Nader Sadek: The Death Metal Artist
August 8, 2011
The path of an artist can lead to many different roads, but for some it seems like the path was chosen since the moment we decided to pick up a pencil. Nader Sadek is one of those who have managed to marry their most prominent passions into one indistinguishable entity. For him, it has always been about the visual arts and music, later death metal, that have occupied his time. This manifested itself in recent years as a death metal project with Steve Tucker, Flo Mounier, and Rune Eriksen acting as the vehicles for his vision. Their first and, so far, only full-length release, “In The Flesh,” has two music videos (“Nigredo In Necromance” and “Sulffer“) out to date featuring sculptures that Nader made specifically for the project which extended to him even creating the cave used in “Sulffer.” You can read a more in-depth description of the sculpture and video shooting process here along with some other cool factoids about him.
I read that music and art walk hand in hand for you since childhood. With that in mind, what made you pick up drawing as a kid? Does it run in the family?
I would say so. My mother is an established architect in Egypt and various relatives were also into different kinds of media like photography. So, an impulse to express oneself in some sort of artistic way was defiantly present. When I was a kid, I was compelled to draw often and I remember drawing. People around me definitely encouraged it and it became a hobby.
It's always great when you have the support of family. What style and/or subject matter did you find yourself more drawn to back then and how does that differ from what you do now?
What I was into then definitely kept changing pretty fast, but my earliest memory after just drawing basic things like people and house and trees, like anyone else, probably started when I got into drawing characters I'd see on the TV and eventually comic book characters and such. In my early teenage years, I was definitely getting into the idea of drawing comics for a while. I view comics as a medium where time is controlled by the audience, it's a lot like a movie and a book together. So, really the reader controls the pace. I remember being excited about this prospect because it gives a new way of story telling that is easy to communicate, it was visual and it its easy to make. Later on, I attended a show of British artists at the Brooklyn Museum, it totally changed my concept of art. Basically, what I interpreted from the show was the focus on how the work itself is conceptual; and, in a way, this rationalizes the creation of it even more, the motivation to create work that is constructed behind a functioning concept. It was very challenging as well, especially when most of your life you've only been exposed to work that is simply narrative. Although it has depth, it's also formulaic.
We walked on almost the same path with that. What changed it for me was David Mack, a comic book artist the strove to break the formula. That being said, what was one comic artist, or comic series, that had the most impact on you? After your artistic "awakening," what style and/or artists took that place for you as you evolved?
I really liked Watchmen and a lot of Alan Moore stuff. After that, as far as "contemporary" conceptual artists, there really never was just one. I guess the most celebrated is Joseph Beuys and a lot of his works have sparked new directions for my work. Although I do not make this kind of work, I am a huge admirer of Gustave Dore plates; they are magnificent and definitely something I look at for inspiration despite my work being entirely different in most ways.
Never been into contemporary myself so I'll check those names out. Would you say that your art style and taste in music evolved together or was it a separate growth spurt? When did you start developing your own taste outside of the influences of what your brother used to play around you?
Probably around 15 I just started getting into heavier stuff than my brother. Basically went from Nirvana and Guns N Runs to Nine Inch Nails, Slayer, Sepultura, Pantera and Deicide. I didn't know a lot of people who were that into metal when I lived in Egypt at first so it wasn't very easy to get stuff or even be exposed to stuff. I think when I heard Deicdie, Sepultura and Slayer is when I got into death metal. This was around 96.
How were you exposed to heavier music in Egypt and did you get into the rising underground metal scene that was going around the late to mid 90's?
Yeah, it was just very few friends and they played me things. All my other friends were into Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and The Doors, which I like sometimes, but i needed something a bit more intense.
So was it when you moved to the states that you truly got immersed and involved into the music world? What was your initiation into music as a creator rather than an observer like?
In a way, when I was changing how I looked at art it also liberated me from a lot of limitations. It was interesting to be able to come up with ideas; I would use the help of others to realize some of them and some I would construct from scratch and build at the end. The first project I did that included sound of any kind was the piece "Faceless," in which I had a death metal song (composed by Steve Tucker) serve as a sound extension to the piece. The show was at the SculptureCenter in Queens. The curator of the museum had asked me to if I wold be interested in turning "Faceless"/"B'doun Wag'h" into a live performance. It was very much about the perception of the "other" we rarely are able to avoid and our per-conceived notions on other cultures where our imagination fills in the gaps. This is what "Faceless" was about and it came form my experience as a metal fan who adorned the metal image of long hair and metal shirts during a visit to Egypt in 2008. This intimidated the locals. Similarly, when I came back to NY, I wanted to get the same reaction as the locals in Cairo so I wore the full veil (also known as a niqab). The reaction confirmed the potential of the piece and this was also my first collaboration with Flo Mounier.
The museum came two years later since the final piece is a bit different than the original concept. The original idea is actually more about this veiled girl that I met in high school a long time ago who was into Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. We had this long conversation and she was was telling me, "I just love coming back form school blastin' some Slayer and just head banging to the entire album." So, I asked her, "Do you do that vieled or uncovered?" and her response was, "NO way, dude! I do it veiled!" She explained to me that when she head bangs, she imagines her self on the stage like she's reenacting the guitarist, basically air-guitaring. So I eded up doing the museum performance where Steve, Flo, and the rest, play a death metal song as I air-guitared on stage wearing the veil manifesting her fantasy.
Around that time, while Steve was composing, I learned a lot about music from hanging out with musicians. It was interesting to watch my friends work with pro tools and it really was an eye opener on the functionality of sound and music. So, later on when I came up with the idea to do "In The Flesh," the full on death metal album, I gave writing music a try and the result of my attempt was "Nigredo In Necromance." The other guys composed the rest of the main songs and I made the ambients.
How was it that you came into contact with such prominent musicians in the American death metal scene?
It was different, I contacted Steve through email. I really don't remember how I got it. Maybe through his old label. Flo, I had known for awhile since I did a project in college and got in touch to ask him about certain methods he uses. We ended being friends and years later I contacted him to work with me and Steve.
I find it interesting how people come to contact with one another. The internet is proving to be a growing medium for connecting with others. I noticed your artwork for "In The Flesh," outside of the sculptures, seem to be mixed media. What is usually the process for you when you create visual pieces?
There's no one method, but I've realized that for the most part, I come up with an idea and I let the it dictate the medium. I usually think about how to best express it and I let that take the lead. This was pretty similar to how I chose the line-up for this album. Basically, I wanted the sound to compliment my recent series of "meat" rendered hardware and machine parts pieces. So, knowing how Steve writes and his sound, especially combined with Flo's intensity, it felt like the only way to "pump blood " into the this machine-like sound and give it an emotional flavor; a more melodic touch. The "In The Flesh" cover is actually hand drawn on a digital surface. I started out by drawing sketches that fit each individual song then putting them into a composition that would have each one of them come together as an album. I interpret the lyrics as well as the rhythm of the song to create the skeleton of each drawing and once the song was finished I added all the details letting the music totally inspire the final image. So, the demos of the songs influenced the sketches of the drawings.
Wonderful. Speaking of that album, what got you so interested and immersed in petroleum enough to make an album conceptualized around it?
Actually, most of my work is in one way or another about petroleum. My fascination comes form the fact that petroleum is composed of dead things. Former living creatures that have been cooking in the earth for thousands of years. Now we exhume liquid that is their collective selves and we turn it into energy. We depend on it so much that we fight wars, additionally, it's completely hazardous to the state of the planet. It's basically the biggest form of poison and humanity is endlessly addicted to it. Death metal seemed like the most fitting sound for it simply because it literally sounds like rhythms taken from an engine that are modified to create melodies, emotion and sophistication. I've used layers of samples from different petroleum refineries around the world for all the ambient tracks.
Interesting fascination. It never grabbed me that way. So, I must ask, has your Egyptian origins bled into any of your art or music? The culture, your experiences there, etc?
Absolutely, I grew up and lived there 'till I left for college in the states, but only in how I think; like the knowledge that I have. I don't think there is anything about my work that reveals any kind of nationality because I don't believe doing in that. Living in the States allows you to see things differently. When you move around, every place has its own personality and different perceptions of others.
You've accomplished quite a bit in the music and art world. Do you have any pending projects that you are working on right now?
Thank you! I hope that there will be more to conquer! Yes, I'm already working on a few more videos for the album. I plan on making a video for each song on the album. I've also been working on a bust of Mubarak and it has been taking me far too long. It's going to be life-like, but the back of his neck will be bruised since, in Egypt, slapping someone on the back of the neck is disrespectful. So, I'll make it look like the whole country went by and gave him one.
Sounds great. Can't wait to see the result of that. What are your long-term plans for your art and music?
I really want to get more into film making, but also the other extreme of minimal art. I'm planning on making a film which would have an entire death metal soundtrack. With "In The Flesh," we reversed the project. We put the music as the main focus and although it's based on a theme, most things sprung form the music. So at some point I'd like to try the traditional way of making a film and work with a composer on making the soundtrack.
I look forward to seeing more of that idea come to the surface as time goes on. Do you have any closing remarks or thoughts for our readers?
Thanks so much for the support. Follow your dreams and never give up on your beliefs and goals!