EGO LIKENESS INTERVIEW
What are you looking forward to most about everything regarding When Wolves Return apart of course from its release?
Donna: As with every release, I’m always excited to see how it resonates with people, what songs really grab people. And with each album, we’ve seen more doors open and had more opportunities, so hopefully that trend will continue. I think more than anything, the release of a new album means more reason to tour, which is the thing I love most about all of this.
Steven: I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done, and I’m looking forward to playing the songs live.
You travel a lot with Ego Likeness and you both are extremely creative, what most people only dream of really. But if the art and music were not within you then what would be your perfect 9-5 jobs?
Donna: At this stage in my life, I really don’t know. When I was younger, I wanted to be a cartographer. I love anything geography-related. Maybe be a travel writer. Of course, in lieu of traveling, I wouldn’t mind keeping a small herd of goats. Or there’s always my ultimate dream of running a brothel in the Nevada desert, where I *also* keep my small herd of goats- unrelated, of course.
Steven: I have no idea, making things is the only thing I know how to do. The fact that I manage to dress myself right most of the time is a big deal for me.
I note that your budget for shooting videos isn’t always that large, how do you keep the videos so immense despite having a smaller budget?
Donna: We started off in an era sans social media, recording on a 4-track, and really having no idea what to do other than to try something a hundred ways until it worked. It was a DIY endeavour from day one, so we are used to working with very little. It’s only been in the past couple years that we’ve been lucky enough to have a much larger support system behind us. The infrastructure has grown, but we haven’t really gotten much more excessive.
Steven: Also we learned a trick early on, we bring in very good photographers, and let them do their thing. If you look at any of the three currently out (the one for New Legion is way more involved) they are all collections of still shots. The only things moving in them are us (and in Treacherous Thing, I’m not even moving much) there are no panning shots, and things that you would need a proper Director of Photography for.
I guess another way to say it, is that with the videos, like everything else we do, we try to play to the strengths of ourselves and the people we work with. It’s the same reason, when you break them down our songs are so simple. I’m not comfortable writing complex melodies, the complexity comes out of multiple layers of simple parts, which I find to be a very elegant solution.
When did you learn to edit, was it something that came naturally or did you have to go on a specific editing course?
Steven: I taught myself. Once I realized that video editing was more or less the same as audio editing, it was easy. I think it also helps that both of us have fine arts backgrounds. So we know, more or less, what we want the videos to look like or how we want our ideas presented, so we just move stuff around until it looks the way it’s supposed to.
And again, keep it simple, I don’t do any fancy editing tricks, they are all jump cuts with very short transitions. And when I don’t know how to do something, or don’t feel comfortable doing it, I find other people who can. The person who did the colour correction on Treacherous Thing did an amazing job. Because of our complexions it’s very difficult to make the two of us look right in photos or video. If you lighten my skintone up, it blows Donna’s out, and if you bring Donna’s skin down to normal human levels then I end up looking like a dark blob.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being married and involved in various projects together?
Donna: At this point, there really aren’t any disadvantages. We have our systems for working together on stage, in the studio, on the road, etc.
The only tricky thing is remembering that we have to put it all down sometimes and just be a couple now and then.
What one piece of advice would you give someone regarding maintaining that happy bond together in marriage as you two have done for the last 18 years?
Donna: You have to be on the same team, always. Even when you disagree. Life-long partnership will be one of the hardest things you can ever pursue. People change, life throws you all kinds of wonderful and terrible things. Don’t expect to live a lifetime with a person and not go through periods of tremendous hurt and transformation. But it doesn’t have to be the end, if both parties want the same outcome. Marriage (partnership), for us, isn’t about “till death do you part, no matter what”. It’s a choice you make at every major crossroads. Steven and I have been to those crossroads several times, and each time made the choice to continue on together. Will we always? I hope so. He is my mate, and I feel like that is stronger than any vows or words or certificates.
You are both writers, can you please tell us about your written work you both have done and have you ever thought about writing something together?
Donna: We have collaborated on quite a few things, but usually as writer (me) and illustrator (Steven). I don’t know how well we’d mesh trying to write together, haha!
It took long enough to learn how to not murder each other as co-writers for the band!
Steven: I’m really not a writer. Not like Donna is. I have no idea how she does what she does. It’s amazing to me. That’s why I stick to kids books and simple stories. For me, the words are just there to support the images. I wish I had the patience to write long form fiction.
Coming up to Christmas How does When Wolves Return compare to what most consider your most definitive work Songs From A Dead City?
Steven: That would be a very strange comparison. Dead City was our first demo, which was written knowing nothing about production or recording. It’s dirty, noisy trip hop.
When the Wolves Return is very much a rock album. Honestly, I think it’s the album we have been trying to make for the last 16 years. I think both of us feel like it’s a fusion of all of the styles we have played around with during our career. And what makes it particularly cool, is that I think it’s also the most cohesive album we have done. This time we manage to take all of those elements and put them together in such a way that all you hear are the songs, and not the seams.
Considering all the creative talent you have, what would you consider is your finest work as individuals (It doesn’t have to be music related) and what would you consider your finest work as a couple?
Donna: The new album is my favorite of all the albums, so far. I am also extremely happy and proud of Daughters of Lilith (a collaborative illustrated poetry collection) and of my novella, Driving Through the Desert.
Steven: The new album is by far the best thing we have done. In that we set out with an idea and managed to realize it. When we got the final mix back from Wade Alin (Christ Analog) we both looked at each other and said, “I don’t care if anyone else likes it, this is exactly what it’s supposed to be.”
Donna I hear you read Lovecraft, what is your favourite Lovecraft story and why?
Donna: It’s hard to pick. The Dunwich Horror, At the Mountains of Madness, Dreams in the Witch House, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth are my favorites. As for why? They creeped me out the most.
Lovecraft inspired other authors to use his ideas and write stories, how would you hope to inspire others?
Donna: I don’t need to see anyone use my ideas, necessarily. I’d rather set an example of how you can realistically live as an artist. We aren’t rich or famous, but this is our living and career and we are happy with it. All I ever wanted was to be able to make things and travel, and that’s what we get to do.
Steven: If I could knock one lesson into peoples heads it’s this… If I can do it, you can do it. Everything I know about music and audio production is self taught. Ditto guitar, video editing, whatever. More often than not, the only thing holding someone back is this idea that all the people they see doing X thing are somehow special or different than they are. That they know something you don’t. And they do, they know the big secret, which is you “you have to be ok making mistakes in front of people.” You make mistakes, and you pick yourself up, and you do it again. And eventually, you get better, and have a whole new realm of mistakes to make...
OK let’s have a little fun, make an Ego Likeness Pokemon. What is your Pokemon called, what are its special powers, what does it look like and how would your Pokemon act?
Donna: Oh dear. I don’t know the first thing about Pokemon other than that it is, indeed, a thing that exists and people like it. Haha!
Steven: Donna’s behind the times, I’m all about Pokemon, I have all the dragon balls.
What is your ideal night out and what is your favourite tipple to drink on said night out?
Donna: I’m always up for anything as long as there’s Jameson.
Steven: My ideal night out is where there are no people.
What cartoon character makes you laugh the most?
Donna: When I was little I loved Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes. And I loved Mot, the alien baby from Looney Tunes. And the Bugs Bunny episode with the vampire. And the one with the big bull dog and the tiny black kitten that sleeps on his back. And the one with the Country Wolf and City Wolf and Red. And the Tom & Jerry episode where Tom tries to woo the girl cat with “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t”, and also the one where Jerry turns the kitchen into an ice skating rink. And the one with the voice box that keeps tricking the dog. And while I hated Droopy Dog, “Rock-a-bye Bear” is one of my favorite cartoons, ever.
Now I like Bob’s Burgers and Archer.
Steven: We watch a lot of The Simpsons, I say that, because it’s on TV right now. We are both big fans of all the classic Looney Tunes though. Oh… and Danger Mouse is the shit.
Thank you so much for giving Vampire Freaks this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Steven: Naw, I think that’s pretty good. For those of you who want the TL;DR version, we are horribly interesting and creative, but not quite as interesting and creative as Aurelio Voltaire….
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