“An eerie electronic experience for morbid maniacs and sinister souls.” is how Cimitir is
self-described on their Bandcamp site. Admittedly, what struck our initial curiosity about this California-based project was the interesting cover art of the latest release, Duskhymns. After diving further into their music, we found it substantially better than your average instrumental, horror-inspired albums. Cimitir combines elements of dark ambient and dungeon synth in their own style. We felt the inclination to find out more and present this interview on the most appropriate day of the year. Happy Halloween. Thanks to Cimitir for taking time to answer a few of our questions.
The new release, Duskhymns has very much a feeling of 80s B-horror films. Is this something you were aiming for and what are some of your favorites from that era?
“Duskhymns” was actually mostly inspired by a lot of gothic horror films from the 50’s – 70’s. During the weeks that I was composing and recording the release I was completely engrossed in these older movies on a daily basis. However, when I first created Cimitir and began writing music for the project I was mostly inspired by 80’s horror films and soundtracks, so that sound still bleeds through in the new material. The Yamaha drum machine sound on “Duskhymns” is undeniably 80’s, but other instruments I used (such as the Mellotron) are from an earlier era.
That being said, the 80’s was the last truly great decade for horror, so there are tons of great movies that come to mind. Some of my favorite movies from that era are Maniac, The Fog, House by the Cemetery, The Gates of Hell, Re-Animator, Doctor Butcher M.D., The Prowler, Scalps, Trick or Treat, Evilspeak, The Thing, Halloween III, The Deadly Spawn, Creepshow, Frightmare. This list could probably go on for quite some time if I don’t stop here.
What hardware and software do you use to create your music in the studio?
I use a very basic set up for recording. For hardware I use an Audiobox interface and Midiplus AK490 keyboard controller. For software I am using Reaper as my DAW (I have been using this since I first started making music and highly recommend it). I use a lot of software synthesizers for Cimitir, “Duskhymns” was mostly made using the Yamaha S-YXG50.
Could you talk about the other two releases you have and the themes behind them?
The first Cimitir release Recollection of Loathsome Legends is a concept album about myself disappearing in an old haunted house on Halloween night. The full concept can be read on my Bandcamp page. This album was the start of the Cimitir sound (Enshrouded in Gloom and Fog was the first Cimitir song I wrote) and featured the amazing artwork by Dan Capp (who also created the Cimitir logo and the cover art for “Duskhymns”). Bonechiller had no specific concept behind it, just the general theme of horror and Halloween. The Crypt-Lurker’s Curse from that EP remains one of my favorite Cimitir songs.
Who were some of your musical influences that inspired you to create this music?
Cimitir is inspired by a lot of music in general, some of which is not synth or even horror based. Candlemass is a band that inspires basically every project I have, and none of the music I make sounds anything like Candlemass. It’s my admiration for their music that makes me want to create music. Music from John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi, and Jay Chattaway were a big influence in the beginning for me, although with “Duskhymns” I found myself being inspired less and less by others directly and was able to find my own sound.
The amount of artists that are making genuine horror music for the sake of making horror music are surprisingly few. Blizaro, Slasher Dave, Acid Witch, and Crypt Vapor are among the best right now and a great source of inspiration.
Other than movies or books, are there any non-musical influences that inspire you creatively?
The desire and need to create is something that I feel very strongly. Modern civilization and society offer absolutely nothing of value on a personal and spiritual level, so when I am working on music I am creating something of value for myself. The ideas and themes in my music are expressions of what I find valuable, worthwhile, and spiritually fulfilling. Compared to some of my other music Cimitir is more of a “fun” project, but the idea that there is still mystery and forces in nature that cannot be explained is a big part of the horror genre, and that is something I take very seriously in my personal life.
What’s the meaning behind the name, Cimitir?
Cimitir is the Romanian word for “cemetery”. It was an easy choice because the name is simple and sounds cool. A lot of the best horror movies are filmed in Italian and Spanish, so the Romance languages are an important part of horror (not to mention the regional association with vampyric folklore with Romanian). The weirdest feedback I’ve ever received about the name is that multiple people think it’s a “strange” name… I have no clue how anyone could come to the conclusion that a horror themed project called “cemetery” is strange.
Are you involved with any other projects?
I have a lot of projects ranging from noise to black metal, and am constantly working on music. A few of these projects are anonymous so I can’t reveal my identity, but I’m also behind Forest Wanderer, Landvaettr, Oldenhelm, Taakeslottet, and Book of Skelos to name a few.
Do you have any particular rituals or atmospheres that you require when you are composing or recording?
Being completely immersed in horror movies is a requirement when working on Cimitir. This is my main source of inspiration, and I need to be in the right frame of mind to write music for the project. A lot of the samples used in Cimitir simply came from movies I was watching at the time. When I’m watching horror movies I am usually getting lost in the atmosphere of the films and think about how the sounds in the movies could translate into music. Working in solitude is also a requirement for all of my projects.
Have you ever had any particular supernatural experienced with left an undeniable impression on you?
Yes, although it’s been many years since I’ve experienced something truly terrifying and inexplicable. One event in particular will never leave me. When I was younger I was tormented for three nights by some kind of malevolent spirit which projected thoughts and images into my mind, most of which were images of humans being physically twisted and manipulated in ways I cannot even describe or correctly recall since they defied the laws and limitations of physics that my human brain is capable of understanding.
Many people reading this will dismiss ghost stories as mere “superstition”, because in this era of “science and reason” people have adopted the dogmatic and fanatical belief that “there is a logical explanation for everything” and defend this position with religious zeal. This only means their minds will shatter even further if they’re unfortunate enough to be confronted with the ancient shadows that still lurk in the night.
Do you have particular themes or horror/thriller stories in mind when you create your works or are any of the songs results of personal introspection, or both?
A lot of Cimitir songs are created with very simple concepts in mind. The song “Cryptstench and Gravemold” is simply my musical understanding of an old, rotten, fog-veiled cemetery and the foul cadavers residing in it. “This Hour Belongs to the Dead” is my musical understanding of the nocturnal lifting of the veil between the spirits of the dead and the living. So when I’m creating music I do have general ideas in mind, but they are more like loose concepts than actual stories.
If you were commissioned to compose the soundtrack for the remake of an old film, what film do you think you would choose and why?
Well, remakes of old movies are a travesty 99% of the time, so I can guarantee that every great horror movie already has music that is part of it’s character and atmosphere, and I doubt I could ever make music better than what was used for it’s original vision.
You’ve been asked to perform in one of the most haunted locations for an exclusive private concert. Where would you play in spite of what you have heard about reactions of people who have been there before?
Cimitir will likely never perform live, as live performances are not something I care about. However, this is an interesting question so I will answer it anyway – my choice would be the castle of Vlad Tepes. People would warn me that it was the home of one of the cruelest and most sadistic bloodthirsty tyrants in history, and the ghost of his victims still stalk the land. But I already knew that This Hour Belongs to the Dead!
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