Featured Artist Interview - Archaic Earth
Archiac Earth was the first band to release a full album through Forest Summoner. Shawn initially reached out to me through Reddit, and we have been good friends since. I am happy to have him on the label, support his music endeavors, and our shared vision for a better world.
What are the origins of your moniker Archaic Earth?
I came up with the name as a teenager, playing drums in the band that ultimately became Resurgence (they later released an album with only one core member remaining). Anyways, they didn't like it, but it stuck in my mind for a few years until this project came to light and it felt like a perfect fit.
What first got you into writing metal?
I've always loved it, from the first time I watched Much Loud and discovered bands like Slipknot and Cannibal Corpse. I was a drummer for 10 years in various metal, punk and jazz projects but always craved a more involved role in the creative process. I picked up the violin while living in a squat on the sunshine coast, and that finally began to be a reality. It started with basic 3-4 chord folk melodies for busking and evolved conceptually from there as I got my hands on new instruments. I still only know a few trad bluegrass and celtic tunes but have tons of my own that I play regularly. A friend gave me his old epiphone guitar that I still record with, and things grew from there up until I moved to Dawson City and finally had the space to realize the dream of my own metal project.
What inspired you to write your 1st demo?
I really just wanted to create something. Draw out the inspiration I felt and turn it into something tangible instead of "playing for the wind" as I so dramatically called it when I was busking on the street.
I was homeless, travelling and playing fiddle for a living in between seasons helping out on a few farms around so-called British Columbia. I managed to save up for a little Zoom H4 and got obsessed with field recording and capturing busking and campfire jams on the fly. One of those recordings was from playing inside the West Edmonton Mall and became the track Mist and Fire that appears on Hiraeth. You can even hear someone drop a coin in my case at one point if you listen carefully. The rest of the songs have some elements from things I recorded on the road: riffs, soundscapes, full instrumental parts I later recorded over, what-have-you. I used whatever instruments I could find at the time so some songs have cello, some have bass and full drumset, and some are just my violin. It was a fun project that helped keep me sane and away from other less positive influences. I eventually want to rewrite some of those tracks using the skills and equipment I have now, just to see what they evolve into. But for all it's flaws and terrible quality, it'll always be an experience that reminds me of who I am and how far I've come as a person and musician. Each sound is so steeped in nostalgia and specific memories of times and places, I'll always cherish it.
What inspired you to write this album? How has it varied from your first release?
I'm guessing you mean Wisdom In Burning Boughs? It's alot angrier, that's for sure. Wisdom dealt with a few things, environmentalism, settler guilt and allyship, finding one's place spiritually, dealing with burnout, as well as general rage at the systemic violence we all face. I wrote all the lyrics 6 or 7 years ago, and some of the guitar parts and melodies I've been sitting on for 8 or more. There's alot of allegory and metaphor, and it often takes on a poetic approach to processing these topics.
Carnelian Moon is much more direct lyrically, tackling the subjects of revolution, state violence and functional anarchic resistance. Musically it's definitely more aggressive, there are no live acoustic instruments, and minimal orchestral touches aside from Silence Breaks and the piano in Moonrise. Conceptually it's a continuation of the track "Of Wolf and Hound" from Wisdom, which ended off with Cailleach, (the Old Crone who heralds the coming of winter in celtic lore) taking back her power from colonialist humanity and the oppulent summer forest of capitalism, destroying the illusion of infinite growth with violence, and raining death upon human conceit. This album takes that idea forward from the perspective of her allies in war, the anarchists, environmentalists and communists who are there to force change onto the failing western systems. I guess I was just inspired by my own frustration and feeling of helplessness as we're all forced to navigate this broken system and ride the back of a flailing beast until it's inevitable death. The third track on the album touches on the moral quandry of what such a revolution would mean, and is a lament for the inevitable destruction resulting from it as we build a better and more inclusive world, but other than that it's a fairly straight forward battlecry kind of thing. And about how much I hate pacifist rhetoric. And liberals.
I saw that you were recording in the woods. Could you go into that a little bit?
My original intention with Archaic Earth was always to maintain a grounded, earthen feel, to try to capture how I feel in natural spaces, so I try to keep a literal element of those spaces in most of the tracks somewhere. That's probably most apparent with the first demo Hiraeth and Wisdom In Burning Boughs, which both use field recordings quite alot throughout in different ways.
However, the only time I really did that with Carnelian Moon was a few of the backing screams, which I recorded on my phone late one night out in the woods in Coquitlam, BC. I'm going to go back to this method with a neofolk release soon and most likely record it entirely outdoors. If nothing else, it's a great excuse to live outside for a few days and explore new locations. I'd rather that the quality be less than studio perfect and have the feeling be there, than sacrifice the spirit of the songs.
Is the music you write connected to the place you write it in?
Absolutely! I hope the feeling comes across, but each song and release is different depending on where I was when I wrote them. The intro to Fragility of Frost came about while I was watching the Yukon River freeze up, it was the first thing I played when I got home and picked up my guitar and it just flowed out in it's entirety. Maclir's Wrath (originally Maclir's Cloak on Hiraeth) was written after a sailing trip when I lived on a northwest coast island, The Wisdom In Burning Boughs opening was written and originally recorded alongside a stream in my childhood forests etc. etc. I could go on, for sure!
Do you feel connected to nature?
When I don't, I'm a pretty sad fucker to be around. That's for sure.
What do you hope a listener takes away from your album?
The will to do something. The feeling that we CAN do something. That we all have a role to play, and things aren't going to get better unless we make them better. The earth is dying and it's up to us as individuals and communities to support and uplift each other while we fight for our place in this world. Optimistic nihilism in the face of a hopeless and doomed future. It's as much a reminder to myself to take action as a hope that others do as well. Also fuck liberals.
Any music recommendations? Metal or any genre.
Oh damn, so many. The RABM scene is really popping off right now with so much good music, Im loathe to begin a list for fear of missing any. So I'll just say to check out the Antifascist Black Metal Network youtube page, and the various labels, your own-Forest Summoner, True Cult, Red Nebula, and probably alot more.
Specific bands though? Gotta shout out to Nociceptive Morosity, who are 2 great people I'm lucky to consider friends, who I'm working on a punk/hardcore project with right now.
Hand of The Horsewitch, who have been defunct for a while, still have one of my favourite sludgy mid-tempo death metal releases I've ever heard and have revisited for over 10 years now. Damn I wish they did more.
Celephais is a great atmospheric black metal band that provides me alot of inspiration. Really beautiful, grounded instrumental stuff, and their video for Tir Na Nog is just perfect.
And like anyone passionate about music, just...so so so many more.
I'm also going to just give away all my kvlt points; but right now I'm absolutely enamoured with russian hardstyle, DJ Blyatman and the Russian Village Boys. That shit shreds, I don't care.