Band Of The Week #0079 - Snow Ghosts
This week's Band Of The Week the amazing Snow Ghosts, who have just released their album ‘A Quiet Ritual’, we had a chat with them about the release.
The album is called ‘A Quiet Ritual’, does the name have a meaning?
Yes, absolutely. The album grapples with themes of death and loss and how as individuals we all have our own 'quiet rituals' and coping methods to deal with grief. When you think of ritual, you imagine large ceremonial events but we wanted to question whether it's the small personal rituals that truly reflect the human condition.
You recorded it in a castle, what was the castle called? What made you choose to record there?
We have set up our studio in a 'castle' - it has crenelations so that is considered a castle right? We haven't been very creative with the name I'm afraid, so it's just called 'The Castle' at the moment. It does have two sides to it, which we call 'The North Wing' and 'The South Wing' and it is filled with enough taxidermy and strange, medieval-looking furniture to qualify in our opinion. It was important to us to find a writing and recording space that worked with and helped inspire the themes of the album. The Castle is surrounded by stunning historical woodland has a decaying Victorian charm. You have the sense that much of it hasn't changed for hundreds of years and that in itself is an inspiration - particularly for Hannah lyrically.
Any behind the scenes stories while recording?
John Kenny came to visit The Castle with his wonderful boar-headed Carnyx as well as a selection of other fascinating horns. During one of the first Carnyx demonstrations, Indy (Ross's dog) was so convinced that the instrument was some sort of animal that he kept growling at its head incessantly . We actually have some of this on video. He was terrified and rightly so!
The album centers on the theme of death, can you explain that further?
Death is a theme often explored, and in many different art forms, but we wanted to delve in to how we process such a mysterious commonality, both on a group level and a personal one. The aim was to analyse the rituals surrounding death throughout history and how, in many ways, we have lost the ability to cope as well as we have in generations gone by. Is this because of modern isolation or the break down of community, religion and rite or is it due to our a tendency to trust our own personal coping-mechanisms rather than grieving as a group? Saying that, death as a topic is timeless. We all have to deal with the death of loved ones and one day we have to face our own. It is something we all share , yet somehow it is still a taboo subject that we are often too scared - at least in the western world - to socially explore.
There is quite the mix of instruments on this album, such as a boar-headed horn, how did you get hold of these? And what made you decide to use them?
When we first started writing the album we watched a documentary that featured John Kenny's Carnyx and we were instantly fascinated. It beautifully wove together the album's themes of ritual and history and as an instrument its tone is simply timeless. It can sound aggressive and battle-ready, and yet equally tender and sympathetic. We thought it perfectly reflected the fluctuating stages of grief. We got in touch with John Kenny and he brought his wonderful insight and talent to the album.
What musical inspirations did you draw on when writing the album?
Other than collaborating with Toby Young - http://theothertoby.com/composer and John Kenny - http://carnyx.org.uk/ on this album, who were both hugely inspiring, the majority of our influences have been non-musical. Being in an historically unchanged environment, surrounded by beautiful woodland and countryside has allowed us to really immerse ourselves in to the timeless aspects of the album concept. That space, environment and time to observe the losses we all share - and have done throughout time immemorial - was by far the most inspiring aspect of this album.
Now the album is out, what next? What are your plans for the next few months?
As John Kenny has a incredibly busy schedule, we decided to record and film with him and a string section at Real World studios, so that we have a live and acoustic version of some of the tracks. In order to help blend our synth elements with this more acoustic sound we also had the opportunity to be one of the first bands to perform with an Onde acoustic resonator https://www.la-voix-du-luthier.com/ .