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Interview with TEMIC’s Diego Tejeida: “This album is a testimony to perseverance, resilience, and motivation during dark times”

Interview with TEMIC’s Diego Tejeida: “This album is a testimony to perseverance, resilience, and motivation during dark times”

Fresh after the release of TEMIC’s highly anticipated debut album, “Terror Management Theory“, and as an exciting new chapter is opening up for the incredible group of musicians behind this groundbreaking project, I had an in-depth chat with co-founder, keyboardist, and sound designer Diego Tejeida about what TEMIC is, what it isn’t, and how it came to grace our music listening platforms with a sound that is nothing short of astounding. Read on to find out why this is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a project to follow.


TEMIC_full_band (2)

Hi Diego! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us and our readers here at The Progspace. I can imagine what a busy and exciting time it must be for you, with your highly anticipated debut album, “Terror Management Theory”, pretty much just off the press and out into the world. So, without further ado, how does it feel to be one of the hottest things to happen to prog—and, might I say, to metal in general—not only this year, but in recent history?

Now, if the phrasing of the question reads at all exaggerated, allow me to explain why it really isn’t. On the one hand, I had the privilege to listen to the album in advance, so I had a pretty good (to be read as “awe-struck”) idea about what was coming even prior to release. On the other hand, since pretty much the second ‘Count Your Losses’ (the first single released from the album) dropped, nearly everyone I’m connected with through the love of music has excitedly recommended it to me. And it kept happening with every single released after that, with people who weren’t even aware that the project was made up of music royalty. So “hottest thing to happen to prog and beyond” sounds just about right 🙂

WoTEMIC_Terror_Management_Theory_coverw! First of all, thank you for the enthusiasm and kind words. It feels great to read you’re enjoying the album!

These are definitely exciting times. The release of “Terror Management Theory” marks the culmination of the gestation stage of TEMIC. With the album finally out, we can–at last–officially celebrate the birth of this new band and its music. We’ve been looking forward to this day since the very first chord that was ever written for this band. I’m not able to tell if we’re “one of the hottest things to happen to prog,” but from a personal point of view, this album and band represent something very positive. This album is a testimony to perseverance, resilience, and motivation during dark times.

This album is a testimony to perseverance, resilience, and motivation during dark times.

Why TEMIC? What does the name itself stand for, and how did this project come to be? I know that it started with you and Eric (Eric Gillette, co-founder and guitarist), that the planetary pandemic-induced hiatus provided some space for the idea to effectively take shape, but I’d love to know the extended version of the story. Especially since you ended up with a lineup that sounds so incredibly cohesive that it feels like you’ve been playing together forever.

“Temic” means “dream” in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs and, to this day, still spoken by over a million people in Mexico. We knew we wanted a one-word name for the band–something instantly recognizable, that had a meaning for all of us, something to be proud of.


Diego Tejeida (TEMIC, Devin Townsend, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress, ex-Haken)

This band began as a mere vision in the dark in 2020. At that point, I knew it was time for me to turn the page in my career and start something new, so I started writing music. The very first ideas I wrote for TEMIC were written even before I first spoke to Eric about the project. It was scary to write music for a band that didn’t exist, for band members that were unknown, for an album that didn’t have a label to be released on, and to bet on a future that was full of uncertainties.

When I eventually called Eric, again back in 2020, I proposed that we materialize an idea we once had of writing music and forming a band together. He immediately–with no hesitation whatsoever–jumped on the idea. We had a long and enjoyable chat discussing the ethos of the band, the vision for its music, and the criteria for choosing our bandmates.

We knew we wanted the core of our music to be based on what we consider good songwriting: strong vocal melody lines, honest and impactful lyrics, colorful harmonies, and a constant heartbeat-like underlying pulse. Stylistically, we agreed that our music would be heavily influenced by electronic music, but orchestrated for a 5-piece “prog” band. Thus, the vision for TEMIC’s music was set: music that is built around the vocal melodies, an energetic and constant pulse, with strong electronic music influences.

We knew we wanted the core of our music to be based on what we consider good songwriting: strong vocal melody lines, honest and impactful lyrics, colorful harmonies, and a constant heartbeat-like underlying pulse.


Eric Gillette (TEMIC, Neal Morse Band, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress)

For the band, we agreed that the members should check 3 boxes: be amazing musicians and masters of their craft, be equally amazing people who get along and are able and willing to positively resolve conflict, and be people who have an extra set of skills–on top of musical skills–to be brought to the table.

As many people know, Eric and I first toured together with Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress back in 2017, and since the very beginning we hit it off, personally and musically. It was the personal chemistry that made us wish we could collaborate in the future. So, as you can see, the personal element is equally as–if not more–important than the musical one.

Simen (Simen Sandnes, drummer) was our natural choice for drum duties–not only is he one of the best modern drummers out there, but he is also a prolific video producer and a guru of all things social media, on top of being a great friend of ours. And it was Simen who strongly suggested Fredrik (Fredrik Klemp, vocalist) as the perfect vocal fit for the band. He wasn’t wrong! From the very first moment we heard Fredrik’s voice, we knew he had the perfect sound for us. His voice is emotive and very versatile. We also became very good friends in very little time during the pandemic.


Simen Sandnes (TEMIC, SHINING, Arkentype)

So, this band began as only an idea, a collection of wishes and visions–very much like a dream–and that dream has now materialized.


So, this band began as only an idea, a collection of wishes and visions–very much like a dream–and that dream has now materialized.

TEMIC has a very fresh and, in many respects, very unique sound. It’s proficiently executed modern prog, there’s no doubt about that, but it never feels derivative, including of any of the massive projects either of you have been involved in. It’s compositionally and technically complex, but it’s also beautifully nuanced emotionally; weighty and light in precisely the right doses. What does the composition process look like? Music, lyrics, even production?

We wanted TEMIC to have its own personality. It would not have made any sense to rinse and repeat a sound or an ethos from any projects of the past. Sure, the past forged us, but this is a new adventure, an adventure that reflects who we are now, musically and personally.

One very important aspect we wanted TEMIC to have was emotional and meaningful lyrics. As I mentioned above, this band’s ethos is not to show prowess for the sake of it, or to be crazy and bombastic. The goal of this band is to make music that has a meaning and that can speak to everyone, not only musicians or academics craving their technical fix.


Fredrik Klemp (TEMIC, Maraton, 22)

For this album, “Terror Management Theory”, the music would start with me or Eric sending each other an initial demo of a song. These initial demos would have a few or all the sections laid out, initial vocal melodies with provisional lyrics, etc. For my initial demos, I would record–albeit very badly–some guitar and bass, program drums, record vocoder vocals, etc., and send them to Eric. He would then write/re-write and record guitars, and write or modify sections, arrange, re-orchestrate, etc., and send it back to me. Once Simen and Fredrik got involved, I would send them these demos so they could do their thing and record actual drums and vocals. For some songs, I worked very closely with Fredrik, writing or fine-tuning the vocal melodies, etc.

The goal of this band is to make music that has a meaning and that can speak to everyone, not only musicians or academics craving their technical fix.

It was a very long process, as it involved a lot of file sharing and someone–in this case, me–keeping track of all the versions and changes. The advantage of this process was that when we actually hit the studio, there were no surprises—all of us knew exactly what we were doing, so we could focus on the performances.

The lyrics were the final part of the creative process. I wrote the majority of the lyrics for this album, Eric wrote the lyrics for ‘Paradigm’, and Fredrik contributed with lyrics that were initially provisional–he added them to his demos–and which ended up on the final versions.

One thing not many people know is that my wife, Katie, is a professional editor and a super talented writer. She wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Acts of Violence’, and also edited all the lyrics for the whole album.

For the production and the sound of the record, we had a very strong idea about what direction the album would go from the sound of the demos. Everything–from the reverb on the vocals to the snare tone–was already laid out, so when it came to the actual recording, we just needed to fulfill that initial projection.

TEMIC_full_band (1)

In February 2022, Simen, Fredrik, and myself went to Top Floor Studios in Gothenburg, Sweden, for 10 days. During the day, Simen would record drums under Jakob Hermann’s engineering expertise, and at night Fredrik would record vocals with me in the control booth. During this time, we were able to record all of the lead vocals and, of course, the drums. Meanwhile, Eric was in charge of the backing vocal production. He sang most of the backing vocals on the record.

Finally, we had the amazing Rich Mouser on mixing and mastering duties. As a rock/keyboard player, I’ve had my fair share of metal mixing engineers, and they seem to always prioritize guitars and drums above everything else, sometimes even above the lead vocals–and, of course, the keyboards and soundscapes end up being an afterthought or a complement. Rich is not like that. He has a great sense of sonic direction, he knows how and when to turn the spotlight on whatever element needs to be brought to the listener’s attention, and he does this with an immaculate sound.

What would you say your main musical influences are? As a band, but also as individual musicians. And which of these influences do you feel have shaped TEMIC’s musical journey the most?

I’ve been influenced by a lot of artists from very varied fields. This is due to the fact that I’m involved in many different disciplines: I’m a sound designer, keys player, songwriter/composer, and producer. I admire the work of different artists according to their field of expertise. For instance, I don’t necessarily admire the lyric-writing skills of Infected Mushroom, but they are one of my main influences in terms of sound design and synth music production.

With that said, here are my main influences. I will limit myself to 5: Infected Mushroom, Bill Evans, Rick Wright, Nirvana, and Pete Zeldman.

It is difficult to say exactly what influences are prevailing in TEMIC’s music, as this is not something we think about when writing music. However, I think that the sound of TEMIC was mostly shaped by having an initial vision and ethos of what we wanted for it. In other words, there might be a few moments that might be influenced by X or Y artist, but these influences are still shaped to serve the fundamental vision of our music: meaningful lyrics, catchy vocal melody lines, and a strong and constant underlying pulse. I know that everyone in the band has different musical backgrounds and different main influences, but it is under this framework that we convened.

What expectations do you have from the still-very-recent release of “Terror Management Theory”? 

Well, the response has been absolutely incredible! It is always very difficult to predict how an album is going to be received, especially with a debut album. But you know what? It was very nice to feel those “first album butterflies” before the release. It’s been such a long time since I felt it. We all are very happy with how things are going.

Is a tour in the cards, now that the album has been released? And, if so, will it include Eastern Europe? I’m asking for a friend 🙂

We’re working on setting up an actual tour. This is the next frontier for TEMIC to be a fully developed band. In the meantime, we’re super excited about our very first show at MidWinter Prog Festival in February.

Where can listeners buy the album and how else can they support you?

It’s available from all your usual digital music shops and streaming platforms, as well as through our webpage and our label, Season of Mist.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with The Progspace’s audience? 

Just want to say: thank you for following us on the start of this new journey. It means the world to us to see the enthusiasm and passion our music has been received with. Here’s to many years to come!

Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I think I speak for many (most?) of the people reading this interview when I say that, on top of thoroughly enjoying TEMIC’s debut album, we’re eagerly awaiting everything else that will be coming from you, now and in the future.


About the Author

Alina (WuTheLotus)

Music fiend from Romania. Sometimes I write.

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