Being one of the best releases of the last year, it was impossible to us not to take a deeper look into “Part Of This World, Part Of Another” and Terra Deep. Here’s what Matthew Edwards has told us about his project.
Hi Matthew and welcome to Hypnos Webzine! Before talking about your last album, I would like to go back to the days when you started the band. Why did you feel the need to create this project and what were your expectations back then? Is there a particular reason under the choice of the monicker Terra Deep?
Matthew Edwards: I was seventeen when I started Terra Deep. The monicker didn’t have any particular meaning, but I liked the sound of it and how it looked written out. I did not really know what it would be, I just knew I wanted to make music that painted the pictures in my head. I loved those albums that you could really get lost in, that felt like a journey and that could vividly invoke the imagination. I liked music that could really make me feel, and I wanted to make music that could do that for others. If someone could listen to a song I’d made and even for a moment feel how I did when I wrote it, that would be the pinnacle for me. I had no expectations at all when I started recording. I did a two tracks demo in a friends shed of songs I’d written a couple days prior. It was awful, and thankfully only a small handful ever heard it, but I knew that this was how I could speak. Making music was my therapy, and just like I changed, Terra Deep would as well.
As I’ve written in the review, the new album marks a sort of breaking point in your discography, though it gives the same deep emotions of your previous works, just in a different way. How does it compare with your earlier releases, in particular with the wonderful “Inamorata”? Moreover, which are the bands and records that have been essential for the evolution of your music?
Matthew Edwards: This release is definitely more eclectic. I drew from a wider range of influences, and I intended for it to convey a wider range of emotion. “Inamorata”, on the other hand, was very focused. I had a very specific concept and all the music was very tied to that almost singular feeling I wanted to get across, and in that case it seemed to work. For “Part Of This World, Part Of Another”, I had a concept in mind, but it was far more tenebrous so I felt that a more diverse range or sounds could be applied to get what I wanted. My entire career has been pretty heavily influenced by Opeth. I got a copy of “Blackwater Park” a few months before I started Terra Deep, so their impact on me has been huge not only musically, but also ideologically. I love their willingness to throw very disparate sounds into a single track and pull it off so seamlessly. Devin Townsend is another artist whose ability to basically do whatever he wants and make it work was very inspiring. Immediate influences on the album were also things like Enslaved‘s “Axioma Ethica Odini”, and Exhausted Prayer‘s “Worst of All Possible Worlds”. I’m sure there were more, but I was listening to those pretty heavily at the time.
Speaking in detail, “Part Of This World, Part Of Another” can be labeled as Black Metal only for simplicity’s sake. It must be quite satisfying to create something that people can hardly define, but at the same time are you worried that the lack of an easily classifiable label for what you’ve done may turn off more people than it may attract? If you have to, how would you describe it?
Matthew Edwards: It feels good to have made something that’s difficult to categorize. Knowing you’ve made something that’s not an obviously derivative work is very vindicating for me. If I have to describe it, I usually say Progressive Black Metal, although the last album does as you mentioned test the limits of the “Black” definition. The music has and will change, but I think it will always have it’s core in Black Metal. I could certainly be wrong though. As far as turning people off, I’m almost certain I lost some fans I may have gained after “Inamorata”, but that’s how it goes. I could rehash it a thousand times, but it wouldn’t be real. That album came from a very specific time in my life, and I can’t truthfully tap into that again. I feel there are two extremes in Metal fans: those who prefer the paragons of a particular sound (the blackest Black Metal, the thrashiest Thrash, etc.) who embodys the essence of the genre, and those who search for the outliers. These people want to hear sounds they’ve never heard before. I’m firmly in that second group, so when I’m making music I always try to create those new blends of sounds that I would hope to stumble upon myself. I’m incredibly grateful for every single fan and every person who has supported Terra Deep over these years, but at the end of it all I do this for me. Terra Deep is pure catharsis and, if I made myself beholden to the expectations of others, it all falls apart.
When you started working on the new album, were there any ambitions or goals to head towards? Since it is, as said, a very heterogeneous work, which song do you think can describe the essence of Terra Deep at its best? Are you satisfied with the final result and how the album has been hailed?
Matthew Edwards: When I started work on “Part Of This World, Part Of Another”, all I knew for sure was that I wasn’t going to make “Inamorata 2”. I wanted something more broad in scope, and molded by an image that left the woods-and-fog aesthetic behind. “The Navigator” is for me the best vessel of that essence on the album. It most closely resembles the feeling I had in my head for the album, and was in my opinion the most well executed track. I’m very happy with how the album turned out as a whole, as each track really supports the others in a cohesive way. The response this album has gotten, or that it got any response at all, has been incredible for me. Anything above the release going entirely unnoticed I consider a great victory. I was worried it would come off as a disjointed mess, but a lot of people seemed to get what I had in mind, and I am inceridbly grateful to all the people who took the time to listen to and support it. Signing with Dusktone Records certainly helped, and I’m humbled that they took a chance on me. They got the album to the widest audience I’ve ever had.
I think that “Part Of This World, Part Of Another” can be seen as a symbolic title. I mean, which are the worlds you are referring to? Is the artwork somehow related to them and what’s the meaning behind it?
Matthew Edwards: I find myself nostalgic for times that never were and places that never really existed. Looking forward or backward, it’s quite easy to look through an idealized lens and see something greater overlayed on our world. These places seem so tangible and so possible, almost as if through willpower we could have made them real. The worlds in the album are our own, and that hazy afterglow of the one that could be or have been, so close but impossible to reach. The artwork I think represents that quite well. When I first saw the image, I spent some minutes looking at it wondering if it had been photoshopped. It looked possible, but it almost felt alien as if it came from someone’s imagination, or a time that never was.
As for the lyrics, which are the themes you like the most and where does their inspiration come from? How important are they in the structure of your works? Is there a concept or a philosophy that underpins the album, or at least the suite “Et Lux In Tenebris Lucet”?
Matthew Edwards: Lyrically, I start with a key feeling or an idea and build up from there. Sometimes it manifests as a cohesive story, and other times a more general lyric. I spend most of the time trying to find the words or phrases that are most evocative of the spirit of the song, as I want to paint an emotional picture even if I have to forego a better visual one. “Et Lux In Tenebris Lucet” is a concept story set within the general realm of the rest of the album. It speaks about a man who turns to light and travels through time to the end of humanity before flying into a black hole. I know it sounds like a stoners fever dream, but it’s about the journey, and in the context of the music it works. The rest of the album is more general. It plays with that feeling of nostalgia for something that cannot be, and in this again “The Navigator” sums it up the best: “The only thing I truly want is something I can never find.”
Terra Deep is just one of the many bands you are involved in. How do you manage to handle all of them and where do you find the inspiration for such a great number of projects?
Matthew Edwards: Most of my “bands” are just glorified solo projects which come about when I want to explore a genre or style that is just too at odds with the purpose of Terra Deep. That includes things like Kingdom of the Sun, Warlok, and Amzamiviram. My songwriting seems to come and go in phases, and if those phases don’t align with what I’m doing with Terra Deep, I work on one of these other projects. Terra Deep is my primary focus, but I take the other projects very seriously even if they progress at a much slower rate. Outside of these solo projects, I play bass in a traditional band, an old school heavy metal group called Sanctifyre. It scratches the live show itch in a good way.
Speaking about this, since Terra Deep is a one man band, have you ever thought about recruiting someone to have some live gigs? Do you think your songs would lose some of their atmospheres in this context?
Matthew Edwards: Yes, I do plan on playing live at some point, but I’m certainly not in a hurry. Traditional bands usually have to keep live performances in mind when composing their music, and so have to pass up ideas that would be difficult or impossible to play live. Although almost all of the current Terra Deep music can be played live, I like having the freedom to create sounds without worrying about how to replicate them on stage. If I want six different guitar parts and blastbeats at 600 BPM, I can do that (not that I plan on it, but you get the idea). In a live set I don’t think any of the songs would lose their atmosphere entirely, but it would definitely be different. When I write an album, I try to make each one have a very unique feel, and the atmosphere of each song relies on its context within the album. My real worry would be a live performance sounding disjointed or incoherent if I was using songs from across my discography. I’ve put a lot of thought into the best way to make it work, and it is defintely do-able, but not something I take lightly.
As for your future proposals, have you already planned or written anything new? Where do you see Terra Deep heading during the future?
Matthew Edwards: I have almost finished the next album, “Transparagon”, and I have already started working on the album after that. The next album will be far and away the heaviest I’ve done, but after that it can really go anywhere. I don’t think any album can be a good predictor of the next one, as I always want to do something new on each release. To be honest, I don’t even really know where Terra Deep is headed. I have a lot of sounds in mind I want to explore, but it’s completely up in the air as to how they will manifest in the music. I don’t know what it will be, but it will definitely be different.
That was the last question, thanks for your time. Last words are yours.
Matthew Edwards: Thanks to everyone who has supported this endeavor. Hopefully you all will connect with what’s coming as you have with what came before.