Heathen Harvest: Firstly, can you tell us the origins of the project, when and why it began, and what it has evolved into today?
Ioannes Aurelius Serpentor: Well, the project was started around 2003/2004. In 2003 I've begun to record some of my ideas for tracks, but it was all just an experiment. Back in those days I've never thought that I would record an album! It was all just "killing time". In 2005 the idea for an album matured and I've started composing songs for a type of radio-drama with actors. The plot surrounded a man returning from war only to find out that his former life was no more. His wife was dead, and she was to return as a ghost... The idea died later in the process for many reasons, which I don't like to discuss. Anyway, I've had some tracks ready, and it was pointless to throw them away, so I've entered my home studio, which was later to become Vatican Cellars Studio, and recorded all the music for the debut album "Withering Hopes". Behind that name was a meaning, and it shouldn't be hard now to realize it after you know the story of the recording... So my dream of creating music and recording it came true. But as I've said it was a process that took some time. Today I.A. SERPENTOR is a full-time music project recording and releasing albums, better and better. Nowadays I'm also sure of myself and what I want to achieve with music, everything I do is part of a bigger plan to take over the scene (laugh).
HH: What do the name I.A. Serpentor mean and what is the relevance to the music?
IS: I'm known by many names... There were times that some knew me by the name of Imblanzytor de Serpy, later it wa SerpentOria and variations of that. For some time the project as well as I is signed by the stage name of Ioannes Aurelius Serpentor (I.A. SERPENTOR). I've decided to keep this name for real, because it has the feel of the XVI-XVII century alchemy masters that also took their names in Latin for a more "mystical" feel, and so I do it to follow their path. The main idea of this is to make this music more mystical with many references to hermetic and alchemy. So as you can see it has great relevance to my music. Every track title has it's meaning, nothing is accidental, it's all part of a larger concept that will be revealed part by part to finally show the world my visions.
HH: Why have you chosen vampiric tendencies as one of the primary themes in your music?
IS: Vampiric? Only because I'm a vampire myself (laugh). But really, on the first album and on "Onoskelis" I've dealt with the themes of innocence and it's loss. Often I used the vampirism concept to depict that everybody has their dark side within, and if you have all the keys to the gates of soul you can open them leaving the human being vurnerable and alone. Everyone of us has the possibility to become evil. It must be only triggered in the right way... But please understand that vampirism isn't the only theme in my music, even if it seems to be the main part of some tracks, I also deal with love, desire, erotica, doom, downfall of man, religion and many more..
HH: Witht he track "The Green Fairy" on Onoskelis, as well as the album artwork, it would seem you are noticably a fan of the alcoholic beverage Absinthe. Can you tell us how much Absinthe has influenced your music and some of your more notable experiences with it?
IS: The legend of this beverage is huge, and I've just added something from my heart about it. I wanted "Onoskelis" to have a decadent feel of the fin de siecle times, and it just had to have Absinthe there. The album cover and some titles have significant resemblance to the Art Nouveau and decadence, because I find those times very intriguing. We had our own turn of the century but compared to the original fin de scecle it isn't worth mentioning. As far as for my experiances with Absinthe, I've had few. One of the last was before recording the "Onoskelis" album and it was really true, with whole the accessories and the needed atmosphere. A friend of mine had the original Absinthe bought somewhere in Spain, not entirely legal (laugh). As you may know in Europe it's hard to buy the real Absinthe, because it's forbidden in many countries. Naturally you have in shops here stuff like Apsinthion, but it's not original recipe. The original is far more stronger and triggers the parts of your brain that are most of your life in hiatus. And the spell of the Green Fairy awakens your soul from it's convenient slumber to life far beyond itself...
HH: Who handles your interesting artwork? Sodom & Gomorrah also did an excellent job with your web design.
IS: Yes, I'm very fond of collaboration with Sodom&Gomorrah. As far as I know it's a one man project to deliver high quality art & design for artists and labels. The approach of the design studio is simply great and I always know what to expect from it. The artwork is always very individual and it's the most important thing for me in this kind of work. I'm very fond with the webdesign of my MySpace page (www.myspace.com/serpentoria). As for the official website (www.iaserpentor.com) it's all in devolopment and shall be ready in some time, what you see there is only a simple sheet to have the site working. I thik that before the release of the new split record the design should finally change into something really good, like the last portfolio of Sodom&Gomorrah (www.sodom-gomorrah.com).
HH: Your writing seem to be just as important to you as your music does. Have you ever considered putting out a small literary collection of your writings?
IS: I did, and there were two small poetry books released few years ago. They were even noticed, but nothing significant happened afterwards. At this stage I have over 400 poems written, but most of them are badly written, there are few that I'm really fond of and perhaps one day they will serve me as lyrics in my music. Right now I don't have time for writing poetry I'm all into writing music. Recently a black metal band called ABUSED MAJESTY done a track to my lyric "Omnivorous Sonatina", which was released by Empire Records and will be also released by Conquer Records. There is an interest in my writing, and I will put something up within the mystical concept of my music, but not earlier than 2009.
HH: What equipment do you use for your recordings?
IS: Equipment? My home studio Vatican Cellars is looking rather like an empty basement (laugh). I do use much of the computer-based technology, Steinberg and Adobe software, Line 6 amplifiers and effects and Shure mikes. Oh yes, and I almost forgot the Roland EXR-40 OR. And that's unfortunatelly pretty much it. (laugh)
HH: Tell us a bit about the area that you live and grew up in. Where are you from in Poland? Are you only influenced by dark ambient / neoclassical bands or do you also listen to other music? There are obviously a large amount of notable metal musicians from Poland, for example.
IS: I was born in Silesia, it's a beautiful country in Southern Poland. I feel more like a Silesian, than Polish citizen. This region has been semi-independent between WWI and WWII in Poland and I feel connected to it and it's heritage. Nowadays I live in Opole (a part of the historical Upper Silesia region, now Opolskie province) where I studied history and earned my Master of Arts degree. Also I'm working on my doctorate in the field of history of mysticism in Poland (my master's degree was about mysticism in Silesia XVI-XVII century). My main infulance is classical music. I also admire the works of John Williams, Michael Giacchino and Bear McReary recently. From the ambient genre, naturally my all-time favorite is ATRIUM CARCERI. But most of my time I listen to black/death metal music like DEVILISH IMPRESSIONS, HERMH, CHRIST AGONY and others... Yes, in Poland we do have a great amount of good metal bands, and I've been always very into this kind of music. One of my dreams is to record a black metal album with a combination of dark ambient & neoclassical sounds. Hope this will be possible someday...
HH: Are you involed in any other musical or artistic ventures? Is Insomnya Records your own label?
IS: My main project is I.A. SERPENTOR, but recently I've started collaboration with the Canadian dark ambient project GRIMORACLE. This resolved in a split record "Order of the Crawling Chaos/Yog-Sothoth" which will be released Halloween 2008 by Records of Unseen Doom. Recently I've got a proposal from a great black metal band's frontman to do a side project with them. I can't tell you the name yet, but I can assure you that it shall be something different than what I've done before. As for the Insomnya Records, well... yes, it's my own label. And it shall stay that way (laugh). IR will be soon transformed into a real label releasing real CD's. So far we've prepared 3 net releases, but soon it shall be changed, but it shall serve me as a label for I.A. SERPENTOR mainly and it's "uninvited guests" (laugh).
HH: Have your geographical surroundings or lineage influenced you musically or who you are as a person? If so, how?
IS: Partly yes, but I would rather consider myself as an European. I try not to be closed in a "Polish box". In music there are no borders, no frontiers. Perhaps my biographer will one day say that the style that I represent was heavily infulenced by my lineage, but it doesn't matter now. Music is universal, it's over politics and geography. I use English, because it's the "latin of the XXI century", so as you can see I'm not the nationalist type anyhow. (laugh). Naturally, many great projects emerged from Poland, many great composers like Chopin or Penderecki, that are important for me. But right now I can only dwell in the shadows of their grandeur.
HH: What does the logo in the "O" of Serpentor represent?
IS: It's a kind of sigil, a sign I used to call simply "The Seal" or "The Seal Of Serpentor". It has the symbolics of the alchemy symbol of phosphorus, but upside down. As you all know phosphorus is greek fos (meaning "light") and foros (meaning "bearer"). Inverted it shall mean the "bearer of darkness". An alchemy concept that trully represents what's I.A. SERPENTOR all about.
HH: What are your plans for the future of I.A. Serpentor?
IS: Recording better and better albums all the time (laugh). But seriously, I'll be concentrated now on promoting the split with GRIMORACLE and that's all for 2008. Meanwhile there will be some music written for the project I've mentioned before, but the next full-length I.A. SERPENTOR album will be released around Halloween 2009. It will also be a concept album with a story based in a post-nuclear world. The music shall be different than from what I've recorded so far, but it's to early to say anything more. Be sure to check out my MySpace page for the latest updates on I.A. SERPENTOR.
HH: Thank you for the interview. This last spot is for you. Feel free to say whatever you feel needs saying!
IS: The pleasure was all mine. Many thanks to the wonderful people of Heathen Harvest and it's readers. Hope to "see" you on my websites and downloading my tracks. But don't forget about vanitate scientiarus - to understand the darkness you must open your mind and embrace it.