A Q&A with Bleeding Raven
Dark industrial-ambient mash-up from Canada – ain’t no “bangin’ in the back of Buicks”. Here’s Dean Mason of Bleeding Raven…
How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
Great question and thanks for asking. So, ‘VERRTRANDT’ is a true story about a suicidal gay man who reaches out by calling a help line and he got an evangelical-type woman on the line who more or less told him he was doomed unless he stopped being who he was. Imagine? A young suicidal gay person is told, more or less, that he is ‘subhuman’ and ‘full of sin’ until he “goes straight”. The ignorance of these religious zealots is not only stupid and unenlightened but dangerous. I chose the name “Verrtrandt” because I originally wanted to call it “Bertrand”, but that is a common name in the French speaking world, so I thought it best to avoid any issues and just came up with that name.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
Ok, so first of all, I lost COMPLETELY and TOTALLY the hearing in my left ear. It’s gone, save for enough nerve activity to create unbearable tinnitus which is awful… brutal actually. The other ear is quite compromised. I am more or less deaf. The right ear does function enough for hearing speech with a hearing aid but even then, in crowds especially, I don’t hear a blessed thing. So, more or less, I’ve packed it in with regards to recording, but I needed to do a few more projects, some of which were already in ‘demo’ stage from before the hearing loss. So, when I recorded ‘VERRTRANDT’, I had a bitch of a time getting the mix right because I have to more or less ‘guess’ in some ways and base it all on what I can hear in the right ear. I had the song all done and recorded and released on iTunes and, when I first listened to it in the SUV, I just couldn’t live with it. I had to pull the song from circulation and start all over. But, I have to say I’m glad because I got some new ideas and I added this sort of ‘chant’ thing which, to me, makes the song so powerful.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
I hope the ‘listener’ can appreciate that there are other types of music than pop or whatever is on TikTok these days. It’s unusual music and even bizarre. I hope they can appreciate it as ‘art’ as opposed to someone attempting to “make it”.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I usually set out to record with a general idea of what kind of track I want to do. Then, I start messing around with different beats/drum parts or synth lines or atmospheres or bass riffs – it all depends. Then, I start to build a track and I allow it to take on a life of its own – sort of like how a First Nations wood carver allows the wood to “speak to them” – and follow through. Sounds strange, but it works. Then, I usually add good and raunchy guitar or synth riffs or strings and then strange FX and so on. Sometimes, a track has a clear ‘chorus’ and other times not. I don’t always write songs that have a chorus because that’s a bit too ‘pop’ for me. I like more experimental. I like that feeling of “where the hell is this going now?” and then surprising the listener. When I have a basic ‘demo’ finished, I then write the lyrics and record the vocals. I decide what style I want to use. Then the worst part… mixing. It’s such a pain in the ass to get the vocals mixed in right so that they’re not too pronounced – or too faint. It has to be just right. Then, I usually finish off with adding some FX or, at times, wild percussion sounds or whatever. Sometimes I get to a complete track and I’m like, “nope… that’s no good”. And it gets trashed.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Influences and ‘inspirations’: I like to distinguish between the two. So, in my early years as a lad, Gary Numan was probably the person who first got me thinking about music as a pursuit. I mean, I was a KISS fanatic before then, and still like KISS, but it was Gary Numan that awoke in me that deep desire. So, Numan is both an inspiration and, to some degree, an influence. Other bands that I admire and inspire me or influence me are Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Japan (David Sylvian) Zardonic, Global Citizen, Die Sektor, Skinny Puppy, Psyclon Nine, Fear Incorporated and also Pandemonium Bureau, CRIX IIIX, Korn, DIO, Ministry – the list is endless. One final note or two on this: The Doors… that’s the band that will always be, for me, the absolute best. Them and Gary Numan.
Now, related to Gary Numan, his bass player, Tim Muddiman has ventured into doing abstract art/painting and THAT inspires me to no end because he has decided to not allow himself to be boxed in, but more importantly, he pursues what we call “art” as opposed to that shallow dream of becoming a ‘pop star’. Today, we need true artists, and we need less narcissists looking to be worshipped. I mention all of this within the context of an interview relating to music because, for me, there is something critical about going back to the notion of art and this guy has done that and he deserves a lot of credit. Also, I need to mention a filmmaker/artist that for me is a pioneer. Bruce LaBruce has been almost ‘punk rock’ in his approach to art/filmmaking and writing. Many of his works investigate subject matters that make people question the status quo. He is well known not only within the LGBTQ community but in the wider community of art and entertainment. I just admire people who are able to think outside of the box. THAT’S what art should be about. Pop music often isn’t art, it’s just capitalist bonbons.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Well, since we have already talked about ‘VERRTRANDT’ at length, let’s give this a try — ‘MORPHINE FASCIST’ This is more ‘dark tech’ I think, but it’s a powerful song from the ‘Blood of Innocents’ EP.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
I only want to promote what I have now with Bleeding Raven and Gnostic Gorilla and there is a LOT. (Gnostic Gorilla is my other project).
Finally, as you leave us, what are your parting words?
I have to say, I enjoyed your questions. They are well thought out. But as for ‘parting words’? We are on deep sh*t right now. The human race that is. There’s so much hatred in the world and division and we are going backwards as far as human rights are concerned. Well, some want to go backwards. Why do people have to go back out, YET AGAIN, to fight on the streets in protests for their rights, when those rights are inherent to begin with? I may sound like a hippie, but we need to get back to the notion of love. To the religious bigots out there who hate everyone not of their tribe or mindset, what the f**k happened to “God is Love”? Like Jim Morrison said—we need to WAKE UP!
For more info visit: facebook.com/bleedingravenofficial