Interview with Mariusz Duda of Lunatic Soul and Riverside

The ebb and flow of musical creativity means that nothing is truly ever completed. Where one album finishes, another is already forming. While his band Riverside continue to go from strength to strength Mariusz Duda‘s ability as a musician shows no bounds on his solo project Lunatic Soul.

Ever since he took the first steps as a solo artist in 2008 he’s stayed true to his progressive roots with every record. His first eponymous record, nicknamed the black album, set the tone with an intricate and introspective journey, merging emotive motifs with a melancholic pursuit of acoustic experimentalism. Following the release of his debut, Polish-born Duda cultivated an ever-growing fanbase with 2010’s Lunatic Soul II – the white album, for short – continuing the theme with lush, cinematic ambience and featuring his exceptional vocals. 2011 wrapped up with Impressions, this time a collection of instrumental songs formed of unused excerpts from the black- and-white diptych acting, in some respects, as a supplement to Lunatic Soul II and providing another taster of Duda’s now-familiar new age sound.
Throughout the Lunatic Soul project and its successive releases Mariusz Duda has continued to work with Riverside, establishing the Reality Dream trilogy of albums in 2003 and culminating most recently with the highly acclaimed Shrine of New Generation Slaves which included two European tours. While Riverside have accrued many fans of progressive metal with its heavier membrane Lunatic Soul has given Duda the creative outlet to focus on world music.
In 2014 we get to experience another morsel of Lunatic Soul with Walking on a Flashlight Beam, once again emblazoned with the LS symbol and this time presented in a navy blue cover.

On the occasion of the new album launch I had the pleasure to interview Mariusz. Here is what he had to say.

G: How and why did you come up with the idea of a side project?
M: It’s always hard to find something in the gaps that you have between one Riverside release and the other. I really wanted to do something ‘cause I was tired of waiting another two years or another album cause everything is connected with the promotion and the tour. It’s hard, so I wanted to do something, and in all these free days I decided to, from time to time, go to the studio to create something which is my own and I decided also to develop as an individual artist, so I just wanted to do something different.

G: How would you describe your music?
M: Omg, I don’t know, it’s hard to say, cause I’d say I removed electric guitars from Lunatic Soul which is an important instrument for rock music. So I’m not sure if I can call this rock anyway, so maybe let’s say this is a progressive ambient oriental electronic sort of way… I don’t know. It’s hard, you know, I’ve always wanted to create something which is hard to define, I hope with Lunatic Soul is something that people can have problems with. That’s a compliment for me.

G: Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
M: That’s my lunatic soul, this is my inspiration, my strange mind, and basically I created the new album Walking On A Flashlight Beam about someone who’s surrounded by books and films, and stuff like that, honestly it’s a bit about me, too. So all these things are inspiration for me, and musically I’ve got something like Dead Can Dance, Peter Gabriel, some swedish folk bands that I think had the biggest impact for Lunatic Soul. I really wanted to find something, you know, to create some kind of interesting background, without electric guitar, so I thought that I would go more into the direction of this oriental stuff. That’s why i just picked up all these bands that have influenced my music.

G: What’s your favourite song on the new album?
M: My favourite song on the new album? What kind of question is that (laughs)? Tell me about your favourite song on the new album?

G: Oh, my favourite is Gutter, I love it!
M: So, my favourite is Gutter then!
G: Oh yeah, sure, I have a reason why I love Gutter, but what about you?
M: Yeah, I heard the people like Gutter. This song is very personal ‘cause I indeed was somewhere in a gutter of mine, so anyway, I don’t know I don’t have a favourite song, come on, it’s so unfair.


G: It’s a very compact album actually, it sounds like a unique song for me. From the first song to the last one it’s like listening to a soundtrack, actually. How do your songs come to life? How do you compose your music?
M: I think I wait for something like a spark. I’m kind of lazy, I’m not like I’m working from 9 till 5, you know, and then going home and come back to life. No, I’m all the time doing a lot of things but there are some moments that there’s some kind of spark and and I need to very quickly take that on the acoustic guitar and record some ideas. That’s it. After some time when I’m setting some kind of dateline for my new album then I’m doing the research of my ideas, just picking the best ones, and go to the studio with nothing, only those short things and try to build it somehow. This is what I’m doing in Lunatic Soul, with Riverside a lot of things just come up during rehearsals. I just wait for the good moment. It’s the same with my melodies. I’m not looking for them too much, cause it should be natural.

G: Are you planning any tour as Lunatic Soul?
M: This is another question that I’m trying to avoid (laughs). I thought about it and there will be a special moment for that for sure in the future, I hope in the nearest future. I see Lunatic Soul as a band of six or seven people on stage. But that will be a time, I think, maybe after the next album I can think about it.

G: My last question as usual. Pick your 3 favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
M: On a desert island you would probably need something that is connected with your memories, good memories, so I would pick something that is connected with my memories and this is for instance, Tangerine Dream’s Hyperborea, The Opposition’s War Begins At Home and Faith No More’s King For A Day. No prog (laughs). I know I should say something like The White Album by The Beatles… (laughs)… just kidding.

Walking On A Flashlight Beam is now out!

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Gessica Puglielli
Visual/Web Designer, Digital Marketing Strategist born in Lecce (Italy), I currently live in London. Between 1998 and 2005 I collaborated with Michael Jackson’s staff and in 2000 I had a meeting with the man himself. I founded Rebel Rebel in 2013 and so far it has been an exciting journey. Some of my favourite artists include Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Skunk Anansie, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, Archive, Kraftwerk, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Anthony & The Johnsons, Gazpacho, The Maccabees, Led Zeppelin, Brian Eno, Beethoven, Bjork, Steve Wonder and many others. I feel a deep connection to animals and Mother Nature, which led me to choose a vegan lifestyle. I like playing electric guitar, photography, cinema, art, entertainment, travelling, playing tennis and browsing London.