The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Autumn Tears and Zeresh

Our The War Inside My Head interview series is back, and this time with a double whammy and for a special occasion. The occasion is the release of the mesmerizing, beautiful new split between the enchanting folk/doom project Zeresh, the brainchild of the infinitely talented Tamar Singer, and American folk/neo-classical project Autumn Tears, spearheaded by the equally talented Ted Tringo. Combining the austere melancholy of Autumn Tears and Zeresh's haunted soundscapes Widowing / Possessing creates a musical and emotional world all to itself, one that is at the same time minor and sparse as well as crushing. It's a beautiful collection of compositions, and so it is my great pleasure to host both Tamar and Ted to chat a bit about some of the music that inspires them. Spoiler alert: This post is a veritable treasure chest for all you folk/doom/dakrwave lovers out there.

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What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?

Ted: I actually bought two at the same time: Omen – The Curse and Fates Warning’s Awaken the Guardian, both of which I bought in 1986 in a small record shop in Utica, NY.

Tamar: I believe it was Like A Prayer by Madonna. I got obsessed with her around the age of 10 which basically turned me into a music consumer. After listening to this album, I felt like I had to go and buy all the rest of them, and so I did. All the pirate VHS tapes too. Anything I could find.  As for where I bought it from, while I cannot recall the store or exact location where I purchased this, it was somewhere in the Jerusalem city center. I got it in cassette format. 

What 2-3 albums did you listen to the most growing up?

Ted: When I was younger and in my pre-teens, I constantly listened to KISS’ Destroyer and Alive II. Once I hit my teens it was Slayer’s Show no Mercy and Metallica’s Master of Puppets.

Tamar: First thing that comes to mind is pretty much everything by the original Black Sabbath (meaning: the first six-eight albums). I've listened to these albums constantly over and over again for years. If I have to guess which one I listened to the most, it was most likely Vol. 4. It had "Snowblind" on it and I couldn't get enough of that song. Interestingly, the same album also contains the only two tracks which I usually wanted to skip: "Changes" and  "fx." And skipping tracks isn't normally something I do. But altogether Black Sabbath's music was, and still is, very meaningful to me.

The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails was more or less the soundtrack of many of my teenage years. I think almost every one of the songs there used to be my favorite and the one I identified with the most, at a certain time in life. It came at the precise moment and stayed with me for many years.

Around the same time I was also listening a lot to Nirvana's In Utero, mainly via the headphones using my Walkman. I felt deeply connected to this music right away and I loved it a lot, but within time I learned to fully appreciate the lyrics aspect too. I think Kurt was brilliant with words and a super gifted song-writer.

And the last one I want to mention here is Shades Of God by Paradise Lost. It was the first extreme metal album I've heard and I just couldn't stop listening to it. At first I used to just roll my eyes when I heard the growling vocals, but after a while, I simply wanted more and more of this. You could say this album started my loving obsession for doom metal and extreme metal in general.

What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?

Ted: It’s difficult to pinpoint only two albums as I have drawn influences from many styles and genres including classical and soundtracks but I suppose two that I focused on were Léo Delibes’ Lakme featuring Joan Sutherland and the Henry V OST by Patrick Doyle.

Tamar: I have to say, I know very little about "proper" music making. Most of what I do is pretty intuitive and I'm not an expert by any means. The majority of my real knowledge in those fields came from pure trial and error, but I did learn a lot from watching my friends make music and/or talk about it with them. I was lucky enough to be exposed to the entire work process of a former local artist and friend – Yehuda Ledgley. I was there with him from the very early stages of writing and all the way to recording it on his 4 track cassette recorder. Ledgley's most famous album is The Quiz and it's surely one of my favorite albums on the planet. It's heartfelt grungy-folk, simple yet perfect!

In a way I also learned a lot from Elliott Smith's early works Roman Candle and Elliott Smith, which are pretty low-fi and based mainly on his guitars and vocals. They have a very intimate feel to them.I wish to be able to reach his level of skill, but even more – his level of honesty.

What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?

Ted: The last album that really blew away was more of an EP than an album but I was superbly impressed by Sefan by Anhaga (UK).

Tamar: I'm lucky to be living in times where I get exposed to music that really blows my mind, fairly frequently. I'm also fortunate to be surrounded by people who introduce me to “the right” kind of music, including you of course. I think the latest one might have been – Noitanaama by Tervahäät. This is from 2017 but a friend played it to me quite recently, sometime this year.

It's an album that masterfully combines the elements which I love most from various music genres plus some other influences and sounds that I'm not really used to. It's a very special blend of ethereal folk with industrial and dark-ambient – but it's unlike anything I've heard lately.

Other albums that gave me the whole WTF experience recently were:

Reserva Espiritual De OccidenteCristo De La Atlantida

UngfellMythen, Mären, Pestilenz

Le days – I Am Your King

The DrowseLight Mirror

NOÊTA – Beyond Life And Death

What album relaxes you or centers you the most?

Ted: It’s a tie between sToa – Porta VIII or Arcana – Dark age of Reason, depending on my mood.

Tamar: I'm not sure I have that anymore but some albums take me back to younger versions of myself and remind me who I used to be in the past. It's not always relaxing but it definitely has a bit of a centering effect.

Besides some of the albums I mentioned before, here are some examples for that: Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can; Current 93Imperium; Virgin PrunesIf I Die, I Die; OverkillThe years of Decay; My Dying BrideThe Angel and the Dark River; BjorkHomogenic; Tori Amos – the first 5 albums; Megadeth – Countdown To Extinction; Judas Priest – Sin After Sin; Coil – Musick To Play In The Dark; MoonshakeThe Sound Your Eye Can Follow; Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine1992 – The Love Album; Vincent Gallo – When; and DarkwoodIns Dunkle Land. I think I'll go with Vincent Gallo here because I feel like his music fits the 'relaxing' description best.

What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?

Ted: AnhagaSefan, Shadow of Intent – Elegy; and The Queen’s Gambit – OST by Carlos Rafael Rivera.

Tamar: I've been doing a lot of post production lately so to be honest, I've mostly listened to my own work in progress, but I did manage to get a bit obsessed with a few albums lately:

1. Even though it's not their latest album, H.A.Q.Q by Liturgy has been on a heavy rotation here for a while now. It's more or less a perfect album – very avant-garde in style combined with blasting black metal and heavy electronics. There's nothing normal about it and I really dig this.

2. I feel like Déhà is genuinely a genius and that everything he touches turns to gold.. I have not one but a few loved albums by him (A Fleur De Peau – II – Burdening Everyone might be my absolute Déhà favorite) but the latest one is called – Ave Maria II and I am playing this a lot over here these days. This album has one long dark track and the style is a brilliant mix between black, doom and drone with a touch of goth/neoclassical. Highly recommended!

3. I also revisit Sibylle Baier's only album Colour Green quite a lot. That one is a few years old already (from 2006) and I'm not sure why it's not much more known.It's a simple folk album – acoustic guitar and vocals but the songwriting is so great that it would have been easy to convince me that these were previously unreleased original Leonard Cohen songs which are performed by a beautiful dark angel. Really mesmerizing music.

What album is grossly underrated?

Ted: Beyond DawnSelf titled MCD. Absolutely brilliant, in my opinion.

Tamar: A lot of the music that I really love is underrated in my opinion. Time Moth Eye, Leya, Omne Datum Optimum, Lisa Cuthbert, Natural snow buildings, A.M. Ferrari Fradejas and Kchörtoo are a few names that immediately come to mind, but the most extreme case I can think of is Rose Kemp and her album Unholy Majesty in particular. The way I see it – it's a masterpiece and I think it might have come out 10 years too early. Perhaps in a different timing this would have reached the classic status I feel it deserves. The music is a bit hard for me to describe since she goes from one genre to the other very fluidly – it's dark, heavy, doomy, proggy and folky with a tiny dose of pop. Personally, I love the songs, her guitar and her voice and she is a great inspiration for me. I also really hope she'll go back to making more music some day.

What album would you recommend from your local scene?

Ted: I actually am not really involved in my local scene. I am generally a hermit and have not been to a live show in over 16 years so I honestly couldn’t say.

Tamar: It's very hard for me to choose only one because we have a very rich and diverse local scene here, which I absolutely love. Some of my favorite local projects are very different from each other: Zimmer Witch Night, Kadaver, Kchörtoo, Ketoret, Rain Dirty Valleys, Kluvim, Prey For Nothing, Sleep's Sister, Agnivolok, Kip, Kashaiof, Subterranean Masquerade, Obsidian Tide, Svpremacist, Rimojeki, EmotionLotion, and this is just a partial list of my favorite projects (which are still active) here.

If I have to make a choice now it will be Choshech's second album (not because I'm one of the guest vocalists there, but because it's that good!). [[Read our interview with Choshech here]].

The title of this album is Black Flag and it came out less than a month ago. Choshech has a very distinct sound – somewhere in between genres in the realms of post punk and black metal; fused together quite perfectly. Also the song-writing is truly great. Altogether, this album is one of the best things I've heard recently for sure.