Following the incredible double CD album A Parable On The Aporia Of Vengeance And The Beauty Of Impenetrable Sadness, quite a few nagging questions ate at me as I listened to the album and its follow up release (the split with Sons of Alpha Centaurii) that asking the artist directly seemed to be the only solution. A Death Cinematic was fairly easy to track down and the following “conversation” not only sated my questions but introduced me to an exceedingly humble and creative person that only made me want to hear more work from the project. Hopefully, you take as much from this as I did.
Scene Point Blank: When and why did you start A Death Cinematic?
A Death Cinematic: I started a death cinematic in September of 2007. As to why.... well, I was getting more interested in exploring noise and sound/ music as a form of artistic expression. I just had this overwhelming urge to record these crude lo fi 'songs'. It just kind of grew from there.
Scene Point Blank: When writing your records, how much is improvised and how much is the result of traditional songwriting? Is this a constant from record to record?
A Death Cinematic:I am tempted to say that all of it is improvised since I really am not sure how to write songs, traditionally or otherwise. Usually I’ll explore what I can do on the guitar with effects, often with the recorder running. Then try to get everything in one or two takes. Sometimes when I find something I like and it is new to me and stretches my capabilities I do some re-recording and maybe some rehearsing but the initial idea is much improvised. I try to capture it as raw as I can so that the emotional atmosphere is kept intact and unadulterated.
Scene Point Blank: What informs or inspires your music writing?
A Death Cinematic:There is a myriad of things that informs my music. Mostly it is other music, paintings, photographs, and books. The latter are usually novels but lately I’ve been reading a lot about quantum physics and other theories. Albeit these are more of an indirect influence. A lot of the time I get information and inspiration for music, from how the light shines through my house and moves through out the day, form the flow of certain words that I get fixated on. This type of inspiration is a bit more personal and therefore harder to explain because it relies heavily on my own personal context and history. It all goes in there in different proportions and mixtures for any given piece of music.
Scene Point Blank: Being from parts of the US where it is cold and bleak during the winter, does that have any impact on your music? Because some of your songs, like “The Heart Races With Black Worms And My Blood Is On Fire” and “A Short Story On The Theme Of A Broken Dream”, have become part of my personal soundtrack to cold winter days with tons of snow on the ground and gray rainy days.
A Death Cinematic:Definitely, it has a great deal of impact on my music especially if I am playing and recording during that time. The fact that some of my tracks became part of your personal soundtrack is a compliment of the highest order.
Scene Point Blank: You recently provided a track to a compilation where artists provided their sonic interpretation of sorts for a specific painting. How long did it take for your ideas to start taking shape? Could you walk us through the process?
A Death Cinematic:In all actuality it did not take long at all for this particular track. I am always recording and working on stuff so I usually have a bit of a surplus of material. When Niels asked if I were interested in doing a track for his compilation I already had some rudimentary recordings done that I thought could work really well. As I started to think about the themes of the painting and the compilation the music started to click and everything, including the poem that goes with the track came about pretty quickly. The mixing and mastering took a little while, but I think the track came out really well. The compilation has a shorter version of the track on it and that was due to time and disc space restraints. The whole version can be heard on Myspace and Bandcamp.
Scene Point Blank: If you were told you could provide the soundtrack or an interpretation to any book that you chose what would you want to do and why?
A Death Cinematic:This is a very difficult question to answer because there are a lot of books that I think are really great and that I would love to put music too. In a way I already do that since what I read does inspire and inform what I record. The obvious answer would be anything by Cormac McCarthy. Where I am at right now I find a strong connection to his work. Others would include Herbert Selby Jr., John Fante, Celine, Borges. But if I had to choose the only one I would have to say Moby Dick. It is one of the most epic and rich books I have ever read. There is great symbolism throughout the book and it is just an outstanding metaphor for human obsession and madness as well as the creative process. When a friend gave me the book he told me this is like making art. At that time I didn't understand how a book about whales and whaling could be like making art but it is. The obsessive hunt is very much like art making. The book is about an inevitable apocalypse for the characters that is brought upon them by their own doing. Really… just an awesome book.
Scene Point Blank: Have you ever thought about writing a book to accompany A Parable On The Aporia Of Vengeance And The Beauty Of Impenetrable Sadness? Maybe a short or silent film, given your moniker?
A Death Cinematic:Yes, in fact the titles of the tracks make up a short prose poem. In the future there might be some type of written book that accompanies an album or two but nothing solid yet. A film would be appropriate too, since a lot of the music and sounds are inspired by visuals. I would love to have a budget and the time to put the images in motion and on film.
Scene Point Blank: How important is the packaging / artwork to the vision of your work?
A Death Cinematic:Since my background is in visual art, the packaging is very important. When it comes to my work the music and the packaging are integral parts of the artistic expression. They are two different components of a broader theme or subject. I find them both to be very necessary and I don't really consider my packaging merely as a way to hold a CD. It is an attempt to give the listener a more holistic experience when they listen to the music/ noise. When listening to others' music I always consider what context the CD comes in. it is also part of the reason I stay away from downloads and I make all my promo copies the same as the actual edition copies. For the next release the promos are coming out of the edition. That is something we did for the sons of Alpha Centauri split.
Scene Point Blank: When writing the record do ideas of packaging concepts and artwork pop in your head? Or does the packaging evolve after you have completed the recording stage? What are you trying to accomplish or "say" with your work?
A Death Cinematic:I suppose what I am trying to accomplish with my work is to express something that has an enormous interest for me. Something that I am vastly interested or fascinated by and something that has an emotional impact on me. Right now it happens to be some kind of an apocalypse but that might and probably will change eventually.
Each track is a nuanced exploration of a specific emotional theme for me. Then these nuances are put under the umbrella theme of an album. The themes themselves kind of evolve as I make the sounds, noises and artwork. I am attempting to use the end of days themes as a metaphor for my own personal little daily apocalypses and vise versa. It is a bit difficult to explain.
Scene Point Blank: How much does the recording environment play a role in the sound of your records?
A Death Cinematic:I believe the recording environment plays a very big role in the sound of my records. Recording in an attic or basement late at night mostly through headphones so as not to wake the kids has an impact on how I monitor the sound and therefore how the master will sound. Using simple recording technology of not the highest fidelity also influences what the sound is going to be. Having an almost nonexistent budget which limits what type of equipment I can use... the environment is a huge factor and I try to utilize it the best I can to make the most appropriate recordings and tracks.
Scene Point Blank: Do you record your material on your own?
A Death Cinematic:Yes, I master and mix my own stuff too. I am in the midst of a learning curve.
Scene Point Blank: Your most recent release is a split with Sons of Alpha Centaurii and a future release is a split with Great Falls. How do you decide which fellow artists to work with?
A Death Cinematic:I have been very fortunate that artists that I respect and admire have approached me to do splits with them. On occasion I will ask if someone would like to consider doing a split with me. more often then not though, it is someone else's idea and at the moment I have a lot of requests and a lot of commitments to do splits and collaborations in the coming months and maybe even years.
Scene Point Blank: Is the upcoming A Death Cinematic album, The New World, a complete collaboration with Matt Finney?
A Death Cinematic:No, it is not a complete collaboration with Matt but we are talking about doing a whole album together in the future. This new album grew out of a single that matt and I collaborated on. He sent over the vocal track of him reading his story, "The New World," and I just started to build sound and music around his words. The track just fell into place for me. I had all the parts recorded in one afternoon. At that time I also had 15 other tracks that I recorded and titled and as I was looking over what I had done the whole concept for the full length just hit me. The first tracks, with their themes and titles became a prelude to the new world. The concept for the book of photos and the packaging also came to me in an instant. I knew at the time that there was something there that i just could not let pass by. I emailed matt and asked him if it was okay to forego the single idea and go with a full length a death cinematic album instead. He was/ is very supportive and understanding of the idea even though it is taking me forever to get it out. I just know that ideas don't always materialize and gel so easily and when they do I know I have to take advantage of it. Matt's work is the impetus for this new album and for that I am forever grateful to him. I hope to do him justice and I am looking forward to working with him on more stuff soon.
Scene Point Blank: What is the release you have done of which you feel the most satisfied or proud?
A Death Cinematic:Well, I’m proud of all of them but for different reasons. I guess the one that I feel is the most accomplished for me is A PARABLE... it took a lot of work and planning. Even though I had to make some changes, I think given the circumstances it came out pretty good.
Scene Point Blank: When writing the record do ideas of packaging concepts and artwork pop in your head? Or does the packaging evolve after you have completed the recording stage?
A Death Cinematic:I am always thinking about the artwork and by default the packaging. At every stage of the process I think of ideas how to best contextualize the sounds and music. I go through a lot of ideas and changes before I decide to start fabricating the packaging. I have to consider how big the edition of the release is going to be because that will determine some of the processes and what I can afford to do. I have scaled down certain editions because i liked the idea for the artwork and the packaging so much and it fit in so well with the concepts of the music and sound that I was not able to compromise on a different or more automated manufacturing process. Or the way I wanted to make the covers was too expensive to do in a larger edition. Of course time is also big factor of what I can make and there is also the issue of demand. Making a thousand copies of a release at this point would be an unwise thing for me to do.
Scene Point Blank: Besides the myriad of projects that you detail at A Simple Box Construction, is there anything else that A Death Cinematic has planned in the near future?
A Death Cinematic:The Simple Box Construction site covers everything pretty well. There will be more splits, collaborations and compilations coming. I am also thinking about short films and other visual endeavors too. But these ideas are in the embryonic stage right now.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any kind of a plan with where you would like to take the project?
A Death Cinematic:The plan is to keep doing what I am doing now but doing it better and more of it. I have pretty modest ambitions but I am also open to any opportunities that might arise.
Scene Point Blank: Could you see doing the project in a live setting?
A Death Cinematic:I have been thinking about doing live stuff every since the inception, and I thought that by now I would be already doing some live stuff. But things always take longer to do then I anticipate and hardly ever exactly how I plan them. I still hope to do some live stuff in the near future.
For more information, check out simpleboxconstruction.blogspot.com to see current and upcoming projects from A Death Cinematic as well as how to purchase music and support such a great endeavor.