Interview with IK from Afar – Atmospheric Black Metal from New Jersey

I’ve been listening to the Afar album on Bandcamp a lot lately. So I need to know more about Afar. Here’s the interview with main man IK.
 
* So you’re a one man project? How did this come about – were you inspired by other 1 man black metal bands Burzum, Xasthur, Leviathan etc or after doing the whole “democratic” band thing you prefer to work alone?
A long time ago, I started a black metal project Necrofog that didn’t quite take off. It was a side project of mine, and I kept writing little by little for it. Over time the genres I was focused on also evolved, until I started another personal project – both (https://both.bandcamp.com/) – which was dedicated to electronic, shoegaze, and post-rock styles. For quite a while my black metal project was inactive, until one night (10/12/2013) when Abazagorath, Dethroned Emperor, and Bible Thumper played in New Brunswick and I realized I have been disconnected from my black metal roots far too long! At that show was also Pete Lloyd, who agreed right there to record my new album at his studio – One Stone Recording & Mastering (http://onestonerecording.com/). Afar is currently still my personal project, but I wouldn’t be opposed to involving more people in the future to collaborate and play shows with!
 
* Since you have done both which do you prefer and why?
I don’t know if I could say I prefer one-man projects or group bands, since you really get different things out of them. With full bands, I love playing shows and interacting with the other members and the audience. Live shows have such a powerful energy that cannot be compared! At the same time, recording music that is completely written by you is very rewarding as well. You never have to consider running a particular “troubling” riff by the other members – you just do it. And you are sort of forced to fix any issues you have with a song on your own – really connecting with the music through the process. I could never say “this part here will be fine for now, [other member] will come up with something better later”. Some songs on Selfless were written as early as 2006, so I cannot stress how satisfying it is to finally release them.
 
* What was the recording process like for you with Selfless?
When Pete and I decided to start recording Selfless, I knew I was in the right hands. I felt right at home recording drums, guitar, bass, vocals… Pete really understood what I was going for stylistically and knew how I wanted each instrument to sound – even when I couldn’t explain it myself! This way I was able to focus more on performance and let him make it shine. The recording process took over two years, mostly because at the time I just started my Master’s program while working full time, so finding time for music got much harder. Later on, I was also offered to join Windfaerer on guitar – truly an honor. Although it took a while to put the album together, I wouldn’t change a thing!
afar-itay-keren
 
* Did you start start with specific riffs and guitar licks or was it more trying to create separate moods / soundscapes?
For me, the writing process did vary slightly between songs and over time. In the past, I wrote an entire song over 1-2 nights on guitar, then wrote lyrics that fit the mood of the song – of imagery that came to me while listening to the instrumental track. However, when I wrote “Healing”, I was first inspired to write the lyrics and then the guitar parts came naturally afterwards. For every piece of Selfless, I let the inspiration flow whenever it did. If I didn’t feel a particular song one day, I set it aside until it felt right. I never wanted to force the music together because it wouldn’t be as intimate and true if it was just a collection of riffs.
 
* Does the name Afar have any special meaning?
Afar, besides meaning “from a distance”, in Hebrew it also means “ashes”. It is the notion of spiritual and physical distance, and a general disconnect. You could interpret that it is the balance between what is and isn’t there. I feel that the name carries the deeper meaning and dark undertone that fits the music well.
 
* Misanthropy Legion was a band that covered Occult themes and Northern Myst covered more “back to Nature” themes – what themes do you tackle with Afar?
In Afar, I take a personal approach to the lyrical themes, including tragic loss of family, self-doubt and insanity, sense of loss of friendship, loneliness of immigration, and mourning and acceptance of failed relationships. I would also like to make a side note that despite the direct occult themes in Misanthropy Legion, it was a very personal project lyrically, and carries the same deeper meaning as Afar.
 
* Tsalmaveth is the Hebrew word for darkness OR death – how do you use it in the song of the same name?
Correct, Tsalmaveth means “shadow of death”. Tsalmaveth is a “nod” to Necrofog, as a kind of acknowledgement and farewell to my older self. The song itself plays with the theme of survival versus death, and equates it to ignorance versus awareness. It is about how sometimes we prefer to ignore facts in order to stay happy and “survive”.
 
* Did you do much touring in your previous bands? and do you have any plans to play live as Afar?
With Misanthropy Legion, we mostly played locally in New Jersey and New York in smaller venues. When Joe and I started Burden, Tom joined us and we started playing quite a bit in the basements of New Brunswick – those were some of the best shows I ever played! The most touring I have done so far has been with Windfaerer – from New York to Maryland and everywhere in between. We plan to keep touring and go even farther in 2017 – I can’t wait hit the road with my boys! With Afar, I currently have no plans of touring, but I know I have an amazing crew of session members available once it happens! I would love to see an Afar tour happen someday.
 
* What future plans do you have for the Project? further albums? lives shows? alone with backing tracks or a full band?
A new Afar album is most definitely in the works. I intend on writing it through mid-2017 and hopefully start recording later that year. I plan on getting more session members involved for the next album, and possibly adding full members for writing and recording as well. I will say, I am so grateful for the responses I received for Selfless so far – they are definitely adding fuel to my fire!
 
Any shout outs or final words?
I just wanted to thank you for listening to my album, and for taking the time to learn more about me and the project! I love the blog, there are tons of excellent bands featured here – I’m honored to be one of them. Looking forward to seeing Bruder Des Lichts grow!
I.K.
 
Thanks for your time
 
Alex