Vincent Arckharum is one of the versatile individuals of the Estonian metal scene. Head behind Pime from Tallinn, with its very own Black Metal approach, he recently joined Süngehel behind the guitar and is also with Kodu, another BM project from Tallinn. As the scene is small and demands heart, soul and mind from every musician, he is als involved in BME aka „Black Magic Estonia“, a small group of individuals that created a renowned place, that was used as party location, stage and aftershow place of events like Howls Of Winter. With the recent changes and events around the small location, it's time to get an update of the situation.
UG: Hi Vince!
Vincent: Ave UG and readers. Hope i can be of any used to you with my answers.
UG: Last time I visited BME, it was just after our tour to Tartu to make yet another documentary about the estonian metal scene. If I knew that it would be my very last time there, I would have definitely spent more time and money for booze. Can you tell us what happened in the last weeks?
Vincent: Sure i can. Within the last month we were looking ways to improve the club. The wish to improve actually came from guests and visitors that motivated us to keep on going with this. Truth be told we were sort of on the edge of closing it for good. And lo behold in the same industrial area an opportunity arose to rent a place three times bigger as the last one. We then came together discussed possibilities and potentials of a new place. Saw the new place. Fell in love with the new place and then decided to let the old die to make room for the new and better Black Magic Estonia.
UG: Improvement is always a good thing I suppose! But then again being there for about three years in a row for the aftershow party of Howls Of Winter, I deemed the place to be more than fitting. Small, cozy, nearly intimate with some „patina“ or, let's rather say, like a rotten living room for fucked up drunk nights for metalheads boozing, listening to great music while watching old black and white movies and just having a great time! So, before talking about the future, we shall dive into the past. Could you give us some hard facts about the place? How did everything start?
Vincent: The club was founded almost 10 year ago. Caddy and a group of friends thought that in the wide world there were some black metal venues and - Estonia did not have any (and to this day BME is still the only actual location dedicated for Black Metal in Estonia). But the place was not meant to be just a place for underground concerts and events, but as a place for Black Metal enthusiasts to chill- and hangout while keeping the heart of Black Metal in place. Then they took to themselves to find the cheapest affordable place for such a clubhouse and that is where all started out.
UG: Kudos to your guys dedication! I have seen places like that failing in germany too often and 10 years is a really long time in „metal“ terms. How does BME actually finance itself? Is it like a club where people pay a monthly fee to afford the rent etc.?
Vincent: Well in the beginning it was really difficult as people had a hard time understanding how this should and would work. So instead of paying your monthly gym fees you would drown the money into the clubhouse instead. Eventually we started putting our heads together how to manages the overall costs. Initially the members paid as they felt like and then gradually we agreed to a minimum fee. Also if a member was unable to pay the fees they were often helping in other ways such as doing electrical work, plumming, IT solutions - you name it. Everyone chipped in as they could. Over the years members have come and gone but only few original members have actually stayed with the club. Maintaining such a club requires quite a lot of initiative and work to keep the ball rolling and having a support from each other helps. To this day the club is barely afloat mainly because this is our hobby not our work. But we enjoy it - otherwise we wouldn't be doing this. It's fun.
UG: This sounds incredibly like the Undergrounded story, goosebump material right there! So, you decided to get to the next level with the new place - did you feel like you needed a change in the location for a new beginning? Or what exactly was the feedback and followed reason?
Vincent: We didn't need the new place for the refresh but we needed a backstage of some sort to do better shows. But the room we had invisioned for the backstage in our building was already promised to a third party and the property owner offered an alternative place which is the now new place in the same complex but different building. The feedback has been as you said prior yourself: Cozy but cultish black metal abode where booze and good music are abundant. People around the world who have visited us have all said the place is awesome and they wish they had something simillar to ours. During Howls of Winter some musicians who crashed at our place were genuinly saying that if they knew priror that there was such a place they would have not placed tickets for the next day to return. Some even missed their flights to stay an extra night with us. That made us realize that what we have is something special and we should think twice before closing it for good. Thankfully new blood has done wonders despite the Great Plague and restrictions.
UG: A story indeed to live on! So, most of the people affiliated with BME got their very own things running metalwise - for example Kädi plays in Süngehel and you are in PIME, Kodu and as well Süngehel and very active at the moment. How do those projects affect decision within BME?
Vincent: Somewhat. Less for Kõdu but more for Pime and Süngehel as we are integrating the BME rooms to house also their rehearsal place. Also BME will be using mostly band equipment and tech to house events and concerts. So they are connected in that regard.
UG: More shoulders to carry on and to create great stuff! Can you share some of your most memorable stories inside the walls of BME - I mean 10 something years of heavy boozing, aftershowparties and even having small gigs there - There has to be countless tales!
Vincent: As you said yourself - countless stories, many which we have no recollection even. But we mainly remember all the colourful individuals that visit us. The people are what make this place great and memorable. Also all the beginnings of different projects have started out of the club from those people.
UG: Well, then those tales need to be retold at the new location! Can you tell us a bit more about the spot and its "features" you plan?
Vincent: New and bigger place means more costs for us. That in general motivates us more to be more active and find ways to stay afloat. So for one feature is that we are going to make a rehearsal space for ourselves with the correct atmosphere and feeling - that will remove us the logistical costs of making concerts there since we have all the gear at the clubhouse. And all that means more concerts and events! Black metal and other "Weird" and less weird projects. But all in all the same atmosphere will be recreated at the new place.
UG: I think it's generally a good idea to cramp everything possible in there! Rehearsel/recording during the week, party and events on the weekends - or completely mixed! So, do you already know when it will be open the first time, or what are the next steps?
Vincent: Well we just moved to the new rooms so we're trying to get it to an OK state. We're really counting our resources since we need to prepare for winter is coming and get heating in there as soon as possible. First event is planned on the 30th October called Halloviin (Estonian: Hello Vodka) and after that gradually more metal and ambient events. Even wine tasting event is planned for November.
UG: This is quicker than I could hope for! So I suppose you will be up and running to host the infamous aftershow party for Howls Of Winter again as well?
Vincent: Yes the aftershow will happen with or without Howls of winter. By that i mean - we will stick around either way and invite all black metal vagabonds around the globe to visit us and exchange thoughts and ideas or just refer to a drink or two.
UG: Lucky you, I know just a guy who might film a location promo video when returning to Tallinn. He might not be the best, but he charges nothing and got a camera and ofc a bigger location means more people! So, last words up to you, why should people visit the new BME?
Vincent: Black Magic Estonia has the same old magic in it and is a haven for black metal beasts. You would be mad not come and taste it for yourself.
The interview was conducted between Vincent Arckharum from Black Magic Estonia and Grave for Undergrounded. Click these links for more informations:
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