I must tell you that one of my most satisfying musical discoveries of the last few years was the Italian black metal band Ovskum. Words like "suicidal-depressive" and "drone" and "black metal" all fall woefully short in describing the incredibly emotive sounds of this amazing band. With a new LP and a CD coming on Tumult, I figured now was a perfect time to open the floodgates. It is a complete honour to bring to you my conversation with Jacobo (aka Ovskum) about the history of this one-of-a-kind musical enigma.
HSS: Ovskum began in 2003 correct? And before that you were in Valak. What was your intentions for the band Ovskum in the beginning? Was it just a source of cathartic release for you personally?
Ovskum: Initially it was. I couldn’t live any longer within the conception of the group. I did it, because I felt the need to do so and I couldn’t still set free what I had inside me. That’s why I believe it’s been a natural process to discover, as I’ve already defined as precritical pulsion, which means the foundation of the Ovskum group.
In this sense the liberation of a precritical pulsion may be cathartic.
HSS: I have never seen a song title for any Ovskum composition. Is there a reason behind this?
Ovskum: The third track on the second act has the title mKjksddKOvsku, a name of the Morte-404 painting which you can find on the cover of the same album; while I was composing this piece I took the inspiration from that painting, which was the only picture which I was able to put entirely on the wall in a room with any lights and focusing on it and to put all my sensations in that track all the time. For this reason I decided to entitle precisely that one; I believe that the work I did is in some way a part of that painting.
Actually I don’t think it makes sense to entitle tracks of this project; a title is something a posteriori or prior to the representation, which means or you get the inspiration from something precise or you create something and you try to give a sense to it. I try to represent my instinctivity through the music I compose and not something logical, that’s why I don’t see any sense to delimit a work with titles or texts which would change the origin purpose. For me it doesn’t make any sense to associate an artistic expression which is the music to an immeasurable linguistic expression without any strong relationship, as in the case of ““mKjksddKOvsku”.
HSS: You are part of a group called Estrema Corona Fano. What is the reason for having this group? Is it a set of beliefs, or is just a group of friends who are creating music and art together?
Ovskum: Well, we have a lot of things in common like the music, nothing more. There are no philosophies behind that and everyone feels free to do what ever he wants to do. I think that it is counter-productive to delimit yourself to project or an ideal.
HSS: It seems as though everyone describes you as depressive black metal, but I hear your music very differently than that. There is a very distinct droning quality to it. Are you comfortable with the description of "depressive black metal?"
Ovskum: More than one time I saw matching the definition depressive to Ovskum, even if I’ve never considered my music as depressive; first of all I underline the fact that the first two acts, the third and forth one, are very different even both are strongly connected one to each other by the same matrix. Secondly, I’ve never composed during the moments of strong depression, because generally I’m writing when I’m physically and mentally alright, when, for example, I have strong disharmony and when I’m euphoric and when I feel strongly insane. I’m not able to give a definition of my work, but honestly I’ve never thought about it to do so. I’m influenced by ambient, drone, slowcore, 80s/90s industrial and of course black metal.
Everyone is free to interpret however he or she wants.
HSS: I know that other black metal artists in Italy very much respect your work. Do you have any other friends in Italian black metal? Is there a healthy black metal culture there??
Ovskum: It’s a real pleasure to hear it because apart from few friends or a band from Italy, I’ve never received particular attention and recognition.
Actually I don’t exactly know what you mean with black culture, probably I don’t know what it means. If you mean a live scene, I can’t give you any answer, probably it exists, but I don’t know it. Obviously, If you ask me if there are bands in Italy I appreciate, I would say, yes there are only few but good.
HSS: You will be rleasing a CD through Tumult Records and have been a favorite of Aquarius Records. How did that relationship begin, and have you noticed new interest in Ovskum because of it?
Ovskum: I don’t remember, but I believe that tUMULt contacted me through Stephen Immerwhar of the Oscure Origins, which I’m thankful for seriousness and interest. I was working with Stephen on the republication of Atto III on LP, which, by the way, has been published recently. Together with tUMULt we will republish the tape 2008 published by Raging Bloodlust Records on a CD and together with the music there will be a circa 20 minutes short one. I’m proud that my works raise interest, especially abroad, where I have to thank distro/label, like Aquasius Records which presented to us a Tour de Garde where the first Ovskum/Morke will be republished.
HSS: I am utterly fascinated by the artwork of Morte-404. It is very expressive, even childlike at times. A very pure way of presenting ideas. Tell me a bit about this Morte-404. How did this relationship begin, and why is it so important to you? It seems as if she is another member of the band, and that since there are no song titles, her drawings are all that describes the music.
Ovskum: The Morte-404 pieces and their presence reflect on the group which is part of Ovskum. Artistically they evaluated together, our knowledge agree with the creation of the Ovskum project whether musically or graphically.
For me the band represents those imagines which I adore, simple and instinctive, without any filters and obligation. The maximum.
HSS: Also, does she do work for other bands?
Ovskum: No, she doesn’t work for any other bands, but it’s clear that she is free to do so, of course not with the same imagines as she is using for us.
HSS: A lot of black metal seems to come with ideologies. That it is an important part of the whole process, but it seems to me that Ovskum is the exact opposite. That there is no ideology. There is nothing at all save for real human emotion. Is this the case?
Ovskum: The ideology is something prefabricate. For me personally, the pure art must come from itself, or better must be over itself.
My extraneousness to a presumptive black metal philosophy doesn’t preclude the emotions which are a vital component of my compositions.
What I’m representing is simply mental states and different emotions. You can have the ataraxy only inside a apathetic circle and it is not that what I’m expressing to in this moment; everything else, somehow or other, is emotion.
HSS: Please tell us about the future of Ovskum.
I’m working on a new material with Ovskum and Ovskum-Morke. I can’t say anything more, I don’t like to program things.