Though there have certainly been studies proving this fact, it doesn’t take a scientist to recognise that music has therapeutic value, and on some records, you can almost feel the catharsis along with the performers. For Fool’s Ghost, the desolate vistas conjured up by their unique strain of introspective music are directly inspired by real-world pain. That feeling of loss and grief is palpable in their music’s stark soundscapes and vulnerable vocals, which come together to lament whilst searching for hints of hope.
The project marks a bold new step for its members, Amber Thieneman (Liberation Prophecy, Sandpaper Dolls) and Nick Thieneman, who’s most known as one-third of Young Widows. The duo’s debut album, Dark Woven Light, doesn’t so much bridge the gap between vast cinematic atmospheres and stripped-back introspection as it does ignore that there ever was one. Though not heavy in the traditional sense, the record’s emotionally exacting nature has impressed metal label Prosthetic Records, who are releasing it on 20th March.
A key facet of the band is also their visuals, with the couple both being artists in a multidisciplinary sense. Their live show, which will be brought to venues across the US this spring (dates below), is a key part of this, but also important are their gorgeous music videos. The latest of these is for the remarkably poignant ‘Shut Away’, and we’re thrilled to be bringing you an exclusive premiere of this stunning video, created by Bobby Markos of Cloakroom. Check it out below, then keep scrolling for a insightful Q&A into the project’s beginnings, the record’s personal themes and what heaviness in music means in 2020.
How did the project come together, and how would you describe what you do?
We went through a very sudden traumatic family loss that was in the middle of a long lull from my other band, Young Widows. Naturally, Amber and I gravitated to each other with music. Writing together was very therapeutic. There’s definite vulnerability and intensity that occurs while working creatively with a spouse/partner but I think that adds certain qualities to the songs that might not be there otherwise. So I wouldn’t coin it as “couples music therapy” necessarily, but it’s very much surviving through song together.
The record has quite a dark, melancholy feel despite hints of hope shining through in places. What themes or concepts does the record explore?
Death and drifting through waves of grief are in there a fair bit. Some songs are focused on stories about people fading into obscurity. I’d say the hints of hope you’re hearing is us wanting to believe that all those heavy lows are only temporary. It’s nothing cheerful, I know, but it’s what pushed this record out of us.
What (or who) inspires your music, particularly on this record?
Our son is definitely a source of inspiration. We feel that it is important for him to see the love we have for creativity especially through art and music. A more specific example on this record is the song ‘Ghost Heart’ which was inspired by an artist and a scientist. The Heart’s Knowledge Will Never Decay: A conversation between Dario Robleto and Dr. Doris Taylor, who is leading international regenerative medicine research efforts, really drove the creation of this song. It’s important to look at multiple perspectives especially where scientific and technological advancements are increasing at a rapid pace. To end our record with this song is to end with more questions than answers, but also to offer a reconnection with our humanity and consider what may be at stake.
There’s a string of acts with comparatively lighter sounds that have been embraced by the heavy music community in recent years, which is perhaps exemplified by your signing to metal label Prosthetic Records. Do you think this is a sign that peoples’ perceptions of what “heaviness” in music is are changing?
To me, an overall mood can be more effective in making a record heavy, not necessarily screaming or distorted, downtuned guitars. Not that I have a problem with music of that kind, just that there are heavy records without those elements. So yes, I’d say things are changing but they always are, right? Being on Prosthetic doesn’t make perfect sense, but that’s why we love it. The parameters and barriers within musical genres are only there because people set the rules, we can just as easily remove or break them.
How was working with producer Kevin Ratterman? Judging by his past work with the likes of Emma Ruth Rundle, Jaye Jayle and Jim James, he certainly seems to excel when working with artists with vast atmospheric sounds.
Working with Kevin has always been a relaxed and productive experience. While each of our experiences have been very different, he’s always been able to channel a shared vision that usually ends up making a record feel otherworldly. The day after we finished the tracking for Dark Woven Light he moved, so our timing was somewhat bittersweet. He is missed here in Louisville, but we’re happy to see him thrive out in L.A.!
Dark Woven Light is out 20th March through Prosthetic Records. Order here.