Exclusive Interview: Sirens Bay talk writing and recording “Heed The Call”!

The second of our creature double feature interviews with Italian multi instrumentalist Alessandro Caberlotto about his atmospheric Black Metal project Sirens Bay goes in deep on the inner workings as we discuss everything from gear to artwork and get the kind of detail that aspiring musicians need as much as fans do for their own passion projects. The debut EP “Heed The Call” is a thing of dark instrumental beauty that is best served in a dark room with entire focus because it has that cinematic quality…

You recorded, mixed and mastered everything on the record in your home studio. How hard was it to be a tough task master and perfectionist in getting to your vision with the recordings without an outside ear to guide you? “It was probably one of the hardest things I ever did. I had a brief experience with home recording, but mixing and mastering was really difficult: I often knew how I wanted something to sound like, but struggled to actually realize my vision. Honestly, listening to the tracks again there’s a lot of things I would change sound wise, but you reach a point where you just need to stop working on a track, otherwise you could really go on forever. The one thing I wanted to convey is that I wanted the EP to sound more like a live performance than a perfectly recorded and produced work, so most of the guitar parts are first takes and I even left some mistakes in”

You played guitar, bass, ukulele and synths alongside programmed drums on the record; did you have to learn any of those specifically for the record? “Not that I’m a good player, but I didn’t learn any instrument specifically for this, I just used what I was comfortable with. I wanted to use ukulele because it’s an instrument that gives me joy every time I pick it up, and its sound was interesting in a metal setting. Programming drums was probably something I needed to learn, and I’m still struggling to write parts that sound good and “human”, hope to get better with time”

How does the writing process of a new Sirens Bay track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? “It really depends. Sometimes it starts with a melody line, sometimes with a chord progression. For Into the Blue Abyss, for example, the starting point was a 7/4 rhythm I found myself tapping on my work desk, and I worked my way up from there. Mostly my tracks start as an image before there’s even one note: I have a picture in my mind that I want to translate to music, then I try to find the best way to do so. I think the creative process is different for everyone, and everyone is inspired by different things”

How did your collaboration with Joel Hedstrom of Sadboi Illustrations for the cover art of “Heed the Call” come about? “I wanted the artwork for my EP to look different than most black metal records, so I started browsing Instagram and stumbled on Joel’s profile. I was absolutely stunned by his style and I instantly knew that was what I was looking for. I contacted him and we started talking about the details, and honesty he was able to produce something that was way better than anything I could envision. Can’t wait to have him working on the next release’s artwork, that’s for sure!”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “I used to be a gear nerd too, but over the years I’ve had to downsize a lot.  My guitar is a Schecter Demon that was gifted to me by my parents almost 15 years ago and she’s been with me ever since. Not the fanciest instrument around, but I love the feel of the neck and she sounds beautiful to me. I use Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings, again, nothing fancy. Not having a proper acoustically treated room meant that I couldn’t record an amp reliably, so I resorted to a VST amp sim. Funnily enough, I tried a couple then settled on Emissary by Ignite, which is free by the way. The magic, though, to achieve a rawer sound, was the IRs by Ugritone. They managed to make the sound come alive and gave it a really raw sound, the “live performance” sound I was looking for. For drums I use Steven Slate Drums 5, a reasonably priced and easy to use option. It comes basically pre-mixed too, which for a mixing and mastering beginner is extremely helpful. I write everything down in Guitar Pro, then import the midi file for the drums into Logic Pro, where I tweak the sounds and mix. I can say I learned a lot by producing this EP!”

What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “This is an unexpected question! As I was younger I wanted to be endorsed by a famous brand, be on posters and whatnot.  Then again, a fancy guitar wouldn’t make me a better musician, so I kind of set my dreams of glory aside. Would be great to be endorsed though, if not for the recognition it entails, being deemed a good enough act to deserve it is something to look up to.”

Heed the Call” by Sirens Bay is out now and available over at bandcamp

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