In 2016, Oakland’s vibrant music landscape saw the emergence of Silence In The Snow, a band that weaves a blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and darkwave into a unique aural oeuvre. Their self-released album, “Break In The Skin,” captivated the grassroots music scene, earning widespread acclaim for its organic buzz. The band’s soul was in Cyn M’s ethereal vocals and haunting guitar melodies, creating an immersive, emotionally rich soundscape, while Trevor DeSchryver’s dynamic drumming, honed from stints with notable acts like Wolves In The Throne Room and Deafheaven, added a vital rhythmic foundation. This artistic synergy not only defined their sound but also marked them as a standout act in the alternative music world, showcasing the transformative power of genre fusion and passionate collaboration.
In 2019, Silence in the Snow returned with their sophomore album, “Levitation Chamber,” a daring testament to their evolving artistic journey. Embracing experimentation with open arms, the band pushed the limits of their sound, signaling their venture into uncharted territories of creative phantasmagoria. This album was a hint towards a spiraling path through a kaleidoscopic landscape of imagination and innovation that Silence in the Snow had bravely embarked upon.
Now, the band returns with their highly anticipated third album, Ghost Eyes. This release represents a pivotal moment in their artistic journey, a defining work that serves as the fertile ground from which Silence In The Snow will ascend to new emotional echelons.
Watch the video for the album’s title track, “Ghost Eyes” below:
Ghost Eyes exhibits a profound musical maturity and wisdom. Within its dreamy, immersive compositions, one can discern a well-defined artistic identity that occupies a unique stylistic space. This space deftly straddles the realms of dark wave, post-punk, and alternative rock, carving out a niche where Silence In The Snow’s sonic expressions flourish and resonate with their audience. We hear elements of Zola Jesus, Swans, and Drab Majesty in their sound, capturing a spiritual and temporal awakening that occurs as a result of challenges, obstacles, and trauma.
Post-Punk.com was interested in knowing more about their artistic process, influences, and insights into their songwriting process.
Silence in the Snow melds darkwave and post-punk with a clear emotional intelligence. How do you balance these genres and the themes you explore to create your distinct sound?
(Cyn) Thank you! It’s not a conscious effort to balance them, but more of a reflection of what we enjoy hearing in the sounds and songs we create, combined with the myriad of influences that seep into our musical vocabulary. This is a process that is constantly evolving for us as we also explore new ways of writing and recording music.
(Trevor) One of the key characteristics of our sound is the hybrid approach of organic and synthetic sounds. Most darkwave bands are more electronic, but our songwriting process starts with acoustic drums and guitar, bringing the post-punk liveliness. The synthesizers are incorporated after the songs have been written.
Relocating from Oakland to Arcata has seemingly influenced your sound on Ghost Eyes. Could you elaborate on how your environment has seeped into your music?
(Cyn) Our environment has absolutely impacted the music we create! Not only have we had more personal and physical space to work on music, but the natural beauty of this area, in stark contrast to the urban landscape of Oakland, has provided a means to feel more relaxed, focused, and motivated to create. There’s a spiritual feeling here, being amongst these amazing Redwoods and the wildlife directly in our midst! It provoked a lot of reframing in terms of daily existence, as well as the fragility of everything!
(Trevor) There really is something other-worldy about our surroundings now. The majestic beauty and surreal elements of living in the woods have seeped into the sonic landscapes of the new album, evoking a stillness and tranquility that has helped us reach deeper within ourselves in order to create.
How have your musical influences shaped your creative process?
(Cyn) As musicians, and fans of music, Trevor and I came from different musical orientations, as far as the styles of music we were creating before we met. Clearly we intersect on common interests that brought us together, but we continue to influence each other as we explore our individual and shared interests. Personally, being an intense fan of music motivated me to want to learn to sing, play guitar, and write songs, and continues to be a big part of my life. These influences shaped my understanding of what sounds I enjoyed hearing, what emotions drew me into a song, and how I define what a song is and should be. They are the foundation I have been able to find my own way from.
(Trevor) When I first joined Silence in the Snow, coming from a doom and black metal background, I had to take on a more minimalistic approach to drumming. In order to better serve the songs and reflect musical influences that inspired me to play this type of music (such as Kate Bush, Joy Division, or Dead Can Dance) the drums were stripped down and I began using mallets. This caused a dramatic shift in my set-up as well as my mindset about playing.
The interplay between Cyn M’s instrumentation and Trevor DeSchryver’s drumming is lauded as ‘pure musical magic.’ How do you two work together to create this synergy?
(Cyn) I think our musical synergy is a product of the mysterious “chemistry” factor. You can get into a room with a very capable musician and find not much happens between you. We had a musical spark from the beginning that led to our collaboration. The bottom line is that when we are playing together, whether it be a show or in the practice room, that spark of our combined energy emerges and becomes a force that brings us joy.
(Trevor) The main force behind the synergy is of course the natural chemistry, compatibility, and the desire to explore deep underlying thoughts or feelings, to create truly cathartic music.
You have been described as capturing a spiritual and temporal awakening through your music. Can you discuss the thematic elements of “Ghost Eyes” that contribute to this narrative?
(Cyn) There’s a theme of blooming and withering, whether it be in life, in love, or in one’s spiritual connection to it all in the face of how fleeting it can be and ultimately is. We all struggle with this in our lives, the ebb and flow of creation and destruction, life and death, integration and disintegration. While our individual experiences with this are unique, we are all reflections of the cycle of nature on this plane. The creative process reveals this theme in the end, after the songs are written and the pattern emerges.
(Trevor) Embracing impermanence, recovering and learning from past failures, as well as pursuing positive changes within our lives in order to grow, have all been contributing factors to the themes on the album.
How has your approach to songwriting and arrangement evolved over the course of your three albums?
(Cyn) We have expanded the palette we work with, in terms of arrangement and instrumentation with each record. I started with a very minimal sound on the first album, intentionally, but after Trevor joined we wanted to expand on that. While our second album was a move in that direction, we really feel we were able to realize our ideas with the Ghost Eyes album. We have opened up our process as we learned more effective ways to record and demo our ideas, as opposed to just working on a live set and then trying to take that into the studio. As we move forward, we are both very open to new ideas and sounds; in the end it’s about serving the songs and working with like-minded collaborators.
(Trevor) The first album, Break In The Skin, consisted of only a drum machine, a vintage organ, a semi-hollowbody guitar, and Cyn’s vocals. After I heard the album, I wrote to the band and asked if they would be interested in incorporating live drums into the sound. Eventually we went on to make Levitation Chamber, which had longer songs with more improvisation. By the time of Ghost Eyes, we had refined our approach to songwriting, with a goal in mind of having more cohesive and concise song structures.
What new territories or themes are you looking to explore in your future work?
(Trevor) We have discussed the idea of diving deeper into the electronic side of the music, by using a synthesizer as the starting point to the songwriting, rather than adding it later. We have begun experimenting with this idea, but the demos are still in the very early stages.
(Trevor) We’ve also put together a home studio in order to handle the recording process of our future releases. Having this ability is liberating because it allows us to solidify our ideas and experiment without any pressure. “Let The Wild In” was the last song we made for Ghost Eyes, and was the first song we recorded on our own, before sending it to the producer, Alex DeGroot.
How has your vision for Silence in the Snow changed, if at all, from when you first started?
(Cyn) Initially, I wanted it to be a big wide-open sound with minimal instrumentation. I wanted to explore a dark emotional terrain. I was feeling inspired by artists like Nico and Julee Cruise (Twin Peaks). Once Trevor joined, playing live with a powerful drummer was very energizing and inspiring. It took things to a different level of intensity that elevated the whole sound. This opened up all kinds of possibilities for where we could go with this band’s sound.
“Ghost Eyes” has been described as a product of overcoming challenges and trauma. Could you speak to how these personal struggles have fueled your creative output?
(Cyn) The creative process has always been a way for me to make sense of what I’m experiencing in my life. Picking up an instrument and singing is a relief from not only the mundane aspects of life, but also the painful ones. When I’m experiencing challenges, creativity is a means for me to escape that pain. I don’t consciously try to process what I’m going through, but in the end the sounds and words speak to it for me. It’s like doing a tarot reading or analyzing a dream you had, and making sense of what your subconscious is revealing to you.
Silence in the Snow’s full-length album “Ghost Eyes” is available now on white/black vinyl and CD.
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