Tuesday 1 July 2014

Interview with Samantha from ENNOEA

Photo: Coming in August.....
The DEBUT album by Stoner/Psychadelic Death Metal band Ennoea.
Tracklisting to come soon!

When today's guest contacted me to check out their début demo – Listening To Silence - in March 2014, I was blown away at how heavy it was and that it was all created by one individual.

Listening To Silence was released by Ennoea – A trippy psychedelic Blackened Sludge/Stoner Metal solo project that had style and atmosphere to match the bone crunching riffs which I described as:

I dare you not to rock with the untitled second track. It's a nightmarish world with some powerful riffs ruling with an iron fist. This is one track you will be listening to over and over again. Definitely the Demo's stand out track. Though not too far behind for that accolade is the final track – Ennoea. A slow-paced drone influenced track with heavy slabs of Psych Stoner Metal/Doom Metal riffs running through it's veins.

Ennoea definitely have my attention. I can't wait to see what they release next. I am expecting great things from Ennoea in the next few years or so. My advice – Watch this space.”

The person behind Ennoea is hugely talented individual called Samantha Michelle Smith contacted me soon after that saying Ennoea's début album would be ready for me to review soon. I told Sam to send it my way which she duly did. The result was Ennoea's stunning début album - PROARKHE – which will be released in August on Exalted Woe Records. This album is awesome. All you need to know.

My review described it as: “PROARKHE runs for 33 mins or so. Maybe a little bit too short but it's a condensed and action packed experience that goes straight for the jugular. Most of the songs are instrumental as Sam goes straight for heavy precise riffs to thrill you with.

The production is superb through out. I know that Sam is bit of an audio perfectionist when it comes to her work. She has work wonders here as the album sounds incredible for a début album. PROARKHE is an excellent album and this is hopefully the start of great things to come from Ennoea. Long may they reign!!!”

I thought Sam only had Ennoea to her credit. But boy was I wrong. She has her own Page on Metal Encyclopedia. Read that folks. She has about 7 projects currently on the go which Metal Encyclopedia deem worthy enough to include. And we know how picky those fuckers can be as they have banned bands that I considered metal from their pages for not being metal enough.

Look I have gone on long enough. Lets get chatting to Samantha.

Q1 – Hi Sam. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Hey hey, no problem Steve! I'm pretty stoked about this. I'm doing alright I guess, thanks for asking!

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how Ennoea came about. As that's where I know you're music from.

I had been talking about starting a band with my buddy Max when I moved back up to Jersey, and I had some ideas when I was....intoxicated, shall we say. So I started demoing ideas, and then it turned out shit fell through with the people I was gonna go crash with in jersey, so plans changed and I moved in with a friend in Pittsburgh. Max and I decided it was best if I just kept working on Ennoea alone and try to get a band out here. He and I are probably gonna do something together in the future.

Q3 – How would you describe Ennoea's music as you have a lot of different sounds going on.

Stoner Death/Doom. There's a lot of YOB and Dark Castle worship going on in the music but luckily, I suck too much to be able to rip them off even if I wanted to, haha.

Q4 – Why did you choose the name Ennoea.

Ennoea was the first of the feminine Aeons. The Primal Female. The Holiest of Mothers, together in consort with the Primal Male. No real reason beyond the fact that I liked that concept.

Q5 – You're new album – PROARKHE – will be released in August. Can you tell us what the album is all about.

Same as Listening to Silence. It's a journey. The words are left purposefully ambiguous so the listener can get what they need to get out of it, but the prime message is to never let yourself be shackled down by expectations. Yours, anyone elses, or even what you have for the universe itself. Just be open.

There's also some playing with the idea that death and dreams are two sides of the same coin. I'm already working on the follow-up album, and that theme factors big into it.

Q6 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

I felt like I had a power line jammed into my skull. It just came, man. With Ennoea I don't feel like I'm writing at all. I feel like a paintbrush being used on a canvas. It's not like this with any other band I play with. All that other stuff is me doing what I love and writing cool riffs and screaming about weird stuff.

Q7 – Why did you call the album – PROARKHE. Any particular reasons behind it.

Proarkhe is one of the many names given to The One, The Primal Aeon, in the Gnostic system. It means Before The Beginning, which as you may have noticed, is the opening track.

Q8 – The album will be released on Exalted Woe Records. How did you hook up with them.

EW released the most recent album, The Lazarus Regret, for my funeral doom band Broken Anatomy.
I asked them if they wanted to do Ennoea as well, they said yes.

Q9 – Which bands and artists influenced you as as musician

Too many to count. I suppose the majority of my vocal influences come from Stevie Floyd (Dark Castle), Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom) and Mike Majewski (Devourment. You don't hear any of those gutturals in Ennoea though)

Samantha Michelle Smith

Q10 – How did you become involved with music.

When I was 17 I met this hippie dude named Ray. All this music stuff? That's all his fault, haha.
I started writing my first songs with him.

Q11 – What is the full range of instruments that you play. And are you self taught.

I'm completely self taught on everything except for the violin, which I learned in 4th grade.
I'm a vocalist, guitarist, occasional bassist, I handle the writing and execution of drums for most of the projects I'm in, and I'm known to dabble on the keys occasionally. Vocals have always been my favorite.

Q12 – As I said in the lengthy introduction. You have about 7 projects and bands to your credit. Where do you find the time to participate in all this. And which one is your favourite project so far.

Where do I find the time? It's hard not to, when you're unemployed, haha. When I'm in between jobs, I don't really have much else to do. Most video games these days bore me, I don't go out and party like most people my age, and I keep forgetting to go get a library card.

Q13 – You're also involved in musical production work. Can you tell our readers more about this. Which bands and artists have you helped out.

I picked this up about...2 and a half to 3 years ago. I couldn't afford to take my bands into the studio so I just did it myself. From there, I've just worked towards getting better and learning more.

I've worked with quite a few bands. Not as many as, say, a big studio, but I've had something like 15 or so clients over the past year and a half. People are ALWAYS welcome to get in touch. I offer low rates, which are variable according to the band's need, and as a bonus, I offer free submission to iTunes, Spotify, etc for any band that works with me that doesn't have those distribution channels set up.

Q14 – You must be pretty pleased with yourself that you have your own page on Metal Encyclopedia. As they can be quite strict in letting people have their own pages.

I never really thought about it like that. That'd be like getting super stoked that one of my bands has a Wikipedia page. It's just a knowledge base aggregating publicly available information.

Listening to Silence Demo cover art

Q15 – Your work with Ennoea is classed as a solo project/one person band at the moment. Have you listened to other one person bands/artists such as Judd Madden, Deterior, Cloudkicker and Diamenson X to name but a few. There isn't many female artists such as yourself doing this kind of music.

I don't usually go around when I'm looking for music and go “oh hey this has this many members yada yada yada”. Good music is good music, no matter who or how many are playing.

Q16 – We have spoken in the past about your intention in getting Ennoea fully formed as a live band. How is it that going. And do you have previous experience in playing live with other bands or solo gigs.

It's not going so well. It's funny too, because Pittsburgh is supposed to have this HUGE doom scene. I haven't seen any of it.

Q17 – What influences you when writing your music. Do you have to be in a particular mindset.

I'll just sit and meditate.

Q18 – How big of a help has BandCamp in been in promoting your music.

If it wasn't for bandcamp, I would never make a penny. BC is an awesome platform.

Q19 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

I don't play live, so I woudn't really know what to say here. As far as recording, I've got a simple setup.

For all you guys out there trying to get into it, here's the best advice I wish someone had given me.
  1. YOU DONT NEED PROTOOLS! Protools is an overpriced buggy pile of shit. It's only the industry standard because everyone's already sunk assloads of money into it because they heard it was the standard. No one wants to admit they got screwed so they go around saying it's the best. I use REAPER (Free to try, a license is 60 bucks. Http://reaper.fm ). I've worked in both, and Reaper can do anything ProTools can do, and more.
  2. You dont NEED to record tube amps. Yes, I know, you cream your jeans every time you hit the power tube saturation on the EL34's in your 6534+ (suuuuuch a nice amp by the way. I prefer it over the regular 6505+) but if you don't have the gear to properly record a real amp, and you dont have the knowhow to go with it, it'll sound like crap. There are GREAT amp sims out there. Peavy has Revalver, AcemeBarGig's Headcase is a dream, and Poulan released a crapton of free amp heads which are considered some of the best out there. Trust me, if you're just getting started or doing bedroom demos, a solid sim and a good cabinet impulse will sound loads better than you doing a shitty job micing up your halfstack.
Q20 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Roll with the punches. A lot of crap will come your way. Just roll with it.

Q21 – What are your thoughts of the entire crowd-funding scene. It seems to have it's defenders and people think it's a waste of time. Would yourself ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

Crowd-funding is a goddamn godsend. One of my other bands did a campaign after my apartment flooded and my studio was ruined. We offered a ton of exclusive merch and other goodies, and we raised what we needed.

People attack crowd-funding, saying it's like the band is begging for money. No. What's occurring is the band is offering a lot of usually exclusive goodies as a way to secure funding. If a fan wants to help fund whatever the project is and get one of those exclusive goodies in exchange, it's an equal exchange of goods for money. No different than any other sale that occurs anywhere in the world. If you dont want to contribute, then dont! No one has a gun to your head forcing you.

Q22 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Yeah. Thanks for listening. Thanks for messaging me and letting me know how much you dig the music. I'm so incredibly humbled by you guys. I've had people tell me that my albums are their favorite, that it changed their outlook on things. And I'm just sitting here like “jesus, who am I?” I mean.... I'm just this weirdo nerd who spends most of her time deep in fantasy novels,and comics, and I just happen to play metal. To have someone tell me that my music changed something for them just affects me in a profound way, and I'm truly grateful.

Thanks for doing this Sam. All the best with the new album. It really is an excellent album. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Check ENNOEA from the links below:

Check Samantha's other bands from Metal Encyclopedia

Written by Steve Howe