Nylithia - Infidel Interview #78
First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
My name is Kyle Scott, I'm the vocalist/synth for Nylithia. We also have Royce Costa who is the guitar/songwriter, Thom Sharp on bass and Dan Yakimow on drums. We are a hyperthrash band from Vancouver, BC, Canada.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant metal community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
The local scene in Vancouver is an absolute murderers row of insanely talented metal bands. Beyond the bands that everyone in the metal word knows about from Vancouver like 3 Inches of Blood, Strapping Young Lad etc, there's a whole new crop of bands that have been absolutely killing it locally and on the world stage. It's extremely inspiring to be around these bands at jamspaces/venues across the city because everyone is so talented and they're constantly pushing the metal genre envelope in new creative ways. Just google search Vancouver Metal Bands and you'll find an endless array of all styles and genres.
How do you and the rest of the band all meet? And was it easy to find and agree upon a sound that you could all work with? What does the name of the band represent to you?
Royce and I met at a show that I was playing with a band I was in previously. He introduced himself to me at that time and after hearing the demos I knew that I was going to be all in on this project. We went through a couple of member changes before we settled into our current lineup of Dan on drums and Thom on bass, whom we met through the local scene. We put very little restriction on the sound we try to achieve with our music and prefer to constantly create something new that hasn't been done before. Our main focus is to try and put a new spin on everything but still have it be recognizable as Nylithia.
The name of the band is designed to be identifiable as being exclusively us. It's a made up word that doesn't invoke any particular imagery other than what we've been trying to accomplish over the past 9 years. The idea is when people hear Nylithia, they will instantly attribute it to the song, live performance or video they just watched.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?
Our themes are extremely vast and varying. Again, we try really hard not pigeon hole ourselves into a particular theme and risk limiting our options within our music. Each song has a theme taken from a completely different place and I feel our latest album Hyperthrash epitomizes that mindset. The song "Whips & Chainz" is about elephant slavery, "F22" is about a fictionalized fighter plane decimating a sky filled with drones, "Trainsaw" is about a personified out-of-control train with a chainsaw for a front-end, and "Pyrymyds (Earth-Exit)" is about the human race discovering pyramids are actually launchpads that are designed to blast the human race back to an unknown home world in the event of worldwide catastrophe. The artwork on the album along with the lyrics are meant to invoke images like short stories in people's minds so that as they move on to the next song, they have something completely new to think about from a theme and imagery perspective.
What sort of processes do you go through when making music? Do you have a formula(s) that you follow, or do you feel it out as you go along? Or is it more of a mixture of the two?
Often Royce will come in with a demo and a general idea on what inspired him to put the song together. All of us will listen to the demo and then we'll hash out the transitions and fine tune in the jamspace. Royce and I often brainstorm themes together which I will then take and create a lyrical story that embodies the theme. That is essentially the process in writing all of our songs but with each new song/album we will often try new approaches depending on the song.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
Last year was definitely our best year as band. We released our first full length album in Hyperthrash, and we got the opportunity to jump on the Canadian leg of the Metal Alliance tour with Dying Fetus, Jungle Rot, Black Crown Initiate and The Acacia Strain. That was a real eye opener being on the road with some of the biggest and most established acts in metal and just seeing how they operated on a day to day basis in a package tour scenario. Our first 30+ date cross-Canada tour in support of Infector was a huge milestone obviously and an excellent character building trip since we took a propane-powered motor home to Montreal and back. For me personally, our most recent tour with our friends in the Vancouver thrash band Expain was the most inspiring. It was a well planned and executed double-bill tour through Western Canada with all of us in one van. Everyone we met was amazingly accommodating and despite the fact we packed tents and planned to camp most of the way, every town we hit had someone willing to offer up a roof over our heads and even breakfast in the morning! (Shout out to Rob & Megan in Calgary & Bo in Nelson for the incredible food and hospitality!) We can't say enough about how incredible metal fans are in every town we visit and that last tour really exemplified that.
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
We're currently working on a follow EP to Hyperthrash and hoping to get that out as quickly as possible. We took a break after the last tour for the holiday season and came back refreshed and reinvigorated to keep pushing the limit of our abilities as musicians and song writers.
Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?
I can only speak for myself but I find touring and playing live is what drives me to keep pushing band. I love meeting and talking to fans on the road and getting a sense of how they are receiving our creative output. We make non-compromising music for ourselves and I get an overwhelming sense of appreciation when people are willing to come to shows, buy merch, buy our album online, or just message us and tell us they enjoy our music. It all really resonates with us and helps keep us focused in continuing to put out good music.
For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
We're 100% an energy and audience driven band. Our shows often result in people wanting to flail irresponsibly in the pit, jump off of the stage, and endlessly mosh. We bring the same live show regardless of venue/crowd size every night we play and we feed off of the energy of the crowd as much as they feed off of us so it's a very symbiotic relationship we have with our audience. Our music is purposely designed that way. There are no breaks and there are no ballads, just pure energy.
What would you say has been your favorite live show to play throughout your career? Who has been some of the coolest and nicest bands to tour with? Any good tour stories worth sharing?
We've been lucky enough to play shows with some of the best bands in the world and I cherish those nights immensely. I regularly collect our show posters and have a fairly good sized stash in my apartment! My favourite show personally was opening for At The Gates on their 3 date only reunion tour where they played Slaughter of The Soul front to back. That band and album was a huge influence on me stylistically and I would definitely have not gotten into as much aggressive metal as I have without them.
All of the bands in the earlier mentioned Metal Alliance Tour were some of the best dudes we have ever met and where more than accommodating to us being the independent band opening the package every night. We've never had a bad experience with any of the bands we've toured with so I suppose we're fortunate in that regard.
Most of our best tour stories came out of our cross country trek The InfecTour. Mostly because our motor home was a fickle beast that got us to our destination, but always had a trick up her sleeve to try and derail us. One time we drove through Valemount, BC, pulled into a gas station just in time to have our rad hose blow off the bottom of our rad and fire-hose sprayed all of the contents of the radiator all over the parking lot in front of about 10 long haul truckers. They had a good laugh at our expense and as luck would have it, everything was closed due to it being a civic holiday. Fortunately we found a passerby who actually knew who owned the local automotive shop. So he came from home to open up and let us buy new coolant and a pile of fan belts as we discovered our motor home was probably going to eat through a fan belt about every 300km. Needless to say, we became fairly good at changing said fan belt in several awkward and sketchy situations along highways across the country! Also as a side note to those who feel like travelling in a propane powered vehicle....keep in mind, most places beyond western Canada don't have auto-propane so bring a cheater hose!
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Member changes early on were definitely a challenge. A necessary one however because it weeds out the guys that are actually interested in making the band work from the ones who are not. It's tough finding compatible people and then bringing them up to speed on the back catalogue is also a bit of a process. We're lucky to have had a solid lineup now for the past 5 years.
Other than that, juggling daily life with band life is always a challenge. The money that used to exist in music and the arts in general is essentially gone and more of the onus is put on bands to get creative in the ways they generate income to support themselves but also their music. These days unless you're touring arenas, you basically need to find a job that you can come back to after touring and one that is ok with you leaving for a month here and there. That's a difficult thing for every band out there so I'm not about to start complaining about it. It's just a necessary hardship you have to endure as a musician. Especially as a musician who plays an aggressive style of music that doesn't curate to the mainstream populace.
Who have been some of your biggest influences when it comes to growling and harsh vocals? Do you have any techniques you use to help keep yourself from burning out your throat on the tour?
My influences are based mostly in the Swedish death metal scene for harsh vocals like Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Bloodbath/Opeth). I always liked American guys like John Tardy, Chuck Schuldiner, and Chance Garnette (ex-Skeletonwitch). Interestingly enough I love vocalists who are characters in their own right like King Diamond, ODB, Dio, Dickinson etc because I feel the best frontmen/women are the ones who engage their audience and bring something to the stage that no one else has. Easier said than done obviously but it's inspiring nonetheless.
As far as techniques go, the only thing I try to do is utilize my diaphragm as much as possible and limit the amount of strain exerted on my actual vocal chords. I use them to tinge the screams with some personality and tone but for the most part I engage my core a use my throat to gauge the pitch of the growls. Usually by the third show of any tour my voice is pretty stable and consistent.
Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?
We have always been a completely DIY band. It's not on purpose by any means but we found it was the best way to control our message and allow us to be perceived the way we wanted to be perceived. We've made many great contacts in the local promotion scene and abroad since we started who have helped us immensely with setting up shows but for the most part we handle our business internally. We're lucky to have a great lawyer in our corner who helps us navigate the seas of record contracts and tour offers and beyond that if we find the right people to help push this further we will absolutely welcome them with open arms.
Social media can be tricky at times because you don't want to over saturate your fans with constant/meaningless bombardment of their online news feed. We like to post when something relevant is happening in the band relating to shows, releases, merch, or news. I'm sure there are professional social media people who would argue that blasting FB and twitter feeds daily with memes or stupid jokes would be a better option, but there are enough bands and people on the internet already doing it much better than we could so we'll leave it up to them.
With your band becoming increasingly popular have you had any insider attention regarding label support? What's your thoughts regarding being independent music scene versus being part of a record label?
We've had quite a bit of contact with various labels in the metal-sphere of record companies. There's been a good back and forth dialogue but we just haven't been offered anything that will put us into a better situation yet. We are absolutely open to working with labels but we're not waiting around for one to come by with an offer we can't refuse. Having that big label backing would obviously be a massive boost to the band's exposure but the situation has to be right from a creative and personal stance.
When you're independent it's a struggle to stay relevant and especially to tour. Most labels have tight relationships with booking agents because they are mutually beneficial to one another. Booking agents get the venues/promoters lined up for the bands and they know they can count on a certain level of promotion from the label to increase exposure/attendance at the shows. As an independent band, our job is to convince the booking agents that they can trust us to bring in people to watch us play on any given night. To do that, we need to constantly put material out and we need to make inroads into new audiences through different mediums. On the plus side, in 2017 you can pay a small flat fee and gain complete worldwide digital distribution through a variety of websites which goes a long way to getting your music heard by new audiences and still reaching old ones at the same time.
What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
Speaking for myself, I'd say comic books, cartoons, and video games all played a huge roll. Particularly the old 8-bit soundtracks from 1st gen gaming consoles and arcades. As simplistic as that music can be, it almost always rips above 200 bpm which is right up our alley.
I can pinpoint the time when I first watched the Iron Maiden: Rock in Rio video and knew I wanted to play loud, fast music. It wasn't until I started learning guitar when I began delving into the heavier side of metal and came out an even bigger fan of thrash, grind, and death metal. I'm constantly on the hunt for new bands/albums to listen to every week so that keeps me motivated to continue.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
I would definitely say yes to all of those things. My life was permanently altered in becoming a musician. Everything changed, from the people I associate with, to how I physically look in day to day life, to even meeting my future wife at one of our shows, all of which dramatically changed the course of my life over the past 15 years or so. Being on the road and playing a different venue every night of the week is a serious shock to the Mon-Fri existence we mostly all lead in our capitalist society. Meeting different people on tour and around the music scene has really put humanity into perspective for me since you realize pretty quick that metal heads are essentially the same no matter where they're from. It's kind of a reassuring knowing likeminded people are around every corner of the globe and we really are all in this craziness together.
Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?
I personally feel politics and spirituality are pretty far apart from each other in my mind at least. Politics are essentially just a power struggle where one group is trying get the upper hand over another. Spirituality is a much more personal experience and I feel has no real place in politics. Looking back on human history, I would say most of our worst moments as a species where caused when politics mix with religion. I do keep tabs on politics and have differing views than I'm sure most others have but I constantly return to the point I made in an earlier question where I said everyone is essentially the same and we all are just trying to find happiness in our lives. As long as that happiness doesn't come at the expense of physical/mental harm towards another person, I think people who adopt that mentality will live much more fulfilling lives.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
I love board sports. I'm 33 now and I still skateboard pretty much everyday. When the opportunity arises and my bank account allows it, you'll find me on the mountains in the winter and the beaches in the summer, snowboarding and surfing respectively. It rains a lot in Vancouver so I'm also an avid video game player. I usually only allow myself to have one sports related game (usually hockey or soccer) and then I'll have one RPG that I'll meticulously go through over the course of the year if it's long enough. I have an apartment, wife, dog, & cat also so beyond this stuff and the band stuff, my time is primarily spent with family.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience
Anytime! Thanks for taking the time to feature us on your site. The main thing we'd like to say to fans or future fans of the band is that we get all of your messages and comments across the social media spectrum and we appreciate it immensely. The fact you've chosen to support us amongst all of the different bands out there is huge honour and we will always make sure the music we make continues to reflect that. Being an independent band, travelling costs and financial restrictions keep us from being on tour 365 days a year but we do want to make it out to all of our fans around the globe at some point. We don't know excactly when we'll be able to do that but at the very least we promise to keep making music that will get you up and moving every day.
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