Interview with Illuminandi
20 August - 2003

Illuminandi are a unknown Gothic/Death metal band from Poland. I also got their first 2 demos, which are great. An interview with the vocalist.

JesusMetal: Illuminandi is not very known yet, please introduce Illuminandi.

Jan: The band consists of six people – Patrycja (violin, additional vocals), Tonia (cello), Alek (guitar), Jan (lead vocals, growls, guitar), Olek (bass) and Szymon (drums). We are from a small town in the south-east of Poland. We’ve been playing together for almost 4 years now… and thus we’ve become really good friends.

JesusMetal: How do you get in the mood to write music and what bands had influences on your music?

Jan: So far it’s been either Alek or me who have laid the foundations for Illuminandi’s songs. However, the rest of the bands always have something to say and help in the arrangement of the songs often changing the structure of the composition, add their own melodies and suggestions. Each time I start working on a new song it is different – sometimes I just sit fooling around with the guitar and suddenly I realise I’ve just played something I really liked. I try to work on that, I sort of give in to the mood it brings and I think of the lyrics that might go with this piece of music. Then I think of other riffs I have ready waiting to be used and I try to ‘glue’ all those bits and pieces together. Sometimes – but it happens really rarely, unfortunately – I just find one riff and it as if triggers the rest of the song which follows smoothly without almost any conscious effort on my part. But this is very rare...

As for our musical inspirations, I know that Alek listens to music VERY, VERY rarely, which, I think, is not as bad as it might seem, for it helps him to keep that ‘innocent’ freshness of approach to creating music which I often find lacking in me. However, I know that his two inspirations have been Armia (Polish pioneers of Christian hard music, they used to play really heavy punk rock, but now they sound more hardcore/metal) and Illusion (disbanded, Polish hardcore band).

I, on the other hand, listen to REALLY LOADS OF music, from early music to death metal. Therefore it’s difficult to tell what really influences me, as this may change from week to week! I suppose everything I listen to is to some extent reflected in what I create… Anyway, just to name a few of my favourite albums:
Extol 'Undeceived', POD ‘Satellite’, Amorphis ‘Elegy’ and ‘Tales from the Thousand Lakes’, In Flames – most of their stuff, Within Temptation- everything, Dream Theater ‘Metropolis Pt. II’, Virgin Black – everything, In the Woods – almost everything, Lacuna Coil ‘Unleashed Memories’, Blind Guardian ‘Nightfall in the Middle Earth’, Luca Turilli ‘The Lords of the Nordic Twilight’, Clannad ‘Legend’, Iona ‘A Woven Cord’, Orphaned Land - everything... I could go on like this for hours...

JesusMetal: Illuminandi is from Poland, how is the scene there?

Jan: As for metal scene in general – HUGE. We have loads of musically fantastic bands, however they rarely manage to get to the surface, as it’s REALLY difficult to sign with a label. As for Christian metal... it depends what you understand by ‘metal’. We had one excellent gothic rock/metal band Undish which signed with Massacre Records, but they disbanded after their second album for that label. However, a couple of years ago a few musicians playing in major metal/punk/hardcore/reggae bands went through a radical spiritual conversion and started together a band called 2TM2,3, which has played all kinds of music I have just mentioned + some folky elements. They were popular in Poland and so many young people realised it was possible to play music for Jesus – metal included. This triggered a huge wave of young christian bands like Anastasis, Pneuma, Triquetra, Totus Tuus and many others. However, these young bands are not really widely recognised (yet, lets hope) and, besides, most of them play either hardcore or Nu metal in the vein of Soulfly. Except for our band and Boanegres (Black metal, as far as I know, they disbanded after one demo) I don’t know of any other christian metal bands... Oh, we used to have one more group; before 2TM2,3 was started , Litza (voc, guit. in 2TM2,3) founded Creation of Death which recorded one album ‘Purify Your Soul’ (excellent Death metal) and then disbanded. That’s it, I guess.

JesusMetal: Illuminandi started in early autumn ’98, though you call autumn ’99 the 'real' beginning, and you already released 2 demo's, but I must say I've never heard of this band 'till a few weeks ago. How come?

Jan: How come you could have heard about us? We are not signed to any label, we copy our CDs ourselves, we print the inlays on a computer… We are fortunate to have a friend who is really into metal underground and who decided to help us and send our demos to a few zines etc. We had tried sending our CD to Fear Dark and CL Records, but they weren’t interested in our band. So if people know us, they know us either thanks to Zawilec (thanx Wojtek!) or through the Internet (thanx Dominik!)...

Anyway, the other reason is that although it seems we’ve been playing together for a long time, we have never been practising really intensively, because we have been studying or working in different towns and cities. Therefore, unlike other bands, we don’t have rehearsals once a week, but once a two, three weeks, or even once a month... And even then we rarely have the pleasure to meet in the full line-up... Such a situation is definitely not comfortable as it REALLY slows down everything so much, but we just can’t do anything about it. There were times when I was getting really frustrated about it, but now I think I am really fortunate to have the band anyway, and that if God wants the band to survive, it will survive... We just have to do our best and leave the rest to God.

JesusMetal: I’ve read a few other reviews about the Demo II, they were all very positive, how does that feel?

Jan: It is definitely very motivating and rewarding... It feels just great!

JesusMetal: About your next release, will it be a demo again or can we expect a full-length or perhaps an EP?

Jan: We all would like to record a full-length album, but it if we do it or not mostly depends on our financial situation. If we have enough money for the studio, we will record the LP. However, we are not sure when it’s going to be. I think the nearest possible term to record anything is next summer (2004)... At the moment we have about 5 new songs and we are working on next 2 or 3.

JesusMetal: Does Illuminandi already have contact with labels?

Jan: No.

JesusMetal: The 2 demo’s are both available for download, but recording does cost money, what is the idea behind this?

Jan: I could speak about ‘spreading the Word of God in every possible way’, but this would be hypocrisy on my part. Of course, I do think about our music in these terms too, but we would like to make at least some money on music so that we could pay for the studio, gear, etc. By making our mp3s available, we wanted as many people to listen to our music as possible. We are just another young band and no one knows us, therefore I think it would be unrealistic to expect a large number of people to be willing to actually BUY our music. Free mp3s on the Internet are simply a very good way of promotion for any band.

JesusMetal: How do you describe your music?

Jan: Our music is often classified as Gothic metal, but I’d say it’s rather difficult to label us – I mean our songs are quite varied, they range from pretty slow, almost doomy tracks, through more up-temp, rock-sounding songs to death metal, and if you listen carefully you might discover elements of hardcore… So we are trying not to give labels to our music... When asked, we just say we play heavy music with classical string instruments...

JesusMetal: Most of the lyrics are in Polish, though not everyone understands Polish, what are your thoughts on this? Since Illuminandi is making name outside Polands the last few weeks, will the new songs be in English or will the lyrics remain Polish?

Jan: We have been mostly playing gigs in Poland – it was only in June that we played our first gig abroad - in the Czech Republic. We recorded our songs in Polish because we wanted people to understand what we sing, as the lyrics are very important to us. However, as we have found that people in other countries are also interested in our music, we might record a few more tracks in English… Or, if we ever sign with a label outside Poland, we might record all our songs in English… We don’t really know yet... Anyway, I have translated most our lyrics into English, translated lyrics are available on our website on www.mp3.com.

JesusMetal: Do you consider Illuminandi to be a Christian band? How do you put that in the music?

Jan: We are Christians (Catholics, to be exact) and through our music we would like to share with others the hope we have in the loving God, who has the power to give a meaning to human existence. There is so much negative thinking and negative music all around us – we hope that through our music someone can find God’s spark of hope – which God may turn into a flame.