Burial Etiquette
New Music

Echoes of the Unsaid: BURIAL ETIQUETTE’s ‘Mis-en-scène’ and the rebirth of screamo

9 mins read

Painting the landscape with hues of emo and screamo, Burial Etiquette offers a deeply personal narrative, a journey through self-reflection, grief, and the quest for redemption. Released on March 25, 2024 via Zegema Beach Records, their debut album “Mis-en-scène” a testament to the band’s innovative spirit and their ability to craft music that resonates on a profound level.

The narrative woven into “Mis-en-scène” is intricate, exploring themes of buried guilt, self-reflection, and the cyclical nature of trauma through esoteric imagery and poetic lyrics.

In our exclusive interview, Burial Etiquette delved into the creative process behind “Mis-en-scène.”

The band’s influences have evolved significantly since they began writing the LP in 2019, drawing from late ’90s emo and expanding to include a wide range of experimental styles and moos. This evolution is evident in the album’s complex narrative threads and the thematic exploration of loss, grief, and the possibility of renewal.

The songwriting process for “Mis-en-scène” was a departure from the band’s previous work, with a focus on allowing the music to breathe and develop organically. This approach led to a richly layered album that rewards repeated listens.

In the following interview below Burial Etiquette delves into the making of the album, discuss the narrative-driven lyrics, the eclectic blend of musical styles, and their creative process, reflects on the significance of live performances and their aspirations for future tours, and more.

Read the full thing below.

First off, congratulations on the new release! The way your album kicks off with that organic sound, harking back to the ’90s screamo pioneers, is striking. How have your inspirations evolved over the years, leading up to this culmination in your latest work?

Thank you for the kind words. Our inspirations have evolved a fair amount over the years. When we first started writing the Lp in 2019 our biggest influences were late 90’s emo like funeral diner, saetia, city of caterpillar. Since then our influences have expanded to include other experimental genres as well as atmospheric soundtracks.

Burial Etiquette

How did you approach the songwriting process? Did you start with vocal melodies, or did you build around the foundation of riffs? How does this creative process unfold to produce such interesting blends and harmonies?

The songwriting process differed for this album compared to our previous work. In the past we would write, record & mix material in a few weeks. After playing the songs live for a while we’d eventually add subtle nuances to the songs. and organically they would become more complex than what we could arrange with words, a book & pen. When covid hit we decided to approach this record with a different mindset and give it room to breathe while rewriting it until there was nothing left to change. I prepared a design document of themes & imagery we discussed exploring as a band. Similar to something a small indie team might use to keep a game thematically in tune.

From there, Tay and I would bring ideas in & we would arrange it together. We lived together at the time so to paint a picture, I might be downstairs looping guitars and stumbling onto the intro to mirrors for eyes. Tay would be upstairs at their desk listening & writing the lyrics that would go on to be used in the chorus.

It was around this time that we decided to use our different voices in the album to express different fictional character’s clashing points of view.

The thing we have always loved about screamo is that you can yell & sing vulnerable lyrics over any genre & never feel out of place on a bill with contemporary bands in the scene.

We love a huge range of different genres and we have always wanted to include as many influences as possible. Similar to how the game NieR will drastically change genre from a hack and slash action game to a top-down shoot ‘em up, to an interactive poetic text adventure exploring character background trauma. This helps keep the pacing interesting & never stale. The idea is kind of abstract but I will try to explain it.

The moment that a piece of art truly engages with the audience is often the moment when what is perceived as possible within the bounds of the work is hugely expanded in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter whether your budget is low or even non existent.

All that matters is the audience is thrown off guard and the possibilities of what might happen next is completely thrown out the door. While still retaining consistency of mood & tone.

We then thought long & hard about the format of a record. And how repetition is unique to the medium, maybe more so than any other. In the end we decided the best way to retain the element of surprise would be to have layered additional meanings that are only revealed with subsequent listens. And that the more the listener put into it, the more they would get out of it.

A lot of our favourite stories are overwritten. With complex alt history dates, extensive world building, excruciatingly detailed character motivations. We fell in love with the idea of having text that was cut content yet conceptually vital to the writing stage.

It’s different to the approach we use for splits but we believe both are just as valid.

Burial Etiquette

Diving deeper, this album weaves a unique blend of desperation and sadness, yet on the flip side, hope and something profoundly emotional and captivating. Could you delve into the lyrical background of this album? Is there a common thread or theme that ties together the motifs explored throughout?

Our two characters express wanting to break free of their circular narrative cycle & pre determined fate. rebelling against their creators who doomed them to live in grief for time immortal through reincarnation.

Although knowingly futile, they burn down the stage together in an act of defiance. This is part of the reason the heaviest and most intense part of the album is near the end. It can be thought that every time you relisten to the album, the characters reset & lose all progress towards rehabilitation, acceptance and mutual understanding. The cycle goes on, the stage will be rebuilt. And once again it will be burned down.

Nostalgia & Deja Vu are present within the actors with every subsequent showing of the play. After many incarnations (listens) the characters begin to notice cracks in the retellings. Words take on new meaning. They no longer fit so neatly into the character archetypical tropes from which they were initially constructed.

Dialogue lines & actions that once came naturally to them (fate/destiny/script), have begun to slip away & all that’s left is a blank page & a devastating self awareness. It is in these last moments that they recall in full, the ancestral memories of past selves. They hold each other’s hands amidst the growing flames of the burning stage & once again ask each other the question: Is it possible to escape this hell?

Are we monsters for repeatedly putting characters we have grown attached to in tragic situations in order to feel a sense of comfort & empathy? I don’t think so. I believe there is something intrinsically beautiful about recognizing ourselves in fictional trauma.

But the question still deserves to be asked. One could argue that the kindest thing we can do for the painful art that resonates strongly with us, is eventually put it away. Let it gather dust & be left as a memory to be later recalled in a hazy distant fondness.

Let it become a faded fragment of our own personal history that once taught us something about ourselves. One could also believe in the spiritual significance in revisiting the stories that helped shape us and the values we hold dear. No matter what you believe, this particular contradiction is relevant & worth noting.

People’s interests change and fluctuate throughout their lives and what once resonated with them, might not feel the same years later. Themes can take on an entirely new meaning and even transcend the original revelation that drew you to it in the first place. Or they could also feel foreign & unfamiliar when you realise how much you have changed as a person.

There is no concrete answer on whether or not to revisit the art that makes us. This matter is unsolvable because each case of it is determined contextually by the person involved and the life they have lived up to that point.

We were inspired by Yoko Taro’s game design lectures where he explains taking advantage of your medium’s unique traits to tell your story.

With NieR it was interactivity and the tangible sacrifice you made as a player deleting your save data to protect a character you have grown to love over forty hours. With a record we realised the defining feature is the two sided format & the growing familiarity with multiple listens / analysis.

We thought this story and way of telling it would be an interesting way to deconstruct the format.

Regardless, it is up to each person to decide for themselves what they believe. The intent is to provoke thought through subtle hints of characters rebelling against their creators. The goal is not to provide answers or a definitive statement.

Art is subjective and no interpretation is less valid than another.

 pull the strings make me move -2
 cut the strings I won’t dance for you
 we can’t take back all we destroyed. we know it was real -4
 a glass wall between us. a glass wall of emerald ice -2

 the ruin will keep the fire from fading -1
 the morning you sought clairvoyance in memory
 can we stitch and sew our roles convincingly or break character -2
 I am desensitised to the fading of the light -3

 these images we weaved always sang defeat 
 our sun is gone. has left us blind. the stage light in its absence has redeemed us -7
 burn the stage down to the ground. spotlight beams envail ashes -8
all the heart we left behind, so easily buried in time -x

“Blue Orchids” takes us on an unexpected acoustic detour with clean vocals. Can you share more about this track? Was it a spontaneous decision, or are you gravitating towards something more transparent and less rugged and abrasive?

Taylor brought Blue Orchids into practice one day and we knew right away that it was going to open side B. The beginning & end of each side was very important to our writing & consideration of track listing.

It is the only track on the album written entirely from one character’s perspective. It’s role is to contrast every other song on the record while still employing the same chord progressions, mood & storyline.

There’s a lot of clarity in your compositions anyway, I think. Which do you find more fulfilling when it comes to performance: playing live, especially those more post-rock segments, or the live translation of your compositions?

We find playing live shows to be very fulfilling. Making friends over a shared passion for diy ethics & art is a very special component to the experience for us.

Because our discography is a non linear narrative, we’ll often use the excuse of arranging a setlist to tell a particular chapter in the story. Or focus on exploring one character’s side.

For example; Gentle Wings and Flowers For A Broken Machine are both grief contrasting epilogues to mise-en-scene. Candle & The Exhaustion That Led To Collapse are romantic prologues fusing hurt with the feelings of butterflies in your stomach. Sometimes we shift stuff around to make room for a new chapter but we do have a big book with a lot of this written down.

Speaking of live performances, what are your touring plans? Can we expect to see more of you on stage, or is it more of an occasional thing? Perhaps even a European tour in the pipeline?

We are playing Zegema Beach Fest May 4th in Chicago.

For the moment it is an occasional thing but we recently recruited a touring guitarist (Zach) & drummer (Nick) and Healer (Asya) that will make touring a lot more possible going forward. Our dream has always been to have the opportunity to tour & explore Europe. We hope to be in contact with people to help set this up one day.

Could you shout out some under-the-radar bands? Not limited to post-hardcore, but anything you’d recommend our readers check out.

Active under the radar bands I have on heavy rotation. Criminally underrated stuff. Treehouse Of Horror, Split Silk, 40ft To Go, Boxcutter, Basque, Mizuirno_Ino, Lein, Despot, Bok Suna, Riotnine, Piot, Letterbombs, Son Of Deni, Imsorryemil, Lorem Ipsum, Wlots & last but not least Lypura.

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Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
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