Interview // 2022-06-10
The first song I heard from Kardashev was Snow Sleep. I found the video unsettling; it did a really good job with its portrayal of abandonment. It hit deep. I really felt the emotion, and wanted to hear more.
I find this band to be cathartic and tension-releasing. The first time I heard Liminal Rite I was in the bath, and was able to take it all in. Today is the album release date! I thought it was time to have a chat.
You guys have been making music for the last 10 years. You have been going the route of concepts for your material. Do these big-picture ideas come to you often, and you have a backlog of ideas? Or rarely, and you grab onto it when they do?
NICO MIROLLA: Yep! This year is 10 years for us and we’ve always written concept records. I guess the other option would be a compilation of singles? I’m really not sure what we’d be making if it wasn’t records that are designed as a single listen from start to finish. I suppose we’d write singles otherwise. We don’t have a backlog of concepts, but we do hold onto an idea for the next record if we find one. As an example, before Liminal Rite was finished, we’d found the concept for the album we’re working on now and we allowed it to influence us.
I heard you like to hear the music for a while, and let the words come. Was there a song that was harder to get the lyrics flowing?
MARK GARRETT: That's absolutely right. I almost never start on lyrics, melodies, or vocal patterns until a song is finished, or as close to finished as we can get it. It's honestly just a lot easier for me. I also view my role as very much with the music rather than acting as a frontman. So, when I listen to what's been created, I can hear what the song is asking for and what it needs rather than trying to form a section around me belting or doing gutturals. As for difficulty, this album has been the most challenging to write lyrics for. I usually go into each album with next to no concept in mind, and the concept kind of unfolds as I go. But we started this project with a clear narrative and goal, so I often found myself struggling to find ways to tell that story without being too on-the-nose. It was tough but I think I made it work, and learned a lot about lyric writing from the process.
Tell me about the dialogue parts heard in some songs - who and why?
NICO: We've done dialogue before, but always very washed out and in the back. The Almanac opened and closed with spoken word sections in a language I constructed called Alunea, but in Liminal Rite the narrations are very forward and meant to transition the tone of the album. We honestly tried it on a whim, and it really worked. Sean, our drummer, lends his voice since he was able to hit a very rich, smokey tone in his speaking voice. And Alex, our bassist, wrote the script for every narration. I actually leaned on those scripts quite a bit when writing lyrics. But yeah, the goal was to have them help bring the album to its next phase, as it gets progressively darker and more morose.
You started out as a four-piece, then you were down to three, now you have found Sean (my fellow Canadian) to fill the drum role. How has having a drummer again impacted the band?
NICO: I love this question because it can be hard to find time to recognize individuals when the marketing is around the “group project”. We began as a four piece as we didn’t see a need for a second guitarist and eventually in 2014 we had to part ways with our original drummer and let me tell you, the absence of a drummer for multiple records was arduous. We tried to hire various people and even tried out five or so drummers, but they didn’t work out for one reason or another. Eventually, in 2017-2018, I was tagged by Sean Lang in an Instagram post where he was promoting his solo project “The Great Filter” wherein he had composed all of the instruments. I began talking with him and he expressed interest in Kardashev and so we hired him to do a cover video for The Almanac and then for The Baring of Shadows. After that record I offered him a more formal/regular role in the band and I am very thankful to him for his work ethic, knowledge and creative skill. It’s nice to not depend on my own drum compositions/lack of drum skill and instead knowing that we have a trusted, tempered professional on board. 😊
Unsettled, not okay with decisions, struggling with details in life, finding it hard to find your space, feeling a deep sense of loss. This seems to be a hard transitional place. What can you tell me about centring your thoughts on these hard places for lyrics?
NICO: The album really focuses on a lot of these concepts and also focuses on how we are always on some sort of precipice in our life. The actions we take, the way we perceive the world, and the relationship we have with hope and sadness all guide the direction of life in very real ways. That's the reason we called the album "Liminal Rite". The Lost Man, the main character in the album, transitions from feeling lost but hopeful that he can regain the comfort of his childhood, into absolute despair. The story of the album takes place in different rooms and locations in the house as an allegory for moving from one emotional and mental state to another. Eventually he yields to that despair and burns the house down with him inside, and that's the actual Rite, or ritual, that's referenced in the title.
The artist that made your cover art, Faith Veloro, how did you choose her for the job? I noticed there are three pieces - what do they mean?
NICO: Yes! Faith is incredible and I would recommend her to anyone seeking professionally painted portraits! Originally we’d asked the person who did The Baring of Shadows artwork if he’d like to paint for this album, but he advised us that we could work with someone more versed in the medium of painting and so he recommended Faith since they know one another. I explained the album concepts to her via email, suggested a few references and gave her the scope of the CD/Vinyl layouts and she immediately knew what to paint. She sent me a few references and asked for a colour scheme and within a few days she’d already produced two of the pieces for review. It was incredible how quickly and professionally she got us the art.
You have Twitch streams and a YouTube channel, and have quite a bit of interaction with fans. Tell me about a time or two when a fan shared the impact your music had on them.
NICO: Yes, we tend to spend a lot of time engaging with our fans and Enlisted Travelers. We’ve been on Twitch since 2015 but never fully took off with it since we didn’t have a full band at any point in that tenure. As of 2022, I’ve actually moved away from Twitch for personal and professional reasons and we’ll be live again on our YouTube channel for future live streams and community days. That being said, we’ve received many DMs.
I often go to music for different moods - for example, when I am excited or upset. Can you give me an example of a song you might go to for a very specific mood?
NICO: I like this question a lot because I’m very similar. I have mood playlists like Piano Nights, Suicide Sundays, Sadboi Saturdays and more. I think that we tend to write music that facilitates different moods in our own way. Many people have told us that they weren’t able to grieve/weep/etc. Until our music brought it out of them and I’ve sent similar messages to artists I like. Here’s a short list for me:
Oceano - The Taken (Anger)
Cabal - Blackened Soil (Energy/Motivation)
Feed Me - Feel Love (Nostalgia/Love/Content)
Johann Johannsson - A Model of the Universe (Contemplative/Reflective)
I am a country girl (the town I live in has a population of 5000), and you guys are city guys, so tell me the do's and don'ts of visiting a city, according to you?
NICO: This is a fun question as we all grew up in major cities, Phoenix, Tempe, and Vancouver. I think a few things are necessary for a visit to a HUGE city. Firstly, check the weather and pack clothing appropriately, second, find the Subreddit for that city and look for the best places to eat or ongoing events like First Fridays, etc. Finally, I’d say to use an app like Meetup to find events/shows/gatherings to meet people with similar interests from that area!
What city or location would you want to visit if you had no restrictions?
NICO: If there are no restrictions, I’d like to see Homer, Alaska as my old friend Matt used to tell me about where he grew up and his family home that is still there. Something about a city on a bay, across from a glacier where the day lasts 20 hours and the water is always cold… Incredible.
I heard you play board games, so, as a fellow gamer I have to ask - what are your favorite ones?
NICO: You know, we’ve always been huge gamers and thanks to the pandemic, we had to place it on hold for a while but now we’re playing DND 5e once a month in person again! Mark is our forever DM and I, Nico, am playing a halfling bard and Alex is playing a Human Ranger. So far this campaign has been awesome! As for board games, we used to play Eldritch Horror (and all expansions), Decent, Imperial Assault, Catan, and Kingdom Death Monster 1.5. Occasionally we’d play Cards Against Humanity and we’ve even toyed with the idea of making our own board game. 😊 Maybe one day we’ll publish one!
After interviewing Kardashev, I decided to add the song Silvered Shadows to my playlist.
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