About Me

Interview with Val Atra Niteris (Frowning)

Frowning is the name of the solo project by singer and multi-instrumentalist, Val Atra Niteris. With a very rich Doom sound, there is a lot to discover in this recently released “Death Requiem”. An exceptional album!

M.I. - Hi there. Thanks so much for this opportunity. First things first, why did you decide for this name?

Hello. Thanks for having me. Well actually I did come up with the name “Val” which is a nickname of my actual name. But I quickly realized that “Val” is a very common name for a band. One day, I listened to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and heard the line ”People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time.” And I was like “Well that sounds like me.” I do frown a lot. So, I decided to take it as band name because it fits perfectly with my personality and the music as well.

M.I. - “Death Requiem” is the name of this new album. Why and was it difficult to come up with the name? Did you have more names to choose from?

I don’t know what my exact thought was when I came up with the name, but I thought it comforts the music very well, there’s no deeper meaning about it, I guess.

M.I. - Your genre is Funeral Doom Metal, a subgenre in Doom. Are you fascinated by death and what it represents? Does this album have some meaning about the times we’re living?

Actually, I’m not that fascinated by death, I think for my lyrics and music I use it more as a metaphorical element. The album itself no. But the song “Apocalyptic Essential Misery” does have a relation to the times we’re living. It’s about how humanity is ruining the world and that there is no way out, because we drove it too far. We are the apocalypse cause someday there will be nothing left, all the things we had on this earth will be destroyed by the human race.

M.I. - When we hear this album, church organs take an important role in it. Is this instrument difficult to play? Have you studied it? Does it take years to learn or is it easier than any key instrument?

It is damn difficult to play. I don’t even know how to play it. Sure, it’s more difficult to play than regular key instruments, because you also have to play keys on pedals with your feet. On this album I only used midi samples and played all the phrases with a keyboard. On “Extinct” was a real church organ but father helped me out on that. He is an educated church musician who is playing church organ for about 40 years. 

M.I. - Did you play all the instruments, or did you have other people to help you?

On “Death Requiem” I did all the instruments by myself. On former albums, I had features sometimes with other instruments such as church organ or cello.

M.I. - 6 tracks are featured on this album. How did you choose these songs? Have you written more songs that you intend to release in the near future? Maybe in Latin?

Well it was a longer process to get the songs for this album together. Let’s do it in order:
“The Sound Of Abandonment” was written in August 2019 out of a situation I felt very lonely about – that’s how the name came up. It was a very quick writing I think I totally completed this song with two sessions. I had a good musical inspiration cause at that time I just discovered the genius album “The Incubus Of Karma” by Mournful Congregation. You definitely can hear the influence of MC on the song especially in the outro.
“Submerged In Emptiness” is a song that I wrote in January 2015 which was inspired by the German Funeral Doom band “Worship” the lyrics was written in 2020 when I decided to take the song on the new album.
“Apocalyptic Essential Misery” was the most difficult song for me to write cause I just came up with the breakdown part in the middle of the song and had to write around that part.
It took me months to get the song finished cause I really wanted to hold the gloomy but powerful atmosphere without sounding too monotonous.
“Reflection” by As I Lay Dying is a song which always had so much potential for something dark and heavy. I really liked the sad and tragic atmosphere in it, so I decided to do it in my own Funeral Doom style. First it was only experimenting but when I had the instruments finished I thought it was so cool to have a Funeral Doom cover of a Metalcore song I needed to get it on the album.
“The Threnody” by Aphonic Threnody is a song I wanted to re-do in my own style for about 4 years. I really liked what Ric wrote and also the melancholic style, but I always felt like this song has so much more potential and I really wanted to do a ultra-heavy slow Funeral Doom version – so I did. It was a little bit difficult to get some parts and I changed some chords a bit but the result is very satisfying.
“Ad Finem” was a very spontaneous idea that I had when I was doing keys for another song and discovered the harmonies of the intro. The song was written within half an hour.

M.I. - What was more difficult for you? The lyrics or the music? What were your main influences, while recording the album?

Lyrics definitely! I’m not good at writing or even articulate myself when I talk. I always prefer to communicate with music cause it’s something that fits me. My main influence on the album were: Mournful Congregation, Worship and Lycus.

M.I. - You’ve cooperated with two labels: GSP and Silent Time Noise. Why two? Do you know any bands of this genre, that have worked with them, since they work with this particular genre? Anyone you like? Will you consider signing with anyone?

Vitaly of GSP is someone I have worked with for a couple of years that’s why I decided to go with GSP. He’s also the one who offered to cooperate with Silent Time Noise as well.
I would sign a label under the right conditions but since Wretched Records, I didn’t have a label that offered me the conditions I need so I prefer to just cooperate or do all the things on my own.

M.I. - Who created the album cover and where is the place that we see in it? 

The picture was made by a photographer called “Parilov” I only edited the picture. I don’t know the name of the church or the place of it.  

M.I. - Aphonic Threnody’s debut album: "First Funeral" was a huge influence for you. Why and in what way did it have an impact on you?

I really liked the melancholy on the album. When you listen to it, it makes you fade into grey and that’s something I really appreciate. 

M.I. - Which albums were more difficult: “Funeral Impressions”, “Extinct” or this one? Musically or lyrically speaking?

I don’t know. I guess “Funeral Impressions” was the most relaxed one to make.
“Extinct” was difficult in some way because I wanted it to sound much heavier than on my debut and on “Death Requiem” I struggled so hard with the mix and other things, that I’d say it was the most difficult album to produce.

M.I. - You have a project called Druorg. Your father played the church organ on “God Beware”. Do tell us the origin of it and do you plan to release an album?

Actually, we had this project already for more than 12 years, but we never released a song we just played concerts. There will be a whole album coming, the recordings already started.

M.I. - Do you plan to do a tour to present the album? Will you bring any guests? 

Yes, I plan concerts for sure but during the current situation it could be difficult to play a lot.
But let’s see what the future brings. If someone wants me to play in their club, they can contact me via fb or my e-mail: frowning@gmx.de

M.I. - What is your favourite Metal genre? What bands do you like? If anyone wanted to know more about Funeral Doom Metal, which bands/singers would you recommend?

Funeral Doom for sure. But I don’t listen to Metal in general that much. Only Funeral Doom and some picked bands out of other Metal genres.
My favourite Funeral Doom bands beside the mentioned in my inspirations are ARCHE, Aphonic Threnody, Nortt. Other artists from other genres that I really enjoy: System Of A Down, Misfits (Graves era), As I Lay Dying (only the first 3 albums), Black Sabbath, Black Sun Aeon, CCR, Type O Negative, This Will Destroy You, Astralia, Sinamore, Hypocrisy,  Ólafur Arnalds, Winger, Ghost Dance, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Frederic Chopin and many more.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda