Icecocoon: Interview with Owen Gillet

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    You can read this post in: Portuguese (Brazil)

    999590_154419608096091_1624473660_nWe are proud to interview OWEN GILLETT, founder of the excellent band ICECOCOON. This band mixes a modern metal with influences from gothic metal, darkwave and alternative rock

    Starting this interview, could you talk about your beginnings in music? When did you decide to become a musician?

    Hi Fabio. Firstly I’d just really like to thank you for your interest and support!

    I don’t think I ever decided to become a musician. I think I was born a musician. I was trying to play guitar before I was 5. My parents bought me a cheap basically toy guitar and I tried to play. When I was 5, my mother started me off learning piano as she was a music teacher. This laid early foundations for understanding music theory. Eventually it followed on to playing the Clarinet for several years until I finally got an electric guitar for Christmas when I was 12 and immediately started guitar lessons. Musically speaking, the first music I ever remember hearing was the beach boys and the Beatles, then I was really into the musical Les Miserables (still am) Michael Jackson, Abba and started taking notice of music being played on TV ie the top 40. Roxette were one of my favourite bands back then and I still love them. It wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 that I discovered Metallica by hearing Enter Sandman and then went on to discover the whole universe of metal. I went through a phase of being really into all the waves of industrial, from Throbbing Gristle to Skinny Puppy to Nine Inch Nails. Also discovering Black Metal and extreme metal was another great fascination for me.

    To answer your question though, I would say that around 1993 when I got my first electric guitar, started my first band and started listening to metal, I knew that I wanted to be a professional musician and that I wanted it to be my life.

    Before ICECOCOON, have you ever had another band or project?

    In terms of bands where I am the musical composer, I made my first band in early high school writing original metal songs. That sort of went on until I was in my late teens when after no longer having anyone dedicated enough to be making music with and feeling isolated from the world (this was the late 1990’s, before the internet, before social networking etc, plus I lived with my parents on a 20 acre property out of town) I started writing and making music for and by myself, trying to make the best music I could possibly make. I had really crappy equipment and a borrowed 4-track cassette recorder but I did the best I could. Icecocoon was born!

    I have played in another band in Adelaide, South Australia called Blood Red Renaissance over the last few years. We made a couple of albums and an EP. I was playing Keyboards in that band. The bass player from that band Matthew R. Davis is also the bass player for icecocoon. After that it was time for icecocoon to rise.

    And ICECOCOON, what does the name mean? Is there any special reason for it?

    Yes. As you can see from the story above, at the time when I created icecocoon, I felt isolated from anyone who I could relate to, both musically or otherwise. The name icecocoon is basically just a glorified metaphor for individuality and walking your own path regardless of what’s going on in the outside world. It could be easy to see it as a textbook disaffected teenage rebellion thing and to some degree that is true, but it is also more than that. Now the name icecocoon means just as much but now I create my own path in a less self-important way haha. You can plough your own path and create your own world AND be positive about it! So icecocoon really means “being strong in and being true to yourself. Being a free thinker” as clichéd as that sounds.

    Listening to your music, I catch some dark moods, but with much richness, without sounding like a clone from another metal bands. How is your creative process to compose music?

    Yes I don’t know if it’s partly from being half English (my mother emigrated to Australia in the 1960’s) but I think there is something in my psyche that gravitates towards darkness and richness.  I heard Gregor Mackintosh from Paradise Lost say in an interview “ I will never write a happy song” and I have heard Steven Wilson explain this same factor which is within him, colouring the way he likes to create. There is a sadness or a depth there which I think partly comes from being able to see all of life and history in some sort of perspective. The inevitability of death and the futility of endevours etc… On the other hand I am a happy, positive person and think, why waste the time we have being miserable?! Lets go listen to Motorhead!

    For me, I can tell you that when I write, I only keep what emotionally moves me. If it fails that test, it will never make it into an icecocoon song. So you could say, my writing in guided by my deeper feelings, regardless of whether it is a certain style, musically correct, really simple or really layered and complicated. It is probably not a coincidence that some of the artists I admire the most seem to operate this way too. Among those I would name Devin Townsend, Kate Bush, Ihsahn, Steven Wilson, Jethro Tull, The Gathering, and the list goes on…

    Going back to the original question, my process is not to write 30 songs and keep the best 9 for an album, it is more of a heavy scrutiny process where only the best gets through and whatever it is musically, it is. I really don’t go over and refine it too much after it’s written. I just add to it. It may sound contradictory but I try to let things be as pure as possible. I might have an inspirational stint where I’ll write a verse or just a “section” of a song, then the next day, week or month, I might write the next part. I only keep what feels truly inspired and never say it’s good enough if I am not feeling excited by it. I know in my heart and gut when it is right and never go against that instinct. The music writes itself and I just need to decide what is good enough! I think more in terms of overall albums and album concepts than just individual songs. I think there will always be a theme with each album which ties all the songs together.

    1378343_164030547134997_1738488119_nHow do you define your music?

    I would say that it is emotive boundary-less music written totally from the heart. That is what comes first, the thoughts and feelings are pure and whatever musically follows to represent that could be anything. Having said that, as time has gone by and I have developed my own very low custom tuning and play baritone guitars, the musical process has started to have some definite continuity to it. I think there is an actual icecocoon “sound” in terms of the guitar sound and obviously the sound of my voice. Although I use my voice in different ways, say more breathy, more operatic, higher, deeper, I think it all still is part of one icecocoon sound.

    I have a certain production philosophy too which will continue to define the sound of icecocoon albums. For this kind of music, I like everything to be “real” ie no auto-tune, no protooling to make things un-naturally tight, no sound replacing drums/quantizing etc. And on top of that, no over-compressing of mixes. The mixes need to have micro as well as macro dynamics to have full emotive impact.

    And have you received positive feedback about your work?

    I am very happy to tell you that yes I have! So far the reviews for Deepest Crystal Black have been hugely positive.

    You can check the reviews out here:

    http://sfmedia.com.au/ice-cocoon-deepest-crystal-black-cd-review/

    http://metalasfuck.net/zine/reviews/2013/icecocoon-deepest-crystal-black-own-label

    http://www.jjdonnelly.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/icecocoon-deepest-crystal-black.html

    It is such a long hard road being an original heavy musician so to see people genuinely like what I’m doing is the best!

    And you said me that one song is a homage to Peter Steele from Type O Negative. Could you explain about it?

    Type O were a not just an inspiration but a direct influence on the music of icecocoon. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be able to sing as deep as Peter Steele (no one is going to win that one) and the sound of the album Bloody Kisses was influential with its use of keyboards, de-tuned guitar and super slow tempos.

    There really was no other band like Type O Negative. They really were a one off. I guess that appealed to me too.

    The song Death of a Star is my tribute to Peter Steele and Type O Negative. The music is deliberately flavoured towards sounding like Type O but still in the style of icecocoon.

    I know a guy that makes music in Australia and one time he said me about the Australian scene, that there are many problems for bands because there are no places to show their works. For you, how is the scene in your country?

    I expect this is actually a problem all around the world. I seriously doubt there is a shortage of venues in any capitol cities. Certainly not in Australia.

    Honestly, I completely appreciate how much work it is building your business (your band is a business after all) from scratch and building enough of a following to get things actually rolling along.

    I really think part of the problem is many musicians have an over-inflated sense of how important they or their work is to anyone else. What I mean is, I think that most musicians aren’t thinking about marketing, budgeting for promotion, building mailing lists, offering something of actual worth to the listener. There are just so many people masquerading as bands and musicians out there now that there is too much clutter. If Musicians are approaching it has a hobby (often without realizing) but secretly wanting success, they are probably missing out hugely important things which require attention to succeed (getting people to come to your gigs/selling tickets/records/merch etc etc)

    I believe to cut through the clutter, you need to be going at it 100%. To start with, this means, deciding 100% that your career will be music and you are going to succeed no matter what. Once you are giving it everything and you are hungry to find out whatever it is you need to do to succeed, all these problems will become easier to solve.

    If you really are doing everything you can do, other people, be they industry people, other bands, music listeners in general are much more likely to meet you half way.

    Talking about music business, what is the importance of a label or company nowadays?

    I think if a band or artist has reached the point where they are doing well enough that a label in interested, then there is likely a good opportunity for the band to grow even bigger.  Despite how much everything has changed over the last 10 plus years, a record label still has very superior networking and probably a greater budget than most bands will. Everything on its merits, there are probably crap record companies and crap contracts that could hurt your career. Each situation would have to be analyzed on its own merits. Until then, I think the best case scenario is that bands go ahead acting as their own label to create positive networks and relationships with the industry people in their genre.

    1520713_195462367325148_1199481586_nIn truth, many news bands are “worried” in sounding as old school bands, for example, the revival Thrash metal bands, the “new”-old school death metal bands etc. For me, it is a lack of creativity, because there are a lot of resources to make music. What is your opinion about this “revivalistic” wave?

    I totally agree with you. I think that it is just a genuine lack of ideas and creativity. It’s a bit like people saying, there are only so many notes and so many chords etc. It’s crap. It just means people don’t have any ideas of their own. It’s like people “singing the blues” in 2014. It just sounds ridiculous to me. If imitation is all that people are capable of or comfortable with then they must be pretty boring people.  I also think it’s funny that these last few years have been like the “any old band or artist who’s still alive come and play the songs you were famous for 100 years ago”-fest. Unfortunately for some of them (nu-metal bands who have come to play their albums from the late 90’s etc), music that sucked then, still sucks now!!  Fortunately there are still amazing bands out there pushing the envelopes too.

    About metal media, what is the relevance of the traditional media, as magazines, for a new musician? In Brazil there are a few magazines and big sites about the theme and sometimes they are not enough.

    That’s a good question! I think some magazines are better than others and some are more interested in fostering local and underground/up-and-coming talent. Australia is a small country with about 22 million people. There is only one metal media physical magazine  (Heavy mag) which is genuinely concerned with/receptive to local bands. It sort of has a human “Metal Hammer” type feel to it. Exactly how important they are to building your band? I think having a ½ page colour ad in a quarterly magazine and a song on their cover-mount CD (distributed to 12000 people) can’t hurt your career. I think that good print media is still relevant.  I think as a new musician, building a positive relationship somehow with the right magazines is probably very important.

    I have to say, where I am in Adelaide, the media coverage of metal is pretty dismal. There is one street mag which has a metal section. At least there’s that! I realise it must cost a huge amount of money to run a magazine in the metal world and more of them are offering on-line services to help promote bands (and probably pay for their physical magazines)  but it would always be cool if there was more media attention for music that really deserves it. Cheers to Groundcast!!

    And about blogs and other minor media sites?

     

    I think they are a positive thing for sure. There are some really good ones in Australia as well as in the extended metal community around the world who have been supportive to icecocoon. Musicians should really really appreciate these people who create these sites and blogs as they are “talking” to the people who will become their listeners. It’s a great opportunity to get your music out there and at very little cost especially with the convenience of the internet now and sending music to each other.

    About mp3 sharing, what is your position? Do you think the services like Spotify and Deezer can face the illegal sharing?

    As a music fan I have never downloaded music. I am just too much of a stickler for the physical product. I still love vinyl and CDs. From an artist’s perspective, you could get upset about people sharing your album for free but the truth is, you have 0% control over it if people want to share it for free. It actually surprises me that streaming services can make any money at all since almost anything you might want to stream is there on YouTube! With the icecocoon album, as you know, I chose to make it available for free download from the official site www.icecocoon.com.au in either mp3, CD quality or high-res wav. At least this way if someone is going to take it for free they can have the superior product. I would rather they hear my music in good quality for free that crap quality for free.

    I think the most important thing for an artist is that people get to hear the music. There are other ways to make money as a musician besides just record sales. Fortunately, vinyl can’t be downloaded and neither can other physical merchandise.

    What are the plans for the future?

    Right now I have just solidified the line-up of the icecocoon live band so the next few months are dedicated to getting the icecocoon live show up and running.

    On top of that, we are releasing a limited 7” single on green vinyl. The A-side is And Where Now? (the first song from Deepest Crystal Black) and the B-side is a track that we didn’t put on the album and will be an exclusive vinyl – only release.

    I was hoping to be releasing the next full studio album by late 2014 but it looks like that will be 1st half of 2015 now.

    Obviously I will be continuing the media campaign for Deepest Crystal Black, following it up with more gigs and more of everything, gigging, touring, press. The sky’s the limit!

    The longer term plans are always changing and they will depend partly on how well the band does and how successful things become. Having said that, I am writing a new icecocoon album at the moment too and I roughly plan on releasing one album a year for the next 3 or 4 years.

    Please, indicate to us some good Australian bands. I just know Ne Obliviscaris, Airborne, Virgin Black, GPK, SPK (a very old Industrial band) and some electro acts.

    Yeah although SPK were before my time, I have a couple of their albums on vinyl! I first saw Virgin Black (as we are both from Adelaide) way back in the very early 2000’s and I know the singers’ brother as we both worked at the same recording studio.

    There is a really good band called Mournful Congregation. They are a very slow tempo funeral doom band and have a good cult following in Europe and North America touring and releasing vinyl there.

    There’s another band I like called Contrive. They are a heavy band but don’t bow down to any specific genre. I have been enjoying their last album “The Internal Dialogue” which was mixed by Devin Townsend.

    Do you know any Brazilian bands?

    You’ll have to forgive me for being super-ignorant about what’s going on in your neck of the woods! I checked out Satanique Samba Trio and that is come cool shit! I sense that it must be frustrating trying to forge a music career in Brazil. Obviously I know Sepultura. I have sort of kept up with what they are doing. I did have a listen to their latest album.

    What are you listening to nowadays?

    I have actually been listening to a fair bit of metal like the new Testament album, the new Megadeth, the last 2 Paradise Lost albums,  as well as some old Mayhem, new Enslaved, any of Devin Townsend’s catalogue, new Soilwork. I’ve also enjoyed the last 2 Alicia Keys albums, Kate Bush’s “50 words for snow” , Ian Anderson’s “Thick as a brick 2” and Fleetwood Mac’s last album “Say you will”. I loved the last Opeth album Heritage and love  Ihsahn’s last few solo albums. Oh and most of Motorhead’s catalogue including the latest one “Aftershock”.

    Thank you very much for the patience with me and for the interview. This space is yours! Let’s go!

    Thanks so much for your time, support and for the interview! It is totally awesome to have interest from the other side of the globe. I hope whoever reads this interview out comes and checks icecocoon out at www.icecocoon.com.au

    Cheers Fabio, you rock! Thanks for supporting icecocoon at Groundcast. No doubt you will hear more from us in the future.

    Related Links

    http://www.icecocoon.com.au/

    https://www.facebook.com/icecocoon

    https://twitter.com/icecocoon_band

    http://www.youtube.com/user/icecocoonband

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