Monday, February 10, 2014

Interview with Noah Coleman of Oyarsa, Monument, and Sol Y Nieve Records

Oyarsa's s/t cassette was one of the first modern tapes that I picked up. I ordered it online after seeing one of the dudes at Permanent Records wearing an Oyarsa shirt and being curious about what it was. In my book, a tape is a tape - it generally doesn't hurt to buy one since it's cheap and you get a good recording. You don't have much to lose when you buy a tape. I had listened to the recording on my computer, but it sounded much better on cassette.

They played their "last show" in Chicago at the Empty Bottle on May 9, 2013. It was a free show and I went as I had been in communication with Noah and didn't want to miss out. I got to see Winters In Osaka and Sun Splitter put on great sets before Oyarsa stepped on stage. Nothing could have properly prepared me for Oyarsa, however. Noah has one of the best black metal voices I've heard. To get a better perspective on their sound, their music is available for free download on their BANDCAMP.

After the show, I picked up the cassette of Footpath's self-titled album, which was a folk-drone act that I hadn't heard. I still listen to it probably once a week as I read. I hadn't known that Noah ran a record label, but have since been consistently impressed with Sol y Nieve's output after listening to most of the releases on the label.

You can check out Sol y Nieve on FACEBOOK as well as OYARSA. Noah recently moved to Idaho, so we didn't get to hang out all that much, but we've stayed in contact and with a busy release schedule coming up, I figured it was a good time to get the word out on an excellent label!

Jordan: Tell me a little bit about your musical projects. I'm familiar with Oyarsa, your black metal band, but what else are you involved in?

Noah: Aside from Oyarsa and Monument, I've released music as Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries and He of No Name.  I have some other projects in the works, but i'd rather not reveal any names until something final comes about.

J: How did you decide to create each of your projects?

N: They happen pretty naturally.  Just about everything I do starts off as an experiment and if I like the way it develops, I go with it.  The only exception to that is Oyarsa, which is the only proper band i've been a part of.  That started out of a mutual love of heavy music and all things space related between Josh and I.  Josh is really the catalyst for making that band happen.

J: How often do you end up writing songs? How many songs would you say that you write in a year?

N: Ha ha ha.  I have no idea how to answer that question.  A lot.  It's a pretty constant thing for me.  Obviously, most of the stuff I write doesn't get used, at least not right away, but I'll go through 2 or 3 notebooks in a year that are filled with drawings, writings, lyrics, riffs, music, etc.

J: How do you write your lyrics? 

N: They mostly start as stream of consciousness writings, and then (depending on the project that they get used for) I'll edit them down, rearrange them, add to them, etc. to make them fit whatever music I wind up putting them to.

J: How important are lyrics to you in music?

N: Equally, if not more, important.  The lyrics are why I write the music.

J: I got to see Oyarsa's "last show" in Chicago. It was awesome. Do you plan on playing live more?

N: Thank you, it was a very intense and enjoyable show for us.  We do plan on playing live, but with me moving to northern Idaho and Josh recently moving to LA, performances will be few and far between.  We have a fair amount of new material so we want to record first, then hopefully plan a couple of shows around that.

J: What have you been concentrating on musically?

N: Mostly I've been working on finishing up the new Monument album.  I've also started on some new T.T.M.O.A. material, and I've been demoing material for some new projects.  

J: You seem to have a pretty wide variety of influences, and interests. What are some of your favorite artists?

N: That's a loaded question.  Current 93, Lurker of Chalice, Leviathan, Wovenhand, Swans, Portal, Mitochondrion, Prurient, Graves at Sea, Iron Maiden, The Body, Arvo Part, Yellow Eyes, Willy Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash.  I could put on anything by any of those artists at any point and not be disappointed.

J: You recently moved to Idaho. How come you chose to do that? How has that been? Seems like a pretty big transition from Chicago.

N: Without going too much into my private life, my wife and I decided a few years back that we didn't want to live the rest of our lives in a city where we felt we had no freedom to do the things we wanted to.  Northern Idaho is really beautiful and fairly inexpensive so we chose here.  It has the benefit of being pretty close to Seattle as well, so we can get our 'cultural fix' (i.e. - go to shows and eat interesting food) whenever we feel like taking a small road trip.  The transition wasn't nearly as big as we though it would be.

J: What have been some of the biggest surprises about Idaho? I've never been, so from a selfish standpoint, I just want to soak in all the knowledge I can from you haha.

N: I still haven't gotten used to seeing mountains everywhere I go, smelling fresh air and woodstove/fireplace smoke first thing in the morning, and how quiet it is at night.  

J: When/how did you start your label Sol y Nieve?

N: I started it in 2010, mostly as a way for me to release my own recordings.  When those first two tapes sold well enough, I realized that I could turn it into a real label. I started contacting bands who I really enjoyed (Teeth Engraved... and Yellow Eyes were among the first) but weren't getting the kind of exposure and physical production that I thought they deserved. It all kind of took off from there.

J: What all have you released on the label?

N: Aside from my own recordings, I've released recordings from Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead, Yellow Eyes, Dead Dragon Mountain, Footpaths, Golden Fawn, Nemorensis, and Hellebore.

J: How do you decide on what you're going to put out?

N: I only release albums that I would buy myself. It has to be something that I can listen to over and over again for a week and still think it's great.

J: What have you been working on in regards to Sol y Nieve? Any upcoming releases that you can talk about?

N: This year is turning out to be my busiest yet. I have two tapes currently in production: Sun Splitter - Live On WFMU and Crowhurst - Everyone Is Guilty. Those will hopefully be released late March. After that, I will be releasing the 10 year anniversary edition of Krieg's classic album "The Black House". I'm really excited about that as Krieg was one of the first black metal bands I got into. Also lined up for this year is new material by Esoterica, Dead Dragon Mountain, LOCI, and Essene. There might be more, but this is all that's confirmed right now.

J: Do you have any other artistic pursuits? Anything you're especially proud of?

N: I enjoy sewing and leather work. I also draw occasionally.

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

N: Thanks for your interest in my music and the label, Jordan. I appreciate all your support.

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