Interview by Mass
Some time in January this year, the Iranian/international outfit Dark Matter released its debut album Nebula to Black Hole with a star-studded line-up consisting of names like Thomas Helm of Empyrium, Juuso Raatikainen of Swallow the Sun, Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema and Feb Regman of Antimatter among many others. Here is my interview with Aria Moghaddam, the mastermind behind this band.
You can listen to the album here:
So, Aria, let’s begin with you, yourself. You are quite young and from Iran, interestingly! Tell us about your childhood. How did “Metal” happen to you?
My brother was the first person who shared metal music with me, he and his friends were fans of metal music so I found my childhood in metal music, from my childhood and now on I really wished to be an artist but after that I found I am in love with metal music because of its philosophy and its way to spread it.
Which bands or artist was your childhood icon? Who influenced you the most?
Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema. His songs made me buy my first guitar and I started my learning with his music, and then My Dying Bride’s Aaron Stainthorpe for beginning my vocals; after that I searched a lot more to find the world of metal music way better. I can mention many bands, as you know all of us are fans of metal music before being anything else, but when I was a child, I listened to Anathema, My dying Bride, Antimatter, Black Sabbath, Empyrium, Swallow The Sun, Evergrey, Tool, and many more bands came day by day.
You single handedly run Dark Matter. What did you have in mind when creating it? Tell us about the challenges and opportunities of leading this band.
No, I am not alone in Dark Matter, Mehdi is my bandmate from day one, we wrote the songs together for Dark Matter. Many years back, I had this idea in my mind to make an international band from this area and region which we always have this dream, in 2012 Anathema’s Daniel Cavanagh made that dream way realistic to us by his narration for our first song so, after that, I really tried so hard to make this dream, which I still have in mind, come true. And then I had this honor to talk with sir Thomas Helm of Empyrium about our song, he recorded a narration for another song for us so that was dreamy to me, and still is! So after that, we tried so hard to make an international album which we have now with 15 artists from over 10 countries, with the ones I am a fan of for many years now, that’s all their kindness, all of them did an unbelievable kindness to us and we owe them forever, all of them, Daniel Cavanagh, Fab Regmann, Thomas Helm, Juuso Raatikainen, Anaé, Déhá, Ana Carolina, Luís Fazendeiro, Andi Rohde, Tomasz Pilasiewicz, Kevin Pribulsky, Cecilie Langlie, Niko Panagopoulos, Sahoora & Kamand Paymani, have a very special place in my heart here and after
Why Dark Matter and why Nebula to Black Hole? What’s the root of your fascination with astronomy and outer space?
Let me begin with this, the Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena, a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. I don’t want to be only a human in a blue dot, to be honest, I try to reach more and try to share and scream we ain’t ever have to chain ourselves here just because we have been born here, and try to say we are all part of this vast cosmic arena we are never meant to be here to stay here forever. You don’t forget that, do you? And on the other hand, I am a die-hard fan of space and always try to read and learn more about that and I believe we are part of that.
That’s right. And I can say that you sound pretty much like the great Carl Sagan! Anyway, you seem to consciously shy away from adhering to the norms of the genre, though at the core of your music, it is unmistakably doom. Why is that?
Yes, I believe as artists and a band we have to be an idea, a concept, a thought. We are the philosophy of our words and atmosphere of our melodies which we sing and share on our music; we try to say our words and our concerns in the form of art, so sometimes we are sad, sometimes we are angry, sometimes we are romantic and sometimes we are hateful. We are human beings in many different sides of living and so we are changing in our music as well because our music and our art is our reality.
If I wanted to make a list of musicians you have cooperated with on your latest album, Nebula to Black Hole, that would be a star-studded catalogue of veterans and revered names in Metal. Why did you decide to work with many musicians instead of having your own team?
It was an idea, I believe we are all humans on a planet, citizens of earth, so I thought to work on an album with an international line-up with the worldwide musicians is a great idea for this thought. As I told you about that blue dot we are all on in this vast cosmic arena, so we can be the one and we can share this idea together that how lovelier it is to be together, to stand together, to live together, without any borders, without any race, as one, as a family, as humans
How did you approach them and how could you get them to work with you? What were the hindrances?
It sounds like a dream to me, I have been their fan since my childhood, so as you know how much a fan loves to be in touch with his idols. I’ve been around them, we worked with the artists who we have been die-hard fans of since our childhood, who led us to be who we are now and who are the leaders of the way we step on. All of that was their kindness, their great souls, and their golden hearts, they helped us so kindly without even asking anything for their big and unbelievable kindness and help to us, to just some newcomers in music. I cannot put my feelings about them into words, as I told you we owe them forever, they taught us so many things in life and music. They are truly idols!
Of all these musicians, who is the one you enjoyed working with most? Who is your closest friend?
It’s a big honor for me to call them friends, honestly, as I told you I am their fan, this is the loveliest moment and they are the loveliest people in my life. Honestly, I cannot mention one of those people or one of those moments. Every single of them and every second of that was brilliant to me. It still sounds like a sweet dream to me; one which I cannot believe is real!
Your work is quite popular among Iranian metal fans. What reaction have you received after releasing your debut?
What a pleasure to hear that. They are always kind to us, which is my honor to say. They supported us from day one so kindly which I always say that’s their kindness, not what we deserve. I do really deeply wish that we are worthy of this much of their kindness. We bow to them.
Do you work (are you going to work) with fellow-Iranian artists? Have you been approached by them? Is there anyone in particular you would want to work with?
Yes, we worked with Kamand Peymani and Sahoora for our first album as well. And clearly yes, we do love to have this honor to work with them. I know so many great artists from Iran, of whom I am a big fan. Clearly, it would be our honor to collab with them one day soon if they give us this chance.
Covid-19 has changed all aspects of human life world over, and I know that you had many shows scheduled to support your album and they were all canceled. So, what are you doing these days and what are your future plans? Any virtual live concerts maybe?
Sadly yes, Covid 19 has taken and is still taking many lives and loved ones and has made and is making many problems for all of us, and we are one of them. Our first tour ever just got canceled for that! Unfortunately, we cannot have any virtual live concerts, we were really willing to have one, because our line-up belongs to different countries and we are not together at this moment due to Covid 19. But we try to use this time in the best way possible and we are working on our second album at this moment.
Oh! That is great to hear. I guess you wouldn’t want to spoil anything now, would you?
Well I don’t have much to say now because we have started this project very recently. All I can say now is that we are trying our best to have the honor to work with international musicians for our second album as well, but maybe not as much as we did on Nebula to Black Hole. I can add one thing now and that is you will hear a darker and heavier album.
that is great. I certainly look forward to that. At the end, is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you so much for giving us your time.
That was so nice to talk with you, and thanks to all who helped us and are helping us sincerely. We are nothing but your kindness. My love and respect.