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Altera Enigma

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Jason De Ron of Altera Enigma - October, 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at

Can you catch the readers up on the history of the band?
Altera Enigma came about after email discussions between Jefray Arwadi of Kekal and myself. We both were playing in metal bands, but we both share a love for experimental and progressive music and for jazz fusion. After much talking we decided to do an album of music that we felt really passionate about, and would allow us to experiment and really try to create something unique. We wanted to blend fusion, prog, metal and electronica. We started working on our material, and about halfway through the recording process our bass player Kenny Cheong became involved. He originally was just going to help out on a few tracks, but it worked out so well he joined as a full member. We recorded our debut album without having ever met face to face, and while living in different countries. We each did our parts in our own studios, and the end result is Alteration which was released this year (2006).
MSJ: I know people don’t like to describe their music or see it pigeonholed, but care to give it a try?
Jazz fusion influenced progressive metal/rock is about as close as I can get to describing our sound. There are other elements, but that term is probably the closest.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences, both personally and as a band?
I try to listen to as wide a range of music as possible. A few of the styles that I draw influence from and listen to a lot are jazz (Miles, Bird, Dizzy etc), prog (Kansas, Dream Theater) and metal (Napalm Death, Cynic, Necrophagist). I also listen to a lot of soundtracks, ambient/drone and electronica. I am a big believer in having a wide range of music to be inspired by.
MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you’d like to work?
Many! But seriously, I enjoy working with any musician who is skilled in his/her craft and has no ego. Working with people who strive to make the band sound as good as it can (as opposed to making sure they are the loudest and get the most time soloing) is always a pleasure.
MSJ: Where did the name come from?
The name has no specific meaning. We tried many, but settled on Altera Enigma because it was ambiguous, enigmatic and we knew it was unique.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?
There is a definite positive side. For publicity there is no better way to get known than to have your material up on the web to download. Sites like Myspace prove how popular it is. And being able to purchase songs via iTunes etc. is a great thing - definitely the way of the future. We recorded a song specifically for download from the net. It was not included on the album; the only way to get it is to download it from

But the illegal sharing of MP3 files is a different story. I know it is hard for people to feel any sympathy for soulless record labels, and as such they believe that file sharing is a victimless crime. But as an independent musician I can tell you that it hurts those of us who are trying to get by in this industry.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans taping and trading live shows?
I have no problem with that. It's been going on for years and is very cool. It doesn't take money from the artist and the fans get to see shows they may never have the chance to.
MSJ: What’s on the road map for the future for Altera Enigma?
We are already in the early stages of working on a new album. It may take some time as we are all very busy at the moment, and I am getting ready to go out on tour this year with shows in Australia and Europe and then record a new album early 2007 with my other band Paramaecium. So, as the primary songwriter in Altera Enigma, this may delay the release of a new album a bit. But we are working on it, and have lined up some amazing guest musicians this time. There is no real rush for us; Alteration took 2 years to do, this style takes a lot of work. But we are certainly working on the next album.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
I spend all day listening to Internet radio - everything from drone ambient to jazz to classical to death metal. It allows me to be exposed to a really wide range of music and make sure that I am never stuck in one genre and allows me to draw influences from styles that I normally wouldn't. I also really like bop era jazz players like Charlie Parker and listen to bebop a lot. The last CD I bought was by Napalm Death, a British extreme metal band. Intense stuff!

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The last gig I went to for enjoyment was the German thrash metal band Kreator. I have been a fan since the late 1980's and finally got to see them live this year - great show!
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?
Thanks for the interview, Gary. If anyone is interested in checking out our music they can visit our website at Or they can visit us at and check out 4 songs from our album.
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