TWILIGHT FAUNA is another american band that get inspiration from their mountains. This time, the Appalachian area. His music mix lots of elements including american folk music as you can hear on the tracks. Look foward for a plenty of releases by TF over the year!
Please, describe the music and aesthetics of Twilight Fauna.
Originally I called it Appalachian black metal, but over time the sound has morphed into a mixture of atmospheric black metal and Appalachian folk. Twilight Fauna is really a hard band to categorize which I like. I don’t really set limits on it, so you’ll hear traditional all acoustic songs alongside more traditional black metal tracks and some will be a mix of both. I’ll use whatever sounds I can to tell the stories of the mountains and people of Appalachia so it’s experimental sound wise. I never really set out to sound like anyone else. If you aren’t pushing the boundaries, what’s the point of trying to create something new?
Aesthetically, I don’t really have a look. I don’t play live and really prefer to let the music speak for itself. I spend quite a bit of time wandering the more isolated areas of the mountains so you can find a lot of my photos and album art feature those places, but I don’t wear corpse paint or anything like that. No disrespect to bands that use corpse paint, but for me personally it wouldn’t feel authentic. I’m probably the least interesting part of Twilight Fauna. In some ways, I feel like it isn’t even mine. It feels much bigger than me personally. Like it comes from somewhere else. As Selim Lemouchi said, “What am I if not a vessel?” I hope at this point a few other musicians are reading this and saying to themselves “I understand that feeling” and not “this guy is bat shit crazy.” Or maybe it’s both.
The “Hymns of a forgotten homeland” was released in vinyl and was meant to be experienced in this medium. What do you think that listening to it on a record player would enhance the experience? During the production and mixing did you do anything that would make it sound better on LP?
As I’m recording an album, I tend to get a feel pretty early for how I’d like to release it. A lot of my material has a really raw sound to it that sounds great on cassette. But with Hymns, it had a clarity and warmth to the sound that I felt vinyl would really reinforce. So with that in mind, I mixed and mastered it with the idea that it would be a vinyl release, and lucky for me Fragile Branch Recordings felt the same way. I’m really proud of how it came out. There is a big difference in the sound between the digital and vinyl versions. The vinyl really brings a depth to the sound that can’t be replicated in other formats.
Your last release “Therapeutic Landscapes” has a suggestive name. Is it meant to be listened like that? What do you expect the listener to take out from that?
With many of my releases, I set out to tell a specific story or aspect of life in the mountains. Sometimes that revolves around Appalachian culture and sometimes it’s about nature itself, and sometimes I need to put something out that is purely cathartic for my own benefit. It’s a way for me to work through my own pain. My album Grief was like that and so is Therapeutic Landscapes. Therapeutic Landscapes is me looking for answers in the midst of my own grief. It’s also why the lyrics for that album will never be released. They’re far to personal. So in a sense, my purpose of writing Therapeutic Landscapes was nothing more than my own selfish need to give voice to my struggles. What’s amazing is that out of that selfishness, other people connect their own experiences to it and create their own meaning. I’ve heard from several people that Grief helped them through hard times. So while I never really place expectations on my listeners, there is something special when those connections happen. I feel a great kinship with those that take the time to listen to my music. They really are experiencing my life and the history of my home in a very direct way, and I am grateful for those that take the time to share that experience.
I never really set out to specifically mold those two genres together. I grew up hearing Appalachian folk music. My first memories of music is hearing my grandmother and mother sing traditional mountain songs on my grandmother’s porch. So in trying to create music that is honest to my experience, it sort of happened organically. But it’s not always an easy marriage. I’m constantly trying to find that balance and different ways to combine the two. When I set out to write a track, I never purposefully try to make it one way or the other, I step back and let it happen naturally. Above all, I strive to write honest music and traditional folk music is just a part of who I am. It’s me keeping my ancestors alive. And I’m definitely not the only band that’s infusing American Folk into black metal. But I try not to compare my own work with what other bands are doing. My music is much to personal for me to judge it by someone else’s work.
Your music often connects with nature elements. Do you relate this “appalachian” music to the “cascadian” scene in the US?
I have great respect for the Cascadian bands. I think they’ve really helped raise the visibility of American black metal on the international level. I think there is definitely some similarities between the two regions, but there are some huge differences as well. In terms of culture, Appalachia is a very poor area. There is a lot of poverty here in the mountains. Poverty and isolation over generations have led to a very unique way of life and belief system. So on the nature/environment level, there is quite a bit of overlap between the two “scenes.” I can certainly listen to some of the cascadian bands and feel a kinship when they’re speaking about the natural world and the mountains. But in terms of the life experiences and history of the people, there are differences. But I’m not so much concerned with overall scenes. In the end, we are all setting out to do the same thing. Create music that speaks honestly to our experiences. So, while I think there are some differences between Appalachian and Cascadian music, there is a kinship there. Whenever I meet other underground musicians, it’s like meeting long lost brothers and sisters. The worst thing that could happen would be for it to become an Appalachia versus the Cascades kinda thing. We’re all in this together. Total support to the northwestern bands.
Also those aren’t the only two mountain ranges that have a thriving metal scene. Something that is still flying under the radar are the bands coming out of the Rocky Mountains. Bands like Deafest and Evergreen Refuge are developing their own distinct sound out in Colorado. I think we’re starting to see regional metal start to happen in the U.S. kind of like what you see among the European bands that come form different countries. It’s an exciting time to be a metal fan.
I’ve seen many great responses to your records on bandcamp. That’s very impressive for such a underground, atmospheric, one-man band. How did you manage to get such attention towards your work?
Early on I did a lot of work trying to spread the word. It’s not easy for bands that don’t play live, but I’ve lucky enough to become part of a community of people who are really passionate about music. It’s never really been one of my dreams to have any sort of mainstream success. It’s far more important to me that I find small pockets of people who dig what I’m doing and I’ve been able to do that. But really they found me more than I found them. Twilight Fauna really grows because people keep helping it grow. How big it gets is really out of my hands. I keep making music that is important to me. People find it and tell their friends. That’s actually far more meaningful to me than having mainstream success. I get to know the people that are fans. I’ve met up with them and shared beers. Those friendships, those moments where people really connect, those are the truly meaningful interactions. Community is much more important than being signed to some giant label.
Apart Twilight Fauna, do you play in other bands? Is this your main project now?
My time is split equally between Twilight Fauna and my neofolk band Green Elder. Green Elder is an all acoustic band with a lot of traditional instruments, but there is some overlap with Twilight Fauna in that both put a lot of emphasis on atmosphere. There will be a Green Elder 7″ vinyl coming out pretty soon. Hopefully within the next month or so. It’s entirely self released and will be for sale directly from me via the Green Elder bandcamp page.
I plan pretty far ahead when it comes to releases mainly because to put out a quality release takes time to plan. There will be a couple of split releases coming out on cassette during the first part of this year. A cassette split with the Appalachian doom band Old Thunder will be out on Into the Night Records in a few weeks. And I haven’t officially announced anything yet, but this might be a good time to get everyone excited. I can’t really talk about any of the details yet but there will be a Twilight Fauna split 7″ coming out later this year. The other band is recording now and we’re still finalizing all the details but it’s shaping up to be something really special. I hope to be able to make a formal announcement in a month or so. I also hope to have a full length follow up to Hymns coming out on 12″ vinyl late next year.
Do you have any plans to play alive with TF? How do you think should be the perfect live experience for your music?
I don’t ever foresee Twilight Fauna playing live in any formal capacity. Logistically it would involve getting other musicians together and me teaching them the songs. Really though, my songs are something of a snap shot of specific moments in my life. So to ask other people to play that, especially over and over on a tour seems dishonest because I could never really recreate the moment when I first felt the need to record it. It’s a bit strange when you really think about it that we ask musicians to continually recreate the same thing over and over every night as a public spectacle. It seems silly to ask a painter to stand up in front of a crowd and repaint the same image over and over again, night after night. So why ask that of artists who make music? Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for touring musicians. I go out to shows and support touring bands, but I don’t think there should be an expectation that bands have to play live.
But there have been times where I’ve played TF songs for small groups of people. It’s usually an intimate setting, out in nature. Preferably around a fire. I write a long of my songs acoustically first, so I can play some of my work solo but it’s a more minimalist folk oriented song version than what’s on my recordings. That’s really as “live” as I’ll ever get. As far as setting up at a bar and playing for strangers, or having a tour, I can say with certainty that won’t ever happen.
Thank you very much, now you can have your word. Cheers!
Thank you for the great questions. It’s always a pleasure to talk with someone who I can tell has taken the time to really listen to my music and understand what I’m trying to say. That is much appreciated. I’m grateful for the opportunity and for all the support I receive. For those that are just hearing about TF, feel free to get in touch. I personally run all the Twilight Fauna social media so I’m not hard to find. Who knows? Maybe we can share a beer one day. –Ravenwood of Twilight Fauna
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