Photo: Isyraq Irfan
Much can be said about Decipher's latest release, Strange Comfort. From a slow emotional storm (The Sea That Surrounds Us) to a significantly heavier outburst (Coda), there seems to remain a strong sense of self-reflection and anticipation for the future by the end of their longest track to date.
Despite being turned down twice from one of Singapore's largest music festival, Baybeats, Decipher has always been one of the most forward-looking underground bands. Shifts in sounds may not always be the most welcomed—at least not right away—by listeners but the band has somehow managed to garner new and existing support with honesty as their greatest appeal.
This year, Decipher finally gets to tell their story at Baybeats. We had a chat with Wira Satria, guitarist and one of the vocalists of the band.
How do you perceive a cathartic sound to be?
A cathartic sound in my opinion, would be something that gives a sense of release. More or less like a purge of emotions coming endlessly from start to finish. It makes your heart ache yet you keep listening because it just stays in your mind, purely because of the amount of things you start to feel. A good example would be the way Hans Zimmer goes about his film scores – they’re absolutely insane and it just leaves you sitting there, speechless. I guess post rock acts do this best.
How does the album artwork express the meaning of Strange Comfort?
Strange Comfort is essentially the way we look at things from where we are standing. ‘Strange’ represents the things around us that make us feel hurt, lose belief and question ourselves.
‘Comfort’ though, represents the fact that although there are many things that could go wrong, I wouldn't do anything differently because of the places I've been to and the people I’ve met along the course of my journey thus far.
I think from there, the artwork would paint a rather apt picture of where I’m coming from.
How was your experience working with Callan Orr?
Ah where do I start… Callan is one of my favorite guitarists in heavy music. I was also a huge fan of the records he produced, mainly from Stepson, Pridelands and Avalanche. We sent a ton of emails back and forth, he liked our sound and by the time we knew it, I was sitting in his studio all the way in Melbourne. It’s crazy how things happen sometimes – he really made the songs in our EP blossom and we owe it all to him and our recording engineer, Xiang. I really got to learn a ton of things from him that books and Google searches will never help you with.
Decipher is (or was) known for the screams, which is most often associated with aggression. Was that what the band was fuelled by in its early days, and how has that evolved in present day?
Photo: Jein Sacapano
We used to be a band that played angry things. The drums were fast, guitars were on high gain and the lyrics were well, pretty angry.Not that we were angry people but I guess it was our way of letting things out when we were younger. It’s fair to say that the music you write (or associate with) tends to mature as you grow older, whether you're a musician or a listener. We have shifted genres a pretty good bit but I’m happy with where we are at in terms of the music.
These days we simply write what we feel and it is never about writing something that will garner a bigger fanbase or just for the sake of writing. As long as the five of us are proud to call it our own, that’s what matters.
They say youth is everything – how does that relate to the risks you’ve been taking, and will continue to take on as a band?
Age plays a huge part, especially for a local band. Things like National Service and working full time will get in the way of many things like overseas shows and having more time to write, for example. For now, we’re simply writing music to the best of our abilities and taking all the opportunities that come our way with open arms. It feels like a dream sometimes but just like all dreams, one day it will be time to wake up.
You guys run everything from press kits, marketing, booking shows to record making. How has this do-it-yourself process shaped your knowledge of the music industry?
Definitely. Its much more rewarding painting your own house than having someone do it for you, and that’s exactly how I feel about this.
Indeed it gets very tiring and we tend to switch off sometimes but I’m a firm believer that hard work will never go unchecked.
Going DIY with everything meant that I was working on this band almost like it’s a brand, and the amount of experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the years were totally worth it. It has been an eye opener, thats for sure.
Which was the most liberating song to write and produce from Strange Comfort?
I think the guys and I can agree that Coda was the most liberating one. It’s going to be hard to top that one off, honestly speaking.
What’s a song you wish people would sing along to more at shows?
Sleepless! Its the most sing along worthy track from the EP.
Would you care to let us in on your plans for the year?
Baybeats 2017 is looming around the corner, we’ll be opening the festival at 7.30pm on the 14th of July at the Powerhouse Stage! We also have two big shows later in July and we’re going to start writing for a release sometime later this year. We’ll keep you posted.