Century Media Artist- Karyn Crisis' Gospel of the Witches Interview is up..
1. Karyn this is a much more introspective release from you days of Crisis or even you more recent Ephel Duath releases. Where did this more bluesy experimental sound come from?
It’s interesting to see you describing the album as “bluesy,” because I don’t hear a bluesy vibe on the album at all, with the exception of Ancient Ways, I suppose. Many people have said this album sounds like doom, or even gothic metal.
This is an album which tells much more of an emotional story than my work in the past did. In Crisis, the guys would jam on the music and I’d “climb the mountain” of their songs with my vocals. I’d tend to write while they were jamming, but also in my own personal time away from rehearsals. ..With GOTW, its’ been a very different experience. This album was about “sensing” our way into what we wanted to express, and we wanted to express this world of hidden knowledge and the truth of the Ancient Ways of Italian Witches and Druids.
It was a profound life shift that inspired GOTW: meeting a witch in spirit named Aradia while I was in Tuscany, and subsequently learning from her the true history of Witches in Italy and what the Old Ways are all about. This was not just an intellectual experience that still continues; it has been like meeting a person: sensations, emotions, learning, joy, and love. Likewise, the writing sessions between Davide and myself are all about love: rising to our highest expression to meet each other in a creative space that’s all about expressing emotion.
In the Ancient Ways (like Druidry, Witchery, Ceremonial Magic and Channeling, etc, ) there’s always a representation of masculine energy and feminine energy…not “man and woman” but of the energies as aspects of a greater whole. I think I was intuitively applying this concept to the vocals. At the beginning, I simply felt I wanted to be free to express a more feminine part of my voice, uninterrupted, and then to anchor those vocals with masculine support. So there was a full range of vocal highs and lows and depths and fragility. I know how deep my own voice can go, but I felt that the right male voice could take that even deeper, so the vocals become like “chords”and a combination of feminine and masculine. It just felt like time to open up that expression.
In the same way a guitarist can drop tune or add layers, I wanted to do similar thing.
2. There is an obvious theme for Salem’s Wounds-- is this more about your struggles as an artist, musician and woman in an extreme underground movement?
“Salem’s Wounds” is an album about the occult, and the true nature of women called “witches” in Italy who were killed for over 700 years by the church. The album is about the knowledge those men and women learned about the Universe, and also about the suffering they endured. The intention was to devote the album to the Witches, both male and female, Female Druid Healers, Druid Magicians, and to sing their truth and teachings. I wanted to open a discussion about all these suppressed truths.
3. I know this was self funded and crowd sourced-- how has it having this album under your total control this time around?
It was an awesome, challenging experience! Being able to work from a purely creative place, rather than also having the business pressure to “prove oneself” before the album is recorded, is a blessing. It gave me some mental space which freed me up creatively. It was also phenomenal to be connected to supporters so directly, and to get to know some of them along the way. Financially it did cause challenges, because ultimately we did not raise enough money solely through the campaign to pay for the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the physical production of cds and vinyls, and all the handmade rewards and postage that was required. Most importantly we did raise all the money for the recording, the mixing and the mastering.
4. How did you come to work with Century Media? This seems like a perfect fit for this release. What this the only label for the album or did others show interest?
Lovely coincidence there…right as I launched my crowdfunding program, I saw in the news that Marco Barbieri had become president of CM. He signed Crisis to Metal Blade in the early 90s. At a certain point in the campaign, when it was apparent we’d have enough money raised to record, mix, master and pay for all the vocals and drums recording, but not enough to press cds and vinyls, I decided to share the songs with Marco and he really loved them.
5. This seems like a release a long form video could be made for the full album, rather than just a track. Have you ever thought about making a DVD companion release to the audio only version?
I think that’s a great idea! There really is so much backstory to the making of this album. We did do a little bit of that during our first band rehearsals in Brooklyn this past February. Bob Vigna, one of our live guitarists, is also a talented videographer. He interviewed all of us and made two short rehearsal/interview videos that are here for you to view: facebook.com/Gospelofthewitches.
6. Where do you see Gospel of the Witches heading, or was this just a one off? Will the next material just be solo and not a band of friends loosely bound together?
We’re already deeply into working on the next album. There’s a third planned as well. The band also wants to tour the U.S. and Europe, we’re just looking for the right booking agent. There are plenty of creative ideas and plans for our future, and we are all very devoted to our path together. Currently, we are shooting a new video.
7. As you’ve been around as long as myself playing since the late 80's and early 90's, what do you think of this digital age of social networks, webzines, etc.? How does a band stand out today?
When I joined my first national touring band, Crisis, in 1993, the way to get the word out about our music was to play shows, to advertise those shows with wheat-pasted posters and postcards, and to record demo cassettes to sell at live shows. From there, we hoped magazines and ‘zines would want to review our cassette or interview us. Then, we signed to Metal Blade and they upped the ante on introducing us to the world. These days, promotions are much simpler to do worldwide and independently. I think the digital age has its positive aspects and its negative aspects. For me, more importantly that simply criticizing these methods is for me to understand what I do and do not like about them, and find a middle ground on which to embrace them but not to let them alter my life in negative ways.
8. Tell us about the cover art as you did that as well. How does it play into the album story and theme? Artwork is something that seems to be missing in 2015.
The way the Buddha is depicted standing on a lotus flower in, I knew represented an opening to Universal knowledge. The lotus is used in meditations as a visual cue for opening to this Universal knowledge often.
I wanted to parallel that with a Witch. Fire, for her, is part of a ritual of raising the energy to meet Spirit, (various Goddesses who are consciousness.) Yet, fire has been used against her. I wanted to take back that power and show its intended use (although I also added ghosts of murdered Witches coming through the fire to speak). I’d learned that Witches in Italy, and also female Druids were very powerful: they had knowledge of how to cure many diseases successfully using plants and other information they received from the Spirit world (like shaman). This ability to cure and heal was something the monks didn’t have and doctors couldn’t match. There were a couple of witches who were saved from the Inquisition because the Inquisitors realized they were too vital and their healing powers were needed to save other people. The “horns” which many people associate with Satanism had a place in the old ways: both to depict a male aspect of nature, but originally they represented the disc of the moon. So I also wanted to take back that feminine energy that was recognized around the world: the power of the moon.
9. What will the live show be like? Will there be music from your other periods or will it be just this release shining on stage?
The live shows have been intense! Considering the musicians in GOTW, you can’t expect anything else. They are also dynamic-we play some of the more stripped-down songs as well, to change the pace of the experience. We have been playing material from “Salem’s Wounds”, 45-50 minute sets. People have been responding super positively; they seem really charged up and excited after shows, and they take the time to tell us how the shows affected them, the magic they felt, the emotions they connected with, and onward. It’s been truly awesome.
10. What are you listening to and currently reading?
The Superbeings by John Randall Price and Hathor by Lesley Jackson are two of the books I’ve been reading, as well as other historical books on the Druids.
I’ve been listening obsessively to the new GOTW album material we’re working on, as well as a secret project Davide and I are working on we hope to reveal soon enough. I’ve also been sitting in on rehearsals of Davide’s new instrumental band, Niō.
12. If you could sign to a major label, would you? Or is this music better with well focused indie labels?
Century Media is the biggest label I’ve been on, and I signed to them not because of their size or stature but because I trust the people I work with there. We respect each other, and there’s an artistic connection. With any business partnership, there are many factors involved in business decisions. I’m not looking to change labels now. I feel very supported and I’m grateful for how helpful the label has been thus far.
13. If someone was about to listen to Gospel of Witches, how would you explain it to them to get the full listening value of the album?
I really don’t explain things so well in terms of how the album sounds; I personally am interested in the thoughts behind creations, so I’d probably go that route. I dislike trying to define music to people, because we each respond so differently to how something sounds, and I don’t necessarily want to define someone’s experience before they’ve had it. Plus, music and art are about exploration for the listener and viewer, so it’s for them to discover. I think these days people want to know what they are getting before they get something, and that can take away some of the discovery process.
14. Thank you for the time. Any closing thoughts?
Thanks for your support!