Longing For Dawn is a promising new band from Canada that combines funeral-paced doom/death with dark ambient soundscapes. Their excellent debut album 'One Lonely Path' was released earlier this year on Twilight Foundation, a sister label of Cyclic Law, the dark ambient label of the band's main music writer, Frederic Arbour. This interview is the result of my correspondence with Frederic about his musical projects and labels.
O: How did you form Longing For Dawn? Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do musically before the band was together?
F:The idea to form Longing For Dawn came from a meeting with an old friend (Stefan, singer) in 2002 to play slow atmospheric doom metal. Iíve always been a fan of the genre and I guess then was my time to delve into this adventure, and yes, we knew from the start it would be slow, heavy and melancholic; these types of riffs are what comes out naturally when I play guitar.
How did the recordings for 'One Lonely Path' go? Was there a good sort of chemistry between the band members?
The chemistry was good during the recording of the basic tracks, although our first drummer left after this recording due to personal reasons. The recording of the atmospherics and mixing took a lot more time than expected for various reasons and time constraints, but over all we are all satisfied with the result, knowing how hard we worked on this recording.
Since a lot of your time goes into running a dark ambient label and your two electronic projects, how did you get in touch with doom metal?
As I mentioned above Iíve always been a fan of the genre, from the early Peacevile and Earache days and discovering Thergothon in the early 90ís, my musical tastes have always been directed at the underground scene, be it Doom, Black, Speed, Grindcore, Hardcore, Industrial, Ambient etcÖ for the past 10 years Iíve focused more on the Ambient and Industrial scenes and since forming Longing For Dawn three years ago I had a new found interest for Doom metal. Itís also great to see how the genre is evolving and to now be a part of it.
What do you like best about playing doom metal?
Iíd have to say at first that it enables me to express raw emotions and deep melancholy, itís at the same time both an aggressive and passive form of musical expression. I like the fact that over heavy guitars and vocals you can have smooth and lush atmospheric passages. It basicly unites my two favorite types of music.
What elements or aspects of dark ambient did you use for Longing for Dawn? What fits best with this kind of metal?
I personally didn't want to walk the typical path of having only basic string arrangements, I wanted to include a more Dark Ambient sonority to the songs. It was basicly trying to join a minimal Dark Ambient album with a Doom Metal one in a way. I guess I ended up using a mix of both my solo projects, INSTINCTS, which is more Orchestral and VISIONS, which is more abstract and space inspired. As to what fits best to this genre... well everyone has his own opinion on that, what I do works for me and thatís how it should be.
There are some other doom bands that have combined doom and ambient. Void of Silence resemble Longing For Dawn to the greatest degree, in my opinion, with their mix of slow doom/death and orchestral ambient elements. Until Death Overtakes Me is another project, that combines extreme funeral doom with minimalist ambient tracks and interludes. Are you familiar with these artists?
I have never heard of Void Of Silence until you mentioned their name but have been in contact with Stijn of UDOM in the past and have heard his music which I find quite worthy.
What was your main inspiration to begin making and working with music?
When I first started making music seriously was at age 14 and the drums was my instrument of choice, I played in various Grindcore and Speedcore acts until I was 23. Back then my main motivation was anger, the drums were the best instrument for me to channel negative energy into a positive outcome. Later, having dealt with this anger, I found Ambient music and have never looked back, I found a relative peace within myself and didn't feel the drums were appropriate anymore to express myself. Three years ago I started playing guitar to form Longing For Dawn, I like this instrument but do feel it to be quite a limited form of expression therefore joining both the guitar and ambient music feels more complete to me. Music has always been my main interest in life. Itís to me the only art form that can transcend the limits of the mind and enable us to go deep within ourselves and also beyond this visible world of ours, and sound is also part of that invisible world.
What is the difference between your projects in terms of expressing concepts and ideas?
To make a brief overview of the feelings I had and emotions I wanted to express when composing, my first solo project INSTINCTS for me dealt with more earthly concerns, a deep melancholy I feel from looking at this ever falling world mankind has created for himself, seeing this deep rooted self destructive behaviours in each one of us that in the end will, I think, cause our own demise. The aesthetics were more nature inspired also. VISIONS is more directed at transforming into an audible form my interest in cosmology and spirituality, how we humans are living on a planet that is floating and swirling endlessly in this infinite void we call the cosmos, these billions of stars, planets and other life forms weíll never know about and how the fundamental questions of, where we come from and why we are here will never be answered. Longing For Dawn might just be a joining of all these interests coupled with the thoughts and lyrics of our singer Stefan and the energy of the other band members.
Do you take much inspiration from Canada and your surroundings?
Yes, I feel extremely privileged of being born in such a vast and scarcely populated country. I greatly enjoy itís natural surroundings and always turn to nature and the elements to find solace and limitless inspiration. I now own a house in the countryside so I get to enjoy nature a lot more than before.
You have performed live with each of your projects. How does the experience of performing differ per project?
Well, performing with Longing For Dawn is basically the typical live metal band approach although we are contemplating using video projections in the future. I do like the energy created while being on stage with four other band mates. When performing with VISIONS, I am alone on stage, with a laptop, metal plates, Tibetan bowls and bells and various acoustic instruments and use a backdrop video I assembled which translates into a space odyssey, from the creation of the universe, through infinite galaxies and planets, all the way to our planet earth. With INSTINCTS Iíve only performed once, using some playback, live percussions and a backdrop video of split images of dead trees, which created a unexpected runic effect, this was quite a spiritual experience also.
Do you have any ideas that would not fit into a current project of yours? In other words, are there any other projects you are working on?
Iím not currently working on any other projects, but ideas are not whatís missing, time is my only constraint right now. For sure Iíll have other musical incarnations in the future but canít really know what form these will take at the moment.
How did you get the idea to start Cyclic Law Records?
I started the label in 2002 to release my first INSTINCTS CD with the help of my old roommate Yvan Arsenault who contributed the the project with his visual art, thus we co-released the 'INSTINCTS/Bustum' split CD which was a joining of my music and twelve A5 cards of his hand collages + three of my photographs. Following this release I got in contact with a lot of other musicians, namely Pšr of Kammarheit, Jan of Svartsinn and Hśrleif of Northaunt and Gerd of Predominance and had the idea to do a compilation with all these artists and my project and so the 'Nord Ambient Alliance' compilation saw the light of day. This is where the artistic and my interest in continuing with this label really took form.
How do you manage to release such high quality packaging and artwork every time, and still keep the prices so low?
The cost to produce these releases is quite high, but Iíve somehow managed to make it work out in the end The profit margin is quite low, so most of the money gained goes into producing the next release etc... The fact that the label and its artists have had quite a positive response through the years has helped to continue doing things this way and I hope I can continue to do so for many years. My interest is not only musical but also in visual graphics, Iíve always liked vinyl releases for their inserts, posters and textures etc. and wanted to bring these aesthetics to the CD format.
In June 2005, there were several concerts in Europe that featured Cyclic Law artists. You said in another interview that there were more things planned in Europe. Is there anything you can unveil at the moment?
Some of our artists are doing sporadic live performances in the coming months but as far a ďCyclic Law tourĒ is concerned nothing is scheduled for the moment but there will for sure be more live activities in the future, last summerís concerts were only the tip of the iceberg.
What more can we expect from Longing For Dawn, and when?
We are now preparing to record our second full length and are also hoping to find a suitable label to release it. If no one is interested weíll again release it on Twilight Foundation which is a side label I started for Longing For Dawn, but weíd like to have a more Doom or Metal oriented label to release it. So as to when this album will see the light of day I do not know, hopefully the album will find a suitable home soon after we finish recording it.
Thank you very much for your time. Any last words before itís too late?
Well I want to thank you Oscar for this interview and your kind support. For further information and audio samples:
Cyclic Law; http://www.cycliclaw.com
Longing For Dawn; http://www.cycliclaw.com/longing.html