Interview With P. Emerson Williams of Veil Of Thorns in Fight Amnesia Magazine, Germany:
PETER EMERSON WILLIAMS is the mastermind behind the electronic Goth band VEIL OF THORNS and the Black Metal project CHORONZON. He is furthermore active as an artist, whose drawnings are inspired by Magic and Nature. His works bear, as you will find out yourselves, a quite dark and obscure character. We were interested in Peter’s creative work both as an artist and as a musician, and here’s what we’ve found out…
Ave Satanas: You come originally from Norway. How did you land in the USA and how do you feel today about this change?
Emerson: Actually, I was born in the States but grew up in Norway. I came here with my family when I was sixteen because my mother wanted to go back to where she came from. We’d been gone for about a decade without so much as a visit, so it was quite a shock coming back, especially for me, having been so young when we moved to Norway.
I feel it’s always good to add to ones experience, so I generally feel I benefited from the move. I do see myself settling in Norway to live out my life, however. It took leaving to show me how much I love Norway.
Ave Satanas:You seem to be quite annoyed about the American way of life. Which do you think is the main reason that culture is slowly dying and its place is taken by the obsession of consuming and just living a “comfortable” life?
Emerson: A comfortable life is not that easy to achieve in the States. Here is no culture, only corporate product. Those doing worthwhile work have no hope of making a living. The average American is washed of any semblance of individuality and initiative in school and through popular culture.
Ave Satanas: Is there a connection between your lyrics, your music and your drawings? Do you consider your whole work as a concept or is there some part which you consider more important than the other?
Emerson: I consider them to be parts of a whole, none of which would be the same if I weren’t doing all.
Ave Satanas: Your two musical projects, namely Veil Of Thorns and Choronzon, are quite different to each other. The first is a more Goth oriented band, the second, your solo Black Metal project. Which are the parallels between those two acts? Did you miss something with VoT, which forced you to form Choronzon?
Emerson: Choronzon is more of a ritual persona than a band, allowing me total indulgence with no regard to convention. I know that, as a listener, I like a particular release to flow naturally from beginning to end, and I don’t think this would be possible to pull off with all these various sounds and moods on a single release. I’m not trying to be an industrial Zappa or Gothic Mr. Bungle.
Some of the Choronzon songs are written as Qabbalistic exercises performed as rituals, time-signature and harmonies invoking elements and elemental spirits. Choronzon is gnosis and Veil of Thorns is myth. Both are equally important and complimentary.
Ave Satanas: Which are the main feelings you want to transport through your music and lyrics?
Emerson: Peace, sorrow, fear, mourning, anger, tension, orgasm, grandeur, debasement, transcendence, elation, immediacy, joy, disorientation, claustrophobia; love under Will. This is why we cannot be defined by the compilation tracks and singles…
Ave Satanas: Where can people get your music and are there any plans for album releases and any distribution updates?
Emerson: You can get the music of both projects direct from us at Foamin’ Bone Productions, as well as T-shirts bearing the design from the cover of the single and stickers. The “Lust Beyond Flesh” 7″ is available from Nightbreed in the UK, Torture Records in California and Northern Darkness Records in Italy. We have a full-length recorded, needing only somebody to put it out. We’ll be doing a limited edition vinyl pressing of this anyway, because we like vinyl.
A lot of people misunderstand the meaning of magick as something that is directed against human existence. What is for you the most precious character of magick and how does it influence you as a thinking being?Damn, do you want to devote the rest of your ‘zine to this question? Certainly, what is essential is this: attain the knowledge and conversation of your Guardian Angel. Achieve this, cross the Abyss and all else will be apparent. All we do is Magick, for good or for ill, whether we like it or not. Good and evil come together like the supreme ecstasy of Hadit and Nuit.So, you do believe in the reconciliation of the opposites, conscious / unconscious, good / evil, man / woman, crystal / amorphous, etc.?
As I mentioned earlier, the joining of Hadit and Nuit, the annihilation of duality into zero. The way I approach the creative process is to go into a trance, let my unconscious pour out its divine insight, then to refine it by myself or with Chris. When you hear Veil of Thorns or Choronzon you hear this concept both implicitly and explicitly. Ritual grew largely out of this need within human beings.
Ave Satanas: You said at an interview with “Ghastly” that the Ocean and the water in general is very important and inspirative for your work. For many Ancient Cultures water used to have a mystical character. It is also the symbol of the unknown regions of the psyche. Furthermore, it is a symbol of the Feminine. So, what does water represent for you in your works?
Emerson: What you just said includes so much of what draws me to water that all I can add is the beauty of drowning.
Ave Satanas: Apos Pantos Kakodaimonos Let’s talk a little about the development of the Norse Black Metal scene. As an artist, how do you consider the fact that a part of the Arts’ history, namely churches, are burnt down by Black Metal fans?
Emerson: I would certainly prefer that they got rich, bought these churches to live in and to banish Christ the Vampire from these places through sexual pagan rites. More witches, real and accused, were killed by the Inquisition than Jews were exterminated by the Nazis.
Ave Satanas: We’re still dealing with this legacy, so many irrational actions will manifest until we face this issue head on. The ethnicity of various European cultures was killed by the Zombification process of the Church and embalmed and mummified by the modern consumer culture of America. These are people striking out in pain and anger. I understand their motivation, but I choose other tactics.
Emerson: Yeah, but fanatics just cannot deal with open-mindedness and with tolerating each other’s thoughts and feelings. Everything that is controlled and directed by someone is endangered to lose its personal identity…
If we weren’t brought up to conform we couldn’t be vulnerable to the pressures of those we surround ourselves with. The fact that we need laws shows the extent to which we’re inferior to the other creatures. Fanatics can deal with their own thoughts and feelings even less than they can deal with the thoughts and feelings of others. It comes down to not being able to handle the responsibility of being an adult. It shows a real lack of strength of character to need to adhere to a dogma or moral code. If you need an outside reference to navigate your moral landscape you never bothered to learn the lay of the land to begin with! A good place to clarify individuality as opposed to selfishness is to look into what Ayn Rand said about the difference between egoism and egotism.
Ave Satanas: Do you think that hate can be a creative force to people? We believe that hate is a weakness to which a person might be driven because of “stern” belief.
Emerson: Ah, but you might hate those whose fanaticism drives them to actions which you find repugnant. Hate is such a human emotion. My being, contained as it is by this primate vessel it is, isn’t totally immune from such foibles as hatred. To quote the Vampire: “By our fruits shall you know us”. The results of the actions of hate determine the value judgements we place upon them. I hate the Christ and the stifling mediocrity of the Average
Ave Satanas: Don’t you think that each person has to discover his/her own world, without being led by any ideologies but only by the hunger to learn and to advance
Emerson: I have nothing to add but an emphatic YES! Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Ave Satanas: The fall of fear eliminates the life that was” is a text line of yours. Do you consider this fall as an esoteric process or could it also appear as a revolutionary force?
Emerson: This was part of a litany within the poem “Tear the Cities Down”, which maps the progress of the Adept. This particular line IS the revolutionary force. It appears only in that brief moment before action, thus far in modern history, only to descend back into the authoritarian and oppressively dogmatic. There are many steps beyond this point, destructive and ultimately creative. This impulse has yet to lead to a better life on a greater scale because fear has yet to fall. So far fear has only tripped. Individuals can tap into this truth very easily, though.
Ave Satanas: Your arts seem to be inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, as there are some references to Cadath and to the mad Arab. Are you fascinated by these works because of their revealing the unknown and is there for you a kind of philosophy about life in them?
Emerson: Aesthetically, I find the fantasies of Lovecraft appealing. I also find the rites detailed in the Necronomicon put out by Avon books to be entertaining, but I’ve not included these elements into my Magick except to throw in an element of Chaos. I never referred to the mad Arab in a song, but I referred to Kadath only to say that I’ve ventured beyond that fabled destination.
Ave Satanas: You said once that you are fascinated by physics and quantum mechanics. What does Chaos mean for you?
Emerson: Chaos represents the Tao. To approach it with a rigid pre-conception has you perishing with the Dogs of Reason. Even to calculate the course of the nearest celestial bodies to a modest degree of accuracy takes the calculations of more elements than possible to conceive of. Of so much greater complexity then, must be the behaviour of sub-atomic particles, or the elements of a ritual. To make anything work one must learn to let go. This is true of learning proficiency of even the most mundane task. Order from Chaos is celebration of Chaos. Attempt at order seems only to lead to greater chaos, showing that nothing exists but Chaos.
Ave Satanas: Gothic is often set equal with the adoration of vampires, etc.? Don’t you think that Gothic is something deeper than that?
Emerson: Indeed! I’ve never had even the smallest interest in vampires. This is a decadent life style driven by aesthetics. It involves Magick and a dark romanticism. Vampire stories are cartoon versions of this.
Gothic fiction and Romanticism often describe a journey, during which one discovers the dark and hidden parts of his mind. Tell us about the dark side which you’ve discovered through your work…
To gaze into the unknown one must let go of the fears we’re burdened with from our upbringing. To live without fear of the Devil and what resides within one’s own heart is reward enough for the WORK. To follow the path with no concern as to what works or achieves results will give one this much. Often I look back on something I’ve done and discover something I hadn’t realised consciously spelled out more eloquently than I could have done through deliberate effort. This vast insight and wisdom doesn’t always prevent my explosive outbursts of frustration at the uselessness of our fellow vermin all the time, but it keeps down the escalation of outrage at my fellow humans and the acts that would follow.
Ave Satanas: Do you consider a museum or a gallery as a final stage of the process of Art or do you think that Art keeps developing even after the work leaves the hands of its creator?
Emerson: Everybody brings something different to a work of art, so the process never ends. I get something different out of my work when I look at it or listen to it, than I get when I create it. One of these is often more fulfilling than the other, hence the large pile of stuff that will never see the light of day. Then again, I’ve discovered many times that I like something I rejected at the time I made it after checking it out later on. No state is permanent, even for fixed objects. This adds to the beauty of existence.
Ave Satanas: Did you have the chance to exhibit your works to the public? Any books and projects in which you were involved as an illustrator
Emerson: The only book so far is the Concupiscence book, the release of which I await with increasing impatience. I would welcome the chance to work with poets and other writers, both as an illustrator and as the cover artist. I don’t consider anything I’ve done to be illustration, since all I’ve done so far has been to do whatever comes into my head and then let the editors use the drawings as they saw fit.
Picture of Peter E. WilliamsOne thing coming up is my work for the Irish Pagan Metal band Primordial. Keep an eye on this excellent band both for their beautiful music and my visual input. I do intend to pursue doing CD covers, T-shirts and other things for bands and record companies I like in the future. I’ve had a few exhibitions of my paintings and I intend to pursue this more aggressively in the future.
Besides all that, all I’ve done was sets for a few theatre productions and designing a room for the reptile house of a local zoo. This was cool because I got to hang out with Iggy the iguana and listen to “The Reptile House” EP all summer while I was painting a rainforest.
Ave Satanas: You’ve just spoke about your excitement by the “Concupiscense Book”, kinda book of alternative erotica. We never saw this book, it probably deals with S/M, Fetish, etc., So, what about all these tendencies which are slowly invading the Goth scene? We believe that this is a quite superficial translation of the SPIRITUAL sexuality of Gothic Arts and Literature.
Emerson: Let them play. I see this as part of exploring one’s hidden desires. How shallow this is will vary from individual to individual, depending on the depth of each person. My girlfriend agrees with you, but I see no problem in expressing oneself sexually however one likes, nor of bringing that expression into the scene as long as nobody feels obligated to engage in anything one is uncomfortable with to fit in. I think fetish and S/M can add to the beauty and profundity of the Gothic experience if one approaches it the right way, just as it can be powerful in ritual practice.
Ave Satanas: Would you like to tell us a few words about the problems you’ve faced as a young artist so far?
Emerson: The biggest problem has been the necessity to endeavour to get my work out to people, something I’ve mostly ignored in favour of spending all my time creating. This gets easier as I find people I like and respect who can help me with this and who encourage me to go on. This and making my peace with Choronzon.
Interview by Janis Kalifatidis, from Into The Abyss and Fight Amnesia! magazine