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Interview: Oceans of Slumber’s Cammie Beverly talks ‘Starlight and Ash;’ reveals touring uncertainties due to covid

Posted by on December 22, 2022

 

Texas progressive metal outfit Oceans Of Slumber continue to surprise us after each album. 2022’s Starlight and Ash was no different, perhaps one of the strongest records of the year. We caught up with vocalist Cammie Beverly earlier this year to discuss the record and the ongoing struggles with booking tours following the covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Starlight and Ash is probably your most evolved record even though you do something different after each record. However, what made you go in this direction with the new album?

I think ultimately we just really wanted to do an album that was what we wanted, without any worries and with kind of full isolation from literally everyone, I guess, at the time, and caring or worrying too much about how the reception was going to go. Everything that we write comes from a place of, we just needed to get it out, we needed to express it. And with this, we were just kind of going back to our roots, so to speak. Getting more immersed in just what it felt like to be from where we were versus necessarily just what it sounded like. But we wanted to really express what our experience had been in the most potent way that we could with the music that we created next. Just because if things went terribly south because of the pandemic, we just didn’t want… Where would we be to try and make an album to appeal to people that we were never going to see again? And so it just kind of came out, let’s make an album for ourselves.

 

You guys definitely have a lot of new creative directions and you can see the freedom in that. I know having the time with the pandemic has given a lot of people time to explore that path. How have the fans been responding to the new album?

It’s been a really good reception. It’s been pretty resoundingly positive, and I think one thing that’s cool about it is it’s sort of inescapably emotional. So whether or not people, whether or not it’s what people expected, what they’re getting from, it seems to be the same. And that’s just a true listening experience, a true immersion in just something different and something that is transported. It’s been really nice to see what it’s inspired and the feelings that it’s invoked for people.

 

How would you compare it to the self-titled album?

I think that it is honed in more on sort of the undertones that have always kind of made up the band. I think we’ve shredded the harsh vocals in lieu of having a more intricate emotive sort of delicate balance between just my clean vocals and the music, that we were on our way to completing the statement that the self-titled album started with Starlight Match.

 

I’ve noticed that slow transition, The Banished Heart had a lot more darker and heavier undertones. And I guess I’ve seen transcendence since then. Your artistic direction has also evolved. The videos for “The Lighthouse” and “The Hanging Tree” were amazing. Can you talk more about the experience getting those videos together?

We really wanted to do something that was cinematic and a more visual sort of aspect to what we’ve done previously. It was really cool just to work with actors and to share an idea that inspired this from the videographer team, from the visual arts team. And they put it together from, we didn’t know what storyline we gave it and what we wanted, and ultimately they brought it to life, and called First Site Agency. It’s a group here in Austin, Texas and, or, in Austin, Texas. And they just did such an amazing job in fulfilling that story and making it kind of a miniature movie that I was seeing in my head. With everything that I write, it has this idea of being brought to life through kind of a cinematic feel and to have that finally happen, because we’ve done the play throughs and stuff, not playthroughs, but bands playing and we sing the song in a picturesque place, but we really wanted to tell a story and we wanted to continue to try and tell a story and just do songs that merit videos of that caliber. And so it was a really incredible experience and it was so awesome working with such a professional high quality team. And those videos are something that are little treasures that come out of this. It’s always neat when art of different mediums can come together to share the same message. No, I think it was just a really cool experience.

I love how you said it, having the different mediums come together. And also, your take on the classic, the House of the Rising Sun. I mean, that was probably one of the most powerful recreations of that song I’ve heard. What got you guys to decide to cover that track?

We were debating between The Downeaster ‘Alexa’ and House of the Rising Sun, and ultimately we settled on it. We always want to do a cover for every album, it’s just a thing we do. And it came down to, Downeaster ‘Alexa’ was a little bit too upbeat, even though it’s a really sad song, just the tempo and things about it and trying to sort of give it our own spin was going to be, it didn’t have the right vibe. And so with the kind of folk finish that the album was taking on, House of the Rising Sun just had the right feel, it had the right dragging and the right low bottom to it that it could just be turned into something very haunting, very easily. And so we went with that. And it’s just… Cool thing about covers is they already exist. They’re already a magic in this realm of where we have heard it, and it’s not new. But when you can shape it and manipulate it and make it your own, it just takes on a whole new sort of breath. And it’s just a different kind of magic that happens when you hit something along the lines of redoing a song. And it came together so beautifully, and it came together so seamlessly. We’re really happy with it and such an eerie, beautiful song. And it was already kind of a wayward song to begin with. So it fell into place, it’s a song we grew up with, it’s been around for a really long time, and it just had that good folk feel to it that just made it the right fit.

I can understand how it fits with the album. It was definitely just a beautiful cover. I know you’ve collaborated with a number of artists, including Aryeon and Swallow the Sun, do you have any future collaborations you’re willing to reveal, or are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?

There’s absolutely, I guess, a list of artists. We haven’t even thought about the next album yet. We haven’t… We’re always writing music. But as far as collaborations or covers coming up, I mean, there’s some Tears for Fears stuff, maybe even trying to tackle something like Björk. That’s just been, there’s just a mixture of things. I think that for collaboration, I think something with Anneke van Giersbergen would be really cool because we have such a Gathering-esque sort of vibe and they were such a big inspiration for us when we kind of formed the band. And so it always changes. It’s like the weather, and it just depends on where we’re at when the moment strikes. But that’s a little bit of what we’ve been kind of mulling over.

 

Awesome. No, that would be a great collaboration with Anneke. And now that you mentioned the Gathering, I can kind of hear that with Oceans of Slumber. I never even put those two together.

Yeah. And it’s funny because people act like what we’ve done is so brazenly new, but the Gathering was considered metal, or metal adjacent. They’re very intertwined in the metal scene, and they’re not necessarily conventionally metal either. And it’s female fronted and all the nine yards, and so there’s definitely a lot to… They were doing it. We didn’t do anything crazy.

 

Do you guys have any other plans that you can reveal?

I mean, we’re working on getting more tours lined up and figuring out overseas and other places. I guess the problem and the thing with how it all goes right now is you can’t plan anything too far in advance. It’s just something that is a part of the pandemic that lingers.

And so we get past this tour and we kind of see what’s next. I started a Patreon to kind of offset the unknowingness of what we’re doing and to be able to stay in touch with just the different projects I get into and the different things I’m going to start working on. And so it’s a good place people can kind of find an inside channel to just kind of behind the scenes and covers that maybe we don’t have something to do with right away, and things like that. But for right now, we’re only one tour at a time, but we’re quick to try and announce when we do know something. But it’s hard and getting back going, and Covid is still shutting down tours and changing shows, and so it’s still a little bit of a booking nightmare.

 

It’s been more like a wild goose chase in a way, or cat and mouse, whatever you want to call it. It’s either happening or not happening, or somebody gets sick and rescheduled. It’s definitely been crazy with this ongoing pandemic. But I guess my last question for you, is there anything else that you want to say or add to your fans about the new album?

Just that I love people sharing it. I love people messaging us about their experience with the album or how they set up their listening session to it. I hope that it continues to be just kind of an album of refuge and catharsis. It’s been incredible. It was an incredible journey getting here to make it to the release, and we just appreciate all the support.

 

Awesome. Cammie, it’s always a pleasure talking to you and just seeing your growth with these albums. I’m looking forward to what you guys have next. 

Thank you so much.

 

 

Check out the photos from Oceans Of Slumber’s performance on September 3rd, 2022 @ Saint Vitus in Brooklyn NY:

 

 

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