"I definitely have much more to say, whether the amount of people wanting to listen continues to grow remains to be seen." - interview with Dayal Patterson

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For a few recent years the books of this guy have been on lips, mind and in hands of every metalhead passionate  about Black Metal mystery. But his interests stll go beyond "Cult Series". Today we talk to the writer, journalist, photographer, designer and author of the Black Metal Cult book series - Dayal Patterson!

MetalHeads.by (MH):  The first question is as expected, as inevitable – since when and due to which circumstances have you got into metal music and journalism?

Dayal Patterson (Dayal): I got into heavy music around the age of 11, following the usual (for that time) route of Guns N' Roses, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Megadeth, and these bigger bands then discovering Sepultura and Carcass, and then getting into death metal bands like Bolt Thrower, before discovering black metal in the mid-90s. Important to add that I've always listened to and explored other forms of music as well, but certainly metal is the genre I listen to most and am probably informed about. Journalism I fell into by accident really – I was more involved in photography and design work with bands, but in the early 00s and still at college I decided to do a paper fanzine called Crypt, because at that point physical zines had been replaced by webzines and so it seemed worth doing and gave me the chance to speak to bands like Mayhem, Earth, Forefather and more. That zine led to offers from Terrorizer and Metal Hammer and since the mid-90s I've been writing in a more serious way, contributing today to Hammer and Decibel, while continuing to write/publish independent works via Cult Never Dies publishing.
 

MH: Are you currently entirely taken up with Black Metal only? Are other metal subgenres of no longer interest for you?

Dayal: No, I listen to most forms of metal – and music for that matter. But black metal is probably the genre that I am most interested in and definitely the one that I know the most about, I guess. As a listener and publishing house house though I/we really don't want to totally remove black metal from the context of the wider metal movement, even if that's the subject that I've written the most books about. We recently published the Doom Metal Lexicanum book by Aleksey Evdokimov for example, as well as Mortiis' Secrets Of My Kingdom: Return To Dimensions Unknown which features many interviewees from the world of dark ambient and dungeon synth.

MH: Agree, everyone finds one’s own favourite thing about BM: some people appreciate music, others – ideology or some kind of mysticism, etc. Have you ever analyzed your inclination towards BM and its ground?

Dayal: Oh certainly. For me the attraction to metal is how many levels it operates on and the fact that it's defined by plurality and even contradictions of interpretation. It is an incredibly broad genre in terms of ideology, visuals, lyrics, philosophy, personalities involved and so on, but also the music itself tends to be more multi-layered than many other music forms. It has all the heaviness and the extremity that one could wish for, but it also has this rich atmosphere even in some of its most brutal and primitive works. Not only that but black metal has expanded to incorporate elements of almost every other genre imaginable - doom metal, rock, post-rock, folk, techno, industrial being just a few examples.


MH: They say that recently (January 23) the Sundance film festival hosted the premiere of an ambiguous in the audience's expectations movie "Lords of Chaos" (filmed by Jonas Akerlund). Are you going to watch it? Or have you already done it? Do you condemn?

Dayal: I haven't watched it yet so I can't really comment on this. I'm sure at some point I will end up watching it and I'll be trying to approach it with an open mind... If perhaps some trepidation.


MH: You’ve mentioned that Edward Ruff had indirectly influenced your career as a journalist. Who else would you give tribute to?

Dayal: I can't say exactly that Edward influenced me as a writer but he was one of the people that introduced me to black metal when I was young (he was one of the metal guys aged 17-21 that I was hanging out with when I was 14/15 and they'd already discovered this genre which meant I could borrow or copy a lot of music that wasn't necessarily available in stores at the time). Another key thing was that he had written a few interviews in the mid 90s and the idea of publishing these then-unpublished works was where Crypt began. In terms of people that influenced me as a writer I really, really struggle to identify any.
I can't think of any other music writers that I ever looked to and thought 'I should do something a bit like this', because I think I have a fairly strong personality (even if I don't push this on people typically) and set of opinions and writing for me was always about expressing myself and allowing the person being interviewed to express themselves. That said, I'm sure the writers of Terrorizer and various fanzines during 1994-2000 had a subliminal impact on me. I also have to give credit to people like Jonathan Selzer, Tommy Udo and Alexander Milas who offered me an opportunity - and the idea itself - to actually have a career in writing.


MH: Have you ever helped someone in a similar way?

Dayal: Cult Never Dies publishing has definitely allowed me to give greater exposure to other writers, such as the aforementioned Aleksey Evdokimov, or the Malaysian brothers Ason and Hy-Karl of Ultimate Darkness, who had a compilation of their work released by us. Likewise I get a lot of emails from people asking for advice on getting into writing about music and try to help if I can, although my route was so accidental/unusual I can only offer a fairly subjective perspective.

MH: The issue of your magazine – "Crypt", you’ve sent for review to Metal Hammer turned into a job offer for you in the extreme column. How do you think, was it more of professionalism or luck?

Dayal: Probably both - I guess I was lucky that Tommy Udo at Metal Hammer needed a writer and that he took the time to look at the issue I sent for review. But without wanting to sound immodest here, that second issue of Crypt was up there with some of the better fanzines and was very professionally written by myself and my small team of writers and well produced. Metal Hammer is one of (if not the) biggest metal magazines in the world and is never short of people wanting to write for them so the fact Tommy made an offer to someone who actually had never considered writing for a highstreet magazine is a fairly big deal. But life is about luck as well, causal web, right events at the right time, so I have to be grateful that things came together when they did. On the other hand, if I'd known that writing about art and metal was a possibility when I was young I'd definitely have started my zine as a teenager and might have had more success earlier, who knows.

MH: How do you think, is such a thing possible nowadays in the saturated with people journalistic sphere?

Dayal: Yeah that's really something I wonder about. Because I got into this game in the early/mid 2000s and the number of people writing about music exploded just a couple of years later when social media and the internet had its second explosion. Still I think that quality rises to the top, and there are new writers appearing, so the internet does allow easier exposure in some cases (it's easier to publish a blog than a physical zine let's face it). Whether you can get a job by sending a physical zine to a magazine... yeah I think so actually. It's definitely going to make more impact than a bunch of PDFs and an email.


MH: What qualities (if we take percentage ratio) should a good metal journalist possess? And is it a thing for a rabid fanatic?

Dayal: I think you have to be a rabid fanatic, because it involves so much work. And for sure I'd be richer if I'd stuck to my graphic design/retouching job. You do it because you love doing it.
As for percentages it's probably:
30% Writing ability
30% Love of the music
30% Hard work and good time keeping
10% Communicating / getting on well with people / not being a dick 

MH: If not for your journalistic and other metal related creative activities, would your interest towards BM last? Do you need a kind of incentive in order not to “get over” your passion for BM?

Dayal: No, definitely not. If anything writing about extreme metal on an almost daily basis would be a test of how much you really love the genre. I've seen many writers that burned out and got sick of music because they were writing about it, and basically stopped being so interested in music, stopped writing or both. I heard a writer say just a week ago that they enjoy music less now they have to write about it all the time - I can't relate to that at all. For me it goes hand-in-hand, my interest in music makes me want to write about it, which pushes me to explore it in a more intense way. If I ever get bored of black metal I will start to write books about something else.

MH: Currently the main activity of yours is the “Cult” book series. And of course we can’t ignore a brief history of its creation. Where does the idea originate from? How long took each book’s creation? How many countries did you visit and how many difficulties have you faced? Haven’t you had a thought to put a book into print hardly finished?

Dayal: Well to clarify, the Black Metal Cult series of books is actually on hold right now while I concentrate on the publishing side of Cult Never Dies/Crypt Publications and the writing of books dealing with extreme metal/art but not part of that series. The start of all this came in 2009 when I decided to write Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult, and the inspiration for that came from the amount of people from outside of the black metal scene who were writing about the genre and distorting the history by only covering Norwegian bands between 91 and 94. That book took 4 years to complete, although the amount of time I put into it varied - the first 6 months I worked on it full-time, then I worked on it part-time, then I took almost a year off the project and so on.
The second and third books took about a year each (Black Metal: The Cult Never Dies Vol. One and Black Metal: Into The Abyss) and the fourth book took about 4 months, although that was ill-advised as the amount of work exhausted me. Still, it is now quicker to create these books because I am doing this more or less full-time. The difficulties are usually the same - getting hold of the band in question and then getting them to make time for an interview. The writing and layout is hard work but not hard in itself if you see what I mean. But the first book was much more of a challenge because I didn't have any example to show regarding my style and approach and therefore a lot of bands were suspicious or at least wary about getting involved. Today a lot of the musicians I want to involve have actually read books in the series already so much less time is wasted trying to persuade people to be a part of the project.


MH:  How hard or easy was working with musicians? Do you allow someone else's opinion on the matter affect yours? Have you ever had a wish to start a serious argument or just leave the room thus finishing an interview? Were there any musicians, which turned out to be not the way you had expected?

Dayal: No I never felt like that at all - to be honest if I disagree with an artist strongly on a subject it just makes the whole thing more interesting because I am motivated to try and better understand why they're saying what they're saying. I haven't experienced too many difficulties or confrontational interviews (despite interviewing some very difficult people) and sometimes a bit of confrontation is good for the interview – generally speaking I really enjoy the whole process so I don't get discouraged by difficult personalities, it just gives me more to work with.
I would say the exception to that is the interviewee who really has little or no opinion about what they do, has never bothered to really analyse anything beyond the superficial and so has almost nothing but one line replies to questions. But these sort of people tend not be involved in black/extreme metal and I've rather encountered them doing magazine work. Of course the same challenge happens when you get someone who is very shy but you learn how to deal with that over time. As for musicians turning out to be different to expectations – yes I would say so. Obviously you see the human side of people when you're around them and that occasionally dispels some of the mystery, but I think the benefits of learning more about artists whose work you're interested in outweighs the negatives.


MH: Do you know about the fact that your books are being translated into other languages in many countries (including Belarus)? What was the most exotic language from the list for you? Would you like to have a copy of any translated variant (or do you already)?

Dayal: I've got copies of my books in French, German, Russian, Polish and American (hoho) and I'm just waiting for a Japanese edition of my first book. I guess the Japanese and Russian are the most exotic as they don't use the same alphabet and it's always interesting to see a few alien characters. I am really happy that the books are being translated, although of course there's a lot of trust involved when it comes to the writing and translation itself.

 

MH: Your book "Black Metal: Prelude to the Cult" has been published by your own publishing house Cult Never Dies. Why did you abandon the idea of using services of third-party publishers? And what are the difficulties one has to face when becomes a self-publisher?

Dayal: "Prelude To The Cult" was basically material relating to Black Metal: "Evolution Of The Cult", much of which was cut from that book due to the wordcount requested by the publisher. Having the level of control that I did with Prelude was a reminder of what I had enjoyed with my zine ten years earlier and made me realise that I could continue working this way again. The challenges are huge and the whole experience has been a learning experience. It's a massive amount of work and it definitely helps that I have a background in layout and design, which has proved very helpful when it comes to putting the books together and also making promotional material for them.
A third-party publisher is fine if they understand what you're doing and are passionate about the subject matter, but I felt that it was almost impossible to find such a thing when dealing with extreme metal (with a couple of exceptions) and that was my reason for founding "Cult Never Dies". Also, I had already handled all the promotions and advertising for the first book so it didn't seem such a big deal - had I published that first book with a publisher who really impressed me with their PR I might not have created my own thing, which would have been a real shame looking at it today.


MH: Still you call your publishing house being pretty expensive - does it prove its value? What releases is Cult Never Dies Publishing remarkable for?

Dayal: Cult Never Dies is not a huge money-making entity of course, but sales are strong and it makes enough to provide me with a living and pay for staff/contributors. To make a living doing what I love and have the opportunity to keep creating on a full-time basis is something I feel very grateful for. And the company is just a few years old so I of course hope that we expand, even I have no interest in going 'mainstream'. So far we have 9 titles, some of which we have already discussed but it's worth also mentioned Ultra-Damaged: Damage Inc. Zine Anthology, which was written by Maniac (ex-Mayhem vocalist) and Owls, Trolls and Dead Kings' Skulls: The Art Of David Thiérrée, which is our first (but not last) art book.


MH:  Is "Evolution of the Cult" endless? Here I mean both your book series and evolution of black metal as a genre (sine, unfortunately, many other genres demonstrate stagnation).

Dayal: Well, everything has an end of course, but I think in relative terms I can answer yes. The book series (or rather the various book series) will continue as long as I enjoy creating them and people enjoy reading them. As for black metal, well it shows no sign of slowing down in terms of expansion - of course there are plenty of traditional and sometimes derivative bands, but every year brings more groundbreaking releases. How many genres that have been around for a quarter century can claim the same?


MH:  Another honourable title of yours is a biography writer of Marduk. How come? Can you call yourself being rather a friend of the band than a biography writer?

Dayal: Ah well this was just a case of their label asking me to write a short biography for promotional purposes, something I occasionally do for labels. I can't claim to be a friend of the band, I've certainly not got to know them on a personal level in the same way I have a lot of other bands although I do speak with Morgan periodically and always got on with him.

MH: How do you think, is a sincere friendship without any kind of self-interest possible between a journalist and a musician?

Dayal: To get very analytical - is it possible to have a sincere relationship with anyone without a kind of self-interest? I mean my closest friends are people I enjoy the company of, but that's a form of self-interest because they stimulate me with their conversation, or make me laugh or keep me company through a shared love of certain pursuits - i.e. drinking and music! But to give a simpler answer to your question, then yes I do think so. For example, Mysticum is one of my favourite bands but I am close friends with Robin from the band and that just comes down to us getting on well, I don't think there are any ulterior motives on either side even if it makes collaborations easier.
Likewise the guys from UK bands such as Fen I got to know as friends before they formed the bands they became known for and although I like that band, some of their other projects I didn't enjoy at all. Of course, some bands you end up being friendly associates with - ie. you get on very well but also have a work relationship - but I think that's the same whatever circles you move in.

MH: Looking back can you call yourself being lucky for having an opportunity to work exclusively on the things you like? Or do you have any kind of monotonous job as some kind of necessary evil? Can you say that you've got smth more to tell and to strive for?

Dayal: I guess we covered this area already to some extent, but my answer would be that I do feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work (almost) exclusively on the things that interest me, and I feel that even more strongly as I did work in a lot of 'proper' and sometimes monotonous jobs at earlier points in my life. I think getting where I am is the result - like most things - of hard work and luck. I definitely have much more to say, whether the amount of people wanting to listen continues to grow remains to be seen.

 

MH: Thank you Dayal! Long live the Cult!

Dayal: Thank you for your time and interest!

 

Interviewed: Nat Nazgul

Translation: Gella Inspired

Photos are taken on the internet without a second thought of a copyright.





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