Interview by Demitri Levantis
Interview with: M. L. Jupe
Following the release of the debut album “A Waning Light”, I caught up with the Norwegian/Australian doom metal group Felgrave to see what the band has on the horizon.
Thanks so much for joining us, let’s begin with “A Waning Light” – how long has it been in the making?
Pretty much from the moment I finished writing music for the last Dead Hills album, and then finished the mixing/mastering process in July 2020, so 4 and a half years. Seems a bit of a long time for 49 minutes of music, doesn’t it?
What made you want to choose that title?
I struggled to come up with a good title for the longest time, so eventually just looked through the lyrics I’d written for something that suited the music, and took it from the Withered Years lyrics. I think it fits perfectly.
Why did you make nearly all the songs over ten minutes in length, and is there any special purpose to the instrumental “Summer’s Widow?”
Well, that’s just how the songs came about when I wrote them, it was nothing planned. Although I do have a liking for longer-form songs with weaving and winding structures, so that obviously shows here.
The little acoustic break is because each of the larger tracks are very “rich” and intense, so it’s nice to have a little breather in the middle of all that turmoil and gloom.
What was it like to have your artwork done by Mariusz Lewandowski, and would you work with him again?
Fantastic, I actually didn’t have the piece commissioned, rather I stumbled upon it on his Facebook and knew straight away it had to be my art, so I contacted him and paid for the rights to it, easy as that. He was very easy to work with and the style suits my music perfectly, I’m absolutely going to try work with him in the future. There’s a good reason he’s so popular in the metal world.
Your sound is normally described as Death/Doom, is this accurate or do you have your own way of describing Felgrave’s music?
Sure, that’s fair. There’s a hell of a lot more styles and influences in there though, and that’s apparent upon listening, but death/doom is certainly the basis of it.
Where does the band name come from and what made you choose it?
I had the earlier name for the project (Automb) come to me in a dream, actually! But while working on the album a year or so later, a band from the US took Automb, funnily enough. Felgrave was recommended to me by a friend while brainstorming random names, and it matches the vibe of the music pretty well (thanks Will).
What made you want to switch from black metal on your previous project Dead Hills to Felgrave’s sound?
Nothing in particular, it wasn’t a conscious decision. I just started writing music in this different style and realised it didn’t suit Dead Hills at all.
Is Felgrave a continuation of Dead Hills in any way?
Nah, definitely not. The music takes place in a very different “world” in my mind. I would have continued with Dead Hills concurrently if I could write any more music for that project, but that hasn’t happened in over 5 years now.
You’re signed to Personal Records; would you recommend them to any upcoming bands with a similar sound to you? How have you found working with the label’s owner, Jacobo Córdova?
Yeah, for sure. Not even just stylistically related – Jacobo plans to release all types of extreme metal on the label, and he’s very committed to the music, so I think we’re going to see a lot of exciting and interesting things going forward. He’s great to work with! I’d recommend anyone lesser-known such as myself to contact Personal if they’ve got a project that’s wanting to get off the ground.
How has the covid-19 pandemic affected the band; did you have to cancel a lot of things?
Barely at all; I did absolutely all of the recording, performing, mixing etc entirely on my own, albeit with borrowed equipment for the most part. The benefits of working in live sound, I suppose. I did, however, have to re-record the vocals for Withered Years; I somehow completely lost all the files and backups of those vocals upon moving to Norway, so had to borrow some third-party studio time (Studio Hemstad) right in the middle of the pandemic, but that was no problem.
When gigs and festivals resume is there anywhere you like to start performing if this is a performing band?
Sure, I’d be down for it, and I’ve certainly put thought into how I’d arrange it. I haven’t made any steps toward getting it going though. If it were to happen, it’d be me on bass/vocals, that’s my most comfortable position I think. For now, just a pipe dream anyway; I don’t know anybody musical at all in Norway right now.
If this is a performing band, do you have any session musicians lined up to play?
I’m afraid I can’t answer that.
What makes Felgrave’s music different to other bands in the Norwegian or the Australian scene in your opinion?
I’ve tried to make the project unique within the realm of metal to the best of my abilities without becoming too self-absorbed or going overboard. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback regarding the uniqueness of the album, so that’s nice! It’s difficult to summarise what precisely makes it stand out from other music, but it would really just be all the subtle influences coming together and me letting them shine in their own ways – for example, the bass and drum interplay is very heavily inspired by Rush, believe it or not!
I played around a lot with time signature and tempo modulation, as well as setting myself the challenge of using as few power chords and typical minor scales as possible, such that you end up with far more “alternative” chords (for lack of a better term) on the album than power chords. The same holds true for the song structures and the instrumentation in general. I’m just honestly really quite bored of how metal in this style tends to sound, and I wanted to do something different that I would enjoy, if I were to listen to it with fresh ears.
All that being said, it’s not crazy unique or anything. I didn’t want to over-extend and make something too far out-there and messy as the first album, I guess this is just an exploration of the ideas and I’ll take it further with more experience next time.
Do you have anywhere you like to go for inspiration, or do you look to other things as well as music like literature or art?
I barely listen to metal at all at the moment, but most of the metal inspiration is pulled from artists like The Ruins of Beverast, Disembowelment, Stargazer, Demilich, Timeghoul… there’s probably some more I’m forgetting. Then there’s prog rock influencing it more subtly as well.
I do think however that most of the inspiration came internally, and thus it’s a very personal album, and I do also think it sounds very obviously “one-man” because of that.
Of all the years you’ve spent making music, do you have any fun anecdotes you’d like to share?
Yeah, honestly, none at all really, I’ve always done music entirely on my own, occasionally playing in other bands for something to do or to exercise my skills, but really my musical life is unfortunately pretty boring!
What do you enjoy most about making music?
It’s hard to express adequately in words, but I could say that it’s great to be able to channel all these otherworldly feelings into something that’s consumable and can communicate really abstract concepts to listeners, who more or less understand the concepts. I get the same feeling from listening to strange and twisted music as well. Things that can’t be said in words, you know. That’s why I always write the lyrics last; the music already says everything I wanted to say, and then I struggle to come up with words on top of that.
Finally, do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Thanks for keeping in touch with the underground! And of course thanks for The Independent Voice and similar publications for getting it all out there.
Thank you so much again for joining us, I wish you all the best for the future.
Felgrave’s “A Waning Light” is out now on Personal Records.