Click Interview with Shrouds: ‘It’s The Beauty In What Is Beastly’

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Click Interview with Shrouds: ‘It's The Beauty In What Is Beastly’

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Shrouds is a solo-project hailing from Amsterdam (The Netherlands) driven by Thomas Bruning. Shrouds is already active for a few years and got finally signed to Hands. The official debut- and self-titled album was released April 2023 and became one of my favorite Industrial productions of the past year. “Shrouds” stands for a powerful mix of Industrial, IDM and Techno; a top-notch production which stands for ‘modern-Industrial’ music. (Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)

Q: First things first; can you briefly introduce us to the sound-universe of Shrouds? What’s your musical background plus sources of inspiration which brought you to set up SHROUDS?

Thomas:Hi, I’m Thomas, 30 years young, born and raised in Amsterdam and brain father to Shrouds. Shrouds is many things. It’s life, it’s death. Divine and demonic. Light and dark.

In my early teens I started listening to a lot of Hip-Hop and Rap. Through my grandfather and uncle I got introduced to roots Reggae, Blues, Jazz, Psychedelic-Rock and a lot of other different styles of music from all over the world. Whatever genres they were, I always gravitated more towards the heavier stuff. Music that had a certain urgency, or emotion.

I was heavily into Sci-fi , history, mystics and myths, ancient folklore and other mind expanding subjects in life. That probably set the stage for the topics and vibes that I try to portray in my music.

At some point I got really into Electronic music. Some friends were going to Techno parties and I really caught the bug; downloaded Ableton and started producing. As time went on I started studying audio engineering and got a lot more into production. I dove deeper and deeper and now, here we are. Of course there are more layers to this story, but in a briefly explained way, I think all that combined brought me to setting up the foundation of Shrouds.

Q: You’re already active for a couple of years now and have released several singles, EP’s and remixes. How do you perceive the evolution in sound- and production process from ‘earlier’ productions towards your self-titled debut album?

Thomas: The very first Shrouds track was released in 2015 on the LA based TXTRL label. Back then Shrouds was still a 2 man project. I was on the production side of things and my friend Nicky was taking care of the mixing and mastering. Back then we were still heavily into partying, and that was definitely audible in our music.

Since we were in our beginning stages of production, we were looking a lot to influencing artists and after a night out, we would often be in the studio trying to ‘copy’ what they were doing. That way you really learn how to make structured music, and along the way you slowly find out what your own sound is. Of course you never really succeed copying someone else, but your own flavor comes out in the end. Quite quickly I realized that I wasn’t too interested in making ’standard’-Techno.

I started reading up on occult subjects and a new source of inspiration was born for Shrouds. Sound-wise stuff evolved in a more serious way. Stepping away from functional club music required different production methods, those methods I developed through learning sound/ audio engineering. Focusing less on ‘usability’ and what works, and more on exploring the sound and texture universe. Learning how to make sounds from scratch and having them match the sounds in your head. Switching from fully ‘in the box’ production to hardware and learning how sculpt with that. I’ve learned a lot of mixing and production techniques over the years and I keep learning every day still. To me it’s an on-going thing, really.

Themes and inspirations in life change, same goes for knowledge and skill. As a person you evolve and your music evolves along with you.

Q: “Shrouds” took me by surprise for its power and sound intelligence which I experienced as the offspring between Industrial, Techno and IDM. Tell us a bit more about the sound properly speaking plus writing/production of the album? What kind of work did you’ve in mind?

Thomas: It is indeed a hybrid between Industrial, Techno, IDM and many more inspirations. For the album I really wanted to make something that embodied the Shrouds universe as a whole. That’s the reason why the album is self-titled, it has a bit of everything and is not leaning on one particular story or theme. It paints a pretty extensive and detailed picture of what Shrouds is.

And the sound… it needed to sound mature. I hate cheesy and generic sounds, I spend a lot of time on my sound design and mixing. The themes that I explore in my music have a certain emotion and the sound design has to meet that same frequency. These sounds tell the story, so in order for them to tell the story as accurate as possible they have to be on the same emotional level, they have to carry the right words, so to say…. if that makes any sense.

Q: Do you’ve any specific way of working/composing and what are the different stages you’d to go through to achieve “Shrouds”?

Thomas:I always start from scratch. Take out all the cables from the modular and start from a sort of track idea in my head, including sounds and structure. Or just spend time with one certain module, discover it’s possibilities yet unknown. Or I could start with a simple technical idea like; what if I make this LFO the master clock, throw that in a multiple and use those clocks to trigger everything, building out the patch but all leading back to one basic principle or module. I like these chain reaction, organic type of patches where everything reacts and responds to each other, in a controlled chaos, just like the universe.

Whatever vague idea or feeling I start with, I always tune to the universal frequency and use concepts of sacred geometry and numerology along the way to help embed the vibe into the core of the music. I tap into that frequency and from there on I just jam out and sketch the manifesting idea until I find the correct ‘words’ and ‘phrasing’ to tell the story that lives in my head at that time.

After that is all dialed in and I have the main structure, I jam again, but this time trying to perform the whole track multiple times. I record everything, and when I feel I have the proper amount of material I review and start cutting. Then I start with the arrangement, after that detailing and filling in the missing pieces. After the track is basically done I move on to the mix, which is my favorite but also most hated part. That’s where most time is spent, and here the track really forms in to its final shape. Finally, it goes off to mastering, which I rather leave to the experts.

Q: The name of your project which also is the title of the album isn’t exactly reflecting the bright side of life. What did you try to express by this name/title and do we have to search for any deeper significance behind the song titles?

Thomas:The name is based on ‘The Shroud of Turin’, which is believed to be the piece of cloth Jesus was buried in. For me it stands for multiple things, but the fundamental is balance. Jesus which resembles life, and the shroud which resembles death. It’s the beauty in what is beastly.

There’s always a deeper significance behind my song titles, they often either directly correlate to samples used within the tracks or to the spirit of the story I’m trying to tell. I find it hard to describe but I hope you get the picture.

Q: Your debut album has been released by Hands which I think simply looks like a consecration for your work. What does it mean to you and what are your expectation being signed to a leading Industrial label? Do you feel there’s something like a Hands-family thing?

Thomas:Consecration is definitely a good word for it. It’s an huge honor for me, I remember finding the Hands-label and the artists it puts out, I was absolutely blown away. To me it’s one of the most influential labels out there and I would have never thought I’d be able to walk amongst these legends, let alone to be on the same label as them. So yeah, it means a whole lot and I hope to meet and perhaps even work with more members of the Hands-family soon.

And there’s no expectations really, it just feels really good to know that there is a platform that believes in my visions and is making sure the music is reaching the right ears.

Q: So what are the next steps and plans for the coming months?

Thomas:I’m taking it slow. After the album was released I lost my former studio space and had to tend to my family. We have a almost 2 year old daughter and we recently moved to a small village right outside the city, so I’ve been mostly busy with that. Now that we’ve settled in a bit I can finally start building up the studio again, which will now be in-house. On top of the moving and being a full time father, I also became head AV technician of a big events location so that has been pretty time consuming as well.

So next steps for Shrouds are rebuilding the studio and then probably reworking my older tracks to incorporate into the existing live set and developing that. But after not having fired up the machines for such a long time, I think might skip that and go straight into production for some new Shrouds music!

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Inferno Sound Diaries

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