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Doom Duo Dark Castle Are Influenced by ‘Ancient Forms of Music’

Samantha Marble

Experimental sludge-doom band Dark Castle, comprised of vocalist-guitarist Stevie Floyd and drummer Rob Shaffer, are gearing up for a tour with YOB this summer and fall in support of their latest platter, ‘Surrender to All Life Beyond Form.’ As a duo, Floyd and Shaffer manage to make a rumbling roar that is louder and heavier than many other full bands could conjure. They also incorporate Eastern influences into their music.

When asked how she feels about the ‘White Stripes of doom metal’ comparison, Floyd, who is also a tattoo artist, wasn’t offended even in the slightest. Apparently though, she prefers music that isn’t easy on the ears. “I have heard that before, and I have no problems with the White Stripes,” she told Noisecreep. “They seem like rad people and are super talented at what they do. Personally, I am not often into music that is poppy or catchy unless it is super eccentric and weird. I’m pretty sure Rob feels the same way. But we welcome and embrace anyone’s references.”

Floyd acknowledged that Dark Castle are heavily influenced by “many other forms of music and multicultural scales,” which makes their contribution to the doom scene unique. The pair is inspired by “ancient forms of music that existed long before metal and full stacks,” she said. “Maybe what is different about us is that we don’t try to play doom and I guess it just winds up being that way, somehow, the slower and louder that we get.”

While recording ‘Surrender to All Life Beyond Form,’ Floyd cracked the shell on the song ‘To Hide Is to Die,’ which she said did not exist before they recorded it. “After a few long days in the studio, I was up late by myself drinking a lot of wine, playing [producer] Sanford Parker’s old out-of-tune piano,” she revealed. “I wrote that weird creepy piano part and recorded it. The next day, I played it for Sanford and asked if we could use it for something. He was like ‘No way.’ We kind of laughed it off.

“Then later Sanford wound up wanting to use it. Rob came up with this weird off-time, repetitive drum beat and I had to play the piano part off-time, to his off-time drum beat. Which was not easy. Then Sanford and I connected all of these Moog and synth samples to a foot pedal. It was insane; the floor was covered with criss-crossed cables. I thought the song was done.”

But it wasn’t. It needed more. “Then Sanford wanted me to do spoken word through a vocoder and I had these lyrics that kind of rhymed about being buried alive and looking for the light,” Floyd said. “They went perfectly over the music. Then Rob wound up doing bass under it all. It was surreal how that song came together in a few hours. I think it’s our weirdest song by far. Just such a magical experience.”

Floyd is an artistically oriented person, focused on both music and tattooing. “In a dream world I would tattoo every day on tour,” she said. “Unfortunately there is never enough time. All of my inspiration for creating is interconnected. It just translates how it translates whether it is through art or music. Just depends on what I am doing in that moment. I will say that I am constantly drawing inspiration from all that is created and recreating. It never stops. Art is all that I think about, and all that I do.”

Floyd also has a solo endeavor called Natur, and is a record collector and a fan of sci-fi and horror films. When she has the time, she also has a bit of a green thumb. “I love gardening and growing my own food,” she says. Floyd also has other hobbies, but finds that these days she rarely has the time to pursue them. “I love reading books that open my mind, but I figured I’ll do most of my reading when I’m old,” she said. Sounds like a good plan.

“I just want to write honest, raw and heavy music in its purist form, from the deepest part of my being,” Floyd says. “That is all that matters to me, and nothing more.”

‘Surrender to All Life Beyond Form’ is out now.

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