Saman Nu (aka Count De Efrit) is a very talented musician, coming from Tehran, Iran. He is mostly known for his personal project Ekove Efrits, a depressive atmospheric black metal band that has already released 3 amazing full-length albums. This year he also released the debut album of his second project Silent Path. He has also started Inner Trip, a cinematic soundtracks / modern classical / ambient / electronic / trip hop project! So it was the right time to ask him about all his projects and his future plans.
- Hello Saman Nu. Thank you very much for making this interview. I have watched Ekove Efrits since its early demos and I instantly liked your music. How did it all begin? Iran isn’t the most common place for black metal music. What were your first listenings and influences?
Thank you so much for your kind words too. Well I think we are all under inspirations. No matter if you are into art or not. Something stands behind and whispers closely to our ears, something that we tend to it hardly, I see that as a small hatch to breath. In our case, we can call that “music” for sure, but the difference all comes down to if we just want to keep enjoying by only listening, or we have the desire to produce something and make our enjoyment even bigger. Personally, I belong to the second category chiefly while I feel I can do something. I don’t judge is it perfect or not, because it’s more related to audiences, I just talk about an inner desire that pushes me forward to create something. I don’t judge is it perfect or not, because it’s more related to audiences, I just talk about an inner desire that pushes me forward to create something. Well I heard that and started to make my music completely based on trial and error and beside this I can’t ignore the role of great bands like Metallica, Nirvana and Tiamat, especially in the first steps and in following extreme genres like black metal and Gothic metal with their many interesting bands, gradually I learned how to depict my feelings and create a music closer to what I feel inside.
- What made you decide to start Ekove Efrits? Tell us a few things form your first music steps. What does the name of the band exactly mean?
Answer to this question is a bit hard to me. I felt some kind of desire, which I told you before, but talking about that in a clear way isn’t easy man. To be honest, I believe you never choose art, art will choose you instead. If you look around probably you will see some people that like paintings, music, etc and keep practicing hard at it by going classes and doing some other similar things, but why are there only a few of them that can create something interesting? Chiefly I point to “creating”, because I don’t think only learning how to copy the stuff of others makes you an artist, something else is also necessary. Your music, your painting, your sculpture, or whatever else should bring something new to the world. Of course asking if the world is shaking or not after that doesn’t matter. It’s something separate from our discussion. Art is not adventitious, the first rule is having something inside and if you have that you will feel that somehow finally. About the meaning of the name! This is a question that I always expect to face with it in each interview… each single interview (haha) but that’s my fault. Ekove Efrits sounds really weird and I know! Choosing this name was about those dark days of black metal under the inspiration of that atmosphere… pity I was young! Anyway Ekove is reverse of Evoke and Efrit means bad or evil souls in Persian and Arabic mythology, so the entire name means summon the evil souls. I just chose that because that was so near to that horrific atmosphere that I tried to create in my music.
- Is there, or was ever any special message through your music and lyrics?
Of course! Music is connected straight from the center of feeling. I talk through my music to explain what I feel, but I can’t describe any of it through words, from the darkest moments and also to light ones. But if you mean any cult and occult themes, my answer is absolutely NO! All that I try to do with my music is to create a wide road from my heart to listeners and I believe it’s the most important role of music.
- In your first demos your music was underground depressive black metal with a quite raw approach. What do you think nowadays about these works?
I like them, but I think they belong to the past my friend. Many bands started in that manner, raw with bad quality, extremely harsh music! Well they were great, but in their time and as a powerful structure for black metal to build on, but not now. I’m not sure it works today, because everything changes at last. It’s exactly parallel to what I told you in previous question. Art should bring something new. At that time that was new and because it’s non-conformist nature did catch many eyes. But we live in our time. What’s the point if I repeat myself again and again, because I believe in only one structure?! Imagine a painter that just paints one landscape in his entire life, because he thinks that there is only one true painting. Isn’t ridiculous?! It’s clear that no one will be surprised at anything by the time it reaches the third work, and by that time it’s not art, it is a product.. It’s also about music too. Even as a listener, I can listen to the raw stuff for too long nowadays. Quality is a fact that we can’t deny in producing and paying attention to different forms and angles makes music more interesting.
- In your debut album “Suicidal Rebirth” in 2008 everything changed. A much more melodic and experimental side of Ekove Efrits was revealed. What are your memories from this debut? Was this change a music redirection, or do you see it as a natural evolution of your music?
Yeah you’re right. This album will remain at the list of my favorite ones with no doubt. I was in the north in a small city for study in university during the making the album, where I had lots of sweet and bitter moments in each day and night, which took almost one year. I confess I created “Suicidal Rebirth” with my whole soul and finally I left a huge part of my soul on that. A period of life drowned into the love and sorrow, sometimes I cried in my loneliness while I was listening to a song, because they all came from my heart, where all those unspoken stories lied down. I’m sure you and your readers can understand, because we all have these muted words and there is always something that makes flash backs. And besides that I also had two great friends, who had a nice role in the album. Erato and Fegar, I used their nicknames because they preferred it this way. Both of them had a bold effect in “Suicidal Rebirth” and I can’t imagine the album without them. I’ll never forget the last night of recording the album we missed our train to our hometown, so we stayed a couple of hours more in my home to make a few final adjustments in the songs, which took until midnight and in returning we took a bus. We were so tired and sleepy and in the back of our seat a guy was talking on the phone non-stop. Guess what? We heard that guy sing a part of our song “An Elegy of Life, a Hymn to Death“! I told Fegar hey can you hear that?! He did shake his head, whereas his eyes rounded because wondering and answered what is fucking this?!!! …hehe, I told you we were completely sleepy. Anyway, some of the changes that you mentioned were related to my experiments from the previous works, but the other side all were about love and suffering. Only my really close friends know the whole story, Many many complex things gathered together, so I reached to a point finally that I found I had to do something! I had to let my soul talk somehow, regardless to its result, rather than letting this pain killing me, so definitely both sides have straight effect on this evolution.
- Your next album “Hypermnesia” came out in 2010. This time changes were even bigger since you played completely experimental electronic classical music. What made you release this album under Ekove Efrits’ name and why was it only an internet release?
“Suicidal Rebirth” was so heavy for me, such a big mental drain that involved me one year so tight. After that, as I continued I needed something really different. I had a couple of new ideas before that I was interested to walk through them, but they were all out of metal genre, so I found this is the right time to take a risk and release something different. I could expand my experiments and also make a distance with that heavy sorrowful atmosphere. “Hypermnesia” gave me this chance. I had two options in front of me – make a separate project to release the album, or release it as an Ekove Efrits album. I chose the second one, but unfortunately because that was something so different from Ekove Efrits’ main style, labels didn’t take any risk with it, because they were unsure if it was really interesting or if it would sell, so I decided to put that on internet as a free download.
- In 2011 you released your last album “Conceptual Horizon” and the band returned to its depressive black metal rooted music, exploring even more the new experimental elements introduced on “Suicidal Rebirth”. I find this album a masterpiece and your most complete work so far. It is a multilayered and very complex album, far beyond the stereotypes of the genre. How would you describe this album with your own words?
To be honest I don’t know how to describe my music. It’s not my job and surely other people and reviewers do that a thousands times better than me. But I think I agree 100% with you. It’s one of my best albums until now. I’m growing step by step and definitely it has an effect on my music too. But you know what? I’ve learned how to be patient and follow my feelings only. This is the key! Ekove Efrits is a one man band and I have to do everything by myself, which makes me extremely tired sometimes. Many nights I have to be awake and work over and over on one song and this makes me sick, while I have to listen to a piece of my song ten, twenty or more times nonstop, it’s all because the final result which I can tolerate and even enjoy the entire process. And with “Conceptual Horizon“, I was so patient to release any kind of restraint completely to use any useful element even from different styles. Sometimes it made some hard climaxes in the process of recording, but in the end I think I can regard it all as positive and luckily the feedback has been positive too. In some reviews I read they couldn’t put the music in any specific genre and they wrote it has wide range of different elements. Well that’s exactly correct. Yes, you can find a main style in this album, but there is also a bunch of other influences as you see. I’m happy with that, because this is what we call finding our root. I have to discover myself and let my soul do experiments, regardless to what people will think about it. After “Hypermnesia” I’ve received nice feedback, but on the other side I had a couple of negative opinions too. They wrote it’s so funny for a black metal band to release an electronic album! Maybe they are right, maybe it’s really funny, but I don’t care that much. Come on man, what isn’t tragically funny? Go one step higher and see our small planet from the top, then you will find out all things we do is funny! We take a job, we marry, we go to school, we fight in wars, we eat, we talk, we earn, we lose, blah blah… In a huger scale, we are absolutely nothing comparing our little bodies with the entire world system. But in the other side, everything has a meaning too. We can play with words for ever and discuss about each single act in art, but it’s useless.
- Is there any lyrical concept behind this album? Where do you get the inspiration for your music?
The main concept is about humanistic emotions. Inspiration comes from different angels. My inner world as well as life stories as well as nature with all of its mysteries all have a big effect over me. I like this famous quote from Andy Warhol, which says: If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.
- “Conceptual Horizon” is released by Hypnotic Dirge Records. In the past you have changed many labels for your various releases? Are you satisfied with you current label? Silent Path’s album was also released by HDR.
That was my great chance that I could sign a deal with Hypnotic Dirge Records, because the founder and the admin of this label, Nick Skog is a really respectable and kind guy, who supports my music as much as he can. Sometimes I say to him “you work as ten men” indeed! Haha… You know, it is not about making money, because this kind of music is completely uncommercial. but I really enjoy when I see him understanding music deeply and knowing how to move forward. Despite this huge distance, we get along so well together, like two brothers and everything goes easily between us. That’s why I preferred to release Silent Path via HDR too and fortunately he accepted. I’m so thankful about his understanding and all of his support until now.
- In 2009 you also started another project, Silent Path. What made you begin a second black metal project? I ask since Ekove Efrits is already moving in a wide canvas of different genres. What different has this project to offer and how would you describe Silent Path’s music?
In fact it’s all about 2009 as you mentioned. I always had this horrific scene of war in the background of my mind. A music filled up with misery and real fear that only something evil like war could lead that and what is better than “World War II”? An international pain that everyone can understand its blackness easily. So it was with this in mind that I founded Silent Path to have an outlet to depict these images and at that time I talked with Evil Distribution, the first label of Ekove Efrits to release Silent Path. After listening to the whole album, they accepted to release that and they even made some promo CD’s for different webzines, which brought a couple of nice reviews, but financial problems finally stopped them. So the project changed to on-hold level until this year that HDR decided to release the album.
- A few months ago the debut album of Silent Path “Mourner Portraits” was out. Give us some feedback about the concept. What should your fans expect from this work?
To be honest Silent Path has some similar elements with Ekove Efrits, but in fact that project is so much harsher and darker than Ekove Efrits and the style leans more towards funeral doom metal and the tempo is really low throughout. Also the type of distortion effect that I used is very different from what I use in Ekove Efrits, which I think is more suitable for those war images in my mind. But explaining more than this is impossible to me. You may listen and understand what I try to tell you in the album, or maybe you won’t like that at all. It’s up to you and your taste in music. Maybe reading some reviews of Silent Path could be helpful too.
- What are you fans’ and press reactions so far? Are you satisfied with the result?
Yes I’m satisfied! I was lucky that I received nice feedback even when I first started promoting the album in 2009, which were also included in the booklet of the official CD. As well as this, there’s also been a couple of nice reviews I received recently from several webzines in different languages, which have all been fortunately positive so far. But if one day I decide to make a second album of Silent Path, I will import lots of new elements to avoid repeating myself.
- You have also another project, outside the metal genres. Inner Trip is your third band and you have already released an album and preparing the second. Would you like to give us some information about this project too?
The second album is entitled “Initiate” and right now it is ready to be published by Fluttery Records soon. As a short introduction, Inner Trip is based on electronic and ambient atmosphere and it’s totally separate from what I’ve done before. I would rather say it belongs to my light side, where peace and calmness stand there, and I prefer that the project finds its identity independently of my other projects. I think by this way that I’ve also gotten certain listeners from Inner Trip’s music who don’t know of my other projects!
- Are all your bands of equal importance to you? Is any of them your main priority?
Good question! Let me clear one thing my friend. I have never never founded any project without an acceptable reason for myself and also I’ve never recorded any song without presenting my heart. So there is no difference for me indeed. All of them are equal, because I left a part of my soul in each one. Of course some works are bolder and some of them are not, which depends on the listeners and also the time and my experiments, but they all came from my heart, as a way to just speak with listeners. I’m so deeply happy because I’ve found many good friends from different countries through music. At a closer look this works perfect, because most of them are connected to my music first and then we start connecting with each other, so I will meet mostly deep people, with whom I enjoy to talk. I really appreciate this.
- Looking back at all these years, how do you see your music journey? Do you feel accomplished, or are there many more ambitions and wishes (musically speaking).
Music Journey… such a good definition! It reminds me a journey to Nature and passing rivers, mountains. Man… I confess I really miss nature, because the last time I was outside of the city was almost 4 or 5 months ago… damn! Anyway this is not what we’re discussing. Well I think I’ve grown my sight via this journey. It should be the nature of art that makes an artist clear about him or herself. It teaches you how to be honest with yourself, because this way you will find a shortcut to your heart and your soul, which is exactly what you need for creation. I’m not sure if I should call it a wish or not but I think desire is a better word to use. After recording and releasing each album I go to a period of resting that I really like and enjoy. It’s time to hear feedback and let my body earn all its energy back. But after a while I find a desire to start working again… Haha, it’s a really weird situation. New ideas come up from everywhere and even sometimes I hear some interesting melodies in my mind, especially before sleeping. This is one of the most important reasons that I go to record new stuff, because I’m curious to find out what song can be formed from those ideas or better to say I want to see those foggy images in the background of my mind over a canvas. So until this energy returns back to me, my desire is to discover them as a searcher, but on the other hand, I’m not in a hurry or anything and I don’t want to be a producing machine, so I am not afraid to pass a couple of years silent, if necessary.
- So far you are the only member of your bands, with some guest appearances. Have you ever thought of a complete line-up? Are there any plans for gigs in the future?
Not really. Working with other members means more practicing, meetings and spending a big part of time around the band and it’s not really compatible with my life plans, because I prefer to do some other serious works outside of music too. It maybe sounds weird, but I usually only take my instruments up when I have some new ideas and I spend the rest of my time in graphic design, or writing something whenever life lets me. For gigs, I can’t promise anything. Maybe it’ll happen one day in another country, but this is not something I can predict at this moment.
- How is the metal scene in Iran? Are there any other bands you’d like to recommend? How difficult is for a metal band do spread its music worldwide?
I think it’s a great scene, but it remains in the underground because there is no official company that wants to support them, because of the situation in Iran. We have many amazing bands in different styles of metal music that you can easily find on the internet. They are growing day by day and do their best to make interesting music, but unfortunately they can’t have live shows or officially release their CDs in the country. Some of them are my friends and I know some others by listening to their stuff. They are all great in their style and most of them make respectable stuff, but please let me not mention any bands here, because I’m not good at keeping names in my mind and surely I will miss a couple bands, which will make me sad afterwards.
- Are there any future plans for you bands? Something that you could announce?
Hopefully the next album of Ekove Efrits, but about the exact time for starting I have no words yet… Right now I’m a bit involved with my life, I hope things there will be more time soon, so I have to see and of course you can always get fresh news and information via my site and official Facebook page. Also I’ve talked with Hypnotic Dirge Records about releasing some official t-shirts for Ekove Efrits this year.They’ll be the first shirts! In fact I’ve created three different shirt designs already and they plan to release at least two of them, so please stay tuned for more news!
- Thank you very much for your time. Last words are yours.
Just want to thank you for this interview and I wish the best for your webzine and your readers.