Behind Your Fear – Embrace the New WaysTuesday, 11th October 2022
Many longtime music fans probably remember the sultry voice of Stefanie Duchene during her time in the late 90’s/early 2000’s with German gothic metal act Flowing Tears. She’s now back on the scene, assembling a killer lineup of musicians with ties to Melechesh, Crimson Moon, Ancient, and Victory for Behind Your Fear. Their sound incorporates a mix of gothic metal, alternative and dark rock styles – issuing a second album Anthropocene independently as they slowly rise up the ranks. We reached out to Stephanie and fellow bandmate T. for how the band came together, the video work for the first single, why the band remains DIY for its releases, challenges gaining ground post-COVID, favorite albums, plus plans for future live shows.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us how the lineup and style of Behind Your Fear evolved from the voice of ex-Flowing Tears singer Stefanie Duchêne in its current incarnation? Did you know straight away how you wanted the songwriting and musicianship trademarks to develop, or did this also take some time to work out in the initial demo/writing stages of the material?
T.: I would say it took quite a long time, but it is an ongoing process anyway, as everyone keeps on developing, getting new influences, hearing, seeing, reading different things. I think it has been a huge step from Ophelia to Anthropocene, without losing the key-feelings and elements, that define Behind Your Fear. The new album might be a bit harder in its entirety, but as well, we have always some very intimate and minimalistic parts on the record.
I am permanently recording riffs and ideas, and every now and then we meet at my place and scan through those ideas and choose which one we want to work on now/later/never. Beside this, Stefanie comes up with her ideas too, and we have the same judgement system there.
Stefanie: I agree. It´s always a process of working with everyone, which leads into which direction the band and the kind of music develops. We all have this sort of melancholy inside, so a raw direction for the kind of music we would go to was clear. Maybe in a few years we will play some polka music.
Dead Rhetoric: Anthropocene is the latest album for the band. How would you describe the songwriting and recording sessions for this set of songs – were there any specific surprises, obstacles, or challenges that came up during the process? How do you feel about the final product now that everything is done?
T.: The biggest challenge was maybe that we worked on this album during the Covid and lockdown times – so meeting up was most of the time not easy/possible at the beginning of this process. Luckily during the recordings things got a bit better step by step, so it was possible to be in the studio e.g. during the drum recordings and some vocal recordings as well. I think it is always important to break up the atmosphere in the studio too and to give some second or even third pair of ears and come up with some ideas. In the end I, and I think I can speak for everyone involved, am very happy with the final result.
Stefanie: Yeah, yeah it´s quite ok what we did. Seriously, the process of songwriting and recording is the best time of the whole thing. I like the exchange of ideas and these little moments, if someone who doesn’t know the idea yet is listening to it and comes up with a new part or another note or chord and gives the song a small twist. This unknown person for Anthropocene was David Buballa. He has this outstanding ears and experience from a lot of work with other bands like Noorvik or Powerwolf.
Dead Rhetoric: What sort of topics and feelings do you try to evoke in the listener with the lyrical content for the band? Are you pulling from personal experiences or taking fictional topics and putting your own twist on things?
Stefanie: Some of the lyrics are pulling from personal experience and some are feelings inside, impressions from life, thoughts and sorrows, situations you’ve been a part of or just a silent watcher. And some are from the deepest point of love, like “Heartbeats”.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the video shoot for the first single “New Ways” – was this an obvious choice to present as the initial song to preview the record? How do you feel the video shoot went, do you think this accurately captures what Behind Your Fear is like when performing live, and do you think videos are as important for promotion in these social media platform times as compared to the 80’s/90’s when major media aired videos on television channels?
Stefanie: It was a great experience to make this video shoot. By the way, it was the first video shoot for all of us. We had no further plans, just some rough ideas and a lot of light material and some stuff to produce a good atmosphere (at this point thanks to Markus Mallmann, who has supported us with stuff). And this song…. we’ve never played live before but we all performed as we would do it. So I think it conforms with live performing, only with people who love to make music. If the stage set will be like this, with these lights, we don´t know yet. Today it´s important to have some footage or photo material. People wanna share visual moments. They wanna see who you are and if you feel what you do. So yes -I think music videos are still important.
T.: We discussed internally which would be the first single we will release. A first output of an upcoming album is always something special, and in the end, we decided to choose “New Ways”. It delivers way harder riffing at the beginning, but delivers a very melody driven refrain as well – so we thought it maybe represents Anthropocene the best way possible within a single song.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the album cover art concept come about for Anthropocene? Is this a process that works between the artist and band to come up with the final product that we see?
Stefanie: The album cover artwork is created by Irrwish. He also did the cover artwork for Ophelia. He´s a fantastic artist and at the songwriting process for Anthropocene, we saw this picture of this ‘split mask’ on his page and both T and myself knew that this is the perfect cover for the upcoming album.
T.: We kind of liked the minimalistic cover artwork for the ByF releases and we think it is sort of a CI for our releases right away.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe the seasoning of the musicians in a variety of other bands/styles over the decades allows the work of Behind Your Fear to have an extra level of professionalism, insight, and confidence in what you are delivering on record and on stage?
T.: For the studio works, it definitely helps, if you know what is going on there, what are the most important things, etc. Nevertheless, it is always something special for me, and I am always nervous. Maybe it needs to be like this.
As we have not played live (yet), this is just a theoretical answer, but I think knowing e.g. Moritz for many years now and having played live a lot with Crimson Moon helps, as we are pretty well adjusted to each other. To be 100% confident, we have started with rehearsals, so if we enter the stage for the first time, we will be 100% prepared.
Stefanie: Uh live…fuck…yeah… I’m a bit scared. For me it´s been a long time since I stood on a stage. I´m not sure what will happen. Maybe I will fall in a rigidity so T. will have to sing. He´s a good singer! Dear readers, if you are at this concert please have patience with me, maybe we will start the first song a few more times over and over.
Seriously, I´ll be nervous but I will also be proud to perform with these gentle guys.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve chosen to self-release this record – what do you see are the advantages these days to keeping things in house and on a DIY basis versus signing with a reputable record label?
T.: DIY is way more personal for sure, as we handle each order on our own. But sometimes, it is just that no label that fit was found – so the option is, to do it as a DIY thing, or never release the music.
Stefanie: On the one hand, the positive aspect is definitely that we can make our own decisions. There is no external strain like ‘you have to do this…or look more like this’ so we can all be who we are. (only Moritz, he has to look like the young David Gilmour) – but on the other hand you also have to do this all by yourself and organize everything. We are working a lot to make things happen, but without the massive support of our fans, this would not be possible at all. So a big thank you to them!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges and obstacles that Behind Your Fear faces in establishing more of a faithful following not just within your home country of Germany, but across European and international lands?
T.: As we released our music on our own until now, it is not just doing one post and reaching thousands of people, so we have started literally from zero and started to grow our following. In terms of live shows, things got even more complicated because of COVID-19, as all festivals kept their booked lineup (which is a good thing) and then more and more bands are in the market willing to play live. So there is simply not much space for any newcomers.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you define success these days either personally or professionally – and has that definition changed from when you first started as a musician to your outlook today?
T.: I think it is hard to judge success in terms of music. If you have recorded a new album, you listen to it, when everything is mixed and mastered and you are proud of what you hear – I think that is a success. I think every young musician is dreaming about ways to make a living out of music – this changed for sure, when you think about the pressure in this market and how fragile this total system is – the COVID shutdowns proved this drastically for example.
Dead Rhetoric: What concerns do you have regarding the world that we live in today? If you had the power, energy, time, and unlimited resources to make the world a better place, what are some area(s) that you think people need to work on to make things better overall?
T.: Oh my goodness – just take a look at the world, and in what state it is in. Climate, wars, cultural and religious conflicts…..you name it. I doubt that this will ever change – it was always a part of humanity.
Stefanie: I think fear and envy are two things people have to work on. Especially fear is the matrix for intolerance and ostracism, fear of loss, fear to get hurt. What we have to bring to an end to is capitalism. Humanity believing that money will save them. We always want to make profit and we can´t get enough. Humans regard animals as a commodity (some of them) and the whole nature too. Humanity has lost their limits inside – or rather the society has lost it.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band chemistry within Behind Your Fear? What does each member bring to the table to make things special and unique – and do you think that friendships/relationships are important for the band members away from the music to make things smoother when it comes to the details and business dealings?
T.: For sure friendship is important. I really would not want to spend hours in the studio or in a van with people I don’t like. For me it is important that I can enjoy this time, and I am happy to meet up for rehearsals or studio work.
The band members all bring in some things which make them unique. Stefanie, most obvious for her unmistakable and poignant voice and her piano skills. Moritz, being the youngest of us definitely brings in some ideas and points of view from a more ‘modern’ way. Michael, being one of the most impressive drummers I ever had the chance to work with is simply amazing – even in the studio he was able to implement new ideas within seconds. And David, not just being our new bass-player, but even the producer of Anthropocene is really amazing in terms of harmonies and arrangements.
Beside this, all of those musicians are brilliant people and real friends.
Stefanie: And T. is the faithfully, permanent stimulating factor. Should we do this? Or we could make that? Band is family.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you name three albums that have made the biggest impact on your musical outlook – they can be heavy metal/ hard rock or otherwise? And what’s the best concert memory you have purely taking in a show as an audience member – plus what made things so special and memorable to you?
T.: Oh, just 3. That is tough…I have to name four at least
– Alice in Chains / Dirt
– Nevermore / This Godless Endeavor
– Katatonia / The Fall of Hearts
– Flowing Tears / Serpentine + Jade
I think I have to choose Solstafir at a small festival here around called NOAF. It was a really intense live show. I saw a lot of good live shows, but this one might simply have been the most emotional driven one.
– Tori Amos/ Under the Pink
– Life of Agony/ River Runs Red
– Klaus Hoffmann/ ich will Gesang will spiel und tanz.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for the band over the next twelve months or so to support this release? Have you already started work behind the scenes on the next release – and if so, how would you say these songs look compared to the material on Anthropocene?
T.: We have started with rehearsals of the material, as we plan to do some live shows – but at the moment this is really sort of a challenge, as more and more shows get canceled because of ongoing issues due to the Covid pandemic (missing skilled people behind the stage, helping hands, too low ticket sales).
As mentioned before – we have already recorded some riffs and ideas. So yeah – I think we are on a good way for the next record.