D&O-Sarin Snow seems to be just one part of the bigger picture that makes up your involvement in underground music. Maybe we should start by discussing how you discovered the underground and what do you think it was about this small and dedicated bunch of artists that resonated with you and made you want to be a part of it?
SARIN SNOW- My induction into underground music occurred around the time of 5th or 6thgrade when I began noticing older kids around town wearing “Fiend Club” shirts. The iconography of the skull logo was alluring, and I immediately wanted in on whatever this club was. Since then, I have felt the need to go deeper and deeper down the hole. Eventually in high school, I found a group of liked minded people. We would rotate between doing stupid shit and showing each other hardcore/punk bands. In high school, I was also introduced to black metal through a kid in freshman German class. The most influential bands for my “development” were Integrity and GISM. I was drawn by their sheer intensity and how they expanded on their respective formats. Their work, cited influences, and associations led me down a path of transgression that included noise/industrial music. GISM’s imagery was like nothing I had seen before that point. It created a militaristic aura outside of any knowledge of the fabled personalities.
I don’t think I can properly articulate what exactly resonated with me. I grew up in the crowded greater Los Angeles area. I was surrounded by people, yet I felt completely alone due to some sort of juvenile disgust for them all. I found a handful of people to relate to and the underground music – its imagery, tone, and dedication –made sense. The medium of DIY symbolized a sort of freedom that could be enriching. I have always been inclined towards extremity, and underground music fostered that through topics that are not addressed elsewhere. Hardcore/punk had what I perceived to be an extremity of passion. Yet, it was black metal and noise that fulfilled this inclination completely. Both inhabit a periphery in their own ways.
The more time I spent in hardcore/punk/DIY circles, the more I realized I have disgust for most of these types as well. Their social games almost turn me completely off from wanting to be associated with any underground subculture. Hardcore/punk is almost completely sterilized, and it seems like these adult children have had their eyes on underground metal and noise. Even so, there are still dedicated people involved to find affinity with beneath all the rubbish. There will always be artists who push the boundaries set by both the dominant culture and so called “fringe” (dominant culture lite) that they inhabit.
D&O-What projects have you done prior to Sarin Snow and what other projects are you also doing now? Can you see any correlating line between them all?
SARIN SNOW- I’ve been playing music off and on since I was 14. Mostly just insignificant projects with friends that didn’t produce much aside from local shows. Currently, Sarin Snow and Special Breed are the two projects I am involved with. The creative say I have in both projects varies. Sarin Snow is completely my own endeavor. Meanwhile, Special Breed calls for a much more minimal approach from me. While the style, imagery, and themes of both projects are quite different – I believe beneath the surface, both projects deal with an unspoken gravitation towards death found in the genealogy of man. Of course, it is two very different perspectives of that gravitation.
D&O-I was interested to find out that you are in Special Breed alongside Marco (Raspberry Bulbs/Seedstock etc) And while this is a Sarin Snow interview, can you talk briefly about that project and how it came about? Marco seems to operate on another level altogether, releases simply appear seemingly from nowhere and they all have that special sound which he pretty much invented. I am interested in the processes behind that project?
SARIN SNOW- I can’t speak for Marco or his methods/motivations. I was brought into the fold because they needed a bass player. The songs and concept of the band were already laid out by then. Special Breed is his creation. Riffs are presented to me and the bass lines are molded by whatever the songs call for. The concept and sound resonate with me, so I am pleased to be part of the unit.
D&O-You do the Slave Chandelier imprint, there is an underlying current that exists between the aesthetics of the label and Sarin Snow, it is almost unspoken really, it is very hard to put your finger on. What does Slave Chandelier stand for to you? Is there an overruling set of values that it holds or is it far simpler and freer from constraints?
SARIN SNOW- Slave Chandelier stands for power first and foremost. Power seems to be the ultimate law of Nature and all its creations are drawn to it; whether it be intimate submission in a locked room, soldiers marching in unison, the ascendency of one beast, the universe’s strength against an insignificant Earth, etc. There are numerous forms of power, Slave Chandelier is interested in their interpretations regardless of how challenging it can be. There seems to be a growing social tide from the left that is resentful of power. Slave Chandelier stands against this tide. I believe there is deep meaning to be found within power, meanwhile, the world this social movement wants to bring about is one of spiritual meaninglessness and powerlessness.
The underground provides a variety of mediums to express an aesthetic of power, whether its noise, metal, or hardcore/punk (the latter seems less common in doing so these days). So, the values are less of a stylistic dogma and more so focused on a cohesive aesthetic approach. Slave Chandelier will release music and art that I believe in.
D&O-You are also responsible for the artwork on your releases, as well as some of the art in the Special Breed tape. What is the inspiration and motivation behind the art and collages that you do?
SARIN SNOW- The inspiration for Sarin Snow and Special Breed’s collages are quite different. The two Special Breed collages reflect the spiritual quest and consciousness of a soldier as an individual outside of any particular political cause or context. Working within the restricted framework of the lyrical content was ultimately satisfying because the end product deviated a bit from my usual output.
With Sarin Snow art, I’m interested in images that are striking, yet ambiguous in their intended use. Like words, images convey multiple interpretations, but ultimately silence (death) is the final conclusion. I find great beauty in this circle of existence and the artwork is a testament to that. Faces of death and ecstasy intermingle because ultimately, they are part of the same beautiful process of endless decay. I am interested in altering images and creating a new context for them. I think the Oscar Wilde quote I used in the Divine Thrust artwork is a useful explanation - “those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt”.
D&O-there is a sense of power coupled together with hopelessness that resonates throughout Sarin Snow, the lyrics hold a deep feeling of passion and energy and the overall aesthetic of the project also portrays this, with the collage work colliding in stark contrast to the sparse B&W lyric sheets. There is a simplicity to it all. What was the overall impetus to start Sarin Snow and how has it evolved over the course of it?
SARIN SNOW- The project started around the time I moved back to the Bay Area after a few years away. The area and I had grown in different ways since my first stint here, almost as if going in opposite directions. I found the social climate nauseating. Living in a cold spacious warehouse added to my feeling of isolation. Most of my time was spent alone consumed in reading. I felt surrounded by hideousness. I began acquiring equipment because I felt this was one way I could purify the world around me.
I wanted to portray isolation in its truest sense. I don’t think of it as a melancholic thing. Isolation can be unhindered power. It can be a fortress where acts are committed away from witnesses. Isolation can be two beings wrapped up in their fleeting fire. Isolation can be an atavistic force waiting to rejuvenate the world. Isolation can be a subjective experience in the greater pool of death. That’s what I had in mind when I began the project and I’m sure will be the foundation for the project regardless of its development or topic at hand.
D&O-The two tapes so far (Imposing Light and Divine Thrust) sound very similar in execution and tone, there is a clear idea here. I like that; many noise projects chop and change between each release. Can you explain the overall desire and need to continue mining the particular sound that you do with Sarin Snow? Can you see it changing drastically in the future do you think?
SARIN SNOW- I want each release to move forward, yet there is a focus on a grander unity. Every aspect of the sound is a meticulous attempt at getting across an underlying mood. Of course, I want the material to be interesting, but the desire to evoke a particular feeling is always there. With Sarin Snow themes, motifs, and imagery will resurface as if born anew. This reflects my cyclical world view – every bit of pain, strife, pleasure, genocide, victory, grand love is bound to recur again and again. Energy flows ceaselessly towards death and this endless march is what Sarin Snow contemplates. I think PE is the perfect medium to get this across the way this project desires. Perhaps, the sound evolves from releases, but I am intent on it embodying a united canon.
D&O-Sexuality and how we relate to sex has long been a staple for Powerelectronics, Sarin Snow certainly continues with this, not in a blatant over the top way though. There is a sinister nature to it with your music. Sex seems to be far more open and free in these current times, while still quite prudish and confused with the older generation struggling to come to terms with the different definitions of sexuality. Sarin Snow takes an almost medieval or traditional occult leaning angle to the whole process. Is there a discussion around sex and sexuality that you are tackling here or is it best left unsaid?
SARIN SNOW- Blatant sexuality as a shock tactic is too easy and has been overdone. I want to participate in something more interesting and genuine to myself. I am put off by both modern liberal and conservative views of sexuality. The current generation has tried to appropriate their sexual expression as a means of independence and agency. It all comes off as some sort of vapid exhibitionism stemming from inferiority complexes. When freedom and pleasure are the ends, the transgression resembles a mockery of itself. Sex positivity, leftist “sluts”, BDSM fashion, street sex fairs, and so forth is all a charade. It is all an extension of the same liberal values they denounce, the embodiment of a lethargic culture devouring itself. True eroticism is something much more severe and shattering.
My perspective of sex is not empowering; it is complete negation. In sex, man and woman find a union within the other that erases their individuality. This non-being flows with death as long as consciousness disintegrates with every thrust. In sex, we are unveiled to reveal something mystical and ancient beneath us. Greek mythology reflected sexuality’s sinister and divine natures with Leda and the Swan, the abduction of Persephone, Adonis and Aphrodite, etc. These stories and names are allegories for the forces within the sexual realm, forces that possess us. Master and servant come together in a ceremony that is much grander than themselves. Sexuality also reveals a part of human nature (for lack of a better term) that can never be done away with despite illusions of civility. The sexual act can invoke the cruel beast that man will always be through its sadistic aspects when the beloved drowns in your strength. The individual dies in this flood of power. Ultimately, the erotic (to me) is unity with a dark lost sovereign; becoming both its incarnation and subject.
There are times when Sarin Snow seeks to recall these acts, not through detailed descriptions, but through evoking a feeling.
D&O-Violence is also intertwined throughout your recordings. It is violence as a necessity, is that where we are heading as a society or have we always been there?
SARIN SNOW- Violence has always been with us and always will be. All our triumphs and advancements rest on the shoulders of violence. It is hypocrisy to cry against the injustices of society when that moral high ground was only made possible through a history of violence.
War is essential to life - whether its waged by nations or by an individual, whether its physical or spiritual. Strife can have a cultivating and rejuvenating effect. Modern western society/man is at a standstill. Our way of life has allowed us to expend energy on more symbolic ventures – social sciences, morality, ethics, etc. At the peak of our existence we are now riddled with guilt and dissonance. There are enemies determined on destroying the West, yet we are consumed by Utilitarianism and have discussions about the human rights of an ISIS soldier. As a society, we yearn for the moral high ground, but why? My interest in the subject doesn’t even lie within a political context, I am more focused on the metaphysical consequences. When we forgo and betray our violent tradition, we become spiritually weak. Energy ceases to flow in the name of harmony. Man becomes stagnant and complacent by his own emasculation. Throughout world history, there is no example of a thriving culture that denounced their virility. Where there is life, violence will find a way.
D&O-Lyrically where do you draw inspiration from?
SARIN SNOW- A large part of inspiration comes from what I read. The biggest literary influence is Yukio Mishima. He tends to be a typical source in the greater realm of dark music. However, this influence comes from more than just a surface level reading of his work. Within a year, I had read all his translated works, which can be interpreted in a philosophical manner. In his writing, I discovered his obsessions and they related to my own obsessions. It is all meant to be a serious engagement with the author and material.
Other literary influences are Marquis de Sade, Julius Evola (especially his metaphysical works), Ezra Pound, Ernst Junger, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Rainer Maria Rilke… Again, the usual suspects in this subculture, but I seek a more extensive perspective.
Aside from literature, the lyrics draw inspiration from beauty. To me, beauty is something hierarchical and elitist, intertwined with power and virility. Those who are powerful should be beautiful and those who are beautiful should be powerful. The lyrics depict images, acts, and scenes I find beautiful –vigorous bodies, masculinity, aristocracy, classical art, Venus in the arms of Mars, death. I want beauty to reclaim its throne.
D&O-Musically Sarin Snow harnesses the sounds of pure PE alongside an almost militant Death Industrial march, this makes for a sound that is somewhat timeless. What have been the primary influences on the sounds we hear in Sarin Snow.
SARIN SNOW- In terms of PE, Streicher and Deathpile are large influences. I don’t attempt to mimic either project, but look highly at the intensity and extremity of the sound. Another main influence is Burzum’s Filosofem. It’s not the actual sound that influences me, but what is accomplished by it. No other album has struck me in the same way. It feels like its own creature and can articulate so much in the atmosphere presented. That is the ideal for me as an artist.
D&O-American underground noise is flourishing. Bedroom projects are everywhere alongside tape labels and one-off projects. There is no longer a question of how does one stand out from the crowd, it is more how does one go about finding those who would find a project such as yours interesting and inspiring? Someone mentioned how the underground is simply just artists feeding off each other which then brings about blind support due to camaraderie. How do you ensure what you do portrays the message you intend? Are we preaching to the already converted?
SARIN SNOW- Perhaps it sounds shallow, but there is a deliberate emphasis on the aesthetic as a whole. Imagery, titles, and language are all meant to make an immediate impression. This is how it finds those who would resonate with what is being portrayed. I’m not sure if there is a single message that I am trying to get across with the project; I’m not an ideologue nor am I interested in the masses. Sarin Snow is more of a mirror. It reflects what I find beautiful. It reflects the mortal stream towards death. Ultimately, a reflection of myself. The attention to detail towards the material ensures a clear and accurate vision of this mirror. Others may find their own reflection within it.
I do agree with the sentiment of blind support in the underground. I see this across the spectrum of underground subcultures. Everyone just wants to get along, be friends, garner likes, and most importantly, not upset anyone. The base of such behavior stems from insecure people being disingenuous. I suppose, one can only take their craft seriously while being sincere with their art and interactions.
D&O-What are the next steps for Sarin Snow?
SARIN SNOW- The third tape, Love Incarnate, will be out by the time this is read. I want to focus on recording and releasing a steady stream of releases. The time between the second and third tape was longer than desired. This was due to the project being put on hold because of personal issues that could only happen in the Bay Area. From Love Incarnate onward, my trusted accomplice E.V. is brought into the fold. But, it is still very much my project.
There is a split planned. I’d like to do a couple more tapes before working on a longer and more elaborate release. I would also like to play a few gigs. Like time, Sarin Snow marches on…