‘Eris Wakes’ by Violet Nox | Interview | Album Premiere
Exclusive album premiere of ‘Eris Wakes’ by Boston based electronic music project creating dark ambient sonic sound experiments.
‘Eris Wakes’ is a five track album co-released on Infinity Vine Records (US) and Aumega Project (Germany). Cover Art by Jeff Bartell. The album was written during the worldwide pandemic in 2021. It represents the current rebellious transitional unstable times we are in.
You recently released your fourth album, ‘Whispering Galaxy’ on Infinity Vine Records. The new material features four vocalists weaving through a sometimes dense sonic landscape of electronic rhythms, various synths and guitars. Can you share some further words about the recording process?
Dez DeCarlo: The ‘Whispering Galaxy’ EP (2021) was written and recorded during lockdown 2020. We had to figure out a way to continue writing music during the pandemic. ‘Selene’ was the first song we recorded. It started with a guitar drone that I created on my iPhone, then I sent it to everyone so they could contribute their tracks. The song is a total improvisation and had to be recorded remotely by the members of Violet Nox. ‘Selene’ really came together when we added Noell Dorsey’s vocals. The result was an amazing magical process that opened me up to a new way of making music. It’s always a surprise and mystery waiting for each other’s tracks to arrive, not knowing what they created! This is also the recording process for our upcoming 5th album ‘Eris Wakes’.
Karen Zanes: With ‘Whispering Galaxy’ and even more so with ‘Eris Wakes’ there has been a shift to where it’s mostly Dez and Andrew developing the songs through regular in-person practices together. Once the architecture of the songs is strong, mixes are sent out for the rest of us to collaborate on and we record the additional parts remotely. The exception to this is the track, ‘Selene’ which was written at the very beginning of the pandemic, completely remotely by Dez, Andrew, Alexis, Noell and myself.
Noell Dorsey: The vocals are added in after the music is written. To me it’s very much an Improvisatory experience inspired by the music itself. I’ll get an idea or concept for the lyrics but it’s all very spontaneous. Often the engineer will just leave me alone in a room where I will do a few takes and we usually get it right away. I’ll listen through and take out parts that don’t resonate and potentially redo sections for a stronger performance. All in all, there is a lot of freedom in this method, and it feels very organic. It’s quite easy to open up and record with Violet Nox because there are so many layers, and the end result turns into something almost meditative and expansive.
Andrew Abrahamson: Adding to what Dez said about ‘Selene’, that song became a very full, somewhat aggressive, instrumental track built over Dez’s drone. When I got Noell’s track back, it was so beautiful and self-sufficient that I stripped out most of the instruments to highlight the haunting movement of the vocal. The final track is quite minimal. There’s much of this kind or revision that needs to happen to make songs feel complete during the writing and recording process, but it’s ten times as true when we’re all building our contributions in different spaces at different times.
How long have you been working on your latest album?
Dez DeCarlo: Andrew and I started writing songs for ‘Eris Wakes’ after ‘Whispering Galaxy’ was released in April 2021. We finished recording the new record in early February 2022. ‘Eris Wakes’ is co-released digitally by Infinity Vine Records (US) and Aumega Project (Germany). There will also be a limited run of CDs from Infinity Vine Records.
Are you currently working on something new?
Dez DeCarlo: We released a remix single in February 2022 of our song “’Moonshine’ from our (UK) Sleep Fuse Records ‘Future Fast’ EP 2020. This was remixed by (UK) ‘The Deckadent Movement’. We will also have two songs on an ambient, electronic, experimental German Compilation called Enko Landmann’s ‘Empire of the Four Moons’ which will be released on Gruselthon Records (Germany) sometime in late Spring 2022. We have several videos in the works that will coincide with each song featured from our new album ‘Eris Wakes’.
How are you coping with the pandemic?
Dez DeCarlo: We have been very fortunate to have a studio to work at. This has been a very creative time for us. We also have been very active in collaborating on various music projects. In 2021 we released two singles remixed by J. Bagist, from our (UK) Sleep Fuse Records’ ‘Future Fast’ 2020, ‘Cosmic Bits’ and ‘Super Fan’. We wrote a few music compositions for dance artist Callie Chapman. We had the great opportunity to produce various stream events which Callie Chapman co-produced with us. In 2021, we played 4 live gigs and released 6 videos for each song on the ‘Whispering Galaxy’ EP as well as the 2 remixes. Our videos were produced by DebStep, Allison Tanenhaus, and Chris Konopka. Violet Nox uses visual projections at all our shows.
Andrew Abrahamson: Personally, I’m a pretty extreme introvert. So, to a certain degree, the isolation part of the pandemic has been a relief. And it’s left a great deal of open space to make music in, which is what I love to be doing.
The band has been together for a while now. When and how did you originally meet?
Dez DeCarlo: Karen Zanes and I met in an experimental music project. After that I started Violet Nox. At the time, I was very heavy into Jazz. I knew I wanted to combine experimental and electronic sounds somehow. Karen Zanes called me one day, and we started a jam session together. Then, through the many shifts and changes, Violet Nox was born! Much has evolved musically since then.
Andrew Abrahamson: I heard Violet Nox play a show around maybe 5 years ago? I think we’ve all mostly given up on time now with the pandemic. Dez thought it was not such a great gig that night. But I thought it was fantastic. I really got it. I thought, ‘Now, that is a band I’d fit in!’. As luck would have it, Erik Jackson, who was doing electronic percussion at the time, left for other pursuits. Dez asked if I could fill in for him for a couple of gigs, and I’ve been on the roster ever since.
If you had the opportunity to collaborate with someone, who would you choose and why?
Dez DeCarlo: Valentina Magaletti and Madame Gandhi, they are amazing percussionists/drummers and I would love to collaborate!
Andrew Abrahamson: I’ve loved our collaborations with dance artist Callie Chapman. So more Callie. And more dancers in general. It’s inspiring to play music with people so fluent with their bodies.
A look at your creative process, please, digital or analog?
Andrew Abrahamson: As far as what’s important to our process, I’d swap “performed or programmed” for “digital or analog”. I think the organic sound of VN depends on the interplay between these two. Plenty of electronic music takes a layered, methodical compositional approach, laying down a basic track and slowly building on top of it, track by track. This isn’t what we do. It’s a playing process. There are plenty of sequenced parts, but everything is launched and manipulated live and it changes broadly from performance to performance. Dez’s guitar and keyboard parts are always live. I only sequence when I don’t have enough hands to play things. Dez and I both come from traditional post punk band backgrounds (funny to call post punk traditional but I think it is in a way now). So we’re really inclined to play things live both for writing and for recording. For the most part, the foundations for the album tracks are live takes from the two of us. I think that lends some movement to the music that can be missing from tracks that are purely programmed. Alexis worked with us in the same way when he was in the band, prior to his departure for Zürich.
Alexis Desjardins: Before moving to Zürich in 2021, I had to part ways with most of my musical equipment and instruments. In the months leading up to this move, I recorded every instrument I had access to in Boston with the intention of creating a personal library of sampled sounds. My current approach to music composition utilizes these familiar sounds as the basis of creating unique, sample based digital instruments that range from organic to unrecognizable in tone.
Andrew Abrahamson: I love what Alexis has been able to contribute remotely. It fits right in, like he was here in Boston with us.
Dez DeCarlo: Alexis’s music tracks are always right on and perfect with the Violet Nox vibe!
Would you take some moments to speak about your previous albums?
Dez DeCarlo: Violet Nox started out as an experimental, improvisational music project. Our first EP, ‘Nebula’ was recorded in 2017 by Gary War and released on Reverb Worship (UK). It was pure noise, drone, ambient sound waves, and loose free-form songs.
‘Twin Flame’ EP 2018 on (UK) Sleep Fuse Records has more formatted tunes, melodies, vocals, synths and dreamy shoegaze guitars.
‘Future Fast’ EP 2019 (UK) Sleep Fuse Records is still in the realm of experimental but deeper into textures, synths, grooves, electronic and dark ambient sounds.
‘Whispering Galaxy’ 2021, Infinity Vine Records USA and Aumega Project Germany, has more structured songs, very electronic, dark, sonic, multiple synthesizers, heavy beats, drum machines, guitar, effects, and 4 vocalists.
Have you discovered something new lately that you would like to recommend to our readers?
Dez DeCarlo: A band called Holy_Tongue.
Alexis Desjardins: I have been digging deep into the collective works of the prolific Jamaican rhythm section/production duo Sly & Robbie.
Andrew Abrahamson: I’ll take Alexis’ Sly and Robbie trip. I’ve been a fan of their playing and production for years, first through Black Uhuru’s album ‘Red’. They are amazing live. They’re one of the handful of artists that I even love their terrible records.
My friend recommended Guillaume de Machaut to me. The stuff is lovely. Guillaume was a composer from the 1300s and what thrills me about it is the music, to my ear, is composed completely of melodies. The harmonies occur in the collision of melody. This is very much the way I think of composition. Simple melodies twisting around and through each other, both related more to the other than to a harmonic background.
Noell Dorsey: Something I have been digging lately is Beautify Junkyards from Lisbon and their track ‘Dupla Exposicao’. A friend got me into them recently and I am hooked. The best way to describe it is exotica mixed with shoegaze. Very dream sequence and atmospheric.
I am also just discovering King Crimson and their debut, ‘In Court of the Crimson King’. What took me so long? It’s just so weird and perfect. I love the instrumentation and the evolution of the record as a whole. Greg Lake’s voice is beautiful and transportive and there are copious amounts of woodwinds that add this mystical whimsical element. What’s not to love about a band that rocks so hard but is also so sensitive?
Violet Nox Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp / SoundCloud / YouTube
Infinity Vine Records Facebook / Instagram
Aumega Project Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp / Twitter /SoundCloud / YouTube