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2015 Stijn van Cauter interview 
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Post 2015 Stijn van Cauter interview

Michael Ventura - Thank you for doing this interview with us. Would you mind tell us little about yourself?

Stijn van Cauter - I’m mid-30s, from Belgium, and being creative has always been my primary, often sole, pastime. I’ve been drawing things and writing stories since childhood, but it’s only since I started playing guitar that being creative became a full-time thing. This resulted in a number of album releases over a period of 12 years, but I’ve also done a fair bit of game programming and I’m still writing stories.

MV - You have created and played with several bands, what are you currently up too now?

SVC - Music-wise, almost nothing has happened over the past few years. I’ve done a few short things that were intended as game soundtracks. Instead, most of my time has been spent on programming computer games, except for last year, where I started writing more, alongside the programming.

MV - How did you get your start playing doom metal? When did you officially start/join your first band, and who are your biggest influences?

SVC - I didn’t start out with the idea that the music I was going to make had to be doom metal. At that time I was mostly listening to dark metal, gothic and some ambient and experimental stuff. The first songs I made were a bit of a mix of those genres, but as I enjoyed the dark, slow and melodic music the most, my work gradually moved in that direction. I wasn’t really into doom metal at the time, since it was a genre I simply didn’t know all that much about, it’s – in part – thanks to releasing my music and getting in touch with people that listened to stuff similar to what I was making, that I learned about things like funeral doom.

The official date is hard to say. I started playing guitar mid 1997, and I definitely had some songs already mid 1999, recorded on tape. Then, I didn’t have a name yet, nor the intention to release this early music. Over the course of about 2 years that followed, I came up with more music, and a number of names, to finally settle on ‘Until Death Overtakes Me’.

The name of my project is a phrase taken from the song ‘Black God’, by My Dying Bride. I remember hearing that song for the first time well before I was into metal of any kind. I knew its name, but not the band that had written it. The first time I did hear MDB was a bit of a revelation, and kickstarted my interest in doom & dark metal. This was around 1999 I believe. When I got my hands on some of their older material, I discovered the song ‘Black God’ again. As for actual influences on my music, that’s hard to say. I’ve always tried to be original, and didn’t want to be a copy of a band or sound that already existed. But over the years I’ve listened to a wide variety of music, ranging from 60s rock to classical music. There’s one musician that I’ve always seen as an inspiration, though, and that is Mike Oldfield. It’s not just the fact that he makes fantastic music, but he also plays many different instruments. I think his work definitely played a role in me wanting to learn various instruments and doing as much as possible by myself.

MV - Most of your work is with solo projects, are you anti band or do you just prefer to work alone? And where do the ideas for each band come from? They all share some obvious similarities but ultimately they're all different. Can you elaborate?

SVC - I’m not anti band, things just worked out that way. I was able to put out so much material because I worked alone. In the early days, I did find a few people that were interested in forming a band, but getting together to work on music wasn’t always possible, and as such this cooperation didn’t last very long. I also easily worked 10 to 14 hours a day on my music in those days, and as such there was very little room for input from others due to the pace I was creating new material at. Not having to asks other’s opinions on every few notes I’d write saves time.

I also simply prefer to work alone. I knew what kind of music I wanted to make, if others had different opinions on that matter, I wasn’t going to end up creating what I really wanted to.
The biggest reason is perhaps the fact that I made all of this music primarily for myself. My works don’t exist so others can enjoy them, or so that they can be sold for money, they exist because I have need of them. There’s a lot of myself in these works, and having input or material from others, makes these songs less pure in a way. But that differes from project to project, as I’m not that equally ‘close’ with all my projects.

Most of my other projects were the result of experiments that I felt didn’t fit in Until Death Overtakes Me. Some of these are indeed close musically, but in a few cases I seperated music based on its topic and motivation, and the differences there are huge.

MV - How did you get involved in the Nulll Collective and when can we expect another album from them?

SVC - Eibon M. Hearst (Torture Wheel) and myself were already working on some material together under the name of ‘The Sad Sun’. After a hiatus, we decided start this project up again, but didn’t want to go the traditional album route. We invited S.P. White (Uncertainty Principle), and for the course of little over a year we released one track each month as a free download. Alongside this we worked on an album.
TNC was to be more than a band. The plan wasn’t to force the three of us to be present in each song we’d write, but TNC would be the name for us to release both solo and non-solo works under. In that year where we did both the album and these various singles, we obviously got a lot of work done, and wanted to continue at that pace working on a second album. It turned out that doing both the monthly singles and the album wasn’t sustainable, and things fell apart. This second album was never finished, but one or two tracks were released (in a non-final form) as a monthly single.

It’s hard to say if this album will ever make it. After stopping doing music myself, I also told EMH and SPW that I wasn’t going to take part in TNC for at least a while. Being gravely anti-social by default, I haven’t kept in touch with either of them, so I don’t know if they are still planning on finishing the album between the two of them.

MV - Have any of your solo projects played live, and if so how did you do it?

SVC - Over the course of 2 years, I first played as session musician for Pantheist, and then immediately afterwards joined In Somnis. Both these bands did plenty of live shows, and (primarily in the case of Pantheist) since I had to be part of this, I got the opportunity to play several UDOM live shows at the same, on several occasions. Kostas (from Pantheist) always helped out with keyboards, and Frédéric (ex-Pantheist) and later on Mark (Esoteric) played bass, while I took care of vocals and guitars. This worked out really well and was a lot of fun.
I never actively tried to get live performances sorted out for UDOM, it was a matter of circumstances that simply made this feasible. During the small tour with Pantheist and Skepticism, there was no need for additional musicians or gear for instance, since all the members of UDOM-live, also played in Pantheist. That said, if I had to do it truly solo, I doubt it would have worked out.

MV - What made you decide to end 'Until Death Overtakes Me'?

SVC - Hiatus is perhaps a better word, I might start UDOM up again. It was a matter of harassment and threats getting out of hand. I’ve always done all promotion around my music via the internet, something I had no experience with when I started doing so (somewhere around 2000-2001 I believe). It became apparent rather quickly that having even the tinyest amount of success or following also brings with it people who’d like to challenge everything you do or say. On the internet you’re always a bit anonymous, and certain people like to use that fact to do things they couldn’t get away with in real life. On occasions I had to deal with some unsavory types, and I generally ignored them. Some of these people were just malicious, others acted spiteful or even jealous, which I always regarded as strange as I wasn’t doing anything special.

These kind of people didn’t mind threatening me, and again I ignored this as best as I could. At one point though, they managed to sabotage my site and something (unrelated to music) I was working on was set back a couple months. This led me to realize that there was something fundamentally wrong with how I was working.

For most of the time that I made music, I always wanted to share that stuff, because I both enjoyed the process of writing music, and hearing the result once recorded. And beyond that simple fact, nothing mattered to me. I placed my music on various websites, and people could download it for free. I believe that helped the popularity of UDOM from the start. The next logical step was to release demos and albums, but I still wasn’t interested in money, so those things were sold almost at cost, and the music was still free to download alongside those releases. I didn’t want anything in return for my music, because I never wrote it for that purpose. The music existed because I needed it, because it helped me in many ways. Sharing it, and learning how there are people who not only enjoy it, but claim that it helped them as well, was a small part of the joy I got out of doing this (and yes, I’m well aware that this is doom metal, but I find my own music to be uplifting).

There was quite some work involved in maintaining websites, uploading music, talking with fans, running the label, etc. There were also costs involved in some of that. The realization was that I was basically wasting time and money, only to get attacked in return and actually see myself getting set back in the work I was doing. Not only that, but the attack was basically a result of me releasing music, yet targeted at something completely unrelated. I didn’t like the idea that, whatever else I’do in any creative field, would be targeted by certain idiots who couldn’t stand me or my music. I had some success in such a field, and was building upon that, only to see that get attacked.

I can still write music and enjoy it, without the need to release it. As I said, it’s great to learn that others feel similar about the stuff I’ve created, but that’s balanced out quickly by the negatives of being attacked, being forced to defend myself increasingly more often against people who willingly spread false information to try and ruin the reputation I had build up over the years. So why should I spend time and effort releasing music, when that step doesn’t help me in any way and in fact ends up damaging my work? Wouldn’t it be more interesting and efficient to skip the recording/releasing step, and just write more music? That’s the question I asked myself.

If I had known, somewhere in 2000, when I put the first UDOM stuff online, that things would end up like they did, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, despite all the fantastic experiences along the road. Even though I could have continued writing music after deciding to end UDOM, I never ended up doing that. I haven’t picked up my guitar in years. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s all gone and not coming back, and that in turn has made me consider to start again. It’s definitely been a huge loss to me, after all, I worked on music nearly every day, full-time for something like 14 years. I gave up a lot to be able to do that. Having to throw all that away wasn’t painless.

I considered releasing stuff in a different way, completely anonymous, but there I realized that I might as well not bother, if I have to go out of my way to make sure nothing can be traced back to me as a person. I still like that idea, though, because it allows people to experience that music without knowing who made it, or how many people were involved in creating it.
I have plenty of unreleased material, and a bunch of stuff in various stages of completion on top of that, as well as a couple of new things. Perhaps one day I might put it online, but for the time being I’m doing other things.

MV - What are you interests outside of music?

SVC - I’ve always read a lot, mostly science fiction and fantasy, though over the past couple years I’ve barely found the time for that. Next to that, I’ve been interested in science and technology, mainly theoretical astrophysics, but again, lately I have less and less time to keep up-to-date on what’s happening in this field.
Computer games are a big interest of mine as well, not just as pure entertainment, but also the programming and mechanics behind them.

MV - If you could see any concert in the world what would your ideal line up be?

SVC - That’s really hard to say. My favorite live material is all old stuff (Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Deep Purple), that, if performed today, wouldn’t sound anything like it did 30-40 years ago. I’m really out of touch with today’s music, even metal and doom, but generally I felt that such music is best experienced by myself.
One thing that would be quite an experience to see live, would be some of Arvo Part’s works, especially those involving choirs.

MV - Thank you for letting me interview you. Do you have any parting words?

SVC - A pleasure, it’s been a while since I’ve done this. Some advice perhaps for anyone trying to be creative, no matter their goals or how serious they take it : keep at it. I feel that genuine creativity is underrated. Art these days is made up of building blocks that are known to sell well, and if it doesn’t sell, it apparently has no value. I think the opposite is true. Mankind’s mental evolution needs creativity.

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Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:44 pm
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Post Re: 2015 Stijn van Cauter interview

I believe that's the last of my old interviews. I'm embarrassed that I'd forgotten it. I'm glad UDOM is back in action!

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Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:54 pm
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Post Re: 2015 Stijn van Cauter interview

That was a fantastic read, thanks a lot for it!

Weird how you caught him just before he became active with music again, really glad he did not gave up=)


Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:53 am
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Post Re: 2015 Stijn van Cauter interview

klamerin wrote:
That was a fantastic read, thanks a lot for it!

Weird how you caught him just before he became active with music again, really glad he did not gave up=)



Thanks and I agree. I love his music.

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Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:25 pm
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