In 1996, History Of Guns started their musical adventure and now in 2022, they continue that quest to create music after a hiatus, with the release of a new single, “You Wanted To Live” on the 25th of May. The currently incarnation has original members Del Alien (vocals) and Max Rael (keyboards, programming), plus adding newest member Jamu Knight (guitars).
Fuzzed out beats meet chiming keyboards, in a building vortex of emotions, all the while Alien’s vocals taunt you with the question of if you want to live, then why don’t you live. The angst is high and the guitar goes from strained to decimated complacency, though the electronics never stray from adding an extra layer of weighted darkness.
The band were helped out in the studio by Daniel Vincent (programming), Jason Knight (drums), and Gary Hughes (additional instrumentation). It is a great starter single, for the new album, that History Of Guns is threatening us with. Gothic, deep vocals and guitars that singe the air, all the while the electronics/synths give the track that harder industrial quality. In the end, you have this one life, so you can choose how you live it because “YouWanted To Live“.
Washington, DC’s own gothic dwellers, TheNeuro Farm, have dropped the song “Vampyre” off the album of the same name and to compliment the track, they have also created a beautiful and dark music video.
RebekahFeng has a glorious voice and she uses it to great effect, whilst her band mates play around her. Sombre melancholy, with rich accents of gothic foreboding, that grace the air. The music is delicate like a spiderweb, intricate and wonderfully woven.
An ode to the loss of a way of life, the transitioning from human to vampire but also the death of a relationship. A woman becomes a child of the night and her husband cannot follow her there. Such a weighted sadness, pooling in liquid drowned dreams. The Neuro Farm are painting you a tale of darkness which is rich and silky in both sound and looks, and who knows, unless you bite, you won’t know what they taste like.
Miss FD released the single “Summoning” on the 22nd of May, from the EP, As Above, So Below on Quantum Release Records. With a music video shot by Storyteller, at Joshua Tree, Miss FD is both the witch/sorceress and the vixen demon, that the crone has conjured up in this video and are the perfect subjects to entrance you .
A fusion of Middle Eastern and India instrumentation that curls around your ears, causing your hips to swerve inexplicably, all the while Miss FD woos you with her singing that would enchant the most critical of djinn (never rub a genie up the wrong way).
The princess of gothic pop and chanteuse of making that butt wiggle, Miss FD certainly makes music as gorgeous as her demonic self. I can still hear her chanting long after the music has finished, imbuing your senses with ancient culture and mystical intensity. Lovely….. so invoke the “Summoning“.
The project, Beauty In Chaos came to fruition in 2018 with the first album, Finding Beauty In Chaos, which was an amalgamation of friends around the core instigator, Michael Ciravolo. Having been in the music business for a while, lends itself to having friends such as Wayne Hussey, Al Jourgensen and Michael Aston, to name a few, help you out in recording. Now in 2022, the latest adventure, Behind The Veil, is a full female fronted affair, with voices that that are beautiful, bold and bring a new dynamic to the project. In essence, Beauty In Chaos (BIC), has become a family of musicians which includes Ciravolo’s friend Michael Rozon, as well as his wife, Tish Ciravolo, both whom have been involved with the project since the first album. The latest single off the new album, “Afterlife“, is sung by Tish, who also wrote the lyrics, so we decided to have an interview in two parts. The first part is with the lovely Tish, while the second half is with the man behind the guitar, Michael. Excitingly, we get to find out about the up coming documentary and personally, I love that history of the scene they candidly talk about in the 80s and 90s. So, what are you waiting for?!
PART 1 – THE BEAUTY – Tish Ciravolo, welcome to the beating heart of Onyx.
Tish, you also started your musical career in the 80s as a bass player at the tender age of 16 playing in bands, though you also did a degree in journalism. Hearing stories, such as the way Joan Jett was treated, as female musician, how was were you received due to your gender in the scene back then?
Of course, horrible! The first music store I went into in LA, I was asked if I was picking something up for my boyfriend and that was the nicest comment I got. Girls didn’t work at music stores and most female musicians were treated like they sucked, whether they did or not. And this was almost 10 years after The Runaways started kicking open doors. The guys at sound check basically just had the girl bands plug in, play a note and unplug. That was the normal reaction from men in the business but I have to say, there were guys out there who helped and understood the struggle.
Lypstik was a big hair metal band you were in Tish…. how much fun was that and is this about the time you contributed vocals to a Human Drama track?.
LYPSTIK was a blast until it wasn’t. We were playing Battle of the Bitches type events all the time, pitting the girls against each other for a show. The Sunset Strip was a sight to behold. You never know what the memory is when you are living in it and you don’t think it won’t be the same in the future. But the entire scene did change. At the time, we had a billboard on the side of The Roxy facing The Rainbow so we really felt like we brought the “girl” side to a very dominated metal scene, along with some very cool other girl bands at that time.
Having a band like Human Drama ask for a simple vocal was a dream come true! But my name gets misspelled during interpretations… its not Trish, but Tish 🙂
Many people might not be aware that you, Tish created the company Daisy Rock, which makes bass/acoustic/electric guitars for girls and it has been really successful. What prompted you to create guitars for girls and what makes a guitar more for girls?
Daisy Rock Guitars came about organically. After my experience as a female musician with all the discrimination I experienced, I happened on a way to change that for my daughters and all female musicians. Our daughter, Nicole did a drawing when she was 1 1/2 years old and I turned that daisy drawing into a guitar drawing and showed it to my husband explaining that if we made guitars that girls would want to play, that maybe, just maybe, we could get more girls to play guitar. With Michael’s expertise, we created a “girl guitar” – lighter in weight, slimmer neck profile, in super fun designs and colors. Daisy Rock Guitars were born. Fast forward ten years and I’m training 600 men on how to treat women in music stores….
Tish, you play the guitar with a plectrum (pick). Why does this weird people out and who are your guitar heroes? (mine admittedly are John Taylor of Duran Duran and the late Mick Karn of Japan, both fretless players)
I love Simon Gallup of The Cure and Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. I absolutely love Mick Karn and adore what Japan did way before Duran Duran, but fretless is not my forte 🙂
What is in the works for Beauty In Chaos as well as Tish and Michael Ciravolo, for the future?
I believe my husband already touched on the 5 year retrospective album he’s started putting together. Also, I filmed my segment for the “Unveiled” documentary that should come out later this summer. We have some live shows coming up with Gene Loves Jezebel where I will dust off the old bass guitar and get back on stage. And there are some rumblings of trying to put BIC on stage playing live. The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!
Beauty can be found in the darkest of places, so what is your beauty in chaos?
One person’s chaos is another person’s beauty. My beauty comes from a place of being a mother, being a wife and being a creative artist. All those things comes with its own chaos no matter what stage you are in. Toddlers to teenagers has its own chaos and beauty. Loving my best friend, my husband for over 30 years now carries its own beauty and chaos. Continuing in life to create, to bring my dreams to life, to continue to dream, to not give up. That is my Beauty. That is my Chaos.
PART 2 – OUT OF CHAOS– Welcome Michael Ciravolo to the darkness within the heart of Onyx.
Michael, your career spans back to 1980, in New Orleans, with The Models. When the band moved to Los Angeles, in 1985, there was a name change to Human Drama. What was it like playing goth rock, in those cities, in the 80s for you and especially at the (in)famous Scream Club in LA?
Looking back, the mid to late ‘80s scene in Los Angles was truly magical. There was certainly the Hollywood’s ‘hair-meta’ scene happening in a big way. GnR, Van Halen, Motley Crue and the dozens of 2nd and third tier replicas ran rampant on the Sunset Strip. Many getting massive record deals. But there was also a cool darkwave scene, with its focal point being Scream. So many great nights playing and hanging there; especial when it was at the Park Plaza location. Not to be outdone by the strip scene, A&R types flocked there, as well as a few other clubs… not only signing Human Drama, but also Kommunity FK, Caterwaul, Jane’s Addiction to name a few. Another cool thing was there was sort of a comradery between bands… even with the goths and big hair metal kids. It was not uncommon for us to be hanging flyers on the strip besides guys from Poison and Faster Pussy Cat.
At that time, America was in the grips of hair metal. What made you take to the gothic rock style?
As a kid in New Orleans, I gravitated to glam and punk when I picked up the electric guitar. Marc Bolan, Mick Ronson and Johnny Thunders were my heroes. When we formed The Models, we were a bit more power-pop, but got heavier and darker as Johnny’s writing matured. Before we made the move to LA, we were listening to The Mission, The Cure, Joy Division and The Sister. I guess we sort of ‘absorbed’ that into our look and sound.
You are also a member of Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. What is it like for you to be a part of this iconic band?
When I rejoined Human Drama to record the live album at The Troubadour, Michael Aston had just released his solo album on Triple-X. With that being our label too, he was opening the show. After our set, a mutual friend, who ironically booked Human Drama’s first LA show, introduced us. He told me that he and Jay (Aston) were going to reform to do a reunion tour and would I be interested in being the guitarist. I had a few of the early post House Of Dolls Gene Loves Jezebel albums, which I though were quite good. I learned a few of the songs and I hit if off well with the twins. This lead to a 20+ date USA tour. I got to witness firsthand the old wounds Michael and Jay had, had burst open… which lead to us doing the last few dates with them not speaking to each other! The attempted to record an album with some of the ‘original’ line-up… but Michael left or got booted, depending on who’s version you believe. It is truly a cluster fuck, sort of like Oasis without the fame and money!! Michael again approached me about writing an album … which lead to two. “Love Lies Bleeding” and “Exploding Girls”. I have probably played over 100 shows with Michael’s ‘version’ of GLJ and there is talk of both Tish and I joining for some shows in support of The Mission. I guess we will see. I am proud of those two albums … but it is a shame as it could and should have been so much more.
Your latest project is Beauty In Chaos, where the debut album, “Finding Beauty In Chaos” was released in 2018. When did you originally decide this was a project you wanted to take on?
After Human Drama’s ‘final show’ in October 2015, Johnny had released a few solo albums … sadly with little notice, except to hard core Human Drama fans. I guess I am credited to talking him into doing another Human Drama album, which began to take shape in early 2017. In my head, I had hoped we would return more to the darker, edgier sound of the band; but it was really not what Johnny was into. In the recording process of what became “Broken Songs For Broken People”, I grew frustrated and probably tried to force a more aggressive guitar approach than really fit these songs. Looking back, I am happy with the album and what I added on guitar. I was never a big David Gilmore / Pink Floyd fan … and that is what Johnny continually referenced for the guitar parts he envisioned. In the end, it made me delve a bit into it … and now I truly appreciate how great Gilmore is. Michael Rozon, was recording my guitar parts for the album, and certainly could sense my growing frustration … which lead to him turning to me and saying “why don’t you just do your own album?”. I quickly blurted our ‘YES’! Then the stark realization crept in that now I had to do it. Not being a real singer, I decided that I could ask some friends to sing. Luckily two few friends … Robin Zander (Cheap Trick) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry) jumped in quickly .. and thus Beauty In Chaos was born. Thankfully, what for a few moments was my ‘solo’ record (which I find most solo records by guitarists to be quite boring) quickly morphed into this revolving / evolving entity we call Beauty In Chaos.
Did you ever envision that you would create your first album with such people as Wayne Hussey (The Mission, ex-Sisters Of Mercy), Simon Gallup (The Cure) and Aston Nyte (The Awakening)….in essence an amalgamated super group?
While I never set out for this to be a ‘supergroup’, as I hate that term, as to me, it sounds a bit pompous. I am certainly blessed to have a lot of friends that also happen to makeup a big part of my record collection. I never take any of the artists that contribute to BIC for granted. Whether well-known or lesser known, each of these artists put their heart and soul into the song(s) we created together.
But the ‘kid’ in me sometimes must pinch himself when I look at who has been part of our BIC family. Even the artists that are ‘platinum’, iconic or even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame treat the entire concept of what BIC is with complete respect, and myself as a contemporary. Yes, still all more than a bit surreal.
Michael Rozon has been there, recording, mixing, and producing, not to mention playing instruments as well. Could you please tell us about this relationship/friendship?
Michael is one of my best friends in this world. I could not and would not do BIC without him. Far more than just suggesting I make my own album … he allows me to play my guitar while he focuses on the tech side of recording. He is also amazingly talented. Like our records or not … they do sound great and that is due to him. He has a talent to push and encourage me at the same time. He sure as hell has made me a better musician. And we have a fucking blast being in the studio together!
We met back in the mid ‘90s. I was in a post Human Drama (pre GLJ) band that was getting label attention, but our singer had a drinking issue. I could see that we had hit a dead-end. My then girlfriend and now wife, Tish, saw a ad on a telephone pole of a band, Drain The Doves, looking for a guitarist. She actually called Michael and invited him to a show, which ironically ended with me smashing my guitar against the wall on the stage out of frustration. I walked off stage, out to Sunder Blvd. and Michael walked up to me as I was probably screaming ‘fuck this I quit’ and said you are our guy. We have been great friends ever since.
Since that release, there has been the release of the album “The Storm Before The Calm” and two remix albums, which brings us to the 2022 unleashing of “Behind The Veil”. This release is a little more special as it features only female vocalists. What was the inspiration behind going in this direction for the album?
When we were finishing up ‘The Storm Before The Calm’, I was having an internal debate with myself if we should include “Stranger” (featuring Holy War’s Kat Leon) on this album or if we should write an additional gloom-rock track. While I absolutely love “Stranger”, I knew it was a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. In the end, I went with my original thought and ended the vinyl with it.
After hearing the album in its entirety, I thought it “Stranger” would be a cool lead-in to what came next for us. I do love all three female featured songs on ‘FBIC’, and what Kat and Cinthya had done with us … there is the genesis of ‘Behind The Veil’.
The latest single is the slow burning and dreamy “Afterlife” sung by your incredibly talented wife, Tish. What has it been like for both of you working together on this track for Beauty In Darkness as best friends and lovers?
“Afterlife” is a great song and a perfect opening song for this record. I could not be prouder of what my wife did. I love what she did on “Lookup” on our first record, but this tops it and is easily one of my top 5 BIC songs. When Michael and I wrote the music, I knew her voice would work well on it, but it is a bit of a different, linear song … there’s not the big obvious chorus section. She took the music and made it into a great song. Honestly, I am probably a bit more demanding on her because she is my wife and best friend … and I am sure she feels the pressure to prove she is on this because of her talent, not because she is my wife. I defy anyone to doubt her talent after what she delivered on this song … lyrically and melody , and the video. I think her ending line ‘love is all there is’ will live alongside Ashton Nyte’s ‘there is always a light (from ‘Storm’) as seminal BIC lyrics.
Having Elena Alice Fossi of the legendary Kirlian Camera sing “Kiss Of The World” must have been a bit of a coup. How did you end up getting the beautiful Italian singer to become involved?
I tried to remember how I became aware of Elena while doing press for “The Kiss Of The World” video. I think my press agent, Shauna (from Shameless Promo) was promoting something Elena was part of. No denying her beauty, but it was an interview I saw with her. Far more than a pretty face, she is extremely intelligent and I loved her courage to stand up for some social issues that plague the world. Plus she has an amazing voice. I got her email, and just introduced myself. I tuned out we had a mutual acquaintance in John Fryer, who had has done several BIC remixes and I am of Italian decent! I just straight out asked if she would be interested in working together at some point. Thankfully, she said yes and then fast-forward at least a year and we sent her a music track that she turned into “The Kiss Of The World”. I also love the video we did for this song, which she shot all her parts on a green screen in Italy. Industrialism Films, who have done most of our videos, did an amazing job of melding her into the dystopian sets we created. I must add that her Kirlian Camera fans have been so gracious towards Beauty In Chaos.
There are three more extremely talented women on the album, so were they acquaintances or professionals you felt you needed to have sing on the album?
Yes, Cinthya Hussey, Betsy Matin, along with my wife, Tish, are BIC alumi … appearing on songs on previous albums. Besides Elena, Whitney Tai and Pinky are new to our BIC Family. I knew Pinky Turzo from the early days of Human Drama; and loved what she had done vocally in Silver Ghost Shimmer. “Not Your Fault” is a different song for us … but I love everything about it. She channeled the ‘chaos in her beaut’ in the song’s lyrics, but in a way that most of us can interject something from our life into. To me, that makes a great song.
Whitney Tai was introduced to me by our mutual friend and BIC alum, Kat Leon of Holy Wars. Whitney and I immediately hit it off musically and she has become a really good friend of Tish and I. I heard some of what she had done on her albums and could hear the Bjork influence. I told her I wanted to do a song with her that fell between Bjork and Bauhaus. Wide net I know … but it rolled off the tongue nicely! What became “Orion” evolved so easily … almost effortlessly. To me, it encompasses all of the elements of BIC. Lots of ethereal guitars, but with blasts of chaos and sonic interference. Love the video too!
Remixes were a huge thing in the 80’s (hence all those wonderful 12-inch singles), though they seem to fall out of favour with the era of CDs and now there seems to be a renaissance. Half the album is remixes, so what was the reason behind this decision plus tell us about the newest remix album as well?
I was certainly a fan of the great extended 12” singles, however I never cared much for a remixer just replacing the drums with a ‘dance beat’. In BIC world, the remix concept happened really by accident … but I am a believer that things happened for a reason. When we were making our debut album, ‘finding beauty in chaos’, I had imposed a ‘no synth’ rule. Meaning every sound on that album came from manipulating my electric guitar. Wayne (Hussey, The Mission) introduced me to Tim Palmer.. who has always been one of my absolute favorite producers.
I was in Austin with he and Wayne, as Tim was mixing The Mission’s ‘Another Fall From Grace’ album. We were out having a few libations so I said what the fuck and asked Tim if he would mix a BIC song that Wayne was featured on. Amazingly Tim said yes. I sent him both “Man Of Faith” and “The Long Goodbye” to mix. In my excitement that he was doing this, I failed to tell him about the ‘no synth’ rule. See where this is going? So I get back “Man Of Faith” and is brilliant … but Tim added so cool keyboards and some nice guitar bits. So how do you tell your favorite producer “Great mix mate, but can you take those keyboards and guitars out!!!” . The answer is you don’t! Thus the idea of ‘Beauty Re-Envisioned’ was born. Thankfully, I am blessed with a lot of very talented friends that were eager to jump in and do some amazing reinterpretations of songs from ‘FBIC’. Since this worked well, at least in my opinion, we again followed up ‘The Storm Before The Calm’ was ‘Out Of Chaos Comes…’.
I really enjoyed turning the keys over and hearing how other treated these songs. When it came to ‘Behind The Veil’, I was adamant about releasing it before the end of 2021. My BIC cohort, Michael Rozon, was working on a Ministry album at the same time, so our studio time was a bit limited. We created these six songs, which worked in the confines of vinyl, both left a lot of ‘time’ remaining with the 75-minutes+ available on a compact disc. I thought it would be cool to change what we had done previously, and include remixes on the CD version of ‘Behind The Veil’. In typical BIC fashion … the idea expanded, and we had so many creative and diverse remixes that it lead to 25 tracks, and ‘Further Behind The Veil’ !!!
Who or what music inspired you to become a musician?
Watching those great late-night music shows… The Midnight Special and Don Kirscher’s Rock Concert. Seeing T. Rex and David Bowie was a life changer for me. Until then, I wanted to play pro football. I quickly realized that girls, especially cute ones liked guys in bands more that jocks! Watching Marc Bolan pout and prance and seeing Johnny Thunders with has big mane of hair and low-slung buzz saw sounding guitar sealed the deal for me. One of those surreal moments in BIC, and there have been a few, was getting to record and do a video of T, Rex’s classic, “20th Century Boy” with Marc Bolan’s son, Rolan. Yeah, doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Do you find yourself listening to new acts now and what gets your creative juices flowing?
Sadly, I don’t find a lot new or very ‘inspiring’ in new music. Maybe it’s showing my age …. but I am looking far more forward to the next Cure record than anything I have heart of late. I am sure I am missing something, but I got more inspiration from sounds, and new musical ‘toys’ as opposed new acts. I just don’t see much longevity in what I hear.
Beauty can be found in the darkest of places, so what is your beauty in chaos?
Life is indeed filled with both beauty AND chaos. Sadly our world has fallen more into the latter as of late. For me personally, my beauty is my family. My wife and two beautiful, healthy, strong-willed daughters. I am beyond blessed for them.
Now, if you were given the chance to record a track with any goth rocker from the past or present, dead or alive, who would you pick and more importantly, why?
To me, and something I carry into Beauty In Chaos is lyrics. I want our singers to write from the heart, songs that have a deeper meaning, even and especially not overly obvious. To be clear, all of the singers in our BIC write their own lyrics and melody. Michael and I don’t give any verbal-guidance, but I think the music we send them sends them down a path to turn it into a song. As for your question, I think in the goth/darkwave world … most of the great singers do write wonderful lyrics. I would love to work with Robert Smith and Peter Murphy. I do know both and have approached them both. Each was kind and did consider, but at the time, each was very deep into writing for The Cure and Bauhaus. Maybe one day! Siouxsie would certainly be someone I would love to work with. I know you question was ‘goth’ specific, but there are other amazing, influential singers I would to have had, or have the opportunity to have as part of our BIC Family.
Having the chance to work with David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Michael Hutchence would have been amazing. Shirley Manson, Bjork, along with several of fantastic ladies of shoegaze … Elizabeth Fraser, Rachell Goswell, Lisa Gerrard and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons would be on my ‘want list’. Can’t end this hypothetical list without adding The Furs Richard Butler, who has always been one of my favorite vocalists.
What is in the works for Beauty In Chaos and Michael Ciravolo, for the future?
We are working on a behind-the-scenes look at ‘Behind The Veil’, cleverly untitled ‘Unveiled’. This is being done by the great people at JammerDirect. This documentary will include some great insight from the six amazingly talented ladies that make up this album, along with some thoughts from a few of the remixers involved. This should be premiered before the end of summer.
We are also planning a video from “Open Would Heart”, which features the lovely Cinthya Hussey. I really love this song, and her lyrics are beautiful. With her in Brazil, it has some challenges, but we managed with Elena, so I am confident that we will create something special that fits this song.
With Michael Rozon currently on tour with Jerry Cantrell, our studio time is a bit hard to come by, but I think it gives me a writing break that I probably would not have! That said, we are looking at releasing sort of an anthology CD…. BIC 2017-2022 type of thing. I am going thru all of our tracks, including the remixes and trying to pick the 13 or 14 songs that give the best sonic overview of what we have done to date. I have both a title and a photo in mind … so that’s half the battle. I am thinking of adding one new song to this…. Which may indeed by a cover song that stuck in my head during my recent visit to my hometown of New Orleans. We will see.
Thank for indulging us Michael and Tish, and we can’t wait to hear what you do next.
July 15th with see the release of the new Kill Shelter album, Asylum, which is a celebration of over 40 years of the dark scene, but for a taste now is in the form of the new single, “Necklace:, featuring Sweden’s Agent Side Grinder. Edinburgh’s Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) composed the music while Johan Lange (Agent Side Grinder) wrote the lyrics.
From just the beginning, you know this is going to be good, the way the guitars collide and resolve, only to be subsumed by the drum machine and electronics, that play host to the vocals. It makes you want to move and dance to the thrum of the beat and guitar, whilst caught within the vocals of Emanuel Åström. It’s simply brilliant.
Such a breathtaking use of instruments, highlighting the darkness between the light. The vocals wash over your senses, not only sonorous but also pulling at your subconscious with the lyrical content because “Necklace” is about finding solace within one’s self when faced with daily abuse, be that physical and/or mental. This all ties back to the album, Asylum, which is all about the different types of havens people seek to survive.
Beauty In Chaos, as a gothic/dark alternate group, has some pretty heavy hitters in the music scene that are members, with Michael Ciravolo as the focal band mate. From this year’s album release, Behind The Veil, the band have dropped the single “Afterlife“, which features Ciravolo’s wife, Tish on vocals and she also wrote the lyrics for this track. The band on this single consists of Michael Ciravolo (guitars and textures), Michael Rozon (bass, synth and drum programming), Dirk Doucette (live drums) and Adrienne LaVey (operatic voice).
The guitars are somber and withdrawn, whilst the synths blow through like a wind of sweet sorrow before the vocals of Tish Ciravolo caress your ears, enchanting you like a siren. It flows like the final breath from your lips and there are the unearthly, angelic vocals of Adrienne LaVey in the interlude.
I hear strains of The Cure in those rivulets of trickling synths and guitar, giving the whole track a dream like quality or as such, a hazy memory floating in that liquid stream. Yes, this is a song about death because as humans, we have always asked, what happens after we leave this mortal coil and where do we go? But also, there are those that we leave behind and we, in some way, are kept alive in memoriam by the ties of love. This track radiates light, just as the sun falls on the leaves of a tree, however the light becomes dappled and darker… this is how I see “Afterlife“, so breathtakingly beautiful and yet that heavy undertow, making it perfect.
French darkwave act, Distance H, have released their debut single “Bitch 16”, as of the end of April and it features Saigon Blue Rain’s chanteuse. Ophelia. She will also be featuring on the soon to be released EP, Intimacy, by Parisian, ManuH, who is the producer behind Distance H, which endeavors to have different female vocalists on tracks.
The guitar chimes out, programmed drum machine keeping the beat and Ophelia’s vocals seductively slipping like silk across the music. darkness and light of growing up, where everything starts off bright and optimistic, then with experience and growth, comes the realisation that life is murkier the more you let people in.
There is a tremendous balance between vocals and music here where one never engulfs the other. The guitar work is delightful, weaving throughout the whole piece, while the vocals capture your attention with Ophelia’s beautiful performance. Really it is a darkwave track, worthy of attention and if the EP is this quality, then it is going to be fantastic release from Distance H!
April, 8th was the release date for the single “Montreal (Watch Me Bending)” by UK act Sean Grant And The Wolfgang, on the label Vandalism Begins At Home in conjunction with VBAH-Recordings. The single heralds the release of the new album, 333, on the 9th of July.
Maybe it is the low, ground out electronics that give this a dirty feel, which is not in complete contrast to the vocals, that purr out to you, invading your senses. It culminates in vortex of guitar fury and synths, only to become peaceful once again.
Grant has said that this track was inspired, by his being able to conquer self destructive bad habits. This has translated into a song about find yourself, rather than going along with everyone else. It is a post-punk, darkwave, synth/guitar affair, with some seriously good vocals that will creep up your spine and having you play this on repeat.
A new single from Vermont band Metamorph featuring Margot Day, called “Dream Curve” was released May 1st. The band is comprised of Margot Day (vocals, flute), Kurtis Knight (guitar/beats/keys), Anomaly (Bass) and Joe Netzel (Drum) There are bonus points for the fact that the single was produced by Erik Gustafson of Adoration Destroyed.
Dream weaver and dream keepers of the cyber synth kind. They paint a picture of a modern world trying to reconnect to the spiritual world with a dance inspired beat, joined by a subtle flute and witchy vocals.
There is the imagery of things like the triple goddess. which things like trefoils have huge symbolism for pagans, so the track is full of this style of mysticism and magical intonations. Metamorph are weaving a new chapter of gothic synth rock, meshed with their own vision of new horizons born in dreams.
Esoterik released their latest album, Alchemy, in March. Dubbed as pagan-synth, this US duo of AllisonEckfeldt and Brady Bledsoe, have created an album which has mystical folk tendrils, spliced together with electronic synths and rhythms. It is beautiful and danceable with a spiritual centre, calling back to a time when our ancestors were more in-tune to the world they walked in and the earth was far more listened to. So we decided that it was time to ask the band themselves about the new album and Esoterik.
Welcome Esoterik to the druidic grove in which Onyx thinks deep and perplexing thoughts.
The project, Esoterik, came into being in 2013, so how did it all happen?
Allison: I’ve felt a strong pull to create music, perform live and tour since high school but never had things line up to where it could happen… I ended up asking Brady if he would like to join together in a project after I had tried out as bassist for a different band he was in.
Brady: My musical tastes have always been all over the place and love creating soundscapes in different genres. Allison and I were sharing some of our favorite artists so I decided to take some of the elements I love most about those and just push it through my normal songwriting process to see what happens. I showed her a couple of demos and before we knew it, we had enough material to call it an album.
What were you both doing musically before Esoterik?
Allison: I was mostly playing on my bass guitar on my lunch breaks from work… and singing/recording covers of artists I was inspired by.
Brady: Directly before, I was playing in a project with some friends that I guess you would call Power Pop and also doing a lot of solo gigs with my acoustic, a synth and a looper pedal. I’ve dabbled and participated in projects across a wide array of genres over the years and I think that’s something I’ll always do to scratch the creative itch.
People might not know that the band is comprised of a husband/wife team. So, do you find it easier or harder being married to your bandmate?
Allison: I’ve only really known this formula so I can’t comment on if it is easier or harder… It isn’t hard though; It’s a lot of fun. It’s work too just like anything else you would like to improve upon. Lots of practice, listening, learning and growing. I’ve taken part in a lot of team-oriented projects so I approach this band the same from the same professional standpoint
Brady: I don’t know who told you that, but it’s a secret that was not to be revealed. In all seriousness though, I find it much easier and it’s pretty magical to be able to share the experiences of life on the road. You often hear about musicians having trouble being able to maintain relationships due to a lifestyle that requires a lot of traveling so problem solved there. In my opinion touring is one of the most gratifying and difficult things you can do as a musician and it can wear on you after a while. However, there’s a bond that forms out there in very little time and strangers become family. That experience with my partner is only amplified each time we get out there. I also always know where to find her when it’s time for rehearsals.
How do you both contribute to the creative process of writing songs?
Allison: I usually will write lyrics and pass them to Brady… I have my most fun sprinkling in ‘off the script’ takes during vocal recording however. The song starts to form its’ shape and I get really excited to add in flare where it feels right.
Brady: Our songwriting process varies depending on how inspiration strikes but it usually starts on an acoustic guitar with me working out chords or a melody that pops into my head. Once I have a general arrangement that seems solid, I’ll then go into the studio and start transposing and building out the skeleton. For lyrics or vocal melodies, we usually bounce ideas off each other or Allison may have lyrics already and we clean them up to fit the phrasing with the music.
Your latest album is “Alchemy” and alchemy was the precursor to modern science but still very much in the pseudo science realm, mixed with ideals of magic, and this reflects the album for me. Magical with its roots deep in the earth. What does the album mean for you?
Allison: It’s a journey to reconnect with myself. Take back all the pieces of who I am that I had let get away from me… The songs are introspective, empowering and full of affirmations. This album to me is basically a diary of my past three years doing shadow work. Un-learning and re-learning to live again.
Brady: The concept of Alchemy has transformed and evolved over time but regardless of the focus, the fascination to me from a physical perspective would be how the elements from the earth interplay with our bodies, which are also composed of some of those elements. The practice also plays well into the realm of spirituality and the power of intention. The process of making music to me feels very alchemical with taking ingredients that have a very defined character or texture alone but when combined created something unexpected and seemingly new. The individual songs on the new album have been crafted with purpose and intention to represent the element or compound titled.
Each of the singles on the album were also released as remix EPs, with guests doing each mix. Could you please explain why you decided to go this way and who you invited to do your mixes?
Allison: We invited a lot of our friends and acquaintances to join in on the single releases. We thought it would be a really fun way to send the songs off into the world. I’m really happy with every track and it was so beyond amazing to be able to listen to everyone’s own take for which direction they wanted to take the soundscape into.
Brady: The way people listen to music is constantly evolving and regardless whether or not as an artist you have a preference on how your music should be consumed, I feel like you have to give your music the opportunity the most airtime you can and spreading those releases out with additional content is sometimes the only way to reach who really wants to hear what you’re creating. In terms of the artist selection, we’ve been lucky to cross paths with a lot of talented musicians over the years and it’s a very tight knit community where you start to lean on people you trust and respect.
Some are very big names, so was that both exciting and nerve wracking?
Allison: Everyone who agreed to take part in our project we have met on tours and through mutual friends. Fortunately, nothing was nerve wracking because everyone who took part, I feel very calm around. I’ve never felt judgment from these individuals and have only had good conversations with them. When you can fully be yourself around creative partners, really beautiful magic can flourish.
Brady: It’s always a bit nerve wracking for me no matter the artist, but also super gratifying to hear your music re-imagined and often elevated to another level. There are a few remixes on the EPs where I seriously contemplate whether their interpretation is actually a better fit than the studio track, which is a great predicament to come across. We are really grateful and honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing artists and even better to call some of them good friends.
The latest single is “Tria Prima”, which in alchemy is represented by a three sided triangle and is the bringing together of three elements. Can you tell us about this concept and about the music video?
Allison and Brady: Tria Prima takes listeners through the underbelly of the mind and highlights the importance of self-awareness and the balance necessary between mind, body and consciousness. Our minds can be a very ugly space to explore and will run wild if left to their own devices. The mind is flawed by design but with focus and intention, freedom from our self-imposed shackles is possible and always waiting.
If you had to pick a track off the album that would be your favourite to play live, which would it be?
Allison: Salt; I really look forward to performing this one live… The vocals are so fun; and there’s such a variety of moods I get to tap into. The whole song really paints such a nice atmosphere for me to vibe with.
Brady: I would have to say Tria Prima, it’s very high energy and I love the dual vocals.
The cover art for the album is really quite exquisite! Who created it?
Allison and Brady: We had a photo session with some very talented artists Neisha T. Ford and Eugnell, who specialize in what I’d call modern Renaissance style shoots. We didn’t really have any direction on cover art at the time, but after seeing the proofs we knew that one in particular just had a feel that was striking and timeless. We collaborated with another amazing artist, Vlad McNeally (Kallisti Design), who has designed for pretty much everyone in the business and he knocked it out of the park with bringing the vision to life.
For 2 years, Covid has created havoc with the music industry, especially with touring. How did it affect the recording of the album and also your ability to play live?
Allison: It benefited the recording process; as we were stuck home the entire time. We had all that extra time to record and just be creative in general. Performing live was nonexistent during the pandemic…so we had no live shows for quite some time except performing for friends. I’m really looking forward to hitting the road once more. Being able to do live shows is such a huge part of the lifestyle that it feels really uncomfortable when I can’t make those in person connections with listeners.
Brady: It was absolutely wonderful from a creative perspective; we were able to finish up the last half of the album without any distractions. We’ve actually only played a couple of shows in almost three years now so we’re really jonesing to 1) be able to perform for an audience and feel that energy exchange and 2) play a new set with the tracks from Alchemy.
Your style was described by a fan as dark pagan, I feel due to your earthy tones rooted in a darker past, would you agree with that interpretation?
Allison: We were coined ‘Pagan-Synth’ by a fan on YouTube after ‘Spirits light the way’ was released and I instantly fell in love with the term. Blending spiritual, spell rooted songs with synth. In the future, as we grow with our sound; I would like to blend more Folk pagan into synth heavy beats. I would like to find a way to blend in some progressive guitars as well.
Brady: We definitely resonate with a pagan path and for me, it’s really about our connection with the earth. When we take time in nature, we feel more connected to everything and that goes a long way for anything that ails you. Some of that inevitably bleeds into the music we create from a lyrical standpoint. However, there’s nothing ancient sonically in what we’re doing at the moment so it may just be a marriage of the two.
What music/bands, first got you into the alternative scene?
Allison: That’s pretty hard for me to pinpoint… I grew up on ‘alternative’ 70’s music and then around 2002 (I was 12.) One of my older brothers, Kyle, burned me a mix CD with Static-X, Fear Factory, Drain STH, Black Sabbath, Gravity Kills and others. The two songs I would put on repeat off of the CD were ’Sold my Soul’ by Zakk Wylde and Drain STH ‘I Wish’. The Zac Wylde song brought me a lot of peace and comfort when I was no longer able to see my older brothers until I was around 16. Just that opening guitar of the track hit me right in the solar plexus. Some of the lyrics I really felt deeply but the melody itself was so healing to me. The Drain STH song felt like the anthem to my existence during my early teens… The lyrics really spoke things I couldn’t vocalize. I found myself going back to that track when I was in a really low spot.
Brady: My first taste of the scene was in the early 90’s and was mesmerized by the melodies and catchy hooks of New Wave and Synth Pop artists like Depeche Mode and New Order. Although when I started actually composing music I was on a steady diet of grunge and industrial, I knew I’d always come back around.
Are there any acts or albums that you are into now?
Allison: I absolutely love Eivor, I’ve seen her twice live and I am in absolute awe of her creativity, vocal range and overall musical portfolio. I own all her CDs and feel such a deep connection with what she writes. I’m also in awe of iamamiwhoami; I can listen to their albums front and back without getting tired of a track… I usually listen to them while I’m drawing or painting. Each track hits me right in the heart.
Brady: There’s so much great music right now thanks to the downtime everyone had with the pandemic. A couple that come to mind though are Haex and Pixel Grip. They both have such a unique spin on the ground that others have walked before. One’s heavier and one is more on the dancey side but I highly suggest checking those two bands out!
If you had the gift of creation with alchemy, what would you want to create with this power?
Allison: Alchemists created such a wide variety of things chemists still use to this day… When really thinking about the question I suppose I wouldn’t be concerned with creating anything in particular. I would instead be more interested in learning and experimenting through trial and error… and from that point pinpointing exactly what path I would want to explore. I would like to spend more time learning from knowledgeable sources about Prima Materia as I think a lot of ideas could be answered there. Carl Jung had some interesting takes on alchemy actually if anyone else is interested in learning more.
Brady: In the literal sense, I’ve always been intrigued by mortality and ways that we try to avoid the inevitable so the Elixir of Life would be my creation. Like much of history though, I think there’s more metaphors in ancient practices than literal so we could very well have that gift and already created that with this album.
Dark pools of still water were considered sacred places where gifts were given to receive both luck and information. What do the dark waters tell you about the future of Esoterik?
Allison: when reading your question, I actually had a memory pop into my head… My kindred spirit Christian and I were doing a ritual by a natural waterfall at night. The waterfall is in Oklahoma at ‘The Sacred Valley of the Gnomes’ (Runestone park.). The waters at the base of the waterfall were pitch black and the forest surrounding had very little light… I offered an expensive Labradorite ring I loved and Christian offered a prize procession of his own into the dark waters to the old Gods. We sat in the darkness together under the starlight. After a bit of time had passed in silence, we both at the same time locked eyes in the sky above something otherworldly I’ve sworn with Christian to never elaborate on. The gift the dark waters gave me that night told me that the Gods will keep me and protect me, guide me and direct me. They told me magic is real and that all I need to be is open in order to receive it. I’ve held this close as my guiding light.
Brady: Much like the dark waters that present an opportunity for reflection, I believe the knowledge and intuition we seek is already within us if we’re able to focus and listen. It’s still hard for me to get too carried away with planning far out in the future. As we have come to realize through an event like the pandemic, those plans can change at the drop of a hat. My focus these days is on the one thing I can control and that’s to continually create music and art that excites me. I feel like if I can keep that going, everything else will fall into place with much less effort.