OCEANS OF SLUMBER – An Interview with Cammie Gilbert

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Interview by Miriam Cadoni

They say that there’s always a first time in everything, in this case, it’s the aptly saying for this situation. I was feeling a bit intimidated for this interview because discussing about social matters can be a slippery road to walk. On first instance, Oceans of Slumber‘s singer Cammie Gilbert has been always vocal about her music and how these current historical events are reflecting on her persona. On the occasion of the band’s upcoming self-titled album, I caught up with Cammie for an interesting exchange of ideas. Enjoy!

Hi Cammie, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how these precarious times are treating you?

I’m doing well. I’m taking in it easy and despite the situation, we are doing well.

Let’s start with order, on the 4th September will be released the third and self-titled full-lenght by Oceans of Slumber. What would you like to share about its general production?

We’re very excited about it. Our new album will introduce our new line up and its creative power behind it. It’s a step forward to a more fast paced direction.

It has quite the bombastic and dynamic sounds that were attempting to express. We were definitely striving to incorporate a vibe that could pull everybody in. We added that little more of energy and a little more external experiences.

I remember that the previous release dates back to two years ago. However, if I ask you to approximately pinpoint the period on when you started to collect the first ideas, what can you recall about it?

Well, we started to work on this album 6 months ago. Obviously, after the old members left, there was some down time. We tried to figure what we wanted to do and in which direction we wanted to go. Then, we decided to stay with it, to continue with the band and we found and we are found by our new and current members.

Besides that, the rest of the band was already working on new songs. Finally, after we have reformed to be together with the new guys, we went tackling then with the sole purpose to add some different embellishments.

Subsequently, I worked on the lyrics and figure out their structure. In the end, it was a tricky and turbulent time because we needed to figure out everything. Luckily, we got through and we are happy with the product that it came out.

“Oceans of Slumber” represents the redefinition of new era for the band. If compared to “The Banished Heart”, which are the main peculiarities that can you notice?

Well, “The Banished Heart” was really dark and doom because we were working through on expressing a lot of internal traumas and experiences. Practically, what the new album does is pull together all these pieces.

The songs that are featured on “Oceans of Slumber” are much more fast-paced and heavier. In some ways, we have focused ourselves on sounding slightly more singular and on its dynamics.

Photo by Taylee Photography

Out of “Oceans of Slumber”, it was published the single “A Return to the Earth Below” which it’s followed by its own amazing videoclip. Before speaking about the visuals, I would like to focus on the lyrical aspect of it. What can you share about it?

So, when I wrote that song I remember I was particularly having a bad day. I struggle with depression. I had actually finished to read a book called “The Bel Jar” and it reminded me about these things I can relate to pretty heavily. It’s about this cycle of depression in where these negative behaviors keep repeating throughout time. 

You feel like you are getting away from it, you feel like you are doing better and then, they show up again. They are triggered by something and you spiraling back down into this depression. So, that was the internal and personal experience that I want to broaden. Also, it’s something to which many people can relate to and it’s something that can be applied to the vital issues of a societal system.

This one acts like a personal issue on a bigger scale for multiple people adducing different characteristics. Lately, “A Return to the Earth Below” deals directly with the issues that we have that keep returning because any definitive solution isn’t provided.

You have mentioned these societal issue and I really love the videoclip. I was impressed by the striking use of reds and greens and by its powerful and tangible sense of suffering. I was wondering to learn in which way the video relates to the general old of the lyrics? Additionally, how was for your working in a such structured video?

Actually, I think your interpretation is accurate. Our intent was to show the journey of a person (in this case, me) running away from these issue. It completely represents a state of denial in which you are running from yourself and not acknowledging it.

In this case, the scenes in which I’m driving, they are a metaphor for showing that I’m avoiding to face my issues and consequently, I’m running away. Instead, the underwater part stands for falling into your subconscious, the void within you where these issues are surrounding you and telling you to give up.

Mostly, you have two choices: fight and so, swim back to the surface or just give up. In the end, if you carefully watch it, it refers to the entire cycle.

The final and third element that I notice in Oceans of Slumber‘s cover artwork style. If “The Banished Heart” was a simple black artwork with accompanied by a photograph, this time it appears to be more detailed and it feature a different approach. Do you mind recall us who’s the author and in your opinion, from what stems its general meaning?

The artist Giannis Nakos, who is the creator of the artwork, has been a friend of the band for a long time and he has designed several shirts for us. So, we have been excited on having on board for this project too and let us approach this new style of art.

At the time, we sent him the album and what you see, it’s merely his interpretation of it. His outcome is so mesmerizing. In the artwork, it depicted a sea witch where she seems to encompass time, space and life itself. Then, you have this entity representing a human or a mortal which he’s after the quest to approach her (the sea witch).

Whoever this entity embeds a lot of layers and stories into it. The strange fact is that we didn’t give to Giannis any detailed storyline to illustrate and in return, he didn’t give us any breakdown on it. So, everything is open for interpretation but I feel like its dynamicity embodies all the realities of the songs that go with the album.

I find a bit difficult to approach this topic but I know you are really vocal the current historical period that it’s happening in the US. So, if you don’t mind my straightforwardness, I would like to ask you how the protests in support of the Black Lives Matter has personally impacted you and in prospective, as being a Black frontwoman of a metal band?

These days, it has been really difficult. The thing is, I’ve learn more about Black history during this period than before. We see these things happening, we feel all these instances of violence and confrontations. Then you look it back to the history of men and from where everything generated until our present days.

The final scenario that plays in front of you is solely one: obviously, there are some turbulent changes and things just don’t go away overnight. They just don’t get fixed by a law straightaway. First of all, it’s the sentiment of the people that matters because they maintain these walls and ideologies then follow.

Also, they come with prospective and yet again, we are dealing with an insidious monster of showing yourself. Once, it’s out we can pinpoint how we got there and then, we move for fixing it. Consider also that our communities have been always exploited and attached, but it’s incredibly depressing and heartbreaking because for every story that happened 20 years ago, it looks like happened 20 minutes ago.

Also, it can be a lot to emotionally digest all the time. However, I’m pro for the protest, I’m pro the majority of ways people are trying to gathering attention and momentum for their causes. Mostly, these things are a product of the societies and people around them.

Due to this reason, sometimes what can take place is a wrong reaction. Sometimes how we would like to respond, it doesn’t happen. However, it motivates change. It’s what it’s.

I really appreciated that Arjen Lucassen chose you as one of the lead roles in the upcoming Ayreon‘s album “Transitus”. Please indulge me, but I’m really curious to know how Arjen contacted you and how this collaboration started? Also, which are the memories that you cherish the most related to this experience?

It’s a big privilege and I’m really excited to be present on his new album. A couple of years ago, our manager had an interview with Arjen and since his close relationship with him, he asked us if we wanted to relate to him. After all, me and Dobber [Beverly] are huge fans of his work. What followed next is that he delivered our message (and adoration) by asking him if there was the possibility to collaborate with him.

Subsequently, few months later, he wrote back by saying that he enjoyed a lot our last record “The Banished Heart”, in particular the self-titled song. What followed next was his offer in partecipate in the following record. I was super excited about it.

Then, he sent me over some songs and parts for learn them and make them mine. I had the chance to also meet him and he’s really nice and incredibly easy to work with. He knows exactly what he wants and also, he knows your voice to the point that he can guide you where he wants.

Vocally speaking, he knows your limits. At the end, it was really difficult to keep up with this secret. I have to admit that when the announcements started, I felt liberated.

Even though, I’m sure that everything at the moment is blocked due to the pandemic. However, as for now, which are the band’s plans in terms of promotion?

Unfortunately, we’re quite harshly in it. Due to the situation, we will plan some virtual shows. Back in October, November we had some certainty that a tour would had happen but that, totally went out of the window too. At this point, we’ll try to get what we can with some real-time engagement.

In this moment, we are working out on the production in order to have a good product. Of course, it’s gonna be a nice experience but it’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to do it live anytime soon.

So, Cammie, with this I have concluded my interview. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you so much for this interview.

Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure to talk with you and I would like to say everyone out there to stay safe because we are in all this together. I miss everyone very much and we are working on how to engage and speak with everyone out there.

Of course, our internet doors are always open, so, please be free to hit us up and feel free to ask us questions. We are trying to keep up-to-date everybody but at the same time we hope that wherever you are, you are finding ways to stay positive and safe.

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