Weaving with sound – interview with ’The Old Loom’

Hi Sean, I am really excited to feature you on Dark Folk Nation and to hear the story behind your beautiful music! How are you doing today?

I am doing great. Thank you so much for having me for chat.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your project ’The Old Loom’?

Yes. Hmm…what do I say? First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Phillips. I am the face, the musician, the vocalist, and the artist behind The Old Loom. I’ve always tried to remain hidden, for what reason, I do not know. I’m guessing I just wanted the attention to be on the music rather than myself, so for a while I would not even offer my name to the record. The Old Loom is its own entity. Its own monster, you could say. I started The Old Loom in 2018 after about a year or so of writing music that was unlike anything I’ve ever written before. In the past, I played metal, punk, industrial, black metal, you name it. But never folk. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the sound of an acoustic guitar. But to really strip everything down and get to the absolute basics was unheard of for me. But I started writing these “stripped down acoustic” songs, and I really, really enjoyed them. It almost felt liberating, like I wasn’t doing something to sound like someone else or write in a certain genre like I listed. The songs were simple, but they were deep. And I enjoyed that. They seemed to weave themselves into existence. When I wrote one piece, it led to another and became exactly what I never knew I needed all along. That simplistic freedom of music straight from the heart and soul. That is where the name, The Old Loom, came from…that weaving. While the music was liberating, I knew I wanted it to contain elements of influences that I had learned from all my life. I wanted to take elements of black metal, country, and hard rock to “weave” this blend that would create the sound of this project. I wanted the music to be dark, and sound dark. But I wanted the lyrics to speak life. I wanted the lyrics to be real. Real life experience. They would tell a story, but it would be my story. At the point in 2018 when I started the project, I wrote the song, I Am The Storm. However, shortly after putting it out for a few people to hear, I became frustrated with the songwriting and scrapped the idea. I felt I was trying to hard from the excitement of this project, that maybe I was rushing. But it made me extremely frustrated. This year in 2020, I came back to it. I had been continuing to write music for it in the background over the last two years, and decided to resurrect it. The Old Loom was back, and this time I felt really good about it. I really wanted to put my all into it, and do it right this time. The Old Loom is raw, old world dark folk. It is also the narrative of my life and soul up to this point and will continue to be. It is music and art. As a graphic designer, I try to create a visual representation of every piece of music released, and that is what I mean when I say The Old Loom is its own “monster”.

Where are you from?

Currently, I am residing in Bakersfield, California USA. I have lived here for close to 7 years. I am in the process of moving back to my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was born and raised, in October. Texas is absolutely my home, it’s where my heart and soul lie. It is basically its own country and its people know that. There is a lot of pride, sense of belonging, and community there. There is no other place like it. Growing up in Texas had a huge influence on my styles of music that I write, and The Old Loom is the root of it. So, when people ask, “Where are you from?”, I really like to just skip right to Texas.

You have released your music mainly through Youtube. How much music have you released so far under the name ’The Old Loom’?

Yes, so far, I have only released two singles under The Old Loom on Youtube and BandCamp. It is a fairly new “old” project, if that makes sense. I am currently writing and recording a total of 5 songs to release on an upcoming EP that will be the first official release. I’m hoping to have that out sometime before the end of the year. ‘I Am The Storm’ was my first single, and is actually an older song. It was written in 2018 when I first began what was to become The Old Loom. It is a darker song, but exactly what I wanted it to be for this project. I threw it out there for a couple of people to listen to, but just did not get a great response to it. Maybe it was just the wrong time, or the wrong people. Who knows? But I have had an amazing and overwhelming response upon its release here in 2020. The second single, ‘The Tree & The Stone’, is the title track to the upcoming EP I mentioned earlier. This song still has some of the dark elements, but feels like a much lighter note musically. I have promised a third single, ‘Blessed Is The Rain’ to be released soon. I am in the process of fine tuning the recordings and getting it where I need it to be before I release it. So please look for me on Youtube and BandCamp to stay tuned for all future releases. I am working to get the music onto Spotify and iTunes, which will be happening very, very soon.

What instruments and elements can we hear in your music?

Well, like I said earlier on, I like to keep the music as raw and unproduced as possible. My main instrument of choice is the acoustic guitar. All of the melodies that you hear will be on the acoustic. I am trying to not have anything electronic in the music, but at times, some of my songwriting is leading me to go a little deeper with a mixture of heavily distorted electric guitars. So, you could be hearing some of this very soon. I feel its okay, as a lot of my style of writing these songs has come from the influences of black metal. I love the sound of a smooth, dark cello as well. While a guitar can create a melody and an emotion, I believe the cello is what truly captures the atmosphere and emotion in the songs that I am craving so much. You can also hear upright bass, plucked behind the other instruments. I use this because, at this time, I am opposed to drums. A plucked upright bass almost provides a beat, while also giving some low end to the mix of instruments. Field recordings are something that I am very interested in, and have been for a very long time. You can absolutely expect to hear the sounds of rain, wind, birds singing, the sound of trees, the ocean. Every time I go out anywhere, I am looking for sounds that I love and want to include with these songs.

When it comes to writing lyrics do you some specific themes from where they are born?

The Old Loom is very raw and nature based. It is almost primal at its core, in every sense of what primal is. The Old Loom is old world, that is how I best describe it. The lyrics are tales of simplicity, or striving for simplicity in this life. We are too bogged down with technology, social media, and politics. And in all of this mess, we have forgotten where we have come from. We have forgotten that we are children of nature, children of God (whatever God that you may or may not believe in). We are lost, and in being lost, we have learned to forget. We have learned to forget our core, our ancestry, a higher power, the things that truly make us human. In my lyrics, I strive to call back to that. I want to remember. I want to slow down and remember what is truly important, where 99% of everything else is just noise and inflammation to your soul. My lyrics speak of emotion; hurt, anger, sadness, happiness, love, faith, and hope. I try to incorporate my evolution of self into my music. I’ve always thought, if I could have a soundtrack of my life up to my death, what would I want it to sound like? What would I want to say? What would I want to be heard? The Old Loom IS that soundtrack. It is our former selves, before all of the noise. And I hope that in my lyrics and music, every listener can gain something from that and begin to find their true self under all of the distraction. Unplug for a while. Step off of the concrete and let your feet touch the grass, feel the dirt, hug a tree (Haha). Whatever it takes, just do it, and find yourself.

How about the songwriting process, do you have a certain way of doing things?

The songwriting process is probably the most frustrating to me. I can usually hear a melody in my head, clear as the day. It feels like it is right there, where I can just pick up my guitar and play it out just the way it sounds. But that is not what happens most of the time. And the hard part is not putting it to the guitar. The hard part is incorporating it to guitar in the way that I “feel” it. I am a huge fan of emotion and feelings in my music. When I hear it in my head, I can almost give myself goosebumps from it. But when put to guitar, sometimes it does not quite accomplish that. It’s okay though, that is where I usually draw upon a background cello to accompany the main guitar line. Most of the songs start with a guitar line. I have probably hundreds of them, many of which will probably never even be heard…ever. But based off of the emotion I receive from the music, that is where the lyrics come to life. They usually flow from those feelings and I find myself just simply telling a story.

Is there new music in the making at the moment? New releases coming out or live shows?

I have five songs right now that are being recorded for the upcoming debut EP, The Tree & The Stone. Beyond those five songs, I do have some others that are currently incomplete that will be featured on a full-length album most likely by the end of 2021. That is what I am aiming and hoping for currently. I do not have any plans for live shows yet, but I can let you in on a secret that I am looking for other musicians who can help be achieve that very soon. I am a one-man band at the time, and I suppose I could sing and play my guitar for people, but I want it to be a full experience if it’s going to be done. So, yes, live shows are a possibility in the future at some point. For now, though, you’re just going to have to stick to my Instagram Live.

Have you done any collaborations or would you like to do some in the future?

No, I have not worked on any collaborations at this time. But I would absolutely love to do some in the future. I have discovered many great folk artists and musicians from all over. Eventually I would love to see what a great mind can bring to The Old Loom. Or maybe I can bring something to someone else. Either way, I think it would be good fun.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Unplug. Unplug and go outside into the world. And I do not mean go shopping or have dinner with friends. Get out of town. Go someplace barren. Isolation is okay and it is surprisingly healing. Isolating in your home is not the same. Go outside. Feel the vibrations of nature around you. It will hold you and it will heal you. With that I leave you and thank you. I do hope you will decide to listen and get a feel of the music yourself. Be encouraged.

You’ll find the music of ’The Old Loom’ at:

https://theoldloomofficial.bandcamp.com/

THE OLD LOOM (@theoldloom_official) • Instagram photos and videos

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