“The fact there are so many advancements in technology and science would suggest we’d now be living in some sort of “age of enlightenment,” but the opposite now seems true. We are similarly disgusted with the total disregard for truth, which, has now become an entirely subjective matter.”
Deathwhite is de witte raaf tussen een hele list releases die we aan het begin van dit nieuwe jaar behandelen. We weten niet wie zich schuilhoudt achter de naam Deathwhite, maar merken wel dat hun tweede album ‘Grave Image’ van hoge kwaliteit is voor liefhebbers van melancholieke metal in de trant van Katatonia en Anathema. Om deze uitstekende nieuwe schijf extra luister bij te zetten richtten we ons tot dit illustere Amerikaanse gezelschap met een fantastisch gevoel voor sfeerschepping en knappe composities. Deze antwoorden graven alvast dieper in de entiteit die Deathwhite is!
Vera Matthijssens Ι 27 januari 2020
We know that the members of Deathwhite prefer to remain anonymous and we respect that. Yet few questions to relish the release of the new piece of art. Did you feel any pressure in creating a second album, now that the debut one got rave reviews all over?
There was no pressure and/or stress in creating ‘Grave Image’, mainly because we do Deathwhite for fun. We were pleased with the reaction to ‘For A Black Tomorrow’, but we learned quite a bit about the band after having a few years in between its recording and the song writing process for ‘Grave Image’. One thing that helped immensely was that we started rehearsing as a full band throughout 2018. We played our first show ever that year and took the necessary time to find out how the songs from ‘For A Black Tomorrow’ translated live. That experience alone helped the song writing process for ‘Grave Image’. We subsequently discovered what worked, and didn’t. It’s odd to say that, considering Deathwhite was formed as strictly a studio band. To be practicing as a full band and playing live was never part of the equation for the first several years of our existence, but, once the show was in the books in September 2018 and rehearsals had ended, we had a very good idea of where to go with ‘Grave Image’. Half of the album was written by September 2018. We continued to write and shape the songs until March 2019.
You have developed your sound a bit, not too much I would say, but just enough to create more contrasts. How do you as creators describe the new elements in the music on ‘Grave Image’? What about recruiting a second guitarist?
‘Grave Image’ is, perhaps, a fuller realization of the sound on ‘Solitary Martyr’ and ‘For A Black Tomorrow’, but heavier. As mentioned, we added a second guitar player to beef up our sound. This gentleman also contributed all of the guitar solos on ‘Grave Image’ as well as its various keyboard parts, which are now crucial to our sound. To that end, ‘Grave Image’ is heavier and more direct than its predecessors. We also experimented with some new tunings and vocal styles, which, surely, the well-attuned listeners will notice. There was no grand plan with ‘Grave Image’, although it was only natural that we went in such a direction.
Everyone will agree that it is a relief to listen to your music, while so much bands just try to be more harsh and extreme. Do you remember the intentions of the band when you started? Was it a reaction against a trend or just follow your feelings in creating music you loved yourself?
It was more about following our natural feelings. It would probably be misguided of us to form a band to go against current trends — they are ever-changing anyway. Deathwhite was formed to play a certain style of dark metal that we each enjoyed and wanted to hear ourselves. What may set us apart is the fact we use an actual “singer,” which is a bit of an anomaly these days. There are bands who have singers, but they’re usually in the power/melodic metal field. We are lucky to have a vocalist who can handle a myriad of styles within this particular frame. It’s a crucial component to our sound and a Deathwhite song is never fully realized until vocals are laid down. To that end, writing lyrics and vocal melodies for this kind of metal is very challenging, which is another reason why we’re so engaged in the creative process.
What are the influences? I know everybody should hear them, but some thoughts about your affinity with some timeless bands of the nineties would be nice…
Katatonia is, and always will be, our biggest influence. While we do not consider ourselves to be a “Katatonia clone”, we do take cues from many of their sonic and song-writing elements, namely, how they structure songs, place their vocals and display a sort of atmosphere that is inviting and alluring at the same time. That said, they are impossible to duplicate. We are also quite fond of the likes of Antimatter, Alcest, Paradise Lost, October Tide and My Dying Bride, each of whom are of significant value to Deathwhite. We are also fans of classic metal and progressive music, and even a little 70s retro rock, not to mention extreme metal.
Why the title ‘Grave Image’?
‘Grave Image’ was selected as the title because it was most representative of the album’s lyrical scope. We liked the ring to it as well, but, more importantly, we felt it was a definitive statement and something that could be appropriately reflected with the right visuals. The title represents a view of the world that is found directly in the wording, “grave.” It is not our wish nor desire to take such a pessimistic approach, but such is the hand we are dealt. It appears that with every day the state of the world’s affairs become more and more grave. We fear that it may be too late for man (and woman)kind to take a long, hard look at itself to make changes that will benefit future generations. It all just goes to show we are our own worst enemy.
Can you go deeper into the lyrical contents and the things that inspired you – lyric-wise – this time?
Whereas ‘For A Black Tomorrow’ was personal and introspective, ‘Grave Image’ is more observational. A lot of the lyrics stem from our discontent, and, unwavering disappointment with the human race, who, remarkably, still cannot figure things out. We are often aghast at the disregard for nature, human rights and other living creatures. The fact there are so many advancements in technology and science would suggest we’d now be living in some sort of “age of enlightenment,” but the opposite now seems true. We are similarly disgusted with the total disregard for truth, which, has now become an entirely subjective matter. Individuals who proceed as such deserve to be called out for their sheer hypocrisy. If the facts do not suit their agenda, then they are deemed false. More often than not, these individuals are coming from a religious and/or political perspective where they are seeking inroads to obfuscate, then oppress.
As Deathwhite wishes to remain mystical, I guess live appearances will remain an exception? Or not? Would there be a chance that you cross the ocean to tour Europe?
We will only do live shows as appropriate. We will not play shows just for the sake of playing shows — that would be counterproductive. Nevertheless, we are eager to play live again and do plan on doing select shows in 2020 in support of ‘Grave Image’. We would love to play in Europe and it is a goal of ours. Whether it will happen for this particular album remains to be seen.
Can you tell a bit more about your cooperation with producer Shane Mayer and recently with Dan Swanö? In other words: what about your studio adventures this time?
This was our second time working with Shane. He is a producer and engineer of infinite patience and knowledge. His work ethic is second-to-none, and, his ability to capture the exact sounds we were after helped take ‘Grave Image’ to the next level, if you will. Working with Shane is very easy in the sense that we tell him what we want, then he works tireless hours to get it. We experimented with the drum sound and guitar tone on this album, and Shane delivered. It was, to our delight, a very seamless process.
We have been in touch with the legendary Mr. Swanö over the years for various other purposes. Being that he has a knack for putting the finishing touches on albums of a similar nature, we did not hesitate to reach out to him. He, like Shane, was incredibly easy to work with. The pre-mastered version of ‘Grave Image’ sounded tremendous. When Swanö did the mastering, it sounded immense. He’s not only a legend, but a great guy. We were honoured to work with him and Shane.
Let us shine a (shimmering) light on the visual aspects too… what can you tell about the artwork and how do you approach the creation of video clips?
The artwork was created by our long-time collaborator, Jérôme Comentale. We have an infinite amount of trust in Jérôme, so he was given the album title and some lyrics, and was left to do as he pleased. He used the Italian renaissance philosopher, Giordano Bruno, as the central figure. Bruno, as it is known, was burned at the stake by the Catholic inquisition because of his avocation for science and subsequent denial of religious views of the time. Bruno represents solidarity and truth, and sits perfectly on the album cover. All the credit goes to Jérôme.
Our video for ‘Funeral Ground’ was shot and directed by Shane Mayer. Shane is a jack-of-all-trades and jumped at the opportunity to shoot his first video narrative. (His previous videos were just band performances.) We wanted to weave in some of the themes of ‘Funeral Ground’ with the album cover, so, if you look closely and pay attention, you can make the connection. We were also lucky to shoot on a crisp autumn day — perfect for a band like ours.
Is this music and lyrics a kind of therapy or catharsis for you in real life?
Absolutely. Deathwhite, as well as the other bands and projects we are involved in, are necessary elements in our lives. Life, frankly, would be quite dull without them. But, Deathwhite occupies a special place for each of us. It is a tremendous creative outlet and something we hold near and dear to our hearts. We are not as melancholic as it would appear on the surface, but Deathwhite gives us the perfect opportunity to express feelings we may not be able to convey elsewhere.
What are the plans for the near future?
We will spend the bulk of 2020 promoting ‘Grave Image’. As mentioned, we are currently lining up select shows throughout North America. We will likely do the shows in small groupings in the spring and fall. And, of course, we have started throwing around riffs and ideas for new songs.
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It is our abundant pleasure to take part in this interview, and, thank you for the support.
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