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Interview with

Ashley Dayour (Whispers in the Shadow / L'Âme Immortelle).

Formed in 1997 and newly signed to Echozone / Sony BMG, the release of their fifth album and live DVD ‘Into the arms of chaos - how to steal the fire from heaven’ has introduced WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW to a whole new audience and led to a full touring calendar, including appearances at this year’s Wave Gotik Treffen and M’era Luna Festivals. Founding member Ashley Dayour (also live guitarist with L’Âme Immortelle) was happy to answer a few questions…

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: How would you describe your music to someone who does not know the band?
Ashley Dayour [AD]: Like waves crashing on a different shore. Epic, dark, guitar driven, honest…twisted.

RoD: The new album, ‘Into the Arms of Chaos’, is very dark, musically. Would a newcomer to WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW get a good idea of what the band is about by listening to this album?
AD: Yeah they would, simply because this is how we sound now, it is a very heavy album, I mean not in the sense of heavy metal, it’s gloomy and deep. But there is a certain kind of humour behind all this darkness, a very twisted humour though. Dark music for me has more hope and feeling then all the happy so called chart music of the entire world. Our music is heavy in the true sense of the word.

RoD: How long has the band been in existence and has the line up always been the same?
AD: It started as a solo project but soon developed into a full line up band. The only member left from the beginning is me. But our current line up is a very staple one, I hope. ;-)

RoD: Has the band always been a heavily guitar-oriented one?
AD: Yes, absolutely, simply because I’m a guitarist. I mean almost all the songs are based on guitar riffs, and it is the instrument that I use to compose on, well most of the time. The guitar is a very powerful instrument, almost unlimited, especially if you use it in a certain way, with loads of effects and stuff like that.

RoD: How many albums has the band released? Which is your particular favourite and why?
AD: We released 5 studio and two live albums so far. My fave is the new one of course. I am aware that every artist says that about his new creation, but in this case I’m sure that I’m right, and I think that critics and fans think the same. For the first time I’m 100% happy with the result, and that is really rare!

RoD: What made you choose the name WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW?
AD: A voice whispering out of the shadow…;-) the name is a connection with the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Whisperer in the Dark” H.P.L. is a very big influence!

RoD: Who does most of the writing in the band, or is it a team effort?
AD: It depends on the song, sometimes I have an almost complete demo recording with all the arrangements and lyrics, sometimes we work like a band jamming along in the rehearsing room. Songs like ‘Babylon Rising’ or ‘Down by the Sea’ are written like that. I’m not WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW, the boys are very important, I never could achieve anything like that without them, but we have the same kind of vision. That’s the most important thing, everyone wants the same.

RoD: Where do the inspirations for your songs come from?
AD: First of all life, very simple. Books are important too, reading certain kind of books inspires me a lot. Inspiration is everywhere, I mean even a ride with the tube can be an inspiration, a conversation, a movie… everything; I think it is important to walk around with open eyes and ears. Life is inspiration. You just have to learn to absorb.

RoD: The new album’s artwork contains many symbols and hieroglyphics.  Is there any significance in these symbols to the music on the album?
AD: They are very important, every song has its symbol, the symbols represent the themes of the songs, and the symbols are chosen very well, the whole record is a travel through the so called tree of life, down to the abyss. Symbolism is everywhere, most of the time we are not aware of it, but it is a very powerful and important tool and that’s the way we use them, you don’t really have to know what they are about, your unconsciousness is doing it for you.

RoD: What made you choose John A. Rivers to produce the new album?
AD: I’m the guitar player for L’Âme Immortelle as well and he produced two of their albums, so that’s from where I knew him. From the first session I met him I knew this would be the perfect guy to mix a WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW record. He sees the studio as another tool, another instrument. I knew one day the stars would be right to work together, good things come to those who wait.

RoD: Are you pleased with the almost Spector-esque “Wall of Sound” he’s produced?
AD: As I said before, that was the kind of sound I had in my mind for WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW since the day I started the band, it’s a kind of “more is more” sound. I am aware that some people might think that it’s too much, but that’s really me… a little bit too much is just good enough.

RoD: Whose idea was it to have Matt Howden (Sieben) play violin on ‘The Nightside of Eden’ track?
AD: Same old story though ;-) I worked with him during some L’Âme Immortelle productions. When I first saw him playing his violin I was stunned, he’s one of the most gifted musicians I’ve ever seen in my life, he’s insane! In a good way, though!  I love the things he did under the banner of Sieben, and it was an honour to have him on the record. At the moment he’s doing a remix of ‘Nightside of Eden’ and I’m really looking forward to hear it, I am a “full on” fan.

RoD: Do you prefer to play live, write music or work in the studio?
AD: Easy question, LIVE! I mean working in the studio is nice, but can’t compete with the feelings when you are doing a good concert. Even though, when I did the vocal tracks for this album it was almost like being on a stage, I recorded them from 6 P.M. until 6 A.M. in the morning, very fast I know, and when I came out of the studio in the morning it was one of the highlights in my life as a musician.

RoD: Do you try to reproduce the recorded music in your live performances, or do you make the live versions different each time? I am assuming that you do not use backing tracks!
AD: Except for some voice samples and drum loops we don’t use any backings. Live is a different thing, it’s not about reproducing, more about creating. We improvise from time to time; I don’t want to lose the opportunity of doing things different on stage. And I’ve given up caring about how we can reproduce things on stage… it’s different. When I see a band which sounds the same live as on record I go home.

RoD: Is the Ashley on stage the same person as the Ashley off stage?
AD: Sometimes, my stage persona is different for sure; I need that, all the make up. But it’s not about putting on a mask, it’s more like a ritual getting ready for the holy ground they called “the stage”. The way I look on stage and off stage is not that different, I think.

RoD: Apart from WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW and your live guitar work with L’Âme Immortelle, do you or the other band members have any other projects or bands?
AD: Martin Acid the keyboard player is doing his own stuff, which I really love and I wish he would do more, besides that I have some solo ambitions from time to time… I have this tarot project going on, picking a tarot card and do a song about it, posting it on MySpace the next day, just for the sake of it.

RoD: What are your plans for 2009? Are you writing any new material, or having a creative break?  I believe you are playing WGT at Leipzig and M’era Luna.  Is there any possibility of the band coming to the UK?
AD: We are about to begin to write new stuff, and hope to do some more shows in ’09. WE WOULD LOVE TO do some shows in the U.K., but we’ve been pretty unknown there. It’s changing with the new record, which is good, I mean it’s so funny you are going there to produce your new records (RoD: the new album was recorded/mixed in UK) but you don’t do any shows there...weird…It’s time to change that ;-) …up to you…

RoD: If you could travel in the Tardis (Doctor Who’s time machine), to what time and place would you like to travel?
AD: Only five minutes before I wrote this… just to see if there is any difference. But I think I wouldn’t recon anything anyway. So maybe I already did… damn… What a chance… missed it…can’t be that wrong…can it?

RoD: If you could come back to life as an animal, what would it be and why?
AD: An undiscovered one. So I can live another 50 years… most likely a cat, really boring I know… but I love cats…


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