Sunday, September 27, 2015

Alda Interview

I first heard Alda through the Replenish Records Bandcamp; their Tahoma album was one of my very first Bandcamp Picks, and has kept me company on many a long train ride since then. With a new album out, I decided to e-mail some questions to the band about their past and future, which drummer/vocalist Michael Korchonnoff was kind enough to answer.
photo from Encyclopedia Metallum

Dreams of Consciousness: How would you describe Alda? And how would you describe an Alda fan?

Alda is an experience shared by four old friends and all the folks out there who find common ground and resonance with our music. The commonality between Alda fans is not that easy to describe. Typically (but not always) they are long­time fans of heavy underground music, but there is also often a kind of elusive mentality that characterizes someone who likes our music. Embittered romantics in wistful reflection. Folks with heart and an edge to them.

DoC: What led to Alda forming? What were your goals at the time? How close to those goals are you right now?

We all went to high school together and bonded over a common love of underground music and other things, and we played music together in our teenage years. Alda was originally our project to "get serious" with our art so to speak, and really try and work out these strong feelings about our existence within this world through musical expression. Our goals really haven't changed much since then, and there is no real endpoint for us. When we're working on a song, our goals are short term and are entirely subservient to the completion of the story expressed through that song. Same principle applies when we're working on an album or rehearsing for a show. It's always about the process, and being true to our ideals of finding fulfillment in the experience.

DoC: What is Alda's relationship with black metal? Is Alda "black metal" - ­ why or why not?

Our relationship with Black Metal is that it's a major foundational influence for us, both in sound and mentality. It would be a bit off the mark though to label us a strict Black Metal band since we have many different musical influences and most of them find representation in our songs in some way. But you could say that Black Metal is always kind of at the crux of our writing process in some way, and its stylistic attributes are a major part of our writing sequences.

DoC: Your band is based in the Pacific Northwest, and your second album is named after your home of Tacoma. How does your location inform/influence your music?

The name Tacoma is actually a variation of the native name for Mt. Rainier which is a massive active volcano that dominates the scenery in this area and is visible from the city. It is this mountain that the name of our album refers to rather than the city, although we were living in the city when we wrote and recorded that album. But to answer your question, our location absolutely and inseparably influences our music. We draw much direct inspiration from our time spent out in the forests and on the waters, as well as our time spent grinding away at our jobs and in the cities and our reflections on the contrast of these worlds and the history behind them. If we didn't have that interaction with the wild world, the kind of music we'd be making would sound different and probably be motivated by different things.

DoC: "Cascadian" is a word that I see used a lot with regards to your music. Is "Cascadian" purely geographical, or does it describe a mindset/aesthetic as well? 

In a technical sense Cascadia is purely a geographical reference, but that in itself carries gigantic implications. The geography of Cascadia creates a distinct climate and ecosystem in the great mosaic of bio-regions on our planet. And if you subscribe to the idea that the environments of particular regions can have an influence on one's mindset, lifestyle and culture, than the references of the word take on a greater meaning. However a better group of people to talk to about this side of the subject would probably be the Native tribes of this region.

DoC: Alda's songs frequently feature acoustic passages, choral arrangements, cellos, etc. How difficult is it to play your material live? How do the live versions differ from their recorded counterparts?

When jamming out in our writing process we're always kind of particular about the momentum of our song and whether or not it seems to contain a cohesive sonic narrative, but our recordings are where we try and pay special attention to the feel and flow of a song and where we can at least attempt to display a grander vision of the song's story. To put it more simply, our live representations are typically stripped down from what you hear on the album. Acoustic parts are either transformed into electrified adaptions or abridged completely, which usually sounds fine because the songs are often jammed out that way first with acoustic sections added later when we're conceptualizing the recording.

DoC: Tell me about your upcoming album Passage. How long have you been working on it? Where was it recorded? How does it compare with your earlier releases?

The origins of Passage lie in the writing sessions we had in in the winter of 2010, not long after the completion of Tahoma. We composed the album slowly over the next three years as we moved into various different houses and adapted to changes in our life. We recorded and mixed it in 2014 at our home with the help of our friends Pythagamus Marshall and Nate Myers. The biggest difference between Passage and our previous works would be that this album is far more of a unified compositional narrative. We had lots of time to envision the album as a completed work, and therefore thought a lot about the placement of songs, sonic textures and so forth to make an album that flowed together as a cohesive piece. As far as how the songs themselves stand alongside our other work, time will be the reckoner for that.

DoC: You have deals with Bindrune, Sickmangettingsick and Eisenwald Records, to release/distribute your music. You also handle orders for your albums/merch through your own store. How much do the labels help with the sale/promotion of the music, and how much do you do yourselves? What are the benefits/drawbacks to handling your own orders?

The labels do the majority of it. Typically the arrangement we've had with labels is that they pay for the pressing of the album and then they send us a cut of the copies of the pressing. We usually just sell these at our shows or give them away to our friends because it's not the easiest thing for us to keep timely on mail orders sometimes, especially when we get slammed by a bunch of them at the same time. However the labels want to handle sales and promotion is entirely up to them. The biggest form of promotion we get through is really just through folks talking about our music and sharing it on the internet and elsewhere. The vast majority of it probably comes from folks writing about our stuff on their blogs or sites, or sharing our posts in some way, as well as interviews like this one.

DoC: If Cascadia had an army, what would it be armed with?


[I think that's the response that question deserved - Dreams of Awkward Silences]

DoC: What's next for Alda?

We're slowing coalescing some of our ideas and jamming on them a bit. Setting the framework for new songs. The physical releases of Passage are coming into form, the CDs should be available to order through Bindrune and Eisenwald and there are LP releases coming from both of those labels. We don't have any serious tours booked yet, but we are booked to play a fest out in the Midwest around the Spring Equinox. Thanks for chatting with us!

photo by Ivo Oates

Alda on Facebook

Alda's blog

Passage on Bandcamp (through Eisenwald Records)

Tahoma on Bandcamp (through Replenish Records)

Eisenwald Records

Bindrune Recordings