The Gothic Reveries of Black Angel
The Gothic Reveries of Black Angel
The almighty Black Angel has unveiled Kiss of Death – their second gothic rock manifesto upon the world at large. Black Angel is the creation of musician and producer Matt Vowles, presenting sonic reveries in the grand tradition of Bauhaus and The Cure. Highwire Daze recently caught up with the mastermind behind Black Angel to find out a whole lot more about the dark and glorious tapestries found within the dynamic Kiss Of Death. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Black Angel, and how long the band has been together.
Black Angel were formed in 2019. I grew up in the 80s going goth clubs and listening to bands like Bauhaus, The Damned and The Cult, just to name a few – and I continued to listen to this genre of music for the next 25 years. It was always so well crafted in the 80s and it always resonated with me. I have always worked as a mixer, engineer, producer, and mastering engineer and have had many albums out over the last two decades – mainly in the rock and electronica genres.
Although being English I now reside in Los Angeles as I work for a major studio in the film industry – so I would produce and write these albums to get placed in films and TV shows, I had success with this but it never really made me happy – I really wanted to do this for me personally. I didn’t really care whether it was well received or not as long as I enjoy it fortunately people were starting to like it
At the beginning of 2019 I decided to put down the computers and start picking up the guitar again. Before I knew I had 40+ songs, at least enough for one album- so I decided I wanted to release them on a record. Black Angel was born.
I’m the core member of the band. I write all of the musical material and then I invite writers that I have worked with in the past to collaborate. I sent tracks out to various people and they send me back ideas, if any of them stick we develop the song together and it goes on the album. Some writers come and go and some just have a knack for writing really good material. My friend Julie Hinneman is one of those. The newest member of Black Angel is Corey Landis, for the second album I wanted a slightly different vocal sound so I searched for about three months and just when I thought all was lost, Corey got in touch with me and everything fit like a glove.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Even though and English band I’m located in Los Angeles. LA is enormous and very spread out and if you’ve ever spent anytime here there isn’t as much community as in other places especially in Europe. I only go to see big bands like The Cure, The Cult, Bauhaus etc when they come through here.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Kiss Of Death album title?
This album is different as it’s more Goth rock, more of the direction I want to be going in and it’s definitely more polished.
On every project you are continually learning whether it be writing or production and your style as a producer continues to evolve during this process. I hope the songs on this album portray a stronger story than from the last and listeners feel more immersed, that’s my goal- and if you’re listening on headphones you should definitely enjoy a good experience in the sonic landscape. I think it sounds really cool. As an engineer, producer and mastering engineer the only person I have to please is myself, it’s also on my own label so I have nobody to answer to, I just have to make myself happy! – which sometimes can take longer than if you needed to deliver to somebody – it’s a double edge sword for sure.
The name ‘Kiss of Death’ came about purely because I thought it sounded cool, I’m always referencing back to 80s goth music, I think the best goth music came from this era and I try to think, is this something that would’ve been done back then. And if it feels good, it stays. For me the gothic genre is always a little tongue-in-cheek, always a little bit cliché – that’s what it’s all about, real Goths don’t take things too seriously. In my experiences.
Select any two songs from Kiss Of Death and what inspired the lyrics?
For me nearly all goth songs are love songs or relate to relationships in one way or another. And ‘Animal’ and ‘Kiss of Death’, like the others, are total love songs, just wrapped up in a little bit more obscurity. And darkness.
What has it been like to release new music right in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
I’m in a fortunate enough position to have a studio in my house so the lockdown didn’t change anything for me specifically. I normally spend a lot of time in the studio whether it be on Black Angel or other film projects so nothing really changed- I’m a bit of a workaholic when it comes to all things sound related. I do feel bad for the bands that have tours planned and aren’t able to go out and earn a living from playing live. I know it’s important to a lot of people so I do feel for those bands – and their supporters too, especially if they’ve been looking forward to seeing one of their favorite artists for a long time. Of course the music industry has suffered financially, if people can’t work then they don’t have that disposable income available to purchase music, although over the last year I’ve been really impressed by the people on Bandcamp. I love the fact that they want to buy physical sales like CDs, vinyl and cassettes. It really keeps me inspired that people still love music and have not been sucked into the endless vacuum that is streaming music
What could one expect from a live Black Angel show?
I’m a big fan of live performances being a live interpretation of the record. Some people like that and some people don’t. For me I want to experience what I felt when listening to the song for the first time but with a live band. Not a carbon copy for sure but pretty close. Black Angel live shows are hopefully exciting. Maybe more next year when restrictions lift. Like to do some festivals for sure.
If Black Angel could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
The Cult. They rock. Their live shoes are awesome and Billy Duffy is rock guitar god.
If Black Angel were invited to appear on a Bauhaus/Peter Murphy tribute album and could choose any one song to cover, which song would that be and why?
Good question. I think most would choose Bela Lugosi’s Dead but for me it would be Stigmata Martyr from their ‘In The Flat Field’ album. This track has so much pent up energy and emotion it would be cool if we could even get close to that.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Black Angel?
Not any more. Used to have my fingers in many pies but now it’s all Black Angel and that’s my total focus 100%
What’s up next for Black Angel?
Supporters of Black Angel can expect me to get right back to writing. Our third album ‘Prince of Darkness’ already has a bunch of songs written for it. he last album took so long to get out, (although it was only a year) because I needed to find a singer. I’m really hoping to get this third album out within the next six months or so
Any final words of wisdom?
Really appreciate the support we’ve found on these last two albums. It’s been a total surprise and I feel very fortunate. And if I can keep doing this then I’m gonna be one lucky guy.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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