In our effort to build up the sphere around antifascist neofolk, this has included a lot of black metal (or adjacent) artists who are a part of this growing antifascist dark music scene. We came across Ecologist while doing this, a blackgaze/black metal drone project out of Chile based on the aggressive response to environmental destruction and the revolutionary experimentation of building an ecologically sustainable future. We caught up with Vincente, the solo musician behind the project, while he is working on his two upcoming albums (right now he only has two introductory songs available on Bandcamp). We discuss the environmental crisis in Chile that has motivated Ecologist, how he builds a layered sound of noise drone, and how he handles fascists in his midst.
How did Ecologist come together? Was this your first project?
Ecologist, such as many other solo projects, was created for a musically spontaneous reason. A musically inspired momentum that generated all the projects that I’ve been consolidating since I was an adolescent. Ecologist, unlike others, is perhaps the one that I’ve appreciated most of all because of the concept of the band, which is nature, environment, it’s degradation and earth ecosystems. Ecologist is where I decided to unwrap all my work related to purely black metal.
Ecologist was born officially in 2017 because of very curious and even absurd reasons, but when I started developing more lyrical and conceptual ideas, I got really motivated.
Ecologist is not my first project. When I was a pre-adolescent I tried to be a noise artist and released some stuff in other names in international small labels, but that’s not worth talking about. However, I have bands that are very meaningful in a musical way to me and I put all my musical and creative effort in those. My main band is Arrebol and we released an album this year and we’re still looking for a label to produce it. I really recommend this project to anyone interested in Ecologist’s music as it is where I did my best performance.
Who is all in the band? What instruments are you playing? What’s the recording process like?
The band is only me and no one else. For the second album (yes, I am already working on a second album even though I haven’t released the first one) I’ll be working with another vocalist because I’m changing the style of the original project into a more psychedelic atmospheric death/black metal with many drones in it. I play guitar, bass, electric drums and I do vocals and lyrics in the project. I have a small home-studio that consists of an interface, my computer and my DAW and most of all the recordings are digital, just how I did for my EP and for the first album that I’m working on, but I’ve experimented more for the second one. Most of the songs are old, recordings that began in 2017 that I’m still working with. Since then, in the experimental phase, I started to improvise and add different sound effects, sounds, plugins, added more leads and ornamenting all the songs.
Where did the name Ecologist come from?
The idea of the name of the band came as an inspiration for the name of the band Botanist (a very interesting project that philosophy I enjoy) but with the theme of ecology: Ecologist. The discipline of biology, biochemistry, study of nature and ecological systems have been very influential in my appreciation of the environment, but not as much as seeing and feeling in real life the ecosystems developing: observing rivers and its fauna and flora, the woods, growing of plants, relations between species, etc. Experiences as subtle as growing your own plants can be as meaningful to appreciate something so essential as the biodiversity and the use of natural resources in human life. Al the end, Ecologist was born as a manifesto on environmental degradation and the overuse of natural resources, destroying essential life, which eventually will lead us to a crisis in which human life will also be endangered, something that will expose us because of our economic systems and politics.
The releases are inspired by the Loncomilla River in Chile and its pollution. What is the situation with the river and how did it inform your album?
I’ve visited the Loncomilla River since I was a kid because of all the times I’ve visited my grandfathers that live in San Javier at the south of Chile. As I’ve been so much time going and observing, I know how notorious the accumulation of garbage and residues in the shores of the river has been, mainly because of human activity. People use the river as a landfill, leaving bags, paper, plastic bottles, food wrappers, electro domestics, chairs, furniture, etc. I have seldom seen a decrease in trash and I’m also ignorant about the effectiveness of the organizations that educate and do cleaning of the rivers, and in the end the garbage affects people near the river and its ecosystem. I’m not blaming everyone, most of the houses in the river are a result of bad urban planning and the poor education that Chile gives to its citizens and specifically in environmental action.
There are also agriculture companies that contaminate the river. I have a personal experience where I was walking through the shores near an agricultural field along my cousin and we encountered tons of rotting potatoes near the river, something that’s not only illegal, but very contaminating. At the end, everything resumes to the few develop necessary changes to the wellbeing of the zone. I don’t live in San Javier but it is the lack of vocalization in support of this region is unacceptable.
How does environmental consciousness drive your creative process?
Mainly through fantasy, imagining in a certain way the spiritual existence of nature and about its consummation. I feel more like hopeless for the voracious destruction of the environment in the hands of the capitalist system, but when I start to fantasize about it I tend to imagine crazier things, almost like a total and abominable destruction taken from a tale of Lovecraft. At the same time, this image of nature makes me think of the homeostasis process that develops in the ecosystems, such as cycles and natural phenomena, admiring its complexity and study. The first album will be about an admiration about nature and the second will be more about its genesis and destruction.
What can be done to confront the epidemic of pollution you’re writing about?
It is hard to answer this because I am not an academic or even student of environmental themes nor its applications to mitigate environmental contamination, but I definitely consider the act of mitigation as fundamental rather than just adapting to the excessive politician, and this is hard in a capitalist system and under the “free market.” The system we need to confront epidemic pollution is one where education of individuals is based on a perspective respectful of renewable uses of resources, environmental care and sustainability, real sustainability, not the one that capitalism sells. A system where legislation is efficient in terms of control, fiscalization and limitations, one that considers opinions of experts and academics over anti-intellectuals, so pollution can be minimized. Further, in our activism and how we want to order society, we believe that informing ourselves and attacking strategic points is where we can have the most influence over the minimization of pollution.
How would you describe your sound?
Hmmm…. it has varied over time, I would describe it as a cold breeze hitting from the shores of a river or the sea. A black metal that uses many drones and layers of sound to be immersive, still being a bit lo-fi, but very immersive.
What bands have inspired you?
Principally, Lurker of Chalice. Other great influences in my sound are from Blut aus Nord, The Ruins of the Beverast and Thcornobog. The first album that I’m working in is inspired in the Memoria Vetusta saga from Blut aus Nord.
Have you encountered any racism in the black metal scene?
In the most intolerant genre of metal, how could I not? In the scene I’ve encountered many artists that I enjoyed for a long time that have fascist or national socialist tendencies, which have racists, individualistic, conservative and intolerant ideas that hide in apolitical discourses so they will not scare away listeners with its true essence. I can see that this is being disputed, almost like show business, but I think it’s reasonable because many people don’t know that they are supporting (and I mean in financial terms) those artists and it turns necessary to expose. Making a call that to anti-totalitarism and anti-fascism almost turns necessary to be separated from groups in the black metal scene. For example, in Chile, one can see a great support for the national socialist writer Miguel Serrano.
Why is it important to stand up against fascism in the black metal scene?
For the same reason that one should stand up against it in any situation. No authoritarian ideology that makes us less free, censors our opinion, discriminates for absurd reasons, stands against minorities, other cultures, origins, skin color, sexual orientation, should be tolerated.
It is understandable that maybe there cannot be ethical consumption in a capitalist economic system, as for the consumption itself, only through self-management can one avoid consuming products that had a certain grade of labor exploitation or that caused a bigger externality. Then, I think that if someone is going to appreciate a musical piece that is problematic, just the music itself, at least one should download illegally for its own enjoyment and not support fascist artists by directly contributing any coin, but even doing that, one couldn’t just simply ignore the weight of the lyrical and conceptual concept. For me, it gives me a disgusting sensation. For example, I wouldn’t enjoy playing a streaming of an album from M8l8th knowing that they’re receiving a % of royalties and you are de facto support their behavior and their manifesto. I suggest taking a look and not supporting bands that one knows supports national socialism, white supremacy, nationalism, racism, intolerance against migration, and others.
What bands would you recommend for antifascist neofolk and black metal fans?
Lately I’ve been listening very few black metal, but I would recommend a record from friend Téleos that has a demo done in 2017 “Empeira, Scienta” or the most recent album release from another friend with his project Mutterings called “Room”. Stuff I’ve enjoyed very much this quarantine are the Duster discography, Hell III from USA and the split from Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum.
What’s coming next for Ecologist?
Well, I am actually working on two releases at the same time and I hope to be signed to a label soon so I can release everything on a physical format. Ecologist will remain alive till the extinction of humanity.
We are adding Ecologist’s two tracks below, and will add their full length albums when they are available. They are not on Spotify yet, but make sure to add the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify.