Sylvan Realm 2021 interview
It has been a while since our latest interview. How did you fare these last years? You moved for instance, did you not?
Yes indeed it’s been about 9 years since the previous album and our last interview. Much has happened over the years. I went to graduate school and became a mental health therapist and moved from Maryland to New Mexico, and then from New Mexico to Arizona where I currently live. So a career change and move out to the desert!
Does the new environment have a different influence on your music?
I initially thought a new environment would have an impact on Sylvan Realm’s music. However, I realized location does not have much of an impact on writing music for me. Music is more of a personal expression and catharsis for me.
Could you lay out the development of the music starting with Reverie and now of Sylvan Realm?
Reverie started as my first music project that was raw blackened death metal that was released in 2007. The first Sylvan Realm was a progressive black metal/dark metal album that I released in 2011. I wrote most of Waldeinsamkeit in 2011 and 2012 however due to many different circumstances the album was shelved on hold for many years. Waldeinsamkeit is more of a post black metal/dark metal album with neo folk and atmospheric rock all blended together.
What have been the core essences of your music and what are they now?
An undying passion for creativity and expression through music, especially extreme metal, and catharsis. Life imitates art, so this is my purest expression and offering to the world.
Do you listen to your old stuff? What would you change if you had to redo the music again?
I do go back and have a listen to the older stuff. I never seem to be entirely happy with the production- mixing and mastering of my past work. If there was interest to rerelease the old material, I'd want to change the mixing and mastering due to the production just not entirely capturing what I was going for on those albums.
Considering the time span between the albums, what aspect has the most impact on getting things done? How has this changed over the years?
The songs start to feel like they are dying to come out and have their own life and don't want to be stuck in my mind and fingers anymore haha. Life just takes its course and sometimes I'm too busy with work or in the past school. Being a mental health therapist takes a lot of my time and energy and I have spent a great deal of time being a student and intern in the past. Having time to focus on being creative and getting to focus on music has the biggest impact for being able to get things done music wise.
What made you pick a German title for your latest release? Where did you get it from?
I remember reading lists of words that there was no direct English word or English translation for. I remember being struck by the word Waldeinsamkeit and it conjured up all the inspiring times I've had in solitude in nature over the years. This word just seemed to take me into those memories and felt fitting for the album title.
Were you familiar with Waldeinsamkeit as a topic or concept in certain parts of the art? What release with the same title by the band Kalmankantaja?
No, I was not previously familiar with the waldeinsamkeit as a concept. I'm also not familiar with the band you mentioned.
In terms of the music there has been a shift in style with this latest output. How came that to be? Why these stark differences on one album?
I listen to and write different styles of music and have always wanted to do more of a neo folk acoustic oriented album. Initially Waldeinsamkeit was going to be entirely acoustic. However something did not feel right about that approach at the time and the album seemed to want to have some dark atmospheric rock and metal to it. I did a longer version of the album but it had too many parts that did not fit the mood or the flow of the album. So I decided on blending a bit of dark metal, post black metal, neo folk, and dark rock to get the outcome I desired and chopped out any part that I felt interrupted the flow of the mood in the album. I'll never make the same album twice and I'm not interested in having albums sound similar to each other. An album is a snapshot of a time and space and what was inspiring as well as what I was trying to express at that moment.
How does Waldeinsamkeit reflect on the music on this recording?
It's what helps give moments of reflection and clarity and is a space that feels completely pure away from the confusion and rat race of the modern world. Waldeinsamkeit helps me to put everything into perspective.
A striking aspect is the cover artwork. How does it and the music go hand in hand?
The cover is a sense of blending with the solitude of nature and embodying or having a sort of oneness with nature or blending with nature in a sense of solitude.
What about the cover artwork? I had written about this in the review and how it does not correspond with the way it had found its way into the arts. Have you been familiar with the Wikipedia entry of Waldeinsamkeit prior to picking it as a title for your album?
The cover felt fitting and captured the mood of nature solitude for me. Again this choice was a matter of personal expression.
What made you use the track Twilight Kingdom again?
Something about the starkness of Twilight Kingdom lingered with me over the years. I kept imagining that song with a full band approach and how this could add to the feeling and mood of that song. Twilight Kingdom just kept coming back in my mind like it was supposed to have a comeback and new approach for this album.
What bands could you point to as references when it comes to this release?
Forgotten woods, Agalloch, Fen, Anathema, Discouraged ones by Katatonia, Omnio by In the Woods..., Empyrium, Karg, Daylight Dies, and À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée...by Gris.
You are not signed to a label? Is this something you avoid or have you not found a proper one to distribute your music?
Yes, and yes. I like having complete artistic freedom and have not found the right working agreement with a label yet. I'm not opposed to working with a label.
On your latest release you have had some support from other musicians. Were these involved in the process of song-writing as well?
With creating the songs, I start by writing everything on guitar and then send the guitar songs to the drummer. I like to let the drummer and bassist have their own musical expression and to write their own parts. Yet I also have a specific mood and aesthetic in mind so I do ask them to change some parts around or to try different approaches if the mood does not match what I had in mind for that song. But I do start off by writing everything alone on guitar.
Since you do not have shared your lyrics so far, it is only possible speculate about the conceptual background of your music.
That was intentional. I wanted the listener to give their own meaning to the songs or relate to it in their own way.
Judging from the titles of your tracks of your releases, they indicate a certain level of dealing with death and spirituality. Could you elaborate on this? How does this aspect and black metal go along with each other? Especially as this genre tend to have a level of distaste for religious practise.
Myself and my music have nothing to do with religion. There are some themes of spirituality, but nothing to do with organized religion. Death is a theme being the ultimate mystery and transformation and being the contrast to everything that is life. I believe death in itself is a spiritual force that is deeply inspiring and humbling.
Plans for next recordings? Where do you plan to go next in terms of the music. Will it be in the direction of black metal or rather towards the dark rock/folk genre? Or might you do both like October Falls has done it over the years?
The next album will be much more heavy with more black and death metal influences. I'm thinking of working with a new vocalist so that I can focus on my passion for guitar playing.
How has Covid-19 affected you? How have you experienced the time since it has left its impact on the world?
In a way it was a relief, the world and life just felt unbalanced and that we were overdue for something of this nature to happen. I don't think this world was supposed to sustain the amount of people here and civilization felt like it was just going up and up and up without anything falling or coming down. Personally it's been a time of reflection and personal retreat. Sure it's been isolating, strange, and has created a lot of angst, even feeling like I'm living in some dystopian novel. By no means am I happy about covid, it just feels like this is nature taking its course.
What would be your preferences in terms of the arts? Music, books, paintings. How do these effect your music?
All of the above, but music being my personal preference. I feel that life imitates art and that art is the most real expression of life. The arts give me meaning and at times feel like a spiritual experience or meaning for existence.
Thanks for the interview and review, I appreciate your time and interest. The next album is being written now and will be different, more heavy with more black and death metal in it and faster songs. There will be some clean guitar parts that are a signature of my albums. Waldeinsamkeit along with my other albums will not repeat themselves due to my strive to continue to learn, grow, and evolve as a musician.