Category Archives: Odd

Vanishing Kids

Interview with Nichole Drohomyreky and Jason Hartman conducted by Bill Zebub for the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.

Nichole, I must begin this interview by confessing how lost I have become in your voice.  I cannot compare you to anyone else.  You have truly developed a new style.  Is there anything that you would like to share about your approach?  

(Nichole)Thank you. I know my voice is not for everyone and I have a hard time hearing it myself… on voicemail, or even played back in the studio…But this body of music was a very cathartic experience for me to write. I hope the listener feels the experience too. It was a strange time for Jason and m moving back to Wisconsin from PDX and being new parents. A lot of emotion was flowing out of me, and may have inadvertently affected or cultivated the  style.  

The song “Heavy Dreamer” is magical.  I have listened to it fifteen times in a row and could have gone longer if I did not have to attend to some biological functions.  I think that it is impossible to tire of it.  I even daydream about it.  It’s impossible to ask just one question about it, so I hope that you don’t mind it taking up a larger portion of the interview.  Let’s begin with the singing.  Your voice invites me into the world of the song, and it really does feel like I am in another place.  Nichole, you guide me in with a an otherworldly voice, serene and wizened, and you launch into intense emotion.  It’s quite an experience to hear you.  You go up and down in feeling, and the melancholy parts are beautiful.  How did you come upon this mastery?  You sang to my soul.

(Nichole) Oh man that means a lot that you connected to this song. I love this song too, and its still super fun to perform. Oddly I wrote the chorus first on this one, which is in reverse of how I usually put songs together. I honestly don’t even remember how the “Child in Time” thing came into it. It’s been referenced much,almost comically, and I do love that song deeply, so it may have subconsciously snuck into the work. Another song that didn’t make the album was absolutely inspired by Deep Purple and not sure when we will release that one. I’m a sucker for a ballad and LOVE to write them. I could easily see myself releasing nothing but ballad albums. If I can keep the guys enlisted (laughs) The song is very personal but I really tried to open the lyrics to share with others to have their own experience. It was,however, inspired by my daughter, and the great love, admiration, and inspiration I have for her and her true spirit. It means a lot to hear that other’s are feeling deeply connected to it, as I, and the band do too. I have to give credit to Hart,our drummer, for writing the back up vocal production on this song, and Rachel Catherine Kent and I performed it on the recording. It’s lower in the mix and behind the main vocal, but when you hear it, it is quite lovely. Rachel Catherine Kent has been playing shows with us since the album’s release, which has been a thrill to hear that stuff live, and changed in a really great way. She sang in a band called ‘No Hoax‘ here in Madison and completely blew me away. The song would never be as majestic if it weren’t for the incredible guitars work of Jason -my favorite solo on the album, and the tasteful, skilled playing of Jerry Sofran and Hart A. Miller. Such a dream to play with such killer musicians.

Jason, the guitar in “Heavy Dreamer” is another spellbinding part.  The distortion is quite a deep fuzz, but is is also the playing that makes it seem like each strum of a chord is played like it is sound to be savored.  The chords also spring upon the vocals like a flourish meant to enhance all of the song elements.  It seems like this song was lovingly crafted.  What was in your mind?  Surely this was not meant to be simply a tune.  It feels like each part of the music was chosen to ensnare any person capable of deep emotion.

(Jason) Nikki deserves most of the credit on “Heavy Dreamer” the song AND the album. She wrote the majority of the songs. The song “Heavy Dreamer” was written by her on organ and synthesizer in its entirety before I added the guitar. So I had those instruments as a guide, as well as the vocal melody. So yes, the guitar is built around her ideas vocally/ musically/ emotionally. I usually have a lot of different ideas and try to incorporate the best ones. It is usually pretty easy to decide what to choose and Nikki generally likes my input. We have played together for so long and grown musically together in the same directions, it is sometimes uncanny. I tend to want to make things busier than needed at times and I’ve been working on simplifying, just using the necessary notes for maximum emotion. Nikki is also a busy player so we have to leave room for each other. Jerry Sofran (bass) and Hart Allan Miller (drums) laid back on this one and kept the rhythm section open which was needed for this I think. 

Would you like to talk about the production of the album?  I am specifically intrigued by the choices in modulation and echo.  I don’t dare guess whether you favor delay or reverb.  I’d also like to know how you achieved such dimension.

(Nichole) Our drummer Hart Allan Miller is a very talented engineer/ producer. We recorded the drum,some guitars, keys at a local studio called Blast House with Dustin Sisson, and the rest was done by Hart at his studio, “Nightmare House”. He engineered and produced the album with us. Also, Rachel Catherine Kent  performed some vocals on tracks, ‘Creation,” and ” Heavy Dreamer.” Jason and I have always been heavy effects users and I could literally drown in reverb and love it… interesting dilemma with sound engineers particularly at live shows! Hart worked relentlessly  on this album and I agree, his choices to feature certain instrumentation,like the keys and effects at times were very thoughtful and absolutely made a band as “dense” as ours have balance and not turn to mud. We’ve always went to expensive studios that were really over our heads and budgets really, so much was compromised. Dimension was honestly realized this time by the sheer work and dedication from Hart as an engineer and producer, but also we worked really long and hard on writing these songs too.

I noticed that the official videos show, shall we say, the band in sort of after-images, visual trails – this suits the psychedelic aspect, but is it a statement that the music is to be heard and for the sound to create the visuals?  I know that in my case, whether my eyes are open or close, I no longer see the earth when I listen to “Heavy Dreamer.”

(Nichole)I think that’s exactly how I feel about the videos. I want visual imagery and sound to come together to create an experience together, rather than they being separate which I think a lot of bands do with video -and can be done well, but I definitely prefer the more artful approach. We wanted darkness to meet beauty and largely I feel that came across. We ended up enlisting a very talented videographer, Aaron Hall, from Rockford, Illinois, who filmed and edited the videos. Aaron really brought the ideas to life, gorgeous footage, and incorporating very creative effects,. Was a thrill watching the ballet dancers, skaters, and transforming a warehouse, bedroom, and a roller rink into dreamy worlds. As an artist, having the ability to add imagery and movement to your sound is a thrilling and symbiotic concept.

I thought that your band was surely from another country.  Have you been told that you don’t sound American?  There is just too much creativity at work in your music.

(Nichole) (laughs) No. Well, at least don’t think so. I’ve definitely had people be off guard that we are from Wisconsin, but have not heard that before.

(Jason) I have heard that before. Even our bassist Jerry has said that was one of the things that drew him to us, that our sound was very un- American. Jerry is a fan of a lot of German music from the Kraut Rock of Amon Duul 2, Can, Neu , . as well as hard rockers The Scorpions, Accept to thrashers Kreator, Destruction as well as electronic music of Kraftwerk. A lot of great music from there. We targeted European record labels to release this album because we thought they might understand it or at least accept it as I think it is more open minded and creative over there in general. We ended up picking Svart out of Finland, an incredible and diverse label. We hope to get over there soon. 

Jason, I was surprised that you had known about me before this interview.  Are you surprised that I am not making any jokes?  Well, you know, as a reader of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds, that I don’t joke with people when the music is vital, like in my King Diamond interviews.

(Jason) I am a reader of the Grimoire! Your questions and interaction have been so heartfelt that I felt no apprehension or worry about jokes! It’s part of the fun!

The keyboards sometimes are prominent, and sometimes drop in volume, which I think is cool.  It seems like each component in a song takes turns being accented, and of course, there is the mastery of the parts coming together to for greatest effect, building each other up.  Do you write songs almost like creating an adventure for the listener?

(Nichole) As a group, we all tried our best to write our parts thoughtfully, thus giving space when needed and vice versa. Laying back during solos and vocals et cetera. Jerry is a masterful bassist – always serving the song so beautifully, and Hart and Jason both shred and pull back when needed. Really was important to us and took awhile to construct and choose what should be highlighted at particular points in each song. 

I noticed that the album didn’t come with lyrics.  Is that intentional?  I wonder if it is a proclamation of art – that the listener should hear what he or she wants to perceive.

(Nichole) We did release the lyrics with the vinyl, but it’s funny you mention that, as I really did open my lyrics up in a more, deliberate and  broad way in hopes to share the experience with others. Still personal and abstract though.

VANISHING KIDS

It’s funny that even as I ask these questions, I can’t get ‘Heavy Dreamer” out of my mind.  I am working on a black metal documentary, and I am tempted to include an excerpt of that song.  I think that it is so incredible that it will turn on anyone, no matter what the clique or musical preferences are.  Have you noticed that your fans are diverse?  Are there any examples of people who surprised you when they revealed their appreciation?

(Nichole) I’ve not noticed a huge commonality with our fans yet, except that the most enthusiastic and passionate responses have been from men. I was hoping to reach more women, especially since I’m such an emotional creature I’ve actually been surprised by the metal following, as we’re not the most brutal band in the world (laughs). I and the band all have a nicely varied musical palette. We all do love metal though, and the Cure, and Pink Floyd, et cetera. so I greatly appreciate anyone who can see through the need to pigeonhole a sound and ‘genre-ify‘ it? Is that a word? We’ve always, as a band, sort of existed between worlds. We’re not metal enough, goth enough, psych, et cetera or too much in one way for others. So thank you to anyone who can just listen to it and appreciate it without needing to label it.

I want the world to know about you.  If I didn’t have a radio show and a magazine, I wonder if I would have discovered “Vanishing Kids.”  Your album is too important to die unknown.  What are some ways that I can help, and what challenges hurt your climb to the top?

(Nichole)Oh man, just truly listening and feeling the music means more than you’ll ever know. Our attention spans as a species are changing and people give music a 5-10 second chance on their crappy computer speakers. So many bands put so much heart, money, and time into their work and it’s literally just dismissed quickly. Remember the albums that we had to listen to over and over and then it hits you like a ton of bricks?! Certainly happened for me with bands like Sonic Youth, Voivod, and Rush…Or HAVING to actually go to a venue to check out a band. Please truly listen to music before dismissing it. Music is personal, and I promise you that I and my bandmates put our whole hearts and soul into what we do. To write and perform music is my most favorite thing in the world, next to my family. .If you are truly paying attention that is the greatest contribution. Spreading the word is greatly appreciated too, and check out a show in your area if you can. Its hard for us to tour and a big endeavor when we can make it happen – this,means a lot to see fans.

Plug any site or anything you wish. 

(Jason) You can get “Heavy Dreamer” at vanishingkids.bandcamp.com or at svartrecords.com   Although it is 90% sold out! I hope they repress. Nik and I are writing the new album currently and hope to have that recorded over the winter. Nik and I are also working on a more traditional 80’s hard rock EP under the name Diati. Also I wrote a song on the new Thor album “Hammer Of Justice.” The song is called “Wotan”. I played guitar, Nikki did back up vocals and our drummer Hart played drums, bass and recorded it. 

Sophia interview with Peter Bjargo

Interview with Peter Bjargo conducted by Bill Zebub for THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine.

The percussion i Sophia makes me think of medieval warfare. Did you intend for it to sound militaristic?

On the first album i wanted my music to have a small connection to the Templars. But on the later albums, it wasn’t my intention to make it that military. To me, Herbstwerk is more orchestral, and Spite more cold industrial.

Some of the tracks makes me think of what baroque would sound like in the mind of someone undergoing a psychotic episode. The nine tracks of Sigillum Militum were written “specifically for a live performance” – I read that by chance. How do you actually set up a live show, and does it include the haunting textures of the studio version?

I had this idea of a very special one-time live situation. I wanted to make a quite bombastic performance, with a lot of people on stage and very powerful. But I realized quite early that this kind of live performance costs a lot of money and is very difficult. Too many factors could go wrong. My live shows these days are more minimalistic, more humor on stage. Often just me and one more, samplers, and drum.

Am I correct in assuming that you intentionally compose a musical tension which builds up suspense? It is almost frightening sometimes when the aggressive release arrives.

Often i work after a model, where I start very calm and build up a cacophony. This often happens unintentionally. I try to break this pattern intentionally.

In Adeptus/Last Movement, did you use a beat out of time? It sounds like you did something like that to create a feeling of disturbance.
I had an idea of two independent parts, moving into each other. This created, as you say, a feeling of disturbance. Sophia has always been a platform for experiment, and I will never be afraid to break an old pattern and try something new.

The Seduction of Madness MCD is your musical interpretation of SATURN DEVOURING HIS SON, and although it specifically intends to depict madness, I had always felt that Sophia is like a “schizophrenic lens” through which one sees reality with a little bit more. When a schizophrenic hears or sees hallucinations, it is called a “positive” symptom because it is something that “adds” to what normal people have. Conversely, schizophrenics whose facial expressions are flat and do not reflect their feelings are said to have “negative” symptoms because something in a healthy person is absent. Sophia is music with positive symptoms, I think. My question is, how is the mini Cd more of an exploration into psychosis than your other releases?

It was actually intention of a live performance, together with a movie backdrop. The theme of the songs was never in particular schizophrenia but more of different cases of psychosis, and I guess most of that came from my interests in psychology and after have read the book “Seduction of madness” by Edward M. Podvoll.

I will ask about Stravinski having an effect on you because he was the first composer, I believe, who broke from comfortable melodies and specialized in disturbing music, especially in the area of percussion. You sometimes lull the ear with safe phrasing and then you unleash a nightmare is this original, or inspired by others?

This is my idea of how to make people feel calm and relaxed, then start to feel uncomfortable and in the end trying to get a climax of chaos. This model is, I think, mostly for Seduction of Madness MCD. The model of crescendo has been existing for of long time. But I never took the idea from anybody else.

The author of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST was under the influence of peyote when he wrote that. Did you ever ingest a hallucinogen when creating music?

No, I haven’t. If you don’t call enormous amount of booze and beer a hallucinogen.

DODECAHEDRON – Kwintessens (Season of Mist)

This is a deliciously demented album that should be heard at least once. I am providing a video clip that you should start hearing at the 1:08 mark if you are impatient, but let it ride out if you can.

The vocals make this much crazier than it would be if someone else performed, and I love the song so much that I would buy the album if it just contained this one tune. Beware! You might be charmed by it as I have been. I think that I have heard it 50 times in a row. I can’t get enough of the craziness.

I tested it by posting on my facebook page, and I am happy to report that people have almost immediately made purchases. Don’t let this masterpiece die the death of apathy.

ANTARKTIS – Ildlaante (Agonia)

This odd band, sometimes sludge, reminds me a little bit of Cultus Sanguine – but just a bit. Maybe it is the essence here and there, and maybe something that only I perceive.

I would like to call your attention to the video clip that I have snooped out. Put the cursor at the 7:32 mark and play from there. That particular segment of music should be the selling point for you. It is for me. I will trust that to be what pushes you toward a purchase.

Devil Worshipper – Music for the Endtimes (I, Voidhanger)

The last time when I heard something with a slightly similar feeling was the band “Black Pentacost” which featured anguished yelling, as of someone being tortured. The music seemed to serve as a ritual rather than as songs.

This album bears some of that, but there are words, and the vocals are more varied, sometimes sounding like psychotics who are wailing while suffering mental horrors, and at other times there is black metal rasping or spoken words, but each flavor is heavily demented. This is like a legion of demons.

The strangeness of this album is enough to merit a purchase. The dark creativity and the atmosphere of derangement provide immense pleasure if heard in the right mood. then again, simply listening can place you where you must be.

Take a chance and support originality.

Devil Worshipper - Music for the Endtimes
Devil Worshipper – Music for the Endtimes

Bergraven -Det Framlidna Minnet (Nordvis Produktion)

Bergraven -Det Framlidna Minnet (Nordvis Produktion)

This is quite an odd album. When I first heard a random spot, I expected black metal, and indeed, I did get the sense that this comes from that world, but the album has no known category, which is good.

The voices are not the screechy bitch-vocals of black metal – they are more on the exasperated shouting side, mixed with the melancholy folk sort of singing.

The music ranges from unusual timing and long riffs. to more straightforward and recognizable passages, but the songs seem to have been made to put the listener in a strange place. Even the upbeat portions have something twisted going on, as if a mad clown attempted to play something catchy, but is so bonkers that the otherwise accessible tune becomes demented.

There are bursts of aggression, but that’s just an ingredient in this insanity-potion, not the main flavor. Add to this, non-English lyrics, making this a welcome visit to another realm.

Sarah Longfield – Disparity (Season of Mist)

This is not a metal album, but it deserves a review here because it is odd, and because it is creative.  The music also has a lot of impressive guitar playing, so those who might get a whiff of something commercial should be glad that even if this were a mainstream offering, guitar is prominent, not absent, as it is in pop.  I must state that this cannot possibly be a contrived commercial album but I can understand if you detect some aspects that of hit music, but the execution is just too bizarre for simpleton mainstreamers to embrace.

Each song is a different adventure into Kookoo Land, so it’s not like one tune can define the album.  The part of me that loves novelty music is stimulated by what I hear, but so is the musician, and of course, I can’t help but admire the exploration and creativity.

I will include a sample here, but you should understand that this is only one song.  I didn’t find a video for one of the more dexterous songs, but I suppose that if nothing of this sample resonates with you then you will probably not be a good candidate for the reward of the rest of the album.

SOLEFALD – Norrønasongen Kosmopolis (Indie Music)

I skimmed the E.P. but kept going back to the second track, which I will provide as a stream shortly.  The female vocals have an interesting flat quality. The rest of the album does NOT sound like this,.  I don’t know what it is about the song, but I just cannot get it out of my head.  Maybe I am just growing too odd for my own good.

Here it is:

Three songs sound very folk-ish, but one returns to an odd sort of industrial-sounding flavor.  I like the risks that the band takes,  Listening provides surprises.

SOLEFALD - Norrønasongen_Kosmopolis
SOLEFALD – Norrønasongen_Kosmopolis

Islaja – Tarrantulla (Svart)

This is is a very odd album.  Np two songs are alike, but each one will make you question whether it is creative or the product of someone who is mentally ill, which of course makes it a mandatory purchase.

The woman’s voice wanders many realms. The non-English songs should be language commercials because the enunciation is riveting.

I can spend more time describing the  album but I would like, instead, to simply state that you should buy it.  Support creative work, even if you may not resonate with it.

I include some videos, but bear in mind that each song is different, and deliciously bizarre.