Published by Davide Pappalardo on July 17, 2016
Brant Showers is one of the two souls of the ∆AIMON duo, and recently he has shown us a darker and more experimental side of his music with his solo project called Sølve, where ethereal and ambient music meets dark techno industrial, classical movements, synth pop elements, darkwave, ritualistic music, and much more. We are proud to interview one of the most interesting artists in the field of experimental, dark, evocative electronic music.
1) First of all, thank you for your time. Let’s talk about SØLVE, your solo project that started some time ago as a more experimental side of your music endeavors. What has prompted it?
Initially when I first started the SØLVE project I was working at a local film production studio as an in-house sound designer and composer. I had the amazing privilege of working eight hours a day composing pieces that reinforced visual concepts and told a deeper, more subconscious level of the story presented. This type of writing is one that aligns closely with my own interests in the use of music as a catalyst for emotional and psychological effects that can’t otherwise be accessed. Over the years ∆AIMON has developed a very strong aesthetic style that represents the specific dynamic between my partner, Nancy, and I. This means that as a collaborative effort, certain aspects of my own interests don’t necessarily fit into the larger picture of that particular project. SØLVE came about as a way for me to selfishly explore those ideas without the concern of how they would fit (or not fit) within the frame of the ∆AIMON concept. At the time, it was directly influenced by my interest in approaching music from a story-telling perspective. More recently though, it has become a necessary outlet for addressing personal and individual aspects of myself through a creative process.
2) What’s the concept behind The Negative? Is it a process of catharsis made music? I felt something very personal coming from the album, a journey from a dark, inner place.
Something I’ve always struggled with as an artist is crossing the line between using music as a way to work through private issues and publicly presenting that in an unreserved output for everyone to hear. I feel that true art requires a certain level of courage to put your fears and failures on display. That’s still not something that I am wholly capable of yet, but I am definitely trying to push my boundaries and extend outside of my comfort levels. So “The Negative” was designed as a direct attempt to confront those fears and consciously present the difficult process I am going through, spiritually and psychologically, right now in my life. I don’t know how well that comes across on the album, but it was a difficult and important step for me to take. Exposing the more personal and underlying aspects of my music is something I still have a great deal of difficulty with, but is something I continue working towards. The album itself is specifically about the dark and unexpected truths about ourselves that we often don’t want to acknowledge. It’s very difficult to come to terms with aspects that defy the persona we’ve taught ourselves to believe in. Confronting those traits and accepting them as a part of who we are is an extremely important step towards becoming a balanced and healthy self. Through introspective-analysis, ritualism, and music, my own personal path has been a stressful but rewarding one. “The Negative” is the process itself; a tool for focusing energy and reconciling self-discovery against the self-image I have of myself.
3) There is a clear ritualistic side in SØLVE music, mixed with ethereal sounds, hard electronics and an orchestral sensibility. I know that you have some interests in occult, philosophy, the more ritual face of Coil and industrial music etc. Have these elements influenced the music presented here?
SØLVE revolves entirely around those occult and philosophical studies. They’ve been an important aspect of my life for two decades and have an especially strong presence on this album because of their importance in my life right now. Most of the ritualism and symbolism works in a way that isn’t always immediately recognizable, but definitely impacts the music itself. In a very direct sense the four aspects of the tetragrammaton, with their various correspondences (elemental, celestial, etc.) and the alchemical/transcendental significance of each, are reflected on “The Negative” as the four perspectives; they represent the core theme of the album and each piece is a proposed musical equivalent of how I relate those attributed meanings to the personal subject matter of the songs. In less direct forms, the use of dynamic structure and repetition has important ritualistic and invocational purposes on the album as well. It has always been my aim to create from a place that is true and in accordance to my Will as a form of magick. Defining and recognizing that is the hard part though, and I find value in exploring it through compositional structures.
4) Are you annoyed by the idea of comparisons between your main project ∆AIMON and SØLVE? I personally think that there are some common elements, but they are explored in a more personal, darker way with some new twists that give to the project its own identity.
I actually don’t have a problem with it at all. The significant difference between the two is obviously the inclusion of Nancy’s input, her influences, and our relationship as a pivotal defining aspect of ∆AIMON, however it would be incorrect to assume that those same qualities don’t have an affect on my own personal life as expressed through my solo projects. SØLVE is inherently going to be more self-analytical in nature – and I embrace that – but I think both projects still retain perspectives of the various influences that surround us. I’m definitely not surprised that there are shared elements present in both and have never made any conscious effort to avoid commonalities. On the contrary, I think it’s important to present multiple perspectives and view-points in order to properly present a deeper, more cohesive and honest portrayal of ourselves. So rather than trying to restrict how one project develops over another, I think it’s appropriate to let them progress along interconnected paths. I let Nancy’s involvement and the thematic focus of a track define which project it belongs to anyway.
5) Let’s talk about your music influences, which bands had a big impact on you? And what about current bands? I’m personally having a great time discovering new music between the American EBM/electro-industrial revival, British and German dark techno, the more IDM/experimental side of some independent labels and so on.
I agree that there is a lot of amazing dark techno artists coming out of Europe (and Berlin especially) right now that have been a large source of inspiration for me. I was introduced to quite a few just recently while on tour with Bestial Mouths that have especially stuck with me. Namely, Kerridge, Raime, and SØS Gunver Rygberg have left big impressions on me that will definitely influence future SØLVE releases. I’ve also been raptly following Nordvargr, Lustmord, Trepaneringsritualen, and other similar artists that use an esoteric focused attitude towards production and ritual. Otherwise, lately I’ve found myself rediscovering a lot of older favorites like PIG, COIL, Throbbing Gristle, and SWANS. The recent The Body album, “No One Deserves Happiness,” is absolutely phenomenal as well and I’ve been really into a lot of that style of doom and dark metal (such as Thou, SUMAC, Dead Cross, Killer Be Killed, Wrekmeister Harmonies, etc.). As far as the EBM/Electro-Industrial revival in America goes, I agree that it’s an exciting time for dark artists right now. I wouldn’t really go so far as to say that any of them have had a direct influence on my own work, but only because they’re all doing their own awesome thing just a bit outside of the concept I envision for my own projects. However, I completely support them and the great amount of success they are achieving. To be clear, I don’t believe there should be a dividing line or limitation between genres, though, so I still consider them a part of my greater community of friends and love associating with them through collaborations, remixes, shows, etc.
6) What about your gears? What do you use to produce your music?
A good portion of my work lately has been done within Logic X, primarily using various VSTs, plug-ins, etc. I especially like having a readily available workspace for sketching out ideas which I can then flush out into greater detail with external instruments and sound design later as the tracks progress. My blatant use of sound design is perhaps related to my work for film production companies, but I’d also argue that it was a long held interest of mine that persuaded me into that line of work in the first place. In any case, my production typically includes a lot of field recordings and non-traditional sound elements in addition to more standard synth and programmed instrumentation. I think it would be fair to pay tribute to Einstürzende Neubauten and Psychic TV as huge influences as far as that is concerned. For external gear, I’m a big fan of the Moog Minitaur and the Arturia MicroBrute that both make up a lot of the bass and ambient drone layers of my music. With this SØLVE album I’ve also started to experiment more with organic distortion, room tone, and guitar parts for accentuation. That’s definitely a result of my more noise-related influences coming through and I expect to explore those sounds to a much greater extant as the project develops further. Regarding software, I take advantage of a lot of Native Instruments plug-ins (including Heavyocity’s Damage that many will recognize for its percussive elements) and have become pretty reliant on Maschine for drafting fluid outlines. I especially like its performance-skewed format for composing intuitive structures.
7) Do you have any plans yet for the future of SØLVE? Are you working on ∆AIMON, or something totally different?
We have a pretty decent start on a new ∆AIMON album but it has been sitting dormant for a length of time now and definitely requires a lot of reworking. I’d say it’s a priority of ours to finish that soon, though. Otherwise, I already have a lot of new ideas for what I want to do with the SØLVE project, so will continue to work on that as well. Right now I don’t have any specific plans as to what the next release will be, but there will definitely be more soon. ∆AIMON ends up requiring a lot of dedicated planning and exhaustive work – which I personally believe is an important part of its appeal as an expressive output – but that means it is typically a lot easier for me to find the time and creative energy to work on SØLVE material instead. I think that is why SØLVE has become more of my project for experimenting with organic and unrestrained methods of expression. Very recently, I’ve also started using the SØLVE name for a few select remixes, in hopes that it may develop into a more realized project through connections and interactions within the scene. I’ve always loved working with others and blending styles, so I think it could be of especial interesting to extend the SØLVE concept further into that realm as well.
8) There will be any tours or single live performances in the near future?
Absolutely! Currently I’m booked to perform at Terminus Festival in Alberta, Canada at the end of this month as well as the upcoming Das Bunker 20th Anniversary Festival later in the year (October) alongside some amazing artists. I don’t have any other immediate plans at the moment, but I’m really anxious and excited to be presenting the SØLVE material in a live format so definitely hope to do many more shows and tours as opportunities present themselves.
9) Thanks again for your time, Anything you want to say to our readers?
Thank you as well! I would just like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who has given my music a chance and supported the work I produce. It’s always an incredibly humbling but rewarding experience to have friends and fans show their appreciation for something so personal. Obviously as an artist, my music is an extremely important aspect of my life, but I could never have expected the profound impact it has had on meeting such amazing, like-minded, and sympathetic people who seem to have gained something from what I create. At the very least, I am extremely thankful to have interacted and connected with many amazing individuals. For anyone who wishes to communicate directly, I would very much love to hear from you. I’m always open to all thoughts and discussion and genuinely appreciate corresponding with others. Thanks again!