When people normally think of ‘Black Metal’ they immediately have visions of a dark, ice cold Scandinavia… One of the last places they would think to find it in is a small country in the heart of Central America.
Self-releasing the 2015 demo entitled ‘Presence’ in 2015 via his own label ‘Ascending to Death Records’ as well as recording local metal bands, DMD caught up with multi-instrumentalist Zagast from Salvadoran one man black metal artist: Ancient Forest…
*For my personal thoughts on AF check out the review of Presence here*
DMD: How would you describe the music of Ancient Forest?
Z: It is a mix of subconscious feelings and music
DMD: What inspires you to write your music?
Z: I just want to make something of my own, when someone writes a book they look at it and think "I am happy of MY work" so I do the same with AF. On the other hand, when I was in other bands I noticed the lack of interest of my partners to record something in a physical format, so these were my two biggest reasons to start making music on my own
DMD: What are the pros and cons of being in a one man project?
Z: Well the Pros are: There’s no one telling you what to do.
You don’t have to look at the time and be in a hurry to finish recording.
The Cons are: It’s very hard work when its your first time as a one man band plus you have to do all the recording stuff, plus Laziness can be a problem (haha) when you picture yourself writing drums, guitars, vocals etc
DMD: Are there any plans to add more members in the future or are you going to keep AF strictly solo project?
Z: AF is and I hope always will be a solo project.
DMD: It mentions on AF’s Metal Archives page that you don't plan to play live with AF, why is that?
Z: I want to keep that idea because I am very jealous with AF, so I want to keep that essence and not play live.
DMD: What bands do you listen to the most?
Z: I listen a lot of bands. My favourite genres are: Doom, Death, Black, Avant Garde and Gothic but the bands I hear most frequently are: Emperor, Burzum, the Sins of Thy Beloved, the Gathering, Sirrah, and Artrosis
DMD: Tell me about Ascending to Death Records
Z: ATD Records was born because of the need to record local bands and of course AF in a homemade way
DMD: What other bands have you recorded?
Z: Since I was in my first band (Tears in Moonlight) I started recording stuff and my first real recording was that demo. Later, I joined Norsk Sed and we recorded "Embrace the End" a two-song demo which was the first release from my label.
DMD: How many physical copies of the demo did you have made?
Z: Only 5 physical copies were first made and given away for free to my friends but if someone wants a copy I can just burn a disc for sale.
DMD: Do you plan to have a lot more physical releases with AF in the future- not just on CD but also on vinyl and cassette tapes?
Z: I don't think so because there is no one who owns something to listen on it at least in my location.
DMD: What is your current recording set-up? and what brand instruments and recording software you use?
Z: Like I said, I like to record my songs in a very home-made way so this is my gear:
- Juggs Starmaster 5 drumset
- Ibanez- GIO GRG270 guitar with a digitech death metal pedal
- A 4 way mini-mixer with generic microphones
- Adobe Audition 5 to mix everything
- A self-made guitar in a jackson style
DMD: What is your opinion on the state of metal today?
Z: Everything is changing progressively and metal is not the exception, I hear a lot of new bands just to see the changes and I have seen some very good new bands and some very bad ones… but I have to admit that I don’t like the way metal is going with all that "core" stuff.
DMD:How would you describe the metal music scene in El Salvador?
Z: Bad, not because of the bands but for the lack of interest to actually record something. A lot of the active bands in my country just decide to sell t-shirts, stickers, posters etc… I mean come on, I want to hear your songs in my mp3 player, not to wear your shirts. But at the end of the day, it’s about music, not fashion and I’m not saying the merchandising is bad, but I will always say put music first, then merchandising!
DMD: If you could only listen to five albums for the rest of your life what would they be?
Z: That is a question I was waiting for for so long and I don’t know why, haha! There are more than 5 but this is my top 5 right now:
"Silence - Sonata Arctica"
"Mandylion - The Gathering"
"Vovin - Therion"
"ACME - Sirrah"
"Songs of Battle - Hin Onde"
DMD: Would you say the Environment here and your surroundings (in Sonsonate, El Salvador) have had an effect on your music?
Z: No, because in my lyrics I don’t talk about anything from my surroundings but I would like to be in a place where I can be closer with the natural things I like (forests and mountains)
DMD: Do you think anything about your music change if you lived anywhere else?
Z: Maybe, because the place you live in affects you directly in your creativity
DMD: Do you like using Bandcamp to showcase and sell your music or do you plan on expanding into Spotify, iTunes and other music streaming platforms?
Z: I do want to expand the way my music is heard by others-
its just a matter of time until I release a new demo or full length, then I will upload it to another streaming platform
Presence is streaming on Bandcamp now you can buy it here
To contact Zagast for more information you can email him: firstname.lastname@example.org