Interview: DaBelly Magazine
1st November 2012
Rhys Marsh and The Autumn Ghost – ‘The Blue Hour’
By Sara Lambeth
If you’re anything like me, whenever you think of or hear about music out of Norway, a mental image of a man covered in spikes and corpse paint, screaming about Satan comes to mind. Well, maybe not so much anymore. Traveling across the river Thames to the once Viking capitol of Norway, Rhys Marsh gives music a whole new feel. Its peaceful ambiance is met by dynamic and rhythmic changes, and is progressively innovative. Almost the exact opposite of traditional black metal.
Rhys Marsh and his ‘multi-national orchestra,’ The Autumn Ghost, have released “The Blue Hour,” their third full-length album. This album differs from the first two in that it was written and recorded entirely in Norway and, still sticking with the tradition of The Autumns Ghost being composed of a new line up of musicians, it is the first time all musicians are from Norway.
The secret to any album from Rhys Marsh and The Autumn Ghost – “The Blue Hour” is no exception – is to invest enough time into listening to it. Each time you revisit the album, the more you absorb its concept and gain the visual feeling hidden within the music.
Rhys Marsh took time out of his very busy schedule to give us a little insider info on the new album.
DB: For this album, your writing and recording was done entirely in Norway, in addition to collaborating with only Norwegian musicians. Will you elaborate on the concept behind this album and the significance to it being done in Norway?
RM: With the two first albums, there were some songs that I’d had for a while – songs I’d written, or started writing, in London and New York – and therefore some overlapping themes and elements. For “The Blue Hour” I wanted a completely fresh canvas so the album would very much be a reflection of the time. I also really wanted to be involved in the entire recording process– something I didn’t have the chance of previously, as the first two albums were mainly recorded in Sweden, Japan and the U.S.A., with the files then being sent to me. This time I wanted to make a 100 percent Norwegian album! It was a incredibly fulfilling experience, and I think the atmosphere of the surroundings certainly comes through. It also gave me the chance to travel around Norway some more!
DB:. How was the writing process and recording process for “The Blue Hour” different from previous albums?
RM: The first two albums had a lot of input from the contributing musicians. I mostly left it open for them to interpret the songs and add what they felt was right, which I would then edit into the mix. For “The Blue Hour” I wanted to write every note before it was recorded, so it had more of an orchestral or chamber music feel. Of course, using brass and woodwind quartets meant that this was necessary anyway! This way of working was perfect for this album– it gives it much more of a personal feel.
DB: How do you decide what songs to perform as well as what instruments and musicians accompany you for live performances?
RM: Well, I knew that it’d be very difficult to replicate the album and that wouldn’t necessarily be what I’d want to do anyway, unless it was with an entire orchestra, so I decided to break it down to what would feel best and work best on stage. I love the classic trio format, so I chose to have keyboards, in fact electric piano, rather than bass guitar, alongside electric guitar and drums. I found a couple of extremely talented guys who have their own band, Flashback Caruso, we tried a few songs and it just gelled immediately. They’re also both great singers, so we were able to work out some really cool three-part harmonies, which really adds something special to the sound. The choice of song, kind of made itself, based on the line-up and concept for the live show, which was to make the most of the spontaneous, improvised elements and run wild with them. We decided to keep certain parts of certain songs quite open, so we’re never quite sure where we’ll end up going. It keeps us on our toes and, judging by the reactions so far, makes for a very exciting concert experience!
DB: Is there any chance for a U.S. tour?
RM: I very much hope so. It’s been a long time since I’ve played over there!
DB: Is there anything you would like to add?
RM: I’ve just launched Autumnsongs Records, which will be for my solo and side projects, as well as artists I’m producing. The first release, on the 12th of November, will be the debut album of Silje Leirvik, an incredible singer/songwriter from the north of Norway, who I’ve been working with for the past year. We both feel we’ve made an album of honest and genuine beauty. Keep an eye on http://www.Autumnsongs.no/ for updates.