For many of our readers Separatist will be unknown. Can you tell me something about Separatist? Please take the time to talk a little about past en present of the band.
Well, the band started out as a high-school band, probably around 2002/2003ish, I think, but broke up before the original members hit college. I wasn’t in the band at that stage, I met up with the original drummer and guitarist and we started it up again in our first year of college in 2004. Back then we were playing nu-metal similar to Mudvayne, Slipknot and Ill Niño. Over the years the line-up changed several times and our sound grew and changed along with it. In 2008 we released our first album ‘The Motionless Apocalypse’, which we produced ourselves. We did a bit of touring, played some great shows, and then in 2010 we took a break to record our second album. When we had almost finished the new album in 2011 we had a critical hardware failure and lost all of our work we had done and at that stage I called it quits and the band soon followed suit. The band has been inactive since then, until recently when I decided to bring it back as a solo project as an outlet for my tech-death tendencies.
When I am well informed quite some of the music was written years ago, when Separatist was still a band. Why is it that you decide to release these songs by yourself after all?
You are correct, all the material from ‘Closure’ was written several years ago, the earliest was written in 2009 and the last in mid 2010. All the songs on ‘Closure’ were tracks from what was going to be the bands 2011 release. After the band dissolved, I had an albums worth of songs that I’d written for Separatist sitting there on my computer in the form of tabs and lyric sheets, and I decided it was a waste to have them sitting there and to not release them, so I decided to take it upon myself to record and release them so I could share them with everyone rather than keep them to myself.
Both 'Closure' and ‘Motionless’ are packed with songs filled with dense, brutal and technical death metal with hefty, deep grunts, packed in pounding blast beats, polyrhythms and complex time signatures and executed in a very precise way with modern production. Was the musical direction of Separatist clear for you right from the beginning or can you say that the sound has crystallized during the course of time to the current sound?
The sound Separatist has been creating has very much changed and developed over the years. I don’t think Separatist was ever overly intentional about the style or direction we took, it was all just based on what we felt like writing at the time, depending on what we were listening to. As I mentioned earlier when I first joined the band our material was very much straight forward nu-metal, because that’s what we were listening to. As we grew up and started listening to different music the sound developed from nu-metal through metalcore and finally arriving at death metal/deathcore which, at a very basic level, is what Separatist sounds like nowadays.
The downside of a one-man project can be that you cannot see through your own vision if or where improvement is needed. Have you ensured that you got feedback on your music and how and by whom was that feedback provided? Or is feedback something you've just tried to avoid because you wanted this album to be something completely done by yourself?
The songs themselves were very much vetted by the band back when I was writing them, so even though I was writing the material, they were giving feedback on whether it was any good or not. After the band broke up, during the production of ‘Closure’ and ‘Motionless’, I would quite regularly send samples to some of my close friends, including the guys from my current live band Départe, some of whom were also in Separatist back in the day, to get their opinions on whether it was sounding any good or not. I place a very high value on external feedback with regards to my work, especially from my close mates, who are all great musicians, because sometimes when you’re so enveloped in a project so extensive you lose sight of the big picture and you need a fresh set of ears to put you back in your place again.
What is it like, witnessing the many positive reviews, to see that there are many people out there who seem to appreciate the album so much? How important is feedback (both positive and negative) for you?
I love hearing what people have to say about my work, whether it’s positive or negative. Positive feedback is always exciting obviously, it makes me feel good about what I’ve achieved, but negative feedback helps me grow and hone my skills to make it better next time I do something, which is just as important. I haven’t seen many official reviews of the releases yet, hopefully a few more will pop up in the coming weeks, but from what I’ve seen the public response to these releases has been overwhelmingly positive, which I’m pretty stoked about.
Which things inspire you in your lyrics? Do you get inspiration from personal life, books, faith, movies, nature, politics? Could you elaborate on the this?
The lyrical themes are heavily rooted in my Christian faith, the lyrics on ‘The Motionless Apocalypse/Motionless’ are a narrative adapted from the biblical book of Revelations, and the lyrics from ‘Closure’ are an extension of that. Where the story of ‘Closure’ isn’t directly taken from Revelations like ‘Motionless’ is, it speaks of the horrors of surviving in a dead, post-rapture world. It’s all very post-apocalyptic, but with a biblical spin.
Is the order of the tracks on an album important for you or, given the current generation that hardly listen to full albums and especially goes for a few tracks from an album, is this something you don’t care about?
Lyrically the order of the tracks on ‘Closure’ is important, because the album is a narrative. If you’re not paying attention to the lyrics (which, honestly, most people aren’t because you can’t understand what I’m saying most of the time) it probably doesn’t really matter, and I’d hope that the tracks can stand on their own, but I think musically the album has a particular flow to it that is interrupted if you take things out of context. ‘Motionless’ on the other hand was written lyrically as a narrative but then when I presented the tracks in the linear order based on their lyrics the band didn’t like it, so I shuffled them around into the order that the band wanted. In hindsight when I released ‘Motionless’ on my own I should really have put it back in the correct lyrical order,but oh well, what’s done is done!
You have done the album art. In what way did you expresses the cover the theme(s) of the album?
The album artwork for ‘Closure’ is based on the lyrics of the song ‘Immersion’, where the remnant sacrifice an expectant mother and her unborn child in a vain attempt to achieve salvation from their situation. The artwork for ‘Motionless/The Motionless Apocalypse’ represents the Antichrist as spoken about in Revelations.
In today's music market, it is very difficult to get generate some attention of record companies, promoters and listeners in general. How have you tried to get it done? Can you say spreading the album for free through Bandcamp helps you by getting the name Separatist out?
I haven’t done much in the way of promotion, aside from spamming on Facebook and sending out links and press packs to various websites/magazines in attempt to get reviews. The original intention was to just release the music and be done with it, call Separatist completely over, so I didn’t feel the need to do heaps of promotion, but now with the hugely positive feedback I’ve received I’ve decided to keep it going as a solo studio project. In future I may contact a few labels and see if I can hook something up, but at this stage I don’t feel like I need to, I’m pretty happy where I’m at. That being said, if a sweet label finds me and wants to offer me some kind of deal, I’d be all over it!
The money from all paid downloads are donated to the A21 Campaign to support the war against Human Trafficking/Sex Slavery. What was your motivation to give away the money you make with Separatist and why did you choose for this project?
Well, to be honest, I don’t need the money, I live relatively comfortably due to my day job, and I figured that if I am able to use what I’ve got, even if it’s just my music, to help people who don’t live freely and comfortably like I do, then I should do it. I’m about to get really corny here ha-ha but I’m passionate about this, it means a great deal to me for my work to be more than just music. I want to make a difference, I know I can’t change the whole world, but if I can change one person’s world for the better, that’s enough to make it worthwhile.
How do you combine the daily procedure with Separatist, for I assume you have, besides the band, other occupations (a job?) as well?
Well now that the recording is over, I don’t really have to do anything for Separatist apart from answer e-mails and maintain the Facebook page, so that’s pretty easy. I work 8am till 4pm from Monday to Friday, which is pretty standard really. During the last couple of months of the recording process I would fulfil my work commitments, but pretty much every other waking moment went into tracking or mixing, I didn’t have time for anything else, because I was so excited to have it finished! It’s such a relief to have some free time again now that it’s done ha-ha!
Thank you for taking the time to go through all these questions! The last words are yours.
Thanks for having me! Spread the word and take care!