A chat with Evergreen (Evergreen Refuge/Cuscuta)

SL: Hello Evergreen, welcome to “The Somber Lane”. Thanks for giving us the opportunity for this interview.

First of all could you please introduce yourself to our readers and to who doesn’t know about you?
Would you please give us a brief explanati
on about the projects you’re involved in?

E: Greetings, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

I am Evergreen, the sole person behind the projects Evergreen Refuge and Cuscuta.
Evergreen Refuge is a foray into wildness, the core of the human animal.
Cuscuta is a manifestation of my anger towards civilization and its destruction of all that is wild, including the human animal.

SL: Let’s focus on Evergreen Refuge for a moment.
I’ve been digging your latest record, Earthborn, and let me say that it is really amazing.
What’s the story behind this album? Any particular anecdote worth to mention?

E: I am really glad to see such a positive response to Earthborn. When I first recorded that album I was not sure what the response would be, since it is not “metal.” However, I knew that people who understood the intention of the Evergreen Refuge project would understand.

The recording of Earthborn was a result of contemplating the nature of the human animal and our yearning to be in the wild. The recording is also a way of representing my connection to the natural world and a connection to solitude. Thus, I recorded the frame drum in the wild during a period of isolation.

SL: I’m quite interested in your “period of isolation”, and to be honest I think I share part of your ideals. However I wonder if you could try and explain to our audience why it is so important to spend a time in isolation, at least why it is so important to you?
What did you experience during this period?

E: In a world totally alienated from wildness, it is important to find solitude for the sake of introspection. I think this is most important to do in the natural world, which is ultimately our “home” in a sense. As mentioned, I believe that the core of the human animal’s spirit is this wildness. Modernity has created a culture that is traumatized and alienated from its true being yet is also fleeing from its own darkness. I believe that people often do not like isolation because it makes you confront the negativity. Just as this culture as a whole runs from this darkness, so do the individuals within it. Thus, I think it is necessary to sit with this darkness in order to achieve the full spectrum of emotion.

SL: Well Evergreen, this is really interesting and I think that everyone of us would have to think carefully about your words.
Anyway, I also wanted to talk about your other project, Cuscuta.
Why is it different from Evergreen Refuge? Musically speaking, what do you offer with this side project?
And why did you start it?

E: Cuscuta began last summer, around the same time as the recording of Earthborn in fact. It was a result of the weight that I carry for the destruction of the earth. Black metal has been interesting to me because it seems that it often carries these same themes. However, it is often presented purely in a misanthropic manner. Misanthropy has always been of interest to me, yet, after working through readings by people like John Zerzan, Derrick Jensen, Paul Shepard, Fredy Perlman, among others, I began to develop ideas against “civilization” rather than humans in general. Civilization a way of life that began relatively recently in human history, when we shifted from semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary agriculturalists. There have been many writers that say that this created the hierarchical structures wherein humans have come to believe that they have dominion over the earth. Those in power act this out and destroy the wild and destroy the wildness within each human residing in civilization. So, I do not believe that humanity is inherently destructive to the wild. We have become this way through the process of creating civilization. Civilization makes us psychotic. Cuscuta was born out of these ideas and anger against the beast of civilization. Black metal seemed like an effective sonic tool to carry out these themes.

I recorded “The Wildness Within” which is a recording that represents the sorrow of being trapped within civilization and being driven psychotic as a result. The next recording, “A Receding Wild” expresses the anger of the destruction and brings ideas of resistance to the forefront. Both of these recordings were from me lashing out. Rather than taking the visceral, instrumental direction that Evergreen Refuge takes, I took to adding my own vocals into the mix to express the lyrics as well as the anger that I feel. Utilizing vocals in this manner has been really interestingly cathartic. Every time I do it, it feels as though the words and the voice come from something other than myself.

SL: On your Facebook page I read many times that you had to highlight that Cuscuta is NOT a neo-Nazi band and your ideals are NOT close to racism in any way.
Why do you think someone is still thinking that your project deals with those kind of stuff?
What do you think about bands that really believe and talk Nazi idealism?

E: There are strange racist and nationalist tendencies within black metal circles, which is something that is really bizarre to me. There’s often anti oppression themes within black metal, yet there are so many people within it that turn around and become oppressors themselves. I also have to say that I come across many Nazi sympathizers and/or apologists fairly often, which is also really strange to me. There are peoeple that argue that black metal has themes in hatred and darkness, so it’s just kvlt or something to be a Nazi. Somebody was even going to do some art for me and turned it down because of my stance against racism. I have also heard people say that if you oppose Nazis, you’re somehow opposing their “free speech.” However, it is not opposing their free speech to declare a stance against their ideals. Not to mention, these people are often trying to silence other people that disagree with racism.

It is beyond me how anybody could listen to either of my projects, especially Cuscuta, and find some sort of racist ideology. As somebody who opposes civilization, I most definitely am not a nationalist nor am I a racist. I am against civilization due to its oppression of not only nonhumans, but also of humans. It follows that I am totally against the oppression of humans by other humans. It is possible that something is lost in translation, which leads people to believe there is some racism behind Cuscuta.

The bands who identify with nationalist and/or racist politics really solidifies my views against civilization. Civilization has us divided on so many levels–it has us believing that we are superior to nonhumans and nature itself, and sometimes has people believing that they are superior to other humans. Meanwhile, the ones in power continue to encroach on the remaining wild places of the world, not to mention the exploitation of other humans. Humanity is driven psychotic by civilization, as I’ve mentioned before. Modernity is a world of emptiness and alienation–from ourselves, nature, and each other. People desperately want something to identify with. This is partially the reason, I believe, for people identifying with these sorts of politics. That being said, I do not believe that they should be addressed as victims of the civilized world. I still think their actions and believe that they are horribly wrong. They should therefore be addressed accordingly, starting in our own communities.
On this note, there is a growing effort by some to declare a stance against these politics. Two compilations I am featured on came from an effort to show that we stand against these ideas. Two of my friends (Chase of the band Deafest and Paul of Twilight Fauna) started a compilation titled “Crushing Intolerance” which recently came out with a second volume featuring a new Evergreen Refuge track.
The first volume featured the debut track by Cuscuta. These have been resisted by much of the black metal community, which means that we are doing something right in my opinion.
The blog “The Dark Skies Above Us” also recently came out with the first volume of a compilation titled “Resistance: Anti-NSBM,” which challenges National Socialist Black Metal. A new Cuscuta track will be featured on the second volume. Both of these compilations are giving all proceeds to organizations of each collective’s choosing. I have been very happy to see all sorts of genres come together for all of this—Crust Punk, Black Metal, Harsh Noise, Neofolk, etc.—As well as people of various ideologies—Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, etc.

SL: You started your own label as well.
Why did you decide to do everything on your own instead of looking for a label managed by someone else?
Do you think your move to be better suiting this day and age music business?
Will you release only music related to your projects or will there be also space for putting out other artist and bands?

E: Yes, I’ve recently started up “A Moment of Clarity Recordings”, which is a “label” of sorts, but it feels strange calling it that. I decided to create this label because of the many projects I am involved in: Evergreen Refuge, Cuscuta, as well as my ambient projects. I created some box sets for an ambient series I did titled “Oneiria.” I wanted to expand to an audience that might be interested in these works, so I decided to consolidate them all in one place.
I still work with some smaller labels, such as Red River Family, to put out my works. This is because people like this are good friends of mine. Without dropping any names, I have tried to work with larger labels and ended up very frustrated. One of the reasons is because I like these sorts of things to be in my hands. There’s something really cool about putting out your own work after working for months to put together the packaging. I also want to make sure that my music is free in digital format, and this often can conflict with labels. I still support these labels and always will, but I personally like self-releases.

In this sort of scene, it is relatively easy to operate self-releases. A friend of mine recently said that in this type of music “if you can sell merch for a band, you can operate a small label.” Unfortunately, I have not been able to give as much attention to “A Moment of Clarity Recordings”, aside from selling a couple of the Oneiria boxes. I am a student in my last year of College and things have been winding down quite a bit. That being said, there are a lot of exciting things on the horizon.
Currently, it is all my music but I will be doing distro for some tapes of “Through Wood and Fog” by Deafest. This is because he is a good friend of mine and leads a really busy life that restricts his ability to do merch.
I also have plans for a good friend of mine’s project. I am not going to give away too much about this, but I am excited about it. Other than that, I do not have the ability to take on much more. Right now it will be some smaller runs of self-released merch.

SL: Wow, let me say that we’re definitely on the same line of thought about music business. Indeed I think it’s very smart for an underground artist to give away his digital music for free.

Unfortunately we have arrived to the end of our little chat.
But before we wrap this up, if you have any final thought or anything you would like to say to our readers, this is your space, go ahead and say whatever you want.
It has been a great pleasure to host you, Evergreen. Thanks a lot for your time.

E: Thank you for doing this interview. I would like to thank all of my friends for being a great support through everything. So thanks to Patrick, Chase, Paul and Nick as well as all who have supported my musical endeavors.
Also I would like to let people know that there is new Cuscuta on the horizon. I have recently finished recording for the third full-length. I have no news on when this will be out just yet but it is coming…

For wildness,

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About Matteo "Teo" Gruppi 120 Articles
TSL co-founder, co-owner, editor, CEO, reviewer, interviewer and writer. Basically I do a lot of stuff and I can’t get anything done well. I was born in 1991 and started loving music since 1981. Got my very first band in high school and now I play as a lonely dumbass in 3 projects: Chiral, Il Vuoto and |||. I listen to every kind of music as long as it is good and intense. Favourite genres include: everything as long as it’s good! (but also folk, black metal, 70-80’s rock and post-rock).

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