USA’s Duskmourn have released an epic first LP with Legends. Combining elements of black metal, folk and soundtracks, Legends will definitely fill your need for gloomy, frostbitten metal from the dark forest. I spoke with Walter Deyo and Bill Sharpe (the two members of Duskmourn) to get their perspective on recording as a two-piece, their recording process and the future of Duskmourn…
First off, congratulations on the release of your first full length with Legends. Explain how Duskmourn got from the initial EP in 2012 until now, including the lineup changes and why that occurred.
Thank you! Right after we recorded the EP in 2012 we immediately started to write material for an album. This was an interesting process since we were still trying to figure out what direction we wanted to go musically. We ended up scraping a lot of material but slowly developed a style we were happy with for Duskmourn. As for the lineup change, there were just some musical differences as we started writing new material.
The album differs in musical style from the original EP with a darker, more folk influenced sound then I would say more of a melodic death style on the EP. What were the steps in creating this new yet still Duskmourn sound?
Duskmourn: This is a very awesome yet hard-to-answer question. We had many conversations before and after recording the EP about the musical direction of Duskmourn. Some conversations involved some great beer, and others were secluded in the woods. From the beginning we always wanted to include some sort of “folk” feel to the music. Although the EP has more of a melo-death feel, the “folk” vibe still existed in the melodies. But for Legends we wanted to take it a step further using traditional instruments & more focus on orchestrations.
You both live in different states from each other (Pennsylvania and New Jersey). How do you facilitate the writing and recording process? Do you get together to collaborate or is the computer the means to send songs/ ideas/lyrics, etc. back and forth?
We very rarely get together to collaborate/write songs…so far this has worked the best for Duskmourn. When we have a vision for a song, it’s usually easier to “paint the whole picture” and then send it off for each other’s feedback via email. If needed we will make changes after…or scrap the whole thing haha.
A growing trend is a lot of instrumentals showing up on albums, including Legends which includes 4 altogether. Were these all written to be instrumentals or are there lyrics/vocals that never materialized for one reason or another?
This seems to be a recurring question from our listeners. All of the instrumentals we have on this album were written to be instrumentals. We toyed with the idea of adding vocals to ”Dusk Over Fields of Ruin” & “The Wayfarer”, but we felt it would sound forced… or unnecessary. We are big fans of video game / movie soundtracks which generally don’t have vocals to allow the listener to create their own story just by listening. Who knows, the next album might have 0 instrumentals or even more than Legends if we feel its right!
What are the main influences for the lyrical concepts on Legends? In my review I eluded to a Tolkien influence that seemed to be there but not overtly….am I correct or is there something else? Is it a loosely based concept album?
The lyrical theme actually carried over from the EP even though the music style has changed a bit. But yes, we do have a loosely based Tolkien theme going on. We don’t want to be held to it, or be a Tolkien band, but we are very inspired by his works. Inspiration from nature also plays a huge part in our lyrical themes…but I guess that goes hand in hand with Tolkien. In the future we may write about other things, but for now its nature and dwarvish iron.
You both are multi-instrumentalists. What instruments are you each most comfortable writing on? Is being a multi-instrumentalist out of necessity with you being the only 2 members of Duskmourn? Is there anyone else involved behind the scenes?
Being multi-instrumentalists is a necessity for us since we haven’t found the right musicians that would allow us to focus on a single instrument. We’ve been playing multiple instruments for years though so this isn’t a new or bad thing for us. It’s actually kind of convenient just having to satisfy 2 members instead of 5 or 6. As for writing…everything is written using a keyboard, guitar, or the piano roll in guitar pro. There is no unseen hand helping us in the music aspect…but a shout out goes to Jeni Sharpe for helping with the merch management.
Do you each write the songs and bring them to each other or all of the songs composed together? Who does what in the song writing process and which comes first, music or lyrics?
So far, Bill writes most of the music and Walter writes most of the lyrics but the door is always open for suggestions from each other. We write the music separately and communicate ideas via email. Usually the music comes first but we believe for “Ancient Willow” the lyrics came first.
How do you prioritize getting music done? Was there a schedule or timeline you laid out in advance knowing when songs would get done, the album would get released, etc. based on your personal lives, work…?
We had a rough schedule in our heads but nothing set in stone. This helped us stay on track, especially since we live so far apart. I think we ended up finishing everything reasonably on time which is pretty cool considering this was the first time recording/producing ourselves.
At last count you had almost 7000 likes on Facebook. How were people finding you on social media or the web in general? Are you both well versed/comfortable in marketing?
A lot of people are finding us through YouTube right now. There are a couple of uploads of our songs from other users that are getting us some exposure online…which is awesome. From the marketing side, it helps that Walter is a web designer and works in the marketing industry. We don’t focus too heavily on the marketing, but it’s still important since we are an independent band.
In this day and age, there is less need for a record label, producer, studio, etc. when you can do everything on your own from recording, producing to eventual release of the product. What are the pros and cons in your opinions?
As of right now, we think the pros outweigh the cons. One of the biggest pros for us is being in complete control over the band and having the freedom to do whatever we want. One of the biggest cons is the amount of extra time & work that’s involved. We have nothing against labels and if we were offered the right deal we would take it…but for now we enjoy being independent. If we were to become a touring band some day we would probably look more actively for a record label.
It seems another trend is the use of a funding campaign like Kickstarter in your case to ask your fans to donate to the recording expenses. How was that process for you? Would you ask your fans to do it again on future releases?
We are beyond grateful for the donations we received from our Kickstarter campaign but we have no plans as of now to do another for the next album. It really depends on the financial situation we are in at the time. We would much prefer to be able to afford everything ourselves and not have to rely on donations. This will probably mean we will attempt to do more in the mixing process to save money in the future.
Being a two piece raises the questions about being able to play these songs live at some point. What are the plans for touring/playing live if any or will you remain a studio project only?
We do not have any plans for touring, but we are interested in playing select shows. But to do this, we would need a solid line-up first. This is still a work in progress for us that takes a lot of patience and time. We don’t want to force it just so we can play a show or two…it has to be the right fit so we could deliver the best performance possible.
Without going into great detail, please tell us about what kind of equipment you both have as far as instruments and recording gear.
For guitars we tried using a Gibson explorer but ended up using a LTD Eclipse with 81 active EMGs. For the amps we used a 6505+ with a mesa triple rec cab. Bass was very simple as we used a Warwick Corvette through a DI box for reamping. Drums were recording using various mics we had available to us and a midline mapex set. All of the orchestrations were done with midi + a KORG M50 workstation. Vocals were very straight forward…a condenser mic and a lot of beer.
Favorite albums from 2014?
We would have to go with Equilibrium – Erdentempel, The Hobbit Soundtrack, Kampfar – Djevelmakt, Burzum – The Ways of Yore, and Alestorm – Sunset on the Golden Age.
Any final thoughts?
Duskmourn: Ori the dwarf had no good lines in the 3rd Hobbit movie. This makes us very sad.