Tartaros and The Thrill
Interview with Charmand Grimloch
What can you tell me about the history and philosophy behind Tartaros’ musical and lyrical creations? What did draw you towards this musical expression in the first place?
The history of Tartaros starts back in 1993. In this period, I actually played in a Death Metal band called Souls Domain. It was known as a good band with professional musicians, but I wanted to create something different. I had countless ideas of a more atmospheric, epic and spiritual sounding project, so I started to “paint the picture” alone in the summer of 1993. Almost one year after that Tartaros released a demo called The Heritage from the Past; it sold out in 500 copies worldwide and received a great response in that period. Then a second demo was supposed to be released, but for some reasons it never did. Anyway, I still have the tracks for my own satisfaction and they will stand as a monument of the strange spiritual happenings from that period. Before long, in 1997, Tartaros released The Grand Psychotic Castle Mini-CD and, in 1999, The Red Jewel CD, and will continue the expressions into the next millennium).
Mainly I started the Tartaros project to manifest my occult happenings that merged out in parallel with my birth…
The Grand Psychotic Castle was released through Necropolis in 1997. Today, how do you look upon it and how do you tend to accomplish experiences for your own purpose, suitable for descriptions towards your own outcomes?
In The Grand Psychotic Castle Mini-CD I created pictures and words into music; it lets the listener create his own vision and history by using more of his higher senses within a frame that you described in your question. Anyway, it was a long, long way to inseminate the ideas to this musical piece of work and, also, it did happen in a strange way. I remember I was attracted to the past times (and still am), but it seems like the more I was getting into them by movies, readings and old objects, the more it resurrected a visual picture of what I had in my mind. My enormous feeling for the terror, beauty and elegance of the past became more and more as a puzzle that showed a grand picture of an old story. I collected this inspiration all in one huge form that still lies inside me. I remember that very strong aspects of the composition of the form almost made me invert the real outer world and feel like a character in a fantasy world. When I think of the period of 1996 (the above mentioned), I can realise that I actually was in a possessed state of mind, but it made me create more from inner feelings than outer influences. I was invited into a grand castle and I wanted to tell a huge crowd about some of the experiences…
Musically, the Mini-CD is a quite disturbing piece of symphonic Metal, and it conveys an own style of music development. How did the process of creation develop and why did you decide to record the Intro and, to a later stage, your bonus tracks on the digipack version in Studio Wllothems? What did drive you to release a second version?
All of the tracks were composed at home on a 8-track tape recorder, for a sketch to use in the Grieghallen studio. I programmed the drums and some of the keyboard parts as sequences, so that they could be pasted together in the studio. All of the other instruments and voices were then played, as usual, into the different layers; then we created the sound for the whole musical presentation. It was a hard work to do everything alone, so I actually got lack of time in the studio. Since the Grieghallen studio was full of activity, I simply recorded the Intro in another studio, instead of doing a new booking with a two-month waiting period.
Concerning the re-release of The Grand Psychotic Castle, the reason for this were many things. First of all, it has received an incredible response, so the sales figured it deserved a higher level. Second, it was a long break between this release and The Red Jewel, so it is an informative refreshment of the name before the release of the full-length album. Also, the one last song of the two bonus tracks on The Grand Psychotic Castle re-release is from my side-project called The Thrill; it gives an aspect of the style that this album will bring. James Murphy also remastered the re-release with a more punch in the sound. Anyway, as many others, I think this whole idea was brilliant.
The overall aura of the product is presented in an elegant format. Did you have any outer inspirations for your costume and the entire outlook of the album? How did you decide to use Spain’s Alcázar of Segovia for the cover? Also, what is the “Suite Nr. 13”?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was one of the inspiration factors when talking about the image and costumes. These photos were taken in my old house, in the temple-room called “Suite Nr. 13”.
Talking about the castle on the front cover, it is a natural part in its entirety: the strength and wisdom it brings together with the music can give you a lust of entering a story.
A while before the release of the Mini-CD you joined Emperor. How did that come upon and what do you gather to be your most successful performances in these two and a half years? Do you have a special fond memory from the event in Bergen with Enslaved? Also, what synthesizer do you use?
I use the Ensoniq TS-12, my own synthesizer.
The show in Bergen, in 1997, was in fact the second concert of the 50+ we have played, so it was more like a rehearsal concert before the decision of spreading the appearances worldwide. In a general opinion, the most successful tour was the No Mercy Festivals III with Morbid Angel, but it is hard to mention the best performance in a single concert.
Concerning your question of how I came to be chosen by Emperor, they needed a synth player for their live appearances, so I guess they began seeking around. I was at the right place at the right time when I got into a conversation with Samoth and, a couple of months later, I was asked to contribute for them for further tours and concerts.
The Red Jewel was released in the fall and it’s both a natural, but also a quite enhanced, development from The Grand Psychotic Castle. This time you recorded and produced it in your own studio, S.M.I. What does it stand for? Why did you take three years to make it available and how do you look upon the result?
S.M.I is a company with, at this point, 3 different branches: S.M.I. Studios, S.M.I. Design and S.M.I. Furniture (and later more to come). The different branches are all under one company, called S.M.I. Investments, which stands for Supereminent Money Investment. It is all a creative business project based on purposeful workings of moneymaking. S.M.I. Design is the graphical design part of the company; we have done several layouts for CDs and professional constructions of web pages and receive only good responses for the product we deliver in addition to the price.
There are many reasons why it took nearly three years from the first release to the second, as The Red Jewel is a very complicated album in itself so it takes more of your psyche to understand it than The Grand Psychotic Castle. By this, it is natural that I used more time to totally fill my geometrical form of inspiration. Also, I had a period with lack of inspiration which was hard to get by; it is like negative energy that brings you nowhere, but I guess it was a part in building my steps from lesser to greater. In addition to this, Emperor was doing a lot of touring in this period; we had several European tours, so my whole working process within Tartaros got a bit divided. Anyway, I am very satisfied with my outcome of the album, so, for me, everything was meant to be. The new album has more layers with a psychedelic aspect, it is more aggressive, and expresses strength in another way. It is a raw symphonic outfit: it is faster and it is more Metal. Before the whole composition, I created an inner form out from all of my inspirations and then the mix of these feelings, happenings, fantasies and philosophy, were translated into music and lyrics. Then the heart of these scenes came into physical beings, by The Red Jewel.
When and why did you decide to create The Thrill? Is it simply owed to your love for Classical Music? You told me you were also writing lyrics for it, so can you tell me on what are they based upon?. Also, what your favorite classical composers? Do you also like soundtracks (such as The Shining and Psycho, for instance)?
I like the soundtrack on The Shining a lot, but I really admire Bernard Herrmann in his musical compositions, as of Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo and so forth. He creates as if there really is a dialogue in the music.
Anyway, Tartaros is symphonic Metal and The Thrill is more classical, so there is quite a difference between these projects. Since I am very interested in working with different ways of composition, and really enjoy the craft and energy of what old composers created in their music, I decided to create another project called The Thrill, which is a pure classical project; it was formed back in 1996, when I released a demo to only friends and specially interested. The Thrill is based on mystical aspects from old theatre festivals and opera performances. You will hear all from pompous orchestral composition to kind of slow dreadful music box playing; some of the tracks will also bring lyrics. It’s a very exciting project to work with because every song, or track, brings an individual feeling; I compose the songs with many different instruments, as orchestral acoustic instruments mixed together with synthetic sounds. I am experimenting a lot to let the project sound kind of black and white – a soundtrack of a film performed on stage of a large theatre. The album will be released sometime this year. I will never be in the media under this project, since I keep in secret the creation behind it. I will like the audience to explore these mystical happenings by itself…
You said you were to gather people to complete a line-up for live shows once your next album was released. What one can expect from such a setting and will it be exclusive for Tartaros?
I have lots of ideas on playing live in correspondence with the next album, The Emblem T. It requires a big and professional line-up, since I decided to use acoustic drums on the next album. I also need two keyboard players, one bassist, two guitarists and I will be in front doing the vocals. This is what my ideas tell me, so I have started to collect people who are interested, though I am sorry to say that I will not mention any names as of yet.
I also have ideas on doing live performances with The Thrill. If so, this needs to be performed on a large stage with lots of actresses. Of course, I arrange my ideas in a way that I will not give up a project for another. Time will show…
I read that you worked (or still work) in an antiques’ store. Since both your projects contrive an image of an elder time, was this decision on purpose or just to earn a safety income? Since we are talking about yourself, what is the origin of your alias, Charmand Grimloch?
I put some money into lots of antiques three years ago. Some of it has a good rising in value, but it was first of all for my personal interior. Later a friend of mine started a company as a full-time dealer in antiques, and we worked together with some ideas that developed the business. I was, actually, about to buy me into the half of the ownership, but, after a while, I realised that it took too much of my time, having in mind that I needed some more experiences in its history.
Concerning my alias, Charmand Grimloch, it is the creative side of me, the creator of all ideas.
I got intrigued about one of your theories, when you said that you would enter the stage of Death while playing one of your classical songs, The Last Great Mystery, on the piano. How do you look upon this metaphysical issue?
I only wonder where a soul may walk after death; still, I wonder where it walked before birth. For me, the end is when the physical “something” is gone. We all might be into it right now?
Tartaros derives from Greek mythology and it’s a place of punishments under several hells. How did you decide to use the name? As far as the Occult is concerned, what was it that attracted you to it in the first place?
The name Tartaros was chosen back in 1993, with no deep thinking of the meaning of it. Actually, I am not so into its mythology, I was more into its extreme meaning.
I am, indeed, into occult wisdom, which of course means that I do not talk about the experiences. I have been doing some studying about ESP and Astral Projection and find them highly interesting for my inner development.
Tell me about your future endeavors and feel free to ask me something according to the context of the interview.
Thank you for a grand interview, Webb. You also seem to be interested in dreads and fears, old Horror and Thriller movies, so please end this text and share with the readers your view on why this actually attracts you. (I was always interested in psychological horror, unexplainable events and exhilarating personalities. With reference to Film, the atmospheres of old Hammer horror flicks are what thrill me the most, although with some exceptions, like The Shining and Psycho. All things considered, I don’t really know why I was drawn to the Grisly in the first place, but I have been into it as far as I can remember. – Ed.)
Tartaros and The Thrill