Refuge Part I and Part II are 2 huge digital compilations released by Ripcord Records to raise money for the UK charity Refuge, who support women and children who have suffered domestic abuse, through providing a national helpline, accommodation, offering advocacy, support in the community, among other services. Refuge: Part I spans a wide range of 72 (!) post-rock and math rock artists from 22 countries, providing over 7 hours of music, while Refuge: Part II covers an impressive spectrum of post-/black/sludge metal and features 78 bands from 22 countries, providing over 8 hours of music.
Today, we urge you to take part, support this great project and experience a true musical journey and enjoy tons of inspirations in the process. We sat down with nine artists and bands engaged in the “Refuge” project and received a tremendous amount of interesting feedback on the domestic abuse issue, their take on the current pandemic crisis and its impact on their local music communities, and a lot more. All guests provided us with a plethora of other bands’ tips, special inspirational Spotify playlists, and some tips & tricks regarding digital marketing services for independent bands, so there’s a ton of interesting stuff to process and get inspired! See the full multi-artist interview below!
𝐼𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑈𝐾, 𝑡𝑤𝑜 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑚𝑢𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑒𝑒𝑘 𝑏𝑦 𝑎 𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑥-𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑎𝑏𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑙𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑞𝑢𝑜𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠.
On average, the police in the UK receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour and these forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.
“During the covid lockdown, domestic abuse organisations have reported an alarming increase in women contacting their services for help.” says Charlene from Ripcord Records.
“It seemed more vital than ever to support a charity that helps these women and children who are in desperate need of help and safety.”
Joining us today for a special interview are: Joey Westerlund (of solo post-rock project Darkfield), post-black-metal band Die Sünde, Cian (member of post-metal band God Alone), Boro (member of ambient noise rock band Lonker See), Jan (member of blackened doom band neànder), Sebastien (member of black metal band Sorcier Des Glaces), Steve of post-rock/post-metal band The Grey, Judith of classical, piano-driven post-rock band We Stood Like Kings), and Babu, Mattia, Morgan, Red, and Riccardo, members of sludge band Wojtek.
Both compilation are available on Bandcamp for pay-what-you-like donations and 100% of the profits raised are going to Refuge.
What attracted you to the refuge compilation? Why did you want to support it?
Joey (Darkfield): Ripcord reached out to me about being featured on the Refuge compilation and there was no way I was going to say no. The help that Refuge does is very important (especially during the pandemic) and having the opportunity to be apart of that through Ripcord was an amazing opportunity. I’m thankful for Ripcord and Refuge for what they’re doing and hope other bands and labels step up to help in similar ways!
Die Sünde: As a band we firmly oppose any kind of violence, be it physical or mental. It may sound obvious, but unfortunately it’s not, considering what we hear and see everyday. We think that everyone’s efforts are required to try to change what is wrong with the world. That’s why when had the opportunity to donate one of our songs to this benefit compilation, together with many talented bands, we didn’t even need to think twice, it just felt right. Being able to do some good with our art is truly magnificent and that’s why we are grateful to Charlene.
Cian (God Alone): Charities like Refuge are needed maybe now more than even in the current state of the world where many people feel like they can’t escape their own homes. The work Refuge does deserves all praise and support and we couldn’t be happier to help in any way no matter how small.
Boro (Lonker See): When Charlene wrote to us about using our song for compilation to support such an important cause we answered immediately. If there’s a tiny chance to help someone with your art, isn’t that what it’s all about? :)
Jan (neànder): Charlene from Ripcord Records contacted us and she asked if we wanted to join this compilation. Of course it was a no-brainer. It’s for a good cause – all money goes to Refuge; a charity that helps women and children who have experienced domestic abuse – and the result is just amazing: The sampler charted in several Bandcamp genres and people donated more than 3.000 Euros. Thanks Charlene and Ripcord for having us on this sampler.
Sebastien (Sorcier Des Glaces): I think it`s for a very noble cause, it speaks to me a lot, and 2020 in particular has been a very tough year with all the lockdowns… so domestic violence against women and children probably has been more present unfortunately. Being a father myself of two young children, it is very important for me to participate in a compilation like this, that supports a charity like this.
Steve (The Grey): Helping to support any charity is something that we are always happy to do, especially when its one that doesn’t necessarily receive as much attention as some of the larger charitable organisations. We also know a couple of people who have experienced domestic abuse and have seen how it can negatively affect someone physically and mentally and so understand how important charities like Refuge are.
Judith (We Stood Like Kings): Charlene asked so nicely that we couldn’t say no. Real reason: we think it’s most important to help others out whenever we can, to be there for each other. And when people like Charlene put a lot of energy to make something like this happen, it’s really a small gesture for us as a band to send a track.
Mattia (Wojtek): We feel honored that Charlene involved us in the compilation, because even if the current news is focused on C-19, a lot of other issues are still there, and it looked like the right chance to support a right cause.
Riccardo (Wojtek): In such a civilized world it is unacceptable that such things are still happening at this rate.
Ok, so let’s talk about the state of independent music in 2021. What’s your take on the current (post) pandemic era for DIY and underground music? Where do we go from here?
Joey (Darkfield): It’s going to be tough for sure. You have bigger venues shutting down so I can only imagine how many smaller venues are closing doors and how that will affect independent/underground music as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised to see house shows come back bigger than ever (once we’re back to “normal”) and I would also imagine we will see live streamed shows become a big factor as well. Obviously live streamed shows don’t have the same energy but a lot of bands and artists have already invested in it so I imagine they would continue to use that as a resource from now on.
Die Sünde: The pandemic deeply affected the way the musical market is perceived and enjoyed by everyone. Every reality connected to live music, such as venues, community centers and booking agencies, were brought to their knees, but we hope that this destruction will serve as some sort of “fertile ground” for a reconstruction. In our opinion, the DIY scene will be able to gain some sort of push out of this situation, because usually the small creators tend to help and find ways to support each other, resulting in passion and bonds stronger than ever.
Cian (God Alone): Rebuilding the DIY scene worldwide will be a massive challenge due to the closure of so many venues/art spaces but it will take a lot more than a global pandemic to ever stop the drive and passion of people who simply love music and want to share that love with everyone.
Boro (Lonker See): I guess it’s hard for everyone, especially that the pandemic seems not to have an end. I would say from my point of view that we all have to survive it and count for some live shows in the future. Without live gigs small bands will be doomed to extinction. Streaming can be something positive but to make it look worth watching, you need some money to invest. We are talking about a closed circle here.
Jan (neànder): I think it’s hard to tell. The whole live music scene is placed on hold. Hopefully most people (including venues, labels, festivals, artists, technicians etc.) will get through the pandemic and be able to carry on. Fingers crossed! What might happen is that the gap between underground and mainstream will increase. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re an artist but you don’t have to make a living from your music this crisis might affect your career but it might not bury your band. The same applies to bigger bands that might have money in reserve. If you’re a full time band on a smaller level for instance and you have to rely on the income from shows and merch, then I think that you’re really under pressure. Having a DIY backround might help you through these times.
Sebastien (Sorcier Des Glaces): Many bands had to re-think how to promote and spread their music and reach people without touring and meet fans at live gigs. Sorcier Des Glaces is a duo and we do not play live, so that part didn’t affect us in any way, but I know so many people who are are going though terrible times since a year now. So, key word is that bands have to reinvent themselves, going forward, with all the tech available in 2021.
Steve (The Grey): There’s no denying that it’s been very hard for bands and many will have split up due to the pandemic but at the same time we feel that as things begin to return to normal we will see an increase in activity within the DIY/underground scene. This is partly due to smaller shows opening up first and people’s desire to get out and see bands but also down to the bands and people within the scene being more motivated to be creative, put on shows, produce zines etc. It’s been a struggle but we are confident about the future of DIY music and hope it’ll bounce back stronger than before the pandemic.
One other thing that can be said about the lockdowns is that people have begun to realise how important live music is and have been supporting bands by buying merch and music so we hope this also carries on in the future.
Judith (We Stood Like Kings): The DIY and underground music scene will suffer much more from this pandemic than mainstream networks. Independent venues are really dependent on ticket sales to function properly and we hope that as many as possible will survive. The same goes for artists. It’s hard to release an album and not be able to tour at all. Or to work hard on planning new dates just to hear a few months later that they are cancelled, then re-cancelled. But we should all keep creating music and behaving as if things will be happening. It’s the only way to keep alive and not lose the drive.
Red (Wojtek): We hope that in the next future there could be some sort of a “second life” for several underground bands who could enjoy more exposure despite of many venues closing forever.
Babu (Wojtek): Maybe we will witness some kind of a new golden era for squats and independent DIY situations. For sure in the final phase of the pandemic the focus will shift towards the local bands, easier to hire.
Morgan (Wojtek): The local scene will be even more united, at least that’s our hope.
So tell us a bit more about your local music community amidst the pandemic. What are your thoughts on the COVID-19 situation’s impact on your arts scene?
Joey (Darkfield): A lot of local Portland, OR bands are still releasing music but obviously live music isn’t a thing. I haven’t heard or seen anything about too many venues here closing for good so I’m hoping that’s a sign that they will be able to stay afloat!
Die Sünde: As we all know, the situation is dramatic, not only for us and our impossibility to play our first EP live. We are talking about something way more serious, we are talking about venues forced to shut down and workers that struggle everyday, submerged by expenses that keep coming despite this crisis. Everything is frozen, seemingly hopeless, but we need creativity more than ever, it’s something that comes from inside and that isn’t affected by any lockdown, We have no intention of stopping here and we’re working on something new.
Cian (God Alone): Here in the Republic Of Ireland, our government announced a support fund for music venues to hire sound and video producers to stream shows from their spaces. This provided much needed work for musicians and engineers who’s industries have all but been destroyed by the virus. While this was a great boost for the island-wide music scene, we have still seen multiple venues close indefinitely due to the pandemic. However we are more than confident and hopeful that the Irish music scene will bounce back stronger than ever in the coming months and years due to the sheer passion of promoters and musicians country-wide.
Boro (Lonker See): This is something worth mentioning. Because of all the bad emotions and cloudy future, artists are doing great work. Me, myself will publish 5 albums this year, 3 of them with different, new bands. Everything is boiling, but in rehearsals and studios. Suffering has always been good for art :)
Jan (neànder): I really miss the Berlin music scene. Playing shows, going to concerts, having conversations and all these things. The only positive aspect is that you realize how important that is to you. We did two live streaming events, one for Kulturretter and the Orange Blossom Special Festival and the second one for WDR Rockpalast. Both shows were pretty cool and helped to pass some time. You can watch it here:
We don’t have any concerts at the moment but we still have expenses such as rehearsal room rent, which is not the cheapest in Berlin. You can get some funding from Initiative Musik – Germany’s music export office – and that helps a lot. If you’re an artists based in Germany you should check THIS and try to get some help.
Sebastien (Sorcier Des Glaces): It’s very tough times for many, many bands that I know. Not being able to set up gigs, going on tour and promote new material. But it’s not only about bands, but live technicians and of course venues that are living off live gigs… they are literally dying now and that’s sad. I mean, they are struggling so much right now. Some venues in Quebec got the great idea of virtual concerts, they had to take that 180 turn now, if they’re to survive with this.
Steve (The Grey): We have seen local venues really struggling and while there have been incentives by the UK government to support them, not all have been eligible. There’s a real chance that some great places will be lost which is a shame not only for the bands and audiences but people are going to be losing jobs because of it which is especially difficult. One such venue is the Black Heart in Camden who are actually running fund raising events so for anyone that can, please go check them out online and help out where you can.
To counter that with something a bit more positive. During the lifting of the first lockdown we actually managed to play a socially distanced show with a reduced capacity which sold out within a week so there’s hope that this level of desire for live music will be mirrored as we start to open up again. As we previously mentioned we feel that as things begin to open up again there will be a surge of activity which will help the scene pick up and can only hope its enough to keep it sustained, our only concern is that the live scene will become saturated with shows but having been locked up for so long we feel that people will still make the effort to see the bands they enjoy.
Judith (We Stood Like Kings): Here in Belgium, we have been quite lucky as the government provided help to many people suffering from the pandemic. Some have been left out though but I think overall, we cannot complain. The hardest thing at the moment is that in the past year, our government has really been ignoring the cultural sector, shutting everything down and almost not mentioning it whenever new measures are taken. It’s as if we don’t exist anymore, while shopping streets are full of people. Culture has really been downgraded to something unessential. So many artists feel left out and have no prospects at all.
Riccardo (Wojtek): A lot of venues and organizations connected to the underground music are in big trouble right now: their survival is at risk, and their future uncertain.
Morgan (Wojtek): In this situation where we are confined in the backseat as powerless spectators, the best we can do is to support the several crowfundings running everyday through the social channels.
Mattia (Wojtek): The only thing that we, as a band, can do at the moment is create new music and of course we hope to be able to play live soon. We feel really lucky to be one among the few bands able to continue with rehearsals in this difficult time.
Babu (Wojtek): Probably heavy music is the perfect soundtrack in this particular moment. :)
Please share some noteworthy bands, labels, supporters, and local projects that you feel need more worldwide attention.
I feel like the biggest supporters of Post Rock and Post Metal have to be Where Post Rock Dwells and World Has Post Rock. Those 2 pages are constantly giving a platform for independent musicians to share their music and I know many bands would say those 2 helped get them going and get their music out there from the start.
Die Sünde: During the years the italian underground scene flourished and it gave life to a number of live events. Here in Northern Italy, for example, we have Venice Hardcore Fest, that always hosts incredible bands such as Celeste and The Secret; we also have Distruggi la Bassa, Solomacello and Frantic Fest that do their best to host top-tier lineups. Other than these annual events, there are a number of venues trying their best to support the underground, like Freak Out in Bologna, Bahnhof in Montagnana, The Factory in Verona or Ca’Vaina in Imola just to name a few. We wish all of them the best of luck in overcoming the huge obstacle they are facing and coming back stronger and even more passionate than before.
Cian (God Alone): Shifting (Dublin) released my personal AOTY of 2020, Hausu (Cork Label) have been steadily releasing bangers throughout the pandemic:Kino (Cork Venue, where I worked, since closed down) had been releasing fantastic live stream shows funded by the government initiative.
Boro (Lonker See): There are a lot of great bands in our area but I will just pick 4, playing completely different kinds of music: First, polish post metal legends Blindead with their fantastic album “Niewiosna”. Second, great psychedelic rock trip Lastryko and last year’s album”Limbo”. Third is alternative rock Trupa Trupa with “Off The Sun”. Fourth will be Pin Park and last year’s beautiful ambient masterpiece “Doppelganger”.
Jan (neànder): Here are some artists that are based in Berlin and that are truly worth listening to: GRIN – a heavy Psych/Doom duo, Praise The Plague – Blackened Doom from Berlin,
Aptera – 4-piece Metal band based in Berlin hailing from Brazil, Italy, Belgium, and the US.
Sebastien (Sorcier Des Glaces): There are many! Here’s some: Headstud – stoner rock/metal band that Luc (SDG’s drummer) is playing drums in. Sanctuaire – Dungeon Synth/Metal from Québec. Serment – Métal Noir Patriotique, from the frontman of Forteresse. L’Anti Bar & Speclacles – Great venue in Quebec that presents very good virtual concerts of several local bands.
Steve (The Grey): First off we would like to give a shout out to Lomas Gration, and Matty Downes. Both of whom we have worked with heavily and are great video and still photographers. The Sound Camp, who is a great visual artist and has put together a lot of cool pieces for us. Long-time producer & collaborator, Matty Moon.
With regards to bands there’s so many who we consider friends and who we genuinely love to watch. These include: Tuskar, Everest Queen, Ritual, Old Horn Tooth, London doom collective, Glarus, Damn Craters, Naisian, Skull Above The Cannon.
Red (Wojtek): Mentioning a few to exclude many others just doesn’t feel right. For this reason we would like to simply highlight the ones that supported us in the making of our last EP. Charlene, Ripcord Records, Rano & Ellis, Teschio Dischi, Anibal & Violence in the veins, Manu of Shove Records, Santo, Fresh Outbreak Rec, Orazio, Doppio Clic promotion, Mattia Bonafini (sound Engineer), Mirko zambon, Kanashibari (videomaker), Ilenia Urso (photographer).
As hardcore new music junkies, we’ve always strived to find more and more exciting and interesting sonic experiments. Spotify playlists a great source to discover new artists and music, so how about we extend the last question with your top playlist picks to get us even more inspired?
Joey (Darkfield): Here’s a playlist that includes some awesome artists like Hereafter, Thought Trials, and Oreana as well as a bunch of other great bands.
Cian (God Alone):
Boro (Lonker See):
Jan (neànder): Here’s our playlist with a lot of music we listen to before we hit the stage. Hopefully this will happen again in the near future! Enjoy:
Steve (The Grey): You can check out our Spotify playlist using the link below. It features loads of music we’re big fans of:
Judith (We Stood Like Kings):
Riccardo (Wojtek): We created a Spotify playlist with some cult band and few funny/trash stuff: enjoy “Just Cavai”:
Ok, so what are your plans for the rest of the year? Please share most recent updates for your new music, plans for the coming months, possible tour dates, etc.
Joey (Darkfield): Right now I have a new EP titled ‘History Reimagined’ releasing on March 12th. It consists of 4 tracks from my debut album, ‘History is Violent’, that have all been re-written and re-recorded to be more cinematic, like songs you might hear on a movie soundtrack. I’m also hoping to release another EP or full length later this year that is more similar to my past releases rather than this upcoming EP.
Die Sünde: If, as we surely hope, there will be an opportunity, we would love to play some more gigs in support of our EP, but there will be some news as well since we are working on a successor to “Die Sünde”. Some tracks are already finished but at the moment we are also thinking about another possible project, something like a conceptual piece. There might be more than one release, but we know for sure that 2021 will bring something new for Die Sünde.
Cian (God Alone): We are currently in the highest level of restrictions in Ireland and this has stopped the recording of our 2nd full length release in its tracks. Despite this we have been able to record music remotely and share ideas over the internet. We are hopeful that our UK festival and tour dates and a possible European tour that have been rescheduled for this year will be able to take place.
Boro (Lonker See): Lonker See’s new album is almost finished, now we just need to record it, so it is coming really soon. For me, as I mentioned before, this year will be mostly studio, recording albums and hopefully some live shows. For now we have confirmed one tour and one festival. We should be supporting “Squid” on their tour in Great Britain and play at The Ostrava Festival in July but… I don’t think it’s going to happen. We stopped booking shows after our polish tour cancellation in October 2020. Time will tell what’s next for us.
Jan (neànder): We had a tour with neànder scheduled for March 2021 but that was postponed to 2022 a few weeks ago. The same applies to most of the festival shows. At the moment I’m working on a project called ATEM., which is a mix of Americana and Doom. It’s instrumental music played on acoustic guitars and drums. I’m going to release the debut album ‘Concrete Americana‘ via Through Love Records this year.
Sebastien (Sorcier Des Glaces): 2020 has been a very busy and creative year for Sorcier Des Glaces, as we released our 8th album « Un Monde de Glace et de Sang » in October 2020. We also just released a new EP « Ghastly Memories » on February 23rd 2021. Many plans about releasing some of our older albums on LP and CD. Some of our past albums are sold out since a long time now. Of course our latest album & our new EP will be released in a couple of months as a double gatefold LP.
Steve (The Grey): Moving forward for the new year we have an announcement that we’ll be making shortly which we don’t want to spoil but we are also well into writing our next release which includes some cool collaborations with friends. We’re also looking into getting back out and touring both the UK and Europe and are just beginning the process of rebooking a tour that was cancelled last year. We also have a few dates that were postponed which will hopefully be happening later in the year one of which includes playing with Hundred Year Old Man who are also on the comp and are great live so we’re looking forward to that. As with all the other bands, keep and eye on our social media for announcements on dates.
Judith (We Stood Like Kings): In October 2020, we released our fourth album, Classical Re:works, on which we revisit classical music from all eras. This year, we hope we’ll be able to tour again, and have some plans already (Colossal Weekend in Copenhagen in May, amongst others). We’d love to start composing music for a new movie concert, and have found a very fitting movie to do so (surprise!), but we are trying to arrange screening rights… not easy! I guess the album will be released in 2022.
Our line-up is evolving as our drummer Mathieu will soon leave Belgium to live in southern France and our guitarist Philip started studying to be an osteopath. It’s a great opportunity to give the band new energy and we’re in the process of welcoming new musicians. In the meantime, Colin and I will record a piano-bass session soon of a track from our third album USA 1982, which we revisited together.
I’ve also been working on my solo piano project called La Reine Seule, with an 8-track album to be released this year.
Babu (Wojtek): We released a new EP in January so it’s still kinda new =)
Morgan (Wojtek): We will also release a new videoclip for the song “Catacomb” which is included in this compilation so stay tuned to our youtube channel!! We also have tons of new music to work on, so we’re planning to hit the studio again in a couple of months.
Mattia (Wojtek): Unfortunately no tour for now, so the most realistic short-term plan is to organize a live-streaming that of course we’re going to share through all of our socials.
Ok guys, so lastly, I thought it would be fun to wrap it up with your picks of top marketing tools and promotion hacks for DIY bands out there. Please share your tips for independent bands, including tools worth checking out, essential to do lists for e-marketing promotion, etc.
Joey (Darkfield): I won’t act like I’m an expert on the subject but in today’s day and age you HAVE to be active on social media. All social media sites now revolve around engagement and interactions to get boosted from the algorithm unfortunately. Whether or not you want to play the algorithm game is one thing but either way you at least have to be active on Instagram, Facebook etc. You just have to make sure people know you’re working on music and try to get that point out there to as many people as you can.
Die Sünde: The best possible advice we can give is to persevere, no matter what, to keep moving and never stop, to use social network trying to post interesting and fresh content as much as possible. Search for reviews and playlists that are coherent with your music genre, so that you can reach even more people with similar tastes. Lastly, collaborate as much as possible with underground artists for merch and packaging, creating something unique and supporting those who are in need.
Cian (God Alone): Always post photos, people rarely click links without photos. Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you.
Boro (Lonker See): I will not be original in here. Everybody knows that the best option to promote your music is to be on tour all the time. Online we use Facebook of course, bandcamp (best option for streaming right now), instagram etc. but what can i say, without gigs it’s really hard to promote yourself. I wonder myself what else we can do, I guess I will wait for other musicians answer in here :)
Steve (The Grey): I guess our biggest piece of advice is to try and be original with whatever you’re doing whether it’s on social media or your actual music. With there being such easy access to bands and music these days it’s important to try and stand out from the crowd where possible so just doing something because you’ve seen others do it before and get a positive result isn’t going to help you. Everyone draws influences from different sources and so sounding like another band isn’t a bad thing but at the same time if you can develop your own sound and style you’ll be better off for it.
Red (Wojtek): CREATE TONS OF GOOD MUSIC REALLY FAST.
Morgan (Wojtek): SHARE THIS MUSIC AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Babu (Wojtek): ALWAYS TOUR.
Mattia (Wojtek): PRAISE THE HORSES.
Riccardo (Wojtek): HAVE FUN … and then REPEAT.
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