So far, Melbourne’s Suldusk have already had their fair share of success in the first third of 2019, having supported acts such as Cradle of Filth’s Lindsay Schoolcraft, Zeal & Ardor and Anaal Nathrakh. Simultaneously, Suldusk have just recently released their debut studio full-length “Lunar Falls” and have since earned rave reviews from critics and gained themselves new fans. We spoke with the band’s founder and double-duty musician Emily Highfield all about the process of the record’s production and how she has feeling with the result of the final product.
“I’m very stoked and happy” she begins. “I actually didn’t expect much; I knew that a core group of people liked “Lunar Falls” because it’s very niche, and not for everyone. So it’s quite overwhelming in the best way, because I’m like “Okay, wow! These people are reviewing and sharing it, it’s getting a lot of streams”, so it’s very humbling and exciting. It’s kind of heartening me to keep going with what I’m doing and to make it bigger, take more risks and go forward.”
Highfield’s taste in music and what has continued to influence her over the years remains versatile, and authentic in what she executes in what is formulated in the project of Suldusk. Taking inspiration from bands such as Opeth, to Agalloch and Alcest, Highfield’s implements said groups through her acoustic guitar, which plays as the focal part of Suldusk’s musical nature. Though sub-genres of black metal, prog and post music have all been primary elements to “Lunar Falls”, Highfield states that it was never a conscious decision to blend them all together. At the same time, one of her main concerns when putting “Lunar Falls” together was to capture that same feeling she felt when composing the tracks prior to the studio production.
“I had ideas of what I wanted, so I had the bones of the song – which meant the progression, the arrangement, the notes and the chords. But then I demoed the frequencies that I wanted with the electrics and the bass. So I did just really rough demos with the other instruments. But really, it was about going in there and working with Mark Kelson, the producer and really nutting out the fine details of guitar tones. For some of the tracks, I knew I wanted distorted guitars and I also wanted them to be white-noisy and quite low in the mix, so it wasn’t a real in-your-face distortion, because it’s more atmospheric. So the concepts were there, but the execution was actually in the studio, so it was trial and error sometimes.”
When it came down to the overall sound in what she aimed to achieve, Highfield states that she wanted to use the same abrasiveness that you would get in a black metal record, but also feel so assertive when you listen to the product. The improvisation of her fellow session musicians were also in chorus to what she wanted in the compositions during their time in the studio.
“What we were trying to do was to get clarity in some instruments; they were all really in-your-face, as were the vocals. It took me a while to get used to that, because it was more of a mixing kind of decision. But we tracked quite a few guitars and some of the guitar lines were more distinct, and then we would bring out the cello in certain sections. It was a lot of fun putting it together because the concepts were there, and then to actually go in there and give the session musicians a brief, and give them freedom in their space. I think it’s a lot of fun for musicians to improvise a little bit and put some of themselves into it as well, and I really wanted them to do that.”
When discussing the details of what kind of story “Lunar Falls” was being addressed in the perspective of Highfield, she states that she wasn’t entirely conscious of what the lyrics were talking about at the time of when all songs were being put together. After a few listens back and forth, Highfield then came to the conclusion that “Lunar Falls” has been dealing with the environment around us and every form of nature on Earth. That being said, she then describes that spiritual energy she feels from within comes directly from her surroundings and the serenity that she captures from it.
“It was more about a certain feeling that they each had; they were all cohesive, but different and before we released Lunar Falls, I looked back at it by listening to it in my car, and would think “Wow, there’s definitely a common theme”, and that theme is nature – human nature and literal nature, and how they’re interlinked, and how one is very connected to the other and really should be connected. It’s a little bit of a contemplative album. There’s a lot of introspection and metaphors about nature, because I get a lot of inspiration from nature, because it’s always there, and when things seem overwhelming, I go to that church – and my church is music and nature, which is a form of spirituality, because you’re connecting with some source of energy. Connecting with nature is that for me, and it allows me to put things into perspective, and to understand the transience of everything. As human beings and with the human condition that we have, a lot of issues can be overwhelming – we are very prone to anxiety and stress, and you can reflect on those things in a different way by being immersed in nature.”
Buy ‘Lunar Falls’ HERE!