Autokrator made one hell of an impression last year with its self-titled debut, which combined death metal and industrial into a potent mixture that was so dense it felt like it was going to cave in your skull. I wasn’t expecting to see a follow-up so soon, but ‘The Obedience to Authority’ showcased that band founder Loic LF not only maintains a fast pace but also has a clear vision on how to make some of the most destructive death metal around while maintaining industrial and drone elements that set it apart. I had the chance to ask Loic some questions about the new album and Autokrator’s writing process to learn more about what makes the music come together.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg) The first album had a full lineup of musicians contributing, while ‘The Obedience to Authority’ has just you and David Bailey as the members. What led to the change in personnel between the two records?
Autokrator: Oleg, the former drummer, has relocated, so he was unable to play the drums for a long time. That led us to look for a session drummer for this record. Brandon was just a session singer. I also wanted to handle all the sampling parts on this record. That’s the reason we are now only 2 permanent members.
TO: You mentioned in an interview shortly after the release of the self-titled album that you were already working on this one. How do you maintain such a fast pace, and how did the writing process differ from the previous record to ‘The Obedience to Authority’?
Autokrator: I had other ideas and directions I wanted to develop that weren’t present on the first record. We didn’t change our way to work and compose, I write the music and lyrics, record, master, and David interprets and records his parts. I worked for more or less one year every day on the record, step by step, trying hundreds of mixings and hundreds of mastering, endlessly, until I got the vision I had in mind. I have used this process since I started to record for NKVD, and then for Autokrator. It’s the only way for me to be satisfied.
TO: The self-titled was so dense and crushingly heavy, which I thought fit the themes of Rome burning and its destruction perfectly. This time around there’s slightly more breathing room, but the instrumentation is still extremely heavy and destructive. Was this a conscious decision when recording the album or did it come about naturally?
Autokrator: The fact is the first album was more monolithic and was loudly mastered. This time, I wanted a more dynamic mastering, and a tight and better balanced production as the first one was really guitar oriented. And I wanted this while keeping the Autokrator basic sound and giving more variations to the music. I already heard some listeners saying that the first album was better, and it’s 90% the same pattern when you discover a band and when they release a second album.
TO (FlightofIcarus): What inspired you to reach for this sound? I’ve never heard death and industrial so fully made into one distinct union.
Autokrator: There’s nothing particular that inspired me, I have a vision of a particular sound and work to reach it. I always worked like this. It means that without a precise vision, I don’t see the purpose to record something.
TO: Who are your primary influences, both musically and from a historical/literary perspective? I know that the band name comes from the Greek/Roman term for an individual who emphasizes absolute power and that your lyrics have explored a lot of authoritarian and oppressive ideas from that time period, so I was wondering if you could expand upon that.
Autokrator: I write music based on oppression and totalitarism, from the start, with N.K.V.D, and now with Autokrator.
I don’t know how to explain it, it’s a subject that always fascinated me. Only a psychanalyst would explain why this subject obsesses me 🙂
The difference on this record, in comparison to my previous works, is that I try to explain the roots, the reasons of the behavior of people I spoke about with N.K.V.D and on the first Autokrator album. This album is not historically, but ideologically, psychologically and socially oriented.
TO: Reading through the lyrics, I get the idea that the theme of this record is the ideologies and methods a person or government uses to create complete oppression and submission. Though these themes are wrapped in Roman imagery once again, it seems like these ideas could apply just as much to quite a bit of the modern world. What are your thoughts on this?
Autokrator: The human is the same from the start, and repeats more or less the same patterns through the age. Power, sex, violence, vanity, honor, manipulation, sadism… Those things will always be in human nature. We’re just social animals.
TO (FlightofIcarus): I know you are connected to some other projects as well. What makes you feel the need to branch out in this way and how do they serve different needs? Has N.K.V.D been laid to rest or will you continue on with both projects?
Autokrator: N.K.V.D is black metal and Autokrator is death metal oriented. Both projects are close, as the first Autokrator album was meant to be released under N.K.V.D ‘s name, but I considered it too different, and that it was better to release it under another name. I had also the will to start something new and fresh, I played with N.K.V.D for 10 years at this time.
TO: Auditor composed the ambient/drone piece that closes out ‘The Obedience to Authority’. I think it fits perfectly with the bleak, punishing nature of the rest of the material and almost seems to be representing the aftermath/destruction left behind. How did this collaboration with Auditor come together, and did you bounce ideas off of him or let him have relatively free reign over his contributions?
Autokrator: I’ve been in contact with some of the guys of Aevangelist’s live line up. And as an industrial electronic fan, I appreciate Auditor’s work who is an underrated, talented artist. So this collaboration was natural, I just gave him some lines, a little orientation, and let him do his job. That’s what I like when I collaborate with other artists; I let them bring their “universe” and style to enrich my music. That’s also the relation I have with David.
TO: ‘The Obedience to Authority’ was co-released between Godz ov War Productions and Krucyator Productions, which I believe is your own label? Tell us more about Krucyator and how you decided to get involved with the record release process. Will this mainly be a vehicle for your projects or are there plans to sign other bands?
Autokrator: Yes, Krucyator is my own label / distro, and its goal is only to release my music. It allows me to be more autonomous, as I can release whatever I want when I want, without depending on someone. It allows me to distribute records from other band or projects that I like. As my collaboration with Godz ov War Productions was very good on the first record and as they like the new record, we worked together on this one, as partners.
TO: Autokrator’s had an international lineup since its inception. Currently you’re based in France and David Bailey is in the U.S. With this distance between you two, will Autokrator remain a studio-only project, or is there the possibility for any limited one-off live performances in the future?
Autokrator: Autokrator will probably remain a studio project; it would be hard for me to find dedicated ad skilled musicians around me to build a local live line up.
But no one ever knows, maybe we’ll play live someday.
TO: The debut came out on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats, through a variety of different record labels. There’s been a resurgence of metal releases coming out on cassette and vinyl in recent years, and with your material out on both what are your thoughts on these formats?
Autokrator: ‘The Obedience to Authority’ is released on CD and digital for the moment. A very limited tape version will be out in the coming months. I would like to release a vinyl version too, we’ll see in the future. I was born in the 80’s, and grew up with tapes and vinyl’s, so these formats are natural for me.
TO: Néstor Ávalos has handled the artwork for both albums, and his work for ‘The Obedience to Authority’ is quite striking. Did you give him any guidance or initial ideas for the artwork, and how do you feel it captures the themes of your music?
Autokrator: I was very happy with the collaboration with Nestor on the first record, and wanted to keep his style with the second one. Nestor had a real amazing and unique style. We worked step by step under my instructions, and he realized what I had in mind, with his skills.
TO (FlightofIcarus): Here’s your opportunity to shout out any unknown band you feel deserves more attention. Who should our readers check out?
Check the German band Inexorable out:
They play some fucking suffocating death metal. Godz ov War Productions will release their last record on CD soon.
TO: With two full lengths out in two years, what’s next for Autokrator? Are you going to start the writing process for album number three, or are there other plans in the works?
Autokrator: I will take a little break until year’s end, I made 3 records in 3 years, N.K.V.D ‘Hakmarrja’ in 2014, Autokrator S/T in 2015 and Autokrator “The Obedience to Authority” in 2016.
I will concentrate the end of the year on Krucyator Productions (N.K.V.D ‘Diktatura’ will be re-released on digipak), will do some mix / mastering for other bands, and will maybe start to work on the last N.K.V.D record, to close the N.K.V.D chapter.
‘The Obedience to Authority’ is out now on Krucyator Productions and Godz ov War Productions.