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01. Ulver -
The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
02. Au Champ Des Morts -
Dans La Joie
03. Isenordal -
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Animus Retinentia
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End Of Chapter
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Markland
08. Shibalba -
Psychostasis-Death Of Khat
09. Cult Of Erinyes -
Tiberivs
10. Saille -
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Whispers In The Shadow - Interview

Interview with: Ashley Dayour
Conducted by: T.V.

"What is thy name?"
And he answered, saying
"My name is Legion: for we are many."
The Gospel of Mark, 5:9

Austrian band Whispers In The Shadow are absolutely one of the most important representatives of the gothic rock genre these days and they are back with their eighth album, a true masterpiece named Beyond The Cycles Of Time (read a review over HERE). With this album the band completed the four abum cycle which started in 2008 with their fifth album Into The Arms Of Chaos. Then continued with in 2010 released The Eternal Arcane and 2012's The Rites Of Passage. The man who's the most responsible for everything this band did in their 18 years long career is friendly and wit, yet mysterius occultist, frontman and guitarist Ashley Dayour. I had to ask him about the new opus, but not only, I dig a bit deeper and Ashley gave us some interesting answers. But, to understand better some things that he explained us I recommend you to read the previous interview we did with him last year over HERE and then proceed with this very interesting one.  

 

T.V.: So Ashley, Beyond The Cycles Of Time is here! It shows a slightly different musical approach than on previous couple of albums and my question is the standard one: how are you satisfied with the final result?
Ashley: And my answer is the standard one, at the moment I’m very satisfied. But you have to ask me that again in a few months time, or in a year maybe. I’m still too close to this record to really see it in an objective way. It was difficult to write, especially the lyrics. I spent an awful lot of time on them, re-wrote them again and again. Music wise it wasn’t that difficult, but the more songs I write the more I struggle to come up with the right words, or words and phrases I haven’t used a thousand times before. But I’m happy with the result. Very happy. The circle is indeed closed.
T.V.: I find on this album many typical elements you used before, but much more emphasis is on post-punk, even on darkwave and psychedelics, and I can't go past the fact that guitars sound really metalic on some parts, then drums have kind of special depth...
Ashley: Yes, that is exactly like we wanted it to sound from the beginning. Cold, distant and different to the last ones. It is a much clearer album than the previous one in terms of instrumentation.
T.V.: When you asked me what I think of the album I told you that is a fantastic one, but that it needs a lot of spins to really grow on you. Also many others who already heard the album said the same. But weren't you afraid that in this oversaturated times with music most of people simply don't have enough time to devote themselves into albums like it is Beyond The Cycles Of Time properly and that its real beauty will remain just for those few who still try to get deeper into the music? There are no instant gothic rock hits like "If Uriel Falls", "The Lost Souls" or "The Rites Of Passage"...
Ashley: To be honest, I actually don’t care. This is what it was supposed to sound like. It is a grower so people told me. But I couldn’t care less to be honest. It is what it is and let’s not underestimate our audience they are clever listeners and will know that it will take more than one listen to really get it. But having said all that with "His Name Is Legion" there is at least one Goth Rock track that is in the tradition of the ones mentioned above. I personally think “Left Hand Anthem” is maybe the catchiest tune we ever did. But that’s just me I guess...
T.V.: I'm surprised that you didn't mentioned the beautiful atmospheric groover song "The End Of Future", which in my opinion has some similatiries with the English alternative dark rock band Placebo. Is this just a coincidence or what?
Ashley: Well, I liked Placebo around the time when they released their 2nd album. These days not so much though. I haven’t listened to them for a long time. So it is a coincidence indeed. As a matter of fact a lot of people mentioned “The End Of Future” when it comes to favourite track from the album. That again surprises me, for me it is one of the more “difficult” tracks on the new album. But who am I to judge our songs? Hahaha...
T.V.: You can't deny that your recent collaboration in The Devil & The Universe didn't left any consequences on this album, for example "Lilitu's Claws" and some other tracks have kind of a similar vibe in some parts...
Ashley: No, I can’t deny that, and I won’t. It’s no surprise because both projects developed at the same time. There are two tracks on the new album which clearly have a similar vibe like The Devil & The Universe. "Lilitu’s Claws" is the one, and "Adversarial Light" the other. Both songs are instrumental, that’s another reason why they remind you of The Devil & The Universe I guess. If I would have sung on those it would be different. But yeah there are similarities, also sound wise regarding the way the synths are used.
T.V.: Mine favorite track from the album is the epic conclusive one "The Departure". Which is yours favorite and why?
Ashley: Yeah, this is one of my favourites as well. I’m also very fond of "Left Hand Anthem". "Lilitu’s Claws" I like a lot. Many people are really into "Safe & Sound", which is really surprising cause is such a sombre song.

 

T.V.: You talk many times about the four-album cycle that started with Into The Arms Of Chaos in 2008 and ended now with Beyond The Cycles Of Time. I know that this cycle has to do with the four alchemic stages of the transformation, but I believe that there is also hidden any personal aspect that you went through in those years?
Ashley: Of course there must be. Simply because so much happened since we started this mega project. I don’t think it is really hidden it’s pretty obvious if you compare where the band stand in 2008 and were it stands now.
T.V.: When we did our last interview you said that it will be (to quote you): "very different from what we did with the previous three albums. It's a very cold, distant, impersonal monster, very dystopian. A child of its time...". Was there any kind of difference while composing and recording those tracks in comparison with the past albums, to achieve this special feeling?
Ashley: Yeah there was, this time I did all the writing on my own, we didn’t even rehears the songs before we went into the recording studio. Everybody played the songs the first time when we actually recorded them. That also has to do with the whole concept I guess, and above all with time. It takes a lot of time developing songs together in a rehearsal room, and it is hard to get the whole band together. It would have taken much longer and would have been a different album in the end. I think for this record it was supposed to be this way. But honestly if we do another one I really would like to do a “band album” again.
T.V.: Huh, "if we do another one"??? Really? Now you surprised me... is there a question if Whispers In The Shadow will actually continue or not?
Ashley: Yes there is. At the moment I’m not sure what will come next. I need a new vision to set sail again, so to speak. It may take longer than usually, or I don’t know. The weird thing is: it feels good not to know at the moment. The future is wide open, who knows if and what comes next. First we will concentrate on the forthcoming shows and then we will see. I would love to do some full length album shows next year. Maybe we do the very first album Laudanum as a whole, which would be a challenge. That is something we keep talking about for a long time now. Or maybe we let the fans decide which album they want to hear in its full glory.
T.V.: Please, reconsider that and continue with Whispers... You started the crowdfounding campaign to get necessary financial means for the release and reached the 100% in just few days. So, you must have really devoted fan base. Were you surprised about this success or you expected such a result?
Ashley: Actually at the moment, two days before the closing of the campaign we are over 200%! And that is really something. Yes I was surprised. It’s far more than I ever even hoped for. We are very proud and humbled! What a great fan base indeed and I had no idea. We are very happy and thankful.
T.V.: And what do you think about all those crowdfunding campaings in general? Do you think that this is the best solution to help bands and artist to release or publish things?
Ashley: I don’t think it is the best solution, for small and middle sized bands it is almost the only one left! Record labels are not able or willing to pay in advance for studio/production time, but somehow you have to raise the money for recording an album. Again, I’m really surprised how effective the whole thing was for us. The new album wouldn’t have been possible without this.
T.V.: The idea of exclusive Whispers Tarot set seems pretty original, I like it! But, will be this set available only for crowdfunders or will be available also in some special album editions?
Ashley: Well we only made 50 of these. And at the moment it seems like they will be sold out soon. Everything that is left will be sold at our webstore: http://whispersshop.bigcartel.com/. Not sure if we do a 2nd edition. Depends.
T.V.: How much were you involved in the creation of this Tarot set which was designed by Laboratorio Spine?
Ashley: Me and Spine work very close together. It was my plan from the beginning to have our own Tarot card set at the end of the cycle. The card set consists of artworks from these last four albums, all done by long time Whispers In The Shadow cover designer SPINE (www.facebook.com/LaboratorioSpine). And all the themes of the actual songs correspond with the cards. So the Tarot set is an integral part of the whole thing. It’s always a pleasure to work with him.
T.V.: Have you thought about selling this Tarot set in normal shops for commercial use?
Ashley: Not really. It would take a publisher for that, and there are so many tarot sets at the market. We rather keep this very special.
T.V.: Ok, let's talk about the artwork of the album... I find it amazing! Please share with our readers the idea and meaning behind it.
Ashley: Well it’s the same as with the other four albums. You have the cabalistic Tree of Life at the back, which can be seen as a sort of map through the album. Every song has a certain symbol that corresponds with the actual theme of the track. At the front cover you have the Ouroboros symbol. It’s an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail, representing self-reflexivity or cyclicality. The cycle is closed so to speak. Then you have the face of a man and a woman, that’s Samael and Lilith, the antithesis of Adam and Eve. Two entities which play a big role through the whole album. They are both united within this circle. So the album itself and the cover represent the unification of different poles.
T.V.: And what about the special limited edition bonus CD, Dead Letter Songs, with previously unreleased songs? Are those remastered or original versions of those songs and why you decided to release them now and not as an standalone release?
Ashley: Some of the songs were reworked, especially the vocals and lyrics. Some even have new recorded drums. You know most of them were just demos we put aside. So we had to make them sound right, like “real” songs. The idea was to give the crowd-funders something really special. We will not reprint this album. There will only be a digital version on our bandcamp (http://whispersintheshadow.bandcamp.com) page as soon as it is sold out, which is going to happen very soon. All the songs are unreleased stuff from the four album cycle period and haven’t been available before.  
 

T.V.: You said it before that you practise magick. A lot of things smell of Chaos Magick in there, more than any other form of magick techniques... Am I right?
Ashley: Yes you are right! Of all the different magical “systems” there is, Chaos Magic attracts me the most, simply because everything is possible there and it is absolutely un-dogmatic, which is very important for me. And let’s not forget about the humour in Chaos Magic! That is something that really divides it from other systems.
T.V.: Are you participating in any rituals as Chaos Magick offers quite a lot of freedom and originality in that, compared to other practices?
Ashley: Nothing is true everything is permitted, indeed!
T.V.: Do you consider yourself as an Anti-christian? And what's your relation towards religion?
Ashley: No, I’m not anti religion. If an religion gives the people what they are looking for, which basically is hope, why not. But I’m against constitutionalist religion in any form, because this is when the problems start. Religion and politics always goes wrong.
T.V.: And what's your opinion about certain ideologies which are not really religius, like communism or fascism? Those are as well still pretty much alive...
Ashley: These would be politics. I don’t consider us a very political band. Personally I think that politics are on the edge of something new. All political systems failed. But I don’t see anything new in sight. That is the problem. I was brought up, and I am, a true believer in democracy. But at the moment democracy, or rather the capitalistic version of it is at the end of its game. With all the global unrest going on there is  something  about to happen, I’m just not sure what it is, or where it should go. That is frightening in a way really. I have the feeling that we are on the edge of something, but that very something is uncertain. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad. I’m blessed to live in such a stable and save country. So I’m just observing this unrest through different media. And we all know how media works.
T.V.: You expressed all that very well in the opening track "Crossroads". Still there's some hope in the words of yours...
Ashley: It happened before and will happen again.
T.V.: One verse in from the song "The Departure" is intriguing: "Maybe we found the light/We were searching for/But there is still the need/To look out for more". All philosophers from antiquity till now are comparing the search for light with the search for eternal truth or even God, but as I understand, you said that there is need to look out for more. What is the word "more" standing for?
Ashley: With “more” I mean that in my opinion there is no absolute or eternal truth, there is no such God. The only thing that reigns is Chaos. So the look out for light implies indeed the search of something “higher” or an eternal truth as you put it. But one should stop there.
T.V.: Ok, but with this answer you just made dig a bit deeper... So, if the word "more" stands for the fact that there is no absolute or eternal truth, then what do you mean with saying "Maybe we found the light", as I believe that "light" stands just for that, absolute truth, knowledge,... Don't you think that humankind isn't able to go further in this search, even the philosophers are still in front of the same question as they were 3000 years ago? Do you think that the answer lies in the spiritual world? And one of the next verses says: "No truth here and no lie/Into chaos we fly". So, is at the very end all in vain?
Ashley: Not necessarily vain, no. The thing is that we are unable to think beyond a linear time line, or beyond linear understandings at all, it is almost impossible for us (and I’m mostly talking about the so called western society here)  to see it in a different way. If you start to think in cycles it is a completely different thing. I’m not saying that the one thing is right or the other is wrong, not at all! It’s just the way it is. The conclusion that comes from "The Departure" and from the whole cycle is that there is no absolute truth, that there is no “answer”. This might sound frightening for someone who only can think in a linear way, from A to B so to speak. The answer is that there is no answer. The end is the beginning is the end. As you might have noticed this last album ends with the same sample as with the first album began. And this sample goes: “NO ORDER ONLY CHAOS”. That’s the conclusion; it was there at the very beginning. But one might think the journey was for nothing, not at all! You have to take the journey to get to the conclusion. Always, and that’s the fun part, isn’t it?
T.V.: Indeed it is. I totally agree with you! But, have you ever considered an option to give some kind of explanation alongside to the lyrics? Maybe a kind of booklet to accompany the release, as the words and sentences play quite an important role in the perception of Whispers In The Shadow.
Ashley: Actually yes, we were playing with idea to release a book with all the artworks, lyrics and some “liner notes”, but it didn’t happen. Maybe sometime.
T.V.: There's no secret that the lyrics are a very important thing in each song that Whispers ever did. Please tell me, when you are composing are the words written before music or vice versa?
Ashley: That depends. Sometimes I have certain lyrics that would need some music and sometimes the other way around. But the lyrics keep changing a lot, especially with this album as I mentioned above.
T.V.: You did a great job with the production on this album, congratulations! How do you enjoy this process and were there any problems to reach the appropriate sound while making it?
Ashley: Thank you! Congratulations must also go the the sound engineers Zebo Adam (I’m working with him since the very first demos back in the mid 90’s) and Norbert Stitz (Drum recording) and the man behind the mixing desk, Mr. Christoph Binder. I can only tell these people how I would like the album to sound like, but they are the ones who really make it happen. This time the demos were more complete than ever before, so the path was relatively clear. Actually we were very quick in both recording and mixing. The most difficult part has been the lyrics, as I mentioned.
T.V.: I couldn't find anywhere the information who's the woman behind those female speeches in some songs?
Ashley: Our Lady Lilith.
T.V.: Haha, and who's this person named Lady Lilith?
Ashley: Samael’s Wife.
T.V.: Ok, so let's keep that within the veil of mystery. You already had a couple of live sets this year. I wonder how the audience accepted the new tracks while played live?
Ashley: We only did one show, about a month ago. It seemed they liked the new tracks, despite the fact nobody even heard any of them before. I’m really looking forward to play the new tunes live, especially because we haven’t played them before as a band. Some of them are not easy to perform though, but I like the challenge. I guess we will do at least 6 or 7 songs from the album during the next shows.
T.V.: Some new dates were already announced and do you plan to go on a proper tour in the near future? Which countries will you visit?
Ashley: It is almost impossible to do an ongoing tour, which means playing shows every day. Simply because it is very difficult these days doing shows weekdays. That changed a lot. So we mostly do weekends. We play in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and finally in the UK. And it seems there will be more shows in autumn.
T.V.: You did some great video clips in the past. Is there any new one in the preparation? If yes which song will have its visual depiction?
Ashley: Yes, we have some ideas for the track "Left Hand Anthem", which is one of my faves if not the fave of the album, as I said before. I’m really proud of that song; it reflects what this album is all about, especially lyric wise. We’ll see if it will work out with the clip.
T.V.: We already talked about some of your influences before, but who inspired you mostly as a vocalist and which guitarists made the biggest impact on you as a guitarist?
Ashley: Their name is Legion indeed. I like vocalists which are unique, people with really distinctive Voices. Same goes for guitarists, people like Geordie Walker, David Gilmore, Billy Corgan, Elisabeth Frazer, Brendan Perry, Kate Bush and of course Robert Smith.
T.V.: Your other project, The Devil & The Universe, had quite a success! What's next to follow from that side?
Ashley: We will release a new 12" Single in June with four new tracks, after that we will start to work on the second album, and there are more shows during summer and autumn. We already have a concept for the second record. Diodati 1816 is all I’m going to say about it at this point.  
 

T.V.: In our previous interview you also mentioned that Coma Divine, a band where you play guitars as well, will start recording a new album. Any news about that matter?
Ashley: Coma Divine is on ice at the moment. At this point it seems very unlikely that there will be a new album in the near or not so near future.
T.V.: From some posts on your Facebook profile I could conclude that you are a passionate lover of nature and especially mountains. Am I right?
Ashley: I like hiking a lot. But to be honest I just got into it last year. Already looking forward to some nice trips this year. But I also love the sea. I can sit there and watch it for hours. But having said all that, I’m honestly not a “nature freak”, I really love living in a city.
T.V.: Like Autrians also Slovenians are very proud of their mountains. Have you ever visited Slovenian mountains?
Ashley: Well don’t get me wrong, but for me it seems absolutely pointless to be proud about one countries nature sites, because “we” (for me that “we” is something absurd as well) haven’t build any of these. This sites were there thousands and thousands of years before all our countries haven’t even existed at that time. So no I’m not proud of them, just happy that they are as close and it doesn’t take a long journey to visit them. Unfortunately I haven’t been at the Slovenian mountain side, but would certainly like to!
T.V.: You are more than right about that! Ok Ashley, there are still hundreds of questions in my mind that I could ask you, but what do you think is the thing that I missed and you consider it to be important?
Ashley: I think you covered it all up pretty well. Nice questions again!
T.V.: Once again congratulations for making such a great album like it is Beyond The Cycles Of Time and I really hope that you'll continue with Whispers In the Shadow, as contrary that would be a huge loss for the whole gothic rock scene. The last words as usual are yours...
Ashley: Well thank you for the kind words. Hope you will make it to some of our shows one day. As I said the future is uncertain, but that’s a good thing. Nothing is true, everything is permitted!

(Photos copyright by Manuela Melichar, Matthias Lueger, Inka Pluhar)

Whispers In The Shadow links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp

 

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