1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Sure. Vela Pulsar is an internationally-based black metal band formed by myself (Ryan) and Samantha. We originally intended for it to be a casual project that would just be for fun; have programmed drums and whatnot. But when I told my brother about it, he tossed in the idea that he could do drums if it ever became a more serious thing, and when Sam proposed doing a more professional album, I decided to take Cam up on his offer, and here we are.
2.So far you have released an ep, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical styles that you went for on the recording?
When Sam and I formed the band, we originally wanted to write black and death metal on the darker side of the spectrum. She was/is super into Behemoth and I was foaming at the mouth over Aosoth. But it didn’t take us long to realize that that wasn’t working out, so we abandoned that idea and just decided to play to our strengths, write what sounded good and let the music take whatever shape and form it may, rather than try to force a style. That ended up being much easier, and way more fun.
I took some Alcest-inspired riffs that were originally intended for my other band A Flock Named Murder (but weren’t used as Flock is going in a darker direction), and Sam had her own ideas that were inspired by Caladan Brood. That band in particular was a source of inspiration for us when it came to our symphonic tendencies, as well as the fact that while she of course likes her share of extreme metal, Sam is very much a power metal and symphonic metal girl at heart, and adores old Nightwish, Epica, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire, Within Temptation and the like. I’m also a massive fan of Emperor and knew I wanted to experiment with orchestrations at some point, so I guess all those combined factors led to Vela Pulsar being a good avenue to explore that side of black metal.
The irony in all that is how only 1 song on our record has symphonic throughout, one just has orchestral book-ends and another has no symphonic at all! At the same time though, we felt that “Levitations” and “Reverence Of Being” were fine as they were, and it wasn’t worth forcing something that didn’t fit. As for the rest of the music, all 3 of us are fans of the atmospheric side of black metal, so we wanted to highlight that with gripping melodies and cap it off with a hefty dose of guitar soloing where we could squeeze it in!
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band has explored so far with the music?
While none of the lyrics on ‘Memoirs…’ are “true stories” per se, they are inspired by true events that both Sam and I have experienced at separate points in our lives. They were challenging in the sense that they tested who we were at our core, and what kind of human beings we were deep down as opposed to what we show people on a surface level. The lyrics are at times dark and mournful, but also entail a sense of perseverance and hope. That’s largely where the album title comes from as well – the idea of ‘Unbecoming’ is in stripping away all that we are, and seeing what’s left in the moments that shape us. In that sense, these songs are indeed our “Memoirs of Unbecoming.” Credit to our drummer Cam for piecing that title together.
On a different note, the song “Levitations” also incorporates astral projection, where a sleeper’s soul leaves their body and can see it from a bird’s eye view, and can enter the dreams of others. Hence, the stark change in mood in that lyric, a few choice lines and the title “Levitations” itself.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Vela Pulsar'?
It’s actually a real phenomenon in space! In short, a pulsar is a highly-magnetized neutron star that emits radiation that looks like beams of light, similar to a lighthouse. They rotate very quickly and their radiowaves can be translated into sound recordings of pulses that can sound anywhere from a heartbeat to a helicopter to heavy machinery. There’s of course a lot more that can be said that’s too much for this interview, but the Vela Pulsar is a pulsar way out in the Vela constellation, associated with the Vela supernova remnant that exploded 11,000-12,300 years ago. It’s pretty fascinating to learn about; give it a read!
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the ep cover?
The artwork is loosely tied into the lyrics of our closing track, “A Refuge Impassable” – a lone person wandering in desolate, icy caverns in a world they’d never known with no end or refuge in sight. It’s cold, dark, depressing and foreboding.
6.A couple of the band members live in Canada while another lives in the United States, what impact does this have on the musical style that you play?
It didn’t really have much of an impact on the musical style itself, but more how the band functioned as a result. With Cam and I being the primary writers in A Flock Named Murder, I’m used to coming up with many musical ideas myself and bringing them to the band, or working out arrangements organically during rehearsal. Cam and I still did that with a couple of parts of this record, but with Vela Pulsar being centered around myself in Toronto and Sam living all the way on the west coast, we had to adapt. Most of the time we were sharing ideas back and forth through the internet and would build off of what the other person did, with the odd occasion of meeting on a video call to flush out certain ideas in real-time. Then we would decide what parts of the songs need to be finished from there and set out to work on them.
7.Currently the band is unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
In general, we appreciate any offers from record labels who like what we do, want to help us put out music and spread the word of who we are, and there has been some interest already. At the same time, we also want to make sure that we’re a good fit for each other. So at the end of the day, we’re okay with taking a bit of extra time to weigh things out and think things through before making a commitment.
8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of symphonic and post black metal?
Our reception has been generally quite positive! We had some rather warmly written reviews, and had some people bugging us for physical copies of our album (which we now have, thankfully!). I was curious because aside from us being a rather new band overall (and as cliched as this is to say), I feel like the way we approach the symphonic side of the genre is different from what you’d expect from your Dimmus and Cradles, or your Summonings and Elffors. I’m struggling to think of other bands that brought symphonic elements into the post-black metal template, but overall people are liking it, and we like doing it!
9.What is going on with 'A Flock Named Murder' and 'Ixaxaar Nexia' these days which also shares a couple of the same members?
With the pandemic being what it is, the lockdowns in Ontario being as relentless as they were, and specific circumstances revolving around different individuals in either band at different points, a lot of plans for both A Flock Named Murder and Ixaxaar Nexia got turned upside down and put on hold. But with the restrictions over here starting to lift (hopefully for good), both bands are chomping at the bit to get things going again.
Flock has plenty of music in the pipeline and is looking to do a single of a song from the upcoming second full length, and Ixaxaar Nexia has been hard at work prepping for a debut full length as well. Let’s just say they’re out for blood!
10.When can we expect a full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
With the way this band functions along with the state of the world being what it is, it’s a little tough to put a timeline to a second Vela Pulsar release right now. Hopefully sooner rather than later. But there will definitely be new music, and we already have ideas that we want to play with. We’re just going to take our time, as the 3 of us are very much of the philosophy that “it’s not good when it’s done; it’s done when it’s good.” You’ll hear it when the time comes. Depending on how you look at it, you could arguably call “Memoirs Of Unbecoming” an album rather than an EP (I mean, it’s longer than Reign In Blood!). At the very least, we personally consider it as significant as one.
11.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?
Well aside from the aforementioned Alcest and Caladan Brood, some of our melodic black metal moments were inspired by Uada, and our post-black metal influence drew heavily from Altar Of Plagues for certain sections, as well as my favourite band of all time, Agalloch. We also drew from outside the black metal genre with one backing riff in “Reverence of Being” being inspired by Immolation, and particularly the call-and-response section in “A Refuge Impassable” is heavily inspired by Cult Of Luna, SubRosa and Draconian. Sam and I also LOVE the album “Griseus” by Aquilus, which was another band we idolized when it came to adding orchestrations to our music. I don’t know if we lived up to the grandeur of that magnificent record, but damn it, it doesn’t mean we can’t try!
As for what we’re listening to these days, it’s really all over the map. Black and death metal from all over the spectrum – old school, avant-garde, post-, you name it. Dark Descent and Profound Lore have tons of great releases coming out lately. I also love the new albums by The Ruins Of Beverast and Havukruunu, as well as recently discovering Atlantean Kodex and Paysage d’Hiver (I can’t believe I slept on PDH for so long!). Sam likely has another long list of music she’s been listening to that’s completely different. Really just too much to name everything.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
“Memoirs Of Unbecoming” was a pretty challenging record to complete for a variety of reasons, some of which have already been stated and other external factors which I’m sure most can already guess and I’m sure we don’t need to lament about. But it’s done, we’re super proud of it and we’re absolutely thrilled that others are connecting with it the way they are. It’s truly meaningful music to us, and we’re happy that it’s meaningful for you too. There is more to come – this is just the beginning!
And thank you for the interview and the chance to share more about this endeavor.