Facebook is full of shit 90 percent of the time but every once in a while I do stumble upon something interesting. Like ARCANE RITUAL. Teresa Camp answered my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
-Since Arcane Ritual is a new project we didn’t really have to think about that. But frankly, throughout our recording careers we’ve never concerned ourselves with what is popular or new. Not that we don’t love finding new bands and getting inspired! But when writing we always focus on where we are now, and being true to our own vision. Jarek writes the music and I write all the vocals and lyrics. We are fortunate that we’ve never been short on new ideas. I think in that regard we might change too fast for some people’s taste. We tend to grow a lot from one album to the next. It’s just how we are!
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
-We definitely have a signature sound! We call it Gothic/Thrash metal. It seems like an odd combination at first but we feel that we bring it together in a way only we can. Type O Negative is one of our biggest influences for them there was never anything off limits, so it is the same for us. Jarek has always been fascinated by world music and so elements of that always seep into the music. For example, Jarek plays an instrument called a guitarviol, which is a guitar and violin hybrid. It adds a very epic, movie-scape feel to the songs that helps give us that signature-magical sound. In terms of vocals, I’ve always loved to write about contrasting subject matter. One song might be about my disgust with oppression and corruption, but then the next song will be about fantasy and magic. We like to mix it up!
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know that you have the right lyrics?
-I am lucky to have an overly active imagination. When Jarek plays me his scratch tracks for a song I not only hear vocal melodies in my head but I often visualize a story or theme unfolding. When I go to work on it I just record myself singing the melodies and let whatever words come out. It’s usually kind of a mish-mash at first! But I go back and listen and usually some of the words or phrases already fit the theme I visualized; so I start with those and work my way from there. I grew up writing a lot of poetry and short stories so for me writing lyrics is always a welcome challenge! Once I have all the lyrics done I usually live with it for a week or two. Going back to sing, revise and tweak. I know I’m done when my inner critic finally shuts up. I can just sing the song without any voice in my head going ‘that was weird’ or ‘does that really make sense?’ LOL!
I am old school. I like really cool album covers but from what I’ve gathered some bands tend to spend less on art work because people don’t buy records, they download songs. What are your feelings on this?
-We are with you! We have a very, very strong aesthetic and we feel that ALL arts are very important and undervalued in this world. It’s important to us that when we look back on our work we not only have music we are proud of but artwork that represents us well. We have and will continue to work with artists to help us with that. For example, we will be releasing a single “Enemy of the State” in January. We hired Canadian graphic artist Jessica Allain to create a special cover using a photo of me dressed as the roman goddess Libertas (on which lady liberty was based.) She took a simple photo of me and put it in a post apocalyptic world with soldiers pointing guns at me and headless business men standing in the background. It’s very powerful and disturbing, but it fits the song perfectly! Some people say graphic artists are not on par with other artists, like painters, etc. But I disagree, Jessica can take any photo and make magic with it!
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpreted because of the music you play?
Growing up we most definitely did but not so much these days. We live in the Bay Area, which is a melting pot of music and culture. But I think that heavy music in general is becoming more popular and less misunderstood. I never thought I’d see the day that White Zombie was used for a children’s movie trailer, but I saw it myself during Disney’s Planes preview!
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-I’d say that in my experience it’s changed the way artists and labels need to approach the business side of things. If people like the music they will follow you on social media and share when you release a video, single, album, etc. And that is a good thing! I do believe people still have a degree of loyalty to artists/bands they like. However, the challenge for the artist is to adapt to the way in which people are used to getting information in the digital age. Especially when dealing with the younger generations. If an artist is not on social media at all, they will have a hard time connecting with fans. It’s likely fans won’t even be aware of a new single or album if it’s not announced on social media. These days, it’s all about creating regular, consistent content around your music. Which is a challenge for an independent artist. How do you find time to write, produce and release your music AND constantly post updates and such on social media? It’s all about striking a balance and managing your time. We’ve stopped fighting it and have learned how to get active on Facebook and Instagram. It’s actually been exciting to connect with people and not only share the music but things that inspire us and give them a behind the scenes of us and our creative process. People really seem to enjoy it and we feel more connected to our fans!
Back in the days you had to trade tapes if you wanted to hear new unheard of bands. Today you are just a click away from discovering new acts. Do you feel that this development in some ways will do more harm than good in the long run, that it will eventually kill off music as we know it?
-It certainly shortens the attention span of the listener to have so many choices all the time. Already we’ve seen industry focus shift from the album to the single. It seems these days an album is more a group of singles instead of a 45 minute listening experience. In that way music has already changed. For better or worse it is the nature of any society that tastes, trends and preferences change. I don’t think it will ultimately kill of the style of music we love, but it will change it a bit.
To me the bigger threat to the future of music is file sharing and streaming, which has created a culture where music has no value. I know too many people that balk at paying $0.99 for a digital single but pay $5 a day for a latte they’ll finish in 10 minutes. I remember as a kid I had to pay $20 for an album. That’s like $1.66 a song! Really, the prices for digital music offer listeners a superb deal and artists a way to make a living. But if people won’t pay for music how will artists recoup costs and survive?
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
-This is definitely a place where the industry is suffering. A lot of new bands are really struggling to survive on the road. There is also a lot of venues that want to take part of merch sales, which is not fair considering they don’t share any portion of alcohol sales. It’s definitely getting harder out there. To a degree is some parts of the US the economy isn’t completely stable and that can have a big impact on ticket sales too. However, I’ve heard of new services that help independent bands to determine demand and book shows where there is a pre-determined audience. Rabbl is the first one that comes to mind but there are others I’m sure. Hopefully these new models can help change the current situation!
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
-As I mentioned earlier we are very big on aesthetics. When we play live it is very important to us to convey the story visually. In previous projects we have brought in dancers, fire, silhouette screen props (I have one I hand painted myself!) and choreographed interactions between dancers and musicians. If I had unlimited resources I would start by writing the story-line first, then composing the music around that. From there I could plan a full theatrical production in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. For example, in 2013 Apocalyptica collaborated with Leipzig Symphony and choreographer Gregor Seyffert to create the Wagner Reoloaded show and it was amazing! I hope to someday be able to produce and perform such a show, or as Wagner put it a ‘total work of art.’ Only mine would have fire, monsters and ritual!
What does the future hold?
-So many things! First, we are hard at work recording the album. We have about 6 songs done and 3-4 more to go (if Jarek doesn’t write more, which is what usually happens in the winter!) Somehow we keep getting new ideas and finding more inspiration. I think a big reason for this is we are on hiatus from performing until we are finished with the album. We love performing and miss it terribly, but by taking this break we are focused squarely on writing and recording and the results are noticeable! We hope to have it ready by mid-2017.
Second, we shot a music video. Completely DIY! No budget, no fancy sets. Just us on the beach, making music and casting spells. I’m editing it all on my own so the process is slow going. But the teaser trailer I did turned out great and we have gotten an incredible response! It should be ready late fall/early winter.
Lastly, we will have a new single “Enemy of the State” coming out January 2017. It’s going to be faster, thrashier and grittier than anything we’ve put out so far. We can’t wait for our fans to hear it!