SMC Spotlight No.2 | AnoNYMous Raven ‘Dialectical Observations’ Composer Exclusive Interview

by Candice Anne Marshall

In 2015, while then Artist of the Month IAMWARFACE came blasting onto the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) radar, there was another sound we heard that also caught our attention. It was the hauntingly beautiful instrumentals of Portland, Oregon Composer The Lady AnoNYMous, a pseudoNYM and alter ego of Writer and Composer anoNYMous Raven (Nym for short). I know, a mouthful, right? I assure you, once you have begun to delve into the vast library of this exceptional Composer, you will agree that there aren’t enough elaborate descriptives in the dictionary that come close to explaining the discerning and ethereal compositions he creates.

Late this summer, Nym launched his album ‘Dialectical Observations’ and the result is a peek into the magical, kaleidoscope-like world that we at SMC have come to know so well of this Artist. Throughout this interview, I have stated my thoughts on Nyms’ art in questions which are answered in depth. I have to say that this is a true work of art that I have much admiration for. The album in its entirety is not only eloquent and beautiful, it is majestic and magical too. My personal favorite is ‘Fleeting Fractals’ which, to me, represents the sounds of joy and life and birth of something beautiful. Use your imagination when listening and remember my words – it will make sense. With compositions like these, it wouldn’t surprise me if this Artist is approached by the film industry – these are songs that could easily fit into the film world and I do hope to see this happen for Nym and when it does, I won’t be surprised. This is one of those Artists whose work (I predict) will one day end up in that Academy Award-winning Fantasy or Science Fiction film and you will all look back one day and think: ‘Hey, isn’t that that Artist who we first read about on the SMC Spotlight?’

Why yes, yes it was…

Editor’s Note: I would personally like to tip my hat to Nym for a beautiful work of art with this album. I think it should be in the libraries of every ambitious music collector and played on that cozy night in with the candles going and a glass of wine. It’s like audible medicine for the soul…Enjoy.

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | The Lady AnoNYMous

SMC – Hello Nym! We are happy to have you back for this second Spotlight Numbered Series. We last had you on our older Spotlight platform. Can you tell us what has been happening for you career-wise since then?

Nym – Mostly I’ve been a recluse on a small farm, which has demanded a lot of physical labor, which I’m able to do after three years of having severe limitations. So, I’ve had less time for music, though I’ve been promoting online nearly every day, and in particular it paid off with landing an interview on Beyond The Dawn Radio’s Erosion Factory show. I’m now one degree of separation from some of my favorite artists in the music and film industries!

SMC – Your new music from your album ‘Dialectical Observations’ is astounding! My first listen was ‘When Anchorage Became an Island’ and I felt the emotion in the whole instrumental piece. Can you tell us what helps you create your storyboard visual when you create pieces like this?

Nym – I don’t really have visuals in mind when I write music; it comes from a purely emotional place, mostly stemming from tunes that get stuck in head that seemingly come from nowhere. There are other times when it just begins from an experimentation in sound. For that song, I developed a cello theme, and I approached the rest of the song from a feeling of grace in sadness.

SMC – Your second single from the album was spot on for ‘Man Seeking Cocoon’…I feel like these are so suited to the kinds of films that win Academy Awards…Can you tell me if you are creating a sound that is geared toward film?

Nym – It has been previously suggested to me that I work in film. When I was younger, I listened to scores from my favorite films and TV series, and now I can’t watch anything without listening closely to its soundtrack, so the experience partly feels like research!

SMC – I had also noticed that after downloading the songs from the new album there is some magnificent artwork that coincides with all your pieces. Are they the starting point for your music creations? They are incredible!

Nym – The link I sent you was for what I call an ‘Artist’s Edition,’ usually reserved for patrons of my Patreon crowdfunding campaigns. They’re usually accompanied by a lot of visual art, and I now have a trade agreement with an amazing digital artist, Cyril Rolando. We can freely use each other’s art, as long as we give credit. He’s also responsible for the cover art of many of my EPs.

SMC – Can you tell me which is your favorite score from this album and why?

Nym – I think the second half of ‘Fistfuls of Whimsy’ is possibly the most perfect thing I have ever achieved. It’s absolutely epic, if I do say so myself. Also, I think ‘Less Sinister Cousins’ is a really fun ballad with lots of experimental elements.

SMC – What has the reception been like for your music?

Nym – Well, I’ve only ever once received negative criticism, and I think that was by a troll.  My songs seem to be appreciated by people who of many different musical tastes: people who otherwise prefer metal, hip-hop, techno, and Christian music. That last is a little unexpected, since I’m openly and pretty vocal about being gay and promote gender awareness Mostly, my audience is mostly made up of lovers of ambient and neoclassical music, and I’ve always been warmly received.

SMC – I know that truly unique music like yours isn’t often found in mainstream music that is created today. I feel it’s because it is so unique and eclectic. With that being said, I also feel there is most definitely a place for your music and I see it doing well with the film circuit…what are your thoughts on that?

Nym – I’m very interested in working in film, and I’ve been hoping to be approached for scoring an independent short film. I’d like to start small, but I’ve known to just jump right into things! Zoe Keating’s doing the music for the series ‘The Returned’ inspired me greatly. I’ve also occasionally seen post-rock bands credited as doing the scores for some major films.

SMC – What instrument would you say that you gravitate toward and why?

Nym – My first love is piano. I started out with a fisher price ‘Sesame Street’ toy piano when I was two years old. Then, from the age of seven I had weekly lessons for five years. When I was fifteen, I was captivated by Tori Amos, who showed me piano has a place in alternative rock. I also have a great love for cello, which I believe has a three-dimensional sound that is pretty unique.

SMC – I listened to your score ‘Fleeting Fractals’ and I almost cried. I am not kidding…this song reminds me of joy and life and birth of something beautiful. Virtually all your music has this element for me, but this song was just so…happy for me to hear. What was it like to create that song? What was going on in your mind when you began to create it?

Nym – I really don’t know how that happened. I went into it drawing inspiration from How To Destroy Angels’ thick bass sound and post-metal guitars in their song ‘Keep It Together’ and accompanied it with a short, previously recorded alto piano ditty. The soprano piano sort of jumped in of its own accord, and the song became unexpectedly happy, which I just sort of ran with. I blame my meds.

SMC – ‘Signor Fancypants’ is another great score…can you tell me how you come up with the names for each song? This one is totally suited to the instrumentation heard throughout and I can’t explain why! Do you write these with a person in mind or a situation?

Nym – Sometimes I pluck song titles from the air and record them with that in mind. Other times the song just tells me its name while I’m working on it. For ‘Less Sinister Cousins’ I had to meditate on it for quite some time and followed an intricate stream of consciousness that jumped through many different associations. With ‘Signor Fancypants’ there was a swaggering, snooty quality that inspired the title. I also sometimes draw from film and television. ‘When Anchorage Became An Island’ and ‘Butterflies On Ganymede’ both came from the series ‘The Expanse.

SMC – Why the colors ‘black and white’ for your album? I personal love the combination, but I would like to hear what your thoughts are on this?

Nym – I was just trying to be pretentiously artsy with photos of various trees I took around our property. It’s that simple. Then I ran with it for the artwork of the Artist’s Edition of the album.

SMC – Can you tell us what you would ideally like to see happen with your music in terms of getting it heard and in which market you would best like it showcased in?

Nym – I’d love to see it performed by an orchestra. Oh, how about a traveling orchestra?! As for what market… I think I touch on every sub-genre of alternative rock, and would like to see it distributed on CD and vinyl, and some of it to be played in clubs. I would also like to hear what I’ve previously recorded in the soundtracks of film and television. That would be less intimidating than actually scoring for those mediums.

SMC – ‘Less Sinister Cousins’ is a very magical little number. I quite like the charm and mystical feel to it. Almost feels like something you would see in an eleven film or video…

Nym – It was inspired by fantasy author Charles De Lint, so if it was included in a movie or television adaptation, that would be awesome.

SMC – ‘Fistfuls of Whimsy’ again has that magical element heard throughout. I think that there is definitely a lovely theme here throughout the whole album – a story if you will…can you tell us what that might be?

Nym – I like to think of it as a ‘cinematic’ experience, when listened to all the way through. As for the story, I think that’s up to each listener. For me, it brings a lot of personal experiences to mind. ‘When Anchorage Became An Island’ calls to mind a past trauma that I think I’ve learned to handle with grace. But there’s also been many magical experiences in my life, and I try to approach life in general from a place of whimsy. For ‘Fistfuls,’ I wanted to express that a person who has been a ‘metal head’ in the past can appreciate and even make this kind of music.

SMC – I am personally writing my own book and can envision your music woven throughout my mind while I am writing. Would you be open to collaborating on promotional for projects like mine or others who are looking to showcase your work?

Nym – Absolutely. I think that’s an absolutely lovely idea. I think art can inspire and complement other art.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of promotion of your album to music platforms and/or radio?

Nym – As an independent artist, all promotional work walls on me (the main reason I’m always looking for a label that doesn’t repulse me). That takes up much of my energy in this field. Before and after a release always includes an intense campaign. It’s up to me to promote awareness of its availability on mainstream and independent media, and that includes distribution through an online service and sending out my music and feelers toward radio stations and hosts. It takes a lot of email and social media networking. I’ve had the pleasure to be interviewed on some radio shows and for music magazines, in particular the aforementioned Erosion Factory and of course this wonderful publication.

nym the great and powerful – new logo

SMC – What do you feel is lacking in the music industry today?

Nym – With most of music being listened on free streaming platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, there needs to be a dramatic restructuring of how royalties and ad revenue are distributed. And record labels are expecting Artists to pay dramatic sums upfront rather than investing in them.

SMC – What do you feel is abundant in the music industry today?

Nym – Definitely an awareness and availability of independent music. Unless they restructure themselves, record labels are becoming obsolete, as artists now have more tools to distribute and promote their music.

SMC – Which social media platform do you gravitate to and why?

Nym – Personally, I’m a subscriber of Apple Music. Their library is quite extensive, and with the ease it took to be a verified artist, I have the ability to connect with fans on their unique Apple Music Connect feature. Also, I already had a MacBook, iPad, and iPhone that are easy to network with each other.

SMC – Which social media platform has been best in promoting your music?

Nym – Actually, I’ve been able to draw in a larger fan base that aren’t friends and family on Google Plus. My audience is more international, and I’m able to use their Communities feature to project more awareness with ease.

SMC – Can you tell us what you feel is the best thing about social media in general?

Nym – It’s the best and most frequently used promotional tool, these days. If an artist doesn’t have social media accounts across the board, they’re most likely to be passed over or forgotten.

SMC – What do you feel are the downfalls of media platforms today who claim to be in support of all indie music?

Nym – They often prey on artists for financial gain. As independent artists, we’re usually poor and can only invest in our art as a hobby rather than a career, until we ‘make it big.

SMC – What music platform do you promote your music on mainly?

Nym – I mentioned Apple Music Connect earlier. It’s one more social media platform, but one that is specifically geared toward artists sharing with fans. But Google lets artists customize their page’s art and bio. Spotify sucks in that regard by requiring a certain number of fans before an artist can be ‘verified’ and then have any say in how they’re presented.

SMC – There are a lot of Artists who gravitate towards curated Spotify playlists these days. What are your thoughts on this?

Nym – I think it can be a useful tool. I personally don’t use Spotify much, but it’s an oft-used streaming platform, and I think playlists with a specific demographic in mind will possibly be listened to by many.

SMC – Okay, final question: if you could sum up why you chose music as a career in 140 characters or less, how would it read?

Nym – Music is a universal language. As an artist, the most rewarding thing for me is to be a part of the soundtrack for a person’s life.

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The Dialectical Observations Album cover
Photo courtesy: The Lady AnoNYMous

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IAMWARFACE | SMC Season 1 Artist of the Year | in Review!

SMC Artist of the Year Spotlight | IAMWARFACE March 9, 2017

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Matt! This year is flying by and there are so many wicked projects going on at the moment for IAMWARFACE! Let’s begin with the biggest one right now: the Indiegogo campaign for your single ‘Say My Name’. That’s a pretty wicked promo video! Tell us who the team is behind this campaign…

Matt – the Indiegogo campaign has been set up by a friend of mine called Andrew Scott Marshall. He’s also writing and directing the video. He’s a great guy with a hell of a lot of awesome ideas. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

SMC – Can you tell us a little bit of a synopsis of the Music Video and what we can expect? We saw some pretty wicked acting skills there!

Matt- Hi Candice. Thankyou. The Oscar win awaits lol. Yes of course. Ok, well the video is going to form one part of a narrative that will span multiple songs possibly featuring other bands. The general vibe is that of a kick ass Kung Fu movie in the vein of something like John Wick. It’s gonna be awesome.

SMC – What is the ultimate goal in terms of top dollar – what amount do you need to make this video the success you want?

Matt- At the moment we’re looking to raise £3500 to shoot the first part of the video.

SMC – You mentioned to me on the phone recently that you are also working on a new single….can you tell us about that?

Matt- Yes indeed. I have a load of new things I’m working on. There’s 2 brand new songs that I’m currently going through as well as a cover of a very famous 80’s song. We’re also working on the official debut album so these will all form part of that. I can’t say anymore at the moment but there’s some big things happening.

SMC – What is in your studio? Can you give us a bit of a visual?

Matt- It’s all decked out with geek paraphernalia such as a huge Tie Fighter from Star Wars and Various Aliens and robots to keep me company. Also, there’s my usual setup consisting of a midi drum kit, a keyboard and guitar.

SMC – You are also playing the Camden Rocks Festival this June as well. What a great way to ‘pass the torch’ so to speak to our 2016-2017 Artist of the Year! It looks like a well-established music festival – is this your first time playing there for it?

Matt- Yeh, it’s gonna be a very cool festival. I played there about 4 years ago in my last band. It’s basically the town of Camden turned into a huge festival with a load of music venues all hosting some of the best British bands around at the moment. Also, we’re playing Into The Wild festival in July this year which is my favorite. Such a cool vibe with awesome people.

SMC – Can you talk about the changes that are happening within the band as well?

Matt- Well, things just seem to be clicking into place right now. We’ve had a load of exposure last year including Sky Sports using our debut single Say My Name for the opening league games. That was amazing to see on TV. Nothings really changes as far as how we do things, it’s just taken a lot longer than we expected to get the ball rolling regarding recordings and the creation of the album. Also, we seem to be pulling a lot of Gary Numan fans at the moment which is fantastic. Gary’s wife is also a fan. You never know, we may join him on tour sometime in the future. Gary, if you’re reading this…. get in touch.

SMC – What are all the tours you are looking at for the remainder of 2017?

Matt- We don’t have a tour arranged this year as of yet but hopefully we’ll have some news very soon. I’d love to get back on tour. This is what I live for.

SMC – I know that this can be a touchy subject for many Artists, but I do like to know what the media support has been like for you over in the UK….

Matt- Well, it’s all mainly been social media based so far and we’ve had a great response. We also recently did a live session for BBC Introducing of which was also filmed. We’re working on a video edit of our first track we played (To Die For). It’s almost finished and it’s looking like a corker. Can’t wait to get it out there.

SMC – In terms of the last 3 months, what has happened for the band in terms of tours and live shows?

Matt- Well, we did a short tour in the South of England last October which was our first. It was such an unforgettable experience and this was when I realized that I have the best band I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Such a great and funny bunch of guys. The first night of the tour we all cried ourselves to sleep laughing. So funny.

SMC – Which live show was your most favorable since being announced as our Artist of the Year in July 2016?

Matt- I think the most memorable was our gig at Proud Galleries in Camden a few months ago. Even though I had an epileptic fit halfway through a song but I managed to hold it together by holding my hands over my eyes to avoid the strobe lights. Everyone thought I was being dramatic lol. It was only when I told them I wasn’t being dramatic, I was having a fit. Ha-ha. The gig was amazing though. We also supported 90’s band Senser at Tunnel 267 this year which was a sold-out show. Was also incredible.

SMC – I know that you still have your ArtistMax VIP Scholarship and you had mentioned to me that you were considering giving it to another Artist as with the Indiegogo campaign happening you didn’t want to overwhelm your supporters. This is YOURS and there is no expiry on it. We are looking at running an Artist of the decade event and we have a ton of great ideas for that! What are your thoughts on that?

Matt- Blimey!!! Each time we’ve been in the contest it’s been nerve shredding. I’m not sure I have any nerves left lol.

SMC – What has been your experience since being a part of the Starlight Music Chronicles family?

Matt- Well apart from becoming friends with your lovely self, it’s just been amazing to have had such support and advice from you. And it’s so cool to see the growth of SMC in the last couple of years. Truly an inspiration.

SMC – Okay, final question: if there was any advice you would like to give new Artists who are discovering SMC, what would that be?

Matt- Be up-front and honest. Never give up. You’re in very good hands.

SMC – Thank you Matt! We have some great things cooking up that we will soon be able to announce and will involve a ‘wrap-up party’ so to speak for our Artists of the Year for Season 1. We look forward to chatting with you really soon!

Matt- It’s been an absolute pleasure my dear friend. Xxx

 

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