With a new album out I thought it was about time that I too jumped on the band wagon that is SPACE WITCH. Answers from Darren Anders Ekdahl ©2017
What pressure is there in releasing an album compared to a demo? Do you feel that there is a sort of pressure to succeed when you release and album, that it sorta is for real now?
-From my experience albums are much more involved than demos. This was even more the case with our new album ARCANUM, the follow up to our debut record. There is definitely more pressure when releasing an album and obviously after investing a lot of time and money into it you want it to be successful. Worthy of the effort you put into it. That said, success is not what Space Witch are about, the focus is to enjoy what we do whilst writing and performing music as well as experiencing new things like playing a show in a town or country we’ve not played before. Things are very real at the moment with the labels stock sold out on the vinyl and down to the last few copies on CD and cassette. It gets very real very quickly when presented with a contract to sign.
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-With ARCANUM we talked a lot more about what our expectations were for the album, in terms of the content we wanted to write, the things we wanted to do and the influences we wanted to draw upon. We all had ideas to bring to the table and it was very much a collaborative process, I’d say a little rushed in the last 6 weeks coming up to the initial recording session, as well as being experimental pushing the boundaries of what we did on the last record. This time round we wanted to progress what we do, try new things and I think this shows in the 4 tracks presented on the album. The album was written with vinyl in mind and is a perfect fit for the format in my opinion.
When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-We treat album’s differently to playing shows and for the purposes of live we order the set to work purely for the live environment. Our sets are normally a 40 minute continuous piece and we don’t stop to chat to the crowd, we just do our thing. The songs seem to melt into one another perfectly and its really like we are playing 1 big song, something we’ve doing for over 5 years now. What we’ve found is what works on an album needs to be adjusted for live use not everything works. So we change it to suit. Out of our current set I think COSMONOID is the most recognised, but its had a lot of positive press and is purely instrumental. I don’t see it as being weird when people recognise songs I see it as a positive thing that people are really that interested.
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for everything so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-We could’ve very easily spat out another debut record, but what would be the point in that? With ARCANUM we wanted to do it differently, do something more progressive and push the boundaries of what we did before. That meant more psych and prog influences added to the mix as well as introducing vocals in our music for the first time. With the vocals we focused on getting the rhythm right as opposed to writing lyrics from the offset. We found that worked for us better and words just came in time with a coherent theme. The artwork was something we also agreed to do differently and we brought the wonderful Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustrations onto the project. We had a basic concept of what we wanted and put that forward to Adam and in return we got an amazing painting of a Witch being born out of a Sun, which resembles a sort of rebirth in terms of our direction.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-I’ve been doing this band for a decade now and I’ve met and befriended lots of lovely people. People I would not have met had I not started Space Witch. The scene is a friendly place and healthily supported up and down the country and although I don’t feel its important to feel part of a greater community, I definitely am.
How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-For me it’s about being in the right state of mind for writing and about getting the right feel. One thing’s for sure, it doesn’t come easy if it’s forced, we work best allowing ideas to flow and trying them with a mix of written songs and jamming. Sometimes jamming out a written song works other times jamming someone’s riff through improvisation works. I don’t really worry about whether new songs sound like anything we’ve written before as long as it has the Space Witch feel and progresses what we do as a band.
What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Our influences and inspirations between band members are quite eclectic although, from a band perspective, it has been heavily psych, prog and doom influenced. We can take inspiration from anything really from reading a book or article or viewing an artists work. It’s not always music related I guess although bands like Magma have been a big influence of late. For Space Witch, it isn’t really about having a message as such its more about having a feel.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Not at our level to be fair. I think the state of the record industry only becomes an interest when you’re dependant on income from it and Space Witch aren’t dependant. Although I must say, for underground bands like ours the ability to publish your work digitally (BandCamp, YouTube, et al…) is a good thing and its certainly allowed us to raise our profile across the world in recent years. Considering how ARCANUM has sold I wouldn’t say the industry was in a state, but that’s just our perspective on it.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I think they both have their places. If I’m at home then I prefer to listen to physical releases mainly on vinyl and cassette formats. But out in the open at work or in my car then digital releases work so much better especially utilising bluetooth and the fact I can carry the majority of what I want to listen too on my phone. I’ve got a lot of love for physical releases and I guess it takes me back to when I used to buy records back in the day from my local music store. But there’s just something about owning something physical, the artwork, the inlay gives you something else to focus on as well as the music.
What lies in the future?
-So for the remainder of the year we have a number of shows across the UK including some underground festival slots that we always enjoy doing. On top of that we have already started the process of writing the next record, which will be our primary focus in between shows. We’ll also be looking into management and agency rosters to see if we can organise Space Witch a little better.