PASSION, FOCUS AND EMOTIONS
FROM THE START IN 2011 TO THE MEGA STATUS THEY REJOICE NOW IN 2020, WITH ONLY 4 FULL-LENGTH ALBUMS, ONE EP AND A COUPE OF SINGLES. BEHOLD THE CAREER OF PROGRESSIVE METAL BAND OCEANS OF SLUMBER. IT ALL STARTED TO HAPPEN WHEN CAMMIE GILBERT JOINED OCEANS OF SLUMBER IN 2014 AND RECORDED HER VOICE FOR THE 2015 EP 'BLUE'. BUT THE BIG BANG CAME WHEN THEY RELEASED 'WINTER' IN 2016 WITH THE INCREDIBLE COVER OF THE MOODY BLUES GIGA-HIT 'NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN'. 'WINTER' DESERVED THE MUCH-ACCLAIMED REACTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND THE WHOLE MUSIC BUSINESS. TODAY IN 2020, OCEANS OF SLUMBER ARE READY TO LAUNCH THEIR 4TH ALBUM, 'OCEANS OF SLUMBER', ON SEPTEMBER 4TH VIA CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS. WE HAD AN INTERVIEW WITH CAMMIE ABOUT THE NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM.
CAMMIE, THE CAREER OF OCEANS OF SLUMBER STARTED TO BLOSSOM WHEN YOU JOINED THEM AND THE BAND RELEASED THE ‘WINTER’ ALBUM IN 2016. HOW DID YÓU EXPERIENCE ALL THIS AND WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE OCEANS OF SLUMBER?
CAMMIE: Before OCEANS OF SLUMBER I was in a few other bands here and there, but they never had big aspirations or developed into much. I knew I had the opportunity to do something really big with the invitation into OCEANS OF SLUMBER and so I went all in right away. It was a whirlwind of developments that took place relatively quickly once I was in the band, it was all very exciting.
WHEN YOU RECORDED ‘WINTER’, DID YOU REALIZE OR FEEL IT: “THIS IS THE ONE THAT’S GOING TO BRING US FAME”?
CAMMIE: No, nothing like that. We knew we had something special and were eager to get it to a wider audience, but we were not the types to put the cart before the horse. We knew it would still take a lot of time and energy to build that audience and reach new fans.
IN 2018, OCEANS OF SLUMBER RELEASED ‘THE BANISHED HEART’. NOT LONG AFTER THAT, GUITARISTS SEAN GARY AND ANTHONY CONTRERAS LEFT THE BAND. DID THAT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ‘THE BANISHED HEART’ NOT BEING SUCH A SUCCESSFUL ALBUM AS ‘WINTER’ WAS?
CAMMIE: ‘The Banished Heart’ received ample critical acclaim. It’s metrics of success outdid ‘Winter’, but due to multiple variables of mishandling it didn’t get the push it needed to reach its full potential of notoriety. The discord in the band had begun long before ‘The Banished Heart’ was even recorded and its success or lack thereof had nothing to do with why the previous members left. Focuses change, lives change, people change, they made decisions that best fit their lives at that time and so the band inevitably had to change too.
THIS YEAR, YOU STARTED WITH THE RELEASE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND ALSO VERY FRAGILE SINGLE ‘STRANGE FRUIT’, ORIGINALLY DONE BY THE LATE BILLY HOLIDAY. THE MATCHING DARK VIDEO IS OF A BREATHTAKING QUALITY AND THE WHOLE SONG BREATHES THE SPIRIT OF A TRACK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN EASILY ON ‘WINTER’. WAS THAT THE IDEA BEHIND THE SONG?
CAMMIE: My history, ethnicity and culture mean quite a bit to me. I have a unique and jaded experience as a black woman in America. We had the opportunity to show this appreciation through a song, as we had deliberated over covering a Nina Simone or Billie Holiday track for some time and wanted to make an impact on the growing racial unrest and sentiment building up in our nation. These songs keep history alive, they make sure people remember the importance of the growth we have made or where we need to continue to grow.
AFTER ‘STRANGE FRUIT’, OCEANS OF SLUMBER AND CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS RELEASED 3 MORE VIDEOS IN A VERY FAST TEMPO (WITHIN ONLY 2 MONTHS!): ‘A RETURN TO THE EARTH BELOW’, ‘THE ADORNED FATHOMLESS CREATION’ AND ‘THE COLORS OF GRACE’, ALL TAKEN FROM THE NEW ALBUM ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’. DID THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE COVID-19 SITUATION (YOU DID HAVE THE TIME TO SHOOT THEM) OR WERE THEY MEANT PURELY AS A PROMOTION FOR THE NEW ALBUM?
CAMMIE: These were meant purely as promotion for the new album. Originally, we were going to be on tour and the rapid releases would have provided fresh new music for upcoming tour dates and something to keep fans excited. With all of that changing due to the COVID-19 it proved to be a blessing as it gave us something to look forward to and keep our community alive during all the down time.
DO YOU PLAN TO RELEASE MORE VIDEOS AFTER THE ALBUM WILL BE OUT?
CAMMIE: No, nothing more planned as far as music videos, but maybe some other behind the scenes fun, or Q&A.
SOME OF THE TRACKS ON ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’ HAVE RATHER LONG, OTHERS HAVE RATHER UNCONVENTIONAL TITLES (CONTRARY TO THOSE ON ‘WINTER’ AND ‘THE BANISHED HEART’), SUCH AS: ‘SOUNDTRACK TO MY LAST DAY’, ‘THE ADORNED FATHOMLESS CREATION’, ‘I MOURN THESE YELLOW LEAVES’ AND ‘TOTAL FAILURE APPARATUS’. WAS THIS INTENTIONALLY DONE AND CAN YOU TELL US WHAT THESE 4 SONGS ARE ABOUT?
CAMMIE: Each album is a unique entity and OCEANS OF SLUMBER does not operate within the guidelines of any pattern. We do what feels organic and comes naturally for expression of the songs and their meanings. These names reflect the depth that these songs hold and grandiose storylines they outline. ‘A Soundtrack To My Last Day’ is about the struggle of mind during the last moments before death. When one hasn’t fully lived and takes pain and regret with them to their grave. ‘The Adorned Fathomless Creation’ is about simultaneously being a revered and vilified entity intertwined with the human condition of repeating atrocities throughout time. ‘I Mourn These Yellow Leaves’ is about the passing of time and how friendships and relationships can decay like the years moving through their seasons. ‘Total Failure Apparatus’ is about the struggles against depression and internal suffering.
WHO’S DOING THE HARSH VOCALS ON ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’, YOU OR SOMEBODY ELSE?
CAMMIE: Jessie does the majority of the heavy vocals, with Semir following that, and Xan and Mat contributing other harsh embellishments.
‘WINTER’ HAD FOUR, ‘THE BANISHED HEART’ TWO AND ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’ ALSO HAS TWO INSTRUMENTAL SONGS (‘IMPERFECT DIVINITY’ AND ‘SEPTEMBER (THOSE WHO COME BEFORE’)). ARE THOSE ALL SOLELY DOBBER’S INPUT?
CAMMIE: Yes, as well as the other guys. Some songs are meant to be interludes and serve their purpose to build the atmosphere without vocals. They are designed with that in mind. Both beautiful heavy pieces.
‘THE COLORS OF GRACE’ FEATURES ANTIMATTER’S MICK MOSS. WHY DID YOU ASK HIM FOR THIS PARTICULAR SONG AND WHO CREATED THE BEAUTIFUL COVER FOR THE SINGLE? WILL THERE BE MORE ‘GUEST APPEARANCES’ ON ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’?
CAMMIE: We have been fans of Antimatter and well as friends with Mick for some time now. This song is about longing and love and we thought it would be best delivered with a contrast of the two parts with male and female vocals to illustrate those two dynamics. Cover art is by Giannis Nakos of Remedy Art Design. We love collaborating and plan to have more guest appearances in the future.
JUST LIKE ON ‘WINTER’, YOU PUT A COVER ON ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’ AGAIN. THIS TIME YOU CHOSE FOR TYPE O NEGATIVE’S ‘WOLF MOON (INCLUDING ZOATHROPIC PARANOIA)’ FROM THEIR ALBUM ‘OCTOBER RUST’. WHY THIS ONE IN PARTICULAR AND WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA?
CAMMIE: We are all huge fans of Type O Negative, we’d done this song live and wanted to finally get it recorded. When the album was almost finished it came up between Dobber and myself that it would be a good fit to finish out the new record.
BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, BANDS USUALLY NAMED THEIR FIRST ALBUM AFTER THE BAND (KISS, FOREIGNER, BOSTON, RUSH…), BUT OCEANS OF SLUMBER WAITED UNTIL THE 4TH ALBUM TO DO SO. WHY?
CAMMIE: We approach every album as if it could be our last, and treat every album as if it were our first; with just as much passion, focus and emotions tied into each one. With such an overhaul of members, we felt it was even more so a new beginning to OCEANS OF SLUMBER that we wanted to solidify with self-titling the next album.
ON THE INFO SHEET THAT WE GOT FROM CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS, YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE “STRUGGLED WITH STINTS OF SEVERE DEPRESSION”, BUT ALSO THAT “MUSIC IS LITERALLY THE BOND, FOR ME AND THE WORLD. I THINK IT’S INCREDIBLY HEALING”. HAS WRITING THE SONGS WITH DOBBER FOR ‘OCEANS OF SLUMBER’ HELPED YOU TO STEP BACK INTO THE LIGHT AGAIN?
CAMMIE: Yes absolutely, it is my favorite part of life and expression next to family.
SPEAKING OF DOBBER, HIS WAY OF DRUMMING IS VERY REMARKABLE: FAST AND AGGRESSIVE. ESPECIALLY ON ‘NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN’ HE LEFT HIS MARK. DOES HIS STYLE IN SOME WAY DEFINE THE SOUND OF OCEANS OF SLUMBER?
CAMMIE: It most certainly does. His technicality is one thing, but the sheer emotion he can bring amplifies everything else to that next level. His sound is a signature and I assure you OCEANS OF SLUMBER would not be what it is without it.
YOU HAVE ALSO PARTICIPATED AS ABBY IN THE NEW AYREON ALBUM ‘TRANSITUS’ THAT WILL BE OUT ON SEPTEMBER 25TH. HOW WAS IT TO WORK WITH THE PROG METAL LEGEND ARJEN LUCASSEN AND TO SHOOT THE VIDEO FOR ‘HOPELESSLY SLIPPING AWAY’ WITH TOM BAKER AND TOMMY KAREVIK?
CAMMIE: It was an absolute pleasure working with Arjen! He is so much fun and so knowledgeable. He put me at ease and we really moved quickly through the recordings. Funny enough, I did not record the videos with Tom Baker and Tommy Karevik, they were not there. It’s all the magic of the green screen. But the video turned out so magnificent and it was a thrill to see the finished product all come together.
ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO MORE GUEST APPEARANCES ON ALBUMS FROM OTHER BANDS?
CAMMIE: Yes! It’s a lot of fun working with different artists and challenging myself with new styles.