The Coldawn of a New Age
Say what you want about the internet, but when it comes to underground music scenes, it’s brought people together as much as it’s been accused of tearing people apart. When it comes to abstract interpretations of black metal, writing and recording can become as unorthodox as the sound of an abrasively major-keyed epic itself. For Coldawn, this process has become a complex second nature as their album …In the Dawn (Flowing Downward) stands strong as the product of years of curating across multi-continental membership.
Even if anything short of laying tracks together in Tanner’s garage and hustling your tapes at the VFW Hall feels inauthentic, fret not. Coldawn is far from hipster pot-stirring. Their story expresses the new organicism of the times, breathing new life into traditional interpretations of nature’s place in metal and the use of symphonics. To get a better understanding of the inner-workings of an international blackgaze conglomerate, as well as trade a few playing cards of essential post-black listening, Invisible Oranges took a timeout with Coldawn instrumentalist, B.
-- Jenna Depasquale
Coldawn has quite the delightfully eclectic lineup, including the addition of Germ's (and Austere alumnus) Tim Yatras. How did you guys find each other? I’m bracing myself for the tale of a black metal love epic.
To tell the story of Coldawn's lineup and how we came together I must tell the story of our previous project, Beyond the Dawn. I was contacted by [vocalist] Ausk over in Venezuela for a project after he heard snippets of another project of mine, Vixenta. I guess he liked the sound of it (the first release had no mixing!) and we talked a bit back and forth. He sent me snippets of his harsh vocals and I thought it sounded good. I wrote a terrible first song which I've since reworked for the upcoming Coldawn album. I never recorded it at the time but opted to record three other songs instead which was formed as the basis for and released as our 2013 self-titled EP. It did pretty well on plays and views and we had a CD pressed which went okay, too. We branched out and contacted other musicians for a split. The community under this genre is very tight knit and it was easy to find some talented people to work with, many I'm still talking to and involved with today.
After the debut demo EP and three splits, it was time to re-record a bunch of these tracks for an album. At the time, it was simply titled One Year. Around this time, I came into contact with Tim, he had heard our song 'Never' and liked the material. I covered his studio fees to lock him in and he became our session drummer. We were initially planning on have him drum on One Year but decided to scrap the entire release and focus on mostly new material. I still have One Year all finished but I'm not sure if I will or can release it. We opted for a name change shortly before recording the album with Ausk and Tim. Ausk picked Coldawn and we settled. I recorded the upcoming Coldawn album back in mid-2016 and released Beyond the Dawn's last release, Still. in July 2016 as a way to spark some interest after not releasing anything for almost two years at the time. Afterwards, we laid the project to rest to continue as Coldawn.
Coldawn is a global effort, spanning Australia and Venezuela. Off the top of my head, Intig is the only other band who’s been able to pull off international collaboration so seamlessly. What does this process look like for you guys? What challenges have you guys overcome? Or, are there any underestimated benefits to having such a setup?
It's a little easier than some international projects due to my writing/recording process. I'll record everything myself, and either use some quickly recorded drums I did or some samples to replace with a real kit eventually. I send Ausk some snippets as I go along so he can write some lyrics to it. The lyric process is the most difficult. Ausk sends me his lyrics in Spanish, and some songs we keep in Spanish, but I generally translate them. They're very loose but we try our best to keep the intended feel and flow, despite the translation. Sometimes it can be janky...if it is, I'll use some creative freedom of my own and change some lines to fit better.
Overall, it works okay. I just wish my Spanish was better. After I write everything, I will get other musicians to fill any roles that I cannot. For this case, Tim filled the role of Drums. He's a talented drummer. I wrote the drum parts specifically for him but he took his own creative freedom in a number of sections in the album and, it worked great. We have Bogdan (Skyforest, Annorkoth) filling the role of session keys and mixing/mastering this album. He's over in Russia. It truly is an international project despite having only Ausk and I as the two 'official' or 'sole' members. Doing it this way can be difficult to people who aren't used to it. Time zones and all come into play and can prove to be a hassle with organization, but it's worth it to produce a good release.
I was stoked to see that one of your influences includes An Autumn for Crippled Children -- they’re so criminally slept-on. What other post-black artists do you find moving? Deafheaven seems to steal most of the thunder, but there are really so many new talented post-black and blackgaze artists popping up every day.
Post-black in general is unfortunately an underrated genre. Hope Drone is a very solid band from my city, Brisbane. I saw them live once or twice and they're just as good as they are on their albums. Batushka did a good job at breathing new life into black metal. Panopticon has always been a huge influence of mine and it does show. AquilusSun Worship's 2016 album is complete chaos in the best way possible.
Personally, my influences go so far beyond post-black [metal] even though my music is rooted in the genre. Japan's Akira Yamaoka [composer of the Silent Hill video game soundtracks] have played a big part in the development of my playing style as I was learning his music as I was learning to play and write music. The minimalist instrumental styles of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds to the simple but huge ambience of Slowdive all helped developed my style and by extension Coldawn’s as well.
I, of course, want to talk about …In the Dawn. Take us through its journey to release and your favorite aspects of the final product.
Like I said earlier, we recorded the album in 2016. This, at the time, was only guitars and vocals. Bogdan was busy mixing these and he waited over a full year for the vocals which were difficult to get done because, well, I'd imagine studios may unfortunately be hard to come by in Venezuela. He ended up recording at a friend’s house, I believe, but the final product was fine and worked as is vocally. Halfway through the recording of the vocals, Ausk contacted a few labels (admittedly a little early, we weren't quite ready), one being Avantgarde Productions, who were actually looking for new bands for their sub-label Flowing Downward. We were a go for I believe a November or December release date, but we had to keep pushing it back. Things had to be changed in the mix. Overall, it did turn out great. The label was very professional throughout the whole thing and are great to work with and very understanding of changes or needs from the band. In the past, we had almost no interaction with any labels with what we released. It was a very simple deal, normally. My favorite part would have to be working with Tim over the process. It was fairly smooth sailing and he knew exactly what he was doing.
Coldawn only seems to be growing. What does the future hold? I know that, say, touring may be difficult in terms of getting some of the ambient qualities to translate, but perhaps already having some footing in a variety of cities would help?
Touring or playing live as Coldawn is possible, but only musically as of now. There would need to be a number of musicians willing to play. We might have to cut out choir or have them played by a keyboardist, it is possible but the distance between Venezuela and Australia is vast, unfortunately. We have enough of a footing to get ourselves off the ground a bit which is always good. We hope to maybe experiment with other aspects of music and other genres perhaps in the future and maybe that can help us develop more of a following, but we'll only do what we're comfortable with. We're currently hoping to release something in the next year or so, and I have some things coming up later in the year very different to Coldawn. We just have to see if it will suffice.