Interview by Miriam C.
Behind the nom de plume DARKHER is disguised the West Yorkshire singer/songwriter Jayn H.Wissenberg that on August 19, 2016 has released her second album “Realms” via Prophecy Productions. Jayn uses her musical creature as a catharsis and you can notice this from her painful and truthful lyrics contained inside her second full-lenght. Also, the main inspiration that DARKHER frequently mention during this interview is the nature in all her forms. Discover with us this amazing artist in this all-round interview about her career and current projects because “Realms” (reviewed here) is a real masterpiece of folk(-ish) doom.
Hello Jayn, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how is this European tour treating you?
Hello Miriam, we haven’t done an extensive amount of tour dates but the ones we’ve done this year have been great- sadly had to cancel Manchester with SubRosa and Into the Void Festival due to me being ill but back in November I’ve played Damnation and two shows with Wardruna.
DARKHER is your nom de plume for your artistic works, but who was Jayn before all this? For those who are still not familiar with you, would you mind to share some useful info about your history?
I’ve been making music for many years but prior to this for almost a decade I had a band called The Steals who I self released an EP and album with on my Faun Records label.
I quote directly from the biography published in your official site “DARKHER is an intriguing, haunting trip through the mind and spirit”. So, I should deduce that DARKHER for you represents a sort of catharsis?
Yes very much so, I find it very healing to make music, like a form of meditation.
Let’s start from the beginning, back in 2013 your debut EP “The Kingdom Field” was self-released in only 100 copies, now, thanks to Prophecy Production, it got re-released in 2014 on a wide scale. In general, what can you tell me about its production and, after 2 years from its release, which are your impressions?
I think “The Kingdom Field” is the perfect introduction to the journey I have embarked upon with DARKHER, I feel it encompasses many of the main elements and I’m content with the outcome. I think there is always room to grow and there are things that I learnt from making that record, as there were from making the album “Realms”, but they both mark a chapter in my life.
The recent presence of the German label Prophecy Production had easily aided your career, but how did you manage to score such deal?
Prophecy discovered me independently and got in touch to ask if I would sign with their label. I was very excited to join them and it proved to be a very fortuitous union.
“Realms” is your new full length and it was released early this year and it features 9 songs, when did you start to work on it and what insight you can partake about its creation?
I began working on it straight after completing the EP in 2014 and some songs such as “Lament” was written back in 2011/2012 in the time between my last band and beginning DARKHER. I had to take some time off from writing to focus on getting a band format together again and working on the live shows but I would say it took 12 months of consistent work to complete the album.
If Alcest’s main musical vision are some “”visions” of an unknown place, of another dimension” experienced during his childhood, on the contrary I feel like “Realms” is soaked in painful death in all its sound. How would you explain this?
I had experienced a lot of grief in the months prior to making the album and during the whole of it’s journey, so it’s no surprise to reveal lyrics that came from a place of loss and anguish but it also forced me to ponder on life and magic, the afterlife and spiritual connections.
I’ve realized that the song “Foregone” is contained both in the EP and in the full length. In what do they differ?
They remain the same except for a different mix , edit and remaster.
You said in an interview that “nature and the elements are always with me when I write”. In which way this element has influenced you during the writing of “Realms”?
The environment that I am surrounded by and the vast landscape is always in my mind when I write as I see music in a very visual way. For this reason I would love to one day try to write for film or TV and I equally feel the presence of many images when I write or produce. The studio walls otherwise would not inspire me to develop the sound and present it in such a way.
DARKHER doesn’t represent your first musical experience since you used to be part of a band called The Steals. Why did you decided to call it a day and consequently starting ex novo a new project?
After almost 10 years of working with and around other musicians I didn’t want to feel held back by lack of commitment to making music and availability to playing live. At first I wanted to change the name to one which would allow me the freedom to play solo, but I also wanted to find a name which I felt better described the direction I had been heading in and DARKHER felt perfect for all of those reasons.
You’re currently backed up by your husband Martin and former My Dying Bride drummer Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels. I was wondering to understand if Martin and Shaun are, in some ways, involved in the whole production or is their effort mainly as live members? Also, how did the collaboration with Shaun start?
It has since grown back into a band format and my husband Martin Wissenberg has become a permanent member of DARKHER and who I collaborate with- he played bass on the EP and for the album he played lead guitar and bass. Even though its my vision and I do the recording, production and mixing he’s been very much involved in the creative process by developing a style of playing (such as bowed guitar and ebow drones) that fits perfectly with what I write and I can foresee his involvement becoming more established for the next chapter. I have a definite idea of how I want the drums to be within each song and i consider that a very important part of the sound.
Previously on the EP and on “Foregone” (Album and EP version) I worked with Christopher Smith who I played with in The Steals for 5 years. I was introduced to Shaun “Winter” Taylor-Steels by Hamish Glencross after the EP had been released, we worked together both live and in the studio, during 2015/16, but have recently begun working with Rick Miah – original My Dying Bride drummer which we are excited to be playing some upcoming shows with. He felt like the perfect addition to the band to incorporate his style with the mood of drumming which works for this music.
I’ve learnt that your father used to perform on the stages back in the 60s. Which role has he played in your musical formation?
My father has been a huge inspiration to me growing up, both my parents have encouraged my passion for creating music for many years, I feel very fortunate to have them.
So, Jayn, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Thank you for your support .