On the occasion of Saarkoth 's latest EP release Follow The Cult, Christina conducted an interview for a deeper get-to-know with the guys.
Saarkoth formed in 2016 when Lewis Baker and Ellis Arnott decided to start a studio only atmospheric black metal project. They soon recruited Asa Jones to cover bass duties as well as half of the vocal responsibilities. This addition to the lineup helped Saarkoth to become a live band.
A demo was released in 2017 which was soon followed up by a CD Single release of 'The Wanderer' and, finally, the debut album Jera which released on the 21st of September 2018 through MSH Music Group.
Hello! Let me just say, it is a pleasure contacting this interview. Please tell us about the band, how did you come about and what inspired its name.
Saarkoth started in 2017 when Lewis and I, who had gone to college together and were now in University together, had begun to get into Black metal. We had both recently starting to discover the world of one man projects and we both found ourselves interested in having a go at our own. Though, once we found out that both of us wanted to do the same thing, we decided to go at it together and thus Saarkoth was formed.
The name, however, is an slightly modified version of a character in World of Warcraff, as we were both playing it the night we decided on the name and had been brainstorming ideas. We saw this character and said “That sounds cool.”, then added the extra a into it to make it even more “black metal".
You released a Demo in 2017 “and a Single “The Wanderer” a year later as a forerunner for the full length album titled “Jera”. How did the public receive this wonderful melodic black sound?
We were getting decent reviews from the start. GBHBL, who we have since become very good friends with, rated the demo a 10/10 and other sites were giving us positive reviews too. The Wanderer was also well received, with people enjoying the bonus track ‘Memories of You’, which we occasionally get told is a favourite by people.
When Jera came out the reviews stayed positive, there was some criticism with regards to the production, but almost all of the reviews we had were positive.
Although you are a seemingly young band, your work emits a well put together band with experience. I find myself being drawn to your powerful music. I’d like to know your experience as musicians, did you start learning at a young age?
Lewis has been playing guitar on and off for a large portion of his life, whereas I didn’t actually start until he sold me one of his guitars during college. Saarkoth was very much my first venture into any form of songwriting and lyric writing.
I perceived a sadness in some of your melodies. Quite a few of the lyrics, I believe, contain odes to nature or a wish to return to it. What is your connection to nature, the earth?
I suppose that’s something that comes with the genre and some of our songs do have a rather sad sound, though I think we have a good amount of songs with positive sounding melodies, for example Jeras title track.
I think we are as connected to nature as every other living thing on this planet, it’s just a sad fact that a lot of people choose to not recognise or respect that connection and now we are witnessing the devastating impact of that.
Does any particular song in any of your releases, come from personal experience?
The song Memories of You most certainly does, since that song was written as a sort of ode or lament to a friend of ours who had took his own life that year. Though we keep the lyrics vague rather than writing directly about it him so that the lament can then be carried on to other people who wish to use it as a catharsis.
You latest EP “Follow the Cult” which is quite lengthy, around 17 minutes or so, remains true to the black spirit both musically and vocally. Is it perhaps a forerunner as well for a new album?
Follow the Cult was actually a very weird thing. It was written after 90% of the second album was written. It initially started as me noodling on an acoustic guitar I had gotten for Christmas and I decided to have a go at mic'ing it up. Two or so weeks later we had a 17 minute long epic that was just waiting for some finishing touches to be added on. It was definitely the most spontaneous burst of inspiration I’ve ever had and it is probably my proudest achievement to date as a songwriter. The new album, I’d say, probably does lean more into that direction.
Though, similar to our previous work, it has uplifting sections just as it has sad, foreboding sections. Though I will day that I think the sad melodies are sadder than what we wrote in Jera. Our writing has matured and we have experimented a bit more, even going so far as to incorporate a bit of doom influence into one of the tracks. So, is FtC a forerunner? Perhaps, but only minorly. Though the vocal style taken in it is likely going to be reserved for FtC since the direct intention was to make it a bit different from our usual sound.
Have you ever performed in front of a live audience outside UK?
Unfortunately not, and the recent political climate certainly won’t help that.
I’d like your intake concerning the future of festivals and world tours due to recent events with COVID19. Some believe that festivals as we knew them have changed forever. Would you be willing to start a tour?
If a promoter asks us to play and the punters are safe, we will play. Its just a very tricky thing to gauge at the moment. None of us know how this is going to play out.
Where can we find your music? Give us some distribution information.
Our music can be found on saarkothofficial.bandcamp.com as well as all the major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer
Thanks for your time guys, keep up the great work as it seems you are part of those whose future is, musically, a promised one!
Interview by Christina L.