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Darkher - Interview

Interview with: Jayn H. Wissenberg
Conducted by: T.V.

Darkher, the alias of Jayn H. Wissenberg, a West Yorkshire based singer songwriter behind whose fragile elegance lies the creator of a powerfully emotive work. Sincere, dark, esoteric and full of spiritual confidence are the songs of this flame-haired woman. Jayn is known from before as a member of epic dark folk band The Steals, but has as a solo-musician already supported many interesting names such are Robin Guthrie, Dead Meadow, Esben And The Witch, Chelsea Wolfe, Dylan Carlson (Earth) and others. Darkher has released until now one EP entitled The Kingdom Field, initially as a self-release limited to 100 copies, but it was soon spoted by Prophecy Productions who signed a record deal with her and re-released it last November (read a review HERE). Darkher with her music invites the listener into the mystical ancient world characterized by slowly building storm clouds of guitars and even more Jayn's haunting, spine-tinglingly evocative voice. I believe that everyone who heard her debut EP was bewithched by its captivating dark beauty and is eagerly awaiting for her debut full-lenght album which should be released this year. Jayn did answer to my curious questions about her EP, future plans, live appearances, inspirations, personal life and much more in the interview that could be read below.

T.V.: Hi Jayn! For those who still don't know a lot about Darkher and the person behind this name, can you share some words about it? And what about the name - Darkher, as it is a pretty strong name?
Jayn: Hi Tomaž, Darkher is the guise for my solo work. After previously working under a less personal band name, Darkher marked a new beginning and it felt to encompass the music and aesthetic perfectly.
T.V.: After the release of splendid EP, The Kingdom Field, everyone who heard it must be eagerly waiting for the debut album. Tell me on which stage it is right now?
Jayn: Thank you. I am currently recording and writing tracks for the album and aim to release it in 2015. I like to take my time with the process, from the initial stages of writing through to final mixing. This allows me to live and breath it so that it feels much more a part of me and has the right continuity.
T.V.: But can you already give us some further details about the upcoming album, any titles, names of the tracks, release date, etc?
Jayn: I don't have an album title as yet, though I'm sure one will come to me. I know that "Moths" and "Lament" will be on the album and I am currently working on "This Hollow Veil", but I have more to add. Release date is to be confirmed after completion.
T.V.: Both, "Moths" and "Lament" are older songs, dated back in 2012 if I'm not mistaken? How came that you didn't already use them on The Kingdom Field?
Jayn: "Lament" was written in 2012 when I had just begun working under Darkher, but it has been one of the most difficult ones in terms of finding the right production, because it works so well without additional instrumentation. For this reason I wanted to hold that one back and focus on getting it right for the album. On the other hand "Moths" is relatively new and only written after the initial run of EP was released in 2013.
T.V.: And about the recently re-released EP, any thoughts about it?
Jayn: After finishing it I wasn't able to listen for some time. I find the mixing process to be the most agonising part, the moment when you step back and acknowledge that it's finished is hard to reach, once there it's about standing by your decision and accepting it. I needed to take a break from it to be able to do that. The positive feedback from reviews and listeners has been a welcome antidote.
T.V.: Each one of the tracks featured on it offers a different kind of ambiance, there are varied influences I found in your music, but can you reveal what are your main inspiration points?
Jayn: I am mostly inspired by my inner world, emotions and imagination, which I run in parallel to the outer world. Nature and the elements are always with me when I write, and are equally as inspiring for me due to their mood and drama.
T.V.: And what about the lyrics of yours? Where do you find the ideas and is there any deeper meaning behind the words?
Jayn: My lyrics are always from my deepest depths, past ,future or present. I sometimes don't feel that I am actually writing the words as I have to wait for them to come to me, however usually when I have completed a song I can see its connection to my life in whatever form that takes. There is always a meaning behind my words, but I like to leave it open to interpretation, I think that’s one of the elements that makes music so powerful.
T.V.: For what does the title The Kingdom Field stands for?
Jayn: It's the place where I conjured most of the ideas for the EP and has been a huge inspiration, forcing me to look at many things which I was previously afraid to. It represents a lot of emotions for me but it has mostly become a window to another world and a healer.
T.V.: There are often used associations to water, some direct and some less, in your lyrics, for example "stormy waters", "river's rising",... Are you in any way fascinated by it?
Jayn: When I walk each day to The kingdom Field I pass a river, everyday is a different picture, it has its own life force and seemingly personality. Where I live is surrounded by water, I live in the basin of a valley, a hamlet which is surrounded by streams, rivers and a canal all of which have caused flooding. So I think because of this I am deeply respectful of water in its many forms.
T.V.: It must be really interesting there. The Kingdom Field was released by your recent signing - Prophecy Productions, and I wonder how did you got in contact with them and do they satisfy the necessary needs of an artist like you?
Jayn: Prophecy approached me last year and asked me to sign with them, which has turned out to be a most fortuitous encounter. I couldn't have signed with a better label for my music and creativity, they have been amazing to work with and I look forward to future releases.

T.V.: Will you follow the same direction on the forthcoming album as you've started with on the EP, or shall we expect some surprises?
Jayn: It will of course be very similar in feel to the EP and some if not all of those tracks (except for the title track) will be featured on the album, but there will be some quite different elements and overall more intensity.
T.V.: Before starting your own musical career you were a member of the band The Steals. Tell me what was the main point that pushed you to go on your own path?
Jayn: Throughout the years I was previously working on tracks for The Steals album and EP, I was in a very sombre state and I needed to make music to lift me out of that state. By the time I was ready to start writing songs again for what would be Darkher, I felt that I needed to symbolically burn what I had in order to begin a new chapter.
T.V.: Now it gets sense as the name Darkher is a derivate of two words: dark and her. Does this name in any symbolic way stand for those darker times of your life?
Jayn: I hadn't really attached it to that consciously but I believe when things come to you it's for a reason, so there may be an element of symbolism from my past.
T.V.: Is Darkher meant also to play any live shows? And if it is do you have any dates scheduled yet?
Jayn: Yes, there will be some shows this year, starting with Roadburn Festival in April and I have some other festivals and dates to be announced.
T.V.: And can you reveal to our readers and to those who'll be seeing you playing live who are the live­members of Darkher that will accompany you on the stage?
Jayn: For the moment I am keeping to a simple line up and will be accompanied by Shaun 'Winter' Taylor ­ Steels on drums who has played with Vestige Of Virtue, Anathema, Solstice and My Dying Bride among others, and my husband Martin Wissenberg will be playing bass or 2nd guitar.
T.V.: Wow, it's great to see the name Shaun 'Winter' Taylor listed in there! There are some strong references to post­rock sound in the track "Foregone", but yet it's far away from being just that. It seems that folk music, goth, maybe also doom and atmospheric dark music in general are those styles that must fascinate you, or am I wrong?
Jayn: Yes, I do lean towards listening to mood based dark music and have from an early age.
T.V.: When I was reading some articles and reviews about you over the web, I came across one interesting link between Darkher and Myrkur. "This is Myrkur for the Folkies", someone wrote... Do you even know Myrkur and her's music?
Jayn: I've only come across her name very recently, I haven't listened to her music yet, so I'm not sure if there is any thread of similarity.
T.V.: Musically speaking there's no any bigger similarity, but... ok. I believe that each one who has seen any photos of yours must be fascinated or at least a bit jealous about your very long flaming hair. Tell me what's the secret care in keeping them look so grandiose and beautiful?
Jayn: Thank you for the compliment, I have no great secret, I just never cut it so it serves me well for hiding behind.
T.V.: Haha, a very diplomatic answer... There's not a lot known about your personal life... Can you tell our readers who's Jayn in her normal life. What are your interests in life beside music?
Jayn: I'm interested in art and photography, beautiful and inspiring imagery, animals and nature. I try to spend half of my life outdoors.
T.V.: Few days ago you've released a new video for the track "Foregone" with a different, shorter acoustic version of the song? Will this version be released somewhere?
Jayn: I hadn't planned on doing so as it was done purely for online to mark the New Year, but there may be an additional bonus CD when the album is released, containing some different versions of tracks.
T.V.: And I was really impressed by the gloomy magical video clip for "Ghost Tears". How much do you enjoy the process of shooting videos and how were you satisfied with the final result?
Jayn: I love doing videos and photographic imagery, for me its all part of the creative process. When I make music I see a lot of visions and imagery, so it's great to be able to achieve some of that in video form. I thought the "Ghost Tears" video worked really well and I enjoyed working with Kevan Shaffey on achieving the right look for the track. It was good to work to a much higher standard than I am able to do in my live videos without a creative team.
T.V.: And who do you think are listeners that will most likely enjoy in your music? Do you ever imagine in your mind what kind of person must be fascinated by it?
Jayn: I haven't really thought about it, but it must be an interesting subject to discover.
T.V.: Ok Jayn. I think that would be everything for now. Thank you for taking your time answering my questions, and is there anything that you want to say to our readers and your fans at the end of this interview?
Jayn: Thank you for supporting my musical creations.

Darkher links: Official website, Facebook