NinémiA: "For the album bass is the core, and then the rest came to manifest the songs as intended to be… It all came so naturally"

Coming literally out of nowhere for me on March 22nd, NinémiA’s “Weapons of Math Destruction” quickly lined up in the list of astonishing debuts, making me curious to learn more about this new project. 


Welcome to follow me to Cyprus for a chat with mastermind Christos Agathokléous

Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions today. Could you please introduce yourself and NinémiA to our readers? 

Hello Katha, thank you for having me :-) My name is Christos, a music lover from a really young age (I‘m 39), bass player, mostly a prog-head, but that is among other genres and artists I admire and follow over the years (my music taste is all over the place for some). 

After having been a part of many incredible, local projects, I started forming the idea for my own: NinémiA. For many years I’ve been developing compositions, but never had the chance, or the circumstances just didn’t allow it, to sort things out. I was lucky though, because I learned many things through the process of playing with so many great, local musicians. For some I’ve recorded, which gave me an experience on how strict the studio process is. So better late than never.

I met the guitarist, Artur Hearhadze a.k.a. Hearhudson (NDNP, The 40 Thieves) from Belarus online in mid 2020. It was just after the first pandemic's lock down, when half the world “normalized” working from home, so that was not really an obstacle. The only downside was that we couldn’t actually jam together, but the chemistry was there. We tried a few songs together, and Artur magnifically dressed them up with his awesome guitar playing. He was always on the same page since the very start, that mojo musically even from a distance still makes us wonder. 

Regarding the vocals it was really a challenge - As the songs are based on influences from classic metal and rock, but with a modern proggy element, the voice needed to match that, so Mikolaj a.k.a Thamnos from Poland, was the perfect fit. Both his cleans and brutal vocals are so diverse and skillful, I find that he is the cherry on top. He expressed all lyrics like his own. He also has his own solo project where he does everything, the songwriting, instruments, content, videos, called The Thamnos Project. Check it out, it's great!

Last but not least on drums, you can hear Mr. Dirk Verbeuren from Megadeth. I contacted Dirk online, and we hit it off. Of course, Dirk is the recording artist, so playing live will be a challenge since someone has to fill in his place, but back to the album, one of my biggest influences is Megadeth, so embedding that philosophy to the songs was a big add on since anyone who will listen to NinémiA will easily identify that. He recorded in two and a half weeks, in Adair Daufebach’s studio in LA. It was kinda hard for me due to the extreme time difference, but can’t complain of course, the whole idea is overwhelming. Being a really, really small footnote in metal history makes me humble and proud at the same time.

That's awesome! You just released your marvelous debut album. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?

Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you liked it. It’s like a dream coming true: I’ve been following music almost religiously since I was really young, so it felt naturally to follow that path and deliver my own ideas. I’ve been in many projects and bands over the years, but I always had that in the back of my mind, just needed to find the momentum and the right musicians to make it happen. It wasn’t easy, took a lot of communication, organization and time, I can’t complain though cause once I found the right people everything took its place and I’m thankful for that.

The reception is overwhelming! We don’t have a company to back us up, but most metal projects today don’t, still it reached places I wasn’t expecting. It hasn’t even been a month since the release, and I’ve noticed more follows on socials and mentions, it has even become a torrent somewhere online haha, and I don’t mind cause you know what, if people are torrenting the album it means it's well received I guess. 

Next step for the release: I just need to proceed with physical copies and make it more substantial. Soonish there will be a CD for people to order online, and later on Vinyl.

Let’s take a look at the cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect “Weapons of Math Destruction” thematically?

The artwork is like a collage, the NY statue of Liberty with a skull face, on its right side the falling man from the famous photo of the New York Times from 9/11, two people laying on beach beds watching TV, a kid running while flying a kite, a nuclear explosion in the distance, B52’s the bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a Zeppelin… I know it’s a mess, it's just bits and pieces of the lyrics of the songs with a touch of conceptuality and surrealism, but I wanted the cover to have that 80’s metal covers' feel like Metallica’s, Megadeth’s, Maiden.

Could you dive a bit into the album’s topics / story with us, please? 

The album’s lyrical topics reflect the society in an empirical yet allegorical way in many situations, like how politics and history repeats itself, war, genocides, fanaticism all blend in universal apophatic and existential concerns through an anthropological prism.  Some themes are dark, others tend to awake, depending on how you interpret it. 

Social media sucks us in today, and we are losing aesthetics and the natural sense of wonder. Life is becoming more and more shallow. We are more keen than ever to fail to understand, and we keep repeating our failures due to egoistic, timeless tendencies. If you noticed all those space references lyrically, it's to blend our nothingness allegorically in this giant whole which is the universe. We are so small yet so destructive. The album isn’t political, just realistically asking only questions and allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions. 

Can totally relate to that. Your sound is mind blowing yet melodious, and I’m absolutely diggin’ this mix of groovy 90s nu-metal with a strong progressive approach. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from? 

My favorite band is Dream Theater, I loved not just their musicality but their songwriting as a whole. You can tell from acts like this that they didn’t only grow up with metal. I have many die hard friends who always listened to metal and nothing else. For me though the prog realm, like DT and especially Mike Portnoy were always music fans of many genres and tried to check what they were listening while growing up, didn’t matter if it was indie, punk, pop,  jazz or funk. Following that path I learned a lot about bands, like King Crimson, Klaatu, Genesis, Kansas, PFM, the later era, Marillion, Fates Warning, Threshold, Ayreon, plus the newer prog era like Haken, Protest the Hero, Leprous, Caligula’s Horse, Voyager all those had a big impact on me.

The groove must’ve come from bands like Testament, Lamb of God, Pantera, Slipknot with a dose of Black Label Society. The melodic parts must be Iron Maiden - I'm a bass player and Steve Harris' songwriting has been a huge influence. Other influences on bass are Cliff Burton, Geddy Lee, Jaco, and Geezer Butler. I always loved those acts and blended with a thrashy feel from the Megadeth’s 90s era transposed in some prog elements from the 70’s, all songs came out naturally. That’s NinémiA to me personally. Other artists I like and follow is Sufjan Stevens, The Dandy Warhols, everything from Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age, My Morning Jacket, Melvins and many more. As you can tell my musical taste is so diverse. 

That's a great mix indeed :-) Since NinémiA is an international project - Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?

In December 2019, I recorded many songs firstly on bass, something quite unconventional for many, but I had this urge that the songs made sense to me, they had a consistency and continuity. It was a huge factor though that I am playing a six string bass, that helped in my opinion so the other instruments would grab on that formula. For the album bass is the core, and then the rest came to manifest the songs as intended to be… It all came so naturally.

Later on we added digital drums with the mixing engineer Jason Pantino just for reference, then Artur came in with his guitar and finally the special guest musicians along each song. In "Oppenheimer" for example the Japanese Shakuhachi flute on the breakdown and Theremin in "Dust to Stars" kinda make sense in the song’s universes and themes. The Turntablist also is an amazing dude, a producer from LA, DJ Puzzle, he has awesome works in his portfolio, also Alia Fay an amazing ethnic vocalist in two of the songs, plus a friend of mine on Bouzouki, Costas Iacovou, he is one of the best bouzouki players I know personally. Most memorable is a collab with Igor, a shamanic vocalist who is featured in the album's title track. Also Derek Sherinian has a keyboard solo. 

Each artist recorded from distance still that was not an obstacle. The challenge were the vocals, and I'm thankful to Mikolaj for his patience while we were video calling each other. It shows in the album how much he worked.  

How did you come up with your project’s name, and is there a deeper meaning / story behind “NinémiA”? 

Νηνεμία in greek means "the calm before the storm". Just from that you understand its deeper meaning. In the album you got many melodic and calm instances connected with a chaotic burst. Intended or not it suits perfectly. 

Absolutely! Do you want to bring your music on stage, or is it a pure studio project?

Yes I do - It will be a challenge, but I'll see it through. In the meantime if it takes too long, I still keep working on the promotion of the debut and writing new material.

As an independent artist: Where do you see the biggest chances and challenges in today’s music business?

It's really hard to stand out. It's not just the music business fact that home studio productions have flooded the internet and good music flies under the randar, it is also the superficial understanding of things due to socials. Attention level has dropped and music companies compromised in today’s situation.

What can you tell us about your future plans?

Currently promoting the album online with a few interviews, thinking about how to establish live presentations in the future, plus orchestrating a next shorter EP. I have new songs for the process and can't stop creating.


Sounds highly promising to me :-) Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?

I blabbered so much I bet the readers must’ve quit in the middle of this interview. I only wanna say thank you for this opportunity Katha. I'm happy people like you like the album and see potential in this project, hopefully we will talk again. Till then, peace!   

You're most welcome! :-) Thanks again for your time and music, and all the best for what is yet to come \m/

Much obliged...