Interview by Helena Markos
Today, we are very excited to introduce you to Torn Relics, Aimee and Rommek, the London-based duo, who last year released their magnificent debut EP ‘The Poisoned Chalice’, on SNTS‘s Sacred Court.
In this interview, Torn Relics share their thoughts about the drastic changes in the world, caused by the current pandemic and the BLM movement and they also also reflect on the post-virus scene.
They give as an insight into their very interesting creative process and they also discuss the challenges that artists come across, due to the almost necessary social media exposure and the prevailing monetisation of the scene.
Torn Relics are responsible for magically orchestrated experimental music, filled with intense dark and tribal elements. In the core of their music the listener will experience, organic sounds created with a variety of instruments, combined with a ritualistic, pagan-like atmosphere, influenced by Irish musical traditions, which are translated into modern sonic experiences.
T.O.P: Hi guys, welcome to Tales of Psychofonia. First of all, I want to thank you for dedicating time to do this interview and then I want to ask you how is the pandemic and the current events in the world affecting you, both as humans and as artists?
Hey, thanks so much for having us. It’s hard to believe that we are half way through 2020. The pandemic has been really tough for everyone. Aimée works for the NHS, so has been grafting throughout lockdown. Music has been a total escape from the realities of living through COVID. The tense feelings in the world right now have definitely shaped the sound pallet and emotion of tunes we’ re making presently.
T.O.P: Who are Torn Relics and what is the story behind your project?
We started this project back in 2016 when we moved in together. Originally, we just enjoyed jamming, as we built a studio in our sitting room, but we realised pretty quickly that our styles complimented each other, and after each jam we would essentially have a track laid down. It naturally progressed into forming a band. Rommek had already establish his solo productions, making more techno focused tracks, but wanted to experiment more. We both love utilising different instruments and sound sources in our material.
T.O.P: Last year we had a great example of your work as presented through your phenomenal EP ‘The Poisoned Chalice’, released on SNTS’s Sacred Court. Do you want to share the story behind this exquisite record and the collaboration with SNTS?
Sacred Court initially got in contact with Rommek to see if he had material for a solo release and at the time we had been writing a lot of Torn Relics material, but hadn’t publicised it. We jumped on the opportunity to send them our demos and they decided they wanted to work on a release. We were buzzing when a remix of Clear As Ethanol was suggested and the outcome couldn’t have been more pumping.
T.O.P: Is there any person, moment or experience that played a significant role for your expression and art?
A – Growing up on the border in Ireland playing trad fiddle and bodhrán (Irish drum), while heading round the country to take part in sessions/ fleadh competitions definitely shaped me artistically. I love the mournful story telling aspect of Irish music; it evokes a wildness in you when you play or listen. If you’re into trad sessions, you’re likely to be into multi-instrument playing, and if you can’t play, you best have some sort of party trick up your sleeve, because at some point after a few pints, you’ll have to perform. I met a man one night that played the spoons off his shiny balled head- serious tone he got out of it and all…
R – We both were inspired to want to play out live, after attending Berlin Atonal in 2015 and then we kept going back. Playing in such an impressive and visually captivating space would always be a dream. Also, I would say I have been inspired by the Dadaism movement, in a broad sense. Challenging what different forms art can take and also I like the ideas of collage work. This can relate to blending different genres and style of music into one and not feeling like music needs to be categorised.
T.O.P: How would you describe your creative process? What inspires you most?
We’re all about jamming and trying things out on the spot. We try not to impose specific structural themes for what we are about to make, so that keeps it exciting. Sometimes we work from a string melody that Aimee starts with on the electric violin, or it could be a drum sequence that Rom creates. Either way, we record different elements simultaneously to capture the energy and then layer or edit parts. We enjoy combining classical instruments such as violin, guitar, traditional drums, vocals with electronics.
We like to leave things a little raw and unpolished, as its more about the atmosphere and textures captured. Arcane, ritualistic and tribal sounds from different cultures and time spans influence us massively and we think it shines through in our own productions.
T.O.P: How do you feel artists and the scene will emerge in a post-pandemic era?
If you look back to any period of global depression, conflict or struggle, artists and musicians always come back fighting, mirroring what’s happening in their environment. We’ve noticed a real shift towards creativity during lock down and a communal effort from some artists, producers and promoters to do what they can to fight racism by education and standing in solidarity with the BLM movement.
Things will return to a new normal for us all, and we imagine there will be an abundance of art/ music to dive into, but it might be that there are fewer places to experience it in. Hopefully there will be a rise in the DIY scene/ alt venues and less of the superficial clubbing experiences, and hyper monetisation of electronic music that we are so frequently seeing in the scene nowadays.
T.O.P: What do you think are the major challenges that artists face today?
It feels like there is no anonymity anymore. There is excessive pressure to churn out content for the sake of it. Not every artist or musician wants to have a massive online presence, but without being online to some extent, you will find it hard to get booked/signed.
T.O.P: Any upcoming projects / collaborations to announce?
We have a new 8 track album signed to a label that we really love and admire! Currently working on the mix downs. For this, we’re also planning a short film.
T.O.P: Who are Torn Relics outside the studio or venues?
We both love exploring nature and urban decay, as well as a good pub…Aimee is a Mental Health Specialist Nurse in the community and Rom is a Sound Engineer at various London venues. He also works doing audio restoration and digitising old music that otherwise cannot be bought online.
T.O.P: Which piece of music or album would you suggest as a mind/soul healer?
Turn the lights off, get on the floor and melt into yourself!