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None - Interview

The USA based ambient/industrial, neo-folk solo act None - a tribute to all the divine - was founded in 2015 by musician and songwriter Nicholas Mendiola (Ex-Plague Phalanx, Thangorodrim and Awakened Abyss). For Nicholas, None is the deity of his creation and the eternal version of himself. As he had stated for the interview (webzine From Corners Unknown), the purpose and mission of his contemporary life were to discover himself as the true voice and host that None speaks through - and to leave the word and mark of None upon the world not only to affect other present beings of the earth and multiverse but to leave traces for future lives to again discover their true identity. Like the omnipotent gods of other's previous worship, None requires supreme devotion and all of the words spoken by Nicholas; his thoughts, actions, experiences, and memories become one with the legacy of None. It is the duty of the prophet to carry this torch in his present time and into the next - past, present, future forever. And this is what None gives on the stage; absolute devotion to the divine and eternal legacy by those who will die for it. The same devotion Nicholas expressed in this interview. Welcome to read it, I assure you, you won't regret it.

Interview with: Nicholas Mendiola
Conducted and edited by: Jerneja

Jerneja: Hello Nicholas, here we meet again on Terra Relicta - first the radio show, now the interview. So, let us start with the radio show... You have just recently released a debut album with your ambient/industrial, neo-folk solo act None. The album, titled Interdimensional War Poetry, was premiered the day before the official release on [Dark] Unknown radio show on Terra Relicta web radio. How come you chose [Dark] Unknown, and how were you satisfied with the radio show?

Nicholas: Hello Jerneja, it was a pleasure to be featured on the show. Terra Relicta had been contacted by Davide, my PR specialist shortly after signing with The Metallist. It turned out to be one of the largest highlights of our quick and aggressive campaign conducted over the span of just a couple of months for the release of the new record.

Jerneja: What feedback did Interdimensional War Poetry receive in this short period since its release?
Nicholas: Interdimensional War Poetry features two tracks previously released as stand-alone singles; "Chaining Ethereal Comatose" and "Never Know" - a re-recorded and finalized version of the "Battlefields" single and three new tracks, one of which being "No Guts No Glory", that had been released via music video just a few months ago. With that being said, the feedback for the songs themselves has been fairly elongated. So far, the responses and reactions that I've read have been positive; with, of course, the expected more negative. Most take note that my stylistic approach to the acoustic guitar and amalgamation of sound is new to the ear - and I've had the pleasure to have had others write to me on various occasions that None inspires them in ways such as playing acoustic, delving into the world of neofolk and industrial, and even that the lyrics and messages that I convey resonate within to the listeners. This is the reason showing itself, and it's only the very beginning.

Jerneja: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you had/have - in a long run - higher expectations with it than "just" offering the music? It's more about the message - as the music is its most suitable transfer...
Nicholas: Correct; this is it for me - everything. This isn't "music"; this is purpose.

Jerneja: So, who or what is this None divine entity providing you with messages? Is this your alter/superego or something otherworldly?
Nicholas: None is the absent name that I chose to recognize as - Time. The transcendental state of meaning, clarity, divinity and immortality. The words that I write I intend to be just; no lies, no pretentiousness - raw and unrelenting. Words made of stone should be spoken, and I won't take them back, nor can they be taken from me. At the same time, None existed before "Nicholas Mendiola" and already exists beyond.

Jerneja: How did the story of or with None start? And perhaps any predictions, how it will or is supposed to end?
Nicholas: I had always known since I was young (age nine) and decided that I wanted to play the guitar and sing, that there was no other choice in life for me. I had no care for anything in the world or to pursue any sort of "plan B" if you will.
I had begun writing music and attempting to form metal bands starting in the sixth or seventh grade (if we want to be more technical), although it always fell through. Going through middle school, I had already learned about bands like Death, Nile, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Emperor etc., and started going to various local hardcore and punk shows with my jr. high school friends. To keep the response short enough, I was an "early" bloomer, and I had reached the Devil's crossroads by the time I was 19 years old if I hadn't already been serving time prior to that. I had always known that there was no opting out, but the face showed itself and the darker truth that "this is it" set my soul afire.

Jerneja: You released six singles, one EP and one full-length with the None project. How come so many singles?
Nicholas: The original plan was to release the full-length album before anything else. The full album is meant to communicate the story of myself growing into whom would become the seer of None; an accumulation of every moment, thought and feeling I've ever lived up into that moment of release and transcendence into both a higher state of consciousness and eternity. After some time of recording various demos, writing many pieces of music and poetry beyond the original seven None songs, I decided that it would be best to create a sort of base to release the full-length (as I know the highest possible exposure is what the album deserves). I had then recorded and released "When The End Will Come", which then led to the second track, "Past Tense". From here, I figured I should create a couple more tracks in order to have an EP and produce physical copies to market and allow None to grow - this had then been titled Infernal Temples Of The Meditant. The procession of establishing this worthy base continued up into my second EP Interdimensional War Poetry. The album to this date has still not been finished in its recording. Now that Interdimensional War Poetry has been released, the full-length is next; and I plan on featuring the original first seven None songs, as well as six more that I wrote afterwards.

Jerneja: The last None's single, "Erase", released in October 2020, is a cover of horror/hardcore/punk band Kettle Cadaver. What did you find in this track so similar to None's messages?
Nicholas: When I discovered Kettle Cadaver for myself, I immediately related heavily to the intensity and ferocity of the music and lyrics. It's beyond "just" music, unique and one-hundred percent honest.

Jerneja: Although you have just released an album, I'm interested in whether you already work on new music material. And, how come it took you about six years to release a debut album?
Nicholas:  I do have the desire to use my artistic expression in various ways that have not yet been shown. The future album I had mentioned will consist of songs related to the guitar, but that's about as much as I would like to share at this time. I do also have a fair amount of material waiting to be recorded and released - but as I stated earlier, I had begun creating a worthy base for the true eternal grail some five or six years ago, and the time is now beginning. Every moment has its reason.

Jerneja: How does your composing music day look like, also regarding the fact that you do everything (mostly) yourself?
Nicholas: Near one-hundred percent of the time, a piece of music I write, starts on the guitar (with the exception of some will start with the poetry or idea). From there, if I hadn't already, I will name the piece, and both meaning and percussions will come to me - I can usually hear the secondary instruments immediately as I play. All instruments - other than the guitar and vocals typically are meant to further paint the intention evermore clear for the listener to interpret, as I had written, that I can already sense these other fragments off of the strings and utterances.

Jerneja: How many instruments do you "use" when composing, and which of them you play when recording the music? And perhaps, what was the most "unusual" instrument you included?
Nicholas: When composing, only the guitar if we aren't counting vocals. Or at least, a majority of the music I've released to date has been written that way, with the exception of the title track Infernal Temples Of The Meditan" and the intro track on the same EP. When recording, I play all that I can or have access to, other than the guest appearances I've featured across my discography. To date, I've played acoustic and electric guitars, electric bass guitar (which I've used a double-bass bow to play on "When The End Will Come"), the acoustic drum set, various different chimes, keyboard and synths and a large goatskin drum that I used as a sub-bass-like addition on "Pride And Blood". I suppose the most "unusual" instrument I played has to be the electric bass guitar with a double-bass bow, however, it's only unusual because of the "improper" use of the bow. I've done the same thing with the electric guitar and a violin bow on both versions of "Battlefields".

Jerneja: None's music combines several elements that make it difficult to categorize. OK, you did - as ambient/industrial, neo-folk and abstract noise, though it could also be something else. Besides, it sounds unplagued. May we say you use an acoustic approach, or how would you "explain"?
Nicholas: When the original duo had been forged the idea that all the music must be acoustic had been familiarized. That principle to date has already been stretched, however, not forgotten as the root. I do agree that it's very hard to categorize, as I'm combining elements from every moment of my life. It's a gateway into the transcendental state.

Jerneja: Before the None act, you have been active in ex occult metal band Plague Phalanx, Awakened Abyss and, at least to me, most known of them, Thangorodrim (creating music inspired by the spirit and timeless works of J.R.R. Tolkien).  Except for Thangorodrim, there are not many similarities with None. What was/is your correlation with these bands?
Nicholas: To clear up some confusion, I currently play in the occult rock band Thangorodrim and otherwise have played with the acts you had mentioned. I was a pre-teenager when I began going to underground metal and punk shows, and I built up my "social status", if you will, from there on - eventually leading up to my connections with the members of Plague Phalanx. I began the work (of None) in 2015, not too far off, of when I joined Plague Phalanx and before I joined Thangorodrim. Shortly after our (Plague Phalanx) final show at Arizona Death Fest 2018, I decided to leave the group in order to pursue the path of None; it was the only way, and it worked. I had no more interest in playing as someone who I no longer was, despite Plague Phalanx being one of the greatest inspirations for me.

Jerneja: How come you release your music independently? Did you have trouble finding a label, or you decided so at the very beginning?
Nicholas: It has been the correct choice for the elapsed time to have been independent. However, I have not gone without much support from John Schuler, No Clean Singing and Davide Pulito of The Metallist PR ( throughout the Interdimensional War Poetry campaign - and I attribute the successful PR to his like-minded to mine work ethic. The next steps from here will be to acquire a great label and/or management for the destiny of The True None.

Jerneja: I'm also interested in who does None's cover art and videos. The last video you released was for the track "No Guts No Glory" about three months ago. Is there any new video in the making?
Nicholas: Just recently, I released the video for "Never Know" via No Clean Singing, and it was then uploaded to The Metallist's YouTube channel. Both videos have been done by Rob Watkins of Watkins Media, and the latest video has seen a great turnover in just a couple of weeks. The cover art for Infernal Temples Of The Meditant was a photo of myself (2017), taken by C.G Bloodcrown. Interdimensional War Poetry had been done by Nathan Lee (Art Of Nathan Lee) - who had also done the cover art for the Plague Phalanx full length.

Jerneja: When None first appeared, it was a two-man band, then it was just you, and now it is a two-man band again. Besides the drumming part, how does John Bradford Schuler contribute?
Nicholas: Correct, or at least, before learning this was the path I had been working on a two-man project. John has been around for every variation of myself that I created between now and the past decade - so it was only natural that he recorded with me. He and I are looking at it now as a more permanent role, however, with the respect (in his own words) that None is who I am. John contributes in every way possible, mainly in more technical terms. 

Jerneja: How do None's live gigs look? I suppose you have live musicians. Any memory of them you hold closest to your heart?
Nicholas: To date, I've played only two shows for None (three if you count a live stream held at a venue). John is, of course, present as much as possible - however, the first and more recent show I had played on my own. In regards to other live musicians, I may feature some others either in the near or distant future. The crowds are always surprised - in their words that they had no clue what to have expected. "The conviction, evil, horrifying and beautiful - convincing" - and that's because I'm not pretending to be someone who I am not.

Jerneja: What about the tours; already planning something, despite uncertain circumstances? Perhaps also touring Europe?
Nicholas: With the Interdimensional War Poetry campaign coming to a close, I am working on creating more live appearances and am also looking forward to visiting Europe in the not so distant future. Thangorodrim will be releasing the first full-length album in the next coming months, and we'll be gearing up to tour soon as well. Time will tell how it exactly will all pan out in sequence.

Jerneja: We came to the end of the interview. I thank you very much for it. Is there anything you would like to stress out? And, are we doomed already?
Nicholas: We're only doomed if we accept doom as a reality. I'd like to personally thank you, Jerneja, for this interview, as well as featuring None on your website, compilation and radio show. Terra Relicta has been a great highlight of recent times, and I look forward to seeing you and Terra Relicta down the road. As far as further stressing any of my above statements, there has not been nor will there ever be a single moment that I can explain None in his depth - for he is limitless. Take care...

None links: Official website, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, YouTube.

None discography:
When The End Will Come [Single] (2017)
Past Tense [Single] (2018)
Infernal Temples Of The Meditant [EP] (2018)
Battlefields [Single] (2018)
Chaining Ethereal Comatose [Single] (2019)
Never Know [Single] (2020)
Erase [Single] (2020)
Interdimensional War Poetry (2021)