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remina promo strata aInterview with

Mike Lamb (Guitar, Drums, Bass & Synth) from Remina

Spherical and mystical music that casts its spell on you, music to dream away: ‘Strata’, the debut album by REMINA, captivates you from the very first moment. The cosmic Doom project is the new band of Heike Langhans, (ex-DRACONIAN, ex-ISON, :LOR3L3:) and Mike Lamb (SOJOURNER, LYSITHEA). ‘Strata’ was recently released and next year the duo will make their stage debut with REMINA at the festival “Stella Nomine - The Blackest One” in Torgau. In this interview, Mike Lamb reveals how REMINA came into being, what musical influences have shaped him and Heike and what is behind the band’s name.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Both of you have a long and varied musical background: For example, you with SOJOURNER and LYSITHEA, Heike with DRACONIAN, ISON and :LOR3L3I:, and you both with LIGHT FIELD REVERIE. So how did REMINA come about?
Mike: REMINA came about as a way to separate the darker, doomier aspects of LIGHT FIELD REVERIE out into a project where we can focus exclusively on that side of things. LFR will move in a more goth rock direction, similar to the title track on that album, which will give both projects a much more distinct and defined identity. We wanted REMINA to be a pure exploration of the Space and Cosmology themes that we love so much, in a genre that we both feel very at home in.

RoD: What does the name REMINA refer to, how did you come up with it?
Mike: The title REMINA was borrowed from a book by one of our favourite authors, Junji Ito, called ‘Hellstar Remina’. Later on it was actually released as just ‘Remina’ in the West, but essentially REMINA is a world-eating Lovecraftian planet in the manga. We toyed with other Ito references for a while, but the Cosmic horror elements of ‘Hellstar Remina’ made most sense with our themes as a band.

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RoD: Which musical influences from your other projects did you take over with REMINA, what did you newly develop?
Mike: Heike brings her usual style that you can hear in her solo project :LOR3L3I: and her ex-project ISON, which is just such a natural and effortless style for her musically and vocally, that sort of ethereal cosmic beauty that captures the vastness and loneliness of space. I brought the Spacey Doom style of writing from my band LYSITHEA and a lot of the song-writing experience from my years writing SOJOURNER. For this band though, we took all of our usual writing styles and really honed them into what we wanted to hear from a Cosmic Doom style that captures what we truly love about Space and the vast loneliness of the universe. Huge layers of sound design and spectral beauty layered in with a huge, heavy bed of doom with the edges sanded off…if that makes sense. It’s not aggressively heavy, more colossal and meditative.

RoD: The debut album ‘Strata’ was just released in November. How are the fans’ reactions so far?
Mike: Honestly the reactions so far have exceeded anything we could have hoped for, we’re both incredibly honoured by the response from fans and critics. Of course, you can’t please everyone, and there are some people that wish we were heavier or had growls but in the end that’s not what we set out to do with ‘Strata’. The reaction has been beyond anything we could have imagined, so thank you to everyone that has contributed to it being such a success!

RoD: Where did you record the album? Can you tell us something about the making and the development of it?
Mike: The album was recorded in both Dunedin, New Zealand and Cape Town, South Africa, before being finished together in person in Düren, Germany. We both worked incredibly closely hand-in-hand, even over vast distances, to make this record a reality.

RoD: Who of you gives what influence to your music? Where can you recognise Heike’s personality, where yours?
Mike: We both contribute pretty much equally to the overall atmosphere and style of the music. Though the most obviously identifiable point is, of course, Heike’s incomparably beautiful vocal style and her melodic choices in her vocal lines. We have a very similar writing style, and complement each other so well. The music is so entwined that I think it’s hard to unpick either of us directly in the music, I think we were lucky that we found this writing team.

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RoD: Your music is very melancholic, very spherical. Where does this mood come from for you personally?
Mike: We specifically aim to create a kind of all-encompassing atmosphere where even the heavier layers, like guitar and drums, form a sort of atmospheric background layer for the vocals to float over and weave between. That’s at the forefront of our minds when writing. Spherical is definitely a good word for it, it’s like doom with the rough edges sanded off… that’s the best way I can get across what I aim for when mixing the album.

RoD: Do you write the music together, or do you divide it up - lyrics and music?
Mike: Very much together, it’s all done as a very collaborative process. Lyrics are mostly Heike, but sometimes she gets me to weigh in, but I prefer to leave the lyrics squarely in her domain. Same with the vocal melodies, I don’t like to mess with them when she’s got such a talent for making the most beautiful melodies I’ve ever heard.

RoD: You have a lot of musical experience - was it always clear to you that you wanted to become musicians?
Mike: Yeah, we both knew from a very young age that we wanted to do music. It was just something that spoke to us very deeply from a very young age, and was one of the persistent things that followed us both through our lives and shaped so much of how we both are as people.

RoD: What role did music play for you in your childhood, in your family, did you grow up with it?
Mike: Both of us had parents that were always listening to music, and it shaped our lives in a very profound way. Neither of us are from musical families in a professional sense, but we knew this is what we both wanted to do.

RoD: Which artists have inspired you the most?
Mike: Too many to count! For me it would be bands like AKIRA YAMAOKA, TOSHIO MASUDA, AGALLOCH, NOVEMBRE, MOURNING BELOVETH, PARADISE LOST, MY DYING BRIDE, PINK FLOYD, OPETH, DRACONIAN, TRISTANIA, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, COHEED & CAMBRIA, THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE… ah, this is a hole that I could go down for way too long, that barely scratched the surface and I’m still forgetting many of the most important ones. Also a lot of the 80s and 90s music that I grew up on, lots of the darker pop music from the 80s and grunge and alternative bands from the 90s. Heike, who couldn’t directly be part of this interview unfortunately but is chiming in from the other side of the room, says that her influences are a lot of the early bands that she listened to growing up such as THE CRANBERRIES, Sinead O’Connor SINEAD O´CONNOR, YAZOO, Roger Waters ROGER WATERS, and many of the grunge bands of the 90s.

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RoD: What concert did you see (as a fan) that changed your life?
Mike: For me it would have been OPETH, A Perfect Circle A PERFECT CIRCLE, or COHEED & CAMBRIA back as a teenager. I wouldn’t say they changed my life or influenced me necessarily, but I was definitely inspired by the raw power of the live environment and those bands’ mastery over it.

RoD: You are playing at the beautiful Stella Nomine festival next year. Will this be your debut with REMINA? How much are you looking forward to it?
Mike: It will be! We’re still getting the line-up together, we haven’t filled the second guitar or bass positions yet, I’m quite specific about what we want going into it, it has to be the right fit musically and personality-wise. We’re both really looking forward to take REMINA to the stage finally though, and this festival seems like a beautiful place to do it.

RoD: Which venue or festival have you played at that has impressed you the most in your career so far?
Mike: For me it was when we played at Dark Troll Festival in Germany with SOJOURNER in 2018. That venue, the people, and the atmosphere was one of my fondest musical memories and is a great setting to play a show. Our tour with DRACONIAN and HARAKIRI for the Sky across Europe in 2019 was very special as well, every show had a special atmosphere on that… there’s something special about Europe in winter.

RoD: What does music mean to you?
Mike: Everything. Our lives revolve around it, it’s all-encompassing and there’s nothing else that quite encapsulates the human experience as well as music does.

RoD: Thank you very much for the interview!
All pictures by Remina

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