We chat to Dean Mason of Canadian aggrotech project Bleeding Raven about new music, influences and the risk of a nervous breakdown from listening to his music.
Interview by Jane Howkins
How is 2020 treating you so far?
That’s a trick question isn’t it? (laughs) You know, one does their best, right? I’ve actually released two EPs, sort of three, which I wasn’t planning on doing because of my hearing loss [SSHL] but I needed to see what I could accomplish. You can read about it [on our website]. And so, in fact Litany is the end of it for me. But I will continue to promote what I have with both Bleeding Raven and Gnostic Gorilla.
Have you released any music so far this year? If so, what can you tell us about that?
Yes, as I stated in the previous question, I’ve released Litany and also Yamozha and Yamozha II.
Yamozha is inspired somewhat by the Dogrib Nation story of “Yamozha” and also other stories from their tradition. Lost Daughter is about the sad reality of many young First Nations women who have gone ‘missing’ in Northern/Western Canada and the effort to ‘find them’ hasn’t always been fervent. A sad chapter in our history. The last song, Dance of the Wolverine is the only track that I started from ‘scratch’. The three other tracks were already recorded a few years ago, but without vocals. Dance of the Wolverine is sort of a fusion of black metal ambient with a bit of trance – again, I call it dungeon trash ambient – This track is the real ‘test’ for me as far as capability goes. I will wait and see what people with “good ears” have to say about it. I honestly don’t know.
There is an alternative version, as I said, to this EP as well. The difference is the vocals are more atmospheric and ‘ambient’ and in the background at least more so than the original.
Litany is the final instalment of the “Bleeding Raven Black Metal Atmospheric Dark Ambient” experiment and, in actual fact, the final release from Bleeding Raven in general. This EP was a labour of larvae – I mean love – and lots of ‘guess work’ in it by a man who is almost deaf. It’s dark and creepy and that’s the plan.
Who/what has influenced you the most?
So, as to “who”, I’d start with my dad who was in a band before I was even born. After that, I’d say in my very early life KISS was, of course, an influence, but it was Gary Numan who more or less became my ‘guru’ with regards to music. There was nothing on the planet when I was a kid except for Gary Numan. Of course, that’s changed dramatically as I got older. To mention other huge inspirations in music I’d say, Type O Negative, Japan, Ozzy and Sabbath, Korn, Fear Incorporated, The Cult, Crimson Moonlight, Frost Like Ashes, Die Sektor, Zardonic, Global Citizen, CRIX IIIX, and so many others, too many to mention. I have to say that The Doors and Gary Numan are the TOTP for me.
I also want to mention Tim Muddiman who is an inspiration to me as an artist, a true artist and you have to check out his work. He is gaining a lot of attention. Also, similar to this, is the work of Kristian Espedal, aka GAAHL. I like the music both Tim and Kristian have done but I am just blown away by their hard work in pursuing artistic expression in other ways.
Now onto “what” inspires me. Well, to be honest, the average struggling human being. especially some special people I know, a woman who is a single mother who works so hard to make ends meet for her kids. These people are the ‘heroes’. I don’t buy into the concept of ‘heroes’ anymore. Fuck that! The ordinary struggling person who faces each day as best they can even if they just want to fucking give up, they are the heroes! Not the mofos walking on the red carpet at award shows.
Oh my! Was I ranting? (laughs)
What have you been listening to recently that you can recommend to our readers?
Well, sadly, I’m limited with what I’ve been listening to because of my SSHL hearing loss issue. That said, Fear Incorporated have new stuff out and also Global Citizen. Otherwise, I listen to the sound of silence. I have no choice.
Why do you think people should buy one of your EPs or albums?
I give—why? (laughs) Another trick question. (laughs again) OK, so, well, I am not ‘unique’ so I don’t subscribe to that notion. I’m no recording genius. My music is spooky as fuck and dark and even disturbing and might give you a nervous breakdown, so, yeah, if you’re OK with that, check out Bleeding Raven. Otherwise, stay sane. See if I care. (laughs again)
Any last words for the fans?
Thanks to all three of you. (laughs) No but, seriously (laughs again) thanks to all those who have supported me. And for all things Bleeding Raven check out [our Bandcamp, Spotify and website.]