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UK band DE PROFUNDIS Interviewed

De Profundis toured India a few years back. Their band of progressive death metal was widely appreciated in the nation as well as worldwide. I talk to Shoi Sen, the guitarist of the band, pertaining to their latest album ‘Kingdom of the Blind’ which was recently released by Asian label Wickerman Recordings. Shoi, with his vast experience, tells us all in a lucid and perceptive manner, with scathing insight.

De Profundis group shot

Transcending Obscurity (Kunal Choksi): Hello Shoi! What made you want to play progressive death metal? How relevant is this style in an era of fans that want instant gratification?

De Profundis (Shoi): Hey Kunal thanks for your time. I have been listening to death metal since the early 90’s so to me death metal has always had an element of ‘progressive’ in it. Death metal back then was never about just one riff per song. Modern death metal seems to have moved away from that as a lot of the musicians today would have been more influenced by the nu-metal era of simple song writing. I’ll be honest when we write we don’t really worry about the type of fans that want instant gratification, we write what we like first. Then it’s up to people to make the effort to check us out and appreciate what we do.

TO: How do you go about writing these winding, interesting songs? Do you have a mental template to conform to? 

De Profundis: Either Paul (guitar) or I will generally come with an idea or the basis of a song and then we will work on it as a band. We don’t follow a template but we are now finishing writing the fifth album so by now we have a strong idea of what we like a De Profundis song to sound like. Every song we write has to have an ebb and flow, we put a lot of attention to transitions so no section feels like it’s been forced in.

shoi1

TO: What does the band name signify? Is there any particular reason that you guys went for the same?

De Profundis: De Profundis is a latin word which means ‘From the Depths’, our vocalist Craig came up with it as a homage to the Abruptum song ‘De Profundis Mars Consumet’. The great part about the name is that it doesn’t confine us to anything. I see so many bands that pick a name that is so visual that once their music evolves over a few albums they are a little contrived by the band name.

TO: What can you tell us about the artwork of your latest album ‘Kingdom of the Blind’?

De Profundis: The artwork was designed by our good friend Costin Chioreanu (At the Gates, Mayhem, etc). The concept behind it was that all of us are blind to what’s happening around us, everything is controlled through by lies be it the ones perpetrated by politicians, media etc. We just follow everything blindly even in the world of metal, how else can you explain people liking something like Baby Metal? Just because the media is telling that it is good doesn’t mean it is.

TO: It seems there’s a deliberate attempt to shorten the average De Profundis song on the latest album. Please tell us your thought process behind it. 

De Profundis: We started shortening songs since the third album mainly to be able to fit a live set up better, also we wanted to see if we could challenge ourselves to carry on writing progressive songs but getting to the meat quicker. Like I said we are in the middle of finishing the write up for album 5 and the songs are generally averaging in the 4 and half minute long but still packed full of ideas.

TO: De Profundis have toured India recently. Can you share with us your experiences? What do you make of the Indian metal scene and its future? 

De Profundis: Actually it was a while back now end of 2010 so 5 years ago, needless to say we are desperate to go back. The Indian metal fans were very receptive to our music 5 years so I would love to see how they react now.

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TO: How important do you consider touring as opposed to releasing albums frequently? Which of the two do you find more effective? 

De Profundis: For a band of our size the two go hand in hand. We’re not touring constantly so we always use the downtime to write music therefore we are constantly being creative.  The current lineup is of such a high standard that we feel we should be constantly pushing our creativity. De Profundis needs to release material at a regular interval in order to stay in the media and grow our profile. But at the heart of it we are still a live band, we always feel that people will appreciate more what we are doing when they get see us live.

TO: Promotion has become vital in these times. With hundreds of bands releasing albums in the same time period, it’s become a struggle to get noticed. How do you see the future of promotion and recording?

De Profundis: Let’s not beat around beat around the bush – being in a relatively new band in 2016 pretty much sucks, you really have to do this for the love of it and be ready to be treated like parasite by the music business. If you don’t have a pre-internet legacy or some stupid gimmick getting yourself noticed is just a near impossible task. All you can do is focus on what you can control so yes promote your band via social media, get yourself a decent PR company,  release great music at regular intervals and deliver great live show but most of all be ready to play the long game.

TO: What is your opinion on merchandise and digital downloads? While technology has its benefits, it’s also causing people to illegally print merchandise and of course, download music using torrents mainly. Having been around since like a decade, what are your observations on this matter?

De Profundis: I can’t comment much on illegal merchandise as we haven’t faced that yet. However illegal digital downloads are just shit, it’s pure stealing. I don’t care how people try to defend it. Making music cost money, and I am not expecting to pay my rent with CD sales but I certainly don’t feel that I shouldn’t be able to recoup the cost of making an album. The saddest part about it is that the Metallicas and Slayers of this world are not really affected it in absolute terms but small bands like us are. Not just financially but also from a pure metric point, how can you honestly judge how successful a band? Without hard sales numbers which will be totally skewed because most people would have illegally you don’t can’t show to bigger labels and festivals how big you are getting. Honestly there is no defending illegal downloading.

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TO: You’ve signed to a relatively new label from Asia, Wickerman Recordings, for your latest album. How did this move from Italian label Kolony Records, who’ve released two of your albums, take place? How do you perceive the Asian metal market, which includes India and its surrounding countries?

De Profundis: Asia from a buyer’s point of view isn’t really great, high levels of illegal downloading coupled with lower income and high CD prices in comparison. However Asia remains a big market for growing a band. More than anything you get really appreciated when you perform in Asia as people there are hungry for us to come over and play. As for our move from Kolony to Wickerman, we felt it was time to move on. To be honest we as a band had not much to do with signing with Wickerman our management dealt with that. Once again the reality is that being on a label in 2016 doesn’t change the fact that a band has to do all the leg work. All a label can do is ensure that your music is available where is should be and if it’s a big label then it opens doors to festivals.

TO: What can we expect from De Profundis in the future? How difficult is it to juggle melodies with aggression that’s inherent in death metal? How do you intend to hone your sound?

De Profundis: Well we will be touring very shortly for ‘Kingdom of the Blind’ with some big names in the scene. At the same time we will be working on the pre-production of the album 5 for which we have written all the music. Personally I think our sound is honed so all I can say that is that the aggression has been notched up a few levels without losing the melodies that makes the hooks. Like I said before our writing is very organic, we don’t force ourselves to compose in a certain way it just comes naturally.

TO: Last words are yours. Thank you very much for this insightful interview and we hope to see your band perform again in the country! 

De Profundis: Thanks for the interview. I hope we will be coming to India again soon we had a blast last time. Tell everyone to check out ‘Kingdom of the Blind’ if they want to listen to a death metal with twist and turns.

Kingdoms Of The Blind front cover

De Profundis Official Site | De Profundis Facebook | Wickerman Recordings

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