Denial of all existence? All that has happened is senseless and in vain?
I would like to introduce for this new Solar Lodge issue beside our label bands the artist Lapis Exilis and his music and art. He joined the Solar Lodge convention in September 2019 and performed new songs from his current album “Nihil” which was self-published in August 2019.
Lapis Exilis, before I will ask you about your music: when dealing with you and your person there is fast a distinct impression. A multitalented guy. Ambitious, in-depth and ambitious. What are your sources, which “art career” can you briefly describe to us? Lapis Exilis: I just don’t let my lack of skill, experience or proper equipment Keep me from doing something when entering new territory, even though initial results might be terrible and usually are. With time and experimentation, results get better. There are a handful of people whose honest opinions I value very much and who are patient enough to take a look at my stuff from time to time. And there’s the net with lots of useful info, tutorials and inspiration to read and watch. So basically I try things and see if it works for me.
I’m not overly ambitious though. At least not anymore. I’m doing this thing, let’s call it art. If it takes me somewhere without having to compromise too much, that’s great, but I’m content either way.
Actual I don’t speak or write about “discoveries of the year” but in case of Lapis Exilis I have to. The song “Black one” from your release album “Hexagram” was my first impression. I saw your video and followed the tunes. Just outstanding! “She is the keeper of the gate…she’s the black one, mother, destroyer”. This song is an unique atmospheric one, dark, floating, mysterious. Please tell us something about its genesis. Lapis Exilis: It’s Kali. I often get inspired reading about occult topics, trying to understand the meaning or rather paint a mental picture that can be integrated into my cosmos. In my conception, one central aspect of Kali is to serve as the liberator. She may seem cruel and scary at first. So does change and transformation. It may be the stripping of the flesh or simply of an illusion or delusion. It horrifies and hurts. We often cling to prisons we’re used to, the pain we know. But once released, we may realize that the act that seemed cruel and caused fear, was an act of love after all. Kali, the Black One, is an agent of this process. But Black One also deals with complementary symbols, aspects and meanings related to Kali, mostly of a female Saturnian nature.
Your music is combined with an extraordinary style and your appearance is often with women: as dancers, female vocals. Are some of them permanent members of Lapis Exilis? Lapis Exilis: Nothing’s ever permanent. LAPIS EXILIS isn’t a band or a project, just a pseudonym under which I create stuff. Part of that is working with other people. Mira and Marijana are not only great singers but talented artists that I love to work with and I’m happy they like to work with me. But I’ve also been working with other artists. As long as we’re all pleased, we’ll likely continue doing stuff together.
Why often female? One reason would be timbre, a different coloring. Same with visual representation. And symbolically of course. Male and female are important concepts in occultism that go far beyond physical gender. The male parts I can portray myself, so it makes sense to work with female couterparts on many if not most occasions. It depends on the specific project eventually.
By following your social media appearance, you share often your ideas and reflections concerning your live performances, e.g. your masks. You make the masks yourself. What’s its mission? Distance, mystery, fictional character, yourself? A mix of all? Lapis Exilis: The masks are a means of anonymity. They have a special significance because they replace the face of course, but they also particularly occupied me because they partially impede sight. I had to learn how to make them so I could still see enough of what I’m doing. This took many attempts during which I experimented with materials and styles. In comparison to make-up, masks have the advantage of me being able to instantly put them on or take them off, so it seemed the more efficient way to go. And I can put a lot more effort into making a mask than would be feasible with makeup.
There are several reasons why I prefer to stay anonymous… or rather under pseudonym. It’s an artistic choice, it’s protection in several ways… there’s quite a pro list.
In regard to my stage performances there’s a challenge that we’re currently working to overcome. When you have a band of people performing on stage, there’s usually lots of stuff happening that makes it interesting to watch. I can’t do much of a visual performance alone because I’m already occupied with singing, playing and switching. I don’t think that fills a stage sufficiently, so I’ve been reflecting ways to make it work better.
Hexagram was released in 2017 and contains 7 songs. You are the singer, guitarist, producer. How long did it take you to record your debut album? Lapis Exilis: It was produced within a time span of about two and a half months after Cleopatra told me they’d publish it.
What is the main challenge for you while recording a whole album? Lapis Exilis: Since I’m usually recording live on a single stereo track, it takes a while to get a take I’d want to put on an album and there’s no “fix it in the mix”. The premastering is always a big challenge for me, too. You can work around the disadvantages of not having a treated mastering studio, but not having the required distance – the “set of fresh ears” – is quite a challenge. I’m mostly getting somewhere nevertheless, though I surely could have it easier.
Is your debut album “Hexagram” a concept album? Am I wrong to say there are various levels in understanding your texts? Lapis Exilis: Yes and no. It’s not a concept album in the usual sense, but it debuts the concept of LAPIS EXILIS, which is in itself quite cohesive.
Most occult concepts deal with symbolism and several layers of meaning – which is perfectly necessary. Taking inspiration from it surely translates into my lyrics. I usually have a clear vision of what I want to express – a strong idea, but I try not to narrow the lyrics down too much. Neither am I trying to be deliberately vague.
Would you agree? Lapis Exilis style is: synth-electronic, atmospheric-dark, suspended, disturbing and sometimes driftingpop? Any other attributes? Disagreeing? Lapis Exilis: I’d disagree about the synth-electronic part. Some of the beat loops contain sampled drum synths, but apart from that, I’m using guitars and effects… distortion, delay, modulation, tons of reverb. There’s one song – In Silence – that has a synth melody in it, which is again controlled by the guitar. But you may yet be right because some tracks sure have a synth-electronic feel to them.
I see the importance of giving a linguistic impression of your musicto people that haven’t heard it. I’m just not good at it, maybe partly because I don’t want to tie myself down.
For a first listener: which song would you recommend to approach and understand your work/music? Lapis Exilis: I think Storm is a good representation. It’s got a mix of prevalentelements I use. To understand what I’m doing… well, not really sure what that means. But if you do, tell me all about it.
One of my personal favorite song is also “Here comes the night” from the Hexagram album. Your lyrics are to find on your website. Your voice is multi-faceted, in this song it feels very melodic, almost elated, although the text has a gloomy message. In which mood did you write this song? Was there a special experience during many nights? Lapis Exilis: I’d prefer to let the song tell that story. It’s a mood, a state of mind… If you’ve been there, you can relate, and probably most have at some point. But I can tell you that I got up in the middle of another sleepless night to write it.
You offer a lot of art: music, layout, videos, pictures. Consistent style with recognition. All seems so coherent and sophisticated. To form the band Lapis Exilis…was it a decision to bring together all the expressions of art that drive you? Lapis Exilis: Thank you. It’s a decision every time. I do what I feel represents my overall vision. Of course that’s always subject to change as I try different approaches or get enough distance to be able to tell if something worked or not. Since I’m doing most of the stuff myself, its relative consistency simply stems from my preferences, experience, workflow…
Lapis Exilis. Just a few thoughts about your band name. “The stone coming from heaven?” Philosopher’s Stone? (concerning Wolfram von Eschenbach) Please let us something know about its meaning. Lapis Exilis: It’s a myth. There’s no canonical version, not even an acknowledged spelling or translation. One version says it’s a gem that broke from Lucifer’s crown when the rebellious angels were cast from Heaven, another relates it to the Tabula Smaragdina containing Hermetic knowledge, another to the Lapis philosophorum… As I see it, it’s a symbol for occult, maybe somewhat forbidden knowledge. Don’t we all want to understand the nature of existence?
For those who saw you on stage already know about your special performance with live-loopings, vocals, guitar playing, what a sophisticated performance. How could I imagine, how are your rehearsals are like? Lapis Exilis: Pretty much the same as what you see on stage. The only difference is that I don’t use a PA, just in-ear monitors. If I rehearse with another singer, we both use in-ear monitors. If there’s a guest listener, she or he wears headphones.
You play an 8-string guitar I call it a “hybrid” one. The sound is different, guitar and bass in one? How exactly did this choice of instruments come about? Lapis Exilis: Saw an used one for sale once and bought it, just out of interest. It became relevant later when I started with LAPIS EXILIS, realizing I didn’t need an extra bass that way. Very happy with it, much fun to play, lots of potential.
“Nihil” is your current album. It was self-published in August 2019. How did it feel for you, to perform the new songs from this album at the Solar Lodge convention in Oberhausen in September 2019? Lapis Exilis: It was a beautiful event. The songs on Nihil weren’t new for me though. The only song that I specifically wrote for the album was “Butterfly”. The other songs I’ve already been playing live for quite a while, so I can’t say it felt much different this time. Routine’s a bitch.
“My nothing seems to be the crown, my everything seems to be my fool’s cap.” A nihilist: lives out his preferences and virtues, has a rejection of social values, lives existence without meaning? Lapis Exilis: Meaning can be attached to anything, making it mostly arbitrary. So many things that seemed vitally important at the time turned out to be utterly irrelevant or even obstructive. How many are right now? What significance has a dream once you’ve woken up? What was the question?
Are there any plans to make your next live performances differently? Lapis Exilis: Yes, we’re experimenting with acting and dance performances. Where and when we’ll do it live depends on venue size and other factors. And it’ll take some time to work it out and develop it of course.
If you could decide to be part of a well-known festival. Do you have a special one in mind? If so, why this festival? Or do you prefer single gigs? Lapis Exilis: Frankly, I think we have to work on a proper show first. Festivals are great to reach many people at once, but imagine a single figure in the middle of a festival stage, almost motionless… Might be a bit of a novelty, but it’d look rather awkward. Lighting can only do so much – and it actually did a great job at the Convention. Until we’re there, small to medium sized venues are my preferred choice. It does have a certain intimacy as well.
Any plans for making some new videos? “Distorted mirrors” from the “Nihil” album could be an interesting choice😉? Lapis Exilis: Lots of plans, but not so much time. I’m glad I finally managed to get the video for La Scaltra done. They already had to wait a while for me to finish the editing. As soon as I find the time, I’ll turn my plans into action. Distorted Mirrors isn’t my preference, but who knows.
Thanks for your time and for answering my questions! I really appreciate your music. Lapis Exilis: Thank you for having me, Jawa, and much success with your endeavours.