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"Winter, ironically, rather than Autumn...seemed absolutely the right time to find out more about band founder Autumn Ni Dubhghaill's times and spaces and future plans, and she was happy to share some of those with us."

Interview with Forever Autumn.
"Acoustic Doom haunts the forested mountains of New England, where Forever Autumn has its home. It's been just over a year since the release of 'Patience Of ðm Fire-Keeper', which remains one of my most profoundly-loved albums of recent memory. Winter, ironically, rather than Autumn, is its season, and so it seemed absolutely the right time to find out more about band founder Autumn Ni Dubhghaill's times and spaces and future plans, and she was happy to share some of those with us."

Autumn Ni Dubhghaill, founder of Forever Autumn.

1. Welcome to the doom-metal hot seat, Autumn. Can we start with a brief introduction: who you are and where you're from?

First off, thank you for this opportunity. A far as introductions go; my name is Autumn Ni Dubhghaill. I am an artist, and the creative force behind Forever Autumn - a current two piece of myself, and cellist Jon McGrath. I reside in the forested mountains of Co. Berkshyre in western Massachusetts, a part of the New England region of the United States.

2. You've always used the phrase 'acoustic doom' to describe your music. What are the key elements of that, in your view, and how do you feel they convey the doom aspect?

Acoustic Doom, to me, is the best descriptor i could come up with when i had to choose a "genre". My musique draws heavily from Doom. In fact, the first four years of Forever Autumn demos were all electric and heavy. A lot of my early involvement in the Doom scene came from some of those demo's as well as the 2005 recorded Waiting for Öktober. That wæs a long tyme ago... They key element to Acoustic Doom is feeling; the feeling of Doom as it exists in all of us. Doom Metal unplugged and stripped bare, buried in the forest that the bones may be dug up and hung in trees. Acoustic Doom is a feeling and a rememberance of tymes long ago. It's haunting, like trying to remember a dream.

3. You use quite a wide variety of instruments, both natural and traditional. Did you have any formal background in music, or has it all been self-taught? Are there any other instruments you'd like to include or learn?

I have no background in musique. Sometymes i have a difficult tyme regarding myself as a musician. I can't read musique nor can i attempt to understand musique theory and such. Instead, i rely on feeling. I feel my way through musique. So, yes, it hæs all been self-taught. I started as a drummer, being frustrated for some tyme by the guitar. After i returned to guitar i would pick up whatever instrument i could get my claws on and and figure out how to play it. there are always more instruments i'd like to play. i'm currently working on bagpipes. I would like to include more of that in the next album. the fiddle hæs always eluded me, and i would like to get my own cello. I would also like to reincorporate the didgeridoo in my werke, as well as the clacking of bones.

4. There's a strong sense of the pagan Celtic or old English in many of your songs, and in your use of language and spelling. How do you connect with those older values? Do you feel a throwback to them as they were then, or as a more modern primitivism, or perhaps something else entirely?

My connexion to older values comes through spirit and bloed. There is a deep connectivity between myself and these ages long passed. i'm not sure if I can really explain it, but i will try. Throwback doesn't seem the right word. That word stays on the surface with no roots to hold it's place. The word i need, which i cannot find, spreads deep roots that wrap around stones and search for water. That water which divides worlds, yet also becomes a passage between them. The greater pagan Celtic influence comes naturally. It's what makes sense to me. As far as modern primitivism, I have never really considered it. I suppose all signs would point to that, but I just do what it is for me to do. I do however support the contemporary rediscovery of these ancient values, beliefs, and more. In a sense, that is something I feel Forever Autumn does. It asks the listener to remember how things were, connexion to earth and spirit, and a greater wisdom that dwells in all of us.

Fair point, 'throwback' is often used in a comparatively recent context, such as only going back a generation or two: would 'atavistic' - with its connotations of a much deeper, more primal connection to ancestry - be something like the word you're looking for?

Atavistic, new word, i had to look it up. It is a much better word and certainly what i waes searching for, thank you.

Portrait: "Portrait in Wedding Dress in Snow #1".

5. By the same token, trees and bones, ancient hauntings and a feel for doom all have strong symbolic and spiritual archetypes. When you explore them, are you telling bardic tales of personal experience or offering shamanistic teachings to those who might listen?

Shamanism hæs long pervaded my werke, both visually and musically. As we spoke above on what comes naturally, so to is the way of the Shaman. This is not often something i talk about, but since it is an important part of my werke, I feel I can share it here with your readers. People have often brought the subject up after listening to my musique or experiencing my performances. It is then that i know that they, on some level, understand. I do tell tales of personal experiences, and i do bring Shamanic teachings to whomever may listen. I don't expect ev'ryone to like it, or for ev'ryone to understand. I just hope that it the people who need to hear it, hear it. Hopefully it can in some way help them.

6. To touch on those other, visual, aspects: I've seen examples of your art in all sorts of media, mostly natural installations, but also photography, 'found' natural items, weaving. I suppose one could also include performance art, of a sort, with theatrical garb and face-painting, as well as some video. That's quite a broad range: aside from the shamanistic element, what else unites these various forms in your vision - and, equally, what gives them distinction from each other? Is there some sort of holistic sense of purpose which encompasses them and your music?

I feel there to be little distinction between my visual werke and that of musique and sound. Often i feel that they mirror each other. my art is what my musique would look like, and my musique is what my art would sound like. These werkes all come from the same primal, visceral place. I work in a multitude of media, like picking up another instrument, so does my art find new forms of expression. All of these forms are aspects of Self, of nature, spirit, and solitude. To a holistic sense of purpose i say this is what i must do. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I don't think i could. That speaks to purpose and drive. While i remain in this world it is for me to create, to share, and to help people remember themselves.

Installation werke "Down Below, Down Below".

7. Forever Autumn began as a solo project, but you now work as a duo with cellist Jon McGrath. Has that brought any changes to the band's approach or ideas, aside from the obvious additional instrument, or do you still essentially set the direction and do all of the composing?

This isn't the first tyme i've worked as a duo. During the recording of Waiting for Öktober i worked with Brian Kulas who played all of the electric guitar for the album. he helped me perform after the album for a few years. the addition of Jon McGrath to cello haes been a good one. it really fills the sparse open space with mournyng, and personally... i really like the cello. the approach and ideas remain the same. he understands that this is my band/project and while providing a great sound - the creative force is still my own. we share ideas and try new things but he does listen to me when i direct. it waes odd to find a rhythm at first, he being a trained musician while i howling our sounds and making strange motions with my hands to try to describe what i want. Jon haes done a great job understanding me and Forever Autumn, and that makes it easy for us to work together.

8. Your first jointly-recorded album, 'Patience Of ðm Fire-Keeper' was released just over a year ago, following on from a number of unavailable or out of print demo and album releases during the 2000's. How do you feel about those older works now? Is there any likelihood any of them might resurface at some point, or - especially given the gap involved since the last - is it more appropriate to consider 'Patience...' as the real starting point for the band?

I wouldn't say the first. as i revealed above, the first jointly recorded album waes Waiting for Öktober. Yes, however that before that were a series of recording all done alone with a little four track and many late nyghts. About these older werkes now? i feel like they are part of the story, but Forever Autumn haes evolved so much since then, as have i over these many years. I wouldn't call Patience of the Fire-Keeper thee starting point, but as a mature expression of Forever Autumn i would say that it is a milestone; a border marker along the way...the largest stack of rocks through a wandered wood where little trace is left of having been there. Patience of the Fire-Keeper is the most contemporary expression and channeling of myself now and how i move about this world. I have been playing with the idea of re-recording and more professionally releasing some of the older material. it might be interesting to go back and see how they manifest themselves now. I do have plans for re-releasing Waiting for Öktober. there are alot of great songs on there that have fallen into a snake-hole. i would like to fish them out, peel off the olde skin and let them bask in the low winter sunn.

The current line-up: Autumn and Jon. (Photo courtesy of Jenn Smith).

9. It was a great personal pleasure to discover the band by covering 'Patience Of ðm Fire-Keeper', and I do consider it a very special release. Is there anything you'd like to say, good or bad, about the review? What other coverage or feedback did you get, and how well do you feel the album was received?

Thank you for the compliment, it means a great deal to me. About the review? i am quite happy with it. it's the best review i have ever received and instills more confidence in myself and the album. I am honoured to have been reviewed once more for doom-metal.com. I've only said this once before, to my first review many years ago in Poland: you get it. you understand. i could not be more pleased. The feedback i have received about the album is, as expected, mixed. there are some people who really love it and feel themselves drift away, and other who just don't. As previously stated; i don't expect ev'ryone to like it, or to understand. With such a unique album, expectations are difficult. There haesn't been much coverage, doom-metal.com haes been the best and most thorough so far. Last year's tour found a few receptive crowds, but sometymes people just leave the room and you have to be prepared for that. It's only been a year since the release and I feel like the reach of Patience of the Fire-Keeper is not yet done spreading it's wings. I am still hopeful.

10. You recorded an official video for 'A Sadness On Winter Leaving', taken from the album. What led you to choose that particular track, and the visual concept for presenting it? How smoothly did filming actually go, and was it an enjoyable enough experience that you might repeat it?

I chose A Sadness on Winter Leaving as it seemed the most suitable for a "single" and best choice for the weather and terrain we found. I feel it's a powerful song. A video would help share that energy. The filming went very well. It waes a cold Novembre day and i got a little nervous when the sunn came out. It waes an enjoyable experience that i would like to have agayne. I must however admit that i waes very skeptical about the idea. Andy Poncherello, my part-tyme manager came up with the idea and did most of the organizational and directing work. At first i didn't want additional people there, standing creepily in the background. but he promised me that it would be good and i am happy with the result. They were all Forever Autumn fans. Climbing on trees and things where my idea though - i get distracted and start doing Autumn things. Sometymes i wish i just went barefoot like usual, but i do enjoy my ninja tabi and don't mind them being in a few shots. It waes very interesting making a musique video but enjoyable, and i would be willing to do something like that agayne. After the shoot, we headed back to town and i treated ev'ryone to tea.

Forever Autumn - 'A Sadness On Winter Leaving':

11. I like how remarkably "grounded" and unpretentious that sounds: film a rock video, worry about whether socks would be better on or off, then take everyone to tea afterwards. So, is it a little misleading to have concentrated thus far on the spiritual side of your art - is there also a practical or 'down to earth' side to it, and to you? How easily do they co-exist and complement each other?

It's not misleading at all. It is never wrong to concentrate on Spirit, but there are many sides and it is important to give them attention as well. I would agree to a practicality, although as an artist i am prone to ambitious projects as well. The "grounded" descriptor is probably applicable. I don't think about it much, which is probably why it's true, Forever Autumn too. The musique haes been described as "minimal" by some people, there are no unneeded flourishes. These two "grounded" aspects co-exist in a rather delicate balance with the rest of me. They do bicker from tyme to tyme but overall get along, though sometymes they can be clouded over by a thick darkness

And what sort of balance is there when focussing on your "found" or "installation"-type art? To a certain extent, those have to be based on mechanical considerations - what's available, what fits, what can be moved. Or is that what you mean by ambitious: if it seems like a good idea creatively, you just metaphorically roll up your sleeves and get on with whatever work is needed to shape it...regardless of, perhaps, practicality?

That may be where the ambition comes in, but i do need to work with what is available. I do need to consider what i can move, though sometymes i get carried away. Several tymes i have made paintings far to large for the Krautmobil (that's my car). If it seems like a good creative idea, i do just dive in. I have spent afternoons moving stones and days fishing driftwood out of rivers. In my Reed Ogham series i use regional reeds and cattails from our marshy highlands for my constructions. There are a few spots i favour. Those reed constructions are pinned together with Hawthorne thorns, which i march over mountains to harvest (don't worry, the trees give me permission to take a few here and there). Practicality gets thrown out the window when it comes to some of these projects, as mentioned above. Gathering the resources can be an enjoyable effort, wandering mountain tops and dancing through wetlands. Both my River of Driftwood and River of Fire werkes required a lot of forethought coupled with much on-the-scene improvisation. Oft tymes, it is the art that is most important, not the practicality.

12. You mentioned last year's touring: I hope the people who left were a very small minority! What sort of a spread of dates and places did you end up taking in? Is there any particular type of venue or occasion you prefer to play, and does it make a difference to how you approach performing in front of a strange audience?

Last year's tour waes alot of fun but waes short. We only traveled to several dates in the northeastern region of the United States, including Boston, New York and Vermont. I don't have alot of money so even that waes a stretch. However it waes enough to be called a tour. I can make it sound glamorous if need-be, but this is an honest interview and i would like to keep it that way. There waes one occasion, a long tyme ago, when we played a Pow-Wow. That waes alot of fun. We usually do alright in art gallery and coffee shop sort of settings, there are of course exceptions to the rule. Small clubs and venues are hit or miss. I would like to play more of them. I would also like to think that i do well in front of a strange audience. Once i get into my space (and provided there are no technical issues), i am sharing something special. In many ways it is a form of Shamanic trance. I observe people leaving or not paying attention but i try not to let it bother me. The art of performance is very important to me whether it's a large crowd or a single person.

13. Do you have any plans to develop the live side of the band in this new year? Are there any ways to reasonably overcome the financial dimension that might make it easier to reach further out - and would you want to, if there were?

What i would ideally like, is a talented percussionist to support the performance. My hands are tied in many ways playing live when i have to choose between drum or guitar, but no, i don't have any immediate plans to address this in the new year. If there were a way to overcome that financial barrier and make it easier to extend my reach, i would to think that i would embrace it. Perhaps if i sold more art the goals wouldn't feel as far out of reach. Money is always an issue, as i'm sure it is with a great many people, but ARS GRATIA ARTIS - Art for the sake of Art. These things we do must be done regardless of financial woes.

14. How do you sell and distribute your art: is that just locally through some sort of craft-fair or retail network? As at least some of it is photographic, or could be captured for prints, it could be feasible to have some sort of web-based business for that, and/or perhaps some of the smaller physical pieces. Is that something you've considered, or might think about in future?

I exhibit in galleries, mostly local. I've never been in a craft-fair. I have been rejected though. i don't sell much. Sometymes i think that people are afraid of it. I also like to search the internet for calls for art and the chance to broaden my hunting range. In recent years i have been getting a lot more opportunities with my installation werke, though not really "sell-able" i do enjoy exhibiting these pieces and get paid for doing such from tyme to tyme. A web-based business for my art as well as musique would be a great venue for my werke. I often consider it, but first thing i need to do is update my website to a state where it can share and display all the things i need. That's the next project, and Warten auf Öktober of course. I feel that my art and musique each have the potential to open doors for each other. I need to become a better marketer as i am oft swept up in the process of creation. I'm not very good with numbers and that side of the brain. Slowly i learn, but at least i learn.

15. Hunting range, that's something of an alien concept to us in the UK these days - I know you have bows, do you do any other sorts of hunting, and what would you consider to be fair - or unfair - game? I guess we probably get quite a distorted media picture of the US 'right to bear arms' - is it something particularly relevant to you, or which has much of a direct or indirect effect on you?

When i say hunting range, i meant for an analogy with an animal, like a mountain lion perhaps. The way that their range extends over a swathe of land, and for all intents and purposes, becomes their territory. I'm not a hunter. If i had to i would probably call myself a scavenger. I do have a bow i am quite fond of, her name is Scythia. I do practice my archery, as well as throwing tomahawks, and i might mention i am pretty good with my nunchaku too. That is a different story. I am not against hunting per say. I know the purpose and support the ancient practices of our ancestors. I support skilled and respectful hunters. However i do not support the drunken yahoos in the woods drinking cheap beer and shooting anything that moves. They are the ones that drive me from my home and invade my safe place, upsetting the balance of the forest. It is unsettling to hear gunshots ring over the mountains so close to my nest.

Portrait: "...of the Hunt".

16. Ah, OK, I was thinking you meant some sort of internet shopping for heavy weapons! But since that takes us into the realms of geography, I'm probably not alone in associating New England with Lovecraft's writings: lots of small insular towns full of sinister, tottering houses, coastal reefs and weird swamps, and a few isolated farmhouses where unspeakable horrors may be found. I guess maybe he didn't get as far as Co. Berkshyre in Massachussetts to find the mountains and forests...so, what's it really like? Have you always lived there? And how much of it do you look upon as your range now?

Co. Berkshyre is on the far western end of Massachusetts. I think only one Lovecraft story made it out here, the rest are reserved for the coast. we do have swamps however, tottering hauses and isolated farmhauses. It's quiet here, which is good. Out here we are in the more northern portion of the Appalachian mountain range. The famous Appalachian Trail is not too far a walk. Though there is not much here, we are only an hour away from Albany, NY and Springfield, MA and both Boston and NYC are only three hours away as well as the Atlantic Ocean. We also have the hauses of Herman Melville, Edith Wharton and Norman Rockwell. In this form i have always lived here. I feel a deep attachment to the land. The energy is different here. As far as my range in wanderings go, it extends quite far throughout the county and a little further east. My musique however doesn't spread too far here. There isn't a want for Acoustic Doom.

17. Getting back to things musical, there are clearly a lot of purely natural and internal influences that feed into your work. Are there any other things that also tie in, or inspire you to write: such as key bands, perhaps, or art in other media forms?

There are other bands that have been important in my life, like My Dying Bride (particularly Turn Loose the Swans), Death in June, and David Bowie, as well as the "folk" musique of Ireland and Russia (to name a few). Black metal too. There is always black metal. It's difficult to say or to see which have actually had a profound impact on my werke. I would like to think that they all have, but at the same tyme none. I do find inspirit in some visual works as well. Anselm Kiefer and Andy Goldsworthy are amoung my favourite artists. Yet there is something in the in-between spaces, something more... It's the in-between spaces, the worlds within worlds that call most to me. The art within all senses must be considered. Inspirit may come from these places, and how i move about them between the worlds.

In-between spaces? I've seen a lot of interpretations of those, ranging from the almost polar opposites of 'pure potential devoid of any specific form' to 'incremental variations on our generally-accepted reality extrapolated out towards an infinite number of multiverses'. What do you consider the in-between to really encompass?

To me, the in-between is that moment after dusk, when ev'rything turns blue for a brief moment. In-between are the worlds closed to most. in some of my portraits, i symbolically represent a connexion to these spaces with one foot in running water and another upon dry land. the world in-between, to me, is the spirit world. it is open to those who would honestly seek it. In-between is a way of living with the Earth and existing with all that surrounds us.

Installation werke: "River of Fire".

18. You said before that there wasn't a particular want for Acoustic Doom locally. Have you seen any particular demographic where that does exist? I suppose that's really asking: do you know what a typical Forever Autumn fan looks like - if such a thing exists - and how that could be used as a basis to reach out to others who might specifically appreciate your music?

Over the years i have concentrated much of my efforts to bringing Forever Autumn and Acoustic Doom to Europe, where i feel it is more understood, and much better received. As to a typical fan; so far i have noticed no pattern. In fact i am often surprised by the people who actually do enjoy my musique. They are often not the ones i would expect, and those i would expect to enjoy it are often closed and distant, refusing to let Forever Autumn in. There is something that speaks to a variety of people, as far as what that is? it remains a mystery.

19. You have been making music for a long time now - Forever Autumn's actually one of the earliest bands entered on our site bandlist - and you said earlier you can't imagine doing anything else. Do you have any longer-term vision or direction for the band, or are you content to let it evolve as it will? How would you like people to be thinking about Forever Autumn in, say, several more years from now?

One of the earliest bands on the bandlist? wow, that sounds like an honour. To your question of longer-term direction, i would say that letting it evolve as it will is the best course of action. I don't want to limit myself to a particular outcome. I feel like a lot of the organic movement and evolution of Forever Autumn would suffer if i waes to dedicate myself to just one road. I suppose there are some things i do limit myself to; no teen-pop musique, no country, no rap (i would be a terrible rapper, just as i would be a terrible pop star). I'm sure there are other things as well. I am limited only by my skills as an artist and the depth of my dreams. How would i want people to think on Forever Autumn in the next several years? I don't want to seem selfish or to say that i want people to think this or that. I leave it to you (pl) to receive Forever Autumn as you will and interpret as you may. I should hope that in the next several years, my musique will have reached a winder audience and that more people who need to hear it have access to it. Of course, if i'm not here to make the musique anymore, i would wish that people would know that i tried and remember me well.

20. Well, I think we've pretty much covered past, present and future for Forever Autumn as a band - so, thank you once again for your time and participation, and good luck for the future! If there's anything you'd like to add, the last words are yours...

First, i would like to thank you for this interview. it haes been an honour and a privilege, (and a whole lot of fun!). there isn't much else to say. you have covered most of what i can immediately think about that would need to be known about both Forever Autumn and myself. This website ordeal, it's nearly over. I have struggled for years trying even the most simple of do-it-yourself web building. as i always knew; technology and i don't quite get along. Finally, i had the common sense to employ the abilities of a professional. i am told that the website will be ready quite soon, hopefully by the tyme this interview is published. It haes been a terrible struggle to try to put this nexus point of my creative werke together, but will be a big relief when it is finally complete. It should provide easier access to both my art and Forever Autumn. In conclusion, i want to thank ev'ryone for taking the tyme to read this. Hail Woodland Sorcery!!

Editor's Note: The website is now online at Hail Woodland Sorcery.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Forever Autumn bandpage.

Interviewed on 2016-02-01 by Mike Liassides.
Rotten Copper
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