The Lair of Filth is proud and honoured to bring you not only an interview with UK Black Metal entity Pale Mist but also a full and exclusive stream of the new album "Spreading my Wings into the Abyss that Calls." I would like to take this chance to thank Pale Mist for both the interview and also the exclusive album stream, and I'd also like to thank our mutual friend who first put us in touch.
Read on for a in-depth insight into this long established UK underground band and listen to some truly exceptional underground Black Metal.
Interview by Trevor Proctor.
Hi, I hope all’s good with you, thank you very much for the interview, I appreciate the opportunity to find out a bit more about you and your work within the UK’s underground. For those reading who may not have heard of Pale Mist could you possibly tell us a little about the origins of the band, the type of music you play and also the ideals and purpose behind it?
Pale Mist started towards the end of 2007. I had been playing in a couple of bands up until that point and the thought of going completely alone where I could be in total control of everything had been drifting through my mind for a while. I wanted to start something that would be a reflection of my true inner self. To awake and unleash the beast within. After I had parted ways with the band I was drumming for at the time, I felt it was the perfect moment to begin this vision. So with limited guitar skills, a cheap microphone and an analogue 4-track tape recorder, this journey into oblivion began.
Pale Mist performs black metal as I have never heard a style of music that I connect to more. Although it doesn’t really stop there as there is also a lot of influence coming from ambient and darkwave music among other styles of music which you can hear on the new album. Generally speaking, I do not purposely close myself into one category and I am always open to include any kind of elements to my music if it works with what it is I am aiming for. I avoid limitations, or otherwise I would be doing the same thing over and over again and there would be no progression and progression is very important.
The ideals of Pale Mist change and mature from release to release. Ultimately, I am going deep inside my mind, my heart, my soul to fully express the dark, spiritual side of myself and reflecting the constant strife and ascension I yearn for. The topics I go into mostly would be disdain for humanity and general misanthropy and anti-humanism, transcendence, breaking away from human limitations, death, nature and so on. These may all sound pretty typical but I am not repeating what has been said by other bands already, but instead given my own personal interpretation of it through personal experience and knowledge. Very few will understand.
Until this year you’ve released three demos, two promos, a split that was shared with Wacht, an EP and a full length album, could you tell us about these and were you responsible for all recording and production as well as writing all the music?
All these releases had a lot time spent with writing and have their own unique characteristics to the Pale Mist discography. Even though I don’t listen to or enjoy some of my past releases they were still all an honest reflection of how I felt at the time, so therefore I would never change anything, but instead learn and progress from it. When I compare the process of putting the first demo together to writing and recording the new album the difference is very big.
Even though I am proud with all releases in my discography and they have their own significance to my progression I would say the highlights out of all the releases would be the Hate Wound demo, the split with Wacht and the new album. The Hate Wound demo was something I wanted to unleash for so long with the idea of doing my own project was going on in my head for some time, so when it was recorded, it was a huge relief and showed the beginning of was to be a long journey. I don’t listen to it anymore, but it is probably one of the most important releases of the Pale Mist discography. The split with Wacht was the first (and only thus far) split release I have done, and is one of the most personal releases I have to date. Not just with the song I had wrote, but to show the brotherhood I have with Wacht presented on a 7’’ vinyl was very sentimental to me, especially in the glossy gatefold packing. I had never thought I’d see my music presented in such a way. We had agreed on the evening myself and Steynsberg of Wacht met about doing a split and to this day is one of my best contacts (he flew in from Switzerland to the UK to stand in on guitar for Pale Mist at a show in 2013 for example). It wasn’t just another split for the sake of doing a split, but something far more.
The new album is another highlight because it completely crushes everything I have done previously. Not just by a little, but by a lot. Not just a step up, but a step outside of myself. The amount of time, effort as well as all the inspiration put into it has made it that. It will be a long time before I can write something of such calibre, but I am in no rush…
Being the sole member of the band is bound to have its advantages, how do you feel it has benefitted Pale Mist?
The fact I have total control over everything, the fact that I choose what songs to use, what artwork to use, which label to work with, who plays in the live line up, what shows to play and so on all makes Pale Mist the really personal project it is. And had I ever of got anyone else involved, it wouldn’t be what it is now. I am responsible for my own progression and mistakes, and I have always found working with a band of people very frustrating most of the time having a personality and goal that clashes with most.
With most advantages come disadvantages, what, if any, have you encountered from being a sole project and does it bring much added pressure when it comes to writing and recording music?
Not at all. In fact, I’d say it gives more freedom. I have never felt pressured in getting any Pale Mist release done because I am responsible for everything and don’t have to rely on the incompetence of others. (Unless I’m working with a not very good studio engineer or with a label messing me around, but neither have really happened thankfully) So no, no disadvantages, only benefits. Being in many bands in the past, I can say it is much better.
With longevity of nine years there’s a high chance there could have been times when you considered giving up or enlisting other members, was this ever the case for you and what kept you going during these times?
I was actually serious about ending Pale Mist after the release of the debut album, because at that point I felt that I had expressed everything I wanted from the project and didn’t feel it represented the person I was anymore. But after consideration I didn’t think it was a necessary move since I knew I was always progressing as a person anyway and thought it’s pretty stupid to end a project and start a new one for every time you change personally. And I’m glad I made that decision.
The thought of getting other people on board has certainly crossed my mind in the past and it still does occasionally. But the fact I am the only sole member has been the biggest novelty all these years. As I’ve said already, Pale Mist would not be how it is now if I had let other people in. I think a full line up would make Pale Mist seem like a burden very quickly. I benefit so much by doing this by myself.
Your latest album, ‘Spreading my Wings into the Abyss that Calls’ has just been released – thank you for letting me hear it ahead of this interview, I’m very impressed with it. How happy are you with the final recording and do you feel it’s your strongest to date?
It’s without a doubt my strongest to date in every aspect. The song writing, the musicianship, the production and the music itself is above everything I have ever done in any band or project I’ve ever been involved in. It took a while longer to record than I had hoped due to life getting in the way, but when I heard it done for the first time, I was indeed very pleased and it grows on me the more I listen to it. The few people that have heard the album already all agree. Feedback has been mostly good which is good to hear.
The artwork for the album is the creation of Seventh Bell who has designed artwork for the likes of Venefixion, Qrixkuor and Hellsworn – are you pleased with his design and why did you select this artist?
Yes, it was the second time I had used Seventh Bell and I was extremely happy with the artwork. I use this artist as he is good at getting what is in my head into a picture. I would send him the music, lyrics and give him my rough idea as to what I want and the end result is always excellent. I will certainly work with him in the future. We’ll see what it brings.
Writing, performing and recording an album from scratch on your own must be a massive undertaking. Could you tell us a bit about the process and how long it generally takes?
The simple answer is it takes however long it takes. I never set myself any deadlines. I’d rather wait ten years to get an album sounding the way I want rather than put out something forced and rushed.
It’s a very natural process to getting the release done. I never force music out of me and write whenever it feels like the right time to do it. There really is very little stress in the song writing; in fact, I find it more of a release. So it’s something I always look forward to.
‘Spreading my Wings into the Abyss that Calls’ is an interesting title for an album, why did you select this as a title and how do you feel this album represents your beliefs and aims?
I chose that as the album title as that sums up the main concept of the album very well. It means breaking away from moral limitations and reaching out for the true light; embracing and becoming a part of it. What others deem as fear I consider to be hope and where I see something as a positive thing most would see it as negative and so on. An excerpt of the lyrics from the title track gives a good example of the direction of the themes of the album:
"My blood filled with disease from moral rats
Vermin consuming perception, unconsciousness the mundane sanity
Filth running in the veins of sheep, walking through billows of smoke
Murky deceitful reality, misled and drawn down
Spitting in the face of the distorted, invalid and delusional
Bruised by the inferior, damaged and scarred
Self progression through self destruction
Positivity through negativity
Always prevailing, never declining
Darkness become my light.’’
That would probably not make a lot of sense to most people, but that’s fine. This was never meant to be something for the masses. I do this all for myself without caring the slightest about what others think.
‘Embraced by the Pale Mist’ is a huge track that spans over eighteen minutes, why did you decide to write such a long track? It’s an amazing track and a certain highlight from the album, would you agree and could you tell us about it and what it conveys?
Thank you. That for me is the best song I have ever wrote and without a doubt the highlight of the album. I didn’t decide to write a track that long, it just happened that way (a song isn’t finished writing until its finished and when this was complete it just happened to be that long).
The song deals with the constant mental torment we suffer and being sucked into a box of depravity and then breaking free from the torture to crush all beneath and reach for supremacy. It is, again, a very personal song that won’t make a lot of sense to many. Here’s some lyrics from that song which gives some insight to the message within it:
‘’Reaching untouchable heights
Physical weakness yet mental strength
Climbing the highest mountain
Flying with the winds of triumph
Embraced by the pale mist
Vanishing into the depths
Emerging manifesting elite wisdom
Crushed but not conquered.’’
I did actually spend more time than normal with the lyrics for the album. I am very pleased with them as usually I struggle getting what is on my mind into words. These lyrics I feel, reflect my mind greatly.
There’s quite a few ambient sections during the album and I feel whilst being some of the mellowest they are also some of the best. For instance, ‘Gazing, Opening the Barriers’ is as beautiful as it is captivating, a complete contrast to the harsher sections of the album, what inspires you to write such chilled yet haunting music?
What inspires me is the sounds going on in my mind when connecting with the magical forces of nature. The sea, the woods, the sky, the mountains and all else put a lot of music into my head. For hours I would just sit on a spot at one of these places and it’ll just be me with no one else around, where I can go deep into my mind in this state of isolation and tranquility. And after I would always feel quite liberated. That’s why that song has that title, because that is exactly what is going on in those moments. In fact, one of the sections was written when I actually took my guitar up Cheddar Gorge (Somerset) and sat near the cliff edge and wrote the final parts of that song. That song really has a lot of pure, honest emotion put into it, and it really sticks out for its own sentimental reasons on the album.
(Above layout designed by Grave IX Design.)
There’s also quite a few acoustic sections during the album, how do you feel they fit into the overall framework and structure of your music and do you feel they represent a mellower side to your nature?
They fit as they’ve come just as naturally as any other part of the album. Everything clicks together very well. And it depends what you mean by mellower. For sure they have a more tranquil, atmospheric sound but I would say they are just as intense and powerful as any other part of the album, they simply give the music a more diverse result.
In November 2015 Pale Mist played live at Gathering of the Morbid III in Bristol with a line up consisting of members from Ghast, Vorage and Abyssal. How did you come to assemble a line-up featuring members from some of the UK’s finest underground bands and how was your set and the event in general?
They are people I have known for some time and just asked them one by one if they wanted to perform live for Pale Mist for that show, and thankfully, they all agreed. I feel very lucky to have such a competent line up all from good backgrounds of excellent bands. It’s a pleasure working with them. The strongest Pale Mist live line up to date.
Also, is this a stable line-up we can expect to see at future live performances and had Pale Mist played live on many occasions before Gathering of the Morbid III?
The same line up performed at our show in Glasgow in February supporting Satanic Warmaster. We’ll be using a different drummer for our upcoming shows in Bristol and Cumbria but nothing else is different within the line-up.
Yes, Gathering of the Morbid III was the third live performance from Pale Mist. The first show was in 2012 at the Inner Awakening Festival in Szeged, Hungary, where members of the Hungarian black metal band Lepra filled in. The third was at the first edition of Gathering of the Morbid with members of Wacht and Cernnunos stepped in as live members. Every line up has done a stellar job in the past, of which I’m grateful for.
If this stabilised live line up continues will it be involved in the writing of music for future releases?
No. I will always be responsible for the music in Pale Mist. No one else.
In February of this year you played as support to Satanic Warmaster, how did it feel supporting such a high profile band?
It was beyond what I was used to. Previously I’d been used to just playing in small pubs and venues but this was a big sold out gig with a band I admire. It was for sure the show I’ve been the most anxious about, but nevertheless, the show went very well. Our set was tight and the whole evening ran very smoothly.
When playing live is it hard to entrust someone to play the music exactly as you intended, especially when it’s music you’ve painstakingly written completely on your own over a long period of time?
When you get other people involved to play your music for you, you need to remember they are not you. It will never be played exactly how it was on the recording. However, if it sounds nearly the same or as good then personally I am not that bothered. But to be honest, my riffs and drum patterns are not that hard to learn anyway. So teaching them to people in the past has not been much of an issue at all.
I see you’ve some live dates scheduled later this year: one supporting Lepra and Dunkelheit, another supporting Wacht and you’re also playing at the Blackwood Gathering which features Horna and Fen. 2016 has been quite a year for you in terms of live dates – have you many more dates planned and have you any short term plans for any outside the UK?
Those are all the confirmed performances for this year and nothing else is planned for after that. It may be a while before Pale Mist play live again after 2016. There was an opportunity to play outside the UK this year but unfortunately it didn’t happen due to other commitments from the live members. However, I’m sure more performances abroad in the future will happen due to contacts I have, it’s just a matter of when.
What do you set out to achieve when playing live and what’s been your favourite performance to date?
Playing live with Pale Mist is all about bringing my music alive in a whole new setting. It’s a very transcendental and liberating thing letting all the burning darkness inside break the chains and unleashing it into a real life setting. It’s something that is only felt at that moment, hence I have continued to play live over time. It is also important to make sure I am selective to which shows I play. It really can’t be anywhere with anyone or the feeling and real purpose of it would not be there making the performance meaningless.
I would say my favourite show to date would be playing Gathering of the Morbid III. There was a big build up to this gig and throughout the whole night the atmosphere was ecstatic and the motivation to play was increasing throughout so when our time to play came, the release was incredibly powerful.
You also run the independent label and distro Sinister Stench Productions which was established in 2007, did you ever imagine the label would be around so long when you formed it and how has running a label compared to what you’d initially thought it would be like?
I never really thought too far ahead when I began the label, I just started it and just thought I’d see where it would go. Even though I have said several times throughout the years I was going to stop the label due to it being too time consuming at times and also being a financial burden, I wouldn’t say I’m not too surprised it’s still active today.
It isn’t much different to how I thought it would be. I started it to dig deeper into the underground (build contacts, trade to discover new bands etc.) and I am still doing that now, just maybe with a slightly different approach and way of doing things.
Since Sinister Stench Productions was established there was a global economic downturn and recession, did it affect the label in any way and can you see from orders etc. now being placed to your label that we may have turned that economic corner?
When I started the label there was no website and one release that was just traded away with other labels. Sinister Stench was completely unknown so it didn’t make any difference.
You’re bound to get sent a lot of demos and enquiries from bands, what attributes do a band need to have to be signed to Sinister Stench and what’s your selection process?
I hardly ever receive any promos or requests to releases a band’s music. On the Sinister Stench website it states "All the bands I have worked with and released in the past are bands which I have approached. They are all bands that I know personally or have been in contact with long enough to know what their band stands for, I will never release anything from a band that I have only just heard of through a promo sent to me by a complete stranger (so please, don't send me any promos)" so people have obviously taken notice of that to avoid wasting mine and their time.
The label also publishes one of the UK’s finest ‘zines, ‘Sinister Stench ‘zine have you any plans for future issues to be published and have you gathered up much information for it?
I have started work on the third issue, which will also be the last. I enjoy putting the ‘zine together and releasing it but I find the whole process very tedious and becomes an annoyance quite quickly so that’s why I only plan to do one more just to get the last of what I want to do with the ‘zine out of my system. I’m currently writing out the interviews for the bands to featured and hopefully have the ‘zine in January.
On top of all this you also occasionally promote gigs and I see the previously mentioned gig with Wacht is one of yours which is due to take place in Bristol in October. Have you any others planned and do you feel it’s a rewarding experience?
I rarely put on shows apart from Gathering of the Morbid. I’m putting on a show for Wacht because they are very good comrades of mine and I feel honoured being able to play a part in their upcoming UK stint. I used to put on shows in Bristol quite regularly but I stopped as the whole became a massive burden so now my full attention in on GotM with the occasional compromise.
Yes, it can be very rewarding most of the time. But even then, it can leave you under a lot of stress with an empty wallet. Hence why it’s not something I could keep pursuing.
The UK’s underground is thriving at the moment, which bands do you feel we should watch for that deserve a bigger audience than then currently command? Also, which releases are you most looking forward to hearing this year?
The UK scene has certainly flourished in recent years. Bands who I strongly admire are Obscure Lupine Quietus, Instinct, Antinomian, Necro Ritual, Absinthropy, Ancient Spirt, Funeral Throne, Diverses, Ghast, Abyssal, Vorage, She’ol, Lunar Mantra, among others. I’m particularly looking forward to the new Instinct, Diversis and Necro Ritual releases when they come out. Curious to hear some new Funeral Throne material as well. Also looking forward to seeing what Exitium Productions put out in the future.
Which bands would you say have influenced you personally and also the sound of Pale Mist over the years and which would you like to share a stage with the most?
I’m constantly discovering new music so inspiration for new ideas come quite often, but if I had to choose a few specific bands I’d say Sargeist (Satanic Black Devotion album), Mütiilation (Vampires of Black Imperial Blood album), Lycia (Cold album) and most early Norwegian black metal, particularly the first two albums of Dimmu Borgir, Stormblast remains one of all-time favourite black metal releases.
There aren’t any certain bands I’d like to share the stage with. To be honest, I’ve never even thought about it. I don’t set my goals like that.
With some seriously good live dates and a fantastic new album just released what does the rest of the year have in store for Pale Mist and have you any plans for future releases?
The album and those live shows will be all of what’s in store for Pale Mist in 2016. Infortunio Records from Spain will be doing a tape version of the album and Equinox Discos (also from Spain) will be handling an LP version, all of which will be out sometime in 2016.
There is material written for a potential release in 2017, and also that year will be the ten-year anniversary for Pale Mist, of which I would like to do a special release to reflect what has gone on in the decade long existence, but time will tell.
Thanks again for getting touch with me, I’ve really enjoyed both the music and getting to know a bit more about both your label and band, any closing comments are all yours……
Thank you for your support. The new album is out now and I urge anyone interested to purchase a copy from either the Pale Mist Bandcamp page, Werewolf Promotion or Equinox Discos.
Please see below for exclusive listening of all tracks from the album, "Spreading my Wings into the Abyss that Calls," I hope you enjoy this fantastic music as much as I do and as stated please get in touch with the labels detailed above to purchase - enjoy, Trevor.