In our latest Band Spotlight, we chat to US industrial rockers, RELIC (Jordan Davis, vocals / production and Dan Dickershied (drums) about new music, inspirations and more.
S] How are you today?
J] Quite well! We are staying out of the heat and keeping busy in our studio working on new material.
S] How’s the reception been to ‘Social Drift’?
J] The reception has been great both from old fans and new listeners alike. The common feedback we have been receiving is that our sound has matured and is reaching interesting new directions.
S] How do you feel about industrial music now, as a genre and scene?
J] Industrial music has certainly made a come back in recent years and is finding new breath from fans from other genres that are taking notice. The “older” sound of the genre has found its way back and is being utilized with newer acts. Older fans are pleased with the regrowth of both the aesthetics and sounds of the late 80’s to mid 90’s when industrial music was in its peak. It seems to me that artists are returning to the roots and executing the founding tropes better than ever. However, the scene needs to grow and experiment if it wants to find sustainability. A key ingredient I believe for this to happen is going to be better promoters throwing more interesting shows rather than booking bands onto existing weekly goth nights and expecting results.
D] Well I was never a big fan of industrial music growing up, I liked NIN as I think any one with a semi-respectable taste in music would as well. My first introduction to the scene and first glimpse of the world of industrial was literally playing our first gig really. I have always been beside the scene. I went to goth clubs, metal shows, and definitely would consider my lifestyle “alternative”, but since being immersed in the scene for the past three years I have; in my humble opinion, noticed some things. There have been only a handful of acts that I believe are pushing the boundaries and doing wonderfully progressive things for the genre. That being said most of the acts that I see that carry with them the label of industrial have a very generic sound, and look, and it feels and sounds at least to me stagnant.
S] What have been the biggest challenges for you as an artist over the last few years?
J] Money. That may sound unartistic but the reality is that making art takes time and time is money. Both Dan and I have sacrificed a lot to make Relic a feasible project. We have always had to live in warehouses that allow us to make loud sounds at night. We’ve also had to have flexible jobs that allow us to take off months at time for tour or last minute notices for bookings. It’s no secret that it’s a very vicious business to make money in. We’re always on the constant verge of going completely broke wether its investing in merch, buying needed gear for live shows, or simply able to make travel possible between shows. This is something most acts probably can relate to I imagine. Beside funding, I would say the biggest challenge would be mastering artistic discipline. It requires a lot of focus to drive a project into success, especially in the current age of hyper-distractions.
D] Yeahhhhh…….gotta agree with J-man; -money is a big hurdle to overcome. I would say the thing that is the next biggest challenge would be remaining fluid. I am also a visual artist and I am no stranger to making work that is emotionally taxing. There has to be a balance in the creative process so you can keep moving forward. For example when we are writing new music we might get caught in a what I call a “feedback loop” in which we are stuck on one problem or phrase and that can’t seem to get whatever it is were looking for. In order for progress to continue you have to be fluid, give your ears a rest and move on to another problem.
S] What have you learned about yourself as an artist, from when you started your career, until now?
J] I have been at it for over a decade now and have gone through a series of up and downs. When I started out as an artist, and I assume this to be true for most everyone, that there is a sense of innocence. When you are creating art in a new field everything you make has a sense of novelty. As time progresses your inner psyche becomes jaded to your abilities. I had to learn how to over come my own artistic hang ups and really figure out how to keep driven. This requires a lot of introspection and behavior modification.
D] That sleep is optional, and its not an option most of the time. I’m kidding, but not really. When finishing our debut album Jordan and I were not sleeping very much. I’m pretty sure Jordan stayed up for four days straight during the mastering process. But he is a machine; a cylon to be precise. In all honesty I have learned, or rather reinforced my ability to focus when squeezed. When deadlines approach its gametime and it’s where I focus. Some people when you squeeze them, they fold. Under pressure is where I thrive. I have always known that about myself but over the past couple years I have realized it’s one of my strongest attributes.
S] Talk to us about how inspirations outside of music, for example movies or visual arts are impacting your writing/creative process?
J] I have a lot of areas of interest outside of music but always try to find a skill or understanding in those interests that I can bring back to the music. Movies with stellar cinematography, scores, and stories can definitely inspire me to write a piece of music or expand on an idea that was planted in my head. Usually when I write music I tend to focus on the atmosphere and mood of the sounds in a cinematic sense. Aside from movies I find a lot of inspiration in conspiracy theories, occultism geopolitics, and researching the rapid growth of technology and its impact on society. Those areas of interest greatly inspire me to write and develop musical commentary on the times.
D] I am an intently visual person. It’s the easiest way for me to relate to all things and is how I learn best. So for me that is bit of a loaded question. I believe that everything affects the way you think creatively, especially in this age of constant media bombardment. The visual art that I enjoy seems to mesh well with the kind of music we make. Darker images, where the subject matter deals with the duality of the abject and the sublime have always been interests of mine. I have always been a huge fan of Sci-Fi, hands down my favorite movie genre. I don’t think I want to go into specifics but if it has to do with space, ghosts, or alternative realities and has a decent enough plot, I’m probably into it. Jordan and I love to watch quite a bit of Sci-Fi movies in our downtime between writing music.
S] What’s been a career highlight for you, or a few, so far?
J] Being able to tour and meet people from all around the country has absolutely been the highlight. Meeting people face to face that are so stoked on your art is a really amazing thing, especially when they live many miles away.
D] The single moment that instantly comes to mind is playing a festival in Chicago in front of thousands of people. That was a real intense experience, mainly because it was the most people I have ever performed in front of. I specifically remember as they were checking my drums; once they ran my kick through the mains it was like a hammer smashing into your chest. I have heard that sound before just on the other side of the stage, in the audience. That for me was a really cathartic experience.
S] As an artist, how would you like your work to impact the listener, ideally?
J] It depends on the piece of music I’m working on, but usually the goal is to evoke an idea or for the listener to think or feel differently about a subject. As a lover of dance music, I also like to move people’s bodies. The marriage of mind and body in unison can put a listener into a trance like state and there is a lot of room to impact a person emotionally. Music is a powerful form of siglism, and one can attach any meaning to it they wish whether it be the listener or creator.
D] I would love for someone to come up to me and say the music we make is the reason they started making music. Inspiration to me is such a powerful thing to give to someone.I don’t think you can give someone a bigger compliment than that. I can remember growing up and still to this day being excited for a new release from an artist that I respect and enjoy. Hearing that our music has helped someone through a turbulent time or issue in their life is also another factor.The fact that you don’t even know this person and they tell you that that your art has helped them through something difficult is a wonderful feeling. I guess I would want the listener to be so stoked on our jams that they feel the need to create on their own.
S] What are your plans for the rest of the year?
J] We will be touring in August all around the US with fellow label mates from Glitch Mode. We look forward to hitting the road again and playing our new material as well as meeting new fans of the genre. Prior to the tour we plan on releasing some remixes from our EP as well as a single or two pushing our sound and aesthetic even further. This year seems to be our most active and challenging yet, but our output and work ethic has been better than ever. I believe we’re starting to hit the target with our goals in terms of songwriting, engineering, and overall aesthetic.
D] Snappin’ necks and cashin’ checks!