Here’s a chance for you to tell our readers about your debut album “Artifact”. But could you please start off by introducing the readers to your band and give a short version of the biography?
Sure thing. Hello dear reader; we’re PIQAIA. Our music can best be described as being on the verge between hard rock and metal with a huge PROGRESSIVE in front of either one. It is a mixture of technical riffs, syncopated grooves and a whole lot of melodic layers to give the music a sort of astral vibe which can be difficult to put into words, so it really would be easier if you’d just give our album a listen *wink wink*.
Even though we just recently played our first concert and released our debut album, PIQAIA has actually existed for quite some time. It took many years to figure out, what kind of band we wanted to be. We started out with the intention of playing some kind of progressive metal, but none of us had played this type of music in a band before, so it took a little while to figure out exactly what direction we wanted to go. It didn’t help that we for the longest part were missing a lead singer. Therefore it really tied the music together when Charlie (singer) joined the band and made PIQAIA what it is now.
And now onto “Artifact”… track-by-track, what inspired you, what topics are you dealing with, what do you want to express with this song etc.¨
“So, the initial lyrical inspiration for the entire album was to make a concept album about the creation and destruction of Earth. We thought it would be interesting to make a classic prog album with inspiration from the 1970s, and we thought it would be an interesting challenge to make an album that not only was stitched together from start to finish, but also from the final track into the first track. So, as you hear the end of Artifact, you can go straight into Raindrops all over again to symbolize the endless Saṃsāra-inspired cycle of life and death. Lyrically then, it was of course equally important to tie the end of the album to the beginning, inciting this sense of a repeating life-cycle, ultimately also working as a metaphor for a pulsating, expanding and contracting universe.”
“I use metaphors of both omnipresent beings interacting with the world it created, and I find it interesting to shift character perspectives, inviting an almost schizophrenic dimension to the narrator of each track. Yeah, its high-brow and super pretentious, and we love it, dammit.”
“Raindrops is the beginning track, using the cosmological metaphors that explore creation that has the paradoxical backdrop of a history. I thought it was an interesting challenge to write about the beginning of existence while integrating the idea that there was something before then. But “creation” is definitely the central element to this track. It’s a track that has always sounded musically epic and grand to me and I wanted the lyrics to reflect that same grandeur, lyrically colouring the track with big cosmological themes to reflect the epic scope of a modern creation story.”
“Landscapes is the part of the story where the world created enters a sort of claustrophobic, blissful state of stasis. I chose to use the metaphor of an omnipresent being that created the world, trapped beyond further influence of the world he/she created to explain how normalcy is a revered status for a god-like being. I thought it was interesting to add a humanity to this being, inciting doubt, schizophrenia and jealousy; Imagine how crazy it would make you if you saw others enjoy a thing you created without gratitude, and where you were destined to stay out of the way. In that way there’s a story of a person carrying a burden, a responsibility that cannot be let go, and a story of a person who wants to be involved, who wants to be part of something.”
“Going from a world in perfect stasis in Landscapes, we now turn to a world changing. I thought it would suit the tone of Echo since its a crazy mix of genres and musical expressions, and I wanted to explore an eerie feel of both power, imbalance and schizophrenia to convey chaos and randomness, but at the same time an implicit feeling of purpose and inevitability. We’re so happy we have Nico Hansen from Auralist to contribute with some brutal growling vocals, adding a sense of power and chaos to the track. I took inspiration from biology when thinking about the lyrics; I was especially drawn to the notion of bacteria dividing and multiplying exponentially, and wanted to add a bit of a grounded feel lyrically in the midst of the more grand lyrical paint strokes in the first two tracks.”
“Parable is a thematic detour from the overarching theme of a world being created and destroyed. I wanted to add a mythical feel to the whole story, like it was something being told around the campfire, and before our story climaxes, we needed a philosophical lesson. Parable is basically one long ode to Plato’s cave allegory, and I thought it added an interesting dimension to our otherwise pretty linear story arc, and elevated the whole concept album to a more mythical narrative.”
“In our story of creation (and destruction), we now get to the part of the story where the shit hits the fan. Artifact is all about how the world was essentially destroyed by planetary mismanagement. That’s a fancy way of saying “humans fucked up the world”. I thought it was interesting to tell this story from the perspective of a person in the future, basically repenting and apologising to what he now sees as a man made entity: Mother Earth, aka the Artifact. This is obviously a social and environmental commentary on how we’re now entering the Anthropocene, and how our shaping of the earth can lead to its ultimate destruction. But it also alludes to a potential renewal, a new beginning as destructive forces, man made or otherwise, can incite new creation. In the aftermath of the destruction of Artifact, Raindrops will fall again.”
Could you please tell us a bit about the artwork – who made it etc. and how important do you feel it is to have a cool artwork?
The artwork is actually a painting by our very own Emil Efferbach!
It’s sort of an abstract representation of “the Artifact” symbolized by the red/pink light hidden behind the smoke-looking clouds of blue and turquoise.
“I wanted to create a visually pleasing album and instead of making the artwork on my laptop I thought it was a cool spin to actually paint the entire thing on canvas. The idea of having the ‘artifact’ shining through a deep level of cloudy looking gas actually arose from the idea of a nebula being created. I liked the fact that the viewer is not able to see the actual ‘artifact’ but rather the outlines of one.
We were inspired by a lot of the covers made in the 70’s – and back then it was more common to paint the artwork – it’s just so nice that you can look at the artwork and actually see the paint strokes and the contours of the paint itself – and that was easier to achieve on a canvas that measures 1m x 1m.
As for the colours, I just really liked to use turquoise as a base layer – and a deep quinacridone pink for the ‘artifact’ was a nice contrast to that.”
It was also a way of giving an impression of the album and the band itself without people having to hear the music prior to releasing the album, which is why it was so important to us that the artwork represents both the thematic of the album as well as the bands identity.
So to answer your question: Yes, cool artwork is important to us but it’s equally important that the artwork conveys what the album and the band is all about.
How was your first real studio recording experience?
We did most of the recording at home; guitars at Andreas’s place, bass at Thomas’s, and vocals and Charlies. For the drums we rented a small studio through a friend, but we were handling the recording process ourselves. We didn’t have to stress about time or money, which sometimes can be the case when renting a studio. It was a huge relief but may have also been the cause of our “perfectionism”, meaning that we could spend an entire evening getting that one take just right. This, of course, left us mentally exhausted, but at the very least led to some weirdly hilarious moments (which we will share with you in the not so distant future via our homemade documentary), and not to mention an album we’re very proud of.
Who and what has inspired you musically on this album?
We’ve been compared to Tesseract a lot with this album, and though it is a fair comparison we feel that there are so many other influences. Just to name a few, Periphery has been a big inspiration for the riffs, Plini and David Maxim Micic has influenced our solos and way of piecing together the songs in a dynamically interesting way. Bands like Haken along with The Contortionist and Caligula’s Horse has inspired a lot of the vocals on the album.
We’ve actually made a Spotify playlist with some of the artists that inspires us the most, called “PIQAIA Picks” if you’d like a greater insight in the matter.
Is there any track that means something special for you on the album?
Since they all fill out a part of the underlying story, they’re all equally important to us… sorry for the boring answer.
This is your debut on the progressive metal scene under the banner of PIQAIA! It has already received rave reviews from the critics – The Power of Metal.dk included ☺. What are your own feelings on the positive reactions?
During the process of making this album we didn’t really consider that it would at some point be released and that everyone, including critics, would be able to hear and form their own opinions about it. We are thrilled, that an album we primarily made for our own amusement, is receiving so much positive attention, and it drives us to just keep doing what we’ve been doing all along; namely write music for our own sake.
What’s next on your list, any tours planned?
No tours planned so far. Next up is a gig in Århus with Everything Is Terrible and Unseen Faith in November, and then we see where it goes from there. Since we only have one album out with just 5 songs on it we want to focus on writing new material and hopefully have our next album out by 2020.
Thank you very much for answering my questions. Any last words you want to round this interview off with?
Actually, yeah. Hello again dear reader; thank you so much for showing interest in us by making it to the end of this interview! We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this album, and it really feels like it’s paying off because of you. So thank you and stay tuned for much, much more.
Andreas Hauschild - Guitars
Charlie Klausen - Vocals
Emil Efferbach - Drums
Morten Alsing Pedersen - Guitars
Thomas Isbrandt - Bass guitars