If you are one of those nerds who wants to know more about a band or an artist than just their records, then our interviews are right your thing! We feature an interview every week by a different artist and from a different genre. Every once in a while we also feature a lengthy interview with a musical hero from the past. Furthermore you can also find some shorter interviews we did for our specials here! And now - enjoy and read, what some amazing artists have to say!
30 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
We’re now on day 7 of our Veil of Sound Xmas-Interview-Marathon and today we present to you lucky readers a conversation with Kyle Bates, the mastermind behind drowse, who released his latest album, the excellent ‘Wane Into It’, through The Flenser in November (available on vinyl here).
Coincidentally this exquisite release was reviewed by us and featured in at least one of our contributing writers top 10 albums of the year lists.
‘Wane Into It’ is an absorbing, multi-layered exercise in the concept of memory that benefits from multiple listens to fully appreciate its beauty, preferably on headphones. If exceptionally well made lo-fi/shoegaze/slowcore is your thing, check the interview out and then delve into the drowse back catalogue.
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29 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
The sixth day has come upon us and with us we want to give you an interview with a slow Sludge or fast Funeral Doom band from Sweden: Walk Through Fire. They are currently working on a new record and also give us a few little hints at what we can expect from the new record. So, if you want to know more about their roots, their name, their songwriting process and why they are not a jam band at all - this one is for you!
Walk Through Fire’s Ufuk talks about his Turkish roots, the way it is connected to one of their artworks and so much more. This interview surely is so interesting and detailed so that the picture one might have of the band is not as rounded off as possible. All pieces come together for me, and I am very happy to give you this interview with Walk Through Fire, enjoy!
Now, your last record was released nearly three years ago now – and the records before were released after a three-year interval. When in 2023 can we listen to new Walk Through Fire-material?
Hello and thanks for reaching out. Yes, we do have a new album recorded. At this point we’re looking for a new label to work with, so it’s still a bit uncertain as to when it will be released. But we hope it will be soon!
What can we expect from the new material?
It’s a slow, oppressive dirge from start to finish. A natural continuation from Vår Avgrund I’d say. The organ is very central. Maybe even more so than on its predecessor. It’s also our first album with Esaias playing the organ. He’s a very talented musician and an absolute pleasure to be around and make music with.
By the way, Am I right in assuming that the same artist did the covers for your last two records? Will it be the same one on the next WTF record as well?
We have used different artists for each album cover. Our close friend and long-time fan Göran Nilsson (HYDRA GRAFISK DESIGN) did the artwork for Vår Avgrund and for some merch before that. For Hope Is Misery we used works by Turkish artist Cihat Aral depicting his experience being tortured in Turkish prisons in the eighties (same as my father and many of my relatives had experienced). The Furthest From Heaven artwork was made by me. For the next album you’ll have to wait and see!
Has Covid19 played a bigger role for you as a band or has the pandemic influenced your approach to songwriting?
It had both a negative and a positive impact on us. The negative side was that we released Vår Avgrund just a month before the lockdowns. This of course meant we couldn’t tour and promote the album properly. The positive side was that we used the time to refocus and write music for the new album.
How must we in general imagine the songwriting process for Walk Through Fire – is it jam-based or clearly structured? Who brings in what? Is it a democratic process or is there a main songwriter?
We barely jam. We actually suck at jamming. It’s usually me or Juliusz bringing an idea — either on the guitar or the organ — and showing everyone how we imagine it sounds like. Then we start playing it together until we find the right tempo and feeling, and then record it. After a while we start putting those pieces together into songs. Sometimes it takes years for an idea to find its place in a song. For instance, on the new album we have a part that was written back in 2015. We always loved it but didn’t find its right place until now.
Your name – Walk Through Fire – is it a reference to an album by Peter Gabriel (or Raven for that matter) or is it the idea of walking over hot coals that “incited” your choice?
No, the name came to me during a period when I was watching Twin Peaks and was into Charles Bukowski a lot. Twin Peaks has the sentence “fire walk with me” as a theme throughout the series, and Bukowski has a book called What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through The Fire. Both resonated well with how I imagined the music back then and what the band should be about.
Your sound is pretty unique for even though it is obviously doomy sludge or sludgey doom (whichever box one might prefer) but at the same time it’s pretty shifty and diverse. How much thought do you give that aspect of the music?
I think that comes from us trying to make music that we want to listen to ourselves — but to our knowledge doesn’t exist yet. We want to push the boundaries and explore the unexplored. For instance, we often experiment with playing a composition absurdly slow or overly repetitive. In that absurdity sometimes something unique and beautiful grows.
It seems as if slowing down the songs is important for you, but you never fall on for the droney side of doom – are you careful not to use such sounds?
We put a lot of thought and effort into our sound. Ever since Hope Is Misery (from 2014) we’ve barely made any changes to our gear. We’ve always been very strict on not applying any effects apart from distortion. A lot of metal bands rely too much on reverbs, compressors, delays and other effects to make it sound big and dramatic. It can easily feel like unnecessary cosmetics. We like it raw and simple.
On the last record you seemed to use your mother tongue for the first time – what sparked the change?
We wanted to break down as many barriers we could between the music and the human emotions it represents. And one of those barriers for me was the English language. It wasn’t the language of my thoughts, or “inner voice” (the voice we use to understand those emotions intellectually). It was very frightening at first. I felt great discomfort because I had never heard this type of extreme slow music with lyrics in Swedish before. But after a while I finally found my voice; how I was going to scream my guts out and articulate in a way that made it feel right. In the end I’m glad I exposed myself to that discomfort because ultimately it really elevated our music.
When you started the band more than 15 years ago – what was the intention behind it? To make that kind of extreme metal music? Were there any bands that inspired you for that sound?
To make music that dealt with personal and collective pain. Musically we wanted to do something that combined the melancholy of black metal bands such as DEATHSPELL OMEGA or early DARKTHRONE, with the slow punishing rhythms of doom and sludge acts such as CORRUPTED or GRIEF. On the first demo we were also very much into GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR. But more than any other band, it was the Swedish sludge/doom band ABANDON that inspired us.
A few years ago you released a live album on which you played songs by Arvo Pärt – how did that come to happen? Why Pärt?
I saw this video for Pärt’s “Silouan’s Song” and was totally captivated by the slow, beautiful movements in both the music and footage. After watching it a couple of times I started imagining how it would sound through the wall of sound and heavy hitting slow rhythms of WALK THROUGH FIRE. It seemed like such a perfect match. One day we started trying it out at rehearsals by ear and instantly felt like this was something we needed to do. So, we put together a couple of pieces we wanted to play, adapted the instrumentation to our setup, and Juliusz even adapted the score to work for each person’s music reading skills since most of us had none. It was actually quite phenomenal what he did. After two years of rehearsals, we did one live show, which was recorded and released digitally as a live album.
When listening to your music more carefully it feels as if there is a deeper connection to the work of Pärt, which is also about space and time between notes or chords – would you say that Sludge or Doom lends itself perfectly to such interpretations?
I absolutely would. One perfect example is the SUNNO))) album Kannon. My guess is it’s based on one of Pärt’s works (which we also did on the live album): “Kanon Pokajanen: Ikos”. Listen and you’ll hear what I mean!
Is there any other modern composer for which you would do a similar record? I thought of Philipp Glass played by WTF? Would you also be open to step into completely different genres? Like Bitches Brew by Miles Davis?
Great question. We love Miles Davis, but I don’t think it would make sense for us to play his music. And while I’m personally not that into Glass, we have absolutely been inspired by Terry Riley and Steve Reich, and also by other types of composers such as William Basinski and Richard D James (APHEX TWIN). We actually did a rehearsal demo where we played “#3” from the Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 by APHEX TWIN. An absolute masterpiece which worked perfectly with our sound. We have also recorded demos with interpretations of traditional Turkish music (which is where I’m originally from). But after Pärt we felt like we needed to focus on our own music. But who knows what the future might bring…
I ask that because there is a saxophone on your last record – is that something that drives you? To find out how far you can take the soundscapes? Which unusual elements can you incorporate?
Those ideas have come very organically I’d say. It feels pretty easy for us to explore new sound territories within our music because we don’t have that much to compare ourselves with. I don’t know any band that sounds quite like us and that’s a great freedom that allows us to take inspiration from a wide variety of genres.
Who played the saxophone parts on Vår Avgrund?
Malin Wättring, a very talented impro saxophonist.
What do you then think of bands like A-Sun Amissa or Rivers of Nihil who also use saxophones?
To be honest, I have never heard those two bands. But one band that definitely inspired us to try the saxophone was one of our favorite bands: BOHREN UND DER CLUB OF GORE.
Is there any surprise in that sense on the new record that you might give us a little hint at?
I don’t think anyone that has listened to us before will be surprised. They will hopefully just be glad we’re doing our thing again but even better. And anyone who listens to us for the first time will probably be surprised in either a good way or a bad way. It’s usually the case.
If you could do a split covers record with any band around at the moment and each band covers two songs by the other one – which band would you choose to cover which of your tracks, and which tracks by that band would you like to cover in return?
I think contrasts would be interesting. So, I’d like to begin somewhere far away from how we sound, but with some crucial elements in common with us. The contrasting elements could be slow vs fast or hard vs soft. A crucial element could be tonality or the melancholy in our music. So, let’s say…
IMMOLATION. One of my all-time favorite bands.
We would cover
“Close To A World Below”
“I Feel Nothing”
They would cover
“Den Uta Botten”
“Till Intet Gjord”
But I guess I would have to give Ross Dolan the freedom to translate the lyrics into English, as I’d hope they’d give us the freedom to skip the guitar solos!
You can curate a one-day five/six-bands festival and WTF is also playing – which spot would you play in, and which four/five other bands do you invite to play? Which running order?
WALK THROUGH FIRE
And now to our quickfire round:
Crowbar vs. Eyehategod? Both of them have had an influence on us but I’d go with EYEHATEGOD because of their uncompromising attitude and integrity they’ve kept all these years. And no other band can bend time in slow tempos like EHG.
Down vs. Corrosion of Conformity? DOWN (I & II)
St Vitus vs. The Obsessed? ST VITUS
AC/DC vs. The Rolling Stones? AC/DC (Bon Scott years)
Turbonegro vs. Kvelertak? TURBONEGRO.
Breach vs. Refused? BREACH. One of the most unique, grooviest, and darkest metal/hardcore bands that have ever existed. They were a true force of nature.
The Doors vs. The Beach Boys? THE DOORS.
Touring vs. Writing/Recording? Writing and recording.
Beer vs. wine? Beer.
Roadburn vs. Psycho Las Vegas? Roadburn. The first year I attended Roadburn was in 2011. In one single weekend I saw TODAY IS THE DAY, SWANS, GODFLESH (Streetcleaner set!), WOVENHAND, EARTH, SUNN O))), KEIJI HAINO, WINTER, SCORN and CANDLEMASS… But lately their musical direction hasn’t been for me really. So, if I got the chance to go to Psycho Las Vegas I would. Their lineups remind me of the old Roadburn days.
The beach or the forest? A silent beach
SunnO))) vs. Boris? Coincidentally enough I was listening to their joint split Altars just now. Great record. But I would go with SUNNO))).
Thank you for taking the time and talking with us, all the best for the record release and we hope to see you soon.
Thank you, Thorsten! Likewise. /Ufuk
(Photo Credit: title picture: Erik Hermanby, sheet music picture: Einar Stabenfeldt)
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28 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
Day 5, marathon midterm and today we touch royalty. Because today’s interview partner, Dale Crover, has worked with: Mike Patton. King Buzzo. Kurt Cobain. And these are just a few of the names he’s worked with. Starting out in the Pacific Northwest and leaving with King Buzzo from there right before Seattle exploded, he also left behind a band he used to play in you might know: Nirvana. But hey, being one of only two constant members of The Melvins ain’t so bad either, huh? We talked with him about the new Melvins record, the band itself, his relation to Buzz and so much more.
When talking to Dale, one does not have the feeling as if he is talking to somebody who was in so many bands and projects with so many famous people and musicians, artists and vocalists. Why? Because if there is one thing Dale certainly ain’t, it’s arrogant. He is a funny, regular guy when talking to you pretty openly about how the new record came to be, what it is like to be a part of the Melvins for so long, that he seemingly understands Buzz blindfoldedly and how it feels to be 69th best drummer in the world (according to a certain magazine, that doesn’t know anything)! Enjoy folks!
(Photo credit: Shervin Lainez)
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27 Dec 2022 - Stephan
Nearly at mid-term in our interview-marathon and this time we got our second written interview – maybe a bit shorter than usual, but we guess you can use a little breather. Additionally we are 100% sure that you are gonna like this interview with GGGOLDDD, one of the most interesting bands around, whose masterminds Thomas and Milena also curated 2022’s edition of Roadburn and who came up with an album that needs to be talked about constantly.
This Shame Should not be Mine opens a lot of discussion about how to deal with sexual harassment and rape and how to deal with it, how to cope with it. Not only this is a topic for us, but of course also how the curation for and collaboration with Roadburn Festival went for the couple. You see - there is more than enough to talk about and thus we are more than happy to give you this interview which Stephan did for us. Enjoy!
First of all I want to congratulate you on what an outstanding album This Shame Should Not Be Mine has become, and on all the well-deserved attention and praise it receives!
On the album you (Milena) are singing about your personal experience of sexual assault in very real and clear words. And I think your focus on the trauma and its effects makes it accessible and relatable to an even wider audience beyond the already sadly too huge group of survivors and indirectly affected of this kind of violence. Did you receive any reactions from directions which have surprised you?
Since we first performed This Shame Should Not Be Mine at Roadburn Redux we have received so many heartening and heartbreaking responses from people who can relate, all in their own individual way. A lot of them were also from men and non-binary people. Especially among men there seems to be even more of a taboo. And the taboo was a big part of why I wanted to make this album. The taboo is why people still feel isolated and guilty when this happens to them. So it’s important to tell these stories and help people understand they are not alone. And that the shame should not be theirs.
When talking about trauma and sexual assaults - do you think that we are witnessing the results of over-sexualized generations? Is this rise in publicly denounced sexual assaults a good sign in your opinion?
We are witnessing the results and collapse of patriarchy. Sexual violence is something of the ages. The fact that it’s now more talked about and discussed is simply because people feel empowered to speak out. It helps keeping the perpetrators and the power structures that used to shield them accountable for what they do.
I can imagine that there were many steps on the way which demanded overcoming: Realizing what the theme of the project would be, then discussing it within your band etc., each of those steps somehow getting bigger and bringing it out more into the open. Was this increasingly scary or did it eventually turn into a process of coping?
Both, I would say. It was scary addressing it publicly, even in the most intimate of settings. But it’s a necessary part of coping with it and finding a way of moving forward.
I saw you performing the full album at Roadburn Festival and I have seldom felt such a serious and respectful anticipation from all people on and off stage for a show of that size. During your performance especially “Spring” brought me as close to tears as it is possible without crying. Also considering that the album had started as a commissioned project for last year’s streaming edition of Roadburn, can you tell us how this show played out from your perspective?
It was definitely the most special show we ever played. The respect and attention we got from the crowd was very emotional for us too. We know that a show like this is rare for all in the room, so we’ll cherish this for a long long time.
Speaking of Roadburn, you (Milena and Thomas) were also invited as curators for the festival and put together an array of artists ranging from guitar dream pop over experimental electronic to sludge and black metal. How was that process and what were your takeaways from that experience?
It was such an honor and so much fun! We could just throw wild ideas at Walter and he would work with us to make some of these happen. We really feel like we managed to materialize the concept of “Redefining Heaviness” and are super happy with the acts that were booked. We also learned a lot about what it takes to put such a festival together and we got even more respect for everybody involved.
How did the people at Roadburn react when you told them of your plans for your commissioned piece?
If we remember correctly we told Walter what it was about and we sent him the first demos of what we had been working on. His response was very emotional and gave us a lot of confidence and strength. Overall, the way Walter has put his trust and confidence in us, has helped us a lot in finding our path forward.
As a fellow attendee I just have to ask: Any favorite performances (inside or outside of your curation)?
This year’s Roadburn was such a special and emotional experience, with so many highlights. We were really blown away by the electronic acts, like Amnesia Scanner, Duma and The Bug. Liturgy’s performance of “Origin Of The Alimonies” really overwhelmed us. And Midwife gave such a beautiful concert.
Your interest in electronic music is also very much on display in form of the synths, minimalistic beats and trip hop influences on This Shame Should Not Be Mine. Do you think this would have happened as a natural progression of your style anyway or did this album in particular demand a different, less guitar-centric musical language?
It was something that we had wanted to do for quite a while. We had started to experiment with electronics a bit already, but the pandemic really forced us to dive deeper into this. Suddenly our band routine was totally gone as we weren’t allowed to get together. So we played around with electronics in our home studio and found a way to compose and arrange in that way. That came together with Roadburn commissioning a piece and the trauma rearing its ugly head. All of that together resulted in “This Shame Should Not Be Mine”.
Given the different setup on stage, will the recent material vanish from your setlists after the current tour cycle or do you consider translating some of the songs into “rock versions” later?
We’re always looking forward and you surely shouldn’t expect us to return to a more rock sound after this.
Finally let me address a concern many of your fans are probably worrying about: Are you always online? Your reaction time on social media usually is alarmingly quick!
And speaking of internet matters: You’ve recently rebranded Gold to Gggolddd for mostly rather pragmatic reasons of better online recognition and optimized search engine results. Would you mark that as a success or has it led to further confusion?
We are super happy with it. It’s so much easier to find us online, and that is all we wanted to achieve.
Onto our infamous quickfire round - you get two alternatives, have to choose one and maybe give a short explanation. You also can answer separately.
Beer or Wine? No
For your next vacation - the mountains or the seaside? Norwegian mountains please
More appealing to you - Paradise Lost in their electronic phase or in during their early Doom innovations? Icon!!
Writing/Recording or Touring? Writing
K’s Choice or Skunk Anansie? Skunk Anansie
Alanis Morrissette or Melissa Etheridge? Alanis Morissette
Portishead or Tricky? Portishead
Thou or Sons of A Wanted Man? Thou, because we have to admit we haven’t heard Sons of A Wanted Man, yet.
Iskandr or Fluisteraars? Fluisteraars
Messa or E-L-R? Both, but since they recently suffered a ravishing car crash, our hearts are with Messa.
(Photo Credit: Cover of TSSNBM: Szilveszter Mako; Thomas & Milena portrait plus live picture: William Lacalmontie)
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26 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
So, day three already. After the great and mighty Jarboe and Alcest, we now want to give some of you the chance to maybe discover a new band you might not have been giving attention by now: Sunflo’er from Potsdam in Upstate New York. Their latest album all these darlings and now me is bursting of energy and brimful with mighty, clever ideas and twists and turns that show a modern Hardcore band aiming for the sky. Enjoy our video-chat with the whole band!
I did not know too much about Sunflo’er before this interview and me preparing for it. But listening through their discography and especially their latest album, I was not surprised because the label through which the four guys are releasing their music usually never fails in their roster-choices: Dark Trail Records . And they do not disappoint this time around either. Sunflo’er has made a giant leap and maybe released the modern American Hardcore album of 2022 next to Soul Glo and The Callous Daoboys. Therefore we talk about the record and the songwriting process behind it, but also about Wes Craven and why one of them has a box of Corn Dogs in his fridge! Enjoy!
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25 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
Day 2 of 9 – we hope you enjoyed yesterday‘s interview with Jarboe. Haven‘t listened to it yet? Well, don‘t worry, it‘s not gonna be taken down any time! Today we have a classic written interview with you and as you have already seen by the title of this page, it‘s with none other than Neige from Alcest! At first glance this might seem like a short interview but read carefully, there is a lot in it that might make you think or that you might not have known!
When people talk about Alcest, they often talk with admiring glances and with a lot of respect for the French band is regarded to be one of the pioneers for a sound that bands like Deafheaven or Heretoir took up. The band has been writing new material and we are happy to hear something about it and also about Neige’s approach to his music and life in general. Enjoy!
How do you cope with the dichotomy of being a completely normal person and at the same time being the face of a global phenomenon (at least in the metal world)?
It’s a difficult question. Well, I think speaking about the influence of Alcest as a phenomenon is probably a bit of an overstatement. This style of music is pretty underground and even if I am aware that a lot of bands were inspired by my work, which I am really grateful for, I never perceived it as something overwhelming or difficult to handle. Maybe I am a little bit naive / not aware of this influence but yeah I don’t think about it too much and rather focus on making the best possible music with my own project. I am extremely self-critical, and never really happy with what I create, so my musician life is like a never-ending quest for satisfaction. On the other hand, when someone comes to me saying that he/she formed a band after having heard Alcest, I take it as the biggest compliment possible, and as I said above, I feel extremely humbled and grateful every single time I hear something like this. What our fans tell us is always so beautiful, touching and heartwarming every time.
You are from the South of France where the “light” has a certain quality and where legends are as plentiful as in other parts of the country – how much have both influenced the music of Alcest? For example the cover of Shelter?
Light is everything for Alcest, and also for me as a person. I grew up with it in the South of France, as you said, and it’s a part of my identity. I need it on a daily basis to feel at peace. That’s also surely why my two favorite seasons are Spring and Summer, which I pay tribute to in many of my songs’ lyrics. I also remember that originally it was one of the reasons why I wanted to make this project, thinking «So many bands in the Black Metal scene talk about hate and darkness. Why hasn’t there been any (project) with more luminous, ethereal and positive aesthetics? ». Parallel to that, Alcest deals with a lot of different ideas, like spirituality or the feeling of not belonging down here, nostalgia, etc. But yeah, the «light» component has always been really important in this project.
Many people do not accept or see the (super)natural world as a world parallel to what they perceive – how deep is your belief in such things?
Well, I can understand these people, totally. If I hadn’t had a spiritual experience myself when I was younger, I would surely believe in nothing and just consider the reality we see as the one and only. I believe we only can grasp very little of this reality, because of the limit of our human senses, but reality is probably much vaster than what most people think. I always have felt trapped in my own body, within my earthly senses, and therefore felt a lot of frustration because of this. Music, because of its universal and transcendental aspects, helps me cope with it and I speak about all this constantly in the lyrics of the band. I consider our life on Earth to be like an experience, a journey limited in time, an opportunity for us to grow, learn, deal with various feelings linked to this world of matter. Feelings such as pain, joy and everything in between. Nobody is perfect and we are all going to make mistakes during our experience down here, but I believe that the ultimate goal is to spread as much love as we can. Then, when we die, we go back to where we came from, have a look at our own actions, and do it all over again. These are things that I strangely have felt within me since a really young age, almost in an instinctive way, but I am never going to try to convince anyone of it. That’s why I consider myself a spiritual person but I really dislike religion in general for its arrogance and its will to control people’s believes and actions, but this is another subject obviously.
Did bands like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Codeine or My Bloody Valentine really influence the change in your sound back in the day, like many people try to explain the shift in your music after a few years of Alcest’s existence?
It depends on the bands. At the time I was recording my first album Souvenirs… I just started to discover Shoegaze and Post-Rock. My inspirations were actually more spiritual and nature-oriented than musical. The songs for my album were already written at this moment, and I guess these styles of music had an influence on my sound only during the last steps of the recording. There were some bands I already was familiar with though, and who certainly influenced me. Explosions In The Sky, The Smashing Pumpkins or New Order for their melodic bass lines. Dead Can Dance also had a big influence on me for the atmospheric/tribal quality of their music. I also was listening to a lot of Yann Tiersen at this time and loved how nostalgic and delicate his songs could be.
You became a member of the French metal scene early on, how was growing up in it? Have you ever felt unaccepted in any way?
I guess because of my specific perception of things I was not at all the typical Black Metal dude. Also back in the day most of the Black Metallers were listening to metal only (Thrash, Black, Death, Heavy) whereas I early on got into totally different styles of music like Indie Rock, Dream Pop, New Wave, which I remember some of the purists were not approving of at all. It’s funny to think about it now considering how open-minded the metal community became in recent years. When I started the band, because of its uplifting vibes, Alcest was for sure really unconventional, and a lot of closed minded metal heads didn’t know what to make out of it. I didn’t care about it and just kept on doing my own thing.
If you had to explain your music to a film nerd who has no real idea of metal music – how would you describe the music of Alcest?
Once I said to someone as a halfway joke ”I guess it sounds a bit as if the Elves in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ were having a rock band”. I think it’s a pretty accurate description (laughs). I am not very comfortable with labels when it comes to Alcest’s music.
Listening to Alcest often has a very soothing effect on people even though the music has that black metal foundation – is that just my emotion or is that something that is important to you – to affect people in a positive way? And if so, how do you know that this song or this part can have that effect?
Yeah, even if Alcest’s music can be melancholic, or even angry at times, I always wish for people to get a positive effect from it. A lot of our fans tell us that our songs truly help them. It’s one of the best things someone can tell an artist I suppose. As for my way to put such feelings into the music, I tend to think that the emotions I get while writing an Alcest-song are the ones that people will also get while they listen to it, so I take it as a good reference point. Most of my work is very visceral and connected to my intuition. And it’s this same intuition that tells me when a song is finished or needs some more work, or when it is just not good enough to be on an album. I have a very instinctive way to write music, all emotion based.
Coming to the new record that you are working on – can you give us any hint at what it will sound like? What it will be about?
Our last two records were darker than our first ones, especially Spiritual Instinct, which is probably the heaviest/darkest Alcest record so far. The new record we are working on is coming back to a more «fragile», otherworldly and melancholic side of Alcest, a bit like we had it on the two first albums, but with a more modern and elaborate approach. We are taking our time making this album because we feel that it has a lot of potential and we want to make something ambitious, artistically speaking. There will almost be a «soundtrack»-approach to it, as it will probably feature other instruments/arrangements than just the usual guitars/bass/drums/vocals. I can’t tell much more about it but we are really excited about how it will progress.
(Photo Credit: Studio Picture by William Lacalmontie)
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24 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
Here we are now - entertain you! The Veil of Sound Xmas-Interview-Marathon 2022 is upon you. We will give you one interview with an amazing artist or band every day. Some will be podcast-only, some text-, several video-based interviews. And of course we want to give you some of the finest and most popular artists around - need proof for that? Well, how about we kick this off with Jarboe! Yes, the one! The lady who certainly changed Michael Gira’s life and Swans’ sound. Who released an awesome collab with Neurosis and so much more!
There is also a very up-to-date-reason for this interview - the re-release of one of her seminal solo-releases: Sacrificial Cake which originally was released nearly 30 years ago. At a time, when it was considered to be a twin-record to Gira’s Drainland (there were even some promo CDs sent out with tracks from both records). The record is mindblowingly different and diverse and doesn’t shy away from tracks that at first glance don’t fit in with the tracks before or after. Nevertheless, there is one thing that connects them all - Jarboe’s voice and musical quality. We talked with her in detail about the record, its songwriting and production, the influence of New York City and much much more! We are very proud to kickstart our hearty VoS-Xmas-Interview-Marathon with this nearly one-hour long interview which you can listen to here straight away or on the streaming platform of your choice:
You can also grab your copy of the re-release of Sacrificial Cake via The Circle Music!
[Photo Credit: M. Lasalle]
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11 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
Boss Hog. Unsane. Helmet. The Melvins. Yes, musically these are very diverse bands. But as diverse as they are, or as they might be seen nowadays, there is something that connects them all: They all released on the legendary Amphetamine Reptile Records label once and that really meant and means something as the label from Minneapolis has played a hand in many careers. Therefore we are really happy to talk to Tom Hazelmyer, the founder of AmRep
Back in the day it seemed like AmRep was the “biggest indie” label on the planet, with maybe the best “nose” for great bands and when you released an EP or an album even through Tom’s label, you could be sure that people would notice your band. But whether this notion of the biggest label on the label also co-related in a huge number of people working there - well, if you want to know that and much more - then you should watch this video with Tom in which we talk a lot about AmRep’s history and “business model”, about the fact that Tom witnessed the explosion of an alternative scene twice and even more about the relationship between AmRep and The Melvins, whose King Buzzo also provided us with the wonderful picture of Tom. Enjoy all you VoS-aficionados out there and tell us - which label shall we shed some light on next?!
[Photo Credit: Buzz Osborne]
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07 Dec 2022
Fusion - one of those terms that many people detest even though they do not have the slightest clue what it means. Yes, it CAN have roots in Jazz, or in Metal. Or both. But basically it means nothing else than the co-existence of two or more different elements within the same settin of time and place. That does not necessarily make it artsy-fartsy as many people think, but man, some of those ‘fusionistas’ can really rock it out as hard as many Metal-musicians can’t. Thus, our advice - don’t overestimate your own knowledge or underestimate the hardness of that “genre”. Oh why do we say all of that right here? Because our man Joshua also talked about the term with Sally Gates, who is a miraculous virtuoso on her instrument and part of Titan to Tachyons, which we reviewed a short while ago. So, take of any bias towards the genre and wrap your head around this interview!
I was incredibly fortunate to connect with Sally Gates, leader, composer, and guitarist of the powerhouse instrumental band Titan to Tachyons, whose new album Vonals (here is our review) was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label on September 16. Despite her busy international traveling and gigging schedule, she graciously answered a range of curious questions about her history, recent non-Titan solo and collaborative performances, worldviews, and visual artistry, among other themes. I hoped to use this occasion to shine more of a spotlight on Gates’ consummate artistry, her process and sources of inspiration. Thanks to her incredible candor, I got that and more — including the scoop on some upcoming projects to look out for. Enjoy!
Kia ora, Sally!
Congratulations on the release of the second Titan to Tachyons album, Vonals! I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer these questions, especially on the heels of a very busy period including the Vonals release tour, numerous international press features, and a return to New Zealand to play the Wellington Jazz Festival, several improvisational gigs, Vitamin S Fest … oh my! Have you caught your breath yet?
Only just! It’s been a rather busy & intense year. I’m still here in New Zealand for a series of performances around the country after the Wellington Jazz Fest, and I am also spending some long-awaited quality time with family.
I enjoyed your article published in the Dominion Post & Stuff. In it, you touch on your connections to places like Tairua — a special creative sanctuary for you — and the pain of being estranged from them for so long because of the pandemic and other contingencies. How has your homecoming after four years been going? You must be experiencing a lot of excitement, relief, but also some mixed emotions, after so long away.
It’s amazing to be home after so long. It felt pretty strange to be back at first, but now I’ve settled in & adjusted it’s feeling more normal. The country has changed a fair bit in these four years culturally and physically, with new developments, so some places are simultaneously nostalgic and unrecognisable. I’m definitely excited to be here for the summer, as I love exploring and going on various outdoor adventures like hiking, kayaking, and surfing.
In or out of the jetlag fog, what were your first home-again musts: people to see, places to visit, foods to eat?
Family was number one. Then the beach, coffee, sushi. (Which is pretty typical wherever I am.)
As a commissioned artist for the 2022 Wellington Jazz Festival, you presented Thought & Terraform, a new solo guitar work exploring the relationship between consciousness and perceptual reality. Thematically, this sounds like an extension of your recent compositions for Vonals, though I’m curious what other musical textures make up this piece. Can you characterize the performance for us and maybe how your approach to composition changes in a solo context? Did you include looping or live sampling? Were there other techniques you hoped to highlight in your composition or performance?
The commission was a great opportunity to focus on what I can do solo, as I’ve spent the majority of my career writing for and playing in bands.
Thought & Terraform had a set form and motifs that were expanded and connected through improvisation, however the overall piece was rather textural and abstract. I used a looper to build layers, sometimes adding extended techniques to create percussive elements and walking basslines to give the effect of rhythm section. I’ll be premiering the piece in the US on January 22nd in San Francisco.
Awesome, I can’t wait! I was hoping we might get another opportunity to hear this work.
Can you share more about the “terraforming” side of this concept? Are you exploring the extent of our control, imaginary or practical, over the worlds we create and how we go about inhabiting them?
The title is based on the book Thought Forms (Besant & Leadbeater, 1905), which explores the range of colours and forms visible in the human aura manifested by different thoughts and emotions. Thought & Terraform takes this premise a step further and includes a theory from The Holographic Universe (Talbot, 1991); consciousness manifests the world around us, shaping physical reality.
The Wellington Jazz Festival acknowledges the indigenous cultures and traditions of New Zealand, including Maori language on its website and embracing the Maori name for the islands and islanders, Aotearoa. I don’t think I’m overstepping when I say that the majority of Americans struggle to reckon with the anti-BIPOC colonial history of the United States, let alone practice land acknowledgements or make diligent efforts to understand indigenous cultures and tribal sovereignty. How do you feel New Zealand is faring on these obligations?
This is a great question which highlights an important issue; however, I don’t feel mine is the most qualified voice to answer it. As an observer, I can say that Maori culture has always been present in New Zealand, and over the years since I moved to the States, I’ve noticed a marked effort to acknowledge it and further integrate it into everyday practices, with a focus on fostering the language into common use. Over the last 40 years there have been major land reparations and compensation from the Crown as a result of Maori protests beginning in the 1960s, which were aimed at repairing injustices dating back to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.
You have lately been exploring the dynamics of control and chaos, to pick up on some language from your article. Your music for Titan to Tachyons tests the dimensions of the liminal zones between composition and improvisation. What about in situations where you’re playing free, such as on the jazz festival circuit or gigging with players in New York (as in your recent trio performance with Zoh Amba and Brian Chase)? Is there a different energy you bring to those sets to manage the inherent “chaos” of the encounter, where compositional constraints are not necessarily the primary concern?
There’s a different energy when playing entirely free, in that you’re listening and reacting to the other players, while also making choices on the spot with an interplay between leading, following, countering, etc. A lot of the time I’ll form groups with people I’ve never played with before, as half of the fun for me is discovering other people’s ideas and vibes while creating a rapport in a live situation.
In recent memory, aside from Kenny, Matt, and Trevor, with whom have you made the most powerful connections in an improvisational setting?
The trio with Brian and Zoh was an exciting combo that I’d love to do more with. I played duo with Sam Ospovat earlier in the year which had a lot of great moments too. Back in 2019 I put together a trio with Trevor and Greg Fox for a gig. We ended up recording an album together that will be coming out soon on Riverworm Records.
Trevor Dunn’s new label! I look forward to hearing that recording.
I was hesitant to use the term “Fusion” in my review of Vonals because of its pejorative overtones; nonetheless, I find the concept fits the uncompromising blend of Jazz and Metal I hear in Titan to Tachyons and it gave me a way of contextualizing that for others. I also believe that “Fusion”—as a cultural ethos, not necessarily as a marketable commodity—is due for reappraisal. What are your feelings about the term “Fusion” and how it may or may not apply to Titan to Tachyons?
“Fusion” as a genre makes me think of the ‘70s era bands, but as a general term it’s as un/helpful a description as any other label such as “Jazz-Metal”. We’re not Jazz nor a Metal band, but there are elements of each present, so “Fusion” could potentially be more accurate.
It sometimes feels like we’re going through a moment of greater crossover appeal between Jazz and Metal, Jazz in Metal, vice versa. So many incredible artists are making profound statements informed to varying degrees by both musical traditions. What I find exhilarating about Titan to Tachyons is your attempt to represent those equally, without excuse. Jazz and Metal are not just flavors or colors in your music, but part of the structural DNA. Uncompromising, mad scientism. How did you discover this style? Was there a turning point in your musical development that you can point to and say, here everything started coming together — these are not just different musics but part of a greater whole? Was there a moment of extrinsic or intrinsic permission allowing you to see things this way?
Titan to Tachyons was about discovering my musical voice. There were no conscious decisions on style; I followed a mantra of “write for an audience of one,” which you could say was a continuing moment of permission that really helped me get through creative roadblocks and allowed completely free expression. In my early years of playing music, I was predominantly listening to and playing metal. As my tastes evolved I began discovering more experimental and Avantgarde music, as well as developing a taste for Blues, Jazz, Trip-Hop, Dub, and more. So when I began to focus purely on writing my own music, it came out as an amalgamation of these tastes.
There may also be a lag in terms of audiences appreciating the kinship and diverse uses of these musical traditions. No matter how visceral and compelling the musical experience may be, metalheads can be reluctant or afraid to go “too far” engaging with the language of Jazz and improvised music, while so many jazzheads continue to regard metal only with a side-eye. What’s going on here? What would you like to see happen in this dialogue?
I feel like a vast amount of people are already pretty open to these crossovers, and it makes things very flexible for us as we’re able to bounce between playing different types of line-ups and venues, for example fitting into a Jazz festival or playing Metal clubs. I’d like to see that continue as it makes for more interesting and enjoyable shows, while expanding our audience and network.
Your artwork for both Titan albums is incredible—mesmeric and full of evocative movement! You’ve been playing music since you were a child, correct? What about your visual artistry? When did that start and what’s the relationship between your various artistic outlets? Do you use your drawing and painting as a workshop for musical ideas?
Thank you! I began both music and art around the age of 5, with more of a natural talent for art. I’ve pretty much always been able to create the images that were in my head through artistic mediums, but struggled to write music. Things began to click for me when I started to look at music composition more visually, and the two became intertwined expressions of singular concepts. One thing I love to do is paint and listen to music for inspiration.
(The debut record by Titan to Tachyons Cactides)
Unwrapping the album led to some delightful surprises! Inside the CD cover there are visual captures taken from your sketchbook with score notations and arrangement patterns, including musical reference points like Hendrix and Slonim as well as interpretive glosses on moods like “disintegration” and “vertigo.” And the liner notes! I love these glimpses into your process. How has your process changed or grown from Cactides to Vonals?
Vonals was more of a deliberate process, in that I knew who I was writing the music for. This allowed me to utilise everyone’s strengths and open things up for their individual creativity. After Cactides I’d started writing material with more of a focus on counterpoint, and it was calling for a third melodic voice, so getting Trevor on board again was perfect timing. I also had a focus on minimalism, wanting to do more with less by expanding two or three ideas into a whole song rather than having 13 different sections for example, like “The Starthinker is Obsolete”. Vonals was also much more intensive, written over 18 months as opposed to the three years or so I spent on Cactides.
With the more stable addition of Trevor Dunn to this record, you’ve had to work more creatively with arrangement and counterpoint—to stunning result. Vonals sounds incredibly lush and spacious, even with all these similarly voiced instruments. It’s amazingly well choreographed. Do you anticipate continuing in this direction and have you considered experimenting with other instrumentation for Titan? I’m outside imagining how a trombone or —gasp!— additional percussion would sound in the mix.
I’m always open to additional instrumentation, but I do like to be able to play everything we record live, so that gets factored in. Typically I would try to create any new sounds within the band by using extended techniques or effects pedals before bringing in a guest musician. Kenny threw in some percussion in “Blue Thought Particles”, and it’s a road I’d like to explore more of with him.
As for direction, I feel like we only tapped the surface of what’s possible in regards to arrangement and counterpoint with this line-up, so it’s definitely something I’m interested in exploring more.
I have not had the pleasure of seeing Titan to Tachyons live … yet! But I’ve enjoyed watching available recordings of your performances. I’ve noticed you are very watchful during live performances, partly conducting or just being in the improvised moment, but you also appear to enjoy watching the audience. How would you characterize your “awareness” on stage and connecting with your audience?
One thing I love about having an amount of improvisation in the music is that it keeps you present in the moment, listening and communicating with each other. The written material is not something I can play entirely on autopilot either, there are a lot of cues & conduction happening, as well as keeping track of the form, etc., so you could say I’m very aware most of the set. Looking at the audience is a way to connect with them.
What is the secret of your star tone, Sally? What’s your setup? Are you in standard tuning most times?
My setup is pretty straightforward. I have my PRS Custom 22 Goldtop as my go-to favourite for a warm and smooth tone, and it has the versatility of a 5-way pickup switch and tremolo. I use an Orange OR100 tube amp with their PPC series cabs. (The amp can switch from 35-100 watts, and I have a 1x12 or 4x12 cab to match.) I have a variety of pedals that run different effects, such as modulations and delays. For distortion I use a Friedman BE100 live, and on the album I put together a combination of a Friedman clone and the BK Butler Tube Driver.
I use standard tuning. I like that it consistently trains my ear and fingers to know where each note is, and also for better communication between other musicians.
What does it mean to “Close the Valve & Wait”? How integral is this to the interior cosmic journey Vonals invites us on?
This track explores tension and textures through a freely improvised session, creating an unsettling build to the final passage of the album’s journey.
You’re always reading and watching interesting stuff. What’s currently inspiring you?
The book that inspired me the most recently was The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. A lot of weird synchronicities popped up around and in this book, even during the process of trying to hunt down my own copy.
Yayoi Kusama and Victor Vasarely are two artists that became a large part of the visual inspiration for Vonals. I’m currently reading How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel (Brian Clegg) and looking for the next book in Phillip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy. Undone is also a great TV series, which explores the nature of reality and time from a girl who may or may not be experiencing schizophrenia.
Would you like to share any other news about the future of Titan to Tachyons or other projects coming up?
Titans are beginning to book shows for 2023, and I’m starting to think about the shape of the next album.
As I mentioned earlier, I have another project with Trevor and Greg Fox. We recorded an album a little while back which will be coming out early 2023 on Riverworm Records. This is an improvised record with Trevor on upright bass and Greg on drums & modular synth.
It’s tradition to close VoS interviews with a round of rapid-fire questions. Feel free to answer and elaborate as you like:
Favorite Red Dwarf character or favorite Red Dwarf episode? I may have been a tad obsessed with the Cat growing up. Favourite episodes are hard to narrow down: “Parallel Universe,” “Backwards,” “Quarantine,” “Back to Reality,” “Gunmen of the Apocalypse.” I could go on.
Favorite Miles Davis album or favorite death metal album? These aren’t quite death metal, but Today is the Day, Sadness Will Prevail; Cryptopsy, None So Vile; and Emperor, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk.
Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, or Twin Peaks: The Return? Twin Peaks.
Winters in New York or summers in Miami? NY Winters. Ask me again in 10 years.
North Island or South Island? South Island
Best Hāngī or best Fish ‘n’ Chips? Fish n chips from the Kai Kart on Stewart Island.
Whitebait, Kina, or Pāua? Pāua
Beets on burgers or pineapple on pizza or other sacrilegious behaviors you’d recommend? Toasted Marmite and cheese. I also used to condone beetroot on burgers as a kid.
Best beach reading or best mountain soundtrack? Kyuss is the best beach soundtrack.
“Stonehenge” or “Big Bottom”? Big Bottom
Indeed. Always more bass. Thank you, Sally!
[Photo credits: Band pictures - Naeemah Z. Maddox; Live photo - Brandon Daza; Sally alone - Karen Jerzyk]
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05 Dec 2022 - Thorsten
Get Me The Fuck Out of Here was a knucklehead jab out of nowhere. Nobody here had expected this sound which is as warm as R’n’B (YES!) and as dynamic as classic Shoegaze. An interview with the mastermind behind a band that no one should miss who is into surprising records!
When talking to Matt Wainwright one has the feeling of talking to a person who is quite chilled on the hand but really serious about his music on the other hand. In some way that also reflects in his music. Shoegaze is a genre which could also be described as a ‘white boys club’ with only seldom people of color joining in for the fun of staring down at your sneakers. And when one comes around who knows about that, who is not angry of being alone in that club with his friends and of being the standout act then that can become either a novelty act or a somewhat groundbreaking release. Cold Gawd’s recent full-length made us believe that this is the second - something not really heard of before. Reason enough to talk with Matt and find out how he sees his band’s position inside the genre. And maybe also what “Magic Matt” has to do with it ;-)
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28 Nov 2022 - Thorsten
This is an interview which might have been the longest in the making. Roughly a year ago, Ghost Bath released their latest album Self Loather (review here) and we were really taken with it. Therefore we are more than happy that we now finally got the chance to talk with one of the guys behind the project to talk a lot of things - including the way the music works for them and is created in a way that at least the interviewer would not have imagined!
By definition, a ‘ghost bath’ is a specific way of taking one’s own life, with the remaining body being drowned and thus looking like a ghost. However, when talking with a member of one of the American DSBM bands, namely Ghost Bath, it would be much too easy to only focus on that topic, as Tim has much more to talk about. Thus we touched upon which kind of music he likes to listen to, how Self-Loather is the end of a trilogy and how much of it was written and created during the pandemic. Among other things!
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26 Nov 2022 - Thorsten
Enigma. That’s a word very often read or heard when people are talking about Jozef van Wissem, the man who brought a record back from the dead, who basically invented a genre only he fills and who has created some of the most memorable soundtracks of the last few decades. Jozef van Wissem has recently released a new record via Incunabulum Records: a score for the black and white classic Nosferatu by German movie pioneer F.W. Murnau. All of that were reason enough for us to seek an interview with the man.
There are more photos of Jozef van Wissem wearing a very characteristic hat and is mostly clad in black clothes. This shall not imply that his world only has two sides, but that he has a certain taste in clothing, lifestyle and also a pretty particular (and very good) taste in music. Even though many know him from his work with Jim Jarmusch or his releases on Consouling Sound, one should never forget that he also has a vast knowledge of music, from everything, the early modern to Baroque and to modern day music. From classical composers to Drone metal avantgardists. Enjoy our interview with the man who gave the lute a good name (again).
Jozef, thanks for doing this – you are on tour right now, so let me ask you: How have the gigs been so far and which place are you looking forward to playing the most? Any venue in particular? Any city? If so – why?
I am looking forward to playing Russia and Ukraine again. I miss them both. In Moscow I played in a huge cathedral for over 1,000 people. In Ukraine there was lute mania when I did concerts, girls would faint during the concert. I used to go to there every year and I have friends in both countries. That doesn’t compare to playing in Paradiso Amsterdam for tourists.
When you are on the road, is that a total solo concert or do you have a backing band?
I play solo. I did about 1,500 solo concerts worldwide, more shows than the Ramones did. When I go to a concert myself I prefer to see solo artists, too. You can’t hide behind your band members when you play by yourself. You are naked and pure.
According to some sources you started playing the lute at a young age, is that true? And what about the lute made you pick up this rather unusual instrument?
No. That’s not correct. I studied classical guitar at a young age. I started playing the lute when I moved to New York in my early thirties. My lute teacher Pat O’Brien was an ex-guitarist who studied with Reverend Gary Davis. He had the right attitude and made me write my own solo pieces for the instrument. That would not have happened in Europe.
Is the variability of the instrument one of the things that attracted you, its position between old and new music?
What attracted me in the instrument was the technique. It’s more difficult than the guitar. It took six years for me to master the lute. Also what attracts me is its female form. I know I am not supposed to say that. Forgive me for appreciating female forms.
Would you say that this “center” position between a baroque instrument and the possibilities of modern music making (amplification for example) make it a special thing?
Was its “transportability” also important for you? For example, you cannot carry a harpsichord or a spinet around with you all the time? And they are also instruments very much associated with the beginning of early modern music.
The transportability of the lute was important in the middle ages when it could be carried on horse back. Nowadays it’s not easy to carry on an airplane, it requires an extra seat. Not good for the environment I know.
Your way of playing the lute is quite different from what many people would think about the instrument, because you use feedback and electrical amps at times so that the sound you produce is not the thing that most (uninitiated) people would imagine, as they’d likely expect to hear a typical medieval thing like a lyre. To make it clear: how do you produce these sounds – during the writing process, in the studio and on stage?
During the writing process I use lute, guitar amps, guitars, electronics, field recordings, vocals. The same on stage. In the studio I try to update the lute with modern tools. When I play the Nosferatu score live I use all these sounds. The Bird sounds are on the computer, I ran them through some condensator effects. The 12-string electric guitar I use has an alternate tuning so you get this drone effect.
What are some of your favorite composers…
a) from the Baroque or Early Modern period? Baroque anything by Silvius Weiss
b) from today? Morton Feldman, John Cage, Coil, Nurse With Wound.
Was there any particular moment in your career where you thought ’Okay, I know got this! I know what I can get out of the lute!’ or are you still striving to find your sound?
That depends more on how good the lute is you are using. I am lucky to work with great lute builders. The sound of the lute depends on the room you play it in. I can play the same pieces but they all sound different in a different room like a church with seven seconds of reverb.
Do you consider yourself primarily a lutenist or a composer? Composer/Lutenist
Now, your new record is a score to the German black-and-white classic Nosferatu by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. I think that your music lends itself particularly good to black-and-white movies. Is there any other b/w movie that you would like to score?
Yes, I am working on Der Müde Tod by Fritz Lang. I saw it recently and immediately I got some musical ideas for it. It will premiere in February in Warsaw.
How were you able to sonically reproduce the sound of dying birds on the record, because that is what one hear throughout several tracks, in particular the last two?
I found a double 7 inch with bird sounds on a market and used it trough condensator effects and so on. In the movie there is the description ’The Call Of The Death Bird’<7i> in reference to Count Orlock. To me ‘the Death bird’ is today’s corona bat.
When looking at the tracklist it becomes clear that you arranged it in acts, like a classical drama. “Act 5”, the longest act, takes up basically the second half of the record. How did that happen?
Act 5 has the actual length of the ”Act 5” film part in the German version of Nosferatu. The British version (BFI) doesn’t have those numbered acts in the film. Which is confusing for me when played live.
Are there any role models for your drone sound? What do you think about acts like SunnO))), Earth or OM?
I love all of those bands.
Is it true that you first wrote your score and then watched the movie – what was/is the reason behind it?
I don’t like the reactive idea; the idea of reacting to the images. It’s for monkeys. I like to influence the atmosphere and color of a film beforehand, before they shoot.
So, is it correct to say that the score was first of all composed for the live showing and not for recording sake?
One collaboration that we might clue up for our readers – how could you “do a record” with Aleister Crowley?
I was invited by Cleopatra Records to use one of his recordings. I collect his books. It came natural. [I am] very happy with the collaboration. It’s great to work with dead writers or filmmakers. People forget sometimes Crowley can be funny too, not just occult.
Very often, one can read about the exquisite nature of your performances – for example performing in St. Petersburg at the Hermitage in front of Caravaggio’s ‘The Lute Player’. How did that make you feel?
The painting has the sheet music of this piece they made me play, I had it intabulated for the lute but in front of the audience I changed the piece. This became “You Know That I Love You”.
You also have had a new lute for a few years with the words ‘Ex Mortis’ on it, right? What do these two words mean to you, as they were also the title of your last record on Consouling Sounds?
It means I am bringing back the lute from Death. The instrument disappeared for 200 years after 1700. Back then it became to complicated to play, there were too many strings so it died out. Then it came back with the Wandervogel-movement in Germany in the early 1900s They gave guitar lutes a bad imitation.
A magazine once described you as a crossover between ’a medieval monk and a Satanist Rasputin’, how do you feel about that description?
I was sort of pleased when I read that. Now I am not so sure.
Thank you very much Jozef for your time and these might interesting answers!
You can get your copy of Jozef’s new record via the Incunabulum Records’ webshop.
[Photo Credits: LCDO Visions, Michal Sobocinsky and Teemu Nordland]
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20 Nov 2022 - Thorsten
What a year it has been for modern Hardcore. There were some really amazing newcomers like Sunflo’er or The Callous Daoboys. We had some good or even mindblowing comebacks like The Mars Volta, City of Caterpillar or Gospel. (you can find out for yourself, which is the “good” one in that trilogy while the other two are mindblowing.) And that were just two ends of a year that also gave us records by Stray from the Path, Counterparts, STYG or Be Well. We are more than happy to have an interview with my favorite “Hardcore-Comebackers” of 2022 - Gospel!
Gospel is a phenom, they make highly complex music without sounding nerdy. They love “Prog Rock antiquity” (;-) and yet don’t come off as simple clones. True New Yorkers one doesn’t get that whiff of slight arrogance that sometimes comes with bands from the Big Apple. The guys have turned old but somehow still seem more than teenagers. All throughout this interview (which unfortunately also has one computer fail in the middle which you will notice, but cutting was not an option!) I had the feeling of talking to friends from way back in the day, with no real problem of picking up where we left. Friendly fellows who are more than happy to talk about their band, its history, their love for (early) Genesis and how they got back together to release the most amazing Progressive Hardcore record of 2022!
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14 Nov 2022 - Thorsten
On a Thursday night in late April, which was quite chilly by then, three guys from three different countries (Finland, the USA and Germany) are standing outside a tent at Holland’s Roadburn Festival listening to a Belgian band play music that sounds like from the Middle East (Syria?) mixed with a bit of Jazz and lots of Psychedelic. The band? Wyatt E. The guys? Joe, Martin and me. The experience? Mind-blowing. Veil of Sound HAD to get an interview with the guys!
Even months after the release of āl bēlūti dārû (you can find our review here), the record gets spun here a lot, because the record is mesmerizing, enchanting and haunting - and all of that in a literal sense! We were very fortunate to sit down with Sébastien and talk about the concept behind the band, the prejudices of cultural appropriation the band has to face at times, his non-knowledge of Jazz and why he loves Roadburn Festival so much! Enjoy!
[Photo Credit: John Van de Mergel https://www.brothersinraw.com/]
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06 Nov 2022 - Thorsten
Amplification is one of the most interesting things about playing an electric guitar, right? There are myriads of meandering rabbit-holes down which one can go and through which one can gather loads of knowledge about the instrument and the possibilities connected to it. One of the most interesting musicians in that sense is Mat Ball, the guitar player in Big | Brave whose drones and sometimes shorts noisey bits really make the biggest of differences between his style and that of others. We are proud to give you this interview with Mat, in which we talk about his style, amplification, sound and, of course, his latest solo record!
Sometimes we really wonder how we can forget about certain records and their creators - that was surely the case with Amplified Guitar, the latest solo album by B I G ╪ B R A V E guitarist Mat Ball, which was released this year on July 1st. Nevertheless, we must talk about this record, its creation, the person behind the record and what Godspeed’s Efrim had to do with it! Enjoy, fellow VoS-ficionados!
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31 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
It is always a pleasure to talk with Scandinavian acts, because most of them are very humble and easy to talk to, even if they are really important in their own little scene. Talking to Niklas Åström, the drummer behind ef, Sweden’s elegant powerhouse of sparkling post-rock with a lot of glittering appeal, just confirmed that, because even though he might be aware that his band is a point of reference nowadays, he never shows it. Thence, this interview was nothing but a pure pleasure!
Whenever listening to any ef-record it becomes quite clear that the guys have a knack for writing catchy melodies without sacrificing their classiness or elegance for it. That can also be said about the new one We Salute You, You and You!, coming up on Friday, November 4 via Pelagic Records. You will all be amazed by the record and its diversity. Niklas talked to us about that new record, the effect Covid had on the band (you will be surprised!), their roots in a quite different musical genre and why he prefers AC/DC over Busta Rhymes! Enjoy!
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30 Oct 2022
Joshua might be one of the newer members on our staff here, but he already contributed a lot of awesome reviews and one of those was on the self-titled debut by Veldune. So when the chance came up to interview the band, Joshua surely was happy as can be to begin his interviewing career here at VoS with this new art pop project founded by several pretty famous musicians, who fortunately have no intention of being called a “super-group” even though they’re quite a super group!
Kevin Hufnagel is the creative mind behind such famous acts as Sabbath Assembly, Gorguts, Dysrhythmia or Vaura (which Joshua also reviewed). So it might be safe to say that he is a connaisseur of Kevin’s oeuvre and therefore perfectly suited for this interview. One thing that really strikes about the interview itself is the fact that it shows how little of an autocrat Kevin is, because all band members contributed to the interview. The band is formed by musicians he already played with in other constellations - Jamie Myers and Johnny Deblase were in Sabbath Assembly and Jeff Eber was also behind Dysrhythmia’s drum kit. So we surely are talking about four musicians with quite some experience!
Hi folks! Congratulations to you all on the release of the Veldune debut.
I’m thrilled you’re taking the time to answer these questions and share more about this project, which may come as a surprise to fans familiar with your other work. But that’s exciting! Inquisitive musicians renew curiosity, innovate, help us find new meaning. The artists I most admire are often restive, refusing to stagnate or conform to certain expectations.
Kevin, I heard you describe Veldune as your “most accessible” project on The Color of Air podcast. Was that an intentional aim of your vision for this band, or just something that happened? If we call Veldune a musical departure, what are you turning toward or away from?
Kevin When we began Veldune I made a focused attempt to reign in some of the progressive tangents of my usual writing style. My aim was to leave more space for the vocals to shine and the music to breathe. It’s a different kind of challenge for me to write in a more “song-oriented” way. I feel like I’ve learned a lot musically and compositionally about this by working with great vocalists over the past 10 years or so.
Jamie We wanted to convey an array of feelings, such as ecstasy, longing, exhilaration, and fear, to name a few. We wanted to pour these emotions into a body of music that was cinematic in nature and took the listener on a journey, like some kind of psychedelic soundtrack you’d listen to while barreling down a desert road.
Can you reveal the significance of the name Veldune, or do you prefer to keep it a mystery?
Kevin I’m going to leave it a mystery for now but let’s just say it took us two years to find a good band name. Finding a simple yet evocative name that fit the atmosphere of the material and didn’t pigeonhole us to a genre was very challenging. I think we finally succeeded but it wasn’t easy. Think of Veldune as a place our music takes you to.
Jamie It’s an emotional aura experienced instinctively.
It’s interesting to me how difficult it is to describe Veldune. Well, classify it, really. It’s rock, folk, pop – I mean, it’s not what most people mean by “country” these days, but it’s also not not-country, if you get my point. I wonder if that was a result of being driven more by mood, color, or even theme when you wrote the songs, as opposed to any style or genre expectations.
Kevin I totally agree with you. I really hate to speak in terms of genres because they can mean so many wildly different things depending on the listeners own musical background or which generation they come from. For me pretty much anything with verses and choruses is “pop” in my mind, so it’s extremely broad stylistically. Moods, atmospheres, cinema, and places shaped these songs just as much, if not more so, than musical influences.
Johnny For me, it’s definitely a mood. We spent a lot of time in the studio trying to dial in the character of each song so that each one spoke in its own way alongside Jamie’s lyrics and vocals.
Jamie Ha, see above…
Copy for the album indicates you were first inspired by the music of Chris Isaak and Concrete Blonde, among others, when composing these songs. That’s a tantalizingly brief glimpse into your musical touchstones for the record. Maybe Neko Case could be another reference point. Are there further inspirations you could reveal? Were you feeling nostalgic for a bygone era or a particular time in life?
Kevin It’s strange, I’ve made records before that were sort of throwbacks to earlier inspirations (cp. Messages to the Past; Note by the editor released under his own name) but with Veldune there wasn’t really an era of time musically we were intentionally harkening back to. It did seem some of the artists we were taking inspiration from happened to be of the early 90s time frame. We joke that if we had formed this band back then we’d be huge.
Jamie I often think that this is the music Kevin and I would have loved to have played, if we had known each other during our more formative years. It’s cool that we get to do it now with some life experience behind it. It certainly adds depth.
For lack of a better way of saying it, I love the “vibe” of this record. It captures that audaciously cavalier, yet incredibly vulnerable, spirit of adolescence—maybe as seen in retrospect from a more mature vantage point. (I could just be projecting here.) Given the album’s themes of living intensely, embracing the moment, and letting go, I find myself thinking a lot about what a life lived in balance between the demands of the body and spirit might actually look like and how to realize that. Do you think people, flighty and petulant as we often are, can aspire to that? Is there an underlying philosophy that you’re bringing to this project?
Jamie We’re not expressing any specific philosophies, per se, but it’s nice that you picked up on the underlying arc of the songs. Balance of body and spirit is something we can strive for, but in this creative cycle, sonically and lyrically speaking, we were going for the opposite. The thrill of “hugging the curve” or leaning into the very thing that might destroy you was a recurring theme.
Jamie and Kevin, can you tell us more about your close songwriting relationship? Was your process for writing these songs different from your previous collaboration in Sabbath Assembly? Were there any surrounding emotional factors at play you care to discuss?
Kevin Sabbath Assembly was very collaborative with all the members contributing songs and ideas towards the last few years of our existence. A handful of those songs were ones that just Jamie and I wrote together and it always flowed so naturally. When we began Veldune we talked about taking things in a different direction musically and lyrically from what we had done previously. I would send Jamie fully finished (instrumentally) demos and she would write her vocal melodies and lyrics over them, sometimes suggesting arrangement changes, which I’m always open to.
Jamie Kevin has a way of writing that speaks to an “old soul” part of me. It’s very moving, and I’ve been fortunate to have a creative partnership with him that allows me to flourish the way I have over the last decade. It’s as if we’ve written our own code or language to speak in.
Did you always conceive of Veldune as a full-band project, or was it initially meant to be a collaborative duo? What led to the decision-making there?
Kevin I always envisioned Veldune as a full band but this first album was written basically as a duo. I wanted to mix up my songwriting process a bit and began some of these songs as drum or bass line ideas first and then added guitar. Once all the material was in place and I thought we had a strong album, I sought out Jeff and Johnny to bring these parts to life, which they certainly did. Moving forward it will be more of a full band effort since we are now officially a full band.
Johnny and Jeff, given that you came on board after the songs were written, what did you feel were your respective roles in realizing the performances?
Johnny It wasn’t so much about just “learning the part.” The four of us were collaborating as a band up to and on the actual recording on different aspects of the arrangements and individual parts for each song. Some of the songs I ended up treating more like jazz tunes where I just sketched out a chord chart and more or less improvised in a consistent feel alongside hits or other aspects of the arrangement, allowing the parts to evolve during rehearsals and the recording. Many of the bass parts I transcribed from something Kevin had written which I liked because it often led the bass melodies to places I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. One thing that keeps me going in any band is the room to stretch on parts and I think that is an important part of Veldune’s music. So maybe there are certain lines I hit every time or sometimes I just take the “written” part and use it as a guide and play over the feel of the drums. No two performances are 100% identical.
Jeff When Kevin first sent me the rough tracks with programmed drums, I loved the overall sound and vibe of the songs. All of the songs already had a clear vision by the time I started working on them, so I was really just interpreting Kevin’s ideas. It was less pressure creatively, but some songs are deceptively difficult because the drum parts were conceived by someone who doesn’t play the drums. Kevin wrote ideas that are not necessarily natural, or common, for a drummer to play, so it was fun to play parts that weren’t overly complex from a technical standpoint but more unique than a simple backbeat, with a couple interesting drum or cymbal hits in unusual spots.
In my review, I mentioned the gravity you provide to an ethereal song like “Willow Sways”, but sometimes it’s almost the opposite—as in the elasticity you give to the boundaries of the beat on ”Yearling Thunder”. I get the sense that some of these songs may have gone a very different direction were it not for the unique energy provided by the rhythm section. Were there any surprise developments in the songs—tweaking of styles or approaches—after you began performing them together as a quartet?
Kevin For sure, I was programming drum machines to demo the rhythm parts and a lot of these songs have a loose organic feel, so I couldn’t wait to hear the parts played live in a room with an actual drummer, especially with one as great as Jeff.
Johnny Agreed! The songs really came to life when we first started rehearsing as a quartet, which because of the pandemic took way longer than we wanted! This kind of music really demands a live performance environment. It would have been impossible to try to track this album in isolation.
Jeff Kevin did a great job writing parts for the drums and bass that intertwine, support each other, and add to the melody, which really comes alive when we’re playing together. All the instruments are playing off one another and contributing to the melodic idea, rather than just providing a supporting role to one melodic idea.
“Chasing Down the Sun” is a great single, the way it leans on those chords to accentuate the supreme sing-ability of the chorus. I wonder if it was the obvious choice. This is an idiosyncratic way to receive the song, but it’s helped me emotionally in trying to come to terms with the decline of our eldest cat, Glasha. We will have to say goodbye to her soon, and this song punches me right in the tender spots of those mortal impulses and painful limitations. What does the song do for you?
Kevin I’m glad that song could comfort you in some way. I love this song and knew we had something special when we were writing it. It was one of the first songs we worked on.
Jamie Oof, this hits in the feels. We humans are quite fortunate to keep the company of our animal friends. I’m also glad if the song provides some solace. The song, for me, touches on the cyclical nature of life, and the pursuit of something just beyond reach.
You all are animal lovers, yeah? How are your familiars doing?
Kevin I’ve got an 18 year old cat named Miso and she’s doing great. It’s quite amazing.
Johnny My cat Kooti just turned 13 and is doing great! :)
Jamie I serve as a humble servant to my feline overlords: the queen Chiyo, her royal advisor Buddy, and her jester Smokey.
Jeff My wife Annie and I have cared for 11 rats – just 2 or 3 at a time – over the past 10 years. They sleep in their cage most of the time, and when they get the courage to jump down to the floor they enjoy making nests in old couch cushions.
Jamie, I’m enamored of your vocal performance on this record, ranging from the vulnerability of your delivery to those gorgeous choral harmonies and interesting phrasings of lyrics—as in “A Glimpse of Being”, when you sing “Where nothing IS but a mask it seems / And we the ghostly form beneath.” What was your vocal approach for the instrumentation of Veldune? Do you have any pointers for singers out there who want to chase delicacy and presence?
Jamie My approach can be theatrical at times, at least in my head it can be. Sometimes I attach a “character” to a song, which allows me to embody an alter ego. With these songs, there were moments that needed to be tender and vulnerable, and others that needed to be more commanding. I always try to really listen and be sensitive to what the other instruments are doing and to augment them. As for those looking to get into singing or to increase their abilities, you have to practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid to make some weird noises along the way. Get over the need to sound or appear perfect all the time, don’t be embarrassed, just experiment. Above all else, if you want to learn how to do something, surround yourself, or join a band with people who are better at it than you. Be humble, and ready to soak up any knowledge they are willing to give.
Your lyrics have me on tenterhooks, too. They are so emotionally piercing and poetically lithe, “Willow Sways” being a particular favorite of mine. (I’m also glad you released lyrics with the album, because now I can better suss their intricacies without as many mondegreens.) What sources of inspiration did you draw from when composing lyrics for Veldune? Do you ever struggle when coaxing your lines into melodies, and how do you work through that?
Jamie The melodies are the easiest part for me to write. I often don’t get bogged down with lyrics at first. Lots of times I won’t even bother with pen and paper, I’ll just immediately start recording a non-lyrical vocal demo that allows me to capture an idea in the moment. Then I can work on specific phrasing, and theme later. I think being an avid reader helps. I also enjoy poets such as Yeats, Blake, etc.
Kevin, can you give us any guitar-nerd specs or insights into your writing or recording for this record—what guitars you used, if you had a different setup, any toys you brought into the mix?
Kevin I bought a Gretsch guitar specially for this band. It ended up being the perfect choice in the studio for the main tone as it’s sort of a nice in-between of the brightness of a Strat with the warmth of a Gibson. For amps I believe we mainly used a Fender Twin. I did use this Boss guitar synth pedal for some textures in “Yearling Thunder” and on some other tracks. On “The Final Bow” I used an Electro-Harmonix Mellotron pedal for the weepy melodies.
The inside-out transformation of the theme from guitar to organ in “The Final Bow” brings a powerful drama to the album’s closing. When I listen to the tension developed between the synth and guitar midway through, I’m astounded how much it reminds me of the classic dynamics of Tony Banks and Steve Hackett. Talk about unexpected! But the hymnal quality of the theme’s final statement is ingenious. Was this figure composed on guitar or synth first? How did this song, somewhat of a stylistic outlier, develop?
Kevin It was written on 12-string acoustic first. I didn’t write it with any particular project in mind because I wrote it so fast. I added the synths afterwards. It certainly stands out on the record. We weren’t so sure we wanted to include it even though it was one of our favorites, since it’s so different from the other tracks. That’s also why it’s the last song on the album.
The presence of synth becomes more obvious in the last three songs on the album. What role did you conceive for the synth in Veldune’s sound? Was it a thematic decision to give synth more prominence toward the end of the record?
Kevin It wasn’t intentionally structured that way. It seems the second half of the record is a little darker and more atmospheric, so the synths seemed an appropriate touch. I never planned to use synth in the beginning stages.
Johnny I’m always pressuring us to add more synths! I think especially over this music well-orchestrated pads for certain songs really drive home the vibe. Also we spent a bit of time adding extra percussion and vocal layers to many of the tracks which in some cases were spontaneous studio arrangements and I think those ended up adding even more character to the songs. It also helps that Colin is a wizard and was able to placate all of our ideas and make them sound cohesive in the mix!
It would be incredible to see this project live. Do you have any plans to stage some Veldune shows in the future, maybe schedule a tour?
Kevin For sure. Tours might be hard, but certainly some shows in the northeast next year at least.
Jamie Yes! Bring on the shows!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about Veldune, or any other shout-outs about recent or upcoming projects you have?
Kevin We already have new songs in the works. Around five songs so far. The writing process is my favorite part of being in a band.
Jeff Can’t wait to hear all of Kevin’s new ideas. He’s probably scoring a drum part where five drums and cymbals hit at the same time on the same downbeat. Kevin likes to write things that sound good, not things that are possible to play.
What’s your favorite stretch of road to drive, and what’s an album you’d be sure to bring along?
Kevin I don’t drive. I hate driving, ha.
Johnny I’ve always loved driving out in the Southwest. The drive from West Texas out to LA.
Jamie Any back road. Eat a peach.
Jeff I love driving in the Southwest desert. When we were practicing the songs for this album, images of the drive from Texas to Albuquerque kept popping into my head. It’s a drive we’ve done many times on tour – and it’s a long one – so we’re usually still driving into the evening when the sun starts setting over the desert mountains. I think the sound of Veldune invokes images of that long stretch of road at sunset. I like listening to repetitive beats on long drives in the middle of nowhere, maybe some classic Krautrock like Neu!, Can, or Kraftwerk.
It’s tradition at VoS to close interviews with a round of rapid-fire questions for everyone. Here goes:
Michael Jackson or Prince?
Kevin Tough one. I give props to MJ because the Thriller album was one of the first records that made me love music. However, I think all in all I have to go with Prince.
Johnny Yeah I’d say Prince, but that is a tough one.
Wands, Cups, Swords, or Pentacles?
Johnny One of each please…
Jeff A cup of swords. Tiny swords.
Vintage or contemporary?
Jeff Contemporary. Maybe distressed contemporary? That’s like vintage, but without the musty smell.
Al pastor or carne asada?
Kevin Al pastor.
Johnny Definitely both!!
Jamie Vegetarian al pastor
Jeff One of each please…
Interstates or state highways?
Kevin the scenic route
Johnny Public Access Roads
Jamie back roads
Jeff How quick do we have to get there?
Paranormal thriller or slasher?
Johnny Paranormal thriller
Winter, spring, summer, or fall?
Jeff Winter. Mountains.
Sunrise or sunset?
Jeff I’m not waking up early. I’ll take a beer in the evening and gaze off to the west.
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29 Oct 2022 - Simon
Damnation Festival should need no introduction to anyone interested in heavy music festivals in the UK. From its humble beginnings it has blossomed (through a lot of hard work, it must be said) to become Europe’s largest indoor metal festival catering to 6,000 music fans. The engagement to the festival goers from its creator Gavin McInally is legendary. This year it will take place next Saturday, November 5th and you can all be excited about bands like Converge, Godflesh, My Dying Bride, At The Gates, Pig Destroyer and many more! Because of all of that, we were beyond happy to sit down with Gavin to talk all things Damnation Festival.
Damnation Festival hosts a lot of awesome acts this year (as usual), with a wide variety of acts that have been featured here on Veil of Sound as well like 40 Watt Sun or Frayle, So Hideous or Wolves in The Throne Room, Bruit≤ or Aerial Ruin & Bell Witch! Damnationfestival.co.uk is the website where you might try to catch the last tickets!
This was the first video-interview I’ve ever done (and VoS first Face-to-Face-interview for that matter) and I was very nervous so it’s a bit rough around the edges but I’m hoping that you get a feel for just how much this festival means to Gavin and the effort that goes into creating such a festival. At the end of the day, it’s quite an interesting watch, even if it’s only to laugh at my fumbling technique. The whole thing was recorded this during ArcTanGent Festival in August and now – enjoy Gavin and what he has to say about the development of the festival, the problems at the beginning and this year’s edition.
And here some more information for all you festival-goers:
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23 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
This upcoming Friday there will the musical equinox again - when the mainstream and the underground will sharpen their ears and both listen to the new record by Dead Cross! Believe us - it’s a really charming version of LIGHTNING in an exploding bottle! Therefore we are happy to give you some background information on the record through this interview with guitar maniac Michael Crain!
Crain, as the other band members call him, has gone through some serious stuff in the last few years and that seemingly incited his playing leading to even more furious spins and riffs, licks and shreds. II will once again be “classic” California Old-School Hardcore with loads of parts remindung us off bands like the Dead Kennedys. Michael tells us about the creation of the songs, who does what and joins when along in the process and he doesn’t spend much time on the Pacific Highway even though one might assume him to do. This interview was a hell of a lot of fun to do and we hope that comes across for all of you!
[Photo Credit: Andrea Regina]
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19 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
The Otolith is one of these bands that have a burden on their chest right from the start, because they are the Phoenix coming out of the ashes of a famous band – SubRosa. However, the Otolith is more than just a prolonging of the former band and Folium Limina turned out to be one of THE records of the year! So, we had to get this interview with them!
We are more than happy to present you with this detailed interview with 3/5 of The Otolith. Sarah, Levi and Matt took their time to sit down and answer these questions which deal with how the band got together, what else they have been doing lately, how the songs were conceived, why Andy doesn’t sing or which concoctions Sarah and Kim are brewing, or which track they would like to cover next. By the way, if you haven’t done so – check out Gene’s review of their full-length debut!
Now first, of all, the sound of the new record – it is a wonderful amalgam of what we expected and what people could not guess you would come up with. Is the band a refreshment of what you did before or is it a new-found symbiosis in a completely new line-up?
Levi Both, really. We’re a metal band that has female vocals and violins, same as SubRosa, so there will always be comparisons and similarities there, but our song writing approach is definity more different in The Otolith than it was in SubRosa.
Fans have been waiting for music by The Otolith ever since 2019 – why did you keep us waiting so long? Was it all the stupid pandemic’s fault?
Levi Supply chain issues 100%. We recorded it in April 2021 and due to issues beyond any of our control, it got pushed back until now.
You have surely done some other things since then – Sarah got Asphodel Wine, Andy did some thing with Dana in Insect Ark, did we miss anybody else’s other projects?
Levi Andy is doing things with his band, Done, and Matt and I recently started jamming with our old band, Huldra, again.
And please illuminate us – what is the Otolith? Is it really a reference to the bone in the inner ear of fish that grows each year? Or is it simply a pun on “monolith”? What is it?
Levi Yes, it is a reference to the structure in ears. Kim presented the name when we were trying to figure out a name for the band and everyone agreed that it worked.
Now, Matt is the new kid on the rock – how did you join these four wanderers in sound? What have you done before?
Levi Matt and I played in a band called Huldra for multiple years together and he also currently plays in Visigoth. Initially we were wanting to keep The Otolith just a four piece because we liked the dynamic of just us playing together, but when we started getting show offers and thinking about how we would pull off playing the album live, we realized we needed a dedicated bass player. Matt was my first choice because we have played music together for years and he’s a great bassist and person.
Matt Levi and I played in a band called Huldra together for several years. That band broke up, but Levi was playing bass in SubRosa and we kept in touch despite our musical endeavors not quite crossing paths. I had obviously been a fan of SubRosa while they were still doing their thing, so knew Kim amd Sarah from that. Andy is also a local legend that engineers tons of bands in Salt Lake and the surrounding areas, and our paths have crossed numerous times in that context. Levi reached out initially to see if I’d be available to play bass for The Otolith’s first live show and it was pretty much a no-brainer to make music with such a talented group of people. We had a few practices and played that show, then they asked me if I wanted to join in full-time – also pretty much a no-brainer. I’ve been playing in bands since I was a teenager, but as far as bands that have recorded music/played any amount of live shows, that would be Huldra, where I played bass and did vocals, and Visigoth, where I play bass.
Let’s talk about the songwriting process for your six songs – is there a democratic structure within the band or is there a clear hierarchy with someone developing the stuff and the others “just” adding tidbits?
Levi More of a democratic structure. I ended up contributing most of the music and Sarah most of the lyrics to this album as I just ended up having a lot of material laying around and Sarah has a way with words that maybe the rest of us don’t, but we all contribute ideas and feedback in the songwriting process and we keep what we all end up liking and agreeing upon.
Were you aware of the expectations connected with new music from the core four members who already were together in SubRosa? I mean, surely you know how much that band means to a lot of people?
Levi We were absolutely aware. It was a point of discussion from day one. We even discussed playing something completely different musically than SubRosa so we wouldn’t get compared to what we all did in that band because we loved that band so much and we know that our fans did too. After several practices we realized that we still wanted to play the heavy Doom style music we’ve been playing and that our writing process and playing in The Otolith was different enough to stand on its own merit even if it would be similar on paper.
Was it clear from the moment SubRosa went into hiatus, that the four of you wanted to keep on writing and making music together?
Levi No, not really. At least not for the four of us. SubRosa split in 2019 and Kim, Sarah, and Andy were talking about still playing music together in some form or another right when it happened, but I actually had already left the band back in 2017 and wasn’t playing music at all at the time. After I quit SubRosa, I sold off all of my gear except one acoustic guitar and I had not planned to ever play in a band again.
Kim and I randomly jammed at her house one day a while after SubRosa split and we decided that we liked what we were jamming on enough to hit up Sarah and Andy and see if they wanted to jam too. Spoiler alert: They did.
”Bone Dust” had already been written and recorded by those three, and is the version that ended up on the Women of Doom album, but we ended up reworking that song and started working on new material in the first several jam sessions. After that we decided to move forward as The Otolith.
Now let’s talk about the music on Folium Limina and first of all a compliment – it is one of the best I heard all year long! Is the music for you more Gothic or Doom?
Levi Thank you! I would personally label it Doom or maybe Post-Metal if I had to choose a sub-genre.
Could you define what Doom is to you? What is Gothic?
Sarah I think doom means something a little different to everyone, so I will just say what it means to me. For me, it’s a way to express deep anguish, fear, and anger I feel about the trajectory society is on, to give warning, but ultimately to shine a light on ephemeral moments of joy and beauty and a refusal to give in to despair or to give up.
Gothic also means different things to different people. For me, it is a micro-cosmos, its own universe of dark beauty made of music, film, books, visual art, architecture, fashion, interior design, and attitude. I’m a goth kid at heart.
Could you give us one or two examples for perfect Doom records? And also for some good Gothic or other records that still take your breath away to this day?
Sarah It’s so hard to choose! For doom I’d say Agalloch’s The Mantle, My Dying Bride’s Turn Loose the Swans - (which could be argued as a goth album as well), and Yob’s Clearing the Path to Ascend. Some goth records that hold up for me are Switchblade Symphony’s Serpentine Gallery, Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine, and of course The Cure’s Disintegration.
Who were your musical heroes growing up and do you see any influence they had on your style of music?
Levi James, Cliff, and Jason from Metallica were huge influences on me when I started playing music. It’s more of their playing technique and live energy that stick with me now rather than their music style. David Gilmour from Pink Floyd and the way he could extract emotion from every note really stuck with me as well.
Later on it changed to Aaron Turner from ISIS/Old Man Gloom, Caleb Scofield from Cave In/Old Man Gloom, and Johannes Persson from Cult of Luna when I started really getting into that style of music in the early 2000s. Their vocals, writing style, and their energy and stage presence while playing live is something that really stuck with me in the early years of me playing this style of music.
Matt Alice In Chains was the first real rock band I listened to as a kid thanks to my sister, so I’d have to say Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley were pretty formative. Once I started getting into heavier music, I really admired folks like Caleb Scofield, Aaron Turner, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Justin Chancellor, and Dan Briggs - they’re all incredibly talented musicians that bring so much to the bands they play in, and in bands that have fundamentally shaped the way I listen to/play music since the first time I heard them.
The music of course has some very gloomy elements, naturally, as two (electric) violins are the key instruments here – but it never sounds outdated yet rather modern. Was that a clear intention?
Levi The element of the violins is not something we ever consciously think about. We just happen to have two electric violinists that love to experiment with pedals and sounds and we use that as we would any other instrument. I’ve actually written guitar parts that ended up as violins parts and Kim and Sarah wrote violin parts that ended up as guitar parts on the album. We just end up going with what works and sounds the best to us.
The sound is also a wonderful mix of images of the USA – one imagines a city like Salt Lake City (or Denver to take another example) but never a Moloch like NYC or LA; one feels the earth beneath your feet and it’s dry not humid, so basically, the record sounds like the region where it comes from. How much does your hometown and the whole state influence your songwriting?
Levi I don’t think we consciously think about that aspect. As in we don’t think “Let’s write a song that sounds like we’re in some desolate desert mountains.” Maybe subconsciously the music comes out that way at times because that’s who we are and how we grew up, perhaps, but we have some amazing bands here in Salt Lake that are as chaotic as a big city on New Year’s Eve, so I think It’s more of a personal thing for us.
How much are you part of “the SLC scene”?
Levi The Otolith plays a few local shows a year and has a great turn out whenever we play it seems like for which we are very grateful. On a personal level, we probably aren’t as much of a part of it as we used to be. Three of us are parents and we’re all busy with our jobs so we don’t get out to shows very often anymore. We would love to get out and be part of the scene more as we have some amazing friends and that play in a lot of good bands, but life happens.
Nerd – question in between: Where did you take the vocal sample for “Bone Dust” from?
Levi From the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator
If comparing the record it to movies – I think the record is more like a rougher version of Interview with the Vampire than a more modern version of Dracula – would you agree with that?
Sarah I would take both of those comparisons with relish! I think it has moments where it’s closer to Dracula, and some moments where it’s closer to Interview with a Vampire.
The record is very elegant – and yet crushingly heavy. Is it heavy darkness or elegant light for you?
Levi Both, really. We touch on a few topics on this album, but there are aspects of light and dark in both the music and lyrics throughout. A lot of the feelings and emotions we had surrounding the pandemic, the lockdown, and what was happening in our lives in general in that time period ended up working their way into the writing process.
About the vocal duties – first of all, why is Andy the only “non-vocalist” on the record? ;-) And Levi – you are interspersing some songs with some of the most earth-shattering growls heard in a long time. Have the earthquake detectors collapsed?
Levi Ha, Andy doesn’t consider himself a vocalist. I think I remember him saying he’d rather leave it to the professionals. Sarah and Kim being the professionals.
And thank you. I honestly don’t consider myself a vocalist. I consider myself a guitarist/bassist that just happens to be able to scream into a mic and wasn’t really planning on doing much vocally in this band, but after the very firm encouragement from the rest of the band after I laid down the vocals that I wrote for “Dispirit”, I ended up recording vocals wherever Sarah wanted me to for the rest of it. You can thank them for the rest of my screaming on the album.
But jokes aside, I love the combination of the many different voices on the record, is it always clear from the start who does what part, cause I read that Matt also delivered some vocals?
Levi The vocal duties are more or less defined with Sarah being the lead vocalist/lyricist and Kim and I adding vocals wherever it is appropriate. Matt joined after the album was already done, so he didn’t contribute any recorded vocals, but he has been adding vocals live and will add recorded vocals from here on out where appropriate.
Would you say that The Otolith is a result of a very deep friendship? Or did it strengthen your bond even further (after the end of SubRosa)?
Levi Again, both. After leaving SubRosa and quitting music, I wouldn’t have come back to playing music with any other group of people. I also know for a fact that us playing music together helped each of us get us through the lockdown in more ways than one and we all consider ourselves a family.
You release the new record through Blues Funeral but there will surely have been several other offers – why this wonderful label?
Levi Because Jadd with Blues Funeral is a great guy, easy to work with, and he trusted us to do whatever we wanted musically which was important for us with this being our first full release since forming the band.
I would be interested in knowing if there were any particular (musical) influences for the tracks? Maybe also influences outside the musical realm?
Levi I don’t think we had any specific musical influences when we were writing this album. Other influences would be what we were all going through in 2020 when we wrote the album. It creeps into the music and lyrics for sure. On a personal level, the only song that I wrote all the lyrics to was “Dispirit” and that was musically and lyrically influenced by my wife’s passing in 2016 and what it felt like for me to go through that in the years after.
Kim and Sarah – how much do you still practice your craft nowadays?
Sarah Kim and I share passion for a few different crafts, music chief among them. As far as crafting herbal concoctions and attempting communication with unseen forces, it will always be a part of my life.
You gave us a wonderful rendition of the Alice in Chains classic “Would?” - now if you ever did a covers record and each member gets to decide on one track – who would choose what?
Levi I would love to do more covers and I had a lot of fun recording ”Would?”. I would do ”Nights In White Satin” by The Moody Blues.
Sarah ”Long Snake Moan” by PJ Harvey
And now vice versa – you can choose one artist to cover a track by your band? Who should do which track?
Levi Author and Punisher: Whatever track he wanted to.
Matt Perturbator/Final Light: ”Sing No Coda”
Sarah – Junius: ”Andromeda’s Wing”
Now onto our infamous quickfire round:
Eagle Twin or The Iceburn Collective?
Levi Eagle Twin
Matt Eagle Twin
Sarah Eagle Twin
Neurosis or Paradise Lost?
Roadburn or Psycho Las Vegas?
Levi Both. Don’t make me choose between two amazings fest that we’ve played and loved.
Sarah I can’t choose either. This is impossible.
Wine or Beer?
Levi A dry red wine.
Matt wine, especially if it’s cabernet sauvignon.
Sarah A dry tempranillo red wine. Or really just any red wine, because WINE.
Touring or Writing?
Sarah This is like dark and light, good and evil, cold and hot. You cannot have one without the other, or you’ll get all lopsided and fall over.
Edgar Allan Poe or Washington Irving?
Alice in Chains or Soundgarden?
Levi Alice in Chains
Matt Alice In Chains
Candlemass or St Vitus?
The Crow or the Raven? (and yes, I know that those are a movie vs a poem)
Matt The Raven
Sarah The Raven
Blade or From Dusk Till Dawn?
Matt From Dusk Till Dawn
Sarah From Dusk Till Dawn
Prague or Paris?
Books – Frankenstein or Jekyll & Hyde?
Thank you for taking the time and talking with us, all the best for the record release and we hope to see you soon on European stages again.
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12 Oct 2022 - Simon
Following on from the premiere of their latest song, we also had the priviledge to sit down with Mountainscape songwriter Dan Scrivener to talk about their new album and much more besides.
Aaaaahhhhh, Post-Metal, you wonderful monolith of the known and the unknown. Known because your shape is recognizable from afar and your peak makes it clear that the only way over is up. Unknown, because each mountain is different, some easier accessible, some less. Mountainscape’s version of Post-Metal is not an unknown one, for sure, but it’s at the same title also different from others as it tends to have a certain loftiness about it that needs some further information by tourguide, songwriter and guitarero Dan Scrivener. Our man Simon got the opportunity to talk with Dan about the band, their new record and what to expect from the Reading-based trio.
First off, could you tell us about how Mountainscape got started?
James and I are brothers and have played in bands together since we were teenagers. Mostly in the realm of Black Metal, the latest of which being Aklash. James left that band in 2018 as he’d lost interest in playing drums in a purely Black Metal project, I left in 2021 for much the same reason. We had played with Ethan in Third Horizon (which is a Post-Rock project of mine) and heard him play with Asira. He’d also mixed and mastered music I’ve created prior to Mountainscape and we’d shared many a beer! So in 2019 James and I began to discuss starting a band where there wasn’t any set musical direction other than just writing what we wanted to listen to, in the ‘post’ music scene where essentially anything goes. Ethan was an obvious choice to join us as we’d also discovered a shared love of Russian Circles. In fact the three of us attended a Russian Circles show together in London together before agreeing we’d make the band a three-piece utilising live looping.
Is there a main creative force, or is it a joint band effort?
I’m the songwriter in Mountainscape. Our process is that I’ll demo full songs and send them over to the boys, then we’ll discuss if they want to change anything. James is very good at trimming the fat! Some songs will stay in the same form as my initial demo but others will have sections chopped or rearranged by James and myself. I will include any bass parts that I want in the track, where the bass has the melody for example and then lay out skeleton ideas for Ethan to flesh out in other places. All the initial music comes from my brain but without Ethan and James adding their own personality to the tracks it wouldn’t be the band you hear. Some of the drum patterns in particular on the new album I would never have thought of! I’d also like to take this opportunity to express how grateful I am for working with two shithot musicians who’re happy to help me turn the music that loops inside my head into reality.
Tell us about the new album, is there an over-riding theme for it?
Musically it follows on from the journey we started with our debut Acceptance; creating music for the love of music rather than to fit any set theme. For me the title Atoms Unfurling is a description of how it feels when writing and listening to music, it takes me out of this world, all other thoughts drift away. It’s also a title that lends itself to inspiring some very cool artwork, I’m very happy with the album cover from Mark Erskine. I don’t think there will ever be an over-riding theme with the music of Mountainscape. That’s the beauty of writing instrumental music. Each song can take on a different meaning or purpose depending on who’s listening.
Did you limit yourselves with regards to how it should sound stylistically?
The main driving force behind starting the band was to write without having to adhere to a particular style. There’s soft ambient sections and clean guitars lathered in Shoegaze-influenced chorus and reverbs. There’s also chunky riffs, Blackgaze blasts, climactic Post-Rock build ups and lots of big drum grooves. With Mountainscape it’s all about writing the music that I want to hear. A lot of the music is driven by simple melodies and the contrast between light and heavy. I love it when songs surprise me so I try and incorporate this into the songwriting.
With regards to the new album, are you happy with how it came out?
At this moment in time I couldn’t be happier with it. Hats off to Ethan who’s handled the mixing and mastering at his new studio, ‘Elm Studios’. This was the first time recording drums there which I think came out really well! I love the fact that it sounds like you’re in the room with us. I often find that modern production detracts more than it adds, the clinical over-editing of everything just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m sure we’ll end up picking out things to do differently next time round as time passes…
Are you excited about getting everyone else to hear it, or a bit nervous?
Excited!! Maybe a tad nervous under the surface as well.
As a native of Reading, how are you finding the local music scene? Is there anyone else you think we should be made aware of?
We very rarely play in our hometown to be honest, there’s no scene for Post-Metal here. It’s so close to London which has a huge music scene. In terms of bands that I’m really into there’s Asira (progressive Post-Black Metal) and Cairiss (atmospheric Post-Black Metal), I definitely don’t just enjoy these bands because Ethan’s in them, check them out if you’ve not heard of them! There’s Morass of Molasses who play stonery bluesey Doom. Nyogtha, reverb drenched Doom from another dimension. There are also quite a few good Metalcore bands from round here. Sylosis, Arcaeon, Transients and Terakai. Although it’s not my jam they are all very good at what they do.
Do you go to see live music much? And if so, what is the next show you are looking forward to going to see?
I thoroughly enjoy watching live music. The closest place that most bands play is London so I don’t go as much as I’d like as I don’t have an endless supply of money. Public transport from Reading to London is too expensive and driving in London is less than desirable. I’ve recently seen Deafheaven and been to watch Return of the Jedi with live orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall which was just so good. Got Holy Fawn and Tycho coming up which is gonna make me a happy man.
If you could curate your own one-day festival, who would we see on the lineup
I know a couple of these don’t play live so parts of this festival would take place in an alternative universe, maybe the whole thing. I’m also not sure I’d fit all these into one day, it would be perfect though:
Din of Celestial Birds
Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster
Ed Tullett and Novo Amor (playing Heiress)
Wolves in the Throne Room (playing Two Hunters in full)
and Gunship for the after-party!
Last regular question, what can we expect next from Mountainscape?
We’ll be gigging the new album as much as we can. I’d love to sort out getting it released on vinyl. We’re currently sorting out filming a set for a live-stream event. I’ve also begun writing the next record. You can definitely expect us to keep thoroughly enjoying making music together.
Now onto our quickfire round:
Wine or Beer? Beer
Football or Rugby? Neither
Big arena or intimate club? Intimate Club
Latest blockbuster film or old school classic film? Old school film
Board game or Console game? Console
Vinyl or streaming? Vinyl
Outdoor picnic or Indoor meal? Indoor meal
Touring or Writing/Recording? Writing
You can now listen to the first two singles, one of which we premiered last week, at the band’s Bandcamp site where you can also order the record directly.
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12 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
98 minutes! Ninety-Eight-minutes! If a student of mine delivered such a long work my initial question would be “And you are sure there are no redundancies in all of that?” But, believe it or not, over the course of this interview with Ashenspire’s Alasdair Dunn we are hitting so many topics and go through so many details that I can happily say “No redundancies!” We hope you enjoy our interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!
Hostile Architecture is out for a few months now and when reviewing the record it struck me how difficult to grasp the record title is - and how multi-layered one can interpret it. Thus it was a short way for hitting up Alasdair and then arranging for an interview with him about how to see architecture and its usage as hostile for mankind. We struck a lot of diverse angles on this topic and a lot of others as well. If you think our interpretation and discussion went too far - feel free to hit us up on FB or get into contact with us otherwise! However, now is your time to sit back, take some time and enjoy the interview!
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09 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
O. is the head behind Haeresis Noviomagi. He is the guitar player in Turia. O. is the only member of Iskandr. He is in Solar Temple. He did/does lots of other bands and projects in the widespread Dutch Black Metal scene. O. is our interview partner for today and we are really glad to get to learn more about him and so will you!
Talking to such an interesting and important figure for the Black metal scene of a whole country can turn out to be a total disaster depending on whether the person is self-centered or not, as in this case. He is a very well-spoken and thoughtful person, and we talk a lot about the different sides of history and how difficult it can be if we try to see it only as positive or negative. We also learn about his love for psychedelic music and how he approaches his songwriting. Enjoy the interview with this interesting guy and enjoy the music he makes under whichever banner it is being released, be it Turia, Iskandr, Solar Temple or some of the others which we will talk about!
PS: Photo credit: @twanspierings
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25 Sep 2022 - Thorsten
NULL is upon us. It is the latest record by Noise-mongers KEN Mode, whose version of Blackened Hardcore might be the most intricate thing to grasp, when trying to unravel all the single elements of their music. Together their music is somewhere AmRep, Relapse, Black Metal, Hardcore and so much more. Therefore we are lung-explodingly proud to present you this interview with mastermind Jesse Matthewson today!
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21 Sep 2022 - Thorsten
Five months ago, Noorvik released their third record Hamartia via Tonzonen and the record is still spinning lots of heads and has been spun on numerous record players since then. “The Feast” is still a forerunner for Post-Rock-track of the year! The record has so many elements that we thought it necessary to talk with the band about it and about many other things!
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