Ritual Cloak is Daniel Barnett, former member of the Samoans band, and drummer / producer Andrew Sanders.
Glacial sonic post-rock inspired by Mogwai, Kiasmos and Sigur Ros. We have had the pleasure of speaking with them, and this has been the result.
Can you tell us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
We’re from Cardiff, Wales but we’ve both moved since COVID and embraced life outside the city.
Dan: I got into music from an early age, my dad had a decent record collection and showed me how to use his turntable. I used to make loads of mixtapes of my favourite bands and songs and play them endlessly. My proper musical awakening came from my brother-in-law, who I’ve known since I was 4 years old. He got me listening to Nirvana, The Doors and Pink Floyd. I got my first guitar at the age of 14 and never looked back! Sanders: I got into music before the internet was really a thing. My grandparents used to take me to shows when I was a little kid, and I loved getting close to the speakers so I could feel the punch of the kick drum in my chest! When I was about 8 or 9 I’d spend whole weekends in my room playing Sega Megadrive games and recording the music from them onto a tape recorder, so I was interested in sound and recording quite early on. When I started secondary school I’d just jam with friends all the time. That hasn’t really stopped, I just don’t have a megadrive anymore! How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
I guess when we started Ritual Cloak it was probably defined more as post-rock but as we wrote more and experimented in the studio the lines between genres began to blur as we incorporated elements of minimal techno and electronica. With A Human Being is the Best Disguise, we’ve let someone else in on the creative process. Darren’s (Autumn Juvenile) spoken word pieces have given the music a new vitality and raw emotion that perhaps wasn’t there before. We’re always open to trying something different for each release and collaboration certainly inspires us.
Sanders: Having Autumn Juvenile on this album has taken the songs to totally new places, given them new meaning and attached new emotions to them. That’s something that would never have happened if we hadn’t had the opportunity to collaborate. We were fortunate to have a number of tracks from the first release remixed, which we put out as an EP, Ritual Cloak Remixed. This feels like a totally different beast.
Dan: I’m still heavily attached to a lot of the bands that inspired me growing up like Mogwai, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Deftones and Sigur Ros. In terms of new music I love Kelly Lee Owens, Anika, Kiasmos, Gold Panda and Sylvan Esso.
Sanders: I've been digging the latest Waxahatchee record of late, the vocal harmonies are stunning and the songs on the whole album are so well written. I've also been playing Brian Fallon's 2020 release, Local Honey a lot of late. Great production on that record. How do you feel that your music influences or impacts your listeners?
Dan: The honest answer is I don’t know. Once you’ve released something, as the creator, your interpretation of it isn’t gospel. It’s now other people’s to interpret.
What projects are you working on right now? What can you tell us about your last job?
We’ve not long ago released a cover of R.E.M.’s Orange Crush as part of Godisinthetvzine’s tribute album A Carnival of Sorts. Our minds were blown when we saw that the band had listened to the album as well.
Has that sound changed a lot in recent years? What is your musical criteria?
Dan: I guess when we started Ritual Cloak it was probably defined more as post-rock but as we wrote more and experimented in the studio the lines between genres began to blur as we incorporated elements of minimal techno and electronica. There is no musical criteria. We always say the only rule in Ritual Cloak is there are no rules, so that really frees us up to make whatever comes out and to act on whatever we're feeling or wanting to express at the time. I think that’s what makes our releases interesting, one song could be a solo piano piece followed by something heavy or dancy and it not feel out of place. Everything is usually built around melody so exploring disparate genres around a simple melody can really open up possibilities.
Sanders: I get a lot out of working with other artists that I produce. I'm always learning something new whenever I work on a project with someone else and I'll often bring what I've learnt back to Ritual Cloak. I think it's important to push yourself as a musician, engineer, producer or whatever and to always be looking to learn from your experiences. Do you feel safe now to play a more experimental sound?
Sanders: We've always just done our own thing and made the kind of music we'd listen to ourselves, we've never written anything with the intention of appealing to anyone or anything specific. The Ritual Cloak motto is, there are no rules.
We're so fortunate that Chitty from Bubblewrap picked up on what we were doing and gave us a platform to put our music out. We expected to self release our collaboration with Autumn Juvenile, but Bubblewrap have again supported us with it. We'll just keep on doing what we do, and if people continue to connect with it that's great. We feel pretty blessed to be in the position we are right now.
We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity?
Dan: Not really. If anything, we're able to release music as often as we like. We’ve found that our creativity has flourished in the last year alone; we've been able to release two albums and eight singles.
Can you tell us what your present and future projects are?
We’ve collaborated with a good friend of mine, Polish photographer Michal Iwanowski. We were so inspired by his recent work Go Home, Polish that we wrote a song for him. We asked Michal to come into the studio to record spoken word pieces to the music in English and Polish. It’s definitely one of the best things we’ve ever done, so I’m excited to get it out there next year! Other than that we’ve started fleshing out ideas for the next album, but not putting too much pressure on ourselves to get something out straight away. 2021 has been pretty busy for us in terms of releases so it’ll be nice to give ourselves some space to work on new material.