Covering the neofolk/post-folk/apocalyptic folk project DEAES was long overdue for us. Our friend Jay Nada of DEAES has also helped open the space for antifascist neofolk with their left/folk project, including the Instagram art project, the Facebook Group, and the fundraising neofolk compilations that we have also worked with them on. Make sure to check out their latest release, Arise.
DEAES makes up a piece of their own development, and created a unique spot that, while on hiatus at this point, continues to be incredibly influential among neofolk bands pushing the edges of genres like martial industrial.
What is your personal history as a musician? Was DEAES your first project?
I hardly consider myself a musician, I can only really play my own music as I don’t know how to read music or anything like that. I am self-trained, and in fact DEAES was the first time I ever picked up a regular guitar. I used to play bass in a punk band in high school and have a long history of producing music using software. I have had multiple projects in the past, ranging from perverted electronic dance music to experimental avant-garde pop music. DEAES was my first foray into doing something I had wanted to for a long time, folk music. My general attitude towards music and playing music is to just try it, regardless of your skill level. Something will come together.
How did DEAES come together and where did it’s style and themes come from?
DEAES started as a solo project, I acquired bandmates as time went on and I found a need to enhance the way the music sounded live. My early influences were varied and in many ways contradictory. I was really into all the most known neofolk bands like Current 93, but was also simultaneously really into political folk like Phil Ochs and Buffy St Marie. I musically took these influences and combined them with my interest in industrial and post-punk to give my first recordings a very experimental and almost pop vibe. Thematically, my music has always been driven by both personal experiences in sorrow and delirium as well as visions of a dying world.
How do you define the genre of DEAES? What influence does Apocalyptic Folk have on it (and what does that term mean to you)?
I refer to DEAES as hexfolk, it is neofolk music constructed with a particular spiritual and magickal intention. The music is meant as a spell of sorts, to detach the audience from reality and everything in this world. Other ways of looking at it could absolutely be apocalyptic folk, as I see it, music to listen to as the world is dying. Music that compounds and evokes these feelings of a certain kind of madness that propels all apocalypses forward. DEAES is in many ways music to bring the apocalypse to life, but it is mostly music to drift into the void to.
Do you define it as antifascist neofolk? I know you had a plurality of opinions inside the band.
Though we try not to attach any overtly political tone to the songs, many of our songs were written with political observations peppered throughout, as politics are unavoidable. The ability to avoid politics is a political act and a form of privilege, so we really can’t avoid them regardless. Our music has always dealt with a rejection of consensus reality, the world as it is, in striving for the possibility of a different world altogether. A dissolution of power structures, a neutering of ideological constructs, and an attack on presumed hierarchical structures. We will always be against kings, countries, authority, gods, time, all of it. Our music is void music. Though it may unfortunately leave space for some reactionary interpretations, I think it is instrumental for the project to focus itself on the spiritual anarchic components of our music in order to maximize the effect of our craft.
In short, however, I think it would be fair to consider our music as antifascist, as it is antifascist in spirit, and it is made by people who are against fascism, though we may not be a vehicle for specific political projects as our themes deal primarily with otherworldly concepts as opposed to the mundane.
What was the song writing process like?
My song writing process varies. I often tap into an inner narrative, detaching myself from conscious direction as much as possible (sometimes chemically, probably) in order to create concepts in as raw of a format as possible. Words spilling on the page, going with the flow, automatic. Some songs are a bit more structured, as they are descriptions of experiences I’ve had. I often write in an altered state, or at the very least a state of instability, whether it is my own mind pushing against me or something I put under my tongue.
The lyrics have this ephemeral quality, sort of like a folk tradition of poetry. How did lyric writing come from and what were the dominant ideas you were trying to circle in with DEAES?
I have always had a creative streak, I am always interpreting and reinterpreting events and moments in my life, maybe out of mental instability or something else. I write from a place of heartbreak, depression, trauma, frustration. I gather these emotions and thoughts and compress them into stone which I whittle away until I’m left with a very sharp and dangerous object. For me, a lot of the things I reference in my songs put me in a dissociative state, they make me feel scattered and sometimes numb. I wanted to write lyrics that can feel very vague yet eerily specific at the same time. Relatable and unrelatable, contradictory and confusing, threatening. For my songs to possibly affect everyone in the same way, in some way, and bring folks into a state of timeless delirious emotional paralysis.
There is a sense of doom and apocalypse in the albums, what was driving that feeling in the band?
We are all very cynical people. We see a planet that is dying. We live in a sick society, that crawls and climbs over itself to maintain the wealth and power of a tiny handful of rich fucks who use their power to manipulate policies that affects all of us. Our comforts are perpetually the suffering of others, the exploitation of others. We, frankly, have always wanted to destroy it, burn it all down, these systems of oppression. Sometimes the world as it is, simply must collapse in order to build it back up. At times, we feel this will and must happen, whether we want it to or not. It is inevitable. We are simply observing. We are here to sing about the end, the end of what is kind of open to interpretation.
You had a multitude of albums at this point (is it three, or five full ones?), what was the concept behind each one?
We actually have more albums than that, they are just scattered across different platforms. Our first album on Bandcamp called “LoveSINGLES” is actually a collection of songs found within my first three releases which I refer to as the LOVELOVELOVE trilogy which dealt with different forms of love. Agape, Pragma, and Mania. They were an exploration of how these variations of love affected me at the time, and how they affect the trajectory of every individual life.
Following that were various small recordings which were explorations of magickal concepts, like Heretic Hymns and SAARL (Some And All Reality Lost) which dealt with rejecting consensus reality. Somber Sessions was made in a state of deep depression and loss, I wanted to bring a sense of urgency to the music so it was recorded in a way that sounds raw and almost like live music, but it is full of subtle background textures and atmosphere. CLOSE EYES OPEN was my first release with my violinist, June, and was a joint effort in bringing the void to the listener, and a culmination of everything her and I were working on up until that point.
Why did the band go on hiatus?
There are numerous factors. For some time, most of us lived in a single household or at least within walking distance of one another. As things go, we parted ways and moved to different locations for reasons unrelated to the band. I also I began developing carpal tunnel while working at my day job, which has made it increasingly difficult to play guitar. I can maybe play for a few minutes at a time before being lost to severe pain and numbness. So, we set our instruments aside in a formal sense. Though we still get together to practice or perform at very small private functions on rare occasion.