ORYX (EN)

-Hello, thank you so much for answering to our interview. How’s everything going in the band’s camp? What’s keeping you busy?

Abbey Davis: Hello! Thank you for the questions. We are keeping busy by practicing and preparing for shows to return back to the norm. Very exciting to know live music is close to returning!

-Your newest album “Lamenting a Dead World” came out a couple of weeks ago. I think this is your most dynamic album to date. Did the fact of this being your first record as a trio had something to do with that? What effect did the line-up had on the opus?

Adding a third member did impact the songwriting by helping us expand on ideas with our music that we hadn’t explored before. Having a bassist added into the mix allowed for Tommy (guitarist) to focus more on layering riffs and building solos.

-It’s also your first time cooperating with Translation Loss. Why this move to a bigger label?

We wanted to get our music out to a wider audience, especially with this album in particular. We knew it was the right fit with Translation Loss records because of their long history of working with some of our favorite bands and their focus on putting out beautiful vinyl. From the start, it has been an incredible experience working with them. They understood our vision and helped propel this record to new heights. We are very honored to be on their roster.

-In general it seems like this is your most ambitious record so far. Did you set bigger goals for this one?

We knew going into the writing phase that we wanted to experiment with adding layers and dimensions to our songs. We added synth and other new soundscapes that led us to writing with more dimension and depth than we had previously done with other records. We were proud with the end result and will take these experiences into future writing sessions with the next album.

-How did the pandemic affect the album and the way of intellectualizing it now?

It gave us more time to edit our material that we had started writing before the pandemic started. It pushed back our recording date and with that extra time, we were able to spend time with the riffs we had written and decide what should be added or edited. For once, we were off the hook, in terms of how we usually feel rushed to record in between touring or shows, and all we had was time to focus on writing and putting the best material we could.

-Here you’ve had contributions from Ethan McCarthy, Erika Osterhout and Paul Riedl. How and why did you come up with the idea of having them? What have they brought with their contributions?

We were inspired by these friends with their own music projects and reached out to them to see if they wanted to collaborate with the songs we were writing. They each are so incredibly talented, and it was a great experience working with these musicians. They brough their own unique sound and creativity to our songs.

-The theme of the album is almost apocalyptic, with hints to our society’s greed. What did inspire it? It was written during harsh times and there was a lot going on in political and social issues.

The album and lyrics were finalized during the height of the pandemic. We wanted to discuss the themes surrounding society’s consumption and the endless thirst for more. This pandemic exposed the cracks in society and how selfish others can turn when supplies run low. We relied on the emotions that came out of this time period to fuel our writing both lyrically and sonically. It was a vulnerable and uncertain time, which impacted the songwriting and feeling of the album.

-That greed, that self-centeredness I mentioned earlier you talk about, is institutional or individual? Sartre believed that “We are our choices”, like that being that destroys itself and devours itself (as species, not as individuals). Are we aware of those choices? Or are there tools, elements (capitalism, etc.) that make us to unconsciously make those choices and turn us into these self-centered beings?

We come at this from the viewpoint that humanity exists in a series of hierarchal structures. These structures are systemic and ultimately derive from previous systems and structural paths laid before them, and so on. These structures have been the geneses and product of countless wars going back millennia. Today, those systems exist underneath the guise of digitization and convenience. The intent, however, remains the same.

Calling it greed is an over-simplification, because within this system that drives our current society, we are all predators and victims simultaneously. For example, if the only food supplied to you while your residence exists in a “food desert”, your general daily choice cannot take into account whether or not the farmers/ranchers of said food supply had adequate pay, the meat was raised/vegetables grown and harvested in an ethical manner. The “choices” you mentioned, referencing Sartre are true, however ultimately limited if the supply of choices in the first place in rigged by design. The “choice” makes the consumer both predator and victim, because while they are largely powerless as a single individual to totally transform a system designed for them to operate within it as a mindless consumer, the few choices supplied to them are inevitably supporting absolutely inequity and class divide, which will in turn only worsen their own situation. This system of division drives mass market “laissez-faire” capitalism which insinuates that the mega companies which own the majority of the entire world economy should make their own rules and exist under what they dictate to be ethical guidelines. This lack of guidance from any larger governing entity has driven our current society into what is now a brutally competitive environment where whomever has the wealth writes the rules. As a concept, our album ‘Lamenting a Dead World’ hones into the guttural core of the selfish sickness that plagues our mortal land. We fight against the corporate and vapid disease that it is to be less human and more consumer in an age where identity has become a total obfuscation. This is a eulogy to a society that has completely lost its way, with hope for a new one with some sense of morality born from the wreckage.

-Overall this is a very intense album. What is this record for you? Liberation? Catharsis? What has meant to you to unleash these sounds and spit out these lyrics?

Both of those things. Writing the album was very cathartic. Finishing the recording of the album felt liberating. In such a chaotic and unpredictable time, it was comforting to lock ourselves in our practice space and focus on writing this music and putting together each song, riff by riff.

-It gets my attention the very powerful and extremely sinister ambience the whole album is wrapped in. Where would you like to take your listener to? What mental pictures would you like to paint?

We want the listener to interpret the album in their own way.

-For your art you’ve worked a lot with Ethan McCarthy in the past. This time you have a painting by Ettore Aldo del Vigo. What prompted this? And why this drawing specifically?

We have a deep connection with Ethan’s art, since we have worked with him on every previous release (except for a split LP) and various merch designs. We began researching artwork online a year before we even recorded ‘Lamenting a Dead World’. When we came across Ettore’s stunning work, we immediately connected to his visuals and complexity. This painting in particular matched the tone of our songwriting and we knew it was the right choice for this album.

-Even though everything is open to interpretation, in the drawing there’s an obvious reference to the duality of man. How does this connect to the ideas on the album? And aesthetically, what do you think is so “metal” about this art?

We felt very connected to the artwork, both aesthetically and thematically. The themes occurring in “The Solitude of Judas” (the title of the painting) and ‘Lamenting a Dead World’ coincide and connect, but the nature of art is interpretation. What we take from Ettore Aldo Del Vigo’s art is a representation of grand concepts like “good and evil”, “life and death”, and “creation and destruction”. These themes exist in the album as well and point to the audacious nature of man and the death of one world to give birth to a new one. 

-All this about “Lamenting a Dead World” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?

Atmospheric, expressive, and expansive.

-That a Metal band has a woman drummer it’s still unfortunately almost anecdotal, and I think we’re still at that point as a society where people put the focus on gender, especially when you’re a woman in a male-dominated community. How do you deal with this?

I think in the last few years, I’ve seen a huge influx of women on stage and it’s very rewarding to see the progress. But women have always been a part of the scene, whether on stage, in the audience, or helping put together the show. I want to continue to see the focus on the immense talent of women musicians in the underground. I would also like to see bigger festivals expand their lineups to be more inclusive by including women musicians, but also musicians from different cultural backgrounds and LGBTQIA+ communities. The more that we as the metal community invite diversity into the scene, the more this music will reach broader audiences and create safer spaces for those who want to attend, but maybe haven’t felt comfortable to join in yet.

– Anyway there are now organizations and movements, such as the Kill the King in Sweden that was born as a reaction to the #MeToo movement. With actions and movements like these, would you say the Metal community is more inclusive or at least being more aware of certain issues that seemed unaddressed until recently?

I do feel like the metal community is making progress with inclusion, but there’s still work to be done. It’s one thing to start outing predators in the scene and holding people accountable, which we are seeing happen more often and that is a good thing. But this is typically after the assault or incident has already occurred and that’s far too late. I believe the next step is for more people within the metal community to say predatory behavior is not welcome here. That means intervening when you see an older guy in a popular band hit on underage women. Most of these guys who participate in a predatory behavior have a friend or a bandmate who has witnessed them do this shit. So step up and say that isn’t okay. There are so many layers to this, but ultimately it comes down to changing the culture that protects this behavior and make sure that people who are acting that way, know they are not welcome in the scene. Women should be able to get drunk at a show, or any bar for that matter, and get home safely. But it takes a community to make sure that each show is a safe place.

-And finally what’s next for ORYX?

We will continue to practice and prepare for playing this album live very soon! It is a dream to play LADW for as many people as possible. Shows are being booked for 2022. Stay tuned!

– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.

Thank you for these questions! Cheers!

Tania Giménez

Tania@queensofsteel.com

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