You for sure know Brant Showers as member of ∆Aimon. A few years ago now the American artist also set up Sølve. This is a solo-project wherein he can deal with more personal and occult themes. After the debut album “The Negative” (2016) he this year unleashed “Earth Inferno” which has been released by Re:Mission Entertainment. It’s a dark and sophisticated piece of music which is hard to define but clearly dealing with Industrial, Witch-House and Cinematic influences. I talked about Sølve and the new album with Brant Showers.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: What does this solo-project means to you and what place does it take -next to ∆Aimon, in your artistic odyssey?
Brant: Initially the Sølve project was meant as a way to work through some personal experiences unrelated to my relationship with my wife and partner in ∆Aimon. It was also an opportunity to explore pieces that were more Ambient and Experimental with a heavier dose of occult themes. As the project developed though, it has become a very important outlet of expression for me. I keep the style fluid and open so I can explore any influences or ideas, that appeal to me, whereas ∆Aimon has a much more consistent and solid aesthetic that we work within.
With ∆Aimon we approach everything as a duo so the subject matter and compositions reflect our relationship and the blend of our influences -my solo project tends to be inherently a lot more self-indulgent and often harsher in style because of my particular interests.
Q: Your debut-album “The Negative” originally released in 2016 and re-released plus remastered in 2021 was a very personal work. How was it to get back to this album and the themes that inspired you?
Brant: I actually had a really difficult experience going back to those works. “The Negative” came from some pretty dark thoughts and revisiting that headspace ended up taking a heavy toll on my frame of mind and emotional state. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be hit so hard with the ramifications of pulling up those sessions, but in the end I think it was really important and helpful for me to see it all from a relatively healthier perspective and to reflect on what I’ve accomplished since then -emotionally and artistically.
Q: Your new album “Earth Inferno” is directly inspired by the book of Austin Osman Spare. This is an interesting ‘artist’ as he got involved with different forms of artistic expression. I like him for his connection to Symbolism and Art Nouveau, but you seem to be more inspired with the darker and occult side of the man. Tell us a bit more about it and especially the way you transposed the influences into music?
Brant: My introduction to Austin Osman Spare was through his occult writings and influence on Chaos Magick, so that’s where my mind went when I started working on the “Earth Inferno”-album. The album came about during quarantine at a time when police brutality, school shootings, alt-right rallies, political insurrection, and the numerous nation-wide protests were all boiling up to a breaking point. It’s all still incredibly pervasive, divisive, and intense everywhere, but the quarantine really seemed to push people past their limits. The themes in Austin Osman Spare’s “Earth Inferno” and my album share a similar distress over the bleaker side of the human condition and the nightmare of life. Spare’s own antisocial tendencies and way of condensing ideas into concise and blunt aphorisms has always been an influence on my writing as well -not to mention his specific occult work.
My first album was a lot more laden with magical significance, but there’s always a bit of it in my music as I’m a very ritualistic person and it’s an important way for me to process and develop.
Q: What have been the different stages, difficulties and maybe challenges you’d to go through to achieve this new album?
Brant: I Initially didn’t have any plans to work on a Sølve album at the time, as I had several other projects in the works, but sometimes inspiration just makes things happen. Within a few days I suddenly had the sketches for an EP underway and that quickly grew into a full length release.
As I mentioned, the circumstances regarding the political and social temperature was an important theme I wanted to convey but last year I went through an incredibly tragic loss of a close family member as well as the blessing of news that my wife and I were pregnant with our first child. These highs and lows had a profound impact and have me re-evaluating everything important to me. So the direction of the album changed pretty dramatically half-way through production. Everything took on a more directly personal context. Instead of focusing on the state of the world and my place within it, I found myself looking at it from the perspective of how deeply we are connected. How love and loss are intertwined. The cost of letting people into our lives is the heartbreak we endure when we lose them. Likewise, a new set of anxieties surfaced in regards to the world my daughter would inherit and all the insecurities and fears that come with it. The framework of “Earth Inferno”-shifted in a way I couldn’t have anticipated -a reflection of how my own philosophy and focus on life has shifted. It still carries a lot of the initial idea, but more intensely pointed.
Q: I think it’s nearly impossible to label your music, which also makes the strength and originality of your composition. How would you describe your album to people who never heard of Sølve before? And I’m wondering about criteria and references you’re using to compose and produce your music?
Brant: I struggle a lot with trying to describe my music to others. I’ve always listened to music in a sort of vacuum without associating it within any context, so I never really know how to categorize what I listen to or write. My brain doesn’t do well with trying to fit things into a framework and I find it really difficult to place music into any particular classification. I would say the elements I aim to bring to the forefront of my works are all emotional rather than stylistic, so I tend to describe it in those terms… ritualism weighed by melancholy -sentimental and sad. No idea if that helps anyone contextualize the music, but it’s how my reasoning works.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been heavily inspired lately by a lot of other difficult to categorize bands. Stuff like Health, Godflesh, Haunted Horses, Uniform, Witch Fever, and Profligate. All are artists that operate without fitting into any particular genre, and maybe that’s part of what is appealing to me. I can only describe what I write as an accumulation of decades worth of listening to a wide range of music -all pieced together from whatever speaks to me personally through all those years of absorbing sounds and styles.
Q: You’ve just released a new single, which is a cover version of “Blood And Tears” originally written by Danzig. What does the original song mean to you and how did you adapt the song into your own music universe? Any further plans?
Brant: I have a tradition of releasing new Sølve material every year on my birthday and always try to use it as an opportunity to do something outside of the usual style and themes that the project encompasses. Last year’s track was a rather emotionally heavy one (a cover of Lorn’s “Acid Rain”) recorded as a way to work through some of the grief I was experiencing -so this year it was really important for me to step outside of all the difficult subject matter I’ve been dwelling on lately.
Danzig happens to be an artist I’ve enjoyed since my teenage years and “Blood And Tears” is a song that I have a very strong nostalgic attachment to. It felt right to adapt a song that has such a positive personal significance but is still so moody and romantic. There is a bit more material from the “Earth Inferno” period that I’ll be putting out as a follow up EP -so I’ll be diving back into those heavy themes again, but in the meantime I’m thankful to have had the Danzig cover as a mental break.
Next up will be that satellite EP and then I’ll be following it with something on the noisier side in line with my Drone, Ambient, and Experimental work. That’s currently only in the beginning stages though, so we’ll see how that develops. Things will always evolve and change.
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