Lost Souls Episode 1: An Interview with Slidhr’s Joseph Deegan
This is the inaugural Lost Souls article for CVLT Nation, where I feature metal musicians around the world who inspire me to delve a little deeper into metal’s creative circle. Metal practitioners often start out soul-searching, looking for artistic expression to convey their deepest, darkest experiences and ideological idiosyncrasies in ways that are cathartic and powerful. Hence, I have called this series of interviews Lost Souls, to remind myself and others that we too, artists or admirers of artists, are in search of music that is as exciting to experience and enjoy as the creative process itself, be that as it may differ from one venturing wanderer to another. We all stand united by the momentous occurrence of experiencing music we find beautiful in whatever form. Lost Souls was meant to share these experiences from the perspective of the musicians who practice the art form out of no other desire than to create music that stirs the soul.
So, let this be the first of many articles exploring metal’s most intriguing performers, hoping to shed light on exemplary but obscure artisans of the craft. First off for January 2017 is Irish black metal duo Slidhr. Joseph Deegan, vocalist, guitarist, bassist and chief songwriter, quenches our thirst for answers about Slidhr, his future works, and what separates Slidhr from hordes of bands that vie for our attention.
First off, thank you for doing this interview with me for Cvlt Nation’s Lost Souls Interviews. Slidhr is one of my favorite black metal bands. What bands first inspired you to write this form of music? Which albums do you still hold sacred after years of recording your own material?
One of the big awakenings for me concerning this kind of music was seeing In the Woods… and Katatonia play in a tiny dilapidated bar in Dublin when I just turned 15 years old; this was 1996. I had already been listening to Black Metal for a couple of years, but that gig left a very big impression on me. Around that time I was also listening to stuff like Emperor, Enslaved, Bathory. Basically whatever tapes I could could get from slightly older guys. Besides that, the albums that have left the biggest impression on me are from the bands who really shaped the sound from the first and second wave.
You are essentially a one-man entity, plus wunderkind drummer Bjarni Einarsson on drums. Did you use to play the drums on prior releases? How has Bjarni of Sinmara fame amongst other bands helped improve Slidhr’s music in general?
On the first few Slidhr releases, I played all instruments, drums included. It used to get on my nerves when shitty, lazy reviewers would assume that the drums were programmed. Bjarni joined in 2012 when we recorded the Deluge album. We were introduced through a mutual friend who felt (quite rightly) that a better drummer could bring something new to the band. I have never considered myself to be a drummer, I started playing drums out of necessity as it was very difficult to find anyone who could do it in the tiny Irish scene. Bjarni is a far better drummer though and the difference is pretty obvious.
What sort of dark phenomena in the world inspires Slidhr’s lyrics? It’s refreshing to hear that a band has interests outside the traditional realm of Satanic devotion bands in metal have used to monotony. How does everyday darkness compare to hellish visions that bands have explored repeatedly throughout the history of black metal?
There are various different subjects that I write about. The dark aspects of nature feature heavily in my lyrics. The ability for nature to really put people in their place effortlessly is very appealing. The impact of nature is overwhelming and incredibly inspiring. There is an honest and sincere misanthropy throughout. Residual energy stored in certain places from the countless atrocities through history, sometimes it’s hard to ignore. The Satanic thing is fine when it is sincere, but it rarely is sincere. Whatever medium is used for expression is justified, as long as it is honest. More often than not, it’s just used because it’s a safe bet.
Is Ireland a receptive place for this style of music? Do you often dream of playing music more regularly somewhere else? Elaborate on a fitting environment that will inspire more creative energy to release more Slidhr records.
Generally, no. Ireland is not a great place for this kind of music. In fact, I have found the Irish scene to be one of the least supportive of Slidhr’s music overall. We have played one gig in Ireland, and as I write this we are preparing for two more gigs this weekend. Our first gig was an interesting one, we played at Saint Vitus in New York. We have been lucky to have performed in some really interesting places around Europe, though. A personal highlight was playing at the Neudegg Alm in the Austrian Alps. This was by far the most inspiring live experience for me and has left a mark. The rural, mystical surroundings were the perfect backdrop.
Slidhr has musical kinship with Icelandic bands, and of course Bjarni Einarsson is from Iceland. Do you feel comfortable with the fourth wave comparisons some fans like to make of Slidhr’s music? Are the riffs at times intentionally dissonant, and at times catchy enough for fans to appreciate without an intent listen?
I haven’t heard anyone refer to Slidhr as “fourth wave” but I try not to listen to what people say too much in this regard. Some of the most opinionated people have usually listened to this type of music for five years or so, and are trying to overcompensate and prove their worth by making up bullshit like this. It’s OK if you were listening to Slipknot five years ago, we all start somewhere… When I write music, other people are the last thing on my mind. I immerse myself in what I am doing and use it to escape people, and enter what I consider to be the real world.
How do you write music for Slidhr? Do you get little melodies in your head and translate them to guitar whenever you get the chance? Or, do you jam in a studio for a few weeks and come up with everything at that time? Please explain.
It varies. Sometimes I will hear an overall idea in my head and try to make it a reality. Most often I come up with guitar parts and craft a song over time, building on what I have written. When we play the songs together in the rehearsal room the evolve slightly and become more fused with energy but that’s something that must be experienced live to really appreciate. Bjarni works his magick and adds another layer to the songs that I couldn’t do alone.
You are also affiliated with Haud Mundus, which I am also a fan of. How different is Slidhr’s sound and style from Haud Mundus? What types of bands inspires your songwriting for other projects?
Haud Mundus is, for the most part, the creation of Wann from Rebirth of Nefast. On our first and only release I played drums and did vocals, but didn’t actually write the music. Writing for other bands is really about having a different vision that isn’t always that easy to describe. It’s a feeling that is being portrayed by the music itself. Slidhr is my main creative outlet, however.
You released a split with Acherontas in 2016. I’m disappointed that nobody I know has heard it, or heard about the existence of the record. How do you feel about the reception to Slidhr so far? Do you agree that obscurity isn’t always such a bad thing? Or would you like to release your material on a major label and have fans flock to your shows?
I’m pretty oblivious to the reception of that recording so far. Slidhr’s contribution was a good excuse to write and record something without the exhausting commitment of a full album. It’s given us the fix we needed. I would consider Slidhr to be largely unknown still despite the fact that we have existed since 2005. It’s mildly amusing to be refered to as a “new” band by the blow-ins. We will always do what we want to do regardless of the attention we recieve. Working with a major label is in no way appealing to me. I feel like they are two things that just don’t go together. I’d rather work with an underground label that has a genuine interest in this music.
What active metal bands do you appreciate? Are you still a fan of metal these days? Would you agree that the DIY scene has allowed music like Slidhr’s to remain viable even for a small devout following?
The obsession with metal is as strong for me today as it ever was. I’ll never escape it. Although these days, I’m not so active finding new stuff. It seems like there is a never ending river of shite music oversaturating things, so it’s not so easy to find the good stuff sometimes. DIY is the only way to go, some label help is useful for sure, but becoming reliant on other people to make things happen for you is a negative road to go down. Keep it close, and support your peers. Weed out the scene tourists.
When are you releasing a new record? Is another full length album in the works?
Currently, I have perhaps a third of the music written for a new album. I could be very optimistic and say it will be out later in 2017, but more likely it will be 2018.
Thank you for doing this interview with Lost Souls for Cvlt Nation. More power to you and your personal endeavors.
Thank you very much for the interest.
SLIDR live dates:
Feb 3rd, 2017 – Limerick, Kasbah, Dolans
Feb 4th, 2017 – Dublin, On the Rox
Stream Slidhr’s music via the links below: