Kylesa Talks "Ultraviolet"
Mon, 13 May 2013 07:47:14
One of the hardest things in the world is to create elegant heavy music.
It's not easy to weave together strains of distortion, pounding drums, rumbling bass, and guttural screams into something that's not only palatable but beautiful. However, Kylesa have that art form down to a science on Ultraviolet. Available May 24, the group's latest album transmutes raw heaviness into an utterly spell-binding pastiche that's simultaneously ethereal and entrancing. Their canvas bleeds so many different colors that it requires and demands multiple looks. That's why Ultraviolet is one of the best heavy records of 2013.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kylesa vocalist and guitarist Laura Pleasants open up about Ultraviolet…
What's your take on Ultraviolet as a whole? You really have to listen to it from beginning to end.
I think it is more of an album than it is separate songs. It works better as an album, but I think the songs can stand alone on their own as well. With the way it was put together, it's more of an experience when you listen to it as a whole.
What threads it all together?
It's a vibe. It's that and the flow which pull it all together.
Did you spend a lot of time sequencing it?
Yeah, we went through several different scenarios. I think this sequence was the best one. Once we finally decided on the sequence, we tailored the ends and beginnings of some of the songs to do flow. We generally always do that in mastering.
Did it take a while to find that vibe?
Not really, it came about due to circumstances of what was going on in my life and Phillip's life. It was very much there. It didn't take us finding it. We did the recording process a little different. We recorded in different chunks of time rather than all going to the studio at one time. I think that worked better. I was much happier with that approach than just going to the studio for a certain amount of time. It was less stressful, and there was time to reflect on the material we had just laid down. We had time to prepare for the next session. I liked the way we recorded in that respect.
Did that allow you to focus more?
Absolutely, that was the best thing we could've done. Otherwise, it would've been too overwhelming and intense. I was really happy with it. It's exactly what you said. I could hyper focus on the moment and what I needed to get tracked and get taken care of in that session. Then, I could go home and I could prepare and get it together for the next session.
Do you feel that intensity now?
Yeah, I do. I think that energy really comes across. I think we captured a very specific energy and vibe with Ultraviolet. It may come across even more so because I was so involved in the whole thing.
You can see this music as much as you hear it. Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
It's interesting that you say that. I've always thought about music in visual terms because the manipulation of sound is very similar to the manipulation of light. I've always seen music that way. I do a lot with photography. That's just manipulating light essentially. With our music, it's important for us to conjure up a certain energy or feeling. A lot of times, it is a visual image. We're good at doing that.
You've really got to listen to Ultraviolet on headphones.
There's a lot going on with this record. It's very intense. There are a lot of hidden things that are subtle. They'll come out more as you give the album more attention, especially if you listen to it on headphones. More will shine through.
What's the story behind "Drifting"?
That's definitely a deep and personal song. It came about with just an A-Minor chord. I was playing that chord. I was walking around. My mother was really sick at the time, and I was waltzing around her room and strumming a guitar, playing it for her. She was like, "Oh, that's so pretty! I love it. Keep playing". I said, "Okay!" I was just strumming away on some chords. It ended up that was the last thing I had ever played for her. I knew I wanted to turn those songs into a song. That's what it became. It was very much for her. I wanted to keep it dreamy and light with the vocals and trippy. I wanted it to feel like you're conscious, but you're unconscious at the same time. You're in that in-between state. Your senses are there, and you can still hear and feel things, but your sense of reality isn't what it was.
Where did "Steady Breakdown" come from?
That was a really personal song for me. You probably picked the two most personal songs on the record to me. Musically, it came about organically. I had this one riff I was jamming on, and it grew from that one riff. Lyrically, it's about the breakdown of one's free will. No matter how strong your will to live is, if the body breaks down, there's nothing you can do about it. You have that loss of free will. You can't win.
What were into around the time of making the album?
I wasn't doing much reading around that time. I was watching some John Carpenter movies. That was about it. I dove into writing. I was living, breathing, and sleeping music in a very small bedroom.
If you were to compare Ultraviolet to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Damn, I have to think about that. It would be a combination of maybe Dario Argento and David Lynch. Perhaps some John Carpenter too. I love his movies and music.
What have you been listening to lately?
When I'm really into an album, I'll get sucked in and listen to it a lot. I haven't been into anything very specific in the past few weeks. I've heard the new Coliseum record, and that's very good. I jam that quite a bit in my car. It's definitely their best record. Last night, it was a friend's birthday and we played some vinyl. There was a record fair this weekend so my boyfriend and I went record shopping. We got a bunch of weird records. Last night, I played some Steely Dan, which is always good. It's so random. We're listening to some Bood Ceremony and Goats. I'm checking out the new Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
What's your favorite Kylesa song?