Andres Murillo: "Prajna" is Sanskrit for 'wisdom'. However, I just picked it because it seemed like a pretty cool-sounding word, and it actually has nothing to do me. I didn't even know how it was correctly pronounced until a few months ago; not that I care.
BH: Narrowly avoided the Catamenia debacle I see. Now, most people don't usually care too much about a band's entire history (how and when you started and whatnot), but Prajna is interesting in the sense that it started as a full band and later became a one man project of yours. What was the motivation behind that and what do you feel makes the one man approach more effective for you?
AM: We recorded a 4-track EP back in 2010-2011. It took almost an entire year of work and coordination, and those songs weren't very technically demanding, so to speak. When we started thinking about recording a full-length, my bandmates spent around a year and a half learning and perfecting around four songs - the album is 10 tracks long. It was clearly going to take way too much time, and I've never been too comfortable about playing live (due both to personal preference and how just generally terrible the local metal scene is), so I decided to just record everything myself. By playing every instrument the way I generally intended to, I managed to tweak the songs as they were being recorded, add more arrangements, and generally have a lot more freedom than I would have had with other musicians. Thus, I managed to record 10 tracks in around the same time that we recorded the EP in.
BH: Well you actually managed to preempt my next question with that one, but I'll ask anyway in case there's more to elaborate; Colombia isn't necessarily known as a haven of great trad metal like England or something. Did the local scene do anything to shape the band's sound? Either because of or in spite of the scene or lack thereof?
AM: There's a pretty large trad metal scene in Colombia, the problem is that, well, it's not very good at all. I've never been or wanted to be connected/associated to it, so Prajna's sound is very different to what you'd normally find over here.
BH: So the scene is populated with cheap Iron Maiden knockoffs?
AM: If only! I already write cheap Iron Maiden knock-offs, but that's not what you would find in the Colombian trad metal scene. In my opinion, it's filled with very talented musicians who don't have a clear idea about songwriting, and for that reason don't write very good songs.
BH: Haha, always an eternal plague with smaller scale bands it seems. When you made the jump to solo artist, did you end up writing Summer Eclipse entirely on your own, or where there some songwriting holdovers from the previous members?
AM: Most of the full length's songs are old. Old as in they were done around the time the EP was first released!
Now, most of the songs 100% my own both music and lyrics-wise, but there are a couple with shared credits. "Mystic Sign" was originally a song by Sebastian, the ex-drummer, who wrote the main riff and the harmony after the guitar solo; but it was a little bare-bones when he showed it to me, so I ended up re-arranging it and adding a bunch of other stuff. in the end it was the last song I finished! He's a very talented guy, and probably the only one I wish would have stayed to record the album.
"Killing the Vice" was originally written by Jorge, the ex-bass player, but that one was just too amateurish except for a couple of very good ideas that remain in the final product; particularly the harmony with the changing time-signatures before the climax. I obviously gave him songwriting credits for that, because stealing ideas is not nice.
Finally, "Nowhere" is actually a cover! with very few added elements from my part, to be honest. It's a song by Keita Haga, included both because I think it closes the album in a very good fashion and for personal, geeky reasons.
BH: Have you looked at my fucking notes or something? My very next question is about "Nowhere". I recently read through the VN Tsukihime on the suggestion of a very talented and sexy human being, and couldn't help but notice that the credits song also happened to be the same thing that rounded out Summer Eclipse. Is that an isolated incident or are there other nods to anime and Japanese culture strewn throughout that most listeners probably wouldn't catch?
AM: There are a lot, actually. I've always been a fan of anime and Japanese video games, so of course there had to be plenty of references that the average, normal human with healthy hobbies might never catch. They're mostly in the lyrics, but I'd say the general tone and idea of the album, if there's any way to put it, is very Japanese. To anyone not very, very familiar with the sources, though, they'll just look like strange lyrics for a metal album.
BH: So when is this gonna see a release? I've been looking forward to it for a while and I can't imagine most fans of the style wouldn't fall in love with it as well.
AM: I don't really know. The songs are done, the mixing is done, the mastering is done, everything is done! The issue is the pressing for the physical copies; over here there's a minimum amount of CDs they can press (around 300), and I just don't have the money at the moment to pay for all of that. The release will have to wait until either I save up or manage to get enough donations/pre-orders to cover the costs.
BH: If anybody would like to donate, how would they go about that?
AM: Well first they'd have to have money. Money is exchanged for goods and services. Once that important requirement is met, they can PayPal some dollarydoos to me at my email: email@example.com. Sketchy as hell, I know, but I guess that's what I get for living in Colombia and not having access to a crowdfunding option.
BH: I apologize on behalf of my country for owning the internet. What does the future hold in store for Mr. Murillo? Be it Prajna or any other musical endeavors you may have?
www.youtube.com/user/SephirothXXI), but there's definitely more Prajna to come after this full length. I have more than an entire album's worth of songs to work through and perfect, so even though I can't tell you when it's going to happen, it definitely will at some point.
BH: I'm definitely going to be looking forward to it. Before we wrap up here, one thing I've always been curious about are musicians' favorite albums and such. Not necessarily most influential to you (anybody with ears can hear the Iron Maiden, early Helloween, and Fates Warning in Prajna), but just your general favorites. If you're gonna sit back on a big comfy chair and light up a cigar, what albums are you reaching for to accompany you?
AM: Of course, Iron Maiden's entire discography is a favourite of mine, as well as Fates Warning's first few, but if you want to go deeper than that, I'd start with my favourite album from last year: Light Bringer's Scenes from Infinity. It's definitely the kind of album I'd like to write if I had the required skills.
There's also Héroes del Silencio's El Espíritu del Vino, which is Spanish hard rock, and Kukui's Leer Lied, which is j-pop. The Rozen Maiden soundtrack by Shinkichi Mitsumune is up there for me as well, as well as the Touhou Project soundtracks by Team Shanghai Alice. On the more metal side of things I love Crimson Glory's first two albums and the Marriage/Atreus albums by Virgin Steele. I could go on forever and across several other genres, but those are probably the ones most special to me.
BH: And most importantly: Rin or Lilly?
AM: Lilly master race. Rin is an autistic weirdo.
BH: Let it be known that you're a man who hates personality. Well then, that's about all I got. Anything you'd like to end on?
AM: Well, thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed by the famous BastardHead. I've been reading your reviews for years so it's a strange, fuzzy feeling. I hope the few (I'd rather them be lots, though!) people who listen to the album like it and feel some kind of special connection to it. Hit me or Mike for a download link if you want to listen to it before it's released, though!
I'M TOO STUPID TO MAKE THE EMBED THING WORK SO JUST CLICK ON THIS TO LISTEN TO ONE OF THE BEST SONGS FROM THE ALBUM ON REVERBNATION DAMMIT.
Well there you have it, folks! Trust me when I say that Prajna is one of the better acts mulling about right now, and almost certainly the best thing in South America. The link to donate is right up there, but if you have a short attention span, just Paypal some money to firstname.lastname@example.org. It's totally worth it, believe me. I donated and you should to! Anyway, a big thank you to Andres for playing along and being my guinea pig for my first whack at this interviewing thing! Y'all really should check out his stuff. Prajna is legitimately gunning for a very high position on my year-end list for 2014, so just take that as a solid recommendation.