Monday, February 6, 2017

Cyclocosmia Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

Cyclocosmia is a studio-based symphonic doom metal project, with a lot of death metal and progressive influences. It started as my solo project in about 2011 but really kicked off in late 2014 when we started working with a permanent vocalist and began work on the first album. The music is all very personal to the people involved, and we cover some quite difficult lyrical subjects. I think people who have had difficult life experiences often get drawn to heavy music, and that was certainly the case for both Aliki and me. If you feel a certain way, it's more cathartic to scream about it at the top of your voice than just mumble about it gently, that's what this music is about.

2.So far you have released a full length and an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on both of the recordings?

One thing I have noticed from the reviews that we have received, both for the recent EP and the album we put out last year, is that they each compare us to different bands every time! So I guess I'd describe our sound as female-fronted symphonic metal, but much darker and more doom influenced than most bands in the genre, with extreme vocals, extreme dynamics, and an emphasis on emotional expression. Don't get em wrong, I love Nightwish and all that stuff, but I wanted to see the music taken in a different direction, more like what Draconian are doing, but with some more of my own prog and other influences. The album, "Deadwood" was a little more conventional than our more recent material, but still had its progressive influences (especially my tendency to write rather long songs with unusual structures), and that's something I wanted to take much further on this EP, and on a personal level I'm very satisfied with the music we created on "Immured". I want to make the music weirder and darker, and I think we managed that on this EP.

3.The lyrics on the ep have a concept to them, can you tell us a little bit more about the songwriting?

Yes, the EP is a concept about the live burial of Vestal Virgins in ancient Rome. The priestesses of the Goddess Vesta were so holy that it was taboo to spill their blood, so if one of them broke her vow of chastity, they just buried her alive. Can't fault that for efficiency I guess. I was drawn, as was Aliki, to the political and feminist ideas that these stories created - even now, women are punished for expressing their sexuality in many ways, and this story can highlight that. The EP is designed as one continuous song, split into four movements, and that's how we wrote and recorded it. I wrote it in order, from beginning to end, with a rough idea of how I wanted each movement to go but in terms of note-to-note songwriting I went from beginning to end, to make sure that each section flowed into the next. I would write a section, listen to it, then think "where does this need to go now?"

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Cyclocosmia'?

The name comes from a genus of trapdoor spider found in Central America, it's Greek for "Adorned with the Circle". The spiders have a very unusual shape, their abdomens end in a hard, circular plate that they use to plug their burrows from attack, and they have this amazing, beautiful pattern on them - that's the band's logo. These spiders are predated by parasitic wasps, who paralyse them with their stings and lay their eggs in them, eating the spiders alive from the inside out. So those circular plates are a defence. I was struck by how something so unpleasant and brutal could result in something so beautiful, and that's a kind of metaphor for our music, and maybe metal music in general.

5.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you planning on expanding the line up in the future or do you chose to remain a duo?

Aliki is a guest on this EP, I've started auditioning for a permanent replacement for when I relocate the band from London to the Midlands later this year. At the moment there aren't any plans to create a full live lineup because it would limit what we can create in the studio and that's my main interest for this project. But we may well add more permanent members, both musical and non-musical, to the studio lineup should the right people present themselves.

6.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

We've had a couple of expressions of interest, at the moment we really do enjoy the freedom, musical and otherwise, that being independent gives us. That's not to say we're not listening though, and whilst we're not currently actively looking for a label we certainly wouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand.

7.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of symphonic and  doom metal?

I've been really taken aback by how positive the reception has been to "Immured". "Deadwood", the album we released last April, got good reviews, and a handful of very good ones, but it seems that the move in a more prog direction was what people wanted to hear - I guess not a lot of bands have this particular sound. We do sit in the middle of a few different genres, and people who get obsessed with classifying bands sometimes react negatively because we're not "real" doom or "real" symphonic metal because we don't sound like Cathedral or Evanescence or whatever, but I'm not interested in making music for those sorts of people anyway - for me the ideas and emotions that I want to express come first, and metal is diverse enough as a genre that all the tools you need are in the toolkit and you can use as many as you need - the reviews for "Immured" have really understood that this was the thinking behind how the music was put together, and I'm really gratified that they've picked up on that.

8.Are any of the band members also involved with any other bands or musical projects?

Yes - Aliki and I are members of the alt-metal band Eight Lives Down (https://eightlivesdown., she has also recently contributed vocals to another Doom project in Greece called Tattered Pages. I'm a producer myself and she is a vocal coach and session vocalist, so we both contribute to a lot of other people's music as well.

9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

Well in the short term I've started work on an EP of cover versions with more guest vocalists - I'm not going to recruit permanently until after I relocate the project to the Midlands later this year. Once that's done, we'll be recording a second full-length album that will take the more progressive sound of "Immured" in the longer format - that's going to be a really interesting musical challenge for me, to keep that sound varied and exciting over an hour or so, and it's also really exciting to have the longer format to try more ideas - I'm really looking forward to it.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that  have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Judging by the reviews, I'm apparently influenced by every musical style since Beethoven! But I have had a long musical journey to get where I am - I wasn't really a metalhead until my early twenties, I listened to a lot of alternative rock and prog as a teenager - Radiohead, Skunk Anansie, Pink Floyd, also my dad's music like Eric Clapton and Dire Straits. A lot of that influence really changes how I think as a producer and I always want to incorporate non-metal ideas into metal, to mix it up and keep it interesting. I absolutely love Opeth and the way they do that too so effortlessly, I've got "Sorceress" in the car at the moment, I think it's the best of their prog-rock albums. Similarly, I'm working my way through Porcupine Tree's back catalogue at the moment too. Other direct influences for Cylocosmia include Draconian, who are probably the biggest single inspiration, especially for the first album, also a Chilean folk-doom duo called Uaral - they're amazing and very inspirational - just two people in a studio creating exactly what they want to create, and it's utterly heartbreaking music.

11.What are some of your non musical interests?

Like any producer or mix engineer these days, I'm a massive computer geek - I love gaming, silly internet things, programming and any activity where I get to press loads of buttons. I also write, I have a couple of music-related e-books out, and I've recently done a couple of voice acting gigs which I really enjoyed - definitely something I want to do more of in future.

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

I'd just like to thank everyone who bought the album, watched the video or gave us feedback on the music. Whilst the music of Cyclocosmia is largely very personal to me, I make it and release it because I hope that other people will understand where I'm coming from and enjoy it - it's really great to know that so many people "get" what Cyclocosmia is about, and I can promise them that there's more where that came from in the future!

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