Monday, July 22, 2019

catching up with Darsombra

It wasn't that long ago that I hung out with "trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock" duo Darsombra during their South East Asian tour; but since their next album Transmission will be out in a few weeks, I hit them up for the deets. Ann Everton and Brian Daniloski were kind enough to answer my questions over e-mail.

photo by Matt Condon
Dreams of Consciousness: Hey guys, it's been a year since we last spoke. What have you been up to since then?

Brian: It seems like we haven’t stopped since then. There’s been several tours, we finished recording an album, which comes out soon, we have another massive tour coming up, and more tours in the works for 2020.

Ann: Since we saw you last September (which feels like years ago!), we finished our Southeast Asia tour (which was fantastic and we can't wait to return), we’ve toured the U.S. twice, and then toured Europe this past spring! It's been a lot of travel, but we've appreciated getting a chance to play our new song, "Transmission", a lot in Europe especially, so we can get a feel for how it is to perform that one.

Transmission is the name of our new album we'll be promoting on this upcoming tour starting late July, but it's also the name of the only song on the album--a 40 minute piece of music we've been working on over the past five years. The video of the song that we project behind us is the work of the past two years. . . it's challenging to stay with the same project for so long--but this is totally our baby and we seriously cannot wait to share it with everyone.

DoC: What can you tell me about Transmission - where was it recorded, and what can we expect from it?

Ann: We recorded Transmission at our home, a.k.a. The Refuge (a.k.a. Whale Manor, a.k.a the Grape Escape, a.k.a. Ann's House of Nuts, a.k.a. the Darsombra Mothership... the names for our home are many), in Baltimore, Maryland. The room we use as a practice space doubles as an ad hoc recording studio. We typically record at home.

Brian: Listeners can expect an unusual 40+ minute sonic journey. It’s a piece with a lot of twists and turns, recurring themes, unexpected moments. There are parts that are heavy and dark (maybe some of our heaviest stuff yet), and parts that are light and easy and atmospheric. Taken as a whole, there’s a story arc - even though there’s no lyrics, there are vocals.

DoC: The new album will be released by the band yourselves. Why did you decide to self-release this album?

Ann: In keeping with the home recording and involvement with the mastering process, we wanted to deliver this baby ourselves as well, so we looked into production costs for the LPs, CDs, and cassettes, and it wasn't too bad, so...  but further than that, we came to realize that our music can be really hard to market for someone besides ourselves. For example, how would you go about making a single for a reviewer or radio from a 40-minute song? What bands would you compare us to? "For fans of__________"  – how would you fill in the blank there in a press release?

As it turns out, we sell most of our product on tour, and we love to tour and try to be on the road as much as we can, so that makes it easy for us to distribute our albums personally to folks who typically know what they're getting into as they've just seen us play the song. We are working with a publicist on this, but we decided early on with this unusual album that it would be wisest financially and promotionally for us to release it ourselves and have complete creative control over all the decisions about its production. It's been a lot of work, but it feels right.

Brian: We’ve been lucky to work with some great labels in the past, but we thought the time was right to do a self-release. We just wanted to do something that was very personal and where we could be very hands on with the details of the production to make it unique. So each format of the release (vinyl LP, CD, cassette) has components of the art that are unique to that format. There are some unifying features, but then the LP has a poster in it which is completely different from the CD booklet art. The cassette J card is a long fold out with art that is different from the other two versions as well.

DoC: What are the challenges of writing and recording one long song as opposed to multiple tracks? Do you plan on playing "Transmission" uncut when you tour?

Brian: The song had many challenges, even though it sort of wrote itself over a very long period of time. We had just been getting into this mode where we were writing longer and longer songs, as we wanted to get into these deeper and longer sonic meditations, these sustained states of consciousness. There were several moments during the writing process where I had a crisis of faith in the project and just had to put it down. Moments where I didn’t think it was any good, just wanted to chuck the whole thing and start something completely different. It was something we were developing at the same time that we were developing and recording our last album, Polyvision. The hard part was knowing when to stop adding bits to it. It could go on forever, but it’s not improvised, jam band noodling. This is composed. It’s almost more like classical music in that respect. I think the next challenge for us after this would be to write an album of short songs.

Ann: It took us a long time to write this song, and elements of it have been floating about in Brian's head since his youth when he first started writing music. It's a very all-encompassing piece for us. I've shot a tremendous amount of footage of random things over the years--a house fire here, a beach-side town haunted house ride there, and a whole lot of driving footage all over the world in between, so filtering through all that video has been a really long process that in many ways mirrors the long, careful composition of this song.

And yes, we will play the whole thing on tour--we've played part of it before in performance, but it feels best as a whole piece. That song's got a lot to say!

DoC: Darsombra's tours have brought you all the over the world. Where are you planning on going next? Is there anywhere you'd like to play that you haven't had a chance to yet?

Ann: Our next tour starts July 31 and is nine weeks across Canada and the northern part of the U.S., so that includes the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest/Great Lakes region – all homes away from home for us. We really look forward to returning and seeing our friends in all these places – and of course, we're hoping to go back to Asia and Europe, maybe even in the first half of next year if we can swing it, and bring them "Transmission"... we're on a mission!!!

But we are still dreaming and scheming to get to Central and South America asap (nudge nudge to anyone reading this who can help with that - please get in touch!) And I'm not sure what the scene is like in these places, but Mongolia and Eritrea are both high on my list of places to visit, and ideally, perform.

Brian: There are so many places we’d love to tour that we haven’t been to yet. Some that I’d like to get to soon would be Mexico, South America, Japan, China, India, the list could go on and on. Oh, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we’d love to be the first band to perform in space! When we were writing this last album, there were times where it felt like the music we were creating was being transmitted to us from somewhere far far away from Earth. That’s part of why we called it Transmission.

DoC: What's next for Darsombra?

Ann: Come see us on the road, if you're around Canada or the northern U.S. late this summer! You can find our tour route here. And of course, we hope you enjoy Transmission!

Brian: Transmission comes out on August 9th. We are now taking pre-orders through our website:  and digital pre-orders through our Bandcamp page. Besides the tour that starts at the end of this month, we are working on plans for 2020 to tour Asia and Europe again, as well as filling in the parts of the U.S. that we are not hitting on this upcoming tour.

Darsombra on Bandcamp

Drone On:

Mixtape 60
:Darsombra (Part One)