Interview with Karl Demata

VLY bestehen aus dem Gitarristen Karl Demata (CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX), dem Bassisten Chris Heilmann, der Keyboarderin Elisa Montaldo (IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE), Drummer Mattias Olsson (ÄNGLAGARD, WHITE WILLOW) und Sänger Keith Gladysz (DIET KONG). Zusammen haben die Musiker aus England, Schweden, Italien und Amerika ihr Debüt herausgebracht.

Wie es überhaupt dazu kam, wollten wir daher von Karl Demata etwas genauer wissen. Hier unser Interview im Originalwortlaut:

Hello, Karl, can you tell us who was the initiator of VLY and when the idea grew of founding a new group?

VLY started when a good friend and musician got me in touch with NY based singer Keith Gladysz. Previously I had been collecting few ideas for possible songs, just riffs, progressions and vague concepts. I always and constantly write new material and I always had. But once Keith sent some vocal ideas based on my music, then all was much more in focus. Next step was to talk with Elisa in Italy. I had met her few years before in Italy and always thought I would have liked to get involved in a band or project with her. She came over to my studio in Oxford few times as me and Keith were developing ideas. The contrast was what i was unconsciously looking for. Keith is very, well, non-prog. He comes from a more indie, alternative and „art-rock“ background and I think this shows a lot. On the other side Elisa has a total mastery of the progressive styles – especially the classic Italian prog sounds. It was this difference and contrast that I was actually looking for. Chris and Mattias came over to finish the line-up. I have played with Chris for years now in several bands and project and we really do not need to talk much about music, we just know were we are going. And Mattias was such a surprise. He recorded all the drums in his studio in Stockholm, but he also sent a lot of extra material for each songs. Percussion, analogue synths and pads. It was great. It added another unexpected layer. After that there was the small matter of mixing the whole thing. Making it sounds somehow organic. It took me a while but with the help of my friend Steve Watkins we did it. I think I was about to go crazy at some point and Steve saved my life.

Who came up with this unusual band-name?

Keith did. I told him I was very open to ideas for the band’s name, but I did not want anything too long and complex. So … first thing he said… VLY. I said, well, let me think about it. And it started to grow on me. I like when things don’t have a specific or a single meaning, but can become somehow meaningful, can be filled with meanings as time goes by. To me it’s a name that suggest something rather than trying hard to convey an idea or an image of a band.

Is it possible to coordinate the band from so many countries and can you ever rehearse together?

We will have to rehearse soon. We never did so far!!! In fact, the first time we ever met together was last July, well after we finished the record, when we met to shoot some videos. Yes, that’s right. We never met all in the same room all the way while recording our first record! It was all file sharing, cloud storage, skype and social media. But when we finally did meet, it was great. It was an explosion of ideas and plans. And it felt like we have been playing together for ages.

What language do you speak with each other – except the language of music

English mainly. Although with some crazy strong accents in between us.

Are you still involved in Crippled Black Phoenix?

No, I left as I was mixing the VLY album.

Is there a band that you and your mates all like?

I really don’t know. I think we all have such different background, it will be hard to find some common grounds. When I speak with Keith we sometimes end up talking about some obscure indie or new wave stuff. Elisa is all into Italian prog. For me, I change constantly. Mainly I listen to jazz, folk, blues and contemporary classical.

PINK FLOYD probably?

Good band! Well, jokes aside. It’s quite easy to say PINK FLOYD are a „common ground“ for many. In my case there’s a special place. When i was very very young, I used to travel a lot across Europe in an old beaten-up car with my father. Kind of a hippy thing I suppose. And Floyd were often on the cassette player. Even albums that very few would chose as driving music like some of the earlier and less popular releases like ´A Saucerful Of Secret´, ´Atom Heart Mother´ and ´Meddle´. Can you imagine that? That would all sound a bit usual to any kid, even more so while traveling for the first time through unknown places. I think it all took a place in my mind in a rather strange way.

Can you recommend us some progressive music?

Oh there’s so much good stuff out there. I am sure you know so much more than me so maybe you should suggest something. My taste are too wide to get too deep in any kind of music. Progressive maybe takes 10 or 20 per cent of what I listen to and that’s ok with me.

How would you describe your music to a stanger?

In general I won’t. If they are interested I will ask them to listen. Music is made to convey emotion or emotional messages which will be too reductive or hard to describe through verbal or written language. Nowadays you can listen to any band you want very easily. It might be even quicker than reading or writing a description of anybody’s music.

But If I really have to, I might have to be a bit silly and say … psychedelic post progressive rock infused with post rock, post folk and post classical influences … ? There are too many „posts“ there … I am not sure this work, but if somebody needs a catchphrase then … that might be it.

Any tour-plans?

Hopefully … as soon as we can. Probably at some point next year. We have a lot of plans, some of which will be announced fairly soon. But of course for us, a band living in four different countries, things are a little bit more complicated then usual. It will happen and it will be great fun.

What comes next?

As I said, I always write music. so there’s always something „in the making“. This might be for VLY or other projects. As I said there will be several developments and news for VLY in the next weeks and months, so stay tuned.

Can we consider VLY as a band or more as a project?

That has been my question for a long time. But when we all met in July it finally felt like a band. And I think it will be developing more and more in that direction as we progress.

Thank you, Karl.