Welcome This Is Oblivion to Brutal Resonance! Let’s start off with my favorite question to ask newcomers to the site. What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
Lulu Black: Nine Inch Nails - "The Fragile". All three of the albums on this list are ones that I feel the need to listen to front to back every time I put them on. It was very formative and inspiring for me in my teen years, and still is. It’s lyrically gorgeous, heavy, melodic, and emotional all at once.
Massive Attack - "Mezzanine". This album is perfect–so innovative and sonically rich start to finish, but my favorite thing about it is Liz Fraser. (I’m also a huge Cocteau Twins fan.) I got to see them perform with her in 2019 for the 20th anniversary of the album and she sounds just as angelic today.
Lingua Ignota - “Caligula”. As a classically trained musician-turned-weirdo, I feel a particular kinship with Kristin Hayter, who uses liturgical-style melodies and the most unexpected instrument pairings to make the harshest and most gorgeous music. She’s alchemized her trauma into art in a way that compels you to go along for the journey. It’s a gut-wrenching album.
Michael Kadnar: Nine Inch Nails - “The Fragile”. We have this album in common, it played a crucial role in my formative years and I still view it as a masterpiece. We actually just saw NIN in Philadelphia last week and Trent is still on top of his game. I can never just listen to one track off this album. It has to be both the right and left side, all the way through.
2. Tigran Hamasyan - “Mockroot”. If you’ve spent more than 30 minutes with me, then chances are I have tried to convert you to the church or Tigran. Hands down one of the most innovative and inspiring jazz musicians of our time. Mixing Armenian folk music with Djent grand piano to create something truly unique and one of a kind. (Yes I said Armenian folk music WITH Djent grand piano.)
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan - “Calculator Infinity”. What can I say, this is the greatest math metal album of all time. The year was 1999 and while N’SYNC and Britney Spears were crushing TRL, Dillinger was creating a timeless mathy masterpiece. I still can’t believe how tight and fast this album is for the late 90’s and their recording capabilities. Chris Pennie putting in the drum performance of a lifetime for sure!
Beginnings are always important. So, tell me, how did you two meet and when was it that you decided to start up This Is Oblivion?
Lulu: We first met at a show in November 2019. Music was of course the first thing we connected over, and we talked about collaborating during our first conversation. When we ended up quarantining (and essentially moving in together) a few months later, that’s when we started writing.
Michael: Things evolved pretty quickly once the pandemic hit. We were quarantining together and we both needed to create to stay sane. Since tours and live gigs were off the table for the foreseeable future, we naturally began writing songs together and experimenting with Logic and any weird industrial sounds we could create from home.
The name of your project is rather gloomy. What does it mean to you and why did you choose it?
Lulu: The phrase came from a piece of writing I did, trying to put into words what we were creating, which then was refined into the lyrics of “Litany.” Also it sounded cool, which is obviously the most important thing in a band name.
Michael: Lulu has a notebook with a bunch of names and doodles in it, so once a week we would look at it, say the band names out loud, talk about logos / visuals etc, and refine our creative vision together.
The debut single from the album was “The Truth”, and it coincided with a music video. It’s a feast for the eyes reminding me of old 70s horror flicks where the occult was the in-thing. What was your vision for the music video and why choose such a stark color scheme?
Lulu: I’m a huge fan of the 70’s Italian Giallo aesthetic, but honestly the lighting and color scheme was all up to our videographer, Brendan McGowan. We spoke with him about the overall narrative and feel that we were going for, and left the creative direction in his hands from there. Working with Brendan was a lot of fun.
Michael: Brendan has done a few videos for me in the past (So Hideous and Black Table) so we were very excited to work with him together. I’m truly amazed at what he created with a 1 day video shoot. We can’t wait to work with him again and do a follow up music video!
Your self-titled, debut album recently released and I’d like to talk about that. What is the overall theme or concept behind the album? Does each song connect with one another?
Lulu: Our goal when we began writing together was just to experiment with sounds and techniques we’d never had the opportunity to explore in a project before. The theme that began to emerge as the album came together is the nature of connection, how love can be an anchor when the world seems to be ending and love itself can feel like the end of the world, terrifying and inspiring all at once. It’s probably the most emotionally raw thing either of us has ever made.
Lulu, you were a classical music major in college, but you have a love for industrial, darkwave, doom, and more. Did you find it difficult combining classic music with these harsh and darker genres?
Lulu: For a long time, yes, I did find it difficult to reconcile the different “worlds” I was a part of. In my teen years I was very inspired by darkwave or goth bands featuring strings, like Rasputina and Miranda Sex Garden. It wasn’t until I started writing my own music that I felt like I’d made my musical training into a thing of my own. Classical music is very rigid and I never felt like I belonged, but I think living with one foot in each world for so long has given me a unique approach to music.
Michael, you are involved in a couple of other projects such as The Number Twelve Looks Like You, Downfall of Gaia, and So Hideous. How do you ensure that each of the projects that you’re involved with have a different sound? Do you record for one band differently than another?
Michael: Each project has its own identity and demands different styles of drumming and emotional connection from me. By working with different musicians, there inherently will be different recording techniques and processes involved. I’ve never had to consciously decide “Oh, I’m going to do this one thing for this band, and do the opposite for another band.” I think at this point, all my bands and artists who contact me to join/do session work know my vibe and what I have to offer musically and spiritually. Everytime I enter the studio to create an album, I strive to be open minded and allow myself to serve the music fully.
Talk to me about the cover art. I see a wooden chair seemingly disappearing in a pond in a dark, wooded area. What is this supposed to represent?
Lulu: The concept we kept returning to while writing was “a dying kingdom,” so that’s what the drowning throne represents. Creating art is like creating a new world, which can seem utterly futile when you look outside and see the real world (sometimes literally) on fire. The power of human connection can build and destroy entire kingdoms or civilizations.
Out of all the songs on This Is Oblivion, which is your favorite and why?
Lulu: For me it’s “Litany.” I’m really proud of the lyrics, and Michael’s drumming skills get to shine in that massive blastbeat cacophony. There’s also one moment towards the middle where Jennifer DeVore’s cello comes in on a low G that gives me chills every time I listen. It’s the most epic song on the album, for sure. I love a good dramatic ending.
Michael: I also have to say “Litany” for a lot of the same reasons. It’s also the first recorded song where I write and perform piano the entire time. Litany began as a piano “jam” for me that just kept building in intensity and volume. We started demoing it and adding strings and drums and the song became an emotional powerhouse. I get tears in my eyes every time we listen or play Litany.
And what else do you have planned for 2022? Any more music coming from This Is Oblivion or associated projects? Any tours or shows planned?
Michael: We are currently working on our set list and slowly writing some new songs as well. We are in the process of booking our debut performance and we are working on some music videos as well (since it was so hard to get music videos done during the pandemic.) Downfall of Gaia has some festivals this summer 2022 and we just recorded our next album, which will be out on Metal Blade Records in Winter/Spring 2023. So Hideous will also start performing this fall after a hiatus of a few years.
Lastly, I wish you the best of luck! I leave the space below open for you to mention anything I may have missed.
Lulu and Michael: Thank you for talking with us! Our gorgeous vinyl has arrived and is for sale on Bandcamp.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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