The Devil and The Universe

The Devil and The Universe

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After a year with lots of collaborations and new albums for Ashley Dayour it was time for some questions and warm you up for his gig with The Devil and The Universe at W-Fest!

Hi, as this is our first interview, can you tell us why you called the project his way and why not the Goat?
Two cards selected from the 78-piece tarot card-set as utilized by the most famous occultist of the 20th century Aleister Crowley, were behind the first step. “The Devil” and “The Universe” were the cards pulled that would prophesize a name for a musical-magical-transcendental composition and transformation project: The Devil & The Universe.

How did the idea started?
It all emerged from a short lived solo project I had called Music For Rituals (take a listen here: I released 2 Eps and we did just 2 shows, for the later show I asked David Pfister if he would be so kind to join me on stage. After that we decided to continue to make some music together and it was clear that this should be a new project. I always wanted to explore a more cinematic but also ritualistic sound. Soundtracks without movies, so to speak. It all started from there. Later on we found our third member in Stefan Elsbacher, and the line-up was complete.

Can I say that it’s slowly growing and changing, getting darker and with more electronics (Goatrance?)?
Well that was just our last single THE CHURCH OF THE GOAT (here: that doesn’t necessarily mean we continue to go into this direction. With THE DEVIL & THE UNIVERSE everything is possible.
We are a very concept driven band; the concept is always first and from there we develop the sound that fits to the themes. But maybe it’s time to change that, maybe next time the music comes first.  As I said the possibilities with this band are many.

The dark side, satanic rituals, magical stuff, ancient books: it has always been something that got you hooked, how come?
Indeed, since I can remember, actually. I’ve always been drawn to the darker, melancholic, weirder and somehow occult things. Am I a natural born goth in the true sense of the word? A little bit maybe. But I’m not an all doom and gloom person, far from it. It’s just this kind of things do inspire me the most. I wouldn’t know how to write a song about a sunny day on the beach, or yesterday’s birthday party. Why should I, I rather enjoy the good times when they are presenting themselves. I don’t feel the need to write about it. So, when writing songs, I concentrate on the darker things in life, which not necessarily gets me into a bad mood. The opposite, dark music makes me happy. It’s more like a, “you are not alone” kind of feeling. Far from depressing actually. There is a lot of hope in dark music. At least I see it that way.

Who’s the women singing in The Church of The Goat? From where do you know her?
That is Christina Lessiak and she is a good friend of mine. She has several other bands.
One of them, the dream pop driven CRUSH are just about to release a new album. But she does sing in a very different style there. The thing is, she can sing in very different styles and she absolutely nailed The Church of the Goat. Up until the last minute I was searching for the last bit to turn this song from a good track into a great one. And to be honest I see it as one of the best thing I ever laid hands on. Especially the extended long album version.

What is the Black Harvest and what kind of instruments do we hear in the beginning?
Like the whole album this track is very much inspired by the so called “Folk Horror” movement.
It started as a horror subgenre in the ‘70s but has now become much more.
Movies like The Wicker Man have been a big influence. So, with that song we tried to create our version of what Folk Horror is to us, our interpretation. Sure thing there might be Folk Horror fans out there who would argue that this is not Folk Horror, but why bother with narrow minded nerds anyway.  At the beginning of the track there are all kind of weird rhythmical instruments and synths. So, I’m not exactly sure which sound do you mean.
Not everything on the album is electronics, far from it. Especially the percussions and drums are real instruments.

Over the years you have been working with lots of different bands, projects, artists, can you look back at it and tell us how you feel about it and if some of them will come back? I loved for example Coma Divine!
Yeah sure, I mean I’m doing this now for about 25 years. So yeah there was a lot of water down the bridge. With WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW we just had our 20th anniversary. It’s a bit strange when you think about it. Of course, not of all the stuff I did and was involved in was great, there were some horrible records and songs. But I won’t tell you which ones I mean ? As far as Coma Divine goes, I actually don’t know if the band still exists, we didn’t split officially it just kind of slipped away. There was talk about a 2nd album but that never happened. I have no idea if the project will come back to the light someday. I doubt it though. But it’s been fun.

You played a few times in Belgium, how do you feel about our country?
Indeed, I think apart from Austria / Germany, Belgium must be the country where I played the most shows. Always a pleasure. Especially with WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW we were always treated very nicely by the audience there. I look forward to see if you guys will give us a warm welcome when the Goats will enter the stage there.

Are you still a big fan of Whispering Sons (after you saw them on stage in our country)? Have you thought about working together?
Oh yes. They are fantastic. I’ve seen them several times now and they never disappoint. Especially their show at last year’s Wave Gothic Treffen was amazing. They set the roof on fire. I just hope they will manage to release a new album soon, it’s about time. Working together, hmm not sure. I’m not really a collaboration kind of guy, but if the opportunity would present itself of course I wouldn’t say no. Doing a remix would be nice actually.

Soon you will be on stage at the W-Fest. Are there artists you would like to see or talk to?
I think the line-up is fantastic. And now they have Peter Murphy and David J doing a Bauhaus set.
I would love to see that, but since it is 2 days before our show I’m afraid I won’t make it.
There are plenty of great bands. Honestly this is one of the best Festival Line Ups in a long time.

What can we expect on stage?
Three Goats in trance drumming on various objects and one of them occasionally playing guitar
with some nice back projections including naked bodies, food rotting away filmed in time lapse,
dancing trees, Goats working out, the Virgin Mary, and other weird stuff. You have to see it to believe it.

We already know that you will launch a new album with Whispers in the Shadow, will there also be a new album for The Devil and The Universe?
Yes as stated above of course there will be another album, but I don’t think it will happen this year. I think the next release will be sometime next year. Spring 2019. Maybe. The WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW album is about to come out in April on Solar Lodge. And the 3rd long out of print album by THE DEVIL & THE UNIVERSE Benedicere will finally be re-released in May.  Also, as a special edition with a live recording of a goat show on DVD for your viewing pleasure.

When and how will the world come to an end? What will you do until then?
Maybe it already ended? Imagine the apocalypse happened and no one was there? That would be such a typical human thing to do, wouldn’t it? I don’t know when THE world will end, mine will end when I’m dead, obviously. That’s about the only thing one can be sure of, so until then? Easy, creating some hopefully good music in one way or another, reading good inspiring books, watching great movies, loving my friends and be happy to spent almost every day with the most wonderful person I know. I just hope people will realize more sooner than later, that all the good things we have are not for granted, that all this can change very fast. Beware of the signs, all this happened before. It’s now coming in different clothing. The rise of hate, fear, (neo)fascism and populism is very, very frightening. Let’s hope that THIS isn’t the end of the world. Be aware, stand up, and never surrender! Yeah that’s what I will do until the end, never surrender!

Interview by Filip Van Muylem - Luminous Dash