Being touched by death in this way, I felt quite consumed by it
Before Darkher’s recent appearance at The Rainbow in Birmingham (reviewed here) singer Jayn H Wissenberg spoke to Paul Castles about the band’s stunning debut album Realms.
With debut album Realms (reviewed here) being touted by many as one of the year’s standout releases, a forthcoming slot at Saturday’s Damnation Festival and a recent recording session at Maida Vale for the Radio1 Rock Show, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Darkher have really seen the light in recent months. The Yorkshire trio’s hauntingly atmospheric sound, albeit one coated with an all too real undercurrent of death within its midst, has struck a chord with many – as has the band’s mercurial singer Jayn H Wissenberg.
“Realms was a really personal record for me as I was pretty much by myself working on it for months,” says Jayn. “I mixed and produced it during what was an emotionally turbulent time for me. It almost felt like writing a chapter in a book, a chapter in life. It’s like a snapshot of what was going on during those 12 months which was quite a lot of grief and loss, so it was really difficult in that sense. The impact of this also forced me to come to terms with getting older. Being touched by death in this way, I felt quite consumed by it and the realisation that we are all going to die.
“By the end of the process I was not only left quite drained, but the effects of the music and everything going on with the band made me feel quite vulnerable. A song like ‘The Dawn Rings A Saviour’ is so personal to me I almost end up in tears when I sing it. I did fear some may view the album as self-indulgent but the response has been overwhelmingly amazing.”
Although Jayn’s voice is almost scarily fragile, she wanted the contrast that heavy guitars and drums offer compared to her own background which was largely Folk-based. This has been achieved with husband Martin dispensing some shuddering riffs and one-time My Dying Bride drummer Shaun waiting for his moments to crash through the ethereal void.
With a father who performed on stage in the 60s, Jayn grew up in a musical house although her sonic senses were always heightened by the darker exponents of the post punk indie scene.
“I was really into bands like the Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. I’ve always suffered with a bit of a depression and as a teenager was drawn to dark music and the whole theatrical Goth thing. I loved the textures and atmosphere of guitars.
“At one point I was completely absorbed by the Cocteau Twins and I used to re-play their performance of ‘Pink Orange Red’ on The Tube every night after school, Liz had an amazing voice. Now I feel Darkher is part of me and making music has been in my life so long it’s now like breathing to me. It’s something I have to do.”