Interview with Daniel Klyne of APPALACHIAN WINTER
When did you start your project and how long have you been making music for?
Good question! The best I can do as far as Appalachian Winter goes is say around March of 2008 which is close to when I knew something was going on. That may sound weird, but the circumstances around the creation of Appalachian Winter were rather dire for me (musically), so it was awhile coming out of that and getting a proper vision for the project. The creation of Appalachian Winter seemed to be a reaction to the way things were going for me musically, so it's kinda like I accidentally found what I was meant to do in that regard.
But I've been a part of the act of making music much longer than that. If you count any time in a recording studio, I've been making music since I was seventeen. I'm thirty-seven right now.
If you had to describe the sound to my readers what would you tell them to expect?
I have no idea. It's probably impossible for me to try to boil this stuff down in any kind of an objective fashion. Best I can say is my intentions (a loaded word for sure) were to make black metal. Would most of my releases be described as that? I doubt it. I guess just think of Wintersun, except I can't sing and play kinda shittily. But the plus side is no ten to twelve thousand years between albums. That's probably the best I can do for you, buddy!
Is your music available on any merch format such as tape/cd/vinyl or digital medium? Where can listeners find it?
All of those except audio cassette. And not physically for the whole discography (yet). The one record is a split between this project and Draumar called "Bergleider." There are also four CDs, Ghosts of the Mountains, The Epochs that Built the Mountains, The Lake and the Mountain, and From the Cosmos to the Mountains. All of these and the record are available from Nine Gates Records at https://ninegatesrecords.bandcamp.com/. The whole discography is available as free downloads if all you want are .mp3 files. That can be found at https://appalachianwinter.com/.
If you had a choice of working with other artists who would they be and why? Any collabs at all in the past or lately?
If you count a split album as a collaboration, there's the aforementioned split between Draumar and Appalachian Winter. As Appalachian Winter, that's really the only collaboration I've ever done. I have a very definite vision of what I want to do with Appalachian Winter, and that vision is not really malleable enough (even now, with some of the more difficult thematic material I'll probably ever do finally out of the way) for me to just go off and start working with others. The split between Draumar and Appalachian Winter was special because we'd known each other for so long and both of us could spare a little extra music at the time. I'm proud of that effort we did together. The very talented musician who was Draumar has moved on to other things, which are also great. He does a project now called Andy Aged, and it's really good folk/americana, but man, I'd have no problem doing another split with him sometime in the future, if he wanted to awaken Draumar again. But, he started Draumar quite young, and likely he's evolving and growing into other things. I was already old (for a rock musician) at twenty-eight years of age when I started Appalachian Winter, and I wouldn't consider going back to the older stuff I was doing on my own before that, so I wouldn't expect such a thing from him. I know he's a damn fine musician, and anything he does is going to be amazing. I'm fortunate to know a few people like that.
How has the reaction been so far to your music?
Surprising. Every time someone reaches out to me and tells me about how much they like my music, I'm personally shocked. You have to understand, I'm a silly creature who lives in a cabin in way off in some forgotten part of the Pennsylvania Appalachians. It's very hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that there are people out there who are so much more functional than me who like what I do in my spare time. It feels wonderful that other much more viable human beings than me find something of value in what I'm doing here. Although, I'd do this stuff in a vacuum of attention, I'm grateful for whatever I get.
What would you like to have done this year in your life? It could be musical or personal.
Well, let's just stick with music, since I sense that's where the audience's interest mainly lies. Although music is a spare time thing for me, I do a lot of it, and Appalachian Winter isn't the only thing I have my hands in, though by year's end, I'd like to be a few songs into the next Appalachian Winter album. There's another personal solo project I'd like to have done at least (if not released) also by year's end which goes by the name of F-14 Tomcat, and that's a project I've been sitting on for a while. Both prospects look good right now for being fulfilled. There are others things going on as well, but these two things I feel more confident with.
If there are any bands that influenced over the years to make you want to become a musician in the first place, who are they?
Oh, that's a bad question to ask an old guy like me. Get ready for a long-ass answer that probably won't go anywhere. I know I have a connection with music that predates any memory on my part. My mom has a picture of me all tranced out in a chair while listening to what probably was classical music when I was a toddler. I can almost remember how that felt too, like the whole world closed in and became this wonderful sound that needed my full attention, like it was flowing through everything I was. God, I wish I could find that picture! I remember playing a record called "Hooked on Tchaikovsky," (I think it was a part of a multi-volume Hooked on Classics set). I loved that record. I wish I could find it again. I've gone through a lot of favorite bands, too. My first was Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Still love them. Same with Live and Metallica in the '90s. Same with Dimmu Borgir, Falkenbach, Emperor, Therion, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend, Moonsorrow, and Wintersun (and likely a few others I've forgotten) now. I'm sure the question now becomes "How the Hell does someone go from Tchaikovsky and Frankie Valli to fucking Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, and all those other things?" I don't know. Could be an act of God. Could be psychopathy. It's a strange world, my friend.
If you had to describe the recording process of your music, how does it work best for you and what do you use?
I don't know how much detail you or your readers want, but I'll do my best to try to keep this answer from being too awful and confusing. My DAW is Cakewalk by Bandlab on a Windows 7 platform. I've been using Cakewalk DAWs since 2006 or sometime close to then, back when it was called Sonar. And good God am I glad that Bandlab bought Cakewalk from Gibson after Gibson shut it down, but that's a whole other story. My interface is a Presonus FP-10 that uses the old 1394 Firewire ports. The drums are a couple of voices on an old Yamaha PSR-1500, from which the brass portion of my symphonics still come from on the newer records. Older records feature a Peavey JSX 4x12 halfstack, which will be returning on the next album for the guitar sound, with odds and ends coming from an Avid Eleven Rack, and that is the setup that I'll likely stick to from here on out. Bass is a five-string fretless through a Tech 21 Sans Amp. The guitar has active pickups which are a bit troublesome when any gain is applied to the signal, but their sound through that JSX is magic to me.
The process of recording has become quite complex. I record at home, and keep a book of notes, methods, and references so I can setup complex things like a guitar sound, and I have specific ones for Appalachian Winter. I quad-track my guitars, and will use a miced sound mixed with a direct sound through an ampsim in Cakewalk for this project's next album. I use re-amping for recording comfort - I can get the performance down through the Eleven Rack - where I can control the sound volume for the performance, and then send that pure signal to the JSX while I wear ear protection. I've setup templates in Cakewalk so I can record with minimal computer jockeying. I have keyboards, processors, and patchbays "hardwired" to some effect into the audio interface, so my preamp levels on there are relatively consistent. It's some work on the back end, but the result is a recording process that's relatively easy and comfortable, which is good for an ill-tempered guy like me who tends to throw things when he gets frustrated. It's likely that a good portion of my symphonics will be MIDI replaced, if the person I'm working with in that regard and I can figure out some of the piddling little things. Trying to get two DAWs and two separate studios a couple hundred miles apart to work with each other's MIDI files is proving to be a little tricky for us for some dumb reason we don't have a handle on yet.
How long do you expect to make music for and what are your goals till the end of this year onto the next?
Frankly, I can't have expectation for how long I can do this stuff. This form of black metal is physically taxing, but I can be thankful for the fact that despite my age, I have good energy, and can still pull this stuff off. I'd like to say that I'll make music in some form my whole life, but that's probably wishful thinking. But I have confidence that I'll be able to continue Appalachian Winter for a few albums, yet (take into consideration that early on, I thought I'd have at the most five albums to the Appalachian Winter name, and now I have eight and am beginning work on a ninth, and those numbers don't account for EPs, singles and such). As far as this year and next, I have a previous answer that seems to cover that part of the question.
How important is your work to you and what do you want others to get out of it?
The importance can seem weird, because I've stated quite clearly that this is something I do in my spare time. But it's still extraordinarily important to me. Let me try to get at something that I think I've explained poorly - music is a big reason I wake up every day. Like I mentioned before, I have a deep connection with it that's been with me my whole life. God, I feel so lame for saying shit like that, but a musician who doesn't have a connection with music would be more of a conundrum, I guess. I've been a music fan my whole life. Despite the fact that I've been playing for well over twenty years, now - it still amazes me that I can create music; that I can make the same sound that quite literally entranced me in my most formative moments. It's the feeling of being the most fully alive, that the air around me hangs heavy with - I just don’t know. I guess it feels like I am satisfying the very meaning of my existence.
As far as what I want others to get out of this stuff - that's not for me to decide. I believe fully that once my efforts are out there, they belong to whomever it is who listens - in the sense that my music is theirs to respond to, with their emotions, experience, soul, intellect - whatever it is they do with what they listen to. It would be a grievous misuse of my authorship to tell someone how to react or have some kind of an expectation of how someone else should react. That's their parts of this life, and it's part of their rights as sentient human beings. This is not a statement on copyright, however!
Any last words for the readers of Autoeroticasphyxium zine?
Thank you for your time in reading these silly responses to serious questions. All my best!
-Daniel M. Ryan