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SONG PREMIERE + INTERVIEW: U.S. Atmospheric Black Metal Band Feign

Feign- Atlas

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in bands from the U.S. playing atmospheric black metal.  Each one has taken a fairly different approach, but the best have been able to weave stunning atmospherics alongside a harsher, icy base.  Feign is one of the newest acts to join this growing sub-genre, and is the work of instrumentalist/vocalist Jacob Lizotte.  Originally releasing music under his own name, Lizotte started Feign last year and put out two demos, the second of which came out via Into the Night Records.  Now the time has come for the project to showcase everything it’s capable of on its debut full length ‘Atlas’, due out on July 29th .  Once again coming courtesy of Into the Night Records, today we’re excited to have the chance to premiere the song …A Visitor to give you a taste of how stunning ‘Atlas’ is.

…A Visitor is the third song on the album, and if you couldn’t tell from the album title or artwork this is atmospheric black metal that looks to the stars for inspiration.  Spread over five and a half minutes, the instrumentals start off with a softer dreamy melody that expands outwards to create more and more layers.  It’s not a drastically different approach from what a lot of other bands of this type have done with their songwriting, but Lizotte pulls it off perfectly here as the soaring melodies around the halfway point are up there with some of the best.  The leads have that icier, spacey feel to them that sound like they’re sending you through unknown galaxies and there’s a nice balance between faster blasting and slower, introspective moments that makes the track stand out.  While the instrumentals twist and turn, Lizotte employs a harsher shriek/scream that’s reminiscent of John Haughm (Agalloch) and there’s a nice contrast between these abrasive screams and the mellower guitar leads.

‘Atlas’ may be Feign’s debut full length, but it comes off as more polished and fully formed than some bands that have been around for a lot longer.  If you like what you hear on …A Visitor, you can expect the same level of stunning climaxes and atmosphere that will blast you off to the stars on the rest of the album.  It’s sometimes hard to believe this was all done by one person, and with that in mind I had the chance to ask Jacob Lizotte questions about his writing process.

‘Atlas’ is out July 29th, and you can pre-order the album here: https://intothenightrecords.bandcamp.com/album/atlas

Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Feign is a relatively new project, though you’ve been releasing material under your own name for a few years now.  Tell us about its creation and your musical background.

Feign (Jacob Lizotte): I created Feign because it was a sound that I wanted to hear, I could envision it so clearly during the early demos and all I did with ‘Atlas’ was attempt to make my idea a reality. I strongly believe that the greatest albums, melodies and riffs are created from the soul, not based on money or external sources. If you have a sound that YOU would like to hear, then make it a reality. Everything else may or may not fall in line, but at that point it may not even matter.

As far as my background, I’m 19 and I’ve been playing guitar for half of my life, doing vocals and writing music for years. Writing music is something that resonates with my soul on a deeper level than anything else this world can offer, I am certain of it.

TO: How long did it take to write and record ‘Atlas’?  Did you record everything yourself, and were there any other contributors who helped to make the final album a reality?

Feign: The way I go about writing and recording songs may be a bit different from others; I tend to sit down and focus for very long periods of time. I may sit down for 8 hours straight and write and record an entire song. Sometimes I’ll write songs in batches (2 or 3 at a time that all go together thematically) and then record them all back to back. I also tend to write albums from start to finish, treating the entire thing as one larger ‘piece’ of music, so to speak.

I have no idea how long it took me to write ‘Atlas’. Some of the songs were earlier demos even from a year ago, some songs were from the demos. But I know for certain that the bulk of it didn’t take me too long, maybe about a days’ worth of work for each track. The title track took me a long time though.

No one else really helped me out with this album except for Haven from Into The Night. He helped me fill in the gaps and allowed the music to be heard to greater audiences. Everything else, including artwork and mixing/mastering as well as all the instruments, was done by me.

TO: With ‘Atlas’ you’ve reached even greater heights than before, and a lot of the melodies that each song reaches at its climax are stunning.  How have you focused on this element of Feign’s music since the two demos, and what does it take to make a great melody in an atmospheric black metal context?

Feign: I have trouble answering questions like this sometimes because honestly, a lot of what I do “comes from the soul” like I’ve previously stated. But I’ll try to explain it in a way that makes more sense:

The way I come up with a melody is similar to how you would come up with a really cool thought or a really funny joke on the fly. Some people are great at thinking quickly; some people are very witty or very funny. Can you explain what makes a funny person funny? Not exactly, and this is sort of the place its coming from. Except this time, it’s with music. Of course you can do your best to set up a joke in a way that will always give you a certain outcome, just like how you can create music that lacks soul but appeals to your average listener. But a truly funny or a truly musical person is teeming with ideas, thoughts, or in my case melodies and riffs and song ideas.

Okay maybe that seems unfair and unachievable for most people. But it’s not. Anyone can be musical just like anyone can be funny. The trick is taking ‘thought’ out of the equation, allowing yourself to create whatever you want to create in that moment and not judging it.

More specifically, a lot of times I will create a chord progression that sounds melodic or catchy in some way, and then start layering leads over it. Most of the leads are created on the fly during the ‘recording’ process. All of the chord progressions are created during the ‘writing’ process. Make good use of octaves, slides and harmonies to spice it up.

TO: Is there a consistent narrative throughout ‘Atlas’, or does each song explore something different?

Feign: Lyrically I’ve always had a rough time. To be quite honest, I spend about 98% of the time on the musical/recording aspects and 2% on lyrics. Many times I would finish up the song and then quickly write the lyrics down before I record it. But this is going to change with upcoming releases and I’ve already created some songs for future releases that will benefit from much more comprehensive and structured lyrical themes. Most of the lyrics are fairly consistent on ‘Atlas’, the theme is space, if that isn’t already obvious at this point. But I try and throw some other thoughts into there as well instead of just constantly talking about “stars” and “Pluto”. It does get old when you’re screaming names of constellations and planets into an SM57 while you have neighbors and family members. I’m surprised they haven’t checked me into a mental hospital yet for letting out blood curdling screams about “the darkest reaches of space” or other crazy shit I’ve screamed about.

TO: The album covers for both demos and ‘Atlas’ have been focused on space and the stars.  Tell us more about the one used for ‘Atlas’ and how it ties in to your material.

Feign: I love the cover for ‘Atlas’ and I feel like it fits the overall feeling perfectly. This type of art is what I always want to have representing Feign. Space, wonder, and a little bit of a dark mysterious feeling to it. I just think space is a cool theme for Feign, it sorta happened naturally and just seemed to fit the music really well so I went with it. I’m also very fascinated and maybe even a little frightened by space myself.

More specifically, a lot of times I will create a chord progression that sounds melodic or catchy in some way, and then start layering leads over it. Most of the leads are created on the fly during the ‘recording’ process

TO: You’re based out of Sanford, Maine.  How much has the environment around you shaped your interest in melodic/atmospheric music?

Feign: It hasn’t shaped much. I can owe most of my love for music to the internet. If I hadn’t been born in an age where I had access to things such as YouTube and Spotify I would have probably ended up playing generic ‘dad rock’ style riffs in a bar somewhere with a very scraggly goatee and a thick accent.

TO: You’ve been working with Into the Night Records since the release of your second demo in 2015.  How did this collaboration come about and how has it benefited your music so far?

Feign: Into the Night is great. It’s been going really well so far. I think we met through a message on Bandcamp or something, honestly I can’t even remember it was like a year ago. But it’s been very beneficial in bringing my music to the next level. I’m glad that Feign will be heard by more and more people as it continues to grow.

TO: Your logo was done by Død of Pest Logos.  Tell us a bit more about his work on your logo and what you were looking for when you chose to work with him.

Feign: He messaged me on Facebook and his stuff looked pretty good, I knew he’d fit the bill for making a sick logo and it turned out pretty well!

TO: You recently debuted a death metal project called Beckoning Oblivion.  Can you tell us a bit more about this new endeavor and how it will differ from Feign?

Feign: Beckoning Oblivion is the complete opposite of Feign. It will be everything that I haven’t been able to do with Feign, which is write HUGE chunky death metal riffs with less focus on melody and atmosphere and more focus on making people shit their panties in excitement.

TO: All of your releases to date have been solo projects.  Have you thought about bringing anyone else onboard, possibly for live performances or any other type of collaboration?

 Feign: I have thought about it, but since I live in the shitstain that is known as “Sanford”, unless I plan on bringing some drugged up “MCs” on board I’m mostly going to be running this show on my own, and honestly I don’t mind. I’m so used to it at this point that I find it very hard to work with other people. Of course if I ever played a live performance I’d need band members.

TO:  Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Atlas’ or Feign?

Feign: I’ve already said about everything I could imagine so far, thanks for interviewing me!

Feign | Into the Night Records

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