In Carl Jung’s “Mysterium Coniunctionis,” the “solar animus” is a key concept within his analytical psychology framework. It symbolizes a masculine aspect of the unconscious mind, transcending gender, and embodies qualities like rationality and enlightenment. This archetype, linked with solar symbolism, represents consciousness and the guiding force in the psyche. Jung aligns this with alchemical sun symbolism, denoting perfection and self-realization. The solar animus is thus central to Jung’s theory of individuation, where integrating this masculine energy is crucial for psychological wholeness and personal growth.
Estonian artist Kadri Sammel, the multi-faceted talent helping the darkwave project Bedless Bones, explores this concept with her new single, Solar Animus. In the realm of modern electronic music, Sammel stands as a striking and compelling figure, bringing her own distinct vision as well as enigmatic energy, weaving together elements from the shadowy realms of electro-noir genres.
Sammel’s artistry is evident in her new single, Solar Animus: she skillfully blends these genres with the kinetic energy of techno beats, the gritty textures of industrial music, and the haunting atmospheres that seem to transcend the ordinary. Solar Animus fuses contrasting elements, creating a realm where dark, mesmerizing melodies coexist with energetic, pulsating rhythms.
Bedless Bones’ latest album, Mire Of Mercury, is out now. Following Kadri Sammel’s signing with Metropolis Records in the summer of 2023, the album is a significant milestone that highlights her growing influence in the music world. It comes after the expanded re-release of their 2019 debut album, Sublime Malaise, which has garnered momentum and captivated listeners once again. The album is available on CD as well as all major digital streaming platforms.
Post-Punk.com interviewed Sammel about Mire of Mercury; as well as collaborations with other Estonian artists, her artistic background and her thoughts on her new release through Metropolis Records.
“Mire of Mercury” marks your third album with Bedless Bones. How do you feel your sound and artistic vision have evolved since your first album, “Sublime Malaise“?
It has naturally evolved, but I don’t think it has been heading in a certain direction or with a clear destination. It seems to be meandering between all my interests and influences of the moment. The sound and vision take form with the development of the album, they are not predetermined. I try to keep the process as genuine and truthful to my feelings as possible. I have tried writing some songs in a certain style or approach, but somehow, they still end up sounding a bit *different*, so perhaps I’m incapable of creating music that is purely in one genre or following a set of rules. A certain atmosphere sneaks in. I think certain elements of the music are clearer on Mire of Mercury, compared to my earlier works. I was experimenting a lot with song structures and form on my previous album, and to counter that I wanted to have the skeletons of the songs on the new one to be simpler to let other parts shine.
Your music often blends various genres like darkwave, modern classical, and synth-pop. What is your process for integrating these diverse elements into a cohesive sound? Or is it not as difficult as it appears to be?
I don’t approach it from an engineer’s perspective, taking the characteristic components of different genres and trying to put them together into a harmonious union. I just follow my intuition and choose instruments and sounds I’m drawn towards. Sometimes I notice things like genre connotations only afterwards, and sometimes I don’t at all, and other people come up with these labels and say how things sound like something. For example, modern classical – I don’t know where that came from.
You’ve had a rich musical journey that includes experiences in Estonia’s underground scene and collaborations with Estonian artists. How has the cultural and musical landscape of Estonia influenced the creation and themes of ‘Mire of Mercury‘?”
Not much, at least not knowingly. I’ve collaborated with an Estonian author (Mikk Pärnits) in the capacity that he wrote the text to one of my earlier songs that doesn’t appear on this album. That has also been my only song with all the lyrics in Estonian. Also, Estonian artists and friends Cly/Suva, Tamhiis, Artur Lääts and Oudeis have done remixes for Bedless Bones in the past. I wish we had a more vivacious underground music scene in Estonia when it comes to dark electronic music. I have a small circle of friends whose music taste and creative activities definitely impact my own. However, the fact of living where I live, in the borderland of Eastern and Northern Europe, with its dark cold winters, undoubtedly plays a role too.
You’ve cited various inspirations for your music, from Nick Cave to nighttime wanderings. Were there any new or unexpected sources of inspiration for ‘Mire of Mercury‘?”
Yes, but the core comes from a personal connection, a lived experience or a perspective on something. All my albums are about a state of being, and I try to find metaphors to that essence, alongside looking into what other artists and authors have expressed while working with similar ideas and themes, to broaden the scope. “Dead Woman” draws thematic material from Julia Kristeva’s Black Sun; “Solar Animus” relies on the thoughts of C. G. Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis; “Litha” is about the two-day Midsummer celebrations we’ve been having for the past five years at my friend’s countryside; “Blood Citadel” is a love song, possibly the first one I’ve written. A big portion of the album was indeed written and produced at night, I stayed up until morning many times. It was interesting how sleep deprivation opened up new channels for ideas. I don’t think I want to do it again though, I’ve slept like a baby since the album was finished.
The visuals in your music videos and live performances play a significant role in your artistic expression. How did you approach the visual aspect for Mire of Mercury?
The visuals are a complementary component here, I think. In the past, I’ve sometimes come up with video and visual ideas parallell with the music, but this time I had the music already finished, before finding and linking the visual elements to it. I just knew I wanted to be in the water on the cover and have the silver tone represented. But, you know, my face is covered and the visuals are not too dominant, the music itself is quite visual, psychedelic even.
You’ve discussed the importance of experimentation in your music. Were there any new techniques or approaches you experimented with in this latest album?
My process itself is an experiment every time as I don’t follow a routine and I always want to start from a different part of the song. I used more samples on this one – I’ve previously mostly used synths and some of my own recordings of the instruments I played myself, but this time I’ve worked with samples more. Regarding lyrics, I had a few sessions of writing in the stream of consciousness and writing words on pieces of paper, putting them into a bowl and taking random pieces out to generate new concepts and ideas. The latter turned out to be useful only in the meditative qualities of the process, and not the results themselves.
You’ve mentioned that your music creation is driven more by feelings and contexts rather than following a specific sound. Can you share how this approach influenced the creation of ‘Mire of Mercury’?
First I think about what I want to express and then about how to express it and all the creative choices to do that. This is elementary. I’m not sure how to explain how this influences the creation as for me, this is the creation.
The track “Tantalus” from “Mire of Mercury” seems to carry a deep mythological significance. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this song and its connection to Greek mythology? Are there any other myths, stories or narratives pervading the songs or themes in the album?
Actually “Tantalus” was written back in 2018 in tandem with my song “Niobe”, which was on my debut album. Eventually, “Tantalus” was left out of the album, I can’t remember exactly why, I probably needed to boot one song and it seemed to be too experimental or something. When I came upon it again, I found it to be fascinating and very suitable for this album. The song changes and transforms the feeling of being condemned in the underworld to something else. Both Tantalus and Niobe were punished and damned for their own actions and their legacies serve as cautionary tales. I’ve shifted the perspective and imagined their stories through their eyes, adding more layers to their myths. Maybe it’s like the weird interest in evil people, criminal minds, their past and experiences – we want to make sense of this nonsense of evil, to understand how it came to be. As if finding something redeemable could make humanity more human again.
You have a background in photography and visual arts. How do these disciplines influence your songwriting and music production? It seems to me that each album has a color scheme / story of sorts.
I don’t have synesthesia or anything, so I don’t see music in colours, but when an album is taking shape, I usually feel driven to go for a certain look or feel when it comes to album art and design. Sublime Malaise was surrounded in the ill-inducing worn-out beige, Bending the Iron Bough had its roots wrapped around an earthly green, and Mire of Mercury has a rose-tinted palette, more vivid than before. And for me it is the brightest album of mine, as I was emerging from and drifting away from a depressed state – and even though the path is never linear, there was a sense of overcoming – I was making room for positive change like drinking less and unlearning other harmful habits.
In the past, you’ve spoken about the challenges and rewards of performing live. How has it been translating the songs from “Mire of Mercury” into a live setting?
It has been very easy and fun to play these songs live, they translate well to stage, and I wish we could play more. I’m constantly hearing that it’s difficult to pair Bedless Bones with other bands as we are “too special” – whatever that means. I guess we’ll just have to patiently pave our own way and find our special opportunities.
Collaboration has been a part of your artistic journey. Are there any collaborations on “Mire of Mercury,” and how do these collaborations enhance the album?
No, this album was written, recorded and produced in total solitude and not heard by anyone until it was finished. There was supposed to be a guest vocal appearance on “Tongue and Rhythm”, but unfortunately the artist was eventually unable to do it. As I’m a part of other bands, where I can enjoy the collaborative process and co-creation, I’m quite content with the creative freedom I have with Bedless Bones as a solo endeavor. There’s a pleasure, even if it’s perhaps self-indulgent, in having your successes and failures to yourself and not having any would haves or should haves eating away at your conscience because you’ve sacrificed your own vision to compromise. I’m not excluding the idea of opening up to future collaborations, though. If it feels right, it is absolutely a possibility.
Finally, “Mire of Mercury” has a unique and intriguing title. Can you share the story or meaning or ant musings behind this title and how it represents the album’s themes
I’d rather invite people to listen to the album, to feel Mire of Mercury and imagine what it is and where it takes them. Everyone’s reflections are as valid as my intentions.
Bedless Bones’ Mire of Mercury is out now. Listen below and order here.
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