On the first day of December, Spanish metal band ASTRAY VALLEY will introduce their sophomore album “Midnight Sun“ through Art Gates Records. A very remarkable album. As the album title already implies, there are many opposites on “Midnight Sun“. Metalcore fans may be surprised to find more ‘electronic elements’ on the album and the band switches from metalcore to melodic metal on some tracks as well. But the metalcore is never totally gone! We had a chat with singer Clau Violette about how the band got started and the new album.
INTERVIEW BY: HENK VAN NIEUWENHOVEN
HOLA CLAU, ¿CÓMO ESTÁS? PLEASE TELL US SOMETHING MORE ABOUT ASTRAY VALLEY’S PROVENANCE?
Hi, nice to talk to all of you! Best regards and a big hug! ASTRAY VALLEY is a band born in Barcelona, but has always lived with one foot out of our country, touring Europe or playing on festivals like Rock A Block in France. The band was formed by guitarist Joan Vena and me when we were just teenagers and we were excited to be what it is today. It is also formed by Adri Funérailles on guitar, Unai Splinters on drums and Alex Albano on bass.
THE FIRST THING I NOTICED WHEN I STARTED WITH THIS INTERVIEW IS THAT YOUR WEBSITE ISN’T ONLINE ANYMORE (ACCESS DENIED) AND THAT YOU HAVEN’T UPDATED YOUR BANDCAMP PAGE SINCE THE RELEASE OF “UNNETH” IN 2018. IS FACEBOOK YOUR ONLY COMMUNICATION WITH THE FANS NOWADAYS?
We are working on it, in fact, it is likely that when this interview comes out it will already be available! We are very lucky to have Joan with these things, he created a new website and we are very happy about it. Anyway, we are always available, just look for the name of the band on our Facebook page, Instagram, etc. NOTE: The website is working again!!
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT ASTRAY VALLEY’S RELEASES SO FAR, THE EP “DYSTOPIA” (2015), THE DEBUT ALBUM “UNNETH” (2018) AND THE EP “TALES OF LUN” (2021)?
About “Dystopia”, it is a nice memory, because it was the first one, and on it there were many illusions and affection. Nowadays it sounds very far from what we are, but of course, we remember it with affection. On “Unneth” we already put many cards on the table that would mark the future style of the band. There are more beastly songs, more melodic songs… It helped us to learn what it is to create an album from scratch. Also, we liked to create it from an imaginary world and to compose in a more conceptual way. “Tales Of Lun”, for example, is a much darker EP, we continued on the conceptual path, but this time experimenting with the more beastly part of our instrumental. The truth is that it was composed in a dark time too, since we worked on it during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and defending it under those circumstances was a challenge. Finally, “Midnight Sun” is a new path, a breath of fresh air. On this album we have found a way of composing that is very comfortable for us, and we also feel that we have found a cohesion, both in its aesthetics and in its musical content that we want to continue working on in the future.
FOR THE NEW ALBUM “MIDNIGHT SUN” YOU SWITCHED LABELS FROM DARK RAILS RECORDS TO ART GATES RECORDS. WHY? IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME YOU DID THIS…
The band simply evolves, and as in all relationships you always learn from working with new people. They were different jobs with different perspectives. We tried to go hand in hand with the label at each different stage of the band.
IN THE PRESS INFO YOU SAY ABOUT “MIDNIGHT SUN”: “[WE] INTRODUCED A NEW ELECTRONIC ELEMENT THAT PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THIS ALBUM”. WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU REFERRING TO WITH ‘A NEW ELECTRONIC ELEMENT’?
On this album there is a lot of electronic music and a new vision at the time of composing and integrating it. “Neon Misery” is a song that relies heavily on electronic music, it is a new door that we have opened and we intend to continue exploring.
THE ALBUM HAS BEEN RECORDED IN MANY PLACES, YOUR VOCALS WERE RECORDED AT THE WHEEL SOUND STUDIO FOR EXAMPLE. ISN’T THAT A CUMBERSOME WAY OF WORKING?
Not really, although it seems incredible! We do the pre-production and production in-house. That helps us a lot to know what we are looking for. Joan produces the demos and that makes it very comfortable for us. When I get to the studio the sound is already very clear and I just have to focus on getting the vocals as good as possible!
TWO NOTABLE NAMES HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN “MIDNIGHT SUN”: MAX MORTON, WHO DID THE MIXING AND MASTERING, AND NAT ENEMEDE, WHO DESIGNED THE ARTWORK. MAX WE KNOW FROM BANDS LIKE IGNEA AND GWENDYDD, NAT IS WELL KNOWN FOR HER WORK WITH AD INFINITUM, ELYOSE AND PHANTOM ELITE. HOW DID YOU GET THEM TO WORK ON “MIDNIGHT SUN”?
Nat has been a good friend of the band for years, we’ve been working with her a lot. We understand each other very well and the truth is that it’s nice to work artistically with people who share your vision. With Morton everything was very nice, it was something we managed from the label and the truth is that we are very happy, he did a great job. We would love to repeat this in the future.
SO FAR YOU HAVE TREATED US WITH TWO EXCELLENT VIDEOS, THE FIRST ONE FOR “PRAY FOR THE DEVIL” AND RECENTLY A NEW ONE FOR “YOUR SKIN”. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THIS SONG AND WHERE WAS THE VIDEO RECORDED?
“Your Skin” is a videoclip that had to distance itself as much as possible from “Pray For The Devil” as we felt that they were playing different things on many levels. The videoclip was filmed at the “Parc Audiovisual de Catalunya”. It’s a place with a creepy history, because it was a former tuberculosis and psychiatric hospital that was in operation years ago. Thanks to a contact, to whom we are very grateful, we had the possibility to record there and we are very happy with the result. About the story of the song and the video… it’s a love song but a little bit sick and gore, that’s why the blood, hahaha. We wanted to represent that through a powerful aesthetic and with a staging that transmits all that.
“MIDNIGHT SUN” STARTS VERY AGGRESSIVE WITH “DARKEST TIMES”, A TRACK THAT IS METALCORE WORTHY, AND SO IS “YOUR SKIN”. HOWEVER, THE ONE IN BETWEEN, “NEON MISERY”, AND ALSO “PRAY FOR THE DEVIL”, ARE MORE ELECTRONIC AND AT TIMES EVEN MORE POPPY. THE SAME GOES FOR “THE HUNGER”. IS THE METAL ARCHIVES WRONG BY CALLING ASTRAY VALLEY MERELY A METALCORE BAND AND SHOULD THEY ADD ‘MELODIC METAL’ TO THE GENRE TAB AS WELL?
We summarize the theme of the genre by calling it ‘modern metal.’ That’s because we don’t want to put labels on ourselves since we compose according to what we think is the best way for the band’s identity. Really, each person can classify it wherever they feel!
“THE STORM” BLASTS AS USUAL, BUT WITH “DAYS ARE FADING” YOU FALL BACK INTO MELODIC METAL AGAIN, ALTHOUGH SOME VOCALS ARE STILL METALCORE. IT’S ON AND ON IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. THIS MIGHT BE A BIT CONFUSING FOR NEW LISTENERS, OR AM I WRONG?
This album is designed so that everyone can find their song, the issue of genre does not concern us, we want each person to be able to enjoy the new album without limits.
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU COMBINED EVERYTHING (SOME METALCORE, A BIT ELECTRONIC AND MODERN METAL) IN THE LAST SONG “WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN”. IF SOMEONE WOULD ASK ME “WHAT DOES ASTRAY VALLEY SOUND LIKE?” I WOULD PROBABLY REFER TO THIS TRACK. WITH WHAT TRACK ON THE ALBUM WOULD YOU ELUCIDATE IT?
Everyone has their own, but “When The Sun Goes Down” is certainly one of them. I think that as we talked about before, it is something very personal for each person who enjoys the album and wants to classify us.
IN JUNE YOU PLAYED IN BARCELONA WITH BUTCHER BABIES. HOW WAS THAT FOR YOU? DID CARLA AND HEIDI TREAT YOU NICE? ☺
They are two incredible professionals who have earned where they are and who have a lot ahead of them. It was great talking to them and sharing our points of view as women in this industry.
ON NOVEMBER 4TH, YOU WENT BACK TO BARCELONA FOR THE BLOODY FEST WITH A DARK REBORN (WHO RELEASED THEIR NEW ALBUM “LAST ECHO” ON OCTOBER 20TH) AND WHITEDEMON. WAS THIS THE ALBUM PRE-RELEASE SHOW FOR “MIDNIGHT SUN” OR WILL YOU DO ANOTHER OFFICIAL RELEASE SHOW ON DECEMBER 1ST, WHEN THE ALBUM COMES OUT?
It was more a concert to say goodbye to our previous EP “Tales Of Lun”! We hope to be able to announce presentation concerts for the new album soon.
HOW ABOUT TOURING IN EUROPE, IS THAT A REALISTIC POSSIBILITY?
We hope so! A new stage begins with new dates! And we hope to see you soon!