Ali, the founder of the community Black Metal Musicians #Interview

11 min read

My first encounter with Ali, the founder of Black Metal Musicians (BMM), happened during the fragile weeks after I released my first black metal album. This event, in my own view, marked the end of 25 years of wannabe-ism and transformed me into an actual black metal musician. It was a bit of an identity crisis. I had thrown this deeply personal offering into the vast underground and was waiting for an echo to return. There were a couple of responses. The album was shared by some channels, and I received some positive feedback by people I didn´t know. Still there was a sense of emptiness in these contacts. Every conversation ended after two sentences and, honestly, most of them led to a sales proposal.

In that time of personal upheaval, I sent a message to Black Metal Musicians. Ali answered with the surprising news that he would love to promote my music but only after I joined the BMM telegram group. With the friendly and patient attitude that I have come to realize is his personality he guided me through the technical process and helped me take the steps into the community. Six months later I still log in every day and the conversations are an important part of my life. I now have people to discuss my music and lyrics with, friends who share the joy and hardships of black metal making. I participate in projects of other musicians and post my own unfinished songs for advice and support. Not to mention the satisfaction of hearing the new works of other musicians before anyone else.

At the centre of all this is Ali. With his gentle and humorous style, he makes everyone feel welcome by inviting to casual small talk in the off-topic section, greeting every new person and continuously developing new activities of the BMM community. So, when the opportunity came to interview him for Blessed Altar Zine I jumped on it. Who is this guy? What are his visions and motivations? This is the opportunity for me and the readers to get to know the man behind Black Metal Musicians.

First of all, who is Ali outside of BMM?
I am 40 years old, I am Italian, I live in Rome and my love for art started when I was I child.

Let’s start from the very beginning. How did you first get into black metal?
My first approach with black metal was during my childhood. At the time I was in love with classic heavy metal and subgenres like doom, death, thrash and so on, I was obsessed by horror in general (books, movies, music etc. etc.) and by all the things related to the dark side of our existence. It was 1993 or 94 when I started to read various metal zines. I was immediately fascinated by the good old black metal scene, there was a mysterious aura on the bands of the time, it was something dark and primordial. My childhood imagination was shaped by the bands of those days.

Did you play in bands back then? What did black metal mean for you when you first started?
I started to play guitar when I was 12 or 13 but I played other styles of metal and various music genres with my early bands.
I started immediately to compose black metal riffs, but it was something personal, nothing public.

I understand you then had a long break from the scene. Why did you need that break? What was your focus during this time? Did you explore other styles of music, or did you do other things in life?I stopped to listen black metal during the end of the 90s/early 2000s and I never listened to it again because with the mass diffusion of internet lost his original charm and mystery. I continued to compose stuff for personal satisfaction, and I started to record something just in 2011 with an experimental music project called Woods at Dusk.

During the years of “stop” with bands (maybe 2003-2010) I was focused on my personal life.
Personally, I was not part of a black metal scene because I was not a bm musician, just a bm listener and neither in recent years I am part of that scene, I define myself just part of my community, Black Metal Musicians, an artist on his own way, independently from any external factor.

So, after a long break followed by a more individualistic musicianship unbound by genre, you decided to start a community for underground black metal musicians. How did you get that idea?
When I started to play with MH [Mountain Hermit, Italian atmospheric black metal band, founded 2019 and still active according to Metal Archives, editors remark] I discovered a new reality: a bunch of people dominated by arrogance and without respect for something personal like art so, I tried to create something different: a little space for humble artists and labels totally independent from any major, influencer and strong powers of any kind.

Yes, this reflects my own experience too. The lack of interest in creative relationships and development, only the quick answer “yes” or “no”. Still, I understand you are a busy hard-working person but choose to devote a considerable amount of time and energy into BMM, supporting lots of bands you don’t previously know rather than just forming a small friend group of your own. What drives you?
Simply my love for art as a metaphysic way.
I am not interested to know the modern black metal scene, but I like to discover the hidden gems that sometimes appear in our community and to dedicate my strength to help these people and their art.

Those are the best moments, hearing a new song that hits the nerve, by some unknown artist who put their soul into it. What was the vision when you started BMM?
First of all, a COMMUNITY: we are not a simple promo channel, we love to know every artist personally, to dig in his soul with respect and with a mature approach. We want to be a true alternative way to the money-based realities that you can see in the modern internet black metal world, we live for art, and we love it in an authentic way.

The second but not less important thing is a decentralized model for various aspects: for instance, anyone can record and broadcast a radio program for BMM Radio, anyone can produce and sell a tape, a cd or a vinyl with the BMM Productions brand (respecting some rules and with the permission of the interested artists) and so on.

In general, we are also a good square to find other musicians, to find a label, to share ideas, to find some band for a split etc. etc.

BMM does not deal with money. This principle seems to be important to you. What does it mean to you?
We do it for art, nothing else and I don’t want to manage money so any money-related thing belongs to the direct interested person: for instance, if you make a free donation for an album on our label website, you will do it directly to the artist PayPal account.

As I understand you started the community during 2023. Would you describe those first months?
It was an old idea because I always wanted to confront myself with other black metal artists, but I started it definitively during the summer of 2023.
Various people started immediately to join the Telegram group through Instagram, and we never stopped to grow, people asked spontaneously to cooperate with BMM and someone was involved by the admins group.

Since then, BMM has grown into a flourishing internet based community with musicians from the whole world. What has been the biggest take away from the process for you so far?
It taught me to manage a community of different minds and to find a certain balance in some situation.

Have there been any obstacles or difficulties for you in building and managing this community?
The most common thing is that, unfortunately, some people approach you because they think that having a role in all this is a question of power, they use you for their personal gain and then they find the craziest excuses to end things with you because they no longer need you and they don’t know how to free themselves from a community that needs work and passion.

In general, problematic people (bm is the shelter for this kind of people) with their obsessions are an obstacle because they bring bad vibes in our community.
Art in general is full of mentally sick people that try to destroy your work, victims of envy and so on: please, leave me alone and stay away from our community, we don’t need you, we don’t need your labels, we don’t need your bands, we don’t need your zines etc. etc.

I know what you mean. Black metal attracts people with divergent ideas and sometimes emotional problems. In best case bm is a safe space and way of expression for all of us even if we do not follow the norms of society, but some people take it too far and cause trouble and even danger for others. Do you have any advice for troubled people entering BMM, on how to be their dark and emotional selves without disrupting the community?
we accept any kind of person, simply we are not interested in not useful polemics and any kind of controversies so please, be tolerant with your neighbour though your ideas are really opposite and make an effort to find the beauty in the variety of our community. In these months I have met many fantastic people, really different from me and I am happy and I gained something as a man and as an artist. If you have problems there are many good guys and girls in this community, try to talk, open yourself without fear, we are tormented souls like you, probably this is the best virtual place for people who do not conform to society but please, remember to respect us.

This is so true, with respect and communication we have come far even though so many different personalities are in the community. How about your own attraction to BM. What does black metal mean for you at this point in your life?
Black Metal is a form of art to explore the dark side of something more complex.

Tell me about your active bands and upcoming releases.
I started to play in some band during mid 90s until early 2000s but I never played black metal with some band before Mountain Hermit (just some rehearsal with a potential project but nothing else).

Two split releases: Mountain Hermit and Aristocrazia Rumorista [according to Metal Archives raw black metal from Italy, founded 2023 and still active]. Yyou will see the second one also on BMM Volume I compilation.

There is a rumour that the split you mention is with another prominent BMM band, Lightbearer [raw black metal, Germany, founded 2016 and still active according to Metal Archives]. Do you want to tell us about it or is it a secret?
Yes, we are working on it.

Lightbearer are one of the best underground realities and we are proud and honoured to be to be their release companions.

I know you found your current vocalist for Mountain Hermit in the BMM community. How did that happen?
My old vocalist quit MH for personal problems, so I started immediately to search a new one through our community.

Various interested vocalists joined the auditions, and my favourite one was Vincent of Lord of Horns [according to Metal Archives black metal from United States, still active].
He has an amazing voice and technique, and his style fits perfectly with MH.

In 2024 you also started a label connected to BMM, Black Metal Musicians Productions (BMMP). It is purely digital and explicitly does not deal with money. Why did you decide to start the label?
It is another form of promotion for the bands in our community.
You can choose to release through our well-known brand and every free donation is yours and we will provide also promotion for you. You can also produce physical stuff and use the BMMP brand. We are working to start to produce personally cds and tapes and to start with live festivals.

As we speak BMM is a thriving community of 143 participants in the telegram group. Topics range from artwork and lyrics to songwriting advice and planning of coming releases. One compilation was released at the end of 2023 and another, more elaborate one is in post production right now. 6 bands have released their music through BMMP and more are waiting. How do you feel about all of this?
I am happy of that, but it is not a matter of numbers.
My hope is to create a solid independent alternative reality for every honest and free artist and label: we have a Telegram group, a radio, a netlabel with a dedicated website and a page on Bandcamp, we are on all the major social networks (Instagram, Facebook, X), a YouTube channel used especially for interviews and we are on Spotify with a Playlist, we work constantly to promote valid artists and labels in a professional way and we don’t ask money, just to be a community to share passion and love for art and in general to help each other.

I see. For you it is more about the variety of ways to be creative and cooperate, it is about opportunities for the artists rather than statistics. Who can join BMM? If a musician or band is thinking about approaching the community, is there something to keep in mind to get a good start?
Join our Telegram group and follow us through our profiles on the net, submit your music to our admins and if you get a “NO” don’t worry, we will give you feedback to improve your work and to be included in our compilations, releases, promos etc. etc.

Yes, we really do listen to every submission with interest no matter the experience of the artist and we listen for the potential. For the participants of the community, do you have any advice of how to get the best experience?
Be active because sharing is culture and a good way to grow together.

Is there anything else you want to share with us about BMM, your plans and visions or your own black metal history and experience?
Nothing special, just join and experience yourself our fantastic community, it’s free and it is just an opportunity for anyone.

With this I can only agree. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! I look forward to seeing the future development of BMM. I for one have the feeling that we are in the beginning of something special. by Ask Den Hängde

Photo by Claudia “Lamia”

Black Metal Musicians Productions
Telegram Group

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