Artiom from YOMI. We discussed about the past and future of the band.
01. Hi Artiom! Back in 2013, the Japanese Folk Metal band from Latvia, YOMI, was born. How did this project come to life ?
Hello ! In a way, the band had started quite a while ago, some 7 years ago. I have always been interested in Asian cultures, Japanese especially, and when 7 years ago I started playing music and discovered folk metal, I almost immediately thought that it would be cool to combine folk metal with Japanese traditional melodies. I also tried to actually do that, but did not succeed due to the lack of musical experience, and abandoned the idea for a while.
Around 2013 my previous band fell apart and I also moved to another city, so I thought that maybe it was a good time to start something new. And this is when I remembered that I had had this Japanese folk metal idea in the past, and finally decided to make it come true. So I started looking for bandmates and writing songs, so... here we are now.
02. One demo and album were released. Have you got positive feedback from reviewers and listeners ?
Yes, we have enjoyed a generally positive feedback (much more than we have ever expected, to be honest), and also some very useful and constructive criticism, so thanks to all our fans and reviewers for that. There also have been many people who were wandering why ethnic Russians from Latvia play Japanese folk metal, and I can see why, hehe.
03. As you explained with the meaning of the tracks for "Age of the Gods" album, YOMI is the Afterworld in Japanese mythology. Why have you choosen that bandname ?
We wanted to choose something both dreadful, dark and related to Japanese mythology, as this is the same impression we try to achieve with our music. At the same time, we have also had some general considerations – we wanted the name to be short, easy to remember and also look good in both Latin script and Japanese hieroglyphs.
There have been other candidates as well, for example « Tsukuyomi » (the God of Moon in Shinto), « Edo » (former name of Tokyo and the name for a significant period of Japanese history) and « Torii » (the before in Shinto shrines and sacred places), but neither of them was quite as suitable as « Yomi ».
04. What are the bands, artists and facts that inspired you, Latvians, to play Japanese Folk Metal under YOMI band ?
First and foremost – Skyforger. They were the one who introduced me to folk metal in general and got this whole thing spinning. They have always been a major influence on my career as musician. Nile is certainly a big influence, as well as Yoshida Brothers and God of Shamisen.
These are the artists directly related to the inspiration behind Yomi, but there are also some others, like Amon Amarth or System of a Down for example, whose influence is not that direct, but still quite significant – we borrow ideas from them, we learn to play from their example and so on.
05. Lately, YOMI unveiled a new song titled "All is Void" taken from the upcoming album "Genpei". What is the song about ?
« All is Void » is the adaptation of the so-called « Heart Sutra », a Buddhist text that contains insights on the nature of the World and that is to be recited in the course of Buddhist practices. The text itself tells us of the illusiveness of our being, our body and our senses. Those, who underestand that our being is an illusion in many aspects (hence the name « All is Void ») can attain true enlightenment and free oneself from the suffering of this world.
06. How did the people like the new track ?
I’d say it left a pretty good impression, and we are very glad about that. Many have noticed a change of style, as this track is somewhat unusual for Yomi – it’s more atmospheric than our typical bang-your-head type of metal.
Some have also noted the improvement in the sound quality, so I would say that generally people liked it. We hope that the rest of the album will leave as good of an impression.
07. Can you reveal us details of the future record such as tracklist or artwork ?
In total, there will be 11 songs. We wouldn’t like to reveal particular details about each of the songs (although those well-versed in Japanese history will recognize most of these topics) yet, but we can name the tracklist :
01. Gion Bells Toll
02. The First Battle of Uji
03. Scarlet Banners
05. All is Void
06. Battle of Kurikara
07. Fires of War
08. On an Empty Battlefield
09. Burning of Rokuhara
10. Dan no Ura
11. Nakts Debesu Karakungs (Skyforger Cover) – it means Warlord of the Night Sky in Latvian
The names and the order of songs might be different eventually, but it is unlikely that something major will be changed. We are planning on making a preview video as soon as the album comes out, so listeners will get a chance to check out all of these.
The cover song is not related to the topic of the album, but is an homage to the band that influenced me the most.
As for artwork, we wouldn’t like to disclose it in full yet, but for now let’s say it will be highly thematic and related to the topic of the album, but more uniform in style than the artwork of Age of the Gods. There is also an early sketch of the cover artwork available on our Facebook page.
08. What step of the making of the "Genpei" album process are you at, now ?
We are now simultaneously finishing the mixing and the recording of vocals, as well as putting the last touches on the artwork. Although we are almost at the finish line, I think we will wait a week or so after getting everything done and before printing it, so that our minds can rest and see if we made any mistakes or if we can add some small touches to make it better.
09. Is "Genpei" a concept album ?
Indeed it is. « Genpei » is the name of the war that happened in the 12th century and shaped much of Japan’s future, and we felt it was a very fertile topic for producing an album. The whole album is centered around the war with occasional ramifications about related matters that happened roughly at the same period. Each song is dedicated to a particular event, e.g. a battle, or concept, e.g. a clan, that played a significant role in the war.
« Genpei » is also the second album in our line of « historical albums » - the first one, « Age of the Gods » was centered around legends, myths and events from before the Japanese started recoring their history in full detail. « Genpei » takes up an event that happens later in time. A little hint – we probably will continue this line of « historical albums » for some time, so interested fans may try guessing the topics themselves.
10. In your opinion, how sounds "Age of the Gods" demo, album, and "Genpei" ? What are the differencies ?
On the technical side, the quality of sound is pretty different. I think in « Genpei » we have finally managed to achieve a decent sound, which has also been noted by others. We are very glad about it, because we do all the recording and mixing ourselves (we want to be as self-sustained as possible), and it shows that we have actually learned something and are generally progressing with our skills.
As for the content, in « Genpei » we have experimented quite a bit and added some new things that were not present in « Age of the God ». One of our intentions was to not only make all the instruments make music together, but also to have their own spolights, « moments to shine at » so to speak, many more solos and distinct leading parts, and not only for folk instruments. We have also tried to add more meloding and epic parts to counterweight more brutal , low segments.
11. When will "Genpei" be available ? What is the release date ?
Somewhere in the end of August or beginning of September. Most probably we will finish even earlier, but we cannot yet say how long the process of printing will take, so probably we will announce the exact release date somewhere in the middle of August.
12. Are you signed at a label ?
No, we don’t have a label. We are not actively searching for one now, but we may as soon as we are sure that we have firmly established ourselves one the local scene. Or, if anyone is interested, contact us, we’re open to any offers. :)
13. Will you make a future official video for the new record ?
We will make a preview for the album so that everyone can see what it is all about before buying one. As for a music video, we do have some ideas as to what we could make, but these ar just some early thoughts yet, no plans confirmed. We would like to make a music video at a certain point for sure, but we will see – maybe not for this record but for the next one.
14. What do you plan, promoting the upcoming full length ?
We are planning to hold a major album presentation concert, maybe release a lyrics video or a music video (as discussed earlier) for one of the songs, as well as try too visit a number of stages in Baltic countries, promoting the album – not a tour, but just a series of gigs. No dates or venues ar to be announced yet, but we will keep the fans imfomed.
15. Do you go on tour, soon ?
No, we have no plans for any tours yet. We have not yet covered many of our neighbourhooding countries yet, so we would like to do that before we plan anything major, like a tour. A tour is also a very costly endeavours, so even if we wanted to go, it would probably be wise to save some money first.
Thanks for the interview!
Thanks a lot for having us, cheers and stay metal!