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Infidel Interview #93: Famine Harvest

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?

I go by r_wilhelm, from Seattle Washington, a little history, I was in And Christ Wept from 1992-1997, Fockewolf 1997-2001, Backandtotheleft 2001-2006. In 2013 I put out a Cd under the name Where The Sun Is Silent, which is a side project, I started Famine Harvest in 2014. In there I have been a live member of several band, Noxious Emotion, Tau Factor, filled for Glis for a few shows and some others. How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

I love living here but lately Amazon has been bulldozing a large section of the city, along with some venues. There are some established artists who live here, Assemblage 23, God Module, the guitar players for KMFDM still live here and there are always new project starting up. As far as influencing what I do yes and no. The sound of the project would be no, but the fact that people still go out and create does inspire me to do the same.

When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself?

I would say my biggest influence is Skinny Puppy, they always change up their sound from cd to cd, they put out a Cd every year for 7 years and they all sound different. For this project I drew influences from God Flesh and Jesu, I am a fan of most of Justin Broadrick's work. Also drew from Celtic Frost and Tryptikon. I would add in Deafheaven, Alter of Plagues and Bitcrush.

What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Industrial music scene?

I think "industrial" has become too much club music even Terror EBM is still dance music with distortion. I started Famine Harvest to have the attitude of an extreme metal band but done on electronics, what would a metal band do if they could not use any guitars? Add in other influences such as witch house and post metal bands, I ended up with a project that doesn't sound like anyone else Outside of Industrial music, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by?

I do play guitar so I would probably do a metal band but mix it with shoegaze and dreampop. You have a brand new album that out. You have obviously put a lot of time and effort into it. Is there a theme or message to your upcoming album, or is it simply a testament to your creativity? Is there anything in particular you want to say about your record before it's released? How was the production of the album like compared to previous albums?

I just released an EP Sturmfeld, this was recorded 2 years ago and kinda got lost in the shuffle. No overall theme to it other than I did buy some new gear and used it in the initial composition . With every release I do try to change the gear I use a bit, just to change the sound up. I do try to expand my skills and used that knowledge on every new recording. The cd before, Hollenfeuer, was a bit more focused.

What do you see for your future plans now that the album is released?

I just sat a went through a bunch of older and a few newer tracks that I think will form the core of the next CD. I am shooting for a late 2018 release date.

I have not performed live with this project, I am still debating doing that for a bunch of reasons. When it comes to your musical self and your real world self, would you say that their is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?

I do find it a reflection of who I am, I think it gives a stronger product in the end, though I do like to explore topics from different perspective just to change things up.

What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?

I write about things that happen to myself or my outlook on the world, a lot about past relationships or lost friendships, I do write about environmental issues, as I mentioned above at times I do add counterpoints just for a contrast.

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?

I do compose in my head a lot, tend to make notes if I am not near my studio, then try to program out what I have been hearing. Odd thing about my creative process is I tend to write a bunch of ideas very quickly and then cannot string two note together for weeks, so when I feel the ideas a coming out, I will stop what I am doing and then capture them and when I feel a dry spell I find other things to focus on, sound design, mixing or other technical things. One thing that has changed in my process is , I craft the song around the vocals now. I get a songs basic structure and then figure out the vocals, cut a test tracks and then alter the structure around it and do the sound design around where the vocals sit. Most of the time there are minor adjustments but I have erased 90% of a track and rewritten it around the vocals.

Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two? What's your relationships with presets?

I do believe in a balance of the two but with the end product in mind, I do try to stay goal oriented, as you can get lost in tweaking sounds and never finish a song. I will use presets if they work in a song, do not see anything wrong in that. How would you describe your relationship with musical technology? When you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music? If so, is there a reason in particular that draws you to said creative outlet?

I use hardware and software, analogue and digital gear, some old some brand new. I have no preference, as long as it helps with the creative vision I have.

There is so much gear out now that you can get lost in what is needed. I tend to view it from the perspective of, does this inspire me to be creative and can I do this with what I have at home already? I have bought some gear to try to break me out of the way I create, just to explore different way to doing things.

The only thing I 100% need is the computer for sequencing and recording, I use Logic and I find it balances out the softsyths, midi and tracking well.

Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?

I think you need to be goal oriented in the process, you want to finish a song by a certain date. This song is part of a release so it has to blend into that release. I have seen people who spend a ton of time tweaking sounds but never releasing any music and others who sell and buy gear almost on a daily basis but still have failed to complete a track. I would say I am more of a song writer and sound programmer second. When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?

I tend not to over think or over tweek stuff, if I spend too much time on a track it sounds forced and strained. I think developing a gut felling about what you are trying to do and follow that is very useful. I have an art degree and one of my professors once said, you only have so much bad art in you, you just need to let it out before you get to the good stuff. This is a useful attitude, there are times you need to put something aside because its not working and move on. While this can take time, it might be one or the more valuable skills to have. 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?

For years doing music dominated my whole life and controlled it, nothing else mattered to me. In the end I realized that the goal posts kept moving and the people I knew who I consider to have "made it" really didn't have anything or where missing out on things. One day I wanted to experience other things out of life and walked away. After 5 years or so I realized I missed the creative aspects of composing music and decided to start up again. I think I have found a balance between different passions in life. Currently I do not see touring for months again and I still do like like aspect of the music business, but I can write and release music as I see fit.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

Band break ups and having to start again new is always a pain in the ass. Anyone who tours can tell you how mentally challenging it can be, from the loss of personal space, lack of sleep, eating poorly and the financial strain, usually the coping mechanism is drugs of alcohol which never leads to a happy place.

The biggest challenge for me now is vocals. I suffer from GERD or acid reflux, while most people get heart burn this is much worse. While I have gotten better, correct medicine and avoiding foods that set it off, it still can happen without warning.The only way I can describe it is drinking napalm while is on fire. Trying to strengthen my voice and then not being able to sing for a week or so, its like starting over each time. This is the biggest reason for me not performing live with this project.

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?

There are always tracks that I have written that still give me goosebumps. I think this project would be my biggest achievement, not that a ton of people have heard it, but the fact that it is just me doing everything. All other projects have been with others, while I have worked with great people and stand by everything we have done, it is just annoying the the more people involve the longer it takes. Two people can take 3 or 4 times as long, with three people might be 27 times as long. This project, I can get up in the morning and by dinner I might have completed a new song. The first CD I put out under Famine Harvest, Daemoinc, was written and recorded in just over two weeks. The backandtotheleft cd took two years, because there were three people writing it. Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?

I still want to do another Where The Sun Is Silent cd. I do this with Shane from Prophets of the New Machine, however my headspace is not there for writing synth pop right now. FOr working with anyone, It would be fun to work with Cevin Key, I would love for the singer from De/vision to sing on a track.

Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being primary musical themes that dominate your music, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs?

Fairly poorly. Twice in my life a president has been elected but lost the popular vote. Neither of these had the wisdom to realize that more people didn't want them in office than did, nor did they change their policies to be more center. Bush the second will go down as one of the worse in history and the current one most likely be impeached or resign soon. The right has gone so far off the rails, I hope that things normalize soon.

Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?

I do love travel, not touring, but more in depth. I have been to 26 countries in the past few years and hope to see many more. Seeing that I live between two mountain ranges hike a bunch. I do collect butterflies, I bet you never hear that in interviews. Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

Thanks so much for taking the time for the interview!! Please check out the music, as you can listen to all of it online,

Download all of Famine Harvest's music on their official Bandcamp:

Keep up to date with their latest activities on their official Facebook:

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