Aenima is an upcoming band from Portugal. Their music is a mixture of gothic rock, ethereal and heavenly voices. Aenima just released the EP “Never Fragile”, on the young label Equilibrium Music. Bandmember Rune (guitars, samples) was so kind as to introduce the band in detail…


Can you introduce the bandmembers, and describe what their roles in the band are?

Aenima is a very diversified collective and most of our members are multi-instrumentalists, though they have usually a set role within the band. Carmen is, of course, our talented singer. On occasion she also plays keyboards and flute. I am first and foremost a guitar player, but I am in charge of most of the sampling and technology duties, and also play other stringed instruments such as sitar, mandolin or Portuguese guitar. Paulo is our bass-player and keyboardist; he is a classically trained pianist with an inclination for modern day synths and samplers. Nor mainly plays guitar, but can be heard playing didgeridoo or clarinet in some of our pieces and Hugo plays the drums and percussions.

When and how did Aenima came into existence? Where you active in music before Aenima?

We started out around 1996-1997, it’s a bit blurred with time, it came together as a project that was the brainchild of Carmen and myself, and it started getting increasingly serious with the passing of the years. We knew each other for quite some time and we were unhappy with what we were doing musically then, so we thought we’d put a project together based in the concept of the existence of a soul, in opposition to us being a work of chance, with no free-will, just a collection of random synapses. It was also rooted in a fight against the cynicism of ageing, and the pursuit of an ideal of purity and innocence, well, at least as a reflection on these themes.
We had been playing in active bands for some years prior to Aenima, Carmen having played bass with Poetry of Shadows in their “Spheres of Knowledge” album and singing with Isiphilon in “Essence”, and me playing guitar with Millennium for “Wilderness in White”. Mostly all of the band members where in projects prior to Aenima, as we tend to work with people we know well.

Do you have jobs/studies besides the band?

We all have day jobs and fortunately we can integrate our schedules in a way where we find time to rehearse almost every day of the week.
Carmen has an administrative/secretariate job in an import/export company. Paulo and I work together at a multimedia department at the University of Lisbon, where I also teach, we are all doing things that are not music-related.

Your music seems to have influences of gothic rock/metal, ethereal wave, heavenly voices. How would you describe your music yourself? And can you name some artists you like personally?

We always prefer not to describe it, but we acknowledge it is necessary to do so. We would never use the word gothic and we are so far removed from metal that we find it awkward that anyone should find us close, but then again, everyone is free to see us as they see fit. I’m used to describe our music as ethereal, but I do prefer adjectives; “dark”, “intimate”, “intense”, “emotional”, “deep” are words that spring to mind randomly. We’ve been called dreamy art rock, and that also makes sense to some extent.
The musical tastes in this band are pretty broad, more than you’d imagine, but I can personally tell you I am a huge fan of Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Fields, Swans, Lycia, Pink Floyd, U2, Sigur R?s, Arvo Part, Penderecki, Rautavaara, Young Gods, Porcupine Tree and countless others…

A few years passed between your debut album and your new EP “Never Fragile”. What happened in the meantime, and do you think the sound of the band has changed when you compare these two releases?

Yes, we lost a lot of time dwelling in problems of all sorts. First our fight with our former label, then the line-up problems, then the extra-late promotion work for “Revolutions” and then the delays in generating label interest and recording all came together for a hiatus of 3 years between releases. We kept ourselves busy composing and experimenting, though, by now we could actually have released 3 albums worth of material. Anyway, we were able to be selective.
There are differences to our sound, particularly because it was part of our concept to be harsher and more live sounding this time round, and because we had a different line-up. I wouldn’t say there is a change in essence, though; that will always remain.

How did you come into contact with your present label Equilibrium Music?

They are great friends with the band for quite some time now. Equilibrium Music as a label is quite new, they have been making waves as a distributor for some time now, but only started releasing in 2001. We got together for this project of releasing a conceptual snapshot of what we’d been doing in early 2001, when preparing for the album. It is just a one-off project, but it was attacked with great strength and quality-concern. They are a very eclectic label, and we have all confidence in their success and will keep on supporting them as they have supported us through the years.

I read that two members left the band recently. Can you tell us something about the reasons, and did you already find a replacement?

Yes, it is always earth-shattering when a split like this occurs, it was a slow and painful process. Hugo left the band in May; he was getting heavy pressure from his hectic life-schedule and decided to take a time to think things out. He is now back in Canada and is still a close friend. Nor left afterwards due to personal differences and availability problems; it was a harder process and we’re still unhappy with the way things turned out. None of this was still released officially though, but I expect it will have been by the time this is published.
We have found replacements and will introduce them to public very soon now.

An important trademark of Aenima is the ‘heavenly’ voice of Carmen. Did she have any singing lessons? And which singers does she like personally?

Carmen is completely self-taught. She has one of the most prodigious set of ears I’ve worked with in my live, and believe me, I have my share of experience, and, of course, a voice to die for. I’m not 100% aware of her tastes, but I know one of her favorite singers is Vincent from Anathema, who is obviously and curiously a male singer. She is also very fond of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance and Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins, who are the obvious references for ethereal singing, but she’s also interested in real ethnic singing, Bulgarian and Hungarian chants, and avant-garde artists such as Meredith Monk, Bjork and Diamanda Gal?s.

Your music has a nice tension between soft, fragile elements and a more energetic, rock sound. Which element is the most dominant?

Usually the softer elements. In “Never Fragile” the contrast is way more apparent exactly because it was part of the concept behind the E.P. But on a regular basis, we are way calmer and more ethereal.

All the lyrics on your new EP seem to deal with painful and emotional relationships. Are they (auto)biographical, and is this the main theme of Aenima?

They are usually abstractions, but to some extent I’d say they could be autobiographical, everyone must relate to that kind of experience at one time or another. I wouldn’t say it is the main theme of “Never Fragile”, nor the main theme in Aenima; it is just a subset of our melancholic, introspective side. The main theme in “Never Fragile” was that of strength coming out of purity, or frailty, or deep emotion, so, painful relations obviously fit in that, but it’s not what it is about exclusively.

I read that you already did quite some live shows. One of the highlights must be the concert at the large M’era Luna festival in Germany. How was that experience?

That was definitely an highlight in our live career, because we got there at a time when we were feeling privileged to be chosen to play the secondary stage, and we got invited to play both that and the main stage. It was a very rewarding experience, particularly because it was at a time when no one seemed to believe in us, and those shows really turned the table around. The organization was absolutely incredible and professional, and everything worked in a relaxed manner we had never experienced before. We got to meet and see some of the artists that were an influence as we were growing up, such as the Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, so we were both part of the audience and of the entertainers. A openly great experience.

How is the musical climate in Portugal? Are there many people and media interested in your music, and do you feel that you are part of a ‘scene’?

It is a bit stale. Portugal is a country with very weak foundations musical-wise, because the market is too tiny and there is no investment in musical education, or, more-importantly, in education in taste and form. Having said that, there are obviously some bands and artists that manage to get away from this staleness.
There is a great deal of media interest, but it’s all a bit of a fad, actually. Sometimes we get portrayed in a very awkward manner, or at least with a very awkward scope. The audiences are not too big or dedicated, but we do have many interesting people attending our gigs; we are privileged in that aspect.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that we are part of a scene. I’ve said it in the past that I wish we could be part of an artistic movement that would encompass other arts other than music, gathered by a same essence, but that seems far detached from the present reality.

Does Aenima have any future plans? Are you working on a full-length album?

We have already finished the next release. It will be a full-length album entitled “Sentient” and it will be out before the year’s end, that’s probably the most important plan right now. We’re dead happy with it and can’t wait to get on the road. Having mentioned that, we’re also fiddling with this idea of turning our shows into memorable events, by incorporating elements other than music, making it a gathering of the arts. We have also recorded a whole concert in video, we’ll see what we’ll be able to do with that. Uncertain plans for an uncertain future.

Any final thoughts?

Thank you very much, Hans, for the interesting interview. It’s my seventh one today, so I hope I was able to maintain some level of coherence. We have some contacts to play in the Netherlands for quite some time now, but it was impossible to make that happen so far. Hopefully we’ll be able to generate some more interest and do that in the near future. In the meanwhile, we’d be most happy that our Dutch supporters would get in touch with us with their thoughts. Please do drop us a visit at or e-mail Thanks for listening. Peace.