Phobos Reactor are a two person electronic group from Germany while HCH and TFG are from the Finnish band TONTTU. TONTTU normally perform songs about the evils of gnomes roaming around in the wild plotting against the human race but they have teamed up with Phobos Reactor to create an EP that is not about gnomes. It dropped on the 22nd of February on PANICMACHINE.
The clinical female voice over the electronic beats of “Subject” is broken up with the demonic grows below questioning. “Shadow” has the TONTTU vocals all over it, like Davros, the leader of the dalek from Dr Who, pondering existence and the futility of life, all to a serpentine dance rhythm and synths. The darkness and loathing within causes “Hatred” but it is good to hate to these sublime beats. “Confusion (Part 2: Nice Things)” is an interesting soliloquy about how they can’t have nice things because other people are just plain annoying. The last track is “Square” which has that rhythm that actually feels like it is doing right turns, needing to be constantly in motion with the vocal angst consuming the light. Though don’t take that too seriously.
This is a pretty fun EP. Phobos Reactor bringing the serious EBM mixed with the gutteral rantings of the Fins and the sleek female vocals. Apparently the lyrics were originally written in Finnish for another project, Dødsrige, but I think it suits this very well, translated into English. This is not the first time these two acts have teamed up and hopefully not the last either. Might not be about gnomes but remember there are other dark things that are waiting just for you…. like humans.
Looking for some post-punk to whet your appetite, then Norway’s Painted Romans could be the drink you were looking for with the February 25th release of the new single, “The Begging Existence“. Painted Romans were a trio but as of recent have become a duo with Jan Ottar and long term member Mats Davidsen, however they are rising to the challenge of forging ahead.
Existential crisis or taking what is eked out to you even though it is like a kick to the teeth could be the theme of “The Begging Existence“. The harsh drum machine taps out ferocious beats whilst the guitar jangles away. There is what sounds like a horn instrument and it is underpinned with keyboards that interject a lightness in the post-punk darkness. Davidsen’s vocals are raw and imploring.
There is a touch of The Bolshoi and early Gene Loves Jezabel with this track and its swirling tones. It drives along at a great pace and fuses the 80s sound into a post-punk/gothic delight. You should check out the PaintedRomans and their “The Begging Existence“.
When US band Sunshine Blind came to prominence in the gothic scene in the early 90s, it also heralded a new resurgence in bands and music of this style, making it an extremely exciting time. Caroline Blind was the front woman for Sunshine Blind and after a hiatus, returned to the scene as a solo act and also a member of the experimental project Voidant. We spoke to the gracious and lovely Caroline about life, friends and of course the music.
Caroline Blind, a warm welcome from the Onyx rabbit hole.
You first started out in the band, Sunshine Blind. What drew you to that style of music and how did the band form?
Hi. I was well into the style of music before I started the band, of course. I was looking to submerge myself into it more, by going ahead and playing it, and not just listening to it. Probably what made me really go for it was seeing actual people where I lived doing it. Listening to bands from some far off place is one thing, but actually going to a show and seeing friends, or friends of friends, in my neighborhood having a go at forming their own bands and writing their own music, was the thing that made me realize that I could do it, too.
I put an ad in a local music paper, looking for a guitarist, and I met with those that responded. I found CWHK, it turned out he literally lived around the corner from me, but I didn’t know him then. We started working on songs, and the mix was right. We formed Sunshine Blind, and played together for 13 years. A million tour dates, and 3 albums later – it took us all over the country and beyond.
I first remember hearing you sing on the compilation Masked Beauty In A Sea Of Sadness (1994) with the song Crescent And The Stars. That whole CD was full of some great bands. Sunshine Blind broke up as many bands do when they hit a certain point. You must look back of that time with some whimsy but do you feel being a performer under your own name suits you better now?
That was a good compilation…. I don’t look back with whimsy, doing the band was my life, my purpose, and was wrapped up with the personal relationship- CWHK and I were married, and we had kids.
We divorced in early 2000’s. Realizing after ten years that doing our music was really only my dream, and not his, or at least, not anymore, was a serious break that totally shook me- The band had been my identity. Our identity, I thought, but things changed. I really didn’t know where to go without his half, I didn’t know who I was anymore without being “Caroline of Sunshine Blind”.
I had been very dependent on him for music production, as well, so I knew I would have to learn that part of it if I wanted to continue to make music, so in 2016 I took some music production courses. The first time I recorded a song in Protools by myself, rough as it was, I cried. I was able to express myself again through music, and I felt I had years of anguish to process/ express!
Music has always been a collaboration for me, with someone I cared deeply about. I feel personally that the music is boring if I do it all myself, it’s better as a collaboration, I need someone to bounce ideas off of, to compliment and blend with,- music needs a ying and a yang, it’s a conversation. Doing music “by myself” is not something I even want to do. Just doesn’t appeal to me. So of course when people offered to help, I jumped at the chance.
I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that I could work with new or different people, probably because “why would I want to?”. But in the end I was forced to. When people offered, and I took them up on it. I found It was EXACTLY like going from being married, to ‘dating again’. Can be exciting, full of promise, and then, maybe transitory, and you can get your heart broken. You can work very superficially, or you can get into a very strong connection with a collaborator. Very hit and miss. I’m learning to rely on myself to be the constant thread through it all, since I guess I’m the one with my own vision, and I don’t wish to give that away ever again. Does it suit me? No idea. I just have to express myself, and follow where it leads, as I always have done. I know that some great music can come from when you are going through things and have real emotions to express, and I’ve been having some real emotions about my new working form/ collaborations (!) , so I feel my music will have that intensity that I’m drawn to, in music I listen to, and probably people will be able to relate/ connect to my music because of that, too.
As you said, you have been creating music again. With several singles released, you then dropped the album, The Spell Between in 2020. The list of people you have on the credits is fairly impressive, so do you think you have found some of your tribe, so to speak, who mirror your own need to make music?
That’s a good question. I am really driven to do music, to live a life in the music industry. I do not feel like some the people I have worked with in the past 6 years are so driven, no. People have moved on. There are a few who are always working on something, or doing as many shows as they can, or out there creating things, but some people maybe ‘used to do it full time’, and maybe stopped, or just do it sometimes, or on the weekends or something… you know, they have lives (lol!), maybe kids, big jobs, who knows, not me. Doesn’t really matter to me. I’m here to work on music. That’s my fun, it’s my therapy, how I self actualize, work out my karma, whatever. It’s the lens I see the world through. It feels like the point of my life, I guess, -and the thing that was neglected for a bit there, so feels AMAZING to be back at it, and IN it. The people I’ve found to work with, are just friends, old a new. I’m happy to be hanging out with them whether we do music or not, because we share a history and/ or a scene. I’ll travel across oceans to see a show as happily as I will to play one, I just like being a part of the industry and scene, and expressing my art in it, when I get the chance. It feels like home to me. So yes, I’m back with my ‘Tribe’. (Which is coincidentally the title of a song I released recently, that I had some of the greatest guitarists in this scene help me with!)
I see you caught my drift. The song Tribe was re-recorded and as you said released as a single. How was it hearing this song refreshed and does it take on new meaning for you now?
Tribe was a song we wrote with Sunshine Blind, but never recorded in the studio. I always felt it was a quintessential Sunshine Blind track- a torrent of riffs and guitars, a soaring and powerful vocal, I wanted to get it done in the studio and put it out. I was able to get the full Sunshine Blind lineup; CWHK on guitars, William Faith ( Bellwether syndicate, Faith and the Muse) on Bass, and Geoff Bruce ( Sunshine Blind, Faith and the Muse) on Drums, to record their parts for it and send me the files. I had Gordon Young in Edinburgh mix it with my other solo album tracks, and we put it on my solo album “The Spell Between”.
But my solo album was mostly grooves and acoustic guitar, after I released the album, I wanted to showcase “Tribe” on its own, where it’s power would stand out. Just rock/ electric guitar music.
My solo album had been very limited by “what I can do on guitar” , which is “not much”! lol! Giving free license to someone whose language is guitar, was kind of what I had been looking for- making something that was more than the sum of it’s parts. I was so thrilled. I contacted Mark Gemini Thwaite directly, and he and Ashley Bad got busy on a remix which turned it into an extended club mix for the dancefloor, and that was epic!
I started looking in to getting remixes done. This was during the pandemic, and lots of people who play guitar live for touring acts were grounded with no work. Many of them turned to doing studio work for hire, and it was perfect timing for me. I got connected to Andee Blacksugar of KMFDM though my PR company, and he did a remix. To your question, yes, it’s very weird to hear someone change a song you agonized over and wrote and recorded to be “just so”. But it’s also fascinating. You can get some “why didn’t I do that?” or “that’s a really interesting spin!” The remixes can make you hear the song in a whole new way, for sure.
Finally, my friend Michael Clark had produced some work with Ben Christo (gutiarist of Sisters of Mercy), and since The Sisters were a big inspiration when we started Sunshine Blind, I thought who better to work a song that was pretty much made for the style? Ben knocked it waaaay out of the park- he added backing vocals and sped it up even more, it just rocks harder than anything I’ve done in a long time, and I am fully here for it, and ready to take that inspiration and run with it. Warm up is over, no more acoustics…next album will be some serious riffy guitars, which was where I started in the first place. Looking forward to getting back to it. Gotta thank those guys all, for reminding me what is possible. I’m very inspired.
I saw Ben Christo last play with Andrew Eldritch and Mark Gemini Twaite with Peter Murphy and David J (Bauhaus 40th Anniversary of In The Flat Field). Both are amazing guitarists. The pandemic has not been kind to the music industry over the last two years but it has also forged some dynamic and strong friendships borne of the desire to create and connect. How has covid affected the way you approach music and did this inspire you to go ahead with Voidant?
Covid hasn’t really affected my music too much. Since I did whole “restart as solo artist” a few years ago, it’s been a lot of “working from home “. I started my solo thing just by myself and a computer/ home studio, and then when I started working with my first collaborator, Rich W.- (guitarist from The Wake (US)), we were 2000 miles apart, and traded files back and forth. When I started working with other people, like Wolfie ( Guitarist from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, who I also do that electronic music project called “Voidant” with), who is in Leeds, England, and Gordon Young, who mixed and mastered my album from Edinburgh, Scotland- it was the same, all online, trading files. I did eventually meet them all face to face at least once or twice, before the pandemic, but writing and recording is a bulk of the work I’ve done, so far, in my “comeback”, so no, covid hasn’t affected that part at all. Working with Rich, him introducing me to Wolfie and the relationships I have started and sustained through both of them, started and evolved just like they would have in real life, they just happened through talking and working online, thanks to the internet.
As for shows; I was just starting to play out live before the pandemic, just getting a live band together, I was lucky to have Dave (from) The Dramedy play bass, and George Earth ( from Switchblade Symphony) play guitar for me, for some live shows in 2019.
We only did a few shows, but we traveled , but we had some ADVENTURES!
Our working together was kind of a long distance thing, as well, -they were both in LA and I was in San Francisco ( 400 miles apart). I would drive down to rehearse with them once or twice a month.
Since the shut down, I’ve moved back to my original state, New Jersey, which is 3000 miles from LA, so it’ll be hard to keep working with them. My move wasn’t Covid related, I had been planning it since before the pandemic. I was sick of San Francisco, and I wanted to be home, and closer to the UK, too. When I thought of moving, I figured I would find people out here on the East Coast to play with, but THAT has definitely been hindered by the Pandemic. I can’t get out to go to the clubs and see people and who is still around New York and NJ that could play for me.
I hadn’t originally planned on finding people in LA before my move, and playing shows with them, but the need arose and it just happened! lol! Sometimes you just have to go with things that happen organically, even if they aren’t what you planned or how you planned it, if it’s working for you, why not follow it? And people loved meeting/ seeing George and Dave, it just worked, and we had lots of fun. My band Sunshine Blind did a tour with Switchblade Symphony back in 1997, so George and I have memories and history that go back a while, it was great to reminisce and work together again, this time in the same band!
I just booked my first post -pandemic show for this coming July- I’m headlining one of the nights of Goth City Leeds festival in the UK. I am worried about how Covid will affect it, but I went over to the UK this past Halloween for a music festival ( to attend, not play), so I’ve travelled in a pandemic time, I should be able to do it again. Fingers crossed.
You mention the Leeds goth festival and I know that Wolfie Wolfenden will be looking forward to catching up with you. Will he be getting on-stage with you and can you tell us about this friendship across the sea?
Yes, I met Wolfie though Rich (guitarist from The Wake (US)). Rich and I started working on music together, he was my first collaborator as a solo artist. I was recording some cover songs, Swans “God Damn the Sun”, and such, and I wanted to cover “Heaven” by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. I didn’t know at the time that Rich knew Wolfie. Rich and I worked out a version where Rich played a Baritone acoustic guitar, and I sang, and we made a decent demo. Then one morning I woke to a message from Rich saying he had sent the demo over to Wolfie. I was horrified, because I’ve not had good experiences in meeting my idols up until then ( see: https://www.mtv.com/news/1434098/sisters-of-mercy-slag-bands-for-being-too-goth/ wherein Andrew Edlritch almost single handedly ruined our career back in 1997 by throwing us off an opening slot for The Sisters of Mercy show in Philadelphia, PA. The fallout made our record company fold, and left us stranded in California, on different coast from our usual recording studio.)
Fortunately Wolfie is a very personable guy, and he loved the demo, and was flattered by it. He said it almost made him cry. I asked him why later, if it was a bad memory for him, and he said no, that it was a super happy memory, so maybe it was just bittersweet. In any event, Rich asked Wolfie to play on our cover of the song, and he did. So there are two cover songs on my CD where I have the original songwriter of the song playing on the song with me singing. ( The other is the cover of The Wake’s “First”, because Rich played guitar on that for me.)
So Wolfie is great, we got to chatting through the internet, and after a while, he asked if I would sing on an electronic project he was working on. I said, “Of course”, and he sent it over. It became the song “Death to Sleep” which is on my solo album, “The Spell Between”.
Very different style and working style for me, but I love what we came up with. After this, he had more songs, so we started working on an EP/ Album. He would send me the files, I’d write and record my vocals and send them back. So we’re working partners now, as well as friends.
In 2019 I went to England to see James- (bass player from The Wake) – he had a new band, ‘October Burns Black’ , and they went over to play a show at the Tomorrows Ghosts Festival in Whitby, England.
While I was over there, I stopped in Leeds, and Wolfie let me stay at his place, and took me all around Leeds for the grand tour, which included stories of himself and all the bands that came out of Leeds, and where they played and lived back in the day, the Sisters, The Mission, The Lorries, March Violets, the Rose of Avalanche, etc. Great stories!
We worked on our electronic album, and it came out under the project name “Voidant” last year. It’s pretty experimental, but there are some great tunes in there! It was a good exercise in songwriting for me, trying different styles, etc, and I’m pretty excited about it.
I went back to England, to the Whitby Festival again in 2021. The Wake were supposed to be playing but the pandemic made it too hard to get Visas, so I was very sad not to see my friends playing there, but I had a hotel booked from the previous year, and decided to go anyway, because of pandemic fatigue! I went over, and I stayed with Wolfie again on my way there, we had a great time catching up and playing music then as well, before I headed over to Whitby.
I have asked Wolfie to join me for this show in July, we can do some Voidant songs and some Lorries Songs, people should get a kick out of that. The hometown of the Lorries and all…. I’m looking forward to it!
When I interviewed Wolfie, he had this to say about you. “She stayed with us and she’s a really big fan of Zakk Wylde and I can see he’s a terrific guitar player although his music isn’t something I would listen to but there is one Zakk Wylde song that we both agree on that we’d like to do a cover of in a 4AD kind of ideal and it’s this song called Spoke In The Wheel which I think is a fucking great song because you know it’s a really great song”. The burning question is, is this going ahead because I want to hear this?!
That is the plan, though we haven’t begun yet. When we were together in Leeds at Halloween, Wolfie and I started talking about what songs we’d do next, and that cover was one. When I got home, I was at a Black Label Society show about a month later, and I took a little video of Zakk playing ‘Spoke in the wheel’ live, and sent it to Wolfie to show him how Zakk changes up songs live, to show how we could change it up. So, we’ll see how it turns out. I am a huge Zakk fan, I’ve gone to tons of his shows, they are good fun, and he often has great bands on the road with him, that I also enjoy. I’ve been to so many shows, that Wylde’s road crew recognizes me, and they say hello when they see me!
Can’t wait to hear your version. Wolfie also mentioned that it might be on a new EP. EPs seem to be popular again. What music did you grow up on that would influence your getting into the industry?
I like music with actual emotional intensity, in pretty much any genre. I usually dislike pop songs, or music that is just for filling space or just for dancing. I’m attracted to darker themes and moods. My history of musical exposure goes like this: started with the Beatles, and music from the UK has always been a theme for me from there. Being from New Jersey I was exposed to a lot of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Southern rock, so I have all that, but even there, the classic rock from the UK stood out for me, like Pink Floyd, Judas Preist or Led Zeppelin, not US bands. As a kid in the 80’s, I loved New Wave, but really New Wave, like New Romantics (UK), not like Madonna (US). My other recurring theme is guitars, guitarists, and guitar based music. I liked a lot of music that had synths, but bands with guitars is what I like. Grunge, Hardcore, Metal, indie bands and ‘120 minutes’ Alternative music in the 90’s, I liked. That’s where I first saw bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Swans, The Bolshoi and a bunch of the more trad goth bands, too: The Mission, Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy. I knew some people at university who were in Goth Bands, and by the time I started looking for a band, I knew that was the way I wanted to go.
Currently there is a post-punk/coldwave/darkwave revival, with a lot of interesting acts like Twin Tribes, TRAITRS She Past Away to name a few. Are there any particular bands in the current era that you hear and think, yep I can get into that?
No, not really. lol! The new bands I’ve been most excited about in the past few years are/ were: Sometime the Wolf, October Burns Black, Bootblacks and Auger. Like I said, it fit doesn’t have enough guitars, it probably won’t be on my list.
Sometime the Wolf broke up, but Drew (lead singer) has a new project called “All My Thorns”, and Drew is about to be the new Singer for Sweet Ermengarde, too, so looking forward to that. Also, October Burns Black is about to drop a new album, so that’s coming up… I think Auger are probably the youngest/ newest band on my list. Love ’em to bits. Saw the lead singer, Kyle, do a solo set last Halloween at the Marquis Masquerade party in Whitby, unbelievable, that guy.
Have to say I really like Tommy Olsen (ex-Theatre of Tragedy) from October Burns Black’s, other project, Long Night. He is such a polished guitar player. And Auger, we have reviewed before and they have so much talent going on there. In July, as you said, you have Goth City in Leeds, but what else does the future hold for Caroline Blind?
Oh yes, I love Long Night, and all the bands associated with October Burns Black. All the bands Simon Rippin ( Fields of the Nephilim) plays for : Grooving in Green, etc. I was sad Tommy didn’t come over with OBB when they played Whitby, so I could meet him. Gordon Young ( Dream Disciples, Pretentious Moi, Children on Stun) filled in for him.
As for the future, right now the only things in current works are getting ready for, and playing the shows this summer, I have a song due for a Compilation of covers next month, and Wolfie and I have a tentative plan to do more Voidant work. I have a couple songs that I need to cobble together for an EP for this year or next, but I’m brainstorming how to do them, who to do them with, etc. I like to have a rough idea to begin with, start putting things in place, and then something will happen and the last pieces will click, and I’ll know exactly what I need to do… it’s that “preparedness meets opportunity” thing… I’ll see it, and then I know exactly what I’ve prepared for, and it works really well, though not always on a timeline I think it will, but the ends are usually worth it.
Is there anything else you want to touch on or feel I have missed that we should cover? I have enjoyed reading everything immensely. Otherwise, I can say – Thank you ever so much for the talking to me and giving us some of your time. Can’t wait to hear what comes next!
Teknovore came into being in 2020 as a solo project of George Klontzas, who was formerly in the bands PreEmptive Strike 0.1 and Croona. The debut album, The Theseus Paradox, is soon to be released on Infacted Recordings, but before then Klontzas is tantalizing us with his remixes with j:dead and a new single which was released on the 25th of February called “Anachronist“.
“Anachronist” with guest artist RNZR (Ruinizer) is…. how do I say this… epically huge. It is literally a maelstrom of incoming pounding beats and a hail of synths. Those agrotech vocals fit this so utterly perfectly. You wonder how the two remixes could actually be any better than this. The Aircraft Bureau’s mix is full of these amazing techno rhythms and swirling nearly imperceptible voices in the background. It builds and is an electronic delight. Wait…. is that throat singing in the mix?
You know you want to hear the XOTOX remix and it does not disappoint. In true XOTOX fashion, this is full of those chunky beats and highly strung keyboards climbing higher and higher. You get lost in that doof doof beat and then sadly it ends. Beyond excited to see another track included called “Save Me God” featuring Siva Six and Z’s voice is so distinct. He isn’t asking to be saved but demanding and taunting. There is blistering guitar work and you hear electronics being used in a lower, far more subtle register, like something old and dark lurking below.
“Save Me God” is a cover which originated with Israeli psytrance/industrial/metal band, Dark Soho and it is really is spectacularly done, while it was a stroke of genius having Siva Six bringing in the raw texture. The “Anachronist” remixes are such tasty pieces of brilliance but the single itself, shines so bright with those massive swelling beats and succulent synths that you can’t help but let it suck you in and away.
With the new j:dead EP, Visions of Time now out on Infacted Recordings, we thought we would have a talk with Jay Taylor about his project, the EP and whatever else tickled our fancy.
Jay Taylor, welcome to the descent into darkness that is Onyx.
Let the descent commence!!
You released the brilliant new single, I’ll Wait and though it has a heavy dance beat, it seems a very full of longing in the lyrical content. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Thank you! The whole of the new EP was written whilst we were all in lockdown, and I think it is fair to say that we have all felt a sense of “longing” over this time period with restrictions. In terms of my own writing style, I do like a mixture between ambiguity and direct content as when I listen to music myself I enjoy having my own take on what I hear and what it means. That for me is half the fun in connecting with a song – you connect with it on your own level. So in this case the longing can be connected to anyone or anything you love or enjoy doing. In my specific case, my partner lives in a different country and it has been extremely hard realizing you are no longer in control of things that affect your emotions.
Gone were the days that I could simply “hop on a plane” and see her, and if you wanted to do that there was a very clinical process to follow. Not a normal process or feeling to have when you just want to see someone! The overarching theme in I’ll wait, is “if” we can all wait for things to change. Again this theme is throughout the whole EP and provides its title – Vision of time. Time can change everything for the better, worse, or for change’s sake – and we have no control over this.
So, would you say that covid has had an impact on the new EP Vision Of Time, as well? A lot of the lyrical content is about time, waiting and unable to move forward.
In short yes – but for the better and or worse depending on how you look at it. Personally my life has changed a lot over the last few years, and then this was compounded with being stuck inside. Now, my mantra for j:dead was that i would always keep writing, i would take every opportunity if i could see benefit in doing it. So obviously I have had huge amounts of time indoors where I wanted to feel productive – creating music filled this gap for me, and is now part of my weekly life, and I really do enjoy it.
The overall “time” concept for the EP isn’t so much about being “unable to do things we want” – although that is one of the emotions encapsulated within it. But, I have come to realize that over time anything that you believe couldn’t happen in a million years – could happen! This break in normality I think has shocked our perception of time, and time can change things in our lives and we have no control over it. I myself like to be in control, but I have had to deal (like everyone else) with the punches and gifts that time provides. I’m trying my best not to pun a Forrest Gump quotation here, but you never know what is around the corner.
In the dark of space, no one can hear you scream, so puns are acceptable. In that vein, was it also covid that drove you to make a video with a bunch of dummies?
Ah the pun gate has been opened!! Yeah covid did play a small part in having dummies in the last video. But I have a great partnership with Mark from Mondo-Cheapo who does all my video content. Mark has a great visual mind, and with the location we were using, covid restrictions alongside the images of “replicants” it seemed fitting to have these “unfinished replicants” in the video. Mark and I are currently working on ideas for the next single/video, as i want to ensure that each single release had visual content alongside it
The Teknovore remix of I’ll Wait is stellar and the Lights Of Eurphoria version is beautiful. How did they become involved?
I was very pleased to have these talented artists contribute to the single release! So George (TeknoVore) and I had been working together on some collaborations for some time. Obviously, shortly before I’ll wait was released TeknoVore and j:dead released the collaboration track Tearing me apart. I really enjoy George’s production work so I just had to ask him about a remix for I’ll wait. Hopefully in time everyone can hear some of the other tracks we have been working on as well – as there is more to release. The Lights of Euphoria remix came via Torben from Infacted. Torben has been a big supporter of me since I signed with them and it was a real pleasure to have them take on my track as well. Lets hope you can hear j:dead return the favor to them in 2022!
We would love to hear those remixes! You also have more guests contributing mixes to the EP, including the wonderful Rotersand and Nature Of Wires. Does it feel a little mind blowing to know these people and have them remixing your work?
Well, 2022 will be a very busy year for j:dead releases. I already have a further 8 songs which in some way feature j:dead fully complete and waiting release dates plus another 3 in the works or due to start. On top of this I am already in final production stages for my 3rd release which hosts 7 original j:dead tracks. I have been constantly working on music and working with other artists which I really do enjoy. I have been in this scene since I was 17 years old, and what really blows my mind at times is the diversity of people behind the artist name. I think gone are the days of “fan-boy-vibes” when it comes to working with most artists (as i either know/met them or know them by association), but it is an amazing feeling knowing that j:dead is being accepted amongst them. Each remix on the EP is fantastic in its own right!
Talking about Torben Schmidt andInfacted Records, what is it like signed to a label with someone at the helm who is so well respected in the electro-industrial scene? How has it affected you as an artist?
The biggest thing for me with Infacted/Torben is knowing that I have someone who has my back. Since the very beginning Torben has always been so supportive of my music, and from that moment has made sure I have a platform to continue making and releasing music. Without a doubt this has allowed me to open doors and reach a wider audience than I would have been able to on my own. There are many artists doing things on a DIY basis at the moment and for some it really works for them.
But for me, I want to use my time in the most creative way possible. Don’t get me wrong – I have to do a HUGE amount of my own “admin” work when it comes to releases with marketing and so on. But I am a big believer in having a great team around you who have experience. Everyone who I work with is better than me at doing what they do. This gives me more time to focus on writing as well as living my life (with a full time job, 2 young children, bills etc etc). I’m proud to be an Infacted artist – and I owe a lot to Torben for believing in me.
Often artists don’t get the support from labels that they need to grow, which is possibly why Infacted are so respected. Also that many fans don’t realise that most acts in the gothic/synth/industrial cannot make enough money from the music they create and it is a labour of love for them and a catharsis, would you agree?
I think it’s all about balance. Putting the sole responsibility to grow on one side of the business relationship will never work. Not unless someone has a HUGE amount of money to throw into marketing – and then the artist most probably ends up in debt to the label anyway and has to pay it back. Everyone has a responsibility to play their part, and if everyone is moving in the same direction with the same level of effort then you can achieve better “results”. This is how it is working for me at the moment and something that I strive to continue.
Torben will always be respected because he is honest, hard-working and trusts his instincts – by far he is a person which you feel like you want the opportunity to work with. Yes it is very hard for any individual to make a living from music alone but i think it depends on a range of elements – but most importantly your own personal choices in regards to the life you want to lead. For me, I want to ensure that i don’t have to worry about money or question myself in regards to how i spend it. Therefore a “9-5” job works for me because i know how much money i get each month, i know how many hours i have to work, and I don’t have to be concerned in finding the “next contract/invoice etc”.
I believe (and there ARE good examples of this) that if anyone wanted to live off a life in music they could. But it would have a big impact on their lifestyle as well as having to diversify what they can offer to people. I see many artists offering their talents for mixing, sound production, mastering, video editing, artwork etc etc etc. And these people deserve huge credit for achieving their goals through hard work – but long gone are the days where you make your own music, it sells and provides you an income to live off. Also I do think that “audiences” are becoming more aware of this as well.
Social media and DIY artists have flooded the interwebs with their own personal stories and goals. This exposure goes beyond the artist/ band name – as the people themselves become the brand. And when people become the brand, audiences become more aware of the mechanics behind the band name. As for j:dead, I make music because it makes me happy. If it makes others happy along my journey then I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
I have to ask, you said you have two kids… do they like dad’s music?
Yes the kids love it! Music is a big part of their lives and they enjoy all types of music. They usually are the first set of ears to hear any song I write, as I play it on the car stereo on the way to school etc. It’s helpful to know you have a catchy chorus when a 6 and 4 year old can sing it back after hearing it once. My favorite part of the kids listening to my music is the “misheard” lyrics. J:dead songs in my house usually get referred to by their misheard name!
Honestly, who doesn’t like a misheard lyric or two to spice things up. You said earlier that you started your career in music quite young, at 17 and in this time includes working with Tactical Sekt and Tyske Ludder. How do you think being in these acts has helped you grow as a musician?
Well, in complete honesty I don’t think I would have the life I have today (let alone just music career wise) without those 2 acts and the amazing friends behind them. Anthony from TS took a wild punt on me playing drums for his band. I was young, inexperienced and didn’t even know the genre/scene. But it worked extremely well. Without this my life and the people in my life would be completely different.
The same goes with Tysker Ludder. Both of these acts have trusted and allowed me to grow as a live musician, and embraced my energy alongside it. I have never created any music for either of these acts so I cannot connect my own writing experience to theirs, but like I have said before. You can’t do everything on your own, and via these acts i have met some amazing and talented individuals i can now call my friends – and some of these friends are integral to the overall j:dead final product. And the same goes for my partner as well. We first met when we toured together with Tactical Sekt and Grendel (she played keys in Grendel). I owe a lot to the people who trusted me, as it has made me who I am.
So what music was young Jay into before he joined an industrial band?
ALL THE METAL!!! I got into metal metal music when i was 14, and throughout my teenage years it evolved into “the heavier the better”. At first it was bands like Slipknot and Mudvayne. Then it was Meshuggah, the it was bands like Decapitated, Car Bomb and The Berzerker. I rarely listened to anything else up until the age of 17/18. I always appreciated dance music – but at the time it was a guilty pleasure. Joining Tactical Sekt helped me broaden and appreciate electronic music. It helped me discover that aggressive or emotional music isn’t just captured it all out guitar riffs and guttural vocals. Metal music is still a big part of my life, and I hope in a way this comes across in my writing style for j:dead.
So once Captain Metalhead of the HMS Squealing Guitar Riff but since then what you listen to or find yourself drawn to?
My normal “go to” genres now are a mixture! Pop, dance, Metal, 80’s, Industrial, synthpop, Synthwave, prog. Its safe to say that my musical taste moves within my two main focuses of “Electronic” music or “Guitar/Rock” music, but long gone are the days where I have a criteria of what it must be. In simple terms – if its a good track, then thats what it is. It doesn;t have to fit into many other boxes than that!
I think you can see that in your song composition now, that your musical tastes have broadened. You said you have finished the next EP and already working on more songs. What is in the future for Jay Taylor and J:dead?
I hope to have another EP out by the end of the year. This will host 7 original tracks as well as a host of remixes again for physical copies sold, plus alllll the collaboration work I have been doing with other acts. I understand this is VERY fast paced for releases and that comes with its benefits, but in all honesty I hope that this pace can slow slightly with the introduction of more live shows. The live element of j:dead is very important to me, and I want to invest more time in this as well as writing. For me as an individual I will continue with drumming for my other live acts as well as continuing to remind myself I need to keep doing things that make me happy – not what is just expected of me.
From Stockholm, Sweden, comes the synthpop EP, -ISH by NEONPOCALYPSE, released on January the 14th on the label Swiss Dark Nights. This is the solo project for Alex Svenson whom is also the leads singer for the band Then Comes Silence.
It is a smooth start with “Broken Circles” and throws us back to the 80s where I was near banging my head on anything because there was something about it that was prickling my memories. It reminds me of the late SteveStrange’s “The Damned Don’t Cry“… a song that I love. So there is plenty to love about this single and I really like the bottle noises….something organic amongst the electronics that become more ominous as the track proceeds to it’s end. The heavier beats herald in something a little darker. It is written on the headstone, game over is definitely about the death of another though done with a dance beat makes this a nice way to go with “GameOver“. I am going to take a long shot and say “The Light” could almost be a tribute to Fad Gadget especially to the reference of tarred and feathered. There is a nice heavy bass sound in this and the quirkiness is very endearing with Svenson’s commanding vocals careening over all. “Lips” is a little slower and lower and sexier. The last two tracks are remixes, the first is by Italians, Ash Code with their re imagining of “Broken Circles” and you can hear their darkwave fingers sliding all over this giving it a slightly more minimalist feel and even smoother in texture. The last is by fellow Italian, Kurs with their far more modern interpretation of “The Light”, introducing a more bass and drums influence, while they had me thinking Nine Inch Nails “Broken” in a building climax to the end.
This -ISH EP is an extremely likeable. For those of us that grew up on or still play music from the early 80s, we appreciate this new wave style and I think it will draw many others into the fantastic dance rhythms and synth lines. Alex Svenson really does have the most sensuous and sonorous voice which is liquid perfection as he croons away. True to the name of NEONPOCALYPSE, the bright synth pop music is the facade for a much darker world.
AvaVox is the singer/songwriter, ElaineHannon, who was born and raised in Dublin and in the 80s was the lead singer for the goth rock band TheSeventhVeil. That band went by the wayside in that decade but AvaVox has brought back to life one of their tunes, “AloneAgain” and released it as a single on February the 9th.
Heavy subject matter indeed, for this is a track about domestic violence and while the music does not always sound sombre due to the post-punk jangle of guitars and seemingly decent pace of the drums. Her voice is full of the expressed sadness of knowing that once in the cycle, the victim falls foul of repeated abuse, with the offer of ‘garlands‘ ie pretty words, to fall into the ‘talon‘ clutches again, unable to break free.
Maybe because this was originally written in the 80s or because of it being a post-punk piece but it made me think of the Australian band Divinyls and their song “PleaureAndPain” which is about an abusive lover. Like ChrissieAmphlett, AvaVox is a gutsy female singer who belts out the truth while feeling that pain. To that end, AvaVox is part of the wonderful Irish gothic/post-punk tradition and this track will be on her, soon to be released, second album, Immortalised.
Jay Taylor is a live band member with Tactical Sekt, Tyske Ludder and Harmjoy and he has played drums since he was around 16 or 17 years of age in the industrial scene. His own project is j:dead and 18th of February is the release date for the EP, Visions Of Time out on Infacted Recordings.
Now if you purchase the EP off Bandcamp, there are 6 tracks available. So the EP kicks off with with the single “I’ll Wait” and if you don’t find this lighting a fire under you, you might have no pulse. The whispered I touch your skin you will be mine was a little creepy in the beginning of “Whole“, and the further we go on, I still feel that way. Is this a stalker song or a very intense one sided affair?! Harsh vocals mixed with the clean is such a juxtaposition. “Hold Tight” and wait for me is the message for this bitter sweet track full of longing. The keyboards are surprising light and skyward bound and maybe that is where hope lays.There is a powerful amount of need to protect one’s self due to being “Afraid” and it is a banger of a track throttling along at high speed. There is a beautiful piano line from the beginning in “Evil In A Bottle” that evolves into synth and it is utterly delightful. “A Little Time” builds in volume and there is explosion of electronics as Taylor exposes his heart in this final anguished expression of passion.
Let’s talk about the CD. If you purchase it, not only do you have something tangible, but also there are bonus remixes. When “I’ll Wait” came out, there were the mixes by Lights Of Euphoria, (who never seems to ever do a bad remix) which was given the techno/electro work over and TeknoVore mix, which is going to mega tear up some dance floors with it’s brilliance. There is Nature Of Wires with their version of “Afraid” that has quieter reflective moments, only to swing back in anger and LifeCried have taken the creepy stalker role with “Whole” and turned it into a rhythmic noise extravaganza. There is not one remix of “Hold Tight” and not even two but rather three remixes. The ever wonderful Rotersand put in all the slick production and lovely harmonies, The Saint Paul summermix really is as cool as a breeze on a summer’s day while Station Echo holds onto the heart felt painful cries like a ghost in the machine.
This EP and those that are set to follow were all written in the time of the global lockdowns and all the challenges that come with that. This new j:dead EP has passion, powerful vocals and really great electronic music that will get you moving and you will be moved by. He started off a drummer but the boy can sing! The remixes are by some hard hitters in the industrial scene and well worth owning. Which ever format you choose, you still get to hear these well crafted songs of j:dead’sVision Of Time.
VVMPYRE is a fairly new gothic act on the scene and the man behind VVMPYRE is one mystery man. He is one very lucky fellow in getting the talented Caitlin Stokes of Corlyx, to perform guest vocals on the newest single “Offering” which dropped on the 14th of February. Extra bonus points for having the other half of Corlyx, Brandon Ashley on guitars plus as well as mixing and mastering at DTuned Brighton Productions.
I was thrown a little when I first listened to this track. It was a bit like being thrown back into the early 90s and flashbacks to Inkubus Sukkubus especially with the electronic instrumental beginning. Stokes singing is so smooth and alluring like the unwrinkled skin of blood sucker. If you still haven’t quite got this gist yet, she is the vampiric queen in your dreams, demanding your tribute in the form of her feast. There are low, almost moaned looped tones beneath everything, the drum machine which heralds the build ups in the guitar and haunted organ.
Corlyx have been moving to a more goth/darkwave sound, so this track seems like a natural progression for Stokes to be involved in. The different layers conveys that love of the British Hammer Horror Movies which often had Christopher Lee as the devilish Dracula and a bevy of busty beauties accompanied by organ music, whilst the vampire hunter Peter Cushing was trying to eradicate his sworn foe. “Offering” is a dance track but also a gothic tale of the night and a blood dance that calls to the children of the night. So open up a blood vessel or two (or not because that could get a bit messy) and enjoy the exsanguination of the “Offering” by VVMPYRE.
Jean-Luc Courchet is the man behind the experimental post-punk act called Spiryt. February the 14th saw the single “V” drop with guest vocalist Kimberly from Bow Ever Down gracing the track. Courchet is from Toulon, France while Kimberly is based in Maine in the United States.
From the opening piano, you can tell this is going to be an introspective number, as the notes seem to hold their own woes. Kimberly’s vocals break through, clear and full of the weight of the sadness in the lyrics. A tale of judgement and being left behind for not being able to be what others deem acceptable. Often the tale of alternative types or those that do not conform.
There is a simplicity in the music that makes it charming and very heart-felt. I know that Kimberly almost always writes her own lyrics and that they come from a place deep inside. While she has sung and played piano, Courchet has wound his music around her, like the coils of a serpent. It is a bitter sweet and darkly touching track in “V“.