After tirelessly working in the studio for the past year, Thomas Feriero has entered 2018 with an abundance of projects and releases for the world to hear. Most known for his Avatism moniker or collaborative CW/A project with Clockwork, Feriero is now ready to launch his new alias Maenad Veyl. Returning to his roots, Maenad Veyl stems from his fascination with the darkest areas of music. We caught up with Feriero to find out all about his new project, his upcoming releases on Parachute and Death & Leisure and why trance became one of the biggest musical trends in 2017.
Hey Thomas, it’s great to speak to you.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to speak with you guys too.
You have so much coming up for this year already including a new project called Maenad Veyl. Can you talk us through the new project and why you’ve decided to release under a different name?
At some point around 2015, following a fallout with an agent and CW/A tour’s cancellation, I was struck with a pretty serious health issue that took up a lot of my time, leaving me stranded and unable to travel for a while. After years of being on tour and playing basically every weekend, it was a bit of a reality check.
I decided to make the most of this and finish all these Avatism “drafts” I collected over time, finishing something like 50 tracks I mostly reserved for my liveset or used on ‘I Was Warned About People Like Us’, ‘Killing the Hour’ and ‘Bad Summer’ (coming out this February on Parachute.) Myself and Francesco also worked on a second CW/A album but we eventually scrapped it.
While working on these I came up with a lot of concepts that didn’t quite fit any of my active monikers. As cheesy as it sounds, I was also focusing a lot on self-improvement and I wanted to have deeper, more concrete substance to my music. The situation I was in was perfect to start afresh and to paint a blank canvas without too many prejudices and preconceptions.
After our last show as CW/A at Berghain in May, I returned to Milan (where I live) to develop these ideas into Maenad Veyl.
‘Somehow, Somewhere They Have Heard This Before’ is being released on cassette as well as digital. Why have you decided to release on cassette rather than vinyl? What is it that draws you to that format?
The idea was originally Marsman’s but it didn’t really take him much convincing as I think kicking off the year with a split 12” EP and a cassette was the best way to start a project that, at its heart, is influenced by ‘80s/90s hardcore and grind.
2017 was a bit of a discouraging year for vinyl anyways. French pressing plant MPO had a major meltdown causing infinite delays for everyone and I had to wait more than six months to see some projects go from mastered files to product. I love vinyl, but it can be a slow beast at times.
The EP is a lot darker, moodier and slower than the productions under Avatism, what inspired this change of style?
I was always fascinated with the darkest areas of music. I grew up listening to Slayer and early Metallica and eventually got into doom metal, Suicide, Napalm Death and industrial acts like Skinny Puppy, which I think all play a part in influencing the sound behind Maenad Veyl. I’m attracted to music that can be both brooding and menacing while retaining some self-awareness though, and think a bit too many acts are just “dark for the sake of being dark” or follow some obscure/mysterious aesthetic just to excuse something boring or to follow some lame trend.
I stopped following what’s cool or mainstream years ago and this project is more about me returning to my roots than about me making “dark music.” I’m exploring the ideas that made me fall in love with sound in the first place and I’m trying to keep it fun.
How did your relationship begin with Pinkman records? What do you like about the label?
I stumbled on one of the early releases a while back, I think it was Drvg Cvltvre or Reckonwrong, and have followed them quite closely ever since. I had a lot of material I was working on and I just shot Marsman an email to see what he thought at the end of last year. As they say, one thing lead to another…
Will you be touring under your Maenad Veyl project?
I’m actually taking a break from setting up my new liveset for the project to reply to these questions! I should be relatively soon and I’ll be planning a tour around this new setup this year. I really can’t wait to play this material out.
Following this, there’s a release on Parachute under Avatism called ‘Bad Summer’. ‘Inspired by 90s emo-trance’, what are some of your favourite artists who release under a similar genre?
The whole “emo-trance” thing was actually a joke, I’m not sure there’s such a thing. 🙂 I was never really into trance, and I luckily skipped any kind of emo phase but I can’t deny my love for an over-the-top sawtooth synth line here and there.
Trance was one of 2017’s top electronic music trends, why do you think the genre is being revived now?
I’m taking your word for it as I’ve never been such a studio rat as this year, but it’s probably because people got bored with everyone being too serious and unnecessarily “dark”. I find it hilarious that a lot of producers and DJs were being all mean and mysterious (on Instagram out of all places!) these last couple of years.
I understand them very well and I think I might have been like that myself when I was younger but some people forget that, at the end of the day, they’re still an entertainer. Anyways, I’m glad it’s on its way out. I believe trance’s euphoria is just a reaction to that.
“I’m attracted to music that can be both brooding and menacing while retaining some self-awareness though, and think a bit too many acts are just “dark for the sake of being dark” or follow some obscure/mysterious aesthetic just to excuse something boring or to follow some lame trend.
I stopped following what’s cool or mainstream years ago and this project is more about me returning to my roots than about me making “dark music.””
You’ll also be releasing an EP with Years Of Denial, how did that collaboration come about?
I’ve never actually met Years of Denial, but I love their music and I knew Oliver [Ho, who runs the Death & Leisure] would pick something of quality. I’m really happy with how it turned out, I think we both share a love for early grindcore and punk so it made sense to everyone.
Collaboration seems to be a key theme within your work, what do you enjoy about collaborating with other artists?
I think you can learn a lot from moving outside your comfort zone and exposing your strengths and weaknesses to a fellow artist you respect. It can be very inspiring. With that said, I have also enjoyed going back to working 100% solo this past year. When you’re alone you can really turn yourself crazy, in a good way of course.
Can you talk us through your production process, do you go into the studio with a clear idea of what you’d like to create?
Most of the time I’m going to have an idea — a rhythm or some riff — that works as a starting point. It’s usually just that, and from then there are really are no rules. I tried to follow some kind of scheme a few times but I don’t find it very exciting so I tend to experiment every time to keep me interested in what I’m doing.
I try to go to the studio every day it’s physically possible, so it’s important for me to switch things up and keep it from getting stale.
Do you prefer using hardware or software?
I think this age-old debate is luckily coming to an end. Today software can sound as good as hardware yet offer some enormous benefits such as instant recall, multiple instances and mobility. Hardware exists in the physical world though, and it is a very important asset in many situations, such as when performing live.
As an artist I’m open to everything: hardware, software, VR, blockchain. Who cares? If it inspires me to create I’m cool with it.
Your bio states that you weren’t born into a musical family and had a ’standard childhood’, so how did your relationship with electronic music begin?
Both my parents loved music actually, but who doesn’t? I first got into “electronic” music when I was asked to program death metal drums troug MIDI during my first years of high school, but I honestly had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I wonder if anything has changed…
What was it that captivated you and cemented your decision to build a career within it?
I never really decided much, it kind of just… happened. I was working at a marketing agency and just making tracks as a hobby, when suddenly I started getting enough bookings to pay for rent. As years passed by I became more aware of it being an important part of my life, hence why I kept trying to “re-invent” myself with new ideas based on more experience. It can be overwhelming at times but it’s a very exciting and rewarding path.
With the new project in mind, is there anything else you’d to experiment with whether that’s a different sound or concept?
I’m fully focused on Maenad Veyl at the moment as I have a lot more things planned for the rest of the year but who knows, right?
Top 5 records at the moment?
Fever Ray – Plunge
Godflesh – Post-Self
Glassjaw – Material Control
Nicolas Jaar – Sirens (Deluxe Edition)
Joni Void – Selfless