low quality drugs. They are just brainless worms who needs social comfort and acceptance. You do like others because you want to be like others. Now, drugs are well accepted into Black Metal. Certainly not by Celestia, we are clean people with clean minds!’
Ghaast: ‘The paradox regarding drug use is that its in a sense a rite of passage. Nearly everyone on the planet has experienced them in one sense or another. And I do feel that they need to be experienced before you can completely be against them. Personally, I agree with Noktu’s sentiments tenfold, and view them as a hinderance more than an enhancement.
It is completely possible to attain the higher states of consciousness without the use of drugs, however most people are simply too impatient and undisciplined enough to reach it without them.’
Generally, you’re pretty outspoken in your thoughts on the current state of Black Metal. Left aside that you no longer consider yourself as a part of this whole decayed movement, do you think that the process of decay that Black Metal is undergoing is one that must be contrasted, or facilitated?
Noktu: ‘Black Metal is no longer a kind of music that creates magic like it used to be during 1992/1995. This musical genre became just a musical genre like any others. These bands are playing Black Metal just because they consider this as a cool kind of music. I prefer to consider Black Metal as a dead movement that had it time of glory during these 92/95 years.’
Ghaast: ‘Its probably best to allow whatever little life is left in Black Metal to just die off, and let the genre just be forgotten about. Maybe in time a resurgence will reoccur, similar to how old days Death Metal is now. But somehow I doubt that. Unlike Death Metal, Black Metal was more than music. There was a sense of mystery, fear, and danger surrounding Black Metal at one point. Since then its been parodied on television shows. Comic books were written about it. Its innvators running wineries, and the like. Once you strip away that element of danger, there is no going back.’
Celestia dwelled in the demo stage for a sizable amount of time. The contact page of Drakkar’s website reads that ‘bands who have never been initiated and do not wish to go through the tedious task of demo material are NOT welcome’. What do you make of how Black Metal eventually conformed to the mindless freneticism that dominates the present times, which results in bands hastily jumping to the first album and rejecting the opportunity of focus their vision and goals during the demo stage?
Noktu: ‘When I started to play music, it was not possible to release an album right away. Nowadays, releasing a CD is even easier than releasing a demo cassette. The problem is that all these bands who are releasing cds usually lack of musical maturity, that is why the scene is less interesting than in the past. The demo stage is forgotten and these bands release CD’s that they consider as full lenght album. But something is missing, the quality and the maturity.’
Ghaast: ‘I blame this era of Myspace, Facebook, forums, etc for the way things are. Now the ability to post your personality with ease for the whole world to see has run completely out of control. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks theirs is valid. Now everyone has a band, and everyone thinks theirs is worthy of a record deal. No matter how little time is spent during the initiation period a band should spend during the demo stage.
Not to sound like a bitter old man, but before you had to vigorously play shows, develop your skills, gain the attention of the scene, then you earned a record deal. There is a reason why there were more “classic” albums years ago compared to today. The sort of dedication back then enhanced the music. And it was about the music first and foremost.
Today, its more about attention seekers trying to become rockstars.’
A couple of years ago, you publicitly equated live shows to a ‘nightmare’. What prompted you to sensibly intensify Celestia’s performances in the recent times? Could you elaborate on the ‘ritualistic’ connotation you mentioned in regard of live performances?
Noktu: ‘Yes, it was difficult for me to play live at one point of time, also difficult to answer interviews. So I have concluded that I have learned to pay less attention to others when I play live, and I now play only for myself and my own pleasure. I am feeling much better that way.’
Ghaast: ‘Like the alchemist following careful instructions to create precious metals from bases, we approach black metal in a similar sense. The ritualistic connotation is that in both a ritual and live performances there is a great deal of preparation, discipline, concentration with the aim to control an outcome. In our case its an aim to recapture the essense of our recordings in a live setting. To captivate and enlighten those in attendence.’
Feel free address the reader with your ultimate message.
Noktu: ‘I think we’ve said enough during this chat, but well, thanks for this pertinent interview. You have done a good enjoyable job. I am sure it was the last interview of the band. I don’t know why. But for sure, we will never answer any promotional interviews like we used to do in the past. If you don’t understand our music, go away and leave us alone.’