WL//WH Interview A CLOUD OF RAVENS
“Another Kind Of Midnight” is the title of the new album by Brooklyn-based dark duo A Cloud Of Ravens and it releases on March 16 via Cleopatra Records. It is the band’s sophomore long-play and it hides inside an amazing collection of brand new spells in the likes of modern gothic rock music. The duo consists of Beth and Matthew with so many boons in their quiver; they play cold wave, they play post-punk, they are Gothics, and they set to music some of the most striking lyrics you can find out there. For all these reasons and a few more too I asked them for an interview that they kindly accepted and it turned out to a very interesting and nice chat. We warmly welcome ACoR in the terrain of WL//WH.
Hello Ravens, welcome to WL//WH. Let’s go straight to the news; “Another Kind Of Midnight” LP releases on March 16 via Cleopatra Records and I’d like to ask how long did it take you to create it and who are you calling around with this superb album?
Matthew: Thank you! We are big fans and regular visitors of WL//WH. Your constant flow of content is always impressive and we regularly find cool new bands there. The album took about six months to record. We ended up with 15 songs and decided on our favorite 10 for the album. Versions of the remaining 5 may end up on a future release. We hope that devotees of the classics, like us, will appreciate what we’re doing, as well as newer fans. We make it a point to honor the formative sounds and aesthetics of the genre(s) without being redundant. Hopefully, that comes across.
Compared to your previous records in 2019 and 2020 Ι feel that the new album is more mature in all aspects and especially in its artistic roots, I sense that it is quite an ambitious album. What is “Another Kind Of Midnight” to you?
Matthew: We appreciate that. We started recording the album just before the pandemic began, and the bulk of it was obviously completed during it. Also, the civil/political unrest in the states, and certainly worldwide, has been at a level we’ve not seen in our lifetime. 2020 has presented palpable darkness on so many fronts. Between the scourge of racism and lifestyle intolerance, the bleak reality of the pandemic, political tribalism, and the deterioration of the environment, this is like a new dark age. “Another Kind of Midnight” seemed an appropriate title. That said, we are optimistic for a better future, worldwide.
As it relates to our past releases, “In the Wicked Hours” had more of a tribal and orchestral element, and we used a lot more synth sequencing. This album is a bit more stripped down, and guitar-based. While doing demos I was concerned that it was too disparate from previous releases. Beth encouraged me to go with whatever was naturally coming to me, and not worry about expanding on the sound, or alienating our audience. If there’s a maturity in the album, it’s to Beth’s credit. Her role in the process is invaluable. We both share a similar sensibility in balancing the tone of the classics we grew up on with a contemporary one, but ultimately I trust her ear more than my own.
Can you give us the sonic atlas of the 10 ‘chapters’ of the album?
Matthew: I will try to hit the touchstones that I think are relevant to the album as a whole. Again, sonically, the guitar is decidedly a focus here. We chose “When it Comes” as the single, and it happens to be one of the more aggressive tracks on the album. “World on Fire” is similar and again speaks to the axis of conflict between the environment and political polarity. “A New Atonement” really references some of our heroes like The Danse Society and Samhain. Lyrically it deals with a human view of sin and our ideas of retribution, and if it can really exist in a karmic universe. We used piano on “Sacrosanct”, “Embraced” and “Ban-Druidh [The White Witch]“, which we always love to implement where we can. All three (I’ll include “The Earthen Call” here too) speak in different ways about finding that path and person in the world that helps you make sense of your place in it. “If I am the Wrath” is a bit of a barn-burner; very guitar-heavy. I think it’s really about traversing a year like we’ve had and trying to come out sane, whole and possibly stronger on the other end of it, but again, it’s open to interpretation. “The Northern Cross” is another favorite of mine. Sonically it’s pretty immersive. I think it’s ultimately about remaining attached to the things that matter in life, like your relationships, expression, and what you create, rather than impermanent physical things. Probably my personal favorite is “Tithes & Offerings”. It’s very minimal, and likely best voices the intent and theme beneath the entire album, which we will leave to the listener’s discretion.
The lyrics of the leading single “When It Comes” troubled me as if I had the scythe over my head. I somehow felt that these lyrics were inspired by books and libraries with thrills, on the other hand, the cold vanity of death came also across my mind. What troubles the poet’s mind?
Matthew: “When it Comes” is largely subject to perspective, and I like yours. It’s hard not to attribute the spectre of death given the dire climate of 2020, but I think it also presents a choice. We’re all on this trip together, and we look at it through our own personal lenses. I feel It’s up to us as individuals to decide what the “it” is in “When it Comes”, within the larger frame of our place in the world and our reactions to it, as energetic beings with a human conscience. To me, it’s about prevailing.
A Cloud Of Ravens is a pictorial yet very poetic name and I am wondering what are you in it, are you the cloud or the ravens, are you of the same tribe as Mr Poe?
Matthew: We’re definitely fans of Poe. I can try to sound poetic about our name, but honestly, I just thought it was a resonant visual. It’s something that came to me when I was recording the first demos. It fit the mood, and I tend to look at those synchronicities as providence. Also, speaking of synchronicities, Beth’s nickname when she was a teenager was “Raven”, which I didn’t know when I named the band. I also tend to have a less positive worldview than Beth, so maybe I’m the cloud and she’s the raven?
Beth: I was called Raven when I was in the goth scene in New Orleans and then the industrial scene in Chicago. At the time, I was a waitress at Hard Rock Cafe (s) and I’m pretty sure there’s some embarrassing photographic evidence of me in my uniform with “Raven” embroidered on it.
What inspires your music and lyrics?
Matthew: I think we draw from life, from experiences, art, relationships of all manner. Love, loss, faith, failures, nature, spirituality, and how we, as spiritual beings, respond to the environment of this world, however beautiful or caustic we find it. ‘Spirituality’ has become this disposable buzzword these days. I don’t mean it in a yoga-mat, life-coach and lattes kind of way. I mean it as a way of being in touch with the energies around us that we can’t necessarily see with our eyes.
Who do you consider to be your biggest influences as musicians but also as lyricists/poets, and why, please?
Beth: I saw so many bands as a teenager. Clan of Xymox, The Cure, Gene Loves Jezebel, Ministry, Front 242, Meat Beat Manifesto, Depeche Mode, The The, PiL, The Cult, it’s a long list. I was very into anything Wax Trax!, The Smiths, Tones on Tail, Cabaret Voltaire, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy…being a part of this project really brings it full circle for me.
Matthew: When Beth and I met, we bonded over a shared love of ELO, something we’ve both taken a lot of heat for. Haha. Jeff Lynne is a sonic genius. Lyrically, Nick Cave’s work has had a big impact on me. He’s got a poetic bent to his words that can make even the ugliest subject matter seem beautiful. Not unlike Anais Nin. Musically it’s a wide spectrum. The primitive angst of early ‘80s hardcore, the bare emotion of ‘60s soul, the grandness of ’70s arena rock, the charming innocence of ’50s R&B. Anything made with honesty and passion, I can find inspiration in. Film has also been a huge influence. Coppola, Kubrick, Curtiz, Fincher, Scorsese, Ridley Scott. They’re some of my favorites. Any medium of expression that can immerse you in a mood, be it literature, art, film or music, I’m a sucker for.
Can you give us your current top-5 records you listen to at home?
Beth: These are my timeless go-to’s (in no particular order) The Jesus and Mary Chain- Psychocandy, My Bloody Valentine- Loveless, The Cure- Standing On The Beach, Morrissey- Viva Hate, Depeche Mode- Violator.
Matthew: The MP3 era has somewhat spoiled my listening of full LPs, but these are go-to’s for me Laughing Hyenas – Life of Crime, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Let Love In, Samhain – November Coming Fire, ELO – The Very Best of, The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
If you were any Minister of Culture what would you do to support artists and art workers in the pandemic?
Matthew: There should undoubtedly be a government coalition to support artists in the face of times like these. I know that the arts are considered more of a relevant cultural commodity in European countries, but here in the U.S., there is no such acknowledgement. Artists are seen more as malingerers or transients, and not really as an enhancement to society as a whole, which is sad.
I’m not talking about now, but when all this calms down enough will you go up on stage?
We can’t wait!!!
ACoR, thank you for your time, last words on you
Thank you for your time and effort. We made an exhaustive ‘thank you’ list for our album, which includes WL//WH, as well as the bands, DJs, ‘zines and blogs who’ve been supportive of us, and really of all bands trying to make a mark in this scene. Without that help this album may not exist, so we are truly grateful for that.
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Interview by Loud Cities' Mike