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Blackwater Holylight's Sunny Faris: "Our biggest influence was just each other and rejecting on life. It's not as much musical influences as it is emotional influences."

Interview with Sunny Faris from Blackwater Holylight
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 29 October 2019, 11:50 PM

Hazy, laid deep inside a fog that never seems to end, like a mystery ever dwelling, it keeps going and going. Encrusting the music with the echoes and sounds of Winter, yet not merely to be regarded as the season, yet also what goes on in one's heart and mindset. Blackwater Holylight is back with their sophomore album, "Veils Of Winter", showing a beautiful kind of darkness and spirituality. Steinmetal had a chance with Sunny Faris of the band about the new release, musical development, songwriting, sound, going spiritual, and more…

Hello Sunny, I am very pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating you?

Hi thank you for inquiring! We've been doing great!

After blasting Metal this whole time, when I started listening to your new album, “Veil Of Winter”, I felt as if I was floating, which is quite a sensation to be honest. Is this how do you find the actual winter, a kind of dreamy, atmospheric, yet also bites here and there?

Absolutely. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Its very rainy and gloomy here most of the winter but still extremely lush and vibrant. The sounds on the record definitely compliment the climate we live in. And it's actually "Veils of Winter" super close…

I wonder what fascinates you when it comes to the haze, or should I say enigma, that your music creates? At times it appeared to me that no matter the Pop elements, which are scarce, nothing is that obvious on the “Veil Of Winter”

Yes, we are pretty all over the place with our sound, so it really results in many different ways to interpret and digest our album. We weren't trying to be too much of one thing or another so you get little hints of everything!

Strongly attempting to take your music forward in a manner of a year or so, after the debut, and releasing “Veil Of Winter”, is an impeccable task I can imagine. How did you make the fast switch from supporting your self-titled debut into writing mode, yet not merely writing, but continuing to develop your music along the way?

By time our s/t album came out we already had a number of songs and riffs that we had been working on, so a lot of stuff on VOW had already being birthed very early. We just had a lot of ideas and we did a lot of jamming and writing together and everything really formed over a long period of time, even though it felt quick to our audience.

Connected to the previous question, how do you feel that Blackwater Holylight’s music was developed in the light of “Veil Of Winter”? How does the album stand out in comparison to your debut?

VOW is a lot different that our s/t. The biggest reason being that we have two new members on VOW that did not appear on s/t. Our new drummer Eliese Dorsay and guitarist Mikayla Mayhew both added a ton of new abilities and sounds that we didn't have previously. So we were just able to get a lot heavier, experiment more and have more minds to bounce ideas off of. Additionally, our synth player Sarah McKenna has a lot more lead parts on VOW and has really just blossomed as a musician over the last few years. We also had a lot of tonal changes from the s/t especially with our other guitarist Laura Hopkins using fuzz (which she didn't do on s/t) and really shined through a lot of her lead parts that simply shape and glue many of the songs together.

What would you say is the lyrical treatment throughout “Veil Of Winter”? What is the leading theme that you focused on in terms of philosophy? How do you find yourself connected to that same theme?

The lyrical content on VOW is all just very honest reflections of different compartments of life and situations we've been through. There was no theme… I guess the theme actually was just honesty, openness and vulnerability. But that's nothing that we decided prior to the album, that's just how we are naturally in our song writing.

How did you find the edge when you integrated the music with the lyrics? Mysterious kind of music, verging on being doomy, with the same direction of the lyrics?

We were just being ourselves and that's just how the songs came together naturally.

One of the aspects of the album that I liked are the vocal harmonies. Would you say that this aspect is one of those that received proper attention while recording the album, to make the vocals front depthy and soothing at the same time?

Laura and I have been singing together for a long time so we have a lot of fun trying out different harmonies and vocal deliveries together. There are a few songs that we did our vocal takes at the same time so we definitely spent a decent amount of time on the vocals but were also able to record them fairly fast

While writing the music for “Veil Of Winter”, what inspired to complex things up, spicing the influences of the old heritage of the late 60s and 70s, into a unified platter of mistiness?

Our biggest influence was just each other and rejecting on life. It's not as much musical influences as it is emotional influences. That's really where we gather the most ideas and passion.

How would you describe the songwriting process of “Veil Of Winter”? Would you say that the band is a democracy, letting everyone pitch in on the writing?

Yes. This album was very collaborative. We all wrote our parts, bounced ideas off of each other, and tried everyone's ideas while writing. It was 100% a group effort.

Which of the album’s songs do you identify more than any of the others? That connection with the tune that is unmatched and you simply leave home without? Please elaborate on your pick

The most meaningful song on the record to me is "Seeping Secrets" or "Death Realms". I can't speak for everyone, but for me those two songs are extremely personal and sad. I can't go into detail too much but both songs are about very difficult times in life and writing and recording them really helped me heal from trauma and lay some hardships to rest. I think that all of us feel that way about the record as whole but little examples vary per member.

With “Veil Of Winter” as a whole being a rather heavy album, you came up with “Death Realms”, which other than its strong title, it is lightheaded. Why the sudden change with this track? Was there a purpose to musically lift the spirits a bit?

Instrumentally this song feels a bit lighthearted but the lyrical content is super heavy. Heavy in many ways actually. We've all listened to shoegaze music for years so when we started going though it and shaping it we just realized it would be perfect for super layered guitars and wanted to create a "wall of sound" sort of track from it.

A bit off question for you, to which newcomer bands have you been listening to lately? Any potential promises that you think would become something bigger one day?

Hmm, that's a tough one. I listen to a lot of metal mostly new metal and friend's bands. Also a lot of local music in Portland that's outside of the metal scene. Our friends in a band called the Shivas and another band called Weeed are two super talented and hardworking bands from PDX and I really believe that they will be able to go anywhere they want with their music.

And another just to keep interesting. How do you think is the best way to promote an album nowadays? Do you put your trust solely on the promotional platform that became common like YouTube, Spotify etc. or do you think that an extensive work is needed on all fronts?

I think its important to promote your art in as many ways as possible! For any artist. The more you promote the more people see. I don't really know the perfect formula for going about promotion but its wildly valuable!

In your opinion, what are the upcoming challenges for Blackwater Holylight? What are the band’s aspirations when it comes to the market it is a part of?

There are so many things about being in a band that are challenging. And every band is different. For us I think as long as we take care of ourselves and each other we will continue to work through all of the challenges just fine. But what those challenges are specifically I guess it's hard to name them until they are happening. But it's just life any piece of life it's not always easy.

Have you already started working on your next album? Any hints of what is coming next that you wish to share?

Not really, we have been jamming a bit and have a ton of ideas but won't start actually writing new material until we get back from Monolord tour.

I guess that supporting “Veil Of Winter” is only natural, what are your plans for 2020? Any touring involved perhaps?

We will be doing a small headlining tour on the West Coast in March and have some festival plans but besides that not too much is set in stone yet.

Sunny, many thanks for the time for this interview, “Veil Of Winter” is an inspiring piece, a good get away for me from the heaviness of Metal, thank you and all the best.

Thank you so much!



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