A chat with Oceans of Slumber

Hi there, Cammie. May I say that it is a true pleasure to have you here with us? How are you and the rest of the band doing?  I am doing well, thanks for having me. The band and I have all stayed healthy and safe during these unusual times. 

First things first, may I say that this album is pure perfection. Why did you choose to give this album the same name as the band? We felt that the moment was right. We’ve come into the stride of fully actualizing our sound and the essence of the vibes we want to convey and are unapologetic for it.

What ideas did you have for this record? How challenging it was for you? What took you more time? The lyrics or the music? Oceans of Slumber works in two parts. The band does everything instrumental and I do all the vocal arrangments and lyrics. The music always comes together quicker than I come up with lyrics and melodies once it’s given over to me. Everyone is often waiting for me to see what I have done with a song.  

On this album, we wanted to bring everything we had to the table. We weren’t going to make anything off-limits. Creating without boundaries and not concerning ourselves with fitting into any particular mold or genre. We like heavy music and thus the elements that we bring to the table will have heavy characteristics, however the rest we gave its own flair and allowed a more diverse expression. If a rift or a chorus piqued our interest then a song was formed from there. Everything just seeking to be in service of the song. 

Did you write more songs? How was the selection of the songs?

I stayed away from the instrumental development of this album. With so many new members, and not having anything, in particular, to add musically, I took time to work on writing. Jessie, Semir, and Xan have brought such great technicality and emotions to these songs, and this new album. When it comes to song selection, once everything is done and the songs are in their rough form, everyone sits with them a while and gives them a listen. It arises naturally which songs don’t fit or need some changes based on the overall feel and journey of the album. 

What is the story of the tracks? Is there a character involved or they come from a personal issue? Do tell us more, please.

When we approached a theme for the album it began with discussions about the stages of grief. As we expanded this premise we found a connection to societal grief and tensions that were rising in the communities around us. A culture grieving, a growing group of people seeking healing. We decided to take the songs in a direction that would allow us to tell the story of many, a story of those outside ourselves, but about emotions, we all struggle with. 

Music, more than ever, has the power to heal and with this album, it gives inner peace. What are your thoughts with these words?

With everything I do I aim for the music that I make to provide much more than just entertainment. My hope is that through acknowledging these tough emotions that others find peace, healing, and validation for feelings that are not always easy to share. 

This is a new chapter for you. Was it difficult for you to take control of this new adventure or you already knew what you wanted to do?

I had a fundamental idea of what I always wanted to do and that was to make a difference and find an outlet I could give my all. I have always loved singing and when I joined Oceans Of Slumber I felt that I had finally found that something. When things pose a challenge to the band we know that no matter what we must keep going and fighting and persevere for this ability to have this expression. 

You wanted to sing in a more Broadway-style. Did you study the style and watch plays, which could give you that achievement? 

While I have mad respect for Broadway singers and that clean, articulate way of singing, I can’t say I ever wanted to sing more in that style. My goal is to have a healthy voice that isn’t inhibited by style or lack of practice and training. I have always just wanted to sound the best I could with my own unique style. 

“I wanted to connect with listeners over these universal truths and turmoils.” What truths and turmoils are you talking about?

Everyone experiences some range of grief, loss, disappointment, depression, hopelessness, stress. However, everyone isn’t always given an outlet for these emotions to be validated. A safe space to just let these feelings be and drift away. 

Chris Kritikos and Mark Lopez were the engineers responsible for this magic. How did you meet? Were you familiarized with their work? How was working with them? 

We’d worked with Chris and Mark on The Banished Heart. As a prominent studio here in Houston, Southwing Audio has been a familiar establishment with us for serval years. They are fantastic to work with and bring as much humor as they do professionalism to every session. 

A final mix by Edge Of Sanity mastermind and esteemed Swedish production guru, Dan Swanö, made all the difference. Are you fans of this person? What new sound did he bring to the band?

Huge fan of Dan’s work. From Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, and Pan-thy-monium to his production work with Dissection, Opeth, Incantation, etc. He was a perfect fit for breathing life into what this record was to become. The first track he mixed was Pray for Fire and it was during a huge storm, he had messaged and said it gave him goosebumps. The second track was A Return To The Earth Below when he had his first listen through of the mix he proclaimed it as “the most bombastic thing I’ve ever mixed”. Since then he has labeled the album as a “mega record” and we couldn’t’ be happier with working with him!

Giannis Nakos captured the band and album’s essence. How did you discover him? Did you give him information about what you wanted or did he listen to the songs? How did he prepare himself for it?  

Giannis and Dobber have been friends for many years. Having designed several shirts for us in the past, we were completely blown away by the new direction his style took and asked him to design the new album cover. We love his interpretations of our music and so we simply sent him the album and gave him complete artistic freedom. You’d have to ask him how he brings it all together, but we couldn’t be happier with what he delivered. He captured the essence of the album perfectly and with such dramatic detail. 

“A Return To The Earth Below” is pure joy to the ears and eyes. “Within ourselves, just as within our societies there are cycles that need to be broken. Cycles that hold us down, that tear us apart that give us anguish. I know that this song is about depression and you had to face it and fight it back. Can we say that this song is a cry for help, for the people who suffer from it and don’t know how to deal with it?

Yes, you’ve made a good point and a new statement about this song. It could absolutely be a cry for help. Or has elements of a cry for help within it. I suppose I felt that after all the cries had gone unheard that ultimately it came down to the individual to save themselves and free themselves from that cycle. But to your point, no one should have to suffer alone and can get a great deal of help through others. For instance, I don’t know where I would be without Dobber. 

How the video shoot go? Who was responsible for it?

Our video was directed by Chris Warren and shot by Brittney Miles of WARRENHOUSE FILMS. It was long days, but a lot of fun. 

What differences can we hear between this album and the first one (“Aetherial”)?

Aetherial was the starting point. We had no direction really and were just writing quirky and fun music. When the original vocalist left the band and Cammie entered we began a different journey. Having added a new element such as hers to what we were doing it became evident we would alter the way things were going. Throughout the years we’ve focused more and more on delivering a unified vision of what we are capable of with the tools we have. We’re essentially limitless with approaches. We can blend soul, gospel, black metal, doom, death metal, and electronic music without boundaries. At least for us anyway. That’s what is different and precisely the same. We are just making music that we love and can stand behind, no matter what iteration of the band. 

Do you plan to launch a new single? Could you give us more information about it, please?

Everyone should keep the anticipation going as we have more in store with two more single releases coming soon!

How is it working with Century Century Media Records? 

They have been fantastic. We’ve found our stride with a great new team and are happy with the effort put out for our band’s success. 

I’d like you to share your personal opinions on important subjects. What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement, Houston, and how racism affected you and your music?

The BLM movement it an important component to society not just for the betterment of black people, but everyone affected by the wrongdoings or ailments that disproportionately affect the black community. The idea to remember is these issues DISPORPORTIANOTLY affect black people, this means they are also affecting everyone else, and they are not good for anyone. If it takes the black community speaking out and organizing to fight against these institutions and negative powers that be, then by coming together and working together, everyone aims to gain a safer, more compassionate, and more peaceful society in which to live. 

Do you feel that it’s important to be as Black frontwoman, especially in a genre that has very few Black frontwomen? 

I think it is important. In a general sense, as more people see me, whether they look like me or not, it expands the roles we are all allowed to manifest, and it gives encouragement for others that might want to follow in the footsteps of the same kind of expression. 

You received a few prizes for the album “ The Banished Heart, for example, “50 Best 

Albums of 2018”, featured on Metal Hammer. Did you expect that? Do tell us more, please.

We never expect anything, it always a nice surprise and one we look forward to. We appreciate anytime our music can be spotlighted and others appreciate the work that’s gone into their development. 

How did it feel to be named, as one of Bandcamp’s “Ten of Metal’s Most Powerful Vocalists”?

That was truly a surprise and has made me quite happy! 

You toured with amazing bands: Insomnium, Enslaved, Swallow The Sun, and more. What experiences do you remember, while touring with them? Do you have some stories that you could share with us?

Every tour is so unique and acts as a sort of other world, or snippet in time, experience. Every night you get to enjoy someone of your favorite music live and it is something that never gets old. Afterward, everyone hangs out and the music and good times continue in between the not so good times and waiting around, but overall it is magical. Something I miss dearly and don’t take for granted. 

You also featured as one of the lead roles on the new Ayreon record “Transitus”. What was the name of the character? Did you audition for the role? How did it go?

This has been a wonderful experience! My character’s name is Abby! I actually did not have to audition. Arjen knows what and who he wants and works from there. He made the character and parts around my range so it’s a perfect fit. It was awesome working with him. 

Will you be touring, to present this album? What countries would you like to visit?

Who knows with the current situation, but as soon as it is safe, we most certainly are ready to bring this album to everyone live. We can’t wait to make it back to Germany, the UK, France, Greece, Spain, and one day get to Brazil! 

If there were a vocalist that you would like to sing and make a duet with, who would it be? In what style? Why this person?

I’d love a doomy duet with Patrick Walker from Warning. His wonderfully deep and rich voice bellows such serenity and destruction all at the same time. 

Thanks and this was a privilege to chat with you. What words would you like to share with your fans, our readers, and fellow Metalheads?

I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe! I miss you all and hope to see you soon! 

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