Episcopal Holocaust: "Trve Values" Interview with Kosta Bayss
By T. Ray Verteramo | Published: July 23, 2015
Kosta Bayss of Episcopal Holocaust
Many have sold their soul for rock and roll. This guy wouldn't sell his for shit.
"I get a lot of submissions from black metal bands and they're selling themselves – and more power to them! But, I've never done that in my life. I've never sent my stuff to a label. I have sent out, maybe, five press releases for my music in my entire life and it makes me sick to my stomach every time I do it."
Kosta Bayss, a Greek in Canada, founder/CEO of the esoteric Goetic Records and solo artist, walks his talk. "I don't mean it in any elitist way. On the one hand I'm singing, 'Fuck this and fuck that,' so for me to be secretly sending emails that say, 'Oh, please play me, please' is just..."
"I'm not knocking it and I'm not knocking bands that do it," he stated. "In fact, that's what you have to do. It's just I can't do it. I feel like I'm knocking on doors. I feel like I've got my hand out and I hate doing that. It's the one aspect that I hate about making music. I'm not cut out for that. I don't think it's a pride thing, it's just that I'm building something and it feels like I'm peddling it on the street."
And yet, somehow, he gets around. "It's through word of mouth, mostly. You know, I'll find myself on torrent sites and I don't know how it got there or who put it there. Or little compilation things that people will put my song on, or I'll get an email from someone somewhere in Europe or Australia and I'll have no idea how they heard about it."
"We were just an obnoxious bunch of jerkoffs...We were drunk, on drugs, and we didn't care." --Kosta Bayss
Goetic Records, the home to Emperor of Myself (Greece), Margg (Persia/Ukraine), Northern Bastards (Ukraine), Upon Shadows (Finland/Uruguay), Wölfrider (Poland), and his own projects APVTH and Episcopal Holocaust, was born from refusal to conform and a self-serving idea that has become a more selfishly generous platform than he anticipated. About the time when Black Metal began to blossom from its poison roots on the counter-continent of Eastern Europe, Bayss was making his own brand of mayhem. "I grew up around a lot of bands like Cryptopsy. There used to be a band called Necrosis, and they grew up around exactly where I am. In fact, I'm living in the same building as the original drummer and I still see the stickers of Necrosis in the parking garage down here."
He continues, "Their drummer originally left and joined me and I was a young kid. I was honored! Wow, they were playing these clubs. Then there was Voivod, who we'd see at the clubs and they were already like rock stars. And I thought, 'I can't compete with these guys. I don't have the resources and I'm not as good.' I was a kid. So, I said, 'You know, I'm gonna create my own label.' [laughs] 'This way I don't have wait on anybody, I don't have to knock on anyone's doors, I can just focus on the music.'
But, ironically, music at that time in his career was incidental. "It was me and my bass player/singer for a long time in APVTH, which was a psycho-boy stupid name I thought of at the time [laughs]. Towards the late 90's, the partying was getting out of hand and we had opened a little business where we were selling -- it was a porn shop, actually. We just fell into it. We met some distributors and we're like, 'Alright, we'll do this, we'll make money and we'll get the band going.' But, then we started doing drugs and all that kind of stuff until at least 'til 2005."
Which made for terrible music, but a hell of a show. "We were just an obnoxious bunch of jerkoffs. We weren't fun to be around, we were partying all the time. We would play with other bands and we'd be the third opening band and bully our way to second, then to the top, just because we were little jerkoffs. We were drunk, on drugs, and we didn't care. It was a joke to us, it was fun. It was like, 'Look man, none of us are getting anywhere, just enjoy it.' And so we would show up in corpsepaint because we didn't care. It's hard to explain."
"We didn't invite people to our show. We showed up to whatever was in the bar. It was…we were prepared for you to hate us, so we're going to hate you, first."
"When I write a song, I'm gonna go beyond it. I'm gonna try to do more than I can technically do. It's not like I have to do it live, anyway, so I can push myself. It's about rising up, becoming more than what you are."
Kosta Bayss' act was unquestionably Black Metal without knowing what it was. And when he discovered what it was, he hated it. That is, until, he realized his vision of combining metal with symphonic elements turned out to be not only unoriginal, but well done, which was horribly discouraging…and inspiring. "People would be like, 'You guys are black metal.' And I would go, "What's black metal? What the fuck is this black metal?' And I don't think it was black metal. I think the ideology, the sound, and the rawness of it was associated with black metal. But it wasn't until years later, when I saw what black metal was. And the black metal that I heard wasn't very good and I was insulted. I was like, 'How dare you!' But, I guess it was in a sense. But, from the beginning, I wanted to do something symphonic, like really grand symphonic. And within a week, I heard Dimmu Borgir, Thereon, and Nightwish, in one week. And was like, 'Forget it! What am I gonna do with my $40 keyboard?' And I didn't do it. And that was the last demo I did until 2005 because I can't…I can't even compete."
So, he doesn't. He chooses not to advertise because it sickens him, but his fans know who he is. The bands know how to find his label, though his brand's social media activities are scant, at best. So, what the hell is this deceivingly cookie-cutter corpsepainted Canadian doing?
Just making music. No, seriously. That's it. And in this business, that's as hardcore as it gets. "I've accepted my fate that I may very well die in obscurity and I've accepted it. I'm happy with it. I thought, well, I have two options: One could either quit or I could keep going because I love doing it. When I made that decision, I started having more fun because I'm not playing to anyone, except for myself." He adds, "Maybe after I'm dead, someone would like what I've done [laughs] but, that's what keeps me going. That's what Goetic Records is to me. I'm building a temple of my stuff that hopefully, somebody will find and appreciate."
"I've accepted my fate that I may very well die in obscurity...I'm happy with it." --Kosta Bayss
Episcopal Holocaust's latest effort in the making, "Fuck Your God," is a perfect reflection of the artist's dichotomy; truly underground, but highly visible, subliminally obvious. And yet, his rich, powerful sound that swells ten times the size of his caveman workspace, is just a fraction of his vision: Waldorf style on a Walmart budget, an achievement he's rather proud of, which is contrary to the quality expected from a black metal production. As to the claims that traditional necrosounds are produced cacophonous on purpose, he doesn't buy it. He is a professional when it comes down to it. "I don't think anyone intentionally does it that way. You can go back to the 80's, even with Bathory. They did what they could with what they had. I think if somebody had presented them a studio, a top notch studio, I don't think they would have turned it away. It's a nice story, though. I like it! It does have a charm to it…"
As for his own art, "It's a lot of hard work," he describes. "I'm using a $30 drum machine. But, it's years of tweaking and listening to real drums, right down to watching those instructional videos on YouTube, trying to teach myself how to think like a drummer so that when I'm doing the beats, every single beat is placed individually, you know what I mean? Everything is placed meticulously because I don't want it to sound like a drum machine. But, I'm sure it does at times, but I'll improve on that in time. And the orchestration is a keyboard from Walmart for $100. But again, it's tricks. It's just equalizing in a certain way and recording in a certain way."
"When I write a song, I'm gonna go beyond it. I'm gonna try to do more than I can technically do. It's not like I have to do it live, anyway, so I can push myself. It's about rising up, becoming more than what you are. What I did onstage is what I wanted to see onstage. And the music I play now is the music I wanna hear."
Though the title may lose subtlety points, Bayss explains there is more beneath the surface than you'd expect. "Everything about my lyrics is about the army of one. It's loner music; it's the god within, that kind of aspect. So, when I say, 'fuck your god,' I'm not necessarily saying 'fuck Jesus Christ.' I'm saying fuck your god whatever that is; your money, your power, your fate bullshit. It's not necessarily about religion, though, in some cases, it is. It's just metaphors for false idols."
"It's so easy to follow a formula and to get known." Bayss observes. "There are so many atmospheric bands out there, who are atmospheric black metal bands like a thousand other bands out there, and they've got 20k hits on YouTube. It's very easy to come up with a catchy name. It's very easy to follow that formula to get known, to get popular. But, I don't want to do that. Even if it means having 100 hits on YouTube, instead of 20,000. And that's what Goetic Records is really all about. It's like, 'Fuck you all. This is what it is. This is what it's all about. This is its home, come and find it.' This is for me. This is my journey. I was born alone, I'm gonna die alone. Everything in between is a personal journey, so I'm going to do the best I can to do the best music that I can make. And I think it would be much more interesting if everybody did that."