see also our CD review

Star Of Ash: Heidi S. Tveitan
~interview by Eric Rasmussen

To take a deeper look behind Star of Ash's debut "Iter.Viator.", we opted to get our information directly from Star of Ash's founder, songwriter, and vocalist Heidi S. Tveitan. Also be sure to take a look at our review of "Iter.Viator." in this month's issue.

Eric: For starters, I'm curious about the name Star of Ash, and the album title "iter.viator." How did you go about picking a band name and CD title? Do they hold any particular significance for you, and what does "iter.viator" mean?

Heidi: The album title "Iter.Viator" is Latin for "The journey. The traveler". The phrase Star of Ash has its inspiration from French surrealism; a meeting between the meaningful and nonsense.

Eric: I found the lyrics to be vaguely disturbing... a lot of the images you use conjure up strong feelings. What was your inspiration for the lyrics? Are there any themes or ideas that listeners should be particularly attuned to?

Heidi: The lyrics also move between the meaningful and pure nonsense. It is more about impressions rather than understanding. Hence, I like to hear that they conjure up strong feelings in the reader, as it means that they communicate on some level. As for inspiration its hard to pinpoint where I've found what, but since I studied ancient history and Latin parallel with working with Star of Ash, I guess it right to say that one interest bleed into the other. Further on, "Iter.Viator" is a visual album in brutal images, and I sometimes like to think of it as a journey in the crime noir fashion. Sometimes someone just find that they ate too greedily from the trays of life. And when the strength and power the meal initially gave transforms into black gall, you find yourself perish while you run towards nothingness. An appealing thought.

Eric: Compared to your other project, Peccatum, Star of Ash isn't very heavy (in the metal sense). However, the guitar parts are entirely appropriate when used, and add some diversity to the CD. Did you set out to make an album without prominent guitars or drums? How did you decide on fitting them into the recording?

Heidi: My initial ambition was to make a rather low key and quiet record, but that changed somewhat during the process. Writing music is a diverse and open process, so the guitars went in where I thought it appropriate at the time. The final result is oftentimes more about the way you arrange the music rather than the actual themes themselves. Still, I've been thematically focused during the songwriting process, meaning that each single theme is of great importance. I often work my way through musical landscapes by emotional impressions as well as more technical aspects of what I wish to achieve. Drums, guitars and vocals helped me to achieve the more live oriented sound picture I desired, all blended together with black synthesis.

Eric: Ok, that covers some of the more rock oriented sounds on "iter.viator." Can you give us some insight into your songwriting process for everything else? Do you tend to start crafting songs with lyrics/vocals, keyboards, or something else?

Heidi: There are probably ten thousand ways of creating music, as well as there are ten thousand ways for a house to fall. And even though I don't possess all these skills of building and tearing I work my way into musical landscapes from many directions and in many ways. I use the piano quite a lot, to build harmonies and chord progressions. Sequencing is also a handy tool, and so is a sheet of score paper. Vocals are in general the last thing to intertwine. The music normally feels more important than the lyrics though, hence the words must adapt to the music, not vice versa.

Eric: Your singing adds an emotional touch to the music, and you've got a very beautiful voice. Are you classically trained? What are some of your vocal influences?

Heidi: I have no formal education in the field of singing, but I've undertaken singing lessons for quite a few years now. The last couple of years I've been rather lazy in this field, but perhaps and hopefully the urge to improve will beat laziness one of these days :o) Among others, my recent vocal influence has been David Bowie, but I guess it is more about his way of phrasing rather than his actual singing technique.

Eric: Is Star of Ash solely a studio project or will you be performing live? How will this affect any live performances with Peccatum?

Heidi: For the time being I'm quite happy to leave it behind as a studio album, but if the right opportunity comes along I might change my mind. If I were to choose between playing with Peccatum or Star of Ash, I'd simply pick the setting I preferred at the time. We'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it I suppose.

Eric: Do you feel allegiance to any scene or movement in music? How would you categorize Star of Ash's music?

Heidi: No, I feel no allegiance to any musical scene or movement in music, nor do I feel any urge to categorize my music. Not today anyway.

Eric: What was it like to work with Trickster G. and Jester Records? Why did you decide to release "iter.viator." on Jester versus other labels?

Heidi: I guess its fair to say that he picked me rather than me deciding for Jester Records. When that is said, I'm rather pleased to be a part of the Jester family.

Eric: What can we expect from Star of Ash in the future? What else will you be working on in the near future with other projects/bands?

Heidi: At the present time we're working with a website for Star of Ash. I'm also considering making a music video for this release, but haven't made up my mind as yet. What forum Ill release my music through in the future I do not know, but were currently working on the third full-length from Peccatum and hope to release it next year.

Eric: Are there any final thoughts you'd like to share with your fans and our readers?

Heidi: "...At once Fama raced through Africa's great cities. Fama is of all pests the swiftest. In her freedom of movement lies her power, and she gathers new strength from her going. She begins as a small and timorous creature; but then she grows till she towers into the air, and though she walks on the ground, she hides her head in the clouds. Men say that Earth, Mother of All, brought her to birth when provoked to anger against the gods; she is her last child, younger sister to Coeus and Enceladus. Fama is fleet of foot, and swift are her wings; she is a vast, fearful monster, with watchful eye miraculously set under every feather which grows on her, and for every one of them a tongue in a mouth which is loud of speech, and an ear ever alert. By night she flies hissing through the dark in the space between earth and sky, and never droops her eyelids in contented sleep. In the daylight she keeps watch, sometimes perched on the roof-top of a house and sometimes on the tall towers of a palace. And she strikes dread throughout great cities, for she is as retentive of news which is false and wicked as she is ready to tell what is true..." ~ Vergil: "The Aeneid", 4th song, verse 173-189

Star of Ash is:
Heidi S. Tveitan - music, words, arrangements

Jester Records: