Magic Fire Music: Hi Owen, how are you?
Owen: Hey Cedric, yeah I’m great. There’s a lot going on in my world as usual but that’s all good.
Magic Fire Music: Can you introduce Icecocoon, it’s your band and you you are alone isn’t it?
Owen: Yeah I am effectively a solo artist but get great musicians to play with me. I write all the music, alone in my own world so to speak. When I started out, I was playing all the parts myself but nowadays, although I complete demos with all the parts in, I pass them on to great musicians (usually friends) to play on the final recordings.
For example on Deepest Crystal Black, I had very basic drum parts programmed and some straight-forward bass parts recorded on the demos. When I gave the demos to the drummer and bass player, there was a lot of room to move in bringing the album to life. They wrote their own parts based on the demo but played their own way, adding a more human feel to the music.
Magic Fire Music: What the signification of Icecocoon?
Owen: The name is a basically a metaphor for individuality. When I started icecocoon, in my late teenage years, I reached the point where I just stopped trying to fit in with various peer groups. I felt like I was the only one who felt the way I did. I was also isolated in the literal sense that I lived out of town on a 20 acre property with my parents. This was in 1999, before social media, effectively before the internet. I just reclined further into my own head and my own thoughts. I already knew that being a musician was what I wanted to do. Although I had been writing music for years, I turned a corner and began to write the best music I possibly could, by myself making it exactly what I wanted it to be. Although it was somewhat self indulgent, the first music I wrote for icecocoon was very honest and ambitious. Being a typical teenager and thinking too much, I felt like the world was totally messed up and people were all stupid and the world was against me etc. I called the project icecocoon as it represented being in my own safe world as an individual, untouchable by others external forces.
Magic Fire Music: Why are you alone?
Owen: I originally wanted to be in a democratic, 4 musicians style band where everyone contributed and there was all the great band camaraderie etc. After all my friendships had drifted apart or ended and I didn’t know anyone who was serious about music (as I explained, I was isolated from the rest of the world where I lived too) I just began to create alone. Now it is just the way I work, I have a pretty intense internal creative process. I conceptualise the albums from start to finish and am the arbiter of what is and isn’t good enough. I completed a Diploma in audio engineering and worked in a recording studio for about 6 years to give me the skills to record and mix my own music to a professional standard. I also have ended up handling basically all the pieces of the puzzle that a record label would including the album artwork, marketing, liaising with the media etc and not to mention funding the whole project. (The down side of being the boss is wearing all the cost!)
Magic Fire Music: Please tell us about the developing process of Deepest Crystal Black.
Owen: It was the product of a transitional time in my life. Chronologically, DCB is actually the 4th icecocoon album, but the first to be actually recorded properly and released.
It was a transitional time for me. Relationships were ending and new ones beginning.
The album just wrote itself as the soundtrack to my life at the time. As clichéd as it sounds, it was cathartic to just write and without the filtering, editing and knit-picking that would usually go on. I just allowed the music to flow out and let it be whatever it was. That resulted in it being slightly more straight-forward than usual and also in there being some unusual arrangements. Different songs were written at different points of the journey so there is a spectrum of emotions. I think anyone who has experienced those kind of times knows how it is a rollercoaster of feeling up, down, optimistic, sad, hopeful, strong, weak etc whilst going through the process of finding personal equilibrium again.
The albums’ production was done in an “old school” way if you like. I rehearsed the parts heavily for about 3 months with a drummer (Tom Kilsby) and Bass player (Matthew R. Davis) and then went into the studio, pulled great sounds and then recorded the bulk of the album as live as possible with hardly any editing, overdubbing etc.
The vocals and mix were done in the following weeks but the rest was recorded all in about 1 week.
I produced the album, engineered and mixed it and this is exactly how I think it should sound.
Quality music played by quality musicians, without studio trickery, recorded well, mixed to be huge and fat, mastered to be as dynamic and huge as possible. I am super proud of it.
Magic Fire Music: What is the Deepest Crystal Black about? Tell us about your ideas in writing the lyrics.
Owen: The Lyrics on this album are so literal, straight forward and honest. This is their weakness but also their strength. They are all a poignant snapshot of my life at the time they were written. If I’d kept a diary, this is exactly what would have been written in it.
You will notice that not all of the lyrics rhyme or even fit together well all the time.
As with the music, I allowed it to be a pure stream without being afraid of whether it’s clever enough or “correct” enough or whatever.
I think those lyrics will be a one-off as far as icecocoon goes. Other material in the future will be much less raw and directly personal.
Magic Fire Music: Your influences are Devin Townsend, Katatonia… It is these bands that have inspired you to play music?
Owen: Initially, in my early teenage years, Metallica were my biggest inspiration and influence. I think you can still hear that. Devin Townsend is hugely inspirational to me. I have been listening to him since the late 90’s. He is just so driven, diverse and pure as an artist. They are all things that I strive to be. Katatonia, although I have been listening to them since the late 90’s too, have just been a cool band to listen to more than an influence. Paradise Lost have been a bigger influence than Katatonia. Type O Negative too in the earlier days.
I think once you get to a certain level of establishing your artistic identity, all the music you hear is less about influence and more about inspiration. Everything you hear has the potential to subconsciously crop up as an influence though.
Magic Fire Music: Is King’s X inspired you? On some tracks (the first 2 or 3) the guitar riff and bass remind me this band.
Owen: You know what? Have heard about King’s X plenty of times but I have never actually heard their music. So any comparison must be a coincidence!
Magic Fire Music: Your music is very emotive, dark, personal… Are you also like that in life?
Owen: I don’t think so. It’s a funny paradox. Being serious about something and intense but not losing the will or ability to laugh (even at one’s own expense). Most of the time I’m a positive, driven person. I think like anyone, there are times when we think deeply about things and other times when you need a sense of humour. During the writing of DCB I wasn’t in the best place but I think I also just naturally write deep and dramatic/emotive, sometimes dark music. The music I am writing now is still emotive and a bit dark but in a different way. Not in a directly personal way. It is just 100% natural though. Writing to BE dark or TRYING to write to be emotive or whatever is silly. It will just ultimately come off as insincere or just not believable.
Magic Fire Music: We are far from Australia, for many French, your country remains only AC / DC or Airbourne… Vanishing Point too. To compensate for our lack of culture, can you describe the Prog scene and Power in Australia and its place in the Australian metal scene?
Owen: I’m not sure that there is a Prog’ scene per se. There are loads of bands all sort of achieving at different levels. Certainly where I come from in Adelaide which has about 1 million people, there is not what I would call a progressive music scene. In my opinion it takes musicians to be serious about what they do to the point where they are forging a career for there to be a scene. Having said that, I’m not completely sure what is going on with the other capital cities but there have been some cool bands to come out of Australia. “Progressive” is a popular throw-around term at the moment. By its true meaning, there shouldn’t be a “progressive sound”.
There are quite a few bands who label them self as prog-something here though and it seems to be a visible niche component of the overall heavy music collective in Australia.
Some bands I would recommend you check out from Australia would include, Contrive, Ne Obliviscaris, Mournful Congregation, Sydonia among others.
Magic Fire Music: Are you already working on the next album?
Owen: Here’s the thing, I’m actually writing what is the 5th icecocoon album right now but the next album to come out will be chronologically album number 3.
The drums, bass, synth and guitars are already recorded for that album.
It just needs vocals, some lead guitar and then the rest of the technical stuff, mixing, mastering, artwork etc. I plan for that album to be out some time in 2015.
Magic Fire Music: You are alone. For concerts, it has to be complicated? Who is with you?
Owen: We have in fact, just started rehearsing to play live and apart from Matthew Davis who played bass on the album, it is an all new line-up:
Owen Gillett – Guitar, vocals
Matthew Davis – Bass, vocals
D. Larry Ash – Guitar
Darren Mclennan – Guitar
Brody Green – Drums
They are all very good musicians so the process of them learning the material has been pretty easy. I can tell you so far it is really sounding huge and I just cannot wait to get on stage! So the rest of 2014 will be dedicated to playing this album live and promoting the band in general.
Magic Fire Music: Do you like Movies? What are your favorite movies?
Owen: I am so not the usual metal head when it comes to movies. I am more of a nerd. I don’t like horror and violent movies. I like Sci Fi. Starwars would have to be one of my all time favourites. Also I really liked the new Dr Who series’. I like Monty Python and comedies like Anchorman and Idiocracy. I like movies with a happy ending these days 🙂
Magic Fire Music: What would you do for a living if you weren’t musicians?
Owen: Well to start with, I don’t make a full time living from being a musician… YET! (I certainly will in the future) I still work at a day job part time at the moment. If I wasn’t building a music career though, I would probably be a producer/engineer.
Magic Fire Music: What do you usually do on Sundays?
Owen: I try to reserve Sundays to spend some time with my girlfriend. When building a music career, it is so all-encompassing time-wise that you can lose perspective, trying to squeeze every second of time out of the day to get where you want to go. So we usually spend some time together doing any number of things. Today I have been doing some music industry research, marketing research, writing emails, finishing this interview and later I will be packaging up CD’s purchased from the icecocoon web store.
Magic Fire Music: Do you have something to say? About something you like or hate?
Owen: Follow your dreams. Work hard and make it happen!
Magic Fire Music: Thanks a lot for your time – any last words to the readers of Magic Fire Music ?
Owen: Thank you so much for the support over your side of the world. icecocoon will build and eventually we will come over and play in France so when we do we expect to see you all there ok? Seriously though, I really appreciate people like Magic Fire Music taking the time to expose great music to a wider audience. Check out the new icecocoon album Deepest Crystal Black at www.icecocoon.com.au where you can download the whole album for free simply by joining the mailing list.
Cheers and catch you all again in the future I hope!