It's been some time since Honour and Darkness featured an interview piece, so here's a little something in that vein to celebrate the arrival of Spring and the flocking of the vultures to Castle Nazgul, keen to feast on the carrion below the northern ramparts that has arisen as the result of some early Spring cleaning. It's amazing just how many hobbit corpses a Ring-Wraith can accumulate over a prolonged Winter...
Anyway, our protagonist today is Bart Piette, known to Huginophiles for two notable reasons: he is half of Solid Grey, recently featured on these pages, and is also the driving force behind Dead Man's Hill, whose split release "Dead:Meat" with Hrossharsgrani was reviewed back on 29 July 2010.
Nazgul broke into Bart's busy schedule with some timely questions about his recent collaborations with Hugin, plans for the future, and other such invasions of personal privacy in order to shine a little more light on another creative influence on the manifold works of Mr Alexander Wieser...
Hails Bart, and welcome to Honour and Darkness
Hello... and thanks!!
Where in the world are you based?
I live in Belgium.
Tell us a little about your own music: the best known I guess is Dead Man’s Hill: what is the philosophy behind this project?
Dead Man's Hill is everything that i experience in life, put into music. When I'm in my daily life I can hear the music that has to be written and the sounds that have to be created. And later on the music becomes "materialised". It is mostly about Mother Nature and Her many aspects.
I’ve read descriptions online of DMH being “Ritual Ambient, Neoclassic and Bombastic Martial Music” and “post-Industrial”, but how would you describe it?!
The music of Dead Man's Hill is difficult to describe, since the sounds and the influences are diverse. Maybe the best way to describe it is Dark cinematic industrial.
Are you involved in any other musical projects or bands?
I've been involved in several other bands and projects in the past. The ones in which OI'm currently active are The Earth King, Dead Man's Hill, Kinderen van Moeder Aarde and Solid Grey.
Which of your songs would you recommend to someone who has not heard your music before?
I would recommend Road to Sweet Waters, To Jean Sandor, To Marinette Bois-Chéche...actually it's difficult to choose!
What is a typical day in the life of Bart, the musician?
Hmm, a typical day? Getting out of bed early, visiting the forest and other places in Nature, playing the didgeridoo and trying to do everything that I do in peace.
Is music your full-time job, or do you have another career too?
It is not my full-time job. That would be very difficult in these styles of music. I write music when I have time, and when something really has to get out of my mind.
You've known Hugin for how long now?
I think we know each other for something about 5 or 6 years now.
When and how did you first get to know each other?
I cannot remember exactly. I was exchanging e-mails with Juris from Beverina Records. Since Juris and Hugin had just started their own record label together, I got in touch with Hugin too.
You’ve worked together recently in Solid Grey, whose album ‘Pull The Strings Tighter’ was recently reviewed on Honour and Darkness. Tell us a little about how that all came to happen?
I sometimes appear as a guest musician in Hugin's music. One day he asked me to add vocals, synths and guitars to a track that he wrote. It became a very Cure-like song and we both were very happy with it. In no time, Hugin created more tracks in this genre, and asked me if I could add vocals, guitars and synths again, and so Solid Grey was born. We didn't intend to start this project together, but things were going so well, and we liked to work for those tracks, so it all began.
And who is the bigger Goth-rock fan out of the two of you?!
Not sure, but I think we both are :)
Are any more releases planned from Sold Grey?
At the moment, nothing is planned, but it's always possible that there will come a new release in the future.
Are more split releases being planned – the last was the ‘Dead:Meat’ release from Hrossharsgrani and DMH I think?
That's the first one, and 'til so far the last one indeed. Nope, at the moment, no split releases are planned.
Tell us a little about Hugin the man - what is your perception of him?
I experience Hugin as a very open-minded guy with his heart at the right place, and with a healthy dose of creativity.
Looking across Hugin's range of bands, do you have a particular favourite album or demo from his many recordings?
I don't know all his recordings, but from the ones i know, i like Uruk-Hai the most, the album Black blood, white hand is definitely my favourite.
If you were to record one cover version of each other's songs, which of yours should Hugin record and which of his would you cover?
That's a very difficult question to answer. Covering tracks of other bands is a very complicated procedure for me. So when I'm planning to make a cover of another band's track, I start working on it immediately after the idea is born. Since I haven't done this yet for Hugin's tracks, it's a difficult question to answer..
I noticed on the DMH ‘Spirits’ release that Hugin did the video for the song ‘Road to Sweet Waters’: how was that video planned, and what did you think of the final edit?
I love the video, Hugin did really great job on that! It all started because I sent him the newest track from Dead Man's Hill at that time, and said that i was going to try to have a video clip, but didn't know how to start. Then Hugin proposed to make one, and I told him what the track is about, and what I wanted in the video. So the video fits in perfectly with the music.
Turning back to you, Bart, what is your view of the current music scene? Is it a healthy one for bands such as your own and Hugin's, particularly in the light of illegal/pirate download sites?
The only good thing about that, is that the artists name's going around But when looking a bit deeper, you can see that it isn't good for the record labels, because they sell a lot less CDs, so some of the record labels will have to quit. And when record labels quit the artists will have no platform anymore do distribute their music. So that's not good, because we can get nowhere with our music then, and the music will not reach the audience anymore.
In order to stand out, some recent underground have been cleverly packaged. If money was not a problem, what would be your ultimate format for a release?
No idea, it depends a bit from album to album. But a digipack is always beautiful :)
What musical ambitions have you left that you want to achieve?
I'm not having a lot of musical ambitions to be honest. At the moment, I'm working on meditation/healing music, but it all goes very slow because the inspiration which is needed for this music is very specific. For the rest will see what happens. I don't have much time and in the first place, music is for me a way of getting things out of my head. But of course, when there comes an interesting challenge, I go for it .
Tell us Bart - what was the first album you ever bought, and the last?
The first album I ever bought was "Is Dit Nu Later" by Stef Bos. The last one I bought was "The 5000 Spirits of the Layer of an Onion" by The Incredible String Band.
And your favourite album cover of all time?
No idea, there are a lot of great album covers. But some labels are standing out in it: Midnight Productions for example, always provide their releases with a wonderful album cover.
If you were stuck on a desert island for a year and allowed only 3 albums and 2 books, what would you wish to have with you?
When I'm on a deserted island I need only a bit food, a spring for clean water and my didgeridoo. The rest of my needs,happiness and entertainment will be given to me by Mother Nature.
Where should people look to find out more about you and to access/buy your music?
There's a lot of information to be found on www.bugscrawlingoutofpeople.
Many thanks for your time and insights, Bart, and good luck with your future endeavours.
And there we have it, a small glimpse into the world of another of Hugin's musical conspirators and surely not the last time that Honour and Darkness will be hearing from this talented musician....