Interview: BlackWater HolyLight
The four of us have a pretty eclectic taste in music, we all are into some similar things but all into her own individual bands as well. It ranges from anything to folk music to metal music, music from the 90s and so on.
“All it took was a text message”, explains vocalist/bassist Allison (Sunny) Faris on the formation of Portland, Oregon’s Blackwater Holylight. “It was very easy to get the band together, we all already knew each other and knew we all play music and had been friends”. These friends, guitarist/vocalist Laura Hopkins, drummer Cat Hooch, and Sarah Mckenna on synth duties, spent, as Allison confirms “about a year to record our record.”
The album Allison is referring to is the very fine debut recently released on RidingEasy Records (reviewed here). What originally started out as the release of an EP, the signing to the label instead led to the recording of a full album, Allison explains “I had contacted them after we recorded a few songs for an EP that we wanted to release and we ended up signing with them a few weeks later and went into the studio to record more tracks so we could have our full length!”
Consisting of eight songs, the self-titled album is drenched in swirling heady psych, melodic fuzz induced riffs, woozy ethereal vocals, and lighter than air synths. Wondering how pre-planned the end-result was and how far it evolved as they recorded the album, Allison clarifies “Half-and-half I’d say, we knew we wanted it to be floating, psychedelic and heavy but tone wise, some of the stuff took shape once we got to the studio.”
The song titles in a lot of ways reflect the mood of the music, especially on ‘Sunrise’, ‘Babies’, and ‘Paranoia’. But the song-writing process for Allison is “the music always come first and lyrics are soon to follow!” Allison explains further how it lends itself to be a whole group creative process, “I come in with the baseline and vocals and the basic structure of the song, and then everyone writes their own parts on top of what I come in with. Sometimes we give each other suggestions on ideas for parts for each other but it all just shapes very organically and cohesively.”
This all amounts to a fascinating clash of influences in the band’s sound for example, you can hear bits of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd through to Chelsea Wolfe via early The Cure but ultimately, they create their own idiosyncratic sound. Not bad at all for a band with only one long player under their belts. Allison reveals, “the four of us have a pretty eclectic taste in music, we all are into some similar things but all into her own individual bands as well. It ranges from anything to folk music to metal music, music from the 90s and so on.”
Another major factor which forms the band’s vision and focus is the theme of vulnerability, and it looms large in both the songs’ lyrics and sound. As Allison describes, “vulnerability is an extremely important topic when it comes to getting the band together and writing songs. I wanted this band to reflect a safe space to be vulnerable and a place we could be nurtured. I didn’t want anyone’s self-consciousness or self-doubt to get in the way of making something really, incredible. The fact that we could all be vulnerable, and write about a vulnerability is what has made us be where we are today.”
Allison believes the band “will explore their sound even further” as “there’s never an end to learning and growth. Ever.” But before then the intention is to get out and support the record, “we haven’t done a full US tour yet but we are excited to!” And the chances of there being an European tour? “Very! And we can’t wait.”
BlackWater HolyLight’s self-titled album is out now on RidingEasy Records.