Interviews: Vela Pulsar

We have had the opportunity to interview the Symphonic Metal/Post-Black Metal band Vela Pulsar from Canada. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or come out just like that?

Samantha: In the early stages, we kicked around a few band name ideas including the name Horsehead Nebula. We thought it would be really cool to have a space-themed name - sort of a look into a world bigger than our own. We ended up deciding on the name Vela Pulsar for a couple of reasons. First I’ll give you the science: A pulsar is a highly magnetized rotating compact star that emits beams of electromagnetic radiation out of its magnetic poles. Vela is the brightest pulsar (at radio frequencies) in the sky and spins 11.195 times per second. The Vela Pulsar is associated with the Vela Supernova Remnant in the constellation of Vela. When listening to recordings of pulsating emissions from the Vela Pulsar, it sounds like a heartbeat. Our music is very emotional in nature and the heartbeats from the Vela Pulsar struck a chord and we felt it matched best with what we’re all about. We enjoyed the recordings so much we use them in our music as a means of transitioning from our song Levitations to Reverence of Being.

Ryan: Yeah, when I first heard the sound of the Vela Pulsar I knew we had to find some way to incorporate it into our music. The recording we used was radio waves translated into an audio file, from the CSIRO Parkes Observatory in Australia.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

Samantha: I really enjoy a lot of bands in this genre and particularly enjoy playing/writing in this style. I’ve enjoyed metal as a whole since I was probably 10-years-old and that never quite went away! I really gravitate towards symphonic metal and I knew I wanted that influence in the band. I also enjoy black metal and progressive metal. Black metal tends to already have an emotional atmosphere I enjoy and so adding in the symphonic elements inspired by bands like Aquilus and Dimmu Borgir brought some exciting layering to the project.

Ryan: For myself, it wasn’t much of a genre that I “chose” as much as something that resulted from the music I love. Black metal and post-metal are 2 of my favorite genres of music, and with my past songwriting endeavors, they’ve become natural elements of how I compose music. With Vela Pulsar being a new band, I also wanted to make a point to try things I normally wouldn’t do with A Flock Named Murder, which is another reason we dabbled with symphonic. That’s a part of metal I always found fascinating, and with each band doing it differently and some succeeding more than others, I couldn’t help but wonder “how would I approach something like that?” – and Vela Pulsar became a good avenue for it.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Samantha: Ryan and I met in the summer of 2017 at a guitar conference and got along right away. In the evenings we spent hours jamming in the hotel lobby and it felt very easy to play together. A bond was formed right away. I met Cam much later, but it was inevitable being Ryan’s brother and all!

Ryan: It was one of those instances where I heard some riffs that Sam was playing for her own solo material, I really dug the vibe and when considering what I write with A Flock Named Murder, I felt that our styles could mesh into something special. This was originally supposed to be a fun project, but when Sam proposed the idea of doing an album, I thought to myself “Oh, so it’s one of THOSE bands, eh?” – and of course I’m glad she did.

Cam’s my brother, so I’ve been stuck with him for quite a while now LOL – but the 2 of us had played a lot of music together in A Flock Named Murder, so it was inevitable that I’d eventually ask Cam if he wanted to sink his teeth into Vela Pulsar as well.

4. Each band member favourite band?

Samantha: This personally is a difficult question for me to answer because it can change over time, however, during the time we were writing our EP my favorite band had been Epica, (Tarja-era) Nightwish, Aquilus, Behemoth, and Caladan Brood.

Ryan: My favorite band of all time is Agalloch, and I’m also a huge fan of Neurosis, Cult Of Luna, Emperor, The Ruins Of Beverast, Drudkh, Ulver, and Solstafir, just to name a few.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Samantha: Often listening to badass music gets the juices flowing. However, a lot of the ideas on our album came about from the real and raw emotions I was feeling. A lot of those emotions were negative in nature and writing about them gave me the outlet I needed. It was my way of putting a positive spin on the real and difficult feelings I was going through.

Ryan: Sam pretty much nailed it. I know for myself it’s not always the same thing that inspires me – it could be something specific I’m working on in my guitar playing, or perhaps I hear a piece of music that inspires an idea of my own. It doesn’t always have to be metal either, in fact, there have been many cases where I was inspired by movie scores, soundtracks, and other orchestral music. But it all boils down to what mood we’re trying to convey, and what tools we have at our disposal to do it. That goes for my lyrics as well.

6. Where was your last gig?

Samantha: Vela Pulsar has not yet had the opportunity to play live together. This is an international project to begin with so we knew this would be an issue. This coupled with the effects of COVID-19 prevented us all from playing for the last year and a half. The last time I played live was with my band Snatch Sabbath in December 2019. We were scheduled for a couple gigs in 2020 that inevitably got cancelled. Now I’m prepping for my first performance with a newer black thrash band I have joined in Portland named Thisting Altar.

Ryan: It would be great to do some gigs in the future, so long as the opportunity is right – it’s challenging when your members live on opposite ends of the continent. The last gigs Cam and I played were with our primary band A Flock Named Murder – we opened for Chicago’s Immortal Bird along with our pals in Ischemic, and a few weeks prior we shared the stage with Oranssi Pazuzu and Insect Ark.

7. Where would you like to act?

Samantha: If I were to dream REAL big, if I could play Wacken I would die!

Ryan: Yeah, that’d be quite an experience! One place that Cam and I have massive respect for is the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. It’s partially due to the lineups they curate (let’s just say they’re our cup of tea!), but also to how they treat the bands and the special events that take place alongside the live performances (such as artist talks and Q&As, and the special pieces bands will collaboratively write just for the festival). It’s a lot more than just a music festival; it’s like they’re honoring the bands they’re hosting, which is quite unique and special. Many bands have also made their live debuts there, and clearly it’s for good reason.

8. Whom would you like to feature with?

Samantha: If we were featured along with bands like Alcest and/or Aquilus I would be very happy with that.

Ryan: I feel like we’d also fit with Sojourner, and that’s not because they also have members living abroad! Mood-wise, I feel like Fen would be a great pairing as well with that blissful, ethereal atmosphere mixed with that raw emotional intensity that makes them so great.

9. Whom not?

Samantha: Hmm I can’t really think of who I wouldn’t want to play with. I am not particularly discriminatory against other styles of music and bands so I would be happy playing with lots of different bands so long as the music is well written!

Ryan: I’m generally quite open with what kinds of bands we share the stage with. I think a more important consideration is the mood the bands are conveying, and that can transcend specific genres. Alcest, Fen and Insomnium can convey similar moods that would gel with us, whereas a brutal death metal band like Suffocation or an ultra-dark and nihilistic band like Adversarial just wouldn’t. And that’s not to knock them, as both bands are amazing - just different.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Samantha: Many people who know me have no idea how shy I have been in the past. I actually used to hate the idea of performing. I feel the opposite now, but I really struggled with the idea of being the center of attention and having people look at me. Playing metal has actually helped me with this a lot because I feel like I can be more theatrical. One of my favorite guitar players is Steve Vai and I have always adored his stage presence. I remember reading about how he thought up the coolest character in his mind... The way he dressed, how he moved his body etc and he used this to create his stage persona. That impacted me a lot and also helped me to be less conscious of myself, fearing I’d be too vulnerable and instead I focused on a character I wanted to be. I don’t have the bravery some people have to put it all on the table! Hopefully, that advice is helpful to some - remember that it is a performance and you can have fun with it and be your own character. Also, the more you do it the easier it gets!

Ryan: I didn’t really know how to act with my first live performances. I just got up, I’d play and move around however I thought made sense, and then reflect on it after. There were many times where I would later think “man, that was stupid and corny, why the fuck did I do that?” and then seek to do better next time. It’s okay to be in a process of figuring that out, as that refining is how you eventually settle into your own skin and who you are on stage.

But the first thing is to get started. Practice your songs and play things that you know you can play well, as in my opinion, playing your instrument well should be your biggest priority. Then go on stage, play, and be enthusiastic in a way that makes sense for you and your music – not what anyone else ‘thinks’ you should do.

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Samantha: Definitely some of the bands I mentioned previously are still some of my favorites to date. However, I also grew up listening to bands like Queen and Radiohead and interestingly enough - a lot of Japanese rock music. X Japan, Malice Mizer, Dir en Grey, and Versailles are just a few of the massive influences for me. I’m definitely a fan of theatrical music.

Ryan: Aside from our favorite bands that sunk their influence into us, we were also particularly inspired by Uada, Altar Of Plagues, and other melodic and post-black metal. We also took ideas outside the black metal genre, including one of my backing riffs that were nearly ripped off from Immolation, and the call-and-response section in “A Refuge Impassable” that was inspired by SubRosa, Draconian, and Cult Of Luna (if you know their recent albums well, you can probably guess what song inspired that part – what can I say? It’s damn good).

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Samantha: Fortunately nothing too weird… YET!

Ryan: Maybe not “weird”, but still surprising – we recently released our physical copies of “Memoirs Of Unbecoming”, and one fan from France who was completely enamoured with our music wanted a signed copy. I emailed him letting him know that while Cam and I could sign it, it would be tricky to get Sam’s and it would take while since she lives so far away and we haven’t seen each other since before the pandemic, but he insisted that he would wait so we could get Sam’s signature as well! That guy must be the most patient fan in existence!

13. What do you think of your fans?

Ryan: I think they suck. No, just kidding! They’re great and have left us some really warm feedback about our music, which we really appreciate!

Samantha: Of those, I know about - they are incredible! I would love to get to know more of what people think of the EP.

14. What do you think of our site?

Samantha: I love the diversity on your site! I thought it was super cool that I could find so many different styles in the subgenre category. I was already able to find some new bands I’m looking forward to checking out and this feels desperately needed.

Ryan: Yeah it’s pretty cool! You’ve got quite a wide variety of bands and it’s cool that you’re giving them a platform.

15. Something to add?

Samantha: If you enjoy what you hear from Vela Pulsar you should check out some of our other bands! Ryan and Cam are in an incredible, mind-blowing post-black band named A Flock Named Murder and I am in an evil and delicious black-thrash band named Thirsting Altar. Music can be found on practically all streaming platforms.

Ryan: On that note, Cam has another band called Ixaxaar Nexia who are fiending their way to a new record in the near future. If you like extreme black/death metal that’s absolutely goddamn savage in all the most diabolical ways, then keep an eye on them!

As for us, thank you for the opportunity to speak about our music and for those who have listened to and enjoyed “Memoirs Of Unbecoming”. This is just the beginning.

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