The Vast and Complex World of In Somnia
The Vast and Complex World of In Somnia
In Somnia present exhilarating progressive metal that is sure to tantalize the senses and set the imagination in flight. Based out of Lienz, which is a medieval town in the Austrian state of Tyrol, In Somnia has just unleashed the almighty Harlequin upon the world at large. Their latest magnum opus of deep thought and punishing metal and djent style grooves, Harlequin by In Somnia is a work of sonic artistry that is well worth seeking out. Highwire Daze recently caught up with singer/guitarist Simon Andreas Brunner to explore the vast and complex world of In Somnia. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in In Somnia, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Simon, 30 years old, and I’m the singer, songwriter as well as guitarist of the band In Somnia. Away from the band, I work as a software developer. My non-musical activities in the band also include accounting, management, audio engineering, video editing, web development (for the band, website, store etc), image editing, marketing, public relation, as well as product design and shipping.
The band was founded in 2013, in the current formation we play more or less since 2017
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Our home port is in Lienz, a small Tyrolean town in the middle of 300 peaks higher than 3000 meters. The local music scene, hm, how do I put this kindly… It always lags behind the trends. Generally speaking, with a few exceptions, metal is almost extinct – probably also because the only venue where young bands could play had to give way to progress. I think we have great artists here in pop, rap, rock and also metal – however, I notice that the scene is getting older and somehow nobody is following.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Harlequin?
Yes, definitely. The harlequin is an artificial figure, a shapeshifter. The harlequin is the beggar, the king, the ace, the worm, the liar and the virtuous. He is in all of us. The title of the album thus answers the question indirectly posed in the title track of the previous album (For the Harvest), “I am the spirit that negates and rightly so. I am the voice in your head, the squall on your skin. I am the question, am the answer, am the sin. Call me hate, call me lust, call me future, call me past, call me devil, call me god…. ego sum qui intus habitat (I am the one who dwells within)“. In fact, I didn’t know the answer to this question myself at the time of “For the Harvest“. My uncle, a highly intelligent man, was condemned to a life as a beggar at the train station of Lienz, due to the doom of his father. A free spirit who did not fit into the system. On the day in 2018 when I learned of his death, I sat down to play the guitar. I did not think, I let the emotion flow. I felt the voice of an unrecognized individual fade into the sand and gravel of the surrounding mountains and its response in the form of a breeze, coming from the peaks. That night I wrote the title track “Harlequin“, and I knew that it will be the title that will also be carried by the album, and also what is the answer to the question from “For the Harvest“. However, I could not write the words to the song until years later – the glass was opaque, the fog too thick…. I wanted to see the target before I shoot.
Select two songs from Harlequin and what inspired the lyrics?
Since I have already described the title track, I will focus on two others. “Rollercoaster” is about addiction and escape through alcohol, which I myself am subject to. The song deals with the knowledge of one’s own demise, the fear of what will be left behind (‘I don’t wanna be a memory in an old woman’s head‘), and the effects on the state of entropy we call happiness that follows. “Breathing Soil“, a track we’re shooting a video for tomorrow, describes the dissolute state in which a sentient soul finds itself in society. The track describes the worthlessness of words – they only serve to vibrate the air – and that a thinking and reflecting person carries words in itself, but these are not audible, because his lungs are filled with the dirt of others.
Who did the cover art for Harlequin and how much input did you have on it?
The idea was to shed a different light on the character of the Harlequin. We definitely didn’t want playing cards or someone in a harlequin costume. We wanted to make it so that you yourself are the harlequin who tries to break out of your consciousness, or break into it. The shattered glass is supposed to be the border between truth and reality. It is a photo, shot by my friend Philipp Weger (www.wegerpixel.at). It is not a photomontage. You can see the actress Karin Glinzner, in the role of “Harlequeen” – as she can be seen again and again in our videos – behind a physically existing pane of glass, which did not survive the -28 degrees Celcius of winter. Mattias Girstmair, from Echopolis Productions, then edited and colored the image, and in the spirit of corporate identity, adapted the cover to our previous. So in fact we had a lot of impact in the outcome and we are to 100% satisfied with the outcome.
What could one expect from a live In Somnia show?
I don’t know, I never saw them live ^^
What I do know is that you see four sweaty people from the mountains, who give everything to transport a certain mood. We give a lot to the live production – it’s like a rehearsed play. With Dennis Pascuttini we also have our own light technician and therefore a very special light show. That makes us as a non-professional band at least a bit professional. I always find this question difficult, because I’ve never been on the other side of the lights.
If In Somnia could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Ed Sheeran – To entertain the boys who have been dragged along by their girlfriends.
When you look back on your first album Withered-Frozen-Perished from 2014, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
An album is a snapshot. At the time it was just right. The fact that time has passed, and we have matured as musicians does not deny this condition. I would do a lot of things differently today, but that would be somewhere an alienation of purpose of the music as such. I like to play the melody arcs of the tracks “Kill me while she sleeps” and “Till death do us part“, because I still think they are ingenious (even if they go down a bit in the mix of the album). The track “Asphyxia” is still in the live set. Conversely, it would be sad if this development had not taken place.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of In Somnia?
Yes. Mainly as a recording engineer in my studio and as a hired gun on guitar I was involved in several projects in the fields of Black Metal, German Rock and Rap and still collaborate with my good friend Rene Bacher aka “Rin99er“, although no longer live. The self-titled album of Aitvaras, on which I was allowed to participate in the production, I feel as one of the highlights of my sound engineering career (not because of my job, but I think it is so well written and I am glad that I was allowed to participate).
Next year marks the 10-year anniversary for In Somnia. What has kept you so passionate about In Somnia for nearly 10 years now?
Oh god, how fast time flies?! The thing is, we make the music first and foremost for ourselves. That’s probably why we don’t follow every trend. The music has something therapeutic. It is an expression for something that the voice is not able to express. To break off with the music would be like a vow of silence… besides, without it I would probably no longer be alive.
What do you hope the rest of 2022 brings for you and In Somnia?
We have fans and friends in Russia and Ukraine. If I had only one wish, it would probably be that there would be no more blood on anyone’s hand and that no one would go hungry. This is not limited to the countries mentioned. I know that neither the Russian in St. Petersburg nor the Ukrainian in Kiev is an evil person, I have seen them… joyful people with their goals, dreams, fears and families. I wish that the conflict ends, but also that we in the West do not lump them together. Considering how unlikely life is and how unlikely it is to have that person in the same generation, every life lost to war or strategy is a tragedy. I make this statement apart from In Somnia – because we as a band have decided not to take a political stance – music should be accessible to everyone, which is why we don’t position ourselves as a formation. So this statement reflects only my opinion and view. For me as a European it is incomprehensible why we have not yet founded a state… alone the turnover of Apple exceeds the Austrian gross social product. Why is it still so difficult in the 21st century to accept life as a gift? Life – no matter where it is on the globe. What 2022 brings for IN SOMNIA? I don’t give a damn… That’s not what we should be worried about….
Any final words of wisdom?
“Find out what you can do and what you enjoy doing and then do that.” Aleksi Laiho to me after a concert, the only time I’ve met him in person.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thank you for having me, that was a set of questions that’s never getting asked and I enjoyed answering them. You are doing an amazing job with Highwire Daze. I hope, I didn’t provide too much detail and excuse myself for my non-native English skills – I hope you’ll get the point. Cheers from Großglockner, we are coming with the “Tauernwind”
Simon Andreas Brunner • Vocals, Guitars
Andreas Wibmer • Guitar
Florian Bacher • Bass
Dominic Granegger • Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
In Somnia on Facebook