QAANAAQ (for Battle Helm)

Okay, I’m not even gonna try to properly pronounce this band’s name. but thankfully QAANAAQ are easier to understand musically.

Interview was prepared by ANDERS EKDAHL (Battle Helm)

Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-We actually think that it has gone even beyond our best expectations! We started playing just for fun, three brothers who wanted to play together and unite their respective music influences. When Dario and Enrico (guitar and vocals) joined us, we found out that our band had something to say, that our sound was unique, and that the world was finally ready to hear it! Ok maybe that’s too much…haha. All kidding aside, when we started the idea of publishing an album through a label wasn’t in our minds at all. We found out that that was possible one step at a time, and when we realised that, we worked hard to make it happen.

How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-We’re happy of our album and how it sounds. We couldn’t afford to record in a professional studio because our budget was very limited so we tried to do our best with what we had. We think that our product is 100% professional, our friend Riccardo Arrigoni did a wonderful job recording and mixing it and also understanding what we wanted to sounds like, which wasn’t easy since it was the first recording session for us.

Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it?
-Yes, we think that our sound is unique, but we don’t want that to be a limit. Everything changes, and so do our tastes, our musical influences, our life experiences and so does our music in response, since we compose and play with our heart and soul. What looks like staying the same is the length of our songs: we just composed a new track and that’s 12 minutes long, like a couple in our first album, hahaha! Somebody will be annoyed but it, but who cares!

Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-It’s not mandatory! If we have something to say we can “hide” it in the meaning of the song, as an allegory, as we did several times in “Escape From The Black Iced Forest”, but sometimes they are only stories. The urgency to convey an idea or a message is typical of the youth, and we are not young since years, then the experience of our ages allow us to see the world around us emotionally detached. We can tell a story without the duty to take position about it. It’s not cowardice by us, it’s more the awareness that you can’t change the world with a rock anthem, then we prefer that the listener get an idea by himself if he want to, but there’s no shame taking it only as music. In this way also the topics that we address aren’t so important for us, they are only stories, and in the future we could write more about them or change completely direction. This doesn’t mean the we pay little attention to lyrics (for this reason we included lyrics in the booklet), only that we put ‘em and musical instruments on the same footing.

How important is the cover artwork for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-We think that the cover is very important, as is all the artwork of an album, but not because it can help with the sales, but because is an extension of the music. We’re not young, we all used to go to a record store to buy cds, so we still like the physical product and want to give it the attention it deserves. But if somebody has bought the digital release of our album and deleted the PDF of the booklet, well, it’s their problem, our conscience is clear, haha!

Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-That’s a hard question to answer. There are a lot of prejudices regarding the origin of bands. It looks like that if a metal band comes from Italy you can’t be as professional and as prepared as an American band for example, maybe because there’s a lot of shit music that comes fron Italy… I don’t know, it’s complicated. We don’t look for success, we’re happy for what we’ve achieving right now, since we’re not teenagers who can leave everything behind and follow the rockstar dream, we all have a full time job and families that depends on us. We are happy to satisfy our need to compose new music and share it with who wants to listen to it. Everything more than that will be very welcomed.

Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-We rely on our label regarding the distribution since we just don’t know where to start without contacts. We use social media to spread the word and that can definitely help. The fact that our music is very unique can help because we’re something fresh and new. We’re obviously influenced by other bands, but our sound and our song are original and different from what’s around and that can make a difference. Who’s open minded in music interests can’t say that our band isn’t original in the metal genre.

What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-Our local scene is composed by great, professional bands, and it covers different genres and subgenres. Sadly, is totally non influential regarding international success. It is difficult to have success in Italy if you play metal, it is actually easier to have success abroad. Unfortunately the ignorance of the audience in Italy is as much as the indifference of mass media about metal music. People don’t go to listen to live music in pubs anymore. The best reviews we received were from abroad, especially from East Europe. If it weren’t so complicated and expensive, we would be touring there now! Well, we will see what the future holds for us.

Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-As you know, Italy is not famous for its rock or metal bands, though there were an awesome progressive rock scene back in the ‘70s, acknowledged by many international artists like Mikael Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson. There’s a good underground scene, but it can’t emerge like it should and deserve, people are still and only interested in mainstream music. It is true that thanks to the Internet and social media, things improved a little, people are not afraid of metal music fans anymore haha! Parents are not hiding their metal listener kids anymore hahaha!

What does the future hold for you?
-We want to continue compose our music, and hope to record it again in a new album. It is seven years of playing music together already, we hope it will last until we feel to have something to say and having fun doing it. We’re happy tha Qaanaaq exists, we’re very proud of what we created and we’ll do our best to improve as musician and composers. It’s not obviously only a hobby for us, it’s something that we feel we need to do, and we can’t resist this need to compose and express! It’s like with sexual instincts. Yeah, this band is our musical masturbation hahaha!
Thanks for this interview!!

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