By Gabriella-Elise Monaghan
Ahead of their show at the Bullingdon TONIGHT, we asked psych-veterans THE CULT OF DOM KELLER about their experience with independent labels, their fascination with cults and their trippy soundscapes.
Firstly, for those who are new to THE CULT OF DOM KELLER, how would you describe your sound?
Mind manifesting k-hole gospels.
There is a trippy and cult-ish vibe to your songs and obviously in your band name. How did this come about?
We’re a group of outsiders and in our early days we used to rehearse in a Church Cellar, and so from day one it has almost felt like a secret sect gathering from the outside world to make sonic mass.
How has being signed to independent labels helped your music? Do you find that there is a more genuine interest and belief in your music that you wouldn’t get with a major label?
We’re in total control of our art and fortunately we have labels behind us who support us and our music, and want to get it out there to the genuine fans. There’s no bullshit. No agendas. It’s all about the music. We have an incredible fanbase in the UK, Europe and the USA which we have build up on a totally DIY level and even though it has been (and still is) hard work it is ultimately totally fulfilling knowing that we have never compromised ourselves and continue to make the records that we want to create. Fuzz Club have a real attentiveness to the detail that we love. Their end product always feels personal and tailor-made for the music within, which in turn adds new dimensions to the experience of listening
Your Bandcamp page refers to you as “sonic alchemists.” How does the writing process transition into a live setting?
When you have the perfect combination of four ‘brothers’ pulling in the same direction then everyone is focused and committed to bringing the songs alive when we play in front of an audience. As for song-writing, some tracks come from certain individual demos or a jam but the most important process is then developing these themes and demos, and sometimes this may take a track to a completely different place.I think the new album is a great example of this. For example, the track The Deepest Pit of Emptiness started off as an acoustic Beatles-eque idea, and over time metamorphosed into an ambient, Bowie Low era-esque electronic track. When it comes to the songs there are no rules. In the earlier days we were very rooted in psychedelic guitars and drones, but we have evolved as songwriters and sonically, using samples, electronics and keys to embellish and push the sound even further.
Your recorded material incorporates a lot of layers, especially vocally. How is this recreated when you play live?
The biggest weapon in the CODK live sound these days is our sound engineer Andy. He knows the songs, loves our sound and understands how we want to sound live. We manipulate our effects pedals as if they were another instrument to create the layers and dynamics that are essential to our recorded output.
Do you think that there are elements of the sounds you create that are exclusive to your live show?
The moment that never lingers. I think that the plethora of dynamics we use and our emphasis on the songwriting makes us stand out alone in whatever pigeonhole that people seem to place us in. To touch on the aforementioned electronics and samples side of things, I think this definitely adds another dimension to messing with the usual “psychedelic” band-template.
Is there a lot of room for improvised jamming in your live show?
There are particular tracks which allow freedom to go off on a tangent. The outro of Worlds for example, once the groove is locked we could play that ‘til the end of time.
One of my favourite songs is This is How it Feels to Live Your Life Dead, the layers of vocals and guitars are stunning. What was the inspiration behind this song?
‘This is how it feels to live my life dead’ was a demo I (Ryan) wrote about how disconnected we have become from each other. It’s song about feeling disassociated from the human race. Life can be the biggest trigger.
You’re releasing a new album, Goodbye to the Light in July. What can fans and new listeners alike expect from it?
From start to finish, Goodbye to the Light is an epileptic, eclectic, experimental journey.
What can an unsuspecting Oxford audience expect from your live show?
Intense dreams and nightmares combined. Be prepared to be sucked into the sonic vortex. You may never be the same again…
THE CULT OF DOM KELLER are currently on their UK summer tour and are playing at the Bullingdon, Oxford TONIGHT. It’ll be a sonic experience to remember, and a cult you definitely should consider joining.