An Interview With Atlantis’ Founder Gilson Heitinga

Atlantis Band Photo

As we continue the build up to the first edition of London’s ambient / post / doom metal and noise extravaganza Beyond The Redshift this weekend (for which you can read our preview here), Rock Sins has been afforded a great opportunity to catch up with Gilson Heitinga, mastermind behind the experimental noise band / project Atlantis. They will be performing at Beyond The Redshift as part of their most substantial tour in the history of Atlantis thus far. Gilson was kind enough to share thoughts on Redshift, as well as some of the history of the band, collaborations and various other things. Read on for more details….

For anyone unfamiliar with Atlantis and yourself, can you give a brief introduction to Atlantis’ music and what a listener might expect when checking out Atlantis?

Well Atlantis is a project that evolved from being a score for a documentary, into more of a band oriënted structure in terms of performance and the way the music is written. What we hear from people after shows or who have one of the albums, is that they can hear more than just the typical genres we are automatically linked to. May it be metal, rock, the “post” kind of things, but also a lot of electronic based music. And personally I really enjoy that as the music is written to add a lot of different stuff, as I listen to all kinds of music.

When you started Atlantis back in 2006, did you ever envisage it would still be going strong eight years later in 2014?

No, not at all! Like I said, the music was written for a documentary, but that project didn’t get a green light. But At the meantime I had some music written, which evolved into the first album “Carpe Omnium”. And with that album we got the chance to do a show at the Incubate festival, in Tilburg (the Netherlands). So I needed a live band. We didn’t want to do more than one show. But for some reason we got asked to do more. So we stayed as a group, and went on to do shows and tours as I kept recording, producing and releasing new music under the Atlantis name. And here we are 8 years later with some few line up changes, releases and tours down the road.

Omens is your fifth release and third full length album, did you do anything different for the writing or recording processes this time around compared to your previous releases?

Yeah I did. With the previous full length “Mistress Of Ghosts” I had a lot of songs, demo’s and ideas recorded… like really a lot,… like really, really a lot!!! And I didn’t want to do that for the new full length. I started writing music for “OMENS” a couple of weeks after our 2012 tour in support of the “La Petite Mort EP”. And during that tour I was amazed of the power that came from the stage in terms of sound and energy.
So instead of trying to translate music written in a studio into a live performance, I wanted to do the opposite; capture the sound and energy we have as a live act and record that. So I didn’t write tons of demo’s. I wrote six pieces from the summer (2012) towards the end of 2012. And those were the songs for the record. Not more, not less. Just those six songs. So we were ready to start mixing early 2013, but then we decided to record drums, instead of programmed drum parts as on the previous releases… and with that we added that live feel and energy way more.
I’m really proud how ‘OMENS’ turned out, as everyone from that line up contributed on the record, plus the guest musicians; Gijs and Sanne did an amazing job!

At what point did you take the decision to get a band together to tour your music and how did you recruit the other members of your live band?

This happened when we got the opportunity to perform at the Incubate festival. I said ‘yes’ but didn’t have a band yet haha. So I asked a bunch of good friends of mine who were all experienced live musicians. The fun thing was that except for Gido (guitars) and Carlo (drums) who are brothers, they didn’t know each other that well. Sander (keyboards) I knew from school, and Samir (guitars, but not a member anymore) was a flatmate. We connected really well, and although we came from different types of bands, we were all interested in all types of music. Which I think is really important, as Atlantis is not written to be a band composed of one genre of music.

Will this be the first time for Atlantis as a live band in the UK?

No this will be our second time to the UK. Our second show was in London actually, so it has been a while. And we are very excited to come back, as we had a great time in 2008. Damn, that is a while ago haha.

Are you looking forward to performing at Beyond The Redshift in London?

Yes!!! Most definitely! It’s an honour to be invited to play a festival with such a line-up! We are very excited, and will see some familiar faces. It’s going to be a fun day.

Are there any other acts you want to try and see while you are at Redshift?

The first that comes to mind is TOW/The Old Wind, as I’m a big fan of Breach, and I sadly missed them last month at the Roadburn festival, as we played the day after their show. But I heard they killed it, so definitely going to check them out. Very curious to see the God Seed show. Esben and the Witch is an act I didn’t know before, but really want to check them out. Bossk of course are such a bunch of nice guys. There are so many haha I think I will wander from room to room trying to absorb as many bands as I can. And of course Cult Of Luna with their special setlist with Claes. That is going to be a special show. They have the best light show at the moment. I think it’s going to be very cool and special day. And we are really honored to be a little part of it.

Are there any countries in particular you are looking forward to visiting on your tour?

I’m really looking forward to Hungary and Romania, as we never played there before. Can’t wait to go there. The last time we were in Italy we had to cancel our show, and now we have four dates there, so that is going to be cool too. Going to be an amazing tour, and our longest so far.

There are some great artists out there doing similarly impressive solo projects such as Paul Ortiz aka Chimp Spanner, have you ever considered collaborating with another such artist?

Hmmm…. well I love to collaborate, in fact I started a collaboration with JP from the Swiss band ‘Rorcal’ and ‘Kernal’ which I hope will see the light somewhere in 2015. We did some collaborations in the past with Atlantis. Johannes from Cult Of Luna on the ‘La Petite Mort EP’ and Big on ‘Mistress Of Ghosts’ for example. There are some plans for collaborations for the next Atlantis release. Can’t say much about it now.

Lastly is there any final message you’d like to give our readers? It could be anything from a music recommendation to why they should come see your tour.

Definitely check out all the bands that will be a part of Beyond The Redshift! Please also check out the band ‘BAST’ from the UK. Amazing heavy and intense band.

Yeah and come to one of our shows on our tour! We will be doing a set with a wide span of songs from every release. Going to be special. I hope to see you there! Thanks for having me!

Atlantis’ European tour starts today (8th of May 2014) and full details of the tour are available at their official website Catch Atlantis at Beyond The Redshift in London on the 10th of May 2014 where they play the Boston Music Rooms venue at 1pm, as well as at The Anvil in Bournemouth tomorrow night (Friday 9th of May) in the UK.

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