Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Interview with Gravekeeper

Interview by Elek Malcolm-Madill

Canada seems to have quite the flair for black metal, however many of these bands tend to come from Quebec cities such as Montreal (Gris, Akitsa, etc)- rarely do you hear about such bands coming from areas of Ontario, and even less so do they become prominent. This is the case however with Ottawa one-man black metal act "Gravekeeper" created by Dave King who's recent full length album has been turning quite a few heads lately, I talked with Dave to get a better idea of his musical processes, inspiration, and to discuss his recent popularity.

FBN: To start with, tell us a bit about who you are and your current musical project "Gravekeeper"

Dave: Well, there's not too much to say about myself. I'm a nihilist and more than a little introverted, which is why I've chosen for Gravekeeper to be a one man band. The project its self is something I've been wanting to do for a few years, and after having little luck working with other musicians, I concluded that if anything was going to get done, I'd have to do it myself. With the project, I look to create a sound and atmosphere that's definitively inside the black metal genre, but not so much that I can't incorporate elements and influences from doom, funeral doom, and drone. 

FBN:  How did you originally start playing music? What do you think the biggest influences on your style would be as well, musical or otherwise?

Dave:  I originally started playing guitar at 15. I found a course in high school that was basically an introduction to guitar, and that's how I first learned to play. It was a year later that I was first invited to do vocals in some jam sessions with a guy at school, who was looking to put together a musical outfit, and that's when I started to think that yeah, maybe being in a band and becoming a reasonably successful musician wasn't so far fetched. As far as influences go, it'd be hard to touch on all of them, as there are so many. Every band I've been heavily into, from the infancy of my taste in metal as a teenager, to bands I can't get enough of this very day, have all spurred me on in one way or another. Musically speaking, there's still lots of bands that influence the music of Gravekeeper, but a few of the more familiar names would include Nortt, Xasthur, Sunn O))), Coldworld, Trist, and Anti. Graveyards themselves can often be of significant inspiration and influence, and sometimes I'll go to a graveyard with my guitar and a little notepad, and just walk around or sit somewhere and let the ideas come to me.

FBN:  What's your take on the local metal scene, or even just music scene in general, in and around Ottawa in the time you've lived there- or even in recent years?

Dave: To be honest, I'm not nearly as up on the local scene as most people here, and I think the reason for that is the almost painful lack of good bands we get here. I've lived in, or at least just outside of Ottawa my whole life, and I've never known it to be a particular hotspot for metal, and that goes for both bands that come from Ottawa, and bands that tour here. I might be living under a rock, but one thing I haven't seen much or any of, is bands coming "back" to Ottawa. They come here once, and then if you want to see them again, you have to go to Toronto or Montreal. Most of the time, you'd have to go there anyways, because so many North American or even Canadian tours will have these massive lists of dates and venues, Toronto and Montreal usually being back to back dates, and it's like Ottawa doesn't even exist. I think this makes things a bit harder on local bands actually, because many local bands who might be just starting out, will have fewer opportunities to get their music out there. A great way to get your band on at least the local radar is to open for a big name band that draws a big crowd, and to put on a really solid opening performance. Since these bigger names are so infrequent, many local bands, some of whom show a great deal of promise, tend to have rather short life spans, and fade quickly into obscurity.

FBN:  What do you think this means for your own music then? Do you think you'd like to try to get a bit more exposure for yourself through local performances or stick to more online sources like bandcamp and interviews such as this one, or even the "Top Six New Bands You Must Hear Today!" on CVLT Nation (congrats on that by the way)

Dave: Thanks, I was really surprised to wake up and find that article so unexpectedly. It was fantastic for publicity, and caused a huge spike in the plays and downloads from the bandcamp page, which was great. Your recent article, as well as this interview, I think will also be good for getting word around about the band. That said, yeah, I totally think online methods are working well, at least thus far, and I've recently been considering putting together a Soundcloud page as well. Doing local shows seems to me to be next to impossible, or at very least impractical. Such is the plight of one man bands, I think. The concept of putting together a live lineup, especially having to find people that have enough gear to be stage ready (I use a very minimal amount of gear myself to make my songs, so there's not much I could contribute to that), it all just seems to be a little far fetched. I mean sure, I suppose it could happen, but it's hardly something I would expect to happen. If I'm entirely honest though, I'm really far more inclined to avoid becoming concerned with doing live shows, as I feel like it would be a distraction from writing and releasing new material.  

FBN:  That's pretty understandable- speaking of new material, do you have anything in the works at the moment?

Dave:  I have lots of lyrics and song material I'm working on, and a handful of things that probably could have gone on the album, but that I didn't quite think were entirely finished. The downside is that there are some things going on outside the project that really demand to be prioritized at the moment, so work on new tracks has become kind of an intermittent thing. I'd love to have a new album out by the end of the year, preferably one with a couple more tracks and a longer run time than the first. I can't speculate too much on when there might be a new release, or how many new songs there will be on it, but I am hopeful that there will be something new by the end of the year, even if it's just a brief EP or something.

FBN:  Sounds good to me- to wrap things up do you have any thank you's, message to people reading this, or general last words you'd like to get in?

Dave: I'd like to thank CVLT Nation for including Gravekeeper in their top 6 new bands article, as well as you and Fucked by Noise for the article there too. I'd also like to thank everyone who's supported the band by buying the album, whether it be the download from bandcamp, or the physical album, as well as all those who've even so much as liked the facebook page. The physical album can be ordered from the facebook page by inboxing me personally on the page its self, or through email, by clicking the 'contact Gravekeeper' link on the bandcamp page. I handle every order personally, and every CD is hand numbered.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview.

FBN:  No problem, thanks to you too!

Head over to Gravekeeper's Bandcamp page to grab a CD copy of  Dave's full length release and be sure to follow or bookmark the page for future releases.

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