Sylvan Realm 2011 interview
Hello again ... this is the second interview with you. How are you? Quite a lot of things have changed since we talked the last time about your band.
I am doing very well for I just got back from a trip to one of the most desolate, isolated, and forgotten areas of the west Texas desert. I got some much needed escape from the city, as well gathered many ideas for the next Sylvan Realm album that I have already started to write...Yes indeed a lot has changed since the last interview
Not many will know Sylvan Realm, so why don’t you lay out the history of the band? Where did it start and how do you reach the point where you are today?
Sylvan Realm formed from the ashes of my previous band Reverie. I had a different musical vision and approach with Reverie more of a raw depressive black/death metal sound I was going for back then. I had been writing riffs for the Isolation album since I was 18 years old and had lived in a lot of different places while I wrote the songs and lyrics for that album. Reverie was my 1st proper band and the isolation album was the 1st time I had entered a professional recording studio to record an album.
Before that it was messing around with tape recorders in basements as a young teenager and playing Vlad Tepes style raw black metal with a ugly production. Reverie was a collection of my work from age 18 to 23. Since I am a drifter and move around a lot I never had another musician to write or rehearse with so I ended up getting in contact with Nightsky studio since the owner and engineer Ron Vento was experienced with black and death metal, he helped me find a session drummer for the Isolation album.
After the Isolation album was made I was living alone out in the rocky mountains of Montana were solitude and isolation surrounded me. I was living deep in my own headspace obsessed with philosophy, spirituality, and of course music. After a lot of time analyzing my prior work in Reverie I decided I needed a name that wasn't so ambiguous not to mention there are a ton of other bands named Reverie doing all different types of music. I wanted something a bit more original, unique, and personal. During the time of changing the bands name I felt what would help the music would be to bring in some other band members and let them add their own musical elements. I was originally going to have Algol form the band Forgotten Tomb do the drums however he ended up having surgery on his knees and couldn't do the drums. I contacted Evan Madden a few weeks later and he responded right away with interest in preforming the drums on the album. As for Bass I did the bass more or less on the spot on my 1st album in the studio with no rehearsal. This time around I wanted the bass lines to really stand out from the guitars and add another dimension to the music. So Ron from Nightsky studio helped me out once again by finding me a truly great bassist, Jason Eckert.
How does the band name fit into this and why did you change your pseudonym from Unknown to Sylvan?
Sylvan Realm fits the music on a few different levels that I will explain... Nature and the realm of the forrest deeply inspires the music I write. I would often times go out deep into the wilderness and mountains for inspiration and ideas for my music. I started linking this "realm" I would enter in the wilderness with the head space I was living in and got to the point were I could drift out into the mountains through my thoughts. So I decided what better to represent the music I wrote then the very world I would delve into to gather the ideas and inspiration that transferred into the music itself. As far as changing from unknown to sylvan... that can be explained by once wanting a pseudonym and later deciding not to use one anymore... this is a bit of a trick answer... lets see who can unravel it!
Interestingly, both the logo for Reverie as well as for Sylvan Realm shows a similarity:
Ouroboros. What does it mean to you that it appears in both of them?
The ouroboros is a symbol that has always been very personal to me, It represents the cycles of the universe and cycles of life that inspire my music. The beauty behind the symbol is that it can be used in different ways and has several different meanings, every angle I look at the ouroboros I see the genius behind the design unraveling and then repeating.
You also moved, didn’t you? Has the music for your latest output been written before you took this step? Does this new surrounding have a different atmosphere then the place you left? Might this have an impact on your music as well?
This is a rather interesting question to me, Yes in fact I did move (again). I had written everything for the lodge of transcendence during my time in Montana. The vast majesty of the rocky mountains and the isolation out there is were the songs on this album came from. As well all the artwork are photos I took out in Montana. I relocated back to Maryland (were I am originally from) I have always used Maryland as a base to return to before I make my next move in life. Also the studio I record at is here in Maryland. The atmosphere in Maryland is the polar opposite of that in Montana. Its much more difficult for me to gain peace of mind here or go out into nature. However I can travel to the places that bring me inspiration and solitude through my mind, for I believe that the places I have traveled to become part of me for I have formed a bond with those magical places that I have found in nature. so in the end this move wont have a impact on the sound or style of sylvan realm for I can always revisit the places that bring me inspiration.
Have the basic aspects of your music remained the same? On your Reverie MySpace site you once wrote the following words: isolation, the vast cosmos, isolated landscapes, abandonment, misanthropy, metaphysics. Would these also be true in terms of your new band or have you shifted into other areas?
The elements you listed are still sources of inspiration for sylvan realm, The lodge of transcendence focuses a lot on unlocking cosmic gateways found in nature and finding enlightenment through the blinding light and endless darkness that make up the cosmos. You have to go beyond dualism and see darkness and light as positive and negative energy that make a whole in order to fully understand the meaning behind the lyrics. The style of the band has changed quite significantly since the Reverie release. The acoustic passages are ‘nearly gone’ – more on this later – for instance and also the music sounds denser as well as focussed.
Why did you switch to this new style? Why did you leave these old paths behind?
First off this wasn't a switch, but rather an evolution. I was still searching for my sound and style while I recorded the Reverie Isolation album and was still learning a lot about writing/recording music. After the 4 years that followed the release of the isolation album I found all the keys I needed in order to fully unlock the sound and style that I wanted to create. I would say the Reverie album was a major steeping stone to get to what I created with Sylvan Realm. A major difference is I wanted a massive larger then life wall of guitar sound on this album so I wrote all the riffs as layers... sometimes there are 3 completely different guitar riffs going at once. I had also spent countless days and hours playing guitar during the years that followed the Isolation album and got to know my instruments much better during this time. I dedicated the majority of my life to making this album, I was totally obsessed living in the "lodge of transcendence world" for 4 years I suppose this is why the music sounded so focused not to mention I spent more then a year in the studio making sure everything came out exactly how I had envisioned it to sound. As for the acoustic parts... there are still a good amount of acoustic guitar on this album, they are just immeshed into the music more so then on the 1st album. The acoustic guitars are more layered this time around instead of one lone guitar playing by itself such as I did on the isolation album.
Do you still listen to nowadays’ music or do you try to stick with something that has ‘lain’ a bit?
I listen to a ton of music from the 70's all the way up until more recent bands today. There are a lot less good bands coming out now days due to so much over saturation. However every year I find at least 12 or so new releases from that year that I love. I always seem to find good new bands it just takes a lot more digging through a ton of shit copy cat bedroom bands. The main problem in everyone wants a band and most people want to sound exactly like their favorite band and have no message or anything original to offer. And now with all the home recording technology you can slop together a cheep studio and rip off your favorite band and before you know it you have an album thats selling for the same price as your favorite professional bands album who did go to a real studio, spent years or decades mastering their instruments, took the time to create their own unique style, and isn't out to copy their favorite band. Sure there is a flip side to this, there are some "home studio" bands that are great and original, you don't have to record at a professional studio to make a good album. Its just that theres a major drop in quality lately due to all of this, and so many new bands don't have anything unique or original to offer.
In our previous interview you wrote: The music of Reverie was designed purposely not to be placed into a specific category... rather to be a myriad of dark intense music. Do you plan your music or does this evolution come naturally? Where do you see the band progress towards? Do you have some sort of idea of a concept of music which you would like to create?
I try to mix every style of music I listen to into Sylvan Realm and in the end make a unique approach to dark metal out of it. I suppose one could call my band "progressive black metal" or "dark metal with black metal and doom metal influences" theres a lot of different ways to label Sylvan realm due to the traces of, dark metal, death, thrash, doom, classic heavy metal, Progressive metal, folk, the list goes on. However the term that I think fits best is "eclectic dark metal". So yes this time around I did decide to give my music a label... but at the end of the day id like the listener to give it their own label. So far most people have just been calling it black metal. The evolution of my music does come naturally, however I do have a lot of ideas for what to do in the future but if I share them now there will be no surprise in later years. There are many different musical avenues Id like to explore however for now all I can say is that the next Sylvan Realm album will be similar to the lodge of transcendence but with more acoustic guitar and more fingerpicking. I have always loved doom metal but Lately I have been more so into doom metal then ever so that will also come out more in the next album.
How would you sum up your current style? What are its core essences?
As I mentioned above I would consider Sylvan Realm to be "eclectic dark metal" Sylvan Realm is deeply rooted in black, and doom metal, with traces of progressive rock, heavy metal, melodic death metal, thrash, and the list continues to go on. One thing I will say for people who have not yet heard Sylvan Realm's music is that there is very balanced blended flow to the music were you really have to know your styles to be able to hear all the influences. A lot of the time people mainly hear the black metal influence and just label it as that. However this is not just another black metal band, I will go as far as saying anyone who likes doom metal, classic heavy metal, trash, black metal, melodic death metal and even 70's hard rock will find something in Sylvan Realm that they can get into.
Even though The Lodge of Transcendence opens with a rather powerful opener, the music later transcends into something more complex and you like to take the tempo as well as the metal parts out again and again. Should music have a certain amount of complexity? Do you need this in order to express yourself or do you think you stick to something minimalist also?
I have had several people mention complexity when it comes to my song writing, however it was never the intention to purposely make the music complex. I like to write very untraditional songs with no filler so every song has an entire albums worth of ideas. As well I wanted each song to be more like a composition with different movements rather then just a long song with one tempo and one key. I would never write a song for the sake of complexity or for the sake of minimalism... thats the pit hole that so many death metal bands fall into and for the later dark ambient projects. I write each song to be a unfolding musical journey that takes the listener from the valley up onto a jagged mountain peak, back down the mountain, over into a canyon, and down into a deep glacier lake ... so to speak.
The acoustic Twilight Kingdom sounds like a peaceful ending. Something that would give the listener some time to breathe and rest the soul. It is also a stark contrast compared with the opener. Do you want to be at peace with the listener at the end? Maybe not over the whole release but it was especially here that some memories on the German Empyrium were awoken. Did you ever had a chance to listen to something of this band?
Empyrium is one of my favorite bands so weather the comparison was suppose to be a compliment or not... I take the comparison to be a big compliment! I have every Empyrium album and admire all their work, they are one of the best bands from Germany in my opinion. On the same label as Empyrium is Tenhi from Finland who are also a influence to my acoustic playing. However my biggest influence on the acoustic guitar is my Father for he always played acoustic guitar around me as a young boy and thats how I originally got interested in writing music. Twilight Kingdom wasn't intentionally placed at the end to be peaceful or relaxing, rather at the end of the album was just how the song seemed to fit the best as more of a long outré. Twilight Kingdom was written from two spiritual experiences I had out in the Rocky Mountains. How the song got its name was from a night that I decided to walk out into the mountains a bit later then I should of and found myself on top a mountain peak when the sun was setting. Everything before me was dressed with a brilliant shade of royal Purple and I found the world between the sun and Moon.
Looking back at the Reverie release, how do you see it from today’s perspective? What would you change?
I am proud of what I did on the Reverie album, after all it was my 1st album and I wrote everything on it except the drums. All the vocals we not rehearsed, not even once, I did all the vocals sort of like a session vocalists except I had known the lyrics for years, it was my 1st time even trying to do black metal vocals... I didn't even know if I could scream or not before that day in the studio! All the bass was done in the same way no rehearsal just right on the spot in the studio. However the drummer had rehearsed for a few months and I had been playing most of the guitar riffs for years... however a few guitar riffs were also made up during the recording. The isolation album was a learning experience to say the least and I will never make up entire riffs or all the vocals or something crazy like that again on the spot with out rehearsing before hand. Thats what I did different on the sylvan realm album everything was rehearsed over and over again. Anyways you will get to hear what I would do differently soon enough because I am re writing most of the Reverie songs and will be putting them along with new songs on the next Sylvan Realm album.
Evan Madden and Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert appear on your debut album. Who are they and how did you get in touch with them? Will they continue to play in the band?
They are both true masters of their instruments and are the best musicians I could find or ever ask for. Evan Madden is a drummer from Pennsylvania and he plays drums for a living. He teaches drums, and plays in Woods of Ypres, Woe, the Green Evening Requiem, and more. I found out that he does session drums through his web site and got in touch with him. I let him write all the drums and only had him change a few parts, I hope he continues to play in Sylvan Realm for every album I do for it was a great experience working with him. Jason Ian-Vaughn Eckert was introduced to me by Ron Vento from Nightsky Studio and Aurora Borealis. He also fit the style I was going for and was a great person to work with. I also hope to continue to work with Jason in the future for I am very happy with his performance on the album. He also plays in Aurora Borealis and Todesbonden and in the past he was in rain fell within plus a bunch of other projects.
Reverie merely had a session drummer, but the new one has two members. Were these involved in the process of creating the album as well or what has their contribution been?
Originally they were going to be session members and thats how they contributed to the album, they both wrote all their own parts to the music. However things could now change since I plan to work with them on the next album that I am writing. We are all very busy with our lives and they have a lot of other bands that they are in so we haven't had much time to get together or talk about their roles in the band for the future. For now I am writing the next album and will have them write the same way they did for the lodge of transcendence and I will just have to see how everything turns out.
How long did the recording take place? Which studio did you use and what reasons did you have for picking it? Are you satisfied with the result?
The lodge of transcendence took a very long time to record, from October 2009 until february 2011. I went to the same studio that I recorded the Reverie album at. I Enjoy recording at Nightsky studio with Ron Vento, he is very experienced in black and death metal and understands the music as well or more then anyone else I know. Plus he helped me find a session drummer for my 1st album and got me in contact with the bassist for this album. I am 100% satisfied with how the lodge came out in the end.
Are there still some ideas left over from the process of crafting this latest album?
Yes indeed... nearly a half of an album's worth of material I ended up not being able to fit into the lodge, so It will be on the next album that im working on. Nice hidden track ... you could not resist the temptation didn't you? I have wondered how many people will know what the hidden track is from and why I used it... so far a few people have. If you understand the hidden track and know what its from I think you will know why I used it and will enjoy the album even more so.
The layout has the same colour than the Reverie CD. Why? Do you feel somehow comfortable with this violet scheme? Why did you pick it? Do you try to express something through this?
Purple is a magic color to me... it is the color I see in my dreams, and in the spiritual world. Compared with your first output a difference can be found. In our first interview you replied to my question in regard to the lyrics in this way:
This is everything the lyrics and artwork are about, however I don’t print the lyrics... so as in life these aspects remain hidden. Few will find them, or understand them. Have you changed your mind on this subject or why are they available now?
Reverie was suppose to be more hidden and minimalistic, plus the lyrics were rather personal to me, I wrote them for myself and didn't want to share them. However the lyrics on the lodge are just as personal, something in me changed and decided to share the lyrics. Even if people don't understand them, they can make the lyrics their own and give to them their own meaning and interpretation. I suppose this time around I had a message I wanted to share instead of personal lyrics that I wrote more for myself. Were the pictures done by you again? Digital or analogue? You seem to prefer the former lately do you?
Yes I did all the pictures besides the picture of me standing with the mountains in the background. I will always do all the artwork this way for my albums. I would like to do the pictures in analogue however I am much better with digital cameras. Analogue looks better, however all my extra money goes to music so a digital camera is good enough.
Somewhat interesting is the concept expressed through them. The front and the back cover each show an escape, while the ones inside appear generally barred and with a considerable obstacle. Do you see this as a reflection of your art? Is it easy to comprehend on a first glance, but difficult to actually grasp once the inside of it is reached; the outer picture of the booklet being an invitation to explore this ‘realm’?
The artwork on the cover is based on emanation and seeing the light in the darkness and the darkness in the light. The cover is the spiritual realm emanating through the lodge, I suppose you could say it is an invite into the Sylvan Realm. The windows and doors I used are suppose to be gateways into the lodge. However I wanted to depict the lodge as being hidden and mysterious... a lost and abandoned place.
If you add to this the name of your album to this train of thought than a somehow perplexing issue arises:
While it is the lodge of transcendence, it is based in the immanence, but seems offers no easy escape to a visitor. To free oneself from this place might seem to take some effort. Moreover, the place looks worn down and may even break once the winds become too strong, so it does not look like a house worth to reside in. Do you think that metaphysics still have a place today? I vaguely remember having read somewhere that they are perceived as being dead.
I would say that your interpretation of the artwork is very different form the meaning i assigned to the artwork and how I see it. The lodge is a lost abandoned gateway into the spiritual world that was left behind from the modern world... however I don't give any explanation to the artwork in the album so I am sure everyone will interpret it in their own way. The lodge is not something to escape, rather something to seek out and behold its majesty. I do believe metaphysics still have a place in the world today. Metaphysics is rather broad and refers to an entire school of philosophy, I am more so interested in the spiritual side of metaphysics personally. I know that many still use metaphysics in their thoughts and beliefs.
Did you start your own label? It says Reverie Recordings on the CD. Have you been unable to find a proper one or do you prefer the liberty of distributing the stuff on your own?
I did start Reverie Recordings as a home and means of distributing my music for Sylvan Realm. Originally I was going to work with ATMF records but in the end I decided to do everything myself and own all the rights to my music. In this day and age with the computer and all the music networking sites there isn't a lot a small label can do for a band that the band can't already do for itself. I would work with a record label and plan on contacting a selected handful of them to release my next album. However I will hold out until I find the ideal record deal, so I am not in a rush to sign with anyone and could very well end up releasing the next few albums under Reverie Recordings.
In case someone wants to get in touch with you, how can interested folks do this? Where can people buy your music? Is the Reverie CD still available?
In the future I will make a website for Reverie Recordings, however for now theres a few different ways to reach me. I do have a Facebook page for Sylvan Realm, as well as a Myspace page www.myspace.com/thetruereverie those are the best ways to contact me, as well on both pages is my personal e mail address. People can buy my music directly from me, I also have my albums up on e bay for fairly cheep prices. In the future I will also have digital downloads and will have Sylvan Realm available at Amazon.com. The other route I take is I trade with underground labels so there are a ton of underground distributors, labels, and web shops that have my albums for sale. I do have about 300 Reverie - Isolation cd's left that I am selling and trading.
Some final comments if you like?
Every answer every truth lays in one glimmering moment, one fragment of time. One subtle glimpse of a faint flicker from a distant eternal fire burning deep within the darkness.
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