There is something wondrously unique about Aquilus and their symphonic adventures in the metal. The grand creation of composer Horace Rosenqvist, Griseus is the name of the masterwork now being unleashed worldwide through ATMF Records. Staggering in scope, these are modern day classical compositions as conceived by the likes of Emperor combined with any other cinematic genius of motion picture soundtracks. Here is an interview we conducted with the enigmatic maestro Rosenqvist to find out more about the rapturous musical manifestations of Aquilis. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Aquilus, and how long the project has been in existence.
I am Horace and I create the music for Aquilus, I’m currently mainly focusing my composing on piano, guitar, and mandola, but I’ll play/use any instrument that takes my fancy; balalaika, lute etc.
The project has existed since around 2000 when the first material was composed; (That material appears on the Arbor EP which wasn’t recorded until years later).
Where are you based out of and what is your local music / metal scene like there?
I live in a beautiful forested land just outside of Melbourne, Australia, which is inspiring for such art.
I don’t know much about the local metal scene, I preferred to keep to myself and create whatever I pleased. Though when concerts for Aquilus eventually begin I will naturally become more familiar with the scene, I doubt much of it will interest me though, I’m pretty picky when it comes to music, most of it bores the hell out of me, and I don’t listen to much metal these days, though I will continue to make metal for the time being, metal and whatever else with it; the kind of music I want to hear.
Is there any story or overall concept behind the CD title Griseus?
Yes, but I’ll let the listener conjure up whatever they will from this grey painted music.
What was the most difficult aspect about the writing and recording process of Griseus?
That I only have one set of hands – The time it takes to do it all myself. I could give you 5 new Aquilus albums tomorrow if I had some way of magically producing them instantly…
Over the duration of recording Griseus approximately 2300 litres of black tea was consumed, vino intake calculated to be approximately 1200 litres.
What other bands or projects were you and are you involved with now?
I’m not involved with any bands, nor was I involved with any serious projects in the past. I don’t usually like working with other people, unless they’re acting under my influence, I’m the anal composer that likes to have total control over their music.
What are some of your favorite classical pieces and why?
Rachmaninov’s second concerto would be one of my favorites, that’s brilliant. Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique‘ is another, actually I think I’ll put that on right now with a bottle o’ vino. Also Chopin’s nocturnes, they’re gorgeous.
Who did the stunning cover art for Griseus and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork is from a 19th century painting that hangs in my folks’ house, I grew up looking at it in dreamy wonderment, so it has a personal and sentimental meaning to me, as well as making a beautiful cover. The other artwork that appears on the release is from photos I’ve taken from around where I live, which also has meaning to me and which the music is anchored to. After working through the night on Griseus it was nice to step outside at dawn and relax under a foggy willow and take the smoky mountain air, this particular willow I refer to appears on the disc of Griseus.
Would you ever want to compose for a film or documentary – or have you already?
I have done some score work and have had some of my music used in films. Later in life I think I will focus more on soundtrack work, and I am fond of a lot of soundtracks, Thomas Newman for instance has created some neat pieces.
In my review, I stated your music was probably influenced by entities such as Emperor and Ennio Morricone? How accurate do you think this is and do you listen to either?
I have heard the artists mentioned but I don’t know them very well, I shouldn’t be so lazy and give both of them more of a listen.
Has Aquilus ever played live or plan to do so in the future? Wouldn’t it be something to hear Griseus with a full symphony orchestra!
Concerts for Griseus will hopefully be commencing soon, they will consist of a unique arrangement of material from across the album set up into three acts.
And yes, indeed it would, one day I am hoping to record a DVD of a concert with orchestral accompaniment, perhaps after the next album this will be realized.
Will any of your early work be released through ATMF and looking back, what do you think about it now?
At the moment only Griseus will be released through ATMF.
Most of the previous works were just me experimenting until I was ready to produce a proper first album, some of it’s okay.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Griseus for the first time?
Hmmm I don’t know, whatever gets their d*cks hard… (Second bottle o’ vino in progress)
How close are you to writing a whole new collection of songs and how will they compare to what’s heard on Griseus?
Most of the main material for the next album is already written and I can’t wait to start recording it, the material on Griseus is between five and ten years old now, the next album will be of similar styles, but done much better. There will also be some piano pieces with operatic vocalisation which I think will come out rather well.
Any final words of wisdom?
Sure, to any artists that are reading this, don’t rush your art, keep working until you have perfected something worthy of sharing …or until you run out of time. Alas, the latter will usually come first. Cheers
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)