Interview : Dark Divinity – English

Messianic, Dark Divinity’s first EP is just out. Ian Moir, the band’s drummer, answered some questions about it.

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Hello Ian, and thanks a lot for your time! Would you mind to introduce Dark Divinity’s universe to someone who never heard of the band?
Ian Moir (drums): Like a mid-20th century carnival ghost train ride, but faster and more violent.

Three years after the band’s creation, you release your first EP, called Messianic. Could you explain how was this journey to you, and how you ended to compose and record those songs?
Ian: The EP is a bit of a mixed bag sampler of a wider set of material that we’ve been building on for the past few years. We were initially working towards a full length album when Trench Records approached us to do an EP last year. 

Did you feel confident about your work? Did you already have some feedbacks from the Metal community?
Ian: I’ve always thought our material is strong, but once you’ve heard a song a thousand times through all stages of development it’s hard to know what it sounds like to a fresh listener. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction our music has received. Not a lot of bands seem to be doing this style of Melodic Death Metal, so people who are into it seem to be stoked when they find us. 

What is your method to compose music and write lyrics? Maybe you have some bands that you would quote as influences?
Ian: We tend to do a lot of our work individually and collaborate by sharing demos over the web. We all have recording setups at home so it’s pretty easy to bounce ideas back and forth. Historically I’ve been the main writer in the band and there are a few songs I’ve written from start to finish, but most of them come from a collaboration of two or three of us.
Our music has 100% harsh vocals, so I think it’s really important to have some dynamics within that. The lyrics I write have more of a focus on musicality than story, I usually figure out the vocal patterns and sounds I want to hear before writing lyrics to those ideas. Different words and phrases have a natural rhythm of their own so I try to follow that as much as possible. There’s a fun challenge in trying to pull together a thematically consistent narrative from pre determined sounds, kinda like writing Haiku, but harder.
The obvious ones are Scandinavian melodic death metal genre originators like At The Gates, The Haunted & early In Flames, but we also listen to a lot of black metal and death metal so that seeps into our sound too.

The band had some line-up changes, but you still have the same vision of the music, is it easy to find musicians who share the same musical opinion?
Ian: I had a pretty clear vision of what this band was about when I first started it and I’m lucky enough to have some very talented friends, so to begin with it was just a case of convincing them to jump on board with my vision. As we’ve gone on I think it’s become a lot more of a shared vision. 

About Messianic, it’s composed of four tracks, separated by an interlude. Is this a history you’re telling, or any kind of message you want the world to hear?
Ian: The themes and lyrics on this EP are designed to invoke an atmosphere rather than tell a specific story, but they’re cryptic enough to be read in lots of different ways. If you find a message or story in there let us know!

You come from New Zealand, a country we mainly know musically talking for Devilskin, Alien Weaponry and Sojourner. How would you describe the Metal scene here?
Ian: The scene is tight. It’s a small community and everyone knows everyone, but there are some amazing bands around at the moment doing some quality work. Ulcerate, Blindfolded and Led To The Woods, Bridge Burner & Scorn Of Creation to name a few of my favorites. Our small and spread out population can be a bit limiting, most bands can’t pull a crowd outside of the three main cities so there aren’t many opportunities to reach new live audiences without travelling overseas. I think that factor can be a glass ceiling for a lot of bands here.

According to you already played some shows, how were they? Do you have a special memory you would like to share with us?
Ian: Our shows so far have been great, we’ve managed to get a good crowd almost every time and we’ve already had the opportunity to share the stage with some of our idols. Joining At The Gates and The Haunted as support for their New Zealand tour was a massive experience. They have been heroes of mine for a long time, and are a huge inspiration behind forming the band, so sharing the stage with them and hanging out with them was a pretty important moment.

What was the very first Metal song you listened? And what was the one which makes you think “I want to create a band and play on stage”? How did you discover Melodic Death Metal?
Ian: I always wanted to play drums ever since I heard rock music as a kid. The first full-on metal band I heard was Slipknot. I was fourteen and stumbled across the debut album at a music store listening post when it first came out, the first two or three songs blew my mind and I bought the album on the spot. Less mainstream stuff like melodic death metal came a couple of years later when I left home, moved into a hostel in the city and befriended a guy there who played in a local metal band. He and the rest of his band introduced me to heaps of Swedish stuff I’d never heard of like At The Gates, The Haunted, In Flames, Soilwork, Darkane & Meshuggah. That’s when I realised for the first time how much amazing heavy music was beneath the surface and started really digging into it.

I know that your EP is just out, but maybe you have some plans for the future? Like playing on stage, recording, composing?
Ian: We had some shows booked around New Zealand to support the EP release, and were planning an Australian tour later in the year but the pandemic situation really threw a spanner in the works. Cancelled show plans aside, it’s been a really productive time for the band. We’re making good progress towards completing writing for a full length album.

When did your personal musical journey begin? What was your first instrument, and how did you chose it?
Ian: I was always obsessed with drums as a kid but didn’t really get any opportunities to get involved in music. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I just went ahead and bought myself a shitty second hand kit and started bashing at it every day. That was an immediate turning point in my life.

In Europe, and mainly France, we had to stay home for quarantine. How did New Zealand deals with the worldwide situation? How did it affects your personal situation as musician?
Ian: We had a bit of an advantage here because we got to see what happened in other countries weeks before it arrived, and thankfully our government has taken a very cautious approach and led a well organised campaign to get the public on board with going into lockdown early. At this stage it looks like this approach has paid off and we’re very close to eliminating the virus from New Zealand completely.

In Europe, there are many festivals, maybe you know some of them? Would you like to play outside of New Zealand?
Ian: We’re hoping to arrange an Australian tour when travel between our two countries opens up again. We would love to tour Europe, but it’s hard to know how feasible that will be in the strange new world that is emerging out of this. If things open back up and we get some good show opportunities over there we’ll try to make it happen as soon as we can.

Last question: imagine you can create a tour with Dark Divinity as openers and three other bands. Who would you pick?
Ian: Supporting At The Gates and The Haunted last year was my dream lineup come true, as far as my influences go those guys are right at the top. I don’t think I could add a third band that would improve that lineup for me.

Thanks again for your time, and for your music! Maybe you have some last words for European fans?
Ian: Thanks for your support and the great questions! Europe has probably heard enough from me for now.

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