This was originately posted here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/interviews/g-q/mount-salem-sandy-williamson-interviews-vocalist-organist-emily-kopplin/
Mount Salem are not just another occult doom band with a female vocalist to add to the growing pile. Their debut record ‘Endless’ is a stunning collaboration between doom and psychedelic rock, and displays a remarkable maturity for a band so new. I got the chance to interview vocalist and organist Emily Kopplin about just how the band came to be the new guiding light in doom. On a personal note, this was a huge honour for me as I’ve found their debut record to be an early contender for my favourite record this year. It’s soulful, epic and beautifully presented.
Hey Emily, thanks for giving us time to interview you. First off, what are the band up to today?
I wish I could say we were up to something exciting, but the four of us will be working our respective jobs today. It’s Friday though so I can’t complain!
Mount Salem were formed in 2012, which dark cosmic forces brought the band together?
We have been friends for a few years, the guys build and ride vintage motorcycles and have a shop together. We’ve all been in bands over the years but never together. They were talking about getting together to jam and were interested in trying different instruments from what they used to play. Kyle (guitar) used to play drums, Cody (drums) used to play guitar, and Mark (bass) also used to play drums. Kyle was originally going to do vocals, but I was sitting in on a practice one day trying to help him write vocal melodies and they just let me do it instead.
Your new EP ‘Endless’ was originally self-released, and is being re-released by Metal Blade, how did that come about?
We originally released ‘Endless’ over a year ago with six songs. It was recorded shortly after we started playing together, before we had even played a live show, and those were the first batch of songs we had written. When Metal Blade approached us and expressed interest in rereleasing it as a full length we were stoked because that was a chance for us to go back in the studio and record two additional tracks. It was nice to have a few new songs to choose from this time around so we added ‘The Tower’. There’s an instrumental track on the album called ‘Mescaline’ that we’d always wanted to expand on and create a full song so we wrote ‘Mescaline II’. It was nice to breathe some new life into the EP and we’re happy that it’s getting more exposure than we could have done with it on our own.
As a metal band, is signing to such a legendary label a dream come true? Does it present you with additional pressure about your forthcoming music?
It’s definitely a huge honour to be welcomed onto the Metal Blade roster alongside some legendary artists. Working with them has been a great experience so far and we’re grateful for all the doors that have opened because of it. I think any pressure we’d feel about recording the next album will be more about pleasing the fans of this current album rather than trying to stack up with our peers.
I reviewed ‘Endless’ for The Sleeping Shaman, and I must tell you, it’s got to have been one of my favourite records of the past few months, who or what were your main inspirations while writing it?
That rules, thanks so much. We’ve all got different tastes in music and I think everyone’s individual influences shine through a little. Mark is typically the one more into the heavy side of things, Kyle and Cody like the bluesy psychedelic aspect, and I like the melodic and dynamic aspects of song writing. We’re all obviously influenced by 70s rock & roll though.
Do you feel that it’ll be difficult to stand out amongst the vast legions of Jex Thoth and The Devil’s Blood clones that have appeared over the past few years? I’m of the opinion that your material is strong and that your probably one of the best vocalists of that style, but what do you think?
Although there are a lot of bands popping up that are playing music in the same vein as us, we don’t really focus on setting ourselves apart. We just focus on writing music that we enjoy jamming and hope other people enjoy listening to. I think part of the reason people like what we do is because you can tell we’re not trying too hard, we write simple songs that get the point across.
What impressed me a lot about ‘Endless’ was it’s ‘less is more’ approach. You guys seem to take a more straightforward approach, and it works so well. The addition of the organ gives you that extra little bit of churchyard occultist feeling, but you use it subtly and sparingly. Was this a conscious decision or did it appear naturally?
Like I said earlier, most of those songs on the album are a display of our first efforts at songwriting together so I think that’s where that raw, basic feel comes from. I didn’t want the use of the organ to be the main focus and come through abrasively in the recordings. I like to use it as more of a complimentary accent to the songs rather than the meat and potatoes.
What are your future plans for Mount Salem? Will we be seeing a debut LP sometime soon, and possibly some more extensive touring now that you have Metal Blade behind you? I’m kind of hoping you make it to the UK sometime in the near future because I’d like to be front and centre!
We’ll definitely be recording a follow up after this Summer. We’ve been writing some killer new stuff so I can’t wait to have it recorded. We’ll be touring the US in May then hitting Europe in the Fall so keep an eye out for dates! It will be my first time overseas so that’s something I’m really looking forward to.
Thanks for the interview, have you got any final words for those who are maybe just finding out about the band?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and possibly taking even more time to listen to our music, we hope to see you out on the road!