We took a moment to talk a bit with Chrysthian about one-man bands in Black Metal and his YouTube channel dedicated to the phenomenon.
Some of the biggest names in Black Metal are the result of one man's vision. Whether it was the case of Quorthon's Bathory, starting life as a full band and gradually becoming a solo project over time, or Varg's Burzum, being an entirely self-contained musical entity from the project's inception, "One-Man Bands" form an inherent, integral, and often times fascinating part of Black Metal, and can trace their roots back almost as far as the beginning of the scene itself.
With the technological advances in music recording and production that have taken place over the last decade, it is now easier than ever for a one-man band to exist, especially thanks to the modern miracle that are drumming VSTs, which have become practically indistinguishable from the real thing. Requiring a drummer, rehearsal space, expensive studio equipment or professional recording assistance to create music are no longer the barriers that they used to be, and a dedicated musician can now handle every aspect of writing, recording and producing music from the confines of their own home studio on a modest budget.
These advantages are now bearing fruit, and in recent years we are seeing an unprecedented amount of solo projects appearing from every corner of the globe, something that the advent of Covid has only enhanced even further. If only there were a way to keep track of it all?
One guy has been doing just that. His name is Chrysthian Chrisley, he's been passionate about the scene for a long time, and he now runs the One Man Bands YouTube channel, dedicated exclusively to promoting the music of these innumerable solo-projects.
- Visit the channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/OneManBands
To kick off the interviews section on Lycanthropia.net, I thought it would be cool to give him the honour and talk a bit about this aspect of Black Metal, and also help shed some much-deserved light on his amazing channel...
- Hello! So, first off, just tell us a bit about yourself, how life's going, and what you get up to these days.
Hi, wow, it's an honor for me to participate in something like this! Thank you for the invitation, and I hope to be able to contribute with some of my experience in this subject.
My name is Chrysthian, I live in Brazil, more specifically in Rio de Janeiro, I have a degree in systems analysis, and life goes well, I can’t complain. There are good and bad days though. Music helps me get through them.
- About your musical tastes specifically, how have they evolved over time to arrive at what you primarily listen to now?
My musical taste began to form when I was younger, and a friend at the time who listened to Nirvana, Guns 'n' Roses, Pearl Jam and those traditional rock 'n' roll bands lent me an Aerosmith CD. At the time, I had only listened to bands from Brazil (sung in Portuguese), and that was the period when I started to get to know Rock and Roll from abroad.
Sometime later, I was introduced to Dark Funeral, Behemoth and then Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum. With Burzum came my great admiration for one-person projects.
- You told me recently that these days you almost don't listen to regular bands anymore, that for you there is something in one-man projects that has much more to offer. Could you elaborate on that?
Yes, it seems that it has become difficult, emotionally speaking, to be affected by regular bands (with more than one member). I still listen to some traditional bands from my past, but it’s hard to create a new bond with a band I've never listened to before. It seems hard to explain, now that I've stopped to think about it, but it has something to do with the purity of the music's emotions, which is only found when everything is done by just one person.
- So, it is quite evident that you are passionate about one-man projects. But did this passion grow with you over time as your YouTube channel grew and you became exposed to more and more one-man projects, or were you already very passionate about this before starting the channel?
A few years ago, when I discovered that Burzum was just one person, I was impressed, I was like: How is that possible? I had never imagined such a thing being possible. With that I started looking for projects of this type, and I found Xasthur, Nargaroth and so on... When I watched the documentary "Black Metal's Unexplored Fringes - One Man Metal (2012)", it was the turning point for me. It was very interesting to know a little about Jef Whitehead from Leviathan, Scott Conner from Xasthur and Russell Menzies from Striborg. The way they live, the way they think and make music really changed something in me. I couldn't see the world any other way anymore.
So... there came a point where I no longer had control of how many one-man projects I listened to (my memory is horrible), and creating the channel was a way of bringing them together in one place and being able to access them easily.
- And how long has the channel been running now exactly?
The channel was created on Oct 12, 2017. It will be 4 years in the next few months, but to me it feels like 10 years have passed. It's funny how the notion of time works.
- I can see you've uploaded exactly 1,800 videos so far at the time of writing this, this is a monumental effort, especially taking into consideration the research required for each project before uploading. How much time each day do you dedicate to the channel? Do you have to use spreadsheets and documents to keep track of everything?
I wouldn't be able to say exactly how much time I spend with the channel, as it varies a lot, but I can say that I've spent many awake nights working there. At the beginning I did have a spreadsheet containing the bands, their country of origin, etc... But it started to become a lot of work and I decided not to keep records anymore.
- What are the most predominant styles of music that feature on your channel? I recognize a lot of Black Metal projects, specifically of the Atmospheric and Ambient variety, but there are many, many names I've never seen before.
Yes, it's mostly Black Metal and its variations (Atmospheric, Depressive, Raw…). We also have some Heavy, Doom and Progressive Metal projects, Ambient albums, Dungeon synth. I would say it is a Metal channel.
- Over these years, are there any prominent/well-known names that you were surprised to find out were in fact one-man bands?
Burzum was the only one I listened to and I found out later that it was just one person. I was not familiar with one-person projects before.
- Off the top of your head, which one-man bands have impressed you the most? Something that made your jaw drop.
I'm impressed with pretty much every one-person project I come across, I think they are amazing, all of them. Those guys are geniuses. But Sadness is the project I like the most. I'm amazed at how Sadness songs touch me.
- Is there any specific criteria a one-man band must meet before you consider uploading it to the channel? Are you strict in any aspects, or is having just one core member sufficient? Have you ever made any exceptions?
I guess being metal-ish and with one core member is enough. I consider Ambient/Synth music as part of the metal culture, as so far I've never met someone who likes Ambient and doesn't like Metal. Maybe if the project has a guest for a song or two that would do no harm. No, I believe all bands on the channel are one-person bands at their core.
- Although we know the term "one-man band" includes both guys and gals, how about one-woman projects specifically? Do you encounter many of them?
Yes, I've met some one-woman bands (by the way I regret, in a way, I chose the name "One Man Bands" for the channel, when in fact the name "One Person Bands" would be more universal). Maybe there are more OWB's in the channel, I suppose, since lots of projects the artist only uses its initials or aliases, it is not possible to know if he is a man or a woman.
- What have been your biggest challenges running the channel? Did you have any moments that were utterly frustrating, or has it all been smooth sailing so far?
My biggest challenge initially was getting permission from the bands to post on the channel. It was a lot of work and some bands I just had no way to get in touch with the musician, and I risked putting it on the channel, which generated some strikes and I almost made me lost the channel. Nowadays all albums are posted with permission and many times the musicians themselves contact me, which is a great honor for me.
- Who do you think pioneered the one-man band movement? The immediate choice would be Quorthon, but perhaps there were already some one-man heavy metal projects in the 70s?
Tough question. Everything I know in this subject really comes from the 80's to the present. I'm not really aware of anything, out of my head, before the 80's.
- Returning to the modern era, thanks to advances in technology, we are slowly but surely seeing extreme and underground music spread and appear practically throughout the entire globe, especially in the form of one-man projects. What are the most isolated/remotest/unexpected places you have discovered a one-man band from?
Not that they are a remote or unknown country, but some albums from Gibraltar, Azerbaijan, Palestine, Malaysia, Singapore and Kazakhstan were a surprise, as I had never heard any music from these countries before. They are countries so far from Brazil. Thanks, Internet.
- With the advent of Covid and subsequent lockdowns, did you notice a significant increase in the amount of one-man projects out there? There was a 10% jump in overall albums for 2020 on Lycanthropia.net.
Yes, definitely many projects were born out of the isolation caused by the pandemic. Many musicians talked about this fact in conversations we had via email. And many of these new projects helped me get through this difficult time. I would like to thank all the musicians who helped me and others in this terrible moment that we are living. Music is a great medicine.
- Are there any specific one-man bands that come to mind that you would like to see me do an interview with at some point?
Yes, it would certainly be interesting to read the thoughts of Damián Antón Ojeda from Sadness, Bogdan Makarov of A Light in the Dark and Skyforest, Emin Guliyev from Violet Cold... The list is huge!
- I'll see what I can do. Do you have anything specific planned for the channel in future, or will you be more than happy to continue doing what you are doing already?
If I wasn't such an introverted person, maybe I would like to make some kind of video telling stories and trivia about the bands, but I believe the lack of time and especially my inability on camera is a big deterrent to that, so I believe the channel will always have the format it has now.
- That's a shame, but I fully understand. If anyone reading this wants to help support the channel, what can they do to assist?
The best way to support the channel is through supporting the bands. Buying their albums, t-shirts, tapes, CD's... Support them! I have a page on Patreon, but I would use the money to buy albums on Bandcamp. So, support the artists!
- Do you have any musical projects of your own?
I wish I could play something. Unfortunately, I don't have musical skills.
- What is the meaning of life?
Life is our greatest asset, we must live our lives the best way possible, trying to help others in every way we can. There are days when we are discouraged by everyday problems, but we must never give up on getting around them and becoming better people.
- Wise words. Is there anything else you would like to add, or any shout-outs you would like to make?
I would like to thank everyone who makes music. I don't go a day without listening to music, which is the closest thing to magic. Music is everything. I would like to thank my friend Brad from Canada, he has always been a supporter of the channel and a great supporter of the music. Brad has already bought almost 1,500 albums on Bandcamp, that's amazing!
- 1,500 albums... that's insane Brad! Well, that's all from me. Thank you so much for the interview and your time Chrysthian (which, by the way, you have the honour of being the first ever interview on Lycanthropia.net), it was a pleasure to talk about this topic, one-man bands are a fascinating subject and the phenomenon is growing almost exponentially in recent years. I hope both the artists and your channel get the recognition they deserve.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity. Thank you for your work and dedication to Lycanthropia.net.
I hope you enjoyed the interview. When you have a moment to spare, definitely go and check out his channel and subscribe, there are many hidden gems awaiting your discovery. If you're interested in the documentary he referenced, "Black Metal's Unexplored Fringes - One Man Metal", coincidentally I made a post about it in the forum a couple of months ago:
Which are your favourite one-man bands?
Last edited by Imperator on 9th August, 2021 @ 18:33 UTC
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