INTERVIEW with BLIAL CABAL
Blial Cabal is a duo of American artists from the sumptuous mountains of the Sierra Nevada in eastern California. Steven draws, and his partner Maranda finely silkscreens his illustrations on paper and clothing. In connection with the occult arts, the macabre, Satan and extreme music, this very prolific couple answers a few questions for la Voix de Satan. Stay attentive, the magic here is indeed in the details.
La Voix de Satan (LVDS) : Hello Maranda and Steven and welcome to our journal! Let’s begin with the question that interests us the most when we meet occult-enthusiastic artists: Occult arts being your main graphic theme, do you have a specific spiritual practice or do you worship some power or deity?
Steven: Hello, and thank you for having us, we’re stoked to be a part of the Zine! To answer your question, No, we are opposed to organized religion of any kind and we do not worship. Worship, aside, we both find a plethora of inspiration within religion. Be it Occultism, Esoterica, Christianity, Greek Mythology, Satanism, etc., it’s all an endless well of art and literature. Art rituals are part of our everyday routine but it’s pretty simple stuff without worship and we won’t get into that here.
LVDS : Speaking of everyday routine and art rituals, do you have a special formula to stay productive and escape from social media or other distraction traps?
Steven: We don't have personal social media accounts, so that probably helps limit those types of distractions. Staying productive for me is really easy. I feel most comfortable at my drawing desk with pen/pencil in hand. I find short escapes from home refreshing, however I am always eager to get back to my work. I find vacationing can be a bit overwhelming and almost makes me feel restless as I yearn for my desk, hahhahha. I'm not kidding about that though. I take a sketchbook with me everywhere and that certainly helps. But, to really answer your question, for myself, drawing is the real distraction, and it's a good productive distraction to have.
LVDS : In the majority of your works, one finds characters resembling Baphomets, satyrs and goats, but in the media “Satan” is never mentioned, neither through hashtags nor artworks’ titles. Is this imagery only the expression of “pagan” and occidental mysticism or you just try to back off from the bad image Satanism often suffers? Have some satanic organizations, such as The Satanic Temple, ever been interested in your work?
Steven: Good Question, we don’t know or care about the “Bad Image” of Satanism. We don’t necessarily stay away from nor associate ourselves or my artwork with Satan or Satanism. What’s more important is how the viewer relates to the artwork itself without any religious or organized attachment or association. I have many works and several include the words Satan or Devil in the title. But we are not Satanists and have purposely avoided making people think that we are a part of any organization. However, our recent inspirations (past year or two) come from the Greek Cult of Dionysus, or Dionysian ethics. Which although it came well before Christianity and Satanism, does share a lot of similar imagery; Satyr, Sex, Liberation, Drugs & Alcohol, Death, etc. So, it’s easy to see why some could assume that we’re Satanists. Yes, the Church of Satan in USA has exhibited my works in multiple publications, as well as two other Satanic & Occult publishers in Canada and the UK.
LVDS : Does the team wife/husband bring a specific dynamic to your work? Is there any creative consent regarding the imagery you illustrate?
Steven: Yes, we’re best friends and we work very well together. Our relationship enhances my illustrations because my wife is critical and that always pushes me to deliver high quality work and to become better and better. Our skillsets are complimentary so we make a great productive business team.
LVDS : Steven, you seem to have customized your work tool, the quill pen. What is its story? Does knowing that the use of this tool dates back to ancient Egypt make you feel any mystical and primordial connection with the old Pagan world?
Steven: When I first started with Nib and Ink I couldn’t find a nib holder that I liked and that fit in my hand. They were all too lightweight and uncomfortable. So, I carved my Nib holder out of Stag Antler. It’s a perfect fit to my hand and I can hold it for long hours without any issues. Averaging 8 hours 6 days a week. Yes, it certainly adds a connection to the old-time world. I’ve always sought to make art with traditional tools, never digitally enhanced. It’s an honor to make and use tools that artists have been using for centuries.
LVDS : Your style is very close to engraving. Would it be a printing process which you could be interested in in the future, perhaps to get closer to an aesthetic reminiscent of the 19th century’s esoteric illustrations?
Steven: My earliest inspirations come from Old Masters’ woodcuts and engravings. Naturally my technique of hatching resembles that. I completely enjoy etching, which is very similar to engraving. I had access to an intaglio press for a little while, but barely took advantage of it. Now I am looking for an intaglio press for myself, and I do hope to create more etchings in my future. The quality of an intaglio print is unmatched.
LVDS : Maranda, your silkscreen-printing works show a pretty impressive level of precision and detail. What inspired you to develop this technique?
Maranda: Hey guys, thanks for including a question for me in this interview! I’ve been screen printing for a very long time, I love DIY art and working with my hands. Steven’s works are very highly detailed and his markings are incredibly small. With each year his works become smaller and more detailed. This means that my printing skills are continuously challenged, and that’s where the precision comes in.
LVDS : Your representation of blasphemy shows some kind of suffering, or perhaps a touch of melancholy. If there is an actual Hell, do you imagine it this way?
Steven: There is a melancholy to my work. It is more of a reflection about life and living and metaphorical weirdness that blasts through my head at the time of sketching. The world is tough, there’s always tribulations and suffering. My work jumps back and forth between meditating on stress, grasping moments of tranquility, and glimpses of joy. I don’t imagine hell. I’m really not sure what it would be like.
LVDS : One can observe a certain emphasis of the female body in your works, quite far from modern morphology clichés and from her submissive position. Is it a will to honor the figure of the Witch? Could Satan be a woman?
Steven: I hold the female form high in my illustrations; I don’t believe that I make her submissive. The modern myth of a woman’s perfect body is nauseating. I am glad that my visions stray far from it. Witches are the perfect example of breaking these preexisting biases of contemporary culture, the whole ideology that forms a witch creates a strong woman that can embrace themselves for who they are, and I appreciate that. That would make sense if Satan is a woman. What if God is too.
LVDS : Steven, a rural energy emerges from your drawings, whether it be through scenery or your complex and organic inking. An energy that I find close to Doré’s illustrations of The Brothers Grimms’ fairy tales. Do you take inspiration from your environment and in Nature? Is this some kind of opposition against the frenzy of the modern world?
Steven: It is a combination of both my environment, an opposition of industrialism, and digitalism. I grew up in the forest, so it is ingrained into me. I am more comfortable in nature. I’m glad that comes through in my work. I have a lot of views that oppose the modern capitalist society we are stuck in. Especially the way we, as a culture, have been distanced from our food sources. It is unfortunate that these days it has become a magical act to grow your own food.
LVDS : Apart from metal music and the occult inspiration, there is also something quite “pop” and dynamic in your drawings, which would remind us of the 80’s comics underground culture, skate and punk. Adding this to the artisanal silkscreen-printing, I can’t help but think that this DIY culture inspires you, am I right?
Steven: Yes, we have always been into DIY culture. We like making things and we have pride in doing as much as we can ourselves. Neither of us are good skaters, but we both have a love for punk.
LVDS : Can we expect some other projects from you in the future? Any collection of illustrations or artworks for some bands?
Steven: Well, I have started illustrating a major arcana tarot deck. I am slowly chipping away at that and hope to have it finished sometime in 2021. I plan on creating more for my current “Devil in The Woods” series. There are no plans for future artwork for any musicians. My books are closed and I am focusing on my own personal artworks. I plan on tattooing more and I hope to snag an intaglio press.
LVDS : Thank you for having answered our questions. Any final words? Or perhaps an advice for the artists who’d get hesitant to get into their passion full time?
Steven: Thank you too, it was nice to reflect on your questions and some of them really got us thinking. The best advice I can offer to an aspiring artist is to draw or make art every single day.
SUPPORT THE ARTISTS: WWW.BLIALCABAL.COM