About Me

Interview with Splendidula

Atmospheric doom collective, Splendidula, was formed in 2008 and serve a cocktail of traditional doom and blistering sludge, post-metal grooves and psychedelia drones. The five-piece hailing from Genk, Belgium, have finally released their third album "Somnus", via Argonauta Records. The opus was mixed by Much Luv Studio and mastered by Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Alan Douches at West West Side Music. Metal Imperium caught up with drummer Joachim… here’s the opportunity to meet Splendidula! You won’t regret it!

M.I. - Please make a brief presentation of the band. Who plays in the band? Where are you from? 

Splendidula is a Psychedelic Post/Sludge/Doom metal band from Belgium. The lineup consists of Kristien (vocals), Pieter (guitar/vocals), David (guitar), Peter (bass) and Joachim (drums & synth programming).

M.I. - For those who aren’t familiar with you, describe Splendidula in a short sentence. 

Big riffs meet pounding beats with atmospheric passages that will lead you into a wild, heavy and psychedelic wonderland, while the bewitched vocals by Kristien and Pieter's harsh screams create a haunting vocal contrast.

M.I. - How did the idea of creating the band come up? 

Splendidula started in 2008 with a group of friends with a mutual interest: music. The band had a difficult start, with quite a few lineup changes. While previous band members often lacked time or motivation, we all look in the same direction now. We have a lot of fun together, and everything goes very smoothly and naturally when it comes to songwriting.

M.I. - The name Splendidula comes from the Latin words Lamprohiza Splendidula which means firefly but also has the word «splendid» in it. In what ways does the band identify with the firefly? What’s the connection?

Splendidula represents the brilliant, luminous nature of this insect. With our music we want to represent the mysterious and peaceful feeling that these insects express when they fly around trees or float over water at night.

M.I. - The band members are musically influenced by a wide variety of styles and genres which result in Splendidula’s sound... how would you define it? 

That’s correct, we all have very different musical tastes, making us all influence the music of Splendidula in our own way. It’s probably one of the reasons why it’s so hard to put a label on our music or to compare us to other bands. I’d say we took a typical Doom base, and accompanied it by different influences from Sludge, Post and Black Metal.

M.I. - Splendidula serve a cocktail of traditional doom and blistering sludge, post-metal grooves and psychedelia drones which results in an intriguing sound. Kristien is a charismatic vocalist with a powerful voice that along with guitarist Pieter's harsh screams create a unique vocal contrast. How did you realize this was a “winner”? How do fans react to such this intensity and variety of sound?

We started writing music without wanting to play a particular genre. For us, the atmosphere that a song radiates is more important than whether or not we fit into the box we’re put into. We’re well aware that this is not everyone’s cup of tea and that we might upset purists in the scene, but apparently most people can enjoy our versatile music. I think we just make music that is difficult to comprehend from the first listen and that it takes some effort from the listener to discover all facets. That's who we are and we'll see how the world reacts. We want to continue evolving and explore musical boundaries, without standing still, and of course we hope that our audience will show the willingness to grow with us.

M.I. - Your album “Post Mortem” was a step up from your self-titled debut album. Some say that the third album will make or break a band. Did you feel some extra pressure when you were recording and preparing it? 

Actually, we started the songwriting for “Somnus” already before the previous album “Post Mortem” was released at the end of 2018. At that point we just formed the current lineup, which resulted in a lot of new input and gave the writing process a huge boost. We feel a much greater connection with the songs on the new album compared to the ones on previous albums. These are the first songs entirely written by the new lineup and thus a perfect reflection of our ideas and thoughts. We never felt any pressure during this process, as this would’ve negatively influenced the music. 

M.I. - According to the band, after finishing your previous album "Post Mortem", you immediately started thinking about a concept for the next release. The contrast of dreamy soundscapes with bewitched vocals, followed by heavy riffs and aggressive screams, brought you towards the idea of spirituality and "Somnus" was born. Did the album turn out the way you expected it to?

Yes, we’re extremely happy with how it turned out. In the first place, we have to thank Gero from Argonauta Records for this, because he supported us in all the choices we made. We wanted to create a concept album with a deeper meaning, where both the music, lyrics and artwork form a coherent entity.

M.I. - In Roman mythology, Somnus is the personification of sleep. You wanted the compositions to tell the listener a story about dream shapes, nightmares and how this connects to the (un)real world. Have you accomplished that?

I think we did, and to further ratify this, I will explain the concept a bit further. In Roman mythology, the God Somnus has a thousand sons, the Somnia, who appear in our dreams in many forms. These can be human forms, beasts or inanimate objects. The first song on the album called “Somnia” already connects with this and the song “Drocht” e.g.  tells a story about one of the Somnia who takes the shape of a beast and appears somewhere between dreams and reality. This is also represented in the video that was released for this single. All songs on the album are connected to this concept in one way or another.

M.I. - Who wrote the lyrics for it? What do they deal with?

The lyrics were mainly written by our lead vocalist Kristien, complemented by Pieter’s own lyrics for his vocal parts. This resulted in intimate lyrics about personal feelings and experiences, open to interpretation and with enough space to express emotions.

M.I. - What’s the connection between the title, the tracks and the artwork?

We decided to go for a really somber, yet very meaningful style of monochromatic art, to connect further with the concept of dreaming. Actually, a part of the population dreams solely in black and white, and a lot of theories suggest that people tend to dream in black and white when they experience something traumatic. After overcoming that difficult period, colours are gradually returning. We found this connection between dreams and reality very intriguing.

M.I. - The artwork is really beautiful but what’s the message behind the face and the wing? 

The cover artwork is drawn by our guitarist David, and is a representation of Somnus, who is often seen in Roman mythology with one or two wings attached to his head. In addition to the cover artwork, he created a work of art for every song, to make a visual reflection. These are included in the physical versions of the album (CD and vinyl).

M.I. - "Somnus" was mixed by Much Luv Studio and mastered by Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Alan Douches at West West Side Music. How did the whole process take place? Was it done during the pandemic?

We were so satisfied with our new songs that we only wanted to work with the best people around. It was a real pleasure to work with Tim De Gieter from Much Luv Studio. He has already done wonderful productions for bands like Brutus, Amenra, etc., and managed to enhance our sound exactly in the right direction. Alan Douches from West West Side Music (Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, Zeal & Ardor, etc.) has delivered what we expected from him with his endless list of references: pure perfection. The production of the new album was actually just finished at the start of the pandemic, but it caused the album to be released with a reasonable delay.

M.I. - This will be your first album to be released through Argonauta Records. What are your expectations regarding that? Do you think it will help increase sales?

We only have positive thoughts about Argonauta Records and really like to work with Gero. He has a really professional attitude and we respect him a lot for running the label whole by himself. We could already see the sales increasing when we announced our collaboration and couldn’t have dreamed of such a successful pre-order campaign.

M.I. - How did the deal with them come up? Did you get offers from other labels?

We have been very selective when contacting labels. It was also a very bad timing to approach record companies, since the pandemic just started at that moment. For that reason, we initially waited a bit to see how the situation evolved. After a few months we carefully started looking and ended up at Argonauta Records, who immediately offered us an interesting collaboration. He was already familiar with our music when we got in contact so the collaboration was smoothly established.

M.I. - You’re now also being managed by All Noir which is a major help in promotion… where do Splendidula intend to be in a year from now? Worldwide tours and fame? What do you hope will change for the band?

We’re really lucky that we got the opportunity to collaborate with Mona from All Noir, who’s doing a great job promoting our album. We don’t crave for fame, but instead we’re grateful for every new fan who joins as a result of this promo campaign. We want to stay down-to-earth, especially in these difficult times. We’ll just keep on doing what we like to do, which is creating atmospheric music, continuing to evolve and exploring musical boundaries.

M.I. - Now that the release date is coming near, January 29th… are you getting more and more nervous or do you try not to think about it?

It’s already been a week now since our release day and I can only say that we were extremely busy around that time, which is also the reason why it took me a while to answer this interview… :-) We’re extremely dedicated and are working on it every single day. On a daily basis we try to keep our social media up to date, fulfill orders and build interaction with the fans, as this is also very important to us. In the weekend of the release e.g. we did a road trip in the Northern part of Belgium to deliver most of the pre-orders personally. In this way we could still meet up with the fans now that concerts are still on hold. It was worth every minute, the appreciation we got from the fans was huge! 

M.I. - “Post Mortem” was so well received that it resulted in an series of shows, supporting acts such as Wiegedood, Wolvennest, Haunted, Soul Grip, The Fifth Alliance, Famyne, Alunah, Mist, Marche Funèbre, Atomic Vulture, Ashtoreth, Grotto, Killer, Lugubrum, Paragon Impure, Kosmokrator... how will promotion take place for this album? You already have a show scheduled for the 13th March… will it still happen?

2019 and the beginning of 2020 were really awesome for us when it comes to concerts. We expected to continue on this path, but I guess we’ll have to be patient and look for other ways to promote our new album. We had a lot more time to prepare the release, focusing mainly on promotion via social media and interaction with the fans. We’re getting better at it every day and it seems that all the efforts are paying off in the end. 
About that show on 13t of March: It was initially planned for October 2020 and now we just keep on postponing it until the situation gets better. It’s pretty sure that 13th of March won’t happen, but hope springs eternal.

M.I. - Are you booking anything else or are you going to wait until it is “safe” to do so because of the virus? 

Like many other bands, we had to cancel most of the gigs that were planned in 2020. It was a real bummer, as it takes a lot of time to plan all these shows, but I think everyone has suffered losses and compared to some others, we can’t complain. We were lucky enough to play 3 sold-out shows in February and September 2020, where we could already play some of our new songs. We’re not planning too much yet for 2021, as it’s still uncertain how the pandemic will evolve in the coming months, and we want to spare ourselves the disappointment. We will have to wait and see what the future will bring for any release shows or a subsequent album promo tour.

M.I. - The band has grown a lot due to the intense live activity… now with the coronavirus, how are you coping with the lack of concerts and festivals? How are you dealing with the situation?

We just tried to get over it and looked for creative solutions to deal with this situation. For the moment it’s not possible to get together to rehearse, so I made rehearsal backing tracks for everyone using our recording sessions from the album. In this way we can practice at home until rehearsing is possible again. We also took our time to create a quarantine video during the first wave and put extra time and effort in producing unique and qualitative videos for the 2 singles on the album (“Somnia” and “Drocht). We also try to interact more with the fans through social media and we feel that all our efforts are being appreciated.

M.I. - If you can’t go out and play, do you think you’ll use your time to create new material and eventually release it? Or will you just take the time to relax?

We’re already busy creating new music, but since we mainly write together in the rehearsal room, it’s not that easy. That doesn’t mean we’re just relaxing of course. Slowly but steady we adapt ourselves to this new situation, introducing new ways of songwriting, which can only enrich our creativity and give us more strength to continue once the situation gets better. 

M.I. - What do Splendidula expect to achieve in the near future?

Right now, we’re mainly focusing on our new release. We certainly can't complain about our online merch sales and pre-orders over the past few months. The absence of live performances has clearly driven people to buy more online, which we can only encourage. We will have to wait and see what the future will bring for any other plans.

M.I. - All the best to Splendidula! May 2021 be a great year for you! Please share a final message to the readers of Metal Imperium. 

Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity! I also would like to thank everyone who supported us so far, and for the readers who are not familiar with Splendidula: feel free to check our music and send us your thoughts.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca