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Reflection Black, glorifying the liberation of the spirit | Interview

In March 2023, we had the release of his first full-length album "Last Stop To Nowhere" which will lead the listener to the unexplored paths!

At some point in 22' another Greek artist of the dark scene came to my attention. Having released "Entering Dreamtime", an EP of 3 impressive tracks and being showcased by an important YT host, I thought there's something really interesting here. Elis Alex aka Reflection Black was a worthy case to explore. Alex wasn't a new artist making his first steps.He had already been a member of two black metal bands (Ravencult and Nigredo).

Later he decided to move on to different sounds and created Reflection Black. Originating from the urban landscapes of Athens, Greece. The band aims at delivering melodic Goth Rock and Post-Punk with a modern 21st century edge and the darkest imagery infused by Alex's black metal past. Finally in March 2023,we had the release of his first full - length album "Last Stop To Nowhere" which will lead the listener to the unexplored paths of the dark, post-punk and goth rock sounds. Eight tracks, eight views of the darkest side of music through the eyes and mind of Elis Alex.You can read more about Alex's new work in our following chat.

ES : Alex, welcome to ElektroSpank and thank you for your time. We're really interested in finding out more about you. It's quite impressive to me that after being a member in black metal bands you decided to turn to not only a solo project but  to create in different dark genres as well. What was the procedure followed within to make this change?

A:Thank you Maria as well for this opportunity and for your interest in the music project of Reflection Black! Even though the transition from black metal songwriting and performance to goth & post-punk might sound extreme it was actually a very organic process. I have been listening to many different bands, new and old, in the genres of gothic rock & metal, darkwave and post-punk for quite a long time. I felt particularly inspired from this spectrum of dark music so I just knew I had to express myself in this direction as well.

Of course, I had to learn all the tricks of the trade in this new music style that I have adopted. I was already familiar with writing guitar-driven tracks from previous bands and particularly my band Nigredo where I was writing all music & lyrics as well as handling vocals and performing most instruments. But the thing that had the biggest impact on my songwriting style for Reflection Black was the purchase of my first ever hardware synthesizer that allowed me to compose tracks on an entirely different basis. Another challenge, which I am still actively working on, is the development of a clean style of singing when compared to the extreme vocals of my previous projects. Finally, there were tons of smaller things that I had to learn such as arranging drum machine samples, fine-tuning the particular guitar and bass tones I had in mind for the genre, understanding sound synthesis, etc. In the end, this style transition was a really constructive and creative process and has definitely helped me grow as a musician.

ES: Someone strongly attached to music must probably have had a long past with it,starting from an early age. Since we know so little about you, I'd like you to take us there;to the point when you started being interested in music.At what age was that and what was your first contact with it.

A: I can remember myself actively listening to music as early as elementary school and I particularly remember trading CDs with a couple of schoolmates in order to “burn” them. These CDs also included the latest, at that time, Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Californication, which sounded pretty extreme to my ears compared to other music I was familiar with so I was obsessed over it for quite a while. Since then, my music taste developed especially with the extensive exposure to metal music which led to picking up guitar and vocal experimentations followed soon after. The rest is history, several releases and live performances with different metal bands such as Exarsis, Ravencult, & Blasteroid where I have contributed vocals and Nigredo & Reflection Black where I handle songwriting and most instruments too. So, I would say that my growing interest in music is mostly a continuous process rather than a single turning point somewhere in the past.

ES: It's quite often for me to ask artists about their influences. It's both a link to relate with their audience and a good way to understand how the artist was finally led to put together their sounds.The fact that you've been dealing with different styles of music makes me wonder even more about your influences.

A: After many years of listening to different genres of music and appreciating various forms of art I can say that the way influences actually make it into my music has become a very abstract process. However, I will stick to the point and go really in depth with my favorite artists and albums related to gothic rock/metal, post-punk, darkwave, etc.

Starting with old classics, well-known goth pioneers The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission surely are some of my favorites but I always felt some particular connection to bands which had a more punk background. Early The Cult are an excellent example of this, from their post-punk oriented Dreamtime debut album to the gothic rock masterpiece Love. Glenn Danzig is another obsession of mine, be it either with The Misfits, Danzig or the mysterious deathrock of Samhain. The short-lived The Lords of the New Church also have a very unique place in my heart. Finally, there are several originally punk bands that had some kind of goth era which I really enjoy, such as Phantasmagoria-era The Damned, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns-era Killing Joke and Change Today-era T.S.O.L.

Additionally, I had the luck to witness a really big wave of new and successful bands in the goth, post-punk and darkwave genres which was really inspiring. Drab Majesty, She Past Away and Twin Tribes are some of my favorite ones with a sound based on electronic elements such as synthesizers and drum machines. Currently, I am more into bands which have a more organic sound with the most notable ones being Horror Vacui, Then Comes Silence, Grave Pleasures, The Wraith and Fearing. And of course, I need to mention my current Greek favorites Chain Cult and Opened Paradise!

ES: Things are not so easy for new projects,it can be a real struggle for some artists to even be noticed.  However, you've had a quite powerful start. With only 3 tracks ,you managed to draw lots of people's attention.That can never be accidental. If someone asked you "hey ,Alex, how did you do that?" What would you answer?

A: I am not a pro in the music industry and business by any means. So, I only share my perspective on how I get things done which is not the optimal or the only way. In my opinion, the most important thing is to be inspired, creative and hard-working. The tracks included in the 3-track EP Entering Dreamtime have gone through countless iterations to reach their current form. While writing and demoing these tracks, I wouldn’t settle for something I wasn’t 100% happy about, being either the compositions, the lyrics or the guitar & synth tone that I had in mind. The second most important thing was that I put effort into understanding my genre and making the music and stylistic vision as clear as possible. Only then I could figure out the kind of people that would be into my music in order to be able to get them to listen to it. In simple words, I had to find my niche and invest effort and time into spreading the word about my music hoping that it would get noticed. Finally, I suppose having previous experience in writing and releasing music surely helps since the very first steps are always awkward for each and every independent musician.

ES: March 3rd 2023,your first full - length album "Last Stop To Nowhere " is out at last. This time via Swiss Dark Nights label. What was the reason you chose the 4th track of your album to name it ?

A: I have been eagerly awaiting to share Last Stop To Nowhere with the world for quite a while now. A lot of creative work has been put into this album, from the songwriting and music arrangements all the way to the recordings, production, cover art, music video and so much more. I would like to take this opportunity to thank George Emmanuel of Pentagram Studio who had a very significant impact handling the entire production and Sokratis Bebis who handled the vocal recordings and contributed with creative ideas in general. Also, I would like to thank Valerio from Swiss Dark Nights for his trust in the music vision of Reflection Black.

About the album title, honestly I just thought that Last Stop to Nowhere had the most grandiose title and made sense as the title track, so it clicked with me to name the entire album after it. But this wasn’t an accidental choice after all since now I believe that this particular track and its title nicely summarizes the content and mood of the entire album. Last Stop To Nowhere glorifies the liberation of the spirit not through a transition to a higher plane, but through its dissolution to absolute nothingness, the return to primordial chaos. This is highlighted in the lyrics with the references to the Buddhist concept of escaping Samsara, the cycle of life, death and rebirth with this escapist sense and the questioning of all forms of realities being present in most of the album’s tracks.

ES: I've noticed that while the sound is  powerful and danceable,lyric-wise the meaning of the tracks is deep, touching dark corners of the soul; thought and emotions provoking. What is a message you'd like to send to the world through the gist of your 8 tracks of "Last Stop To Nowhere".

A: Last Stop to Nowhere and all the artistic output of Reflection Black itself is the whole message. The music, lyrics, music video, cover art, artist photos, etc. make up a consistent big picture that is out there for the world to interpret and each one can connect to it to the level that he or she desires, from the catchiness of the tracks all the way to the occult concepts explored.

ES: "And if the extension of your heart
Gets too high close to the sun
That is what it’s made for
So let it go, let it burn".

There... these are some of my favourite lyrics. How about yours ? Is there a track you really get emotional with ?

A: I am very glad that you enjoy the lyrics of Let the Spirit included in Entering Dreamtime and also re-recorded for the Last Stop to Nowhere album. A little trivia behind the lyrics of the track that you might appreciate, they are the first I have ever written for Reflection Black and they are inspired by the Greek myth of Icarus but applied to the concept of the triumphant flight of the spirit leaving the material plane. Also, in the lyrics you can find some very direct references to the tracks Dreamtime from The Cult and Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams by The 69 Eyes.

Regarding my favorite lyrics from the Last Stop to Nowhere album these would be the ones I have written for the track Yet Unseen Colours. The lyrics talk about alternate sensory realities experienced through dreams and have a very strong sense of escapism from the dull everyday life. This escapism feeling is very genuine and I feel really connected to it since I have written these lyrics during the 2020 quarantine lockdown. Actually, I came up with the concept and the lyrics very spontaneously and immediately sang them over the main melody of the track that I was playing on my synthesizer. The concept of Yet Unseen Colours is further developed in the following track of the album, Why Believe, which proceeds to further doubt our limited sensory capabilities after the experiences described in Yet Unseen Colours.

ES: Your tracks are about those dark times when we feel lost, empty fighting the gap of futility. Also with quite a few references to spirituality as anyone can notice. Do you think that such a deep self expression can be a kind of redemption from one's thoughts and burdens carried within?

A: I understand why you would see references to spirituality in the aesthetics of Reflection Black but I want to make clear that there is little to no sense of religious hope or faith in me or the lyrics at all. Sometimes there seems to be a positive overtone in the music and theme of the tracks which is usually complemented by a concept of spiritual ascension but this ascension is always achieved through sleep, death, through dissolution, and through the return to nothingness.

Regarding self-expression, I don’t see it as a redemption from my burdens or as a coping mechanism, creativity is a very important but slightly different process for me. My creative output is usually driven by states of high energy or happiness, this is when I feel the strongest urge to express myself and when I come up with the most ingenious ideas. I believe that, unfortunately, the burdens of everyday life have a very negative impact on imagination and creativity but that might be just me.

ES: The music industry is a difficult field to survive. Still it looks really appealing to younger people. You are a young person dealing with the current state of the music world. What advice would you give to someone who dreams of becoming a musician.

A: In my opinion there are many aspects of being a musician. Personally, I only focus on the aspect of creating & performing music that I can personally relate to. This is the aspect that I believe is the most difficult to lead you to commercial success. So, my advice to anyone going down that road, including myself, is to focus on your creative output and set realistic expectations. Make and perform music that makes you feel happy & confident and push yourself to expose it to the world as much as you can. You never know what might come your way then. Apart from the aspect of writing and performing personal music, there is always the very respectable and probably more viable career pathway of being a well-rounded musician performer who performs music from different genres professionally but this is not what I personally do.

ES: Last question I always ask is about live events plans. Since summer is near, I guess it's a perfect time to travel around and experience an interaction with your fans Is there a schedule made yet and how can we be informed about it?

A: So far, Reflection Black has been mostly a one-man band studio project. The music of Last Stop to Nowhere wasn’t written with live performances in mind so it is very unlikely to see the current material performed live in such a short time as summer 2023. However, I can reveal that Reflection Black are currently working on becoming a 4-piece band focusing on newer material that has been formulated in this past year. I hope that I will be able to share with the world some of this new material in the not so distant future and plan some live performances to support it as well.



Reflection Black












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