Thursday, September 20, 2018

Zine Publisher Interview: Serafima Okuneva (INDUSTRIA MAGAZINE) by Dave Wolff

Interview with Serafima Okuneva, editor and publisher of INDUSTRIA MAGAZINE

You recently presented Industria Magazine at Bigfest, Russia’s largest comic book and small press festival this past August. How did you hook up with the people involved, and who did you become acquainted with while you were there?
I have great friends, especially from the horror almanac Fantomas which is based in Ekaterinburg, Russia. They were invited to participate in Bigfest but couldn’t come and advised me to go. It’s strange, but there was not much of horror culture at the festival. But I met a lot of interesting people who are active in the comic and small press cultures. I met Johnny Rayan who publishes the great angry Prison Pit comics, haha. This is not the last event where I’ve promoted Industria. Bigfest was on the 11th of August, and the Cruel Letter exhibition was on the 12th of August. You can view information here.

Tell the readers about your August appearance at Cruel Letter Exhibition and the people you met there.
The curator of the exhibition found me on Instagram and offered me a chance to participate in the event. She invited me to promote the magazine in the form of an installation and it seemed interesting. Industria's installation included a totem in a web, which was based on the idea of chthonic energy, the engine of human creativity. The totem was highlighted by red candles. In the background, there was a teaser to the last issue of Industria with labyrinths, candles and fire broadcast (I have teasers for each issue of my zine). Fire is an expansive aspiration to the outside world; red is the color of passion and life. All of these are integral elements of Industria magazine’s concept, which is managed to be implemented in this form.

Do you attend conventions like Bigfest and Cruel Letter Exhibition to promote each year?
There are a lot of interesting events with many amazing designers and artists who are interested in the dark forms and aesthetics of lettering. I met Johnathan Castro, a designer from the Netherlands, who has experience with design with "ugly" lettering. He likes the history of lettering, along with experimental, ambient and drone like Sunn O))). He is a great master with great taste in musicians, haha. I really hope that I will be able to present my magazine at various festivals every year, but the festival culture is just beginning in our country. I am pleased to be a part of this movement.

Where can Johnathan Castro’s work be viewed on the internet?
You can find a lot of information about his cease on his site. It will be interesting for people who love digital utopias, symbology and ancient cultures, and visual expression in aggressive and futuristic forms.

What sort of a statement do you think Castro is trying to make through his work?
I think that Jonathan would like to express his uniqueness in art through his bright colors and forms. Create for the community and give a fresh drink in understanding what design can be.

What does Industria Magazine cover, how long has it been active and what inspired you to start the zine?
My first thoughts of publishing a zine was appeared when I learned about Weird Tales which ran stories by the lovely genius writer H.P. Lovecraft. I was impressed by the unique illustrations, the special unusual style and the content in this pulp magazine. At times I found scans of rare metal zines, which gave me unique information, ideology and a desire to support their movement. I really like small press and zine culture. I like to feel the paper in my hands, stuffed with specific illustrations, and containing unique information. I want to support small press culture in our country and CIS countries. I talk about how people inspire aesthetics and ideas realized in the Dark Art; the connection of fear and pleasure. All of these are interesting to me, and I'm glad I find people in Russia and CIS countries with whom I can discuss similar and common things.
My zine is about fantasy and escapism. I'm inspired by people who are not afraid to look deeper, who admit this to themselves, develop themselves and love their Abyss. Dark energy has power and inspiration in itself, no less than light, and the connection of fear and pleasure has always aroused our imagination. The idea of Industria involves various manifestations of escapism, and seeks to develop this fearlessness before Darkness in people, cooperation with themselves, their dark sides, fantasies and their abilities.
I feel I'm on an uninhabited island and I like it. This is because I don't know of any similar magazine in our country at present, which combine musical and literary synthesis with a share of pop-scientific articles as the main topics. The first issue was dedicated to Lovecraft, the second to Isidore Ducasse, and the third to fantasy as an unethical instrument in creativity. I want to continue exploring the phenomena of escapism, fantasy, fear and pleasure in creativity. Particularly in extreme and transgressive forms of art. Very few people talk about it, and it’s definitely worth attention.

How well known has Industria Magazine come to be in Russia and other countries?
I do not know how to assess its fame, but I am somewhat known in Berlin (thanks to Moscow’s Zine Ffest 2017) and thanks to you my work is spreading even wider. The small press culture in Russia is not as lively as I would like. I live in St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia, but here people often think more about how to do something than just do it. We have a lot of small press events in Moscow, with interesting people, but often it's the work of designers who don't interview metal musicians and weird/horror authors. But horror culture is gaining momentum, and I'm happy about that. Fantomas from Ekaterinburg is beautifully decorated with terrific horror and strange prose. They produce shirts, postcards and calendars with unique illustrations.

What is Moscow’s Zine Fest like from your experience? Was 2017 the first year this event was held?
Zine Fest is a unique event, where various representatives of small Russian and European press are invited. People sell their magazines and works, make presentations, and some printing laboratories organize their workshops and master classes. Separately, there are representatives of independent music labels with their distro, music concerts and installations. The event was held from 2017 and was a great success. I hope many more years will be spent.

How many issues of Weird Tales magazine have you collected since you first heard of it?
I didn't collect the magazines, only scans. I have scans of nine issues of the magazine and more than twenty scans of the covers.

How much information about Lovecraft and Ducasse was published in the first two issues of Industria?
The first issue included an article on the theme of escapism of The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft. It examined the author's biography, and the study of the phenomenon of escapism in the stories Selefais, The White Ship, Polaris, Other Gods and others. The article was written by the Russian literary critic Dmitry Danilov. In the central part of the second issue is an article by writer and publicist Oleg Lunev called The Song Of Fear. It tells of the biography of Ducasse and analyzes his famous work, Maldorord's Song.

Did you read the publications by Lovecraft and Ducasse in addition to publishing the articles about them?
I want to publish materials in which I'm well versed. I really love Lovecraft and Ducasse. These people have given much understanding of myself through their creativity.

Are there any Russian based horror publications worth recommending to the readers?
Fantomas is in two languages and distributed by Lovecraft Publishing House. I'm really looking forward to the release of the horror almanac The Malachite Coffin. There will be horror stories inspired by Ural folklore published.

How did you first hear of Fantomas, and how much printed material and merch did you purchase from them?
I learned about it in autumn of last year. I saw posts about them on Vkontakte and offered to collaborate with them. The editor suggested we exchange our magazines and since then we have been cooperating. We try to support each other on the Internet while exchanging our magazines. To date they have released two issues, and I have both of them. I also have postcards, stickers and a unique calendar for 2018 with crazy illustrations of the most different evil entities.

What other horror authors are you interested in and why? Does your love of horror include movies as well as magazines and literature?
My interest in horror literature was brought up from the moment I found Edgar Allan Poe and his subtle sense of fear, trepidation and horror at the unknown or incomprehensible. Later I discovered Lovecraft, whose work "The Supernatural Horror In Literature" opened my eyes to the big and rich world of this genre. Horace wrote "The Castle of Otranto" (the first gothic novel in literature) with details of gloomy and mysterious descriptions with the idea of fatal retribution falling on descendants for the sins and crimes of their ancestors. Matthew Gregory Lewis’ archetypically sensational gothic novel "The Monk", according to Brian Stableford, is one of the hardest and blood-numbing pieces of the genre. I adore this story of seduction of the monk Ambrosio by the Devil, here for the first time the synthesis of English and German Gothic originated, which in many ways determined the development of a fantastic and horror literature. Well, this is not all the literature I was subjected to. Of great importance to me is Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, an innovator in the genre of short stories, a master of short and catchy prose, sometimes frankly horrible. He masterfully transferred gothic stories to the realm of the mind, the psyche seemed to him an ideal place for the development of gloomy aesthetics. Algernon Henry Blackwood also greatly influenced me and my propensities in the field of mystical literature. His masterful ability to blur the line between reality and supernatural, the thrill of nature amazes me and will continue to amaze for a very long time. Of modern authors, James Havok is attracted with his transgressive literature, which opens up new avenues for understanding the horror and disgust for the audience.
My love of horror includes not only literature. Magazines in such subjects, as you can already understand, I do not know so much. Films are a separate love, but not as capacious as music or literature. I admire the talents of Dario Argento, Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma, I love the work of the first wave of horror in the spirit of Golem from 1920 and Faust from 1926.

Name some of the works of Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce and Algernon Henry Blackwood that resonated most strongly with you.
Definitely Chickamauga by Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce! It brilliantly blends the lyric of childhood with the horror of human violence, the oniric universe of innocent imagination with the cruelty of war. The ghosts of the past walk with the hauntings of the present, and the future is so uncertain as to what would follow after the last words. It's full of symbolism of light finding its opposite, in a paradox of life and death, cruel reality and sweet illusion. It's creepy and disturbing. I am inspired by "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", in which Farquhar’s overindulgence of fantasy and the reimagining of his fate ultimately undoes him. He cannot realize his desires in the real world, and in the end, he is prey to the delusions and misinterpretations that led him to the gallows. However, though time is nature to subjective perceptions, Ambrose Bierce makes it obvious that it cannot be escaped. In the end, all is darkness and silence!
Algernon Blackwood’s novella The Willows connects reality and the supernatural. Its mysterious nature is unclear. At times it appears malevolent or treacherous, at times mystical and almost divine. The landscape is actually an intersection, a point of contact with a "fourth dimension." Such a weird and beautiful idea!

Are there other authors from the eras of Bierce and Blackwood whose work you find as creepy and disturbing?
One of my favorite writers of that era is the great Gustav Meyrink. His interest in occult disciplines along with his talent was born with incredible aesthetics. I think you know writers like Arthur Machen and Clark Ashton Smith. Their prose are so deep in symbolism, mysticism and sometimes in frank horror.

What speaks to you about the work of Dario Argento, Clive Barker, David Cronenberg and Brian De Palma? Is it the writing, the soundtrack or the atmosphere of their movies? Name some examples.
Of all these directors, Dario Argento is the closest. His work is full of deep mysticism, theatricality and unique characters. His use of lights and colours, scenery and camera work - he was largely an innovator in the horror genre. I adore the Goblin band, their progressive, sometimes disturbing rock that perfectly fits into his films. Suspiria, Profondo Rosso are my favorite works of his.
David Cronenberg’s aesthetics of body-horror (The Fly, for example) interest me. His raising the problem of what is considered normal, and what is normal - the abnormality, the fragility of the boundaries between these concepts. Videodrome, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ all interest me.
Clive Barker is a talented writer, director, artist and photographer. I admire his talent and ability to come up with unreal worlds of brutality, blood and the supernatural. Hellraiser is a cult movie of mystical horror, with a vast universe and scary demons called Cenobites, whose pleasure is pain, torture and suffering. Lord Of Illusions was good, atmospheric and sometimes terrible. Clive Barker skillfully combines different genres, making specific decorations, and as a result we get a great movie.
I admire the ability of de Palma to shoot criminal detectives: to feel the characters and so brightly and characteristically to reveal their image. In Scarface with Al Pacino and Snake Eyes you can see his favorite tricks with long scenes and splitting the screen into parts. I love his mystical thriller Carrie. It's the first screen version of Stephen King's novel and the only one shot in the 1970s. Here, horror seems to be generated by the nature of the characters and their relationship with each other. Very beautiful and unusual.

Describe the movies Golem (1920) and Faust (1926) and why you believe they best represent the first wave of horror.
More correctly, the 1920s a public interest in this genre appeared in the 1920s. Many of the earliest full-length horror films were German expressionism, which Golem directly confirms. Faust is from Germany too actually. It is wonderful that by using limited technical possibilities in these times, directors showed modern filmmakers a real master class.

Does the horror cinema of today have the same effect on the viewer? Is horror cinema better or worse off since those days?
I don’t think modern horror movies have the same impact on viewers like. People were less used to such aesthetics, knew little about the culture and probably feared more. The fear of the unknown, as Lovecraft said, is one of the strongest feelings in human nature. Now the audience is more satiated, but the cinema is ready for it. Now the horror genre is an entire independent industry where the development is cultivated and, above all, technical. More narrow specialists, more ways of expression. It's all interesting and can be impressive for the viewer. But in the past there was a limited supply of resources, the territory of the horror movie was little studied, there were more experiments and limited possibilities.

What has James Havok published recently? What do you mean when describing his work as transgressive literature?
The last work of James Havok is Ultra-Gash Inferno: Erotic-Grotesque Manga by Suehiro Maruo which written with Takako Hiroishi in 2001, but I've not read it. Transgressive literature is a new term and it describes various psychedelic experiences, altered states of consciousness, rigid breaking of the norms and stereotypes of society by heroes, violation of social taboos. Therefore, for such literature, the themes of drugs, unconventional sex, painful relationships and mental perversions are characteristic. Heroes fall into the ultimate reflection, subject their consciousness to incredible experiments and commit deliberately illogical actions. Its existing boundaries between the permitted and the forbidden, reality and insanity, bad and good, are delineated and then broken down.

Do you have a staff working on the zine with you, are you seeking writers, or do you prefer to publish it on your own?
I prefer to do online reviews and magazine interviews with bands on my own, but sometimes there are enthusiasts who can offer help. For example, one interview was completely made by one new friend Igor and he also composed questions for another band for the third issue.

What band did Igor interview for the zine’s third issue? Do you and he feel his questions brought out enough to interest readers in this band? Is Igor planning more interviews for future issues?
Igor wrote questions for the old school black metal band Black Goat from Serpuhov and conducted an interview with the one woman black metal project Terribilis from Voronezh. He knows the history of these projects quite well, and he had a rather interesting way of writing the material. To date, we do not know whether Igor can help with the next issue, but it is possible in the future.

Do you hire artists to design front covers for each issue of the zine? If so, who have you hired so far?
It was chaotic looking for artists, not knowing specific resources where they can be found. I went by random hooks and clues, found links on the internet, but I did it and I'm pleased about the results. Also, the cover of the third issue was prepared by artists Dmitry Valentinovich and Zhenya Sazhin. I cooperated with Dmitry when I was working with the first issue, he is very attentive to detail and has rich experience. He likes to create something outside the political, religious and moral-ethical framework, which is important to me. Dmitry also makes tattoos, draws art for bands, gigs, festivals and whatnot. Zhenya Sazhin is self-taught with a beautiful taste in a dark context. He also draws for Russian and foreign musicians and designs tattoos. He helped me with the cover of the second issue and the poster for the presentation of the magazine. The cover of Issue three is drawn by them in four hands, and I think it's the quintessence of the Industria aesthetic: mystical and gloomy.

How many bands have Dmitry and Zhenya designed art for? Where can supporters of extreme music see their work?
Both artists have large catalogues. It's difficult to say precisely but you can check their art in these links (Zhenya) and (Dmitry).

Are you corresponding with zine editors from the U.S. in addition to Autoeroticasphyxium? Where else in Europe are you making contacts?
You're the first person outside my country who is interested in my zine and I'm really happy for it. I rarely thought about it before, and I understand it was a mistake. I must gradually open up new channels of distribution and interaction. It's a new level of understanding life and it's wonderful. I know I will find many more people abroad interested in similar themes, and meeting you inspired me.

You also have an interest in reviewing underground music. What genres do you have the most interest in?
In fact, I consider music to be one of the parts of the theory of cosmopolitanism, haha. The universal means of influencing the psyche, the soul and mind of man, and I really like completely different music: from jazz to harshwall noise. But I mostly like to write about dark and experimental genres: death metal, black metal, progressive metal and their subgenres. I really like doom and hard rock in the spirit of the Pentagram and Saint Vitus, I respect dark ambient and dungeon synth music. Ritual, space, horror ambient - it's all very interesting to me. Noise music and the whole wide range of its expression is also a real cosmos for me, an opportunity to find myself in it and understand a little more of the usual things.

For how many printed and online publications have you reviewed bands and their releases to date?
In the three issues of my magazine there were interviews with thirteen bands and musicians who played or play in the genres of the crust metal, doom rock, black metal, death metal, black/death, horror synth, dark/horror/space/ritual ambient, in the first number was even psychedelic rock, but it's in the past haha. I like to write about the dark forms of art and music in particular. Also I have public support for the magazine in the Vkontakte network, where I make reviews of films, music, literature and visual arts that fit into the concept and aesthetics of Industria that inspired me for what I'm doing. It's difficult to calculate the quantity of internet reviews, because I've done public for three years and about two to four times a week I'm publishing reviews.

What bands have you discovered recently whose albums made a lasting impression on you?
We have good examples like The Spirit from Germany and their album Sounds From The Vortex (2017), Rögnirgoden and their EP Tower of Black Magic (2018), Darvaza from Italy/Norway with album Darkness In Turmoil (2018) and the new album of Craft, White Noise And Black Metal (2018). It's about black metal. Towards Of Megalith by Disma (2011) is an incredible example of modern death-doom metal. It was reissued this year and I'm so glad. Peeled Veins (2017) by Spectrum Voice is great and terrifying; I’m waiting for the new album. Phrenelith is a murderous death metal band from Denmark with their album Desolate Endscape (2017). I’m interested in ambient, noise and drone music because it has more possibilities for self-expression. I’m waiting for the new release of Sunn O))). Other bands I like include Maha Pralaya (Russia) with their albums Bon (2017) and Portal (2018), Ugasanie from Belarus with their album Ice Breath Of Antarctica (2018), the Armenian project Aaram 17 with Karahunj (2018), Atrium Carceri (Sweden) with Codex album (2018). I hope you understand this is a little thing that came to mind. There are many more interesting releases, though there are always enough stamped bands and not interesting musicians in our time.

What do you generally find unique about those releases you mentioned above? How much more room for originality and creativity do you see in extreme metal, ambient, noise and drone?
Some of the these musicians feel the atmosphere very deeply and very skillfully create it, transmits it, someone very technically and innovatively performs the passages already familiar to us, someone has his own unique style, often the musicians who really impress me are really evil and confidently play their music. Probably, in extreme live music there is not much left untilled land, but you can give birth something new or unique in its way to do what we have already heard. Noise and ambient embrace very different approach to creating music, these genres have more means of expression and opportunities to do something new and it's very exciting.

How much does the network Vkontakte help you promote your zine? Do you connect with fans outside Russia there?
I have no small audience there, but for now the network has a lot of weak points. I think to change my plan of action, I should go to Facebook to find a new audience interested in the zine. What about a foreign audience? There is the question of how interested they might be in a zine printed in Russian. It can be interesting and unusual, but to read it would be a big challenge. I plan to make a subsidiary publication for Industria where there will be more visuals, rather than textual information. I plan this to expand my interaction with the outside world.

How extensively do you research a band before reviewing their work?
If the question relates to the zine directly, knowledge of details of the group or musician is important to me. I don't like the template questions and answers, I want to make interesting, sometimes provocative material. I think that understanding well what you are dealing with is a key to success.

In what ways would you say your interviews are interesting and provocative? Would you say the same for your reviews?
I would not say that my interviews are so provocative. Rather, they can contain these questions. It's important to keep the audience in attention, and questions about ideology of the project or unusual cases with their creativity can help in this. I try to make reviews interesting and if I have a lot of information about band and their material it's possible to make review unique and interesting.

Are you consistently researching new subject matter to discuss in your zine? If so, what have you found recently?
I'm in a chronic search for interesting, unique information for the magazine. The subject of discussion is similar; the role of fantasy in creativity, the uniqueness of the creativity of a particular person, the connection of fear and pleasure, the role of the dark ways in creativity. But these topics are revealed in each issue in different ways. What I found and would like to use in the new issue, I'll keep a secret for now.

What bands are you seeking to feature in the next issue? Do you plan to interview more bands outside Russia in future issues?
Again I'm interviewing not only Russian bands. I am also interested in musicians from CIS countries. I want to support my country’s culture and those associated with it with. I interviewed bands from Ukraine and Belarus, but I want to explore the territory further: Georgia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and other places. Underground scenes there are not known well, and this definitely attracts my attention. At the moment I also don't want to talk about specific information about the next issue. I can say that we continue to discuss with black-death, black metal, dark ambient and noise bands and musicians.

From what countries would you most like to interview bands for the zine, if the opportunity presented itself?
Probably I would like to explore spaces that are little known to the general public. I would also be interested in being interviewed by those musicians who integrate aesthetics, ideology or ancient cultures or religions of their homeland or simply interesting for them in their creativity. Interested in South America and eastern countries like Iran or the United Arab Emirates may be.

How soon do you expect the new issue of Industria to be completed and released?
I’m slowly collecting the material and waiting for December, when the designer will be free to work with me. I really hope that at the beginning of the spring the audience will see a new issue of Industria.

Do you hope to promote the zine more actively when it is made available for purchase?
I want to participate in various events and create such events by myself, because there are not many activists in Russia supporting the culture of music or horror small press. At the moment I've sold all copies of all three issues, but I want to sell and talk more active and more interesting about the fourth issue of Industria.

Industria Magazine on Vkontakte

-Dave Wolff

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