IMPERIAL AGE interview.

A little while ago now I chatted with Alexander and Jane from Russia’s IMPERIAL AGE. This is one which i guess you could say didn’t come through the usual channels. I set this one up myself responding to their social media marketing. You’ll see for yourself when you play the ‘Anthem of Valour’ video clip linked below.
It was an amazing insight into the music scene, and life in general I guess, in Russia today.
The interview, like their music, was epic and so I’ve split the interview into 2 parts. Check it all out below.

PART 1
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MAL
On the line right now talking to Alex and Jane from Russia's IMPERIAL AGE. Thanks for joining me today.
ALEX
Hello, Mal, thank you for having this interview. Thank you for inviting us.
JANE
Hello.
MAL
Hello. Now, tell us a bit about how the band started.
ALEX
The idea came in 2010 the band itself was started in our 2012, when we actually recorded the first album, 'Turn The Sun Off', made the first few music videos and actually started trying to attract the world's attention to what we're doing. So that's kind of the short story.
MAL
Now you two are the prime movers behind the band. How did you get the other guys in?
ALEX
Well, there are a lot of musicians on the Russian underground scene. So the only difficulty that we have ever experienced was actually picking the best of them.
JANE
Find the right, guys. Yeah, I think that's the best word. Not the best but right.
ALEX
The best for us.
MAL
Were you playing in a live situation before recording the album or to just sort of assemble the band, go into the studio and record and then tour? How did it work?
ALEX
Well, I did play I had another band called REVELANCE, before that. It was your typical local amateur band.
JANE
You know, we just got so tired of all the, all this amateurish bullshit. So that which has decided to close that one and to make the band in a bit different way.
ALEX
You see, the problem with most bands with most musicians who just start out is that normally you have maybe one or two guys who are kind of the locomotive of the whole business. And then there are the other guys who just join along. The situation is that at one point in time, the one or two locomotives, which are usually the heads of the band as well, they are encountered with a feeling that they're doing all the job. But the rest of the guys are not doing enough. And that's where conflicts in the band begin, because everybody wants to be equal, when it comes to earnings, be that money or attention from the public, or whatever the people are in the band for girls, I don't know, whatever.
But they want the income to be spread equally, and I mean income in a broad sense of the word not just the money, but the investment which I also mean in a broad sense of the word which it doesn't only include money, but includes working hours includes personal energy contributions and like writing music, organizing shit, contacts, whatever is usually not equal it's usually the one or two main people doing all the jobs. So that's exactly the situation which I encountered in REVELANCE. Jane was not in the in the band by that time.
JANE
Still, I was somewhere around.
ALEX
Yeah. And this is the situation was that at some point I got sick and tired of this and I just, you know, decided to legalize things. And that's when she stepped in. And we decided that okay, we do all the job, but the band is us. So and since that time, it seems to be working so there are no more conflicts, with regard to who's inputting what who, who's getting what because it works more or less as a business. I mean, we hire people, they do the job, they get their money in return, and we do all the rest. And there's not just in IMPERIAL AGE that works a lot, a lot of really big and successful bands, some of whom we know personally, they work in the same way. Like for example THERION, or ACCEPT I know work on the same thing, or KREATOR or AVANTASIA I mean, and a lot of really successful names have adopted this scheme and it's actually when.. It only matters when you are small band when you start really getting some money coming in? It's more it's more or less anyway, shifts to this model. That was the long answer.
MAL
Tell us about 'Turn The Sun Off'. Tell us about how it came to be recorded. How did you record it? Who you got in to help you and how you went about promoting it?
ALEX
Well, the oldest song on that record is 'The Castaways' it was composed back in 2004. And the song, which was the latest composeD, I think it's actually 'Anthem Of Valor'. It was composed in 2011. So on that record, we have songs which have been composed over the period of almost eight years.
JANE
Some of the old songs they were the modified.
ALEX
Yeah, some of those songs actually came from the previous band, but they were modified, modernized, improved, you know, reproduced and all that kind of stuff. So it's kind of the what we thought was the best of from what was composed over the previous eight years. Basically since school years.
MAL
My introduction to the band was Anthem Of Valor. That was the first one I checked out when I said, Well, I better look into this band see what they're about?' And that's the that's the film clip I saw. And I went, fuck, this is epic.
ALEX
That's a good reaction. That's cool.
MAL
Tell us about that song.
ALEX
Well, there isn't really much to tell as it is with songs. They just come naturally. You know, you don't sit there and you think, hmm, I'm going to make this song and is going to be like this. It's more like you sit at the keyboard and something comes up and that's kind of it. The only thing we should maybe worth telling is that the guy who was recording guitars for us back then he was he's not on the album because he was more helping me to come up with a riffs because I'm not a guitar player myself are back at that time, both me and him were really fans of the AMON AMARTH and you can hear that in the verse, which is a little bit like AMON AMARTH but that and that gives the song this you know maybe a little bit (?) vikingish feelings.
JANE
The second thing to tell about the drummer.
ALEX
The second thing is the violin solo. So we decided we decided why the hell is this if there were always guitar solos let's let's make it violin solo. And it was quite difficult to find a violin player who could do that. But eventually we did it but yeah, well, you can tell about the drummer. I agree.
JANE
I think that was the hardest part in recording the whole album because I don't remember the number maybe five or six drummers refused to record this song because it was too fast for them. And finally, we found a guy from I don't remember the name of the town or city is somewhere around Moscow who just came to Moscow recorded it from first or second take. And he just went back.
ALEX
So we record Yes. Okay, Where's my money?
MAL
Okay, so how did you tour then after that? Where did you find a drummer to tour?
ALEX
As I said, this has never been a problem because we have a lot of acquaintances in the underground scene. So basically, we just asked Belf, he's on bass player still, at the moment. But back then he was playing guitar, and he knows everybody so he just found us a drummer. That drummer has been playing us his name is Dimitri. He played for three years with us after that. He's actually the second longest lasting member of the band. So we started playing around Russia and when you play metal in Russia, you mostly play in Moscow and St. Petersburg. So that's where we started playing.
MAL
How was the album received? How did that sell?
ALEX
Well, it's a difficult question because we released it was a self released back then. So, in Russia, there is no such such thing as a record label in your general sense of the word. So there are a few people who call themselves record labels, but the record label is normally an institution which not just our prints CDs, but which gives proper distribution, which gives, so it's an institution which actually invest into the brand which should invest into the band which promotes the music, which means good distribution, which tries to improve sales, you know, basically invest money into the band, and none of the Russian so called record labels are doing that.
It's a normal situation in the Western countries like your Europe, United States, Australia, Canada, whatever, but not in Russia. So there is absolutely no point in contracting any of the Russian labels. So we did a self release. And when you're doing a self release out of the box, you don't really have proper tracks of sales and I know we have that now, but back then, this did not occur.
JANE
So we did not have any connections abroad.
ALEX
Yes. So we had no access to the outside basically, metal market back then, so it's actually quite difficult for me to add to answer your your question, given also the fact that nobody buys CDs in Russia. So people just download illegal music from torrents. Nobody pays for anything. Russia is still a country of piracy, and it will be like that it has been like that. And it will be like that. Overall the album had some sales, but I didn't know if they were good or bad because there was nothing to compare with. There is no institutionalized system of charts, like sound scanner or anything.
MAL
So the CDs that you were selling was that mainly selling at gigs?
ALEX
At gigs and through through the internet. Yeah.
MAL
So tell us what happened after that album came out and like after the tour, you did an EP in 2015. What was the story there?
ALEX
Well, in 2012 2013, we mainly toured in Russia. So we played Moscow, St. Petersburg, a few headliner shows, and we mostly tried to concentrate on supports, because we thought that that was give us some publicity here. Eventually didn't give us any publicity here but it gave us the contacts which we needed to get ourselves outside of the country?
JANE
I've almost forgotten about these support shows in Russia. Because they really, playing supports in Russia don't make any sense. Because honestly, yeah.
MAL
Why is that?
JANE
Because in Russia, people don't like local bands. I think it can be applied on every country. So just people that don't like local supports.
MAL
They go to see the main band and don't care about anybody else on the bill? Is that what you're saying?
ALEX
Yeah, so we had a very different, we did three big support tours in Europe. And we played around maybe 10 or 15. I don't never counted, well, I can count but I can't be arsed to maybe 10 in Russia for various bands and the reaction of the audience has been very, very, very different. It seems to me that are in the Western world playing support is the primary means of promoting music well at least in rock and metal and the audience always reacts really, really positively and warmly. In Russia, local supports are usually regarded as a nuisance,
JANE
something annoying, you know, like a mosquito.
ALEX
Yeah. So you have to listen to this shit. Why not they just bring the headliner, so it's a different mentality it's a different attitude. So the people are really really crazy about everything foreign but they have a natural suspicion to everything local, there is a reason for this because our country doesn't really produce anything except spaceships you know and rockets. Everything else is imported. So it's not just in in music. It's also concerning every commodity. People have a natural suspicion to anything homemade, like take Russian cars, for example, and things a lot like that. So since the Soviet times there has been an inadequate praise towards everything imported, so even a shitty band from Finland can pull a lot of people here and a Russian band, I'm not talking about us. There are a lot of cool bands here. But a Russian band that actually plays much better, would be often disregarded, just due to prejudice, because they are local. But again, I think that this mentality is not only in music, it's just everywhere, you know, if you are a local producer, you really have to earn the trust of your customers and if we look for example, in other spheres, like, there are some Russian footwear companies, but they have Italian names and they don't Well, they try to pretend that they're foreign, because that improves their sales. You know, girls didn't like to buy Russian shoes, they think it's going to be shit but they know that Italian shoes are going to be cool. But actually the shoes are are identical. It's only in the head of the consumer. So for this reason, playing support shows domestically turned out to be a waste of resources while doing this abroad turned out to be the best way of promotion.
JANE
And that's why we do not do any promotion for Russia now, then we wait to receive some and no raises in sales and in our publicity in Russia just because we are gaining something abroad.
ALEX
It's called spillover effect. So if you have something well there are A market, B market, C markets etc. So if you're good on A market, which is basically the English speaking countries like UK, USA, Canada, Australia, you know, and Europe and Western Europe then you have a spillover effect which goes downwards. So that's how it turned out to be for some reason I don't know why, but all statistics shows that IMPERIAL AGE is mostly popular in the UK. I have no fucking idea why.

PART 2

MAL
Let's talk about The Legacy Of Atlantis. It's a big vision. When did all this come to you? Who's writing all the songs? Is it you 2?
JANE
So mostly it's Alex. On this album, I wrote one and a half.
ALEX
So the vision is it's actually not our I mean, it's as it said, What is said about the album is completely true that if you look at the western esoteric tradition, which is basically represented itself in our, if we look at the Western countries, it's mostly Hermitism and Masonism and you know, just look at the United States $1 you will see that and if we look at the Eastern, it is cabalistic, in Judaism and things like that and it all dates back to the tradition of ancient Egypt. It all grew out of there. Basically all of the Western civilization grew from Egypt. That's the cradle of the modern, Western world culturally and spiritually, it spread first to Palestine to Israel, read the Bible, and from there to Ancient Greek and Rome. So we can date back all the Western culture to the Roman Empire, which in turn, took the Hellenic culture from Ancient Greece and this but this whole agglomeration is standing culturally and spiritually on top of ancient Egyptian civilization, which is the first civilization in this part of the world. And our legends say that this civilization in turn dates back to another advanced civilization which is known from the works of Plato by the name of Atlantis, but this is just a name. You know, they didn't call themselves Atlanteans, it's just a description of the idea that we live in a post apocalyptic world. If you look at the history of ancient Egypt, at their technological history, you will see that the further you go back in time, the more advanced they were. So the biggest, normally a civilization goes from soft, something simple to something complicated at the peak, and then back to something simple and decay. But with ancient Egypt, it's the opposite situation, they went from something very advanced, and slowly, over the course of 3000 years, they were getting down, down, down, down up, until in the end, they were conquered by Macedonians during the Ptolemaic period around 500 BC. So, the biggest structures, the biggest technological wonders of ancient Egypt are the ones which date furthest in time, like the pyramids, granite temples you know and all that. So the idea is that this is the legacy of a previous super advanced technological civilization and what we call the esoteric the occult is the remains of that knowledge. To put it simple. If I right right now we're speaking, we're in Moscow, you're in Adelaide in Australia, and we can see each other's faces. If we take a medieval Knight from the 11th century, and put him here on the chair, and he sees this, he's gonna say, 'This is fucking satanic black magic'. So that's how unprepared people treat advanced technology. But imagine a nuclear war happens and we survive. Now we know about the theory of waves, for example, that radio waves right? But we cannot prove it because we don't have the technological basis, because there's only wooden Spears around, you can't build a radio and say, Okay, look, this works. But we remember the theory. So we tried to write it down for other people to use and to remember. And of course, it has no empirical proof because there is no civilization which can build then the necessary technology. And this is what all these occult knowledge is, which are distributed all around the world. That's the essence of it. And this is basically what the album is about, in short.
MAL
In short.
JANE
In short, yes.
MAL
You've just come home quite recently from a fairly involved tour. Tell us about that. Where you went, what happened?
JANE
Actually, it was our second tour with THERION, their latest one the headliner, okay.
MAL
Oh, tell us tell us about that one with THERION.
JANE
I'm the real master to put things short and that was really good.
MAL
Where did you play with them?
JANE
Everywhere in Europe?
ALEX
Except Norway?
JANE
Yes. So it was 56 concerts, I think, or something like that. So it was almost three months long. And it actually was our latest headliner tour was almost the same two and a half months. But it was different. Because this time, I mean, our headliner tour, which just ended, we had our own van, we still have it. Yeah. And we drove it ourselves. And it was a bit tough.
ALEX
Well, it was a good tour.
JANE
Yes, it was good.
ALEX
We got some good good promotion. We had some some luxury conditions. You know, we sold tons of CDs, met 20,000 new people.
JANE
We got very good promotion. So it was good. It was much more successful that we did before.
ALEX
Well, we actually even managed to earn some money, which was not normal for support tours in it was so that tour ended in April and then we have tons of shit to do here. So basically when May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, we had only eight months. And from those eight months, we spent five months trying to chill out. And then new tour came in and we had to prepare for it. So basically, we only started to chilling out after the previous tour when we had to prepare for the new headlining tour and now we're here one year passed like that.
MAL
Okay, tell us about this headline tour. You're driving your own van all sorts of adventures I can imagine.
JANE
We bought What's the name of the van?
ALEX
It depends where you live if you live in the East it's called Ssang Yong if you live in the West is called Mercedes.
JANE
But it has from '96. Yeah. So you can imagine what it is. But actually it is good because..
ALEX
I's the only thing that didn't break.
JANE
And because this old shit drove 20, 25,000 kilometres with the seven people aboard and..
ALEX
With eight people aboard
JANE
.. and a trailer. Yeah, so it was slow. It was going around 50 kilometres per hour uphill.
ALEX
On the motorway drove 120 so that was okay with the trailer fully loaded. So
JANE
This car is really good. And it really saved all the shit. Because otherwise I don't know how could we do this?
ALEX
If you want to ask you about the peculiarities which happened? Well, I would say that the greatest thing was me breaking my arm in the middle of the tour. In the beginning of the tour actually,
JANE
It was not the middle. It was the third show
ALEX
Out of 36. Basically, under normal circumstances, that would mean the end of the tour. But despite the doctors at the hospital getting mad at me, we only missed five shows. And it turned out well.
MAL
Okay, so we're home now we're obviously trying to relax. Are you succeeding?
ALEX
Yes and no. Probably rather, yes. I mean, it's the least amount of stress that we have had over the past four or five years, I suppose. Because I mean, we constantly had huge tours for four years in a row. That's a lot of stress. So the tour is not just when you're touring, it's when you prepare for it occupies if the tour itself is three months and preparation is two or three months, it's half a year. So on top of that recording, so probably now we have the least amount of stress which we can remember, since the whole thing began, but we're preparing to film a music video in three weeks. Which our fans have kindly given us the money for over crowdfunding. So we will be doing that. And in the meantime, we're also recording. Well, we started writing new songs as well, but that's not going to be any time pressure here. So we'll see how how long that takes.
MAL
One thing that always stands out is the vocals. Now with the three of you, you've pretty much covered the whole range of vocals and they all work together in my opinion really, really well. How did you go selecting the third vocalist? Like Anna has been doing it recently, but she wasn't always there. How did you find her?
JANE
Oh, I don't remember the exact story about one once upon a time when we were searching for a new lead vocalist, because the previous one she quit afterthe first tour Yes. And we made something like audition and a lot of girls came and tried to sing our songs and we choose Anna not only because her vocals but as well because of her character you know. So this is really important for us and we look on, we try to see how the person will act. So we'll know will behave on tough conditions on tour, etc. And she's, I don't know, one of the best.
ALEX
She's actually so far the longest lasting member of the band. She has been around more than any other person over six years.
JANE
She's always positive. She's young, she has a lot of energy. So she just, she fits our band.
ALEX
There are a lot of good musicians in the world. I mean, really, really, a lot. And when you're choosing somebody for a band, you're not just choosing somebody who plays or sings well, because that's actually not a problem.
You're choosing a person with whom you would be living for months and months on tour, in the same van,in the same bus with whom you would have to work long hours at this to do you know, basically you you're trying to choose a person who would A- fit you B- who would not have conflicts with you and C- somebody whom you can rely upon,
JANE
And somebody who will be the needed piece of the puzzle, you know, so the band is like a puzzle. So we just need to pick the right pieces to make all the shit work.
ALEX
So it's more of a psychological, you know, things than a professional thing because, again, you have like 10 people who sing or play more or less on the same level, but that that's where the challenge starts. You know, after that. So you're you choosing a person, not just, you know, a singer.
MAL
Obviously I don't see that part. But what I see and hear is her stage presence and her voice and all three of you in my eyes work together very well.
ALEX
Thank you.
JANE
Thank you.
All right, what a magnificent chat I've had here tonight with Alex and Jane from IMPERIAL AGE. Guys, thanks so much for taking the time and talking to me today.
ALEX
Thank you, Mal.
JANE
Thank you for your questions. Thank you for your time.

Two great modern-age Empires are home to Imperial Age: Russia and Great Britain, since leader and co-founder Alexander “Aor” Osipov has always lived between these two worlds, his family being from Ayr, Scotland, while he himself resides in Moscow, Russia.
But that is not what Imperial Age is about.
Formed in 2012 by Alexander Osipov and Jane Odintsova in Moscow and endorsed by genre founder Christofer Johnsson (Therion) himself, today Imperial Age is Russia’s most successful symphonic metal act and the country’s second most internationally touring metal band.
And no wonder, because Imperial Age have brought the idea of symphonic metal (and metal in general) to its highest maximum, elevating the innate qualities of the genre – loftiness, solemnity, grandeur and overall majesty – to the highest spiritual altitudes known to rock music in their new opus magnum, the metal opera “Legacy of Atlantis”.
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Sergei Lazar (Arkona) with guests such as Nalle Pahlsson, Christian Vidal and Thomas Vikstrom of Therion and the Moscow Conservatory Chamber Choir. The record includes some of the best written Imperial Age songs and features four singers: Aor, Jane, Anna Moiseeva and Thomas Vikstrom. Speed/Power metal anthems such as “And I Shall Find My Home” and “The Escape” harmoniously coexist with thoughtful mid-tempo compositions like “Life Eternal” and “Love Eternal”. The ballads “Monastery” and “Islands in Time” fully unfold the two female voices while heavy metal marches “The Awakening” and “Domini Canes” show the best of the male part of the line-up. And last but not least, the brightest gem of the album – the epic choral symphony “The Legacy of Atlantis” will send goosebumps down your spine while images of the great but tragic ancient past go speeding in front of your eyes…
However, the lyrics on his record are just as important as the music. Imperial Age is not about modern-day empires. Instead, it is about the great civilisations which preceded the one we live in now.
Aor explains: “There is an occult legend, which is at the root of modern magick. Now here I mean the real thing, not the mass-media image, although recently there have been surprisingly good depictions of the topic in blockbuster movies, which is a good sign for us. According to the legend, 65 000 years ago a great, a highly advanced empire ceased to exist. It was a global civilisation covering not only planet Earth, but also distant colonies in other star systems. Its technological achievements are still unmatched today, being ahead of what we have now by approximately 5000 years, if we continue evolving at the same pace. All modern religions, mystical, magical and occult traditions have one root – Atlantic knowledge. Although long perished, the spirit of Atlantis is still at the core of the modern world, the ancient lore driving progress in the restoration of civilisation on the planet, through unifying and connecting humankind.
Over the millennia following the demise of Atlantis, many magical orders have served the cause of rebuilding the great civilisation through forcing the development of our world: the founders and priests of Ancient Egypt, the Orphics of Ancient Greece, the Templars of Medieval Europe, the Rosenkreuz, the Freemasons, the Golden Dawn and others, less known but much more potent. We are, in some sense, the descendants of that line, only we play Heavy Metal.”
Today, Imperial Age use the most influential form of art (music) in its most powerful and diverse genre (symphonic metal) to inspire, empower and fill the souls and hearts of people with purest energy that enables to accomplish great deeds. This is the type of music that can change people’s destinies.
This is not the type of metal that drives into depression. And this is not the type of metal that entertains. Imperial Age does what Heavy Metal has always been meant to do – to elevate and inspire, to fill with power and belief, to open up the way towards greatness and to illuminate The Path for those seeking to tread upon it.
Backed up by the colossal might of ancient forces, the great Imperial Age has begun. Tune in, and become part of the great cause that spans through millennia!