1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the solo project?
My name is Asenath Blake, I’m a Welsh multi-instrumentalist who also practices folk magic. With my solo project I'm trying to coagulate these two interests. People classify my music as post-black metal. I always thought I was doing black metal but as I don't mainly listen to this music genre and I like to add electronic treatments to my tracks, they're probably right. In the end, it doesn't matter to me, the most important thing is to manage to give it a performative dimension.
2.On April 30th you have a new ep coming out, musically how does it differ from your previous release?
Musically, the compositions are quite similar to my debut EP because I like tight songs that get to the point. I wanted this new release to be a continuation of the first one, that's why I chose a similar way to title it. The main difference is in the mix. The sound of my Voorish Songs was dull and muffled. I wanted to change that by opting for more clarity, especially for percussion. I also discarded my experimental technique of merging an electric guitar with a hammered dulcimer because it was far too tedious.
3.The lyrics on the new ep are based upon the life, teachings and magickal practices of Austin Osman Spare, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this legendary occultist and what influence do you feel he has on the modern occult scene?
What interests me about Austin Osman Spare is the way he managed to make magic through his art. I was already quite familiar with his work, but the release of my debut EP brought me into contact with a coven affiliated with Yelda Paterson, the Welsh-born witch who taught him a few things. This led me to deepen my knowledge of this unusual man.
Regarding his influence on contemporary magic, and more particularly chaos magic, I think it’s partly based on a misunderstanding. Indeed, the very concept of chaos is not really present in his writings. He didn't practice paradigm shift or anything like that, but founded his own coherent system guided by his visionary imagination. He is often quoted but not read with sufficient thoroughness.
4.The ep is going to be released on Walpurgis Night or Beltane depending on whatever region of the world you live in, do you feel your music is the perfect soundtrack for this ritualistic holiday ?
I hope so! In any case, it has somehow been commissioned for this purpose. As I do every year, I will be celebrating Nos Galon-Mai, the Welsh variant of this holiday, by playing and listening to wild ecstatic music. This is one of those nights that has a liminal aspect, and I think that music is a way of blurring boundaries and creating passages of some sort.
5.The lyrics on the first ep where also inspired by the writings of Arthur Machen, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in his work?
For me, Arthur Machen is simply the greatest Welsh writer! He was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. My Voorish Songs refer specifically to one of his short stories called 'The White People'. I discovered this odd tale when I was a teenager and it had a profound effect on me because, as a child, I had experiences quite similar to those described by the heroine. Maybe it's linked to the country's imagination, the 'genius loci', but I wanted to pay tribute to him with my first release for this reason.
6.Are there any other forms of occultism or other occultists that you have an interest in that you are going to explore lyrically on future releases?
There are of course other magicians who are references for me. I think of Robert Cochrane, Leonora Carrington or William Butler Yeats for example. However, I don't yet know whether I will continue to thematise my releases in this way. I do find a manic charm in the serial aspect that this might give to my discography but it will depend on my evolution in the field of drycræft.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new ep cover?
The photograph that forms the artwork for these Zoëtic Songs comes from an old French erotic postcard probably dating from the beginning of the 20th century. It bore a title, 'La Nymphe au Satyre' (The Nymph with Satyr), and an anonymous quatrain:
Satyre ! ta froideur / Satyr! your coldness
Mérite ma satire / Deserves my satire
Et le geste moqueur / And the mocking gesture
Que ton dédain m’inspire. / That your disdain inspires me.
As satyrs are very present in Austin Spare's graphic work and as this image gave off something rather uncanny, I quickly decided on it. Using one of his drawings would have been too obvious.
8.With this project you record everything by yourself, do you have any experience working with other musicians in past bands or musical projects?
No, I find it very difficult to bear the presence of others, except for my occult Sisterhood. My social phobia has led me to adopt a very solitary lifestyle and I don't feel comfortable in a group setting. I learned music on my own and am currently doing the same for recording and mixing. This suits me very well.
9.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
My song 'Path to the Hanging Woods' is on the tape compilation Solitarius from the recent label Wilt who have shown an interest in my music. I'm not afraid to work alone and if I ever join a label, it will have to respect my distant and cryptic personality.
10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of occult and post black metal?
My debut EP was hailed as "one of the more standout unique albums heard in 2020" by FlightOfIcarus of Metal Trenches. CVLT Nation was also laudatory in the review entitled Witch Metal Reigns Supreme. I also got good feedback from France, Spain and Russia. For the occult part of the reception, I can't tell you too much about it but some interesting things happened.
11.When can we expect a full length, and also where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
I think that in an age where people almost only listen to streaming songs in playlist form or algorithmic recommendations, the hegemony of the full-length album is a bit antiquated. Moreover, in literature I’ve always preferred short stories rather than novels, englynion rather than epics. The lengths tend to annoy me. That said, if I find a thematic axis that really inspires me, perhaps I'll try it.
Concerning my musical evolution, I won't be able to say too much either. For the moment, metal allows me to channel my existential anguish but I can imagine myself playing something else when I'm older, ritual folk or dark ambient for example. I like many kinds of music.
12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
That's a big question! I can love the gothic rock of Virgin Prunes as well as the contemporary classical music of Meredith Monk. I also listen to a lot of post-industrial bands and non-dancing electronic music. In terms of black metal, Murmuüre's self-titled album appeals to me a lot! Amongst the new releases, I found the latest Akhlys deliciously nightmarish and I really liked 'Un Monde de Glace et de Sang' by the Quebec band Sorcier des Glaces.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Get ready for the release of my Zoëtic Songs on April 30h! If any of your readers like riddles and want to know more about the supernatural experiences that feed my approach, feel free to visit my Wordpress site. But first of all, thank you for this personalised and relevant interview!