Thanks for the interview! I've been a long-time fan.
Not a problem. Thank you for doing the interview and being supportive to our band.
So I've always been very intrigued with the language you've invented for the project. Care to explain its origins and linguistic influences?
The origins stem from meditative experiences, something along the lines of speaking in tongues. Not knowing what is being said, but knowing it means something. The more it happened, the more attention was paid to it. Finally got to a point where it had begun to make sense, after dissecting it, transcribing it, recording it.
Njiijn tongue has roots in many different languages. While rooted in them, it has taken on its own shape to the point where it barely can be traced back to the origins. It created and manifested itself, far removed from myself or my brother.
On the subject of language, I've noticed that your past few releases have had mostly English song titles. Is this a sign of things to come or merely a brief excursion from your normal practices?
Not really, if it feels right, we go with it. The only time a specific decision to use English happened was the new album. We have many statements to make that we want known and understood. Thus why it has happened.
Last year's "Divisionals" marked a distinct, almost sudden change in Njiqahdda's sound, incorporating more technical and progressive elements within the droning, expansive, traditional Njiqahdda sound. What brought it about? Was this change planned/foreseen or simply the product of one's desire to change?
It just kind of happened on its own. We did come to a point after ‘Nji. Njiijn. Njiiijn.’ was released that we understood the importance of writing more complex riffs, structures, etc. was necessary if we wished to continue writing songs the length that we do. But the actual direction itself came into being on its own and we just let it flow. We never thought we would be writing moderately complex songs or writing more technical parts. It just appeared and we went with it. Quite happy with the results to be honest.
Upon listening to the new album I can pick out various influences such as maybe Baroness, Mastodon or even Shai Hulud. What are your thoughts on these newer-wave, hardcore-infused, progressive bands? Are they a big influence on Njiqahdda as a whole? What about bands like Gorguts and Deathspell Omega, whose avant-garde leanings definitely shine through on your new album?
A lot of those kind of bands I never really cared for. I personally do not even spend a whole lot of time listening to newer bands. I can definitely say that Mastodon and Shai Hulud are huge influences on us though. Both are bands I have tremendous respect for and they get a lot of listening time around the office. Crack The Skye and Misanthropy Pure have received near constant rotation since they came out. Gorguts and DsO are also big influences on Njiqahdda. Their approach to re-invent their respective genres (and artistic selves) in innovative ways is admirable.
How do you think "The Path of Liberation From Birth and Death" will be received? Will fans' expectations be met, or...?
No idea. We think people will hate it vehemently, but we also thought the same way of Yrg Alms and Divisionals. Look how that turned out…Our expectations are met, that is all we truly care about. If people like it, that is fine, if they hate it, that is fine too. Our main concern is making sure we are pleased with what we do, how it is received by the public is not our problem.
Is there a concept behind the new album?
There is one main concept and a handful of smaller ones involved. The main concept is what if man had found the ability to cure death. The smaller concepts surround and support that; society, science, inhumanity, greed, power, etc. The book we have completed for the album sheds much more light on the subject.
While doing a bit of pre-interview research, I noticed that quite a few websites throw the "Cascadian Black Metal" tag on Njiqahdda. Do you feel Njiqahdda has similarities to this movement sonically or ideologically? What are your thoughts on the term/movement itself? Is it an accurate term?
No, not at all to be honest. One thing I always found amusing was the constant comparisons to bands like Wolves in the Throne Room. I personally never even listened to them until like 2 years ago. So there is no way these bands could have any influence on us. I think the emphasis on nature and environment is something we have in common, but that is about it. Outside of the whole Woodsmoke label activity, Agalloch, Fauna (and side-projects) and Skagos, I could personally care less about the movement. All I see is a bunch of WiTTR copy-cats bringing nothing new to the table. Cascadian black metal is purely geography based from what I can tell. There is no way we can be a part of it, Njiqahdda is from Chicago. Not quite close to the Cascade range. I suppose it has developed into its own style at this point, but I do not think we share enough similarities to be lumped in with it, nor would we want to. We are our own entity. The end.
What are your thoughts on music as a whole? Are you pleased with its recent additions?
Music is sacred to us. It is one of the most expressive forms of art known to man. Granted there are tons of garbage touted as music, it is still sacred, if you know what and where to look for it. There will always be worthless bands, worthless ‘artists’ and worthless music regurgitated into existence. I refuse to let that bother me personally. There is good and bad in all things. Art is no exception. Also, I personally do not pay a whole lot of attention to newer bands, unless I already know and enjoy them. I try to stick with what I know in regards to music.
With the recent releases of a handful of original books and a hand-drawn symbol on canvas, Njiqahdda now exists in the realms of film, drawn art, music and literature. How does Njiqahdda's presence as a multimedia entity affect it overall? Is it more than just a band?
This is something we established at the inception of the band; to cover all mediums of art and media to the best of our ability. To us, art must be wholly represented to make sense. This is something we will continue to do until we are no more. To us, Njiqahdda is more than a band, it is our lives and livelihood. The most important thing to both of us. All other things are far less meaningful (outside of family and friends). Music, film and literature have the capacity to be far more than mere entertainment; something that can touch your spirit, have a profound emotional impact and ultimately change your life. Put them all together and you have the ultimate visceral artistic experience; life itself.
What do Njiqahdda and Njiijn mean to you?
Life, truth, hard work, perseverance and the belief that no matter how impossible things may seem, no matter how difficult the road in front of us is, we will succeed if we stick to our goals and believe in ourselves to see it through. All things are possible.
In what directions do you see Njiqahdda and Njiijn moving in the future?
No idea. We try not to think of these kinds of things. We let the energy guide us and just go with it. What it decides is not our concern, only where we reside at the end of the journey. One thing I can say is that 2011 will be a busy year for us. There are many things in the pipeline waiting to develop.
One last thing, why the anonymity?
Who we are as people is not important to Njiqahdda. This music could have come from any gathering of people, but we were fortunate enough for it to be us. Neither of us want to be rock stars or have people treating us strangely simply for the existence of our art. There are enough egotistical rock star idiots in the world, two more are not needed. Its flattering to be appreciated, but worship is pointless. We are two regular people who take the art channeled through them very seriously. End of story.