When did you realize the creative possibilities that music could offer you?
It could have been started when my dad used to play good old rock n roll records when I was just a kid. He would crank up some Creedence, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and I immediately felt attracted to that positive energy.
The first time I picked up a guitar at age 10 was another turning point in my life when I discovered that music was definitely my thing.
I’m always grateful about those special moments that defined my lifestyle and inspired me to start a music career.
Later on, when home studio recording started to be a thing, I wanted to learn everything about music production and I geeked myself out until I achieved a sound quality that suits my needs (that took years of shitty mixes btw!) but from then on, I fully became an independent musician and produced everything by myself.
How has your relationship with music changed over the years?
It begun with a different goal in mind and in a really different environment...
I just started by playing AC/DC and Iron Maiden songs on a second handed guitar. It was not until a couple years later that I could save money to buy my first guitar amplifier (also second handed of course). Little I knew that I would become also a singer, songwriter and producer over the years.
My first band experience was as a singer/guitar player in a hard rock band formed with a couple friends at high school. It was a good starting point and I’ve also discovered my singing voice back then, but my music interests were more on the side of power metal and my passion for epic stories sparked at that time as well. Thereupon, a couple years later I decided that it was time for me to follow my heart and founded Skull & Bones (actual Naufragant).
Naufragant has been my main project to this date and, besides a couple breaks, we are still working on new music and constantly gathering new ideas.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Mostly southern rock, 80’s hard rock, power metal, dungeon synth, neo folk, irish folk, synth, industrial, video games & film soundtracks, classical, jazz, ambient... I’m open minded and take inspiration from a variety of genres.
Do you ever regret not studying music formally?
I took a few personal music classes here and there but I never went to a music school. I’m a self-thought musician and, honestly, I'm not sure if my creativity would have suffered if I had gone to a music school. I trust my ears and my music taste to write my own songs and surprised myself with every track I make.
But I did take some serious vocal lessons with a professional vocal coach.
Vocals in metal requires YEARS of dedication and your voice is something you don’t want to mess around with. I’m pretty sure that I’ve damaged my vocal cords in some way or another during my first years of singing due to not taking any lessons.
Recently, after almost 10 years of singing, I’ve started to really enjoy listening to myself. I’m my own worst critic and it’s an endless learning curve in my opinion.
How is your working process and take that kind of research and turn it into music?
Inspiration is key. I must get inspired by something before I even start writing a song.
It may come from reading a book, watching a movie, or even just waking up with a certain idea in my mind.
Knowing the theme and the mood that I’ll go after always helps me to set the right course for the song, that’s why I tend to come up with the song title before even start working on the music. With that in mind, I’d carefully choose the instruments that I would use through the whole album and COMMIT to those sounds. That’s a crucial step to avoid the temptation of constantly tweaking things out.
Naufragant seems to be your main project; what is the current state of the band?
Naufragant will always be my main project since it sums up my biggest passions: heavy epic music and pirate's stories.
Although we have played as a band in the past, we’ve always been a two-man project formed by myself as a singer/composer and Tommy Vega on the guitars.
We went publicly inactive for the last couple years but we never stopped working in our new album; “A Short Life” was the longest music project we’ve ever embarked on!
For this album, we committed ourselves to take the reins during the whole process: from pre-production, through recordings and final production, everything was carried out by ourselves, but that was not without a cost.... At some point we realized that the songs were too ambitious for an independent production and that longer breaks were necessary so as not to overwhelm us.
Looking back today, I am really proud of what we did on this album and it feels so gratifying to finally close this long chapter, but I’m also pretty sure that we could do it better and quicker with all what we’ve learned from this experience in the future.
What’s behind the pirate theme that resounds with you in such a unique way?
My gateway to pirates was to read Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” in my childhood, and it collapsed gratefully with the metal world when I discovered the german band Running Wild and their “Port Royal” album, which had several songs inspired by pirates.
Since then, I got deeper in the matter to find more novels and documents about them and the age of sail period as well.
I must say that, despite the whole fiction from the genre, there are also thousands of incredible histories of REAL pirates that deserves to be adapted on a high budget film.
Not only did you compose heavy metal music, but you also managed to explore video game music as well. What is the goal or motivation for exploring different genres?
My approach to video game music started when I joined the PiratesAhoy! Community” (the developers behind the Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons MOD)
Long story short: Being a big pirate enthusiast and a casual gamer, one day I stumbled upon the “Sea Dogs / Age of Pirates” game franchise, and while they were extremely difficult to play, they started to grow on me. Not to mention that their soundtrack absolutely blew my mind, I immediately wanted to compose something like that!
A couple years later I found these guys who’ve released this incredible MOD of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” PC game (initially developed as a sequel to Sea Dogs).
And they were accepting developers and musicians to contribute in the development of their own pirate themed game titled “Hearts of Oak”. I immediately contacted them to apply as a soundtrack composer and ended up writing 5 songs for the game among other awesome indie composers.
Unfortunately, the game was cancelled due to lack of resources (it was too ambitious for such a small community) but this year we’ve decided to release all the music we have written for the project.
What would you say is your biggest motivation for trying new things where electronic music is concerned?
In the last few years, I’ve started a couple projects that served me as a therapeutic escape after have been doing metal music for such a long time.
As a big fan of Vangelis, all those old synthesizers that he used on his records always clicked on me and once emulation software made them available for all of us, I definitely HAD to take my step in the synth universe:
Braveslair music would fit in the Dungeon Synth genre.
From long time, I wanted to write music inspired by The Lord of the Rings (another of my predilect novels) and this was the perfect occasion to doing so.
I approached this as an epic B-movie soundtrack that has been made in the 80’s with the limited resources you had back then.
I`ve released two albums including a cassette release thanks to “Dark Age Productions” (USA) which got interested in the project.
The new album will take a different turn inspired by ancient pagan rites and it’s the most ominous and emotional music that I’ve written so far.
Flash-Back 2029 was a more a Dark Synth/Industrial project. I would call it a mixture of electronic, metal and orchestral music that evokes those apocalyptic landscapes in your mind. Two albums were released inspired by the Terminator and Mad Max films. The project is now in cryogenic state since I’m focused on my main projects right now.
Is it fair to say that music has been a kind of escape from reality for you?
Absolutely. It’s also the medium I’ve chosen to express myself as a creative person.
Have you always known what you wanted to say with music?
I`ve always wanted to transport the listener to other worlds and inspire them to artistically express themselves.
Do you ever feel limited by your imagination?
As soon as I start to feel limited or uninspired, I just take a step back and do something else: watching movies, reading books or lift some weights is what works for me.
Lack of inspiration is unavoidable from time to time, but as an artist you must fight it back by constantly feeding your creativity with new ideas and positive thoughts.
Do you think that intuitive power is innate or is it something that can be learned?
It definitely can be learned. At least I’m still at it.
Beyond music you are a great fan of epic, sci-fi and horror movies, why do you think that these types of themes are so prevalent in the human mind?
We all feel attracted to the unknown I guess, and those films puts you under extraordinary situations that you may never experience in your life. Movies are also another incredible source of inspiration for musicians and artists of all kinds. It’s impossible to NOT get inspired by masterpieces such as Ben-hur, Braveheart or Mad Max just to name a few. Every weekend I have my own ritual of drinking a fine beer and watch an old movie that I’ve never seen.
Would you like to share your top ten movie list?
In no particular order:
Treasure Island (1990)
The Wickerman (1973)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Mad Max Fury Road
Band of Brothers (Mini-series)
Blade Runner (1982)
Is there a historical period with which you feel more identified?
Definitely the Age of Sail! But I also look for inspiration in the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the WWII period.
Why do you think this is due?
Find yourself, enjoy your loved ones, leave your mark.
Are you reading any special books?
Captain Blood (Rafael Sabatini)
The Shining (Stephen King)
Masters of the Air (Donald Miller)
If you had to compare your instrument, in your case the guitar, with a weapon, what would it be?
A two-handed longsword.
Name two or three albums that are not of the metal genre but have an importance for you, and give us a reason.
Vangelis: 1492 - My portal to sea related stories and epic music.
Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales (soundtrack) - A love letter to the sea.
Silent Hill 2 (soundtrack) - The most beautiful music of your worst nightmares.
Why do you think that music is so valuable?
Giving people the capacity of awake dreaming.
This is the online magazine of Hammerblaze. In it, our readers will find original content and interviews of different collaborators in subjects like Art, Literature, Music, Philosophy, and Science. We hope that this new initiative has the support and success of the other tasks that we execute. We are open to any suggestion, to all criticism, within the framework of respect and seriousness that drives us to carry out each of our activities.