With their new album, Unmarked Boxes, released to see and hear in all its majesty for a few weeks, I was given the opportunity to fire some questions to the band responsible for such an epic opus. With 2021 drawing to a close and the inevitable downtime most of us will now get, hopefully, there will be an abundance of time to give this interesting little ‘Q and A’ a read and delve deeper into the underground machine known as Daxma.
Through wanting to find out more, and literally what makes the band tick, their influences, and all manner of thought processes involved, the answers are revealed. Completely enthralling, and utterly riveting, here are my questionings for the band.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Daxma…
Where does the band name originate from, and why did you choose it? Is there any significance for it?
Isaac: Daxma is a term for a Zoroastrian funerary temple. The significance of this name to me when I first came up with the idea was in Daxma’s translation as ‘Towers of Silence,’ which expressed a certain irony given my original conception that this would be a Sunn O))) meets Godspeed You! Black Emperor style project with giant towers of amplifiers blaring melodic drone noise. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by esoteric cultural practices across Asia like sky burials, and I’ve spent several years traveling through quite a few countries in that part of the world. My experiences throughout Asia have influenced my artistic inspirations quite a bit.
most of the concepts behind our songs and our albums have been from various philosophical or poetic inspirations I’ve accumulated throughout my life…
Where do you find the subject matter for tracks, is it something that takes shape organically, or do you start out on a specific path each time?
Isaac: I think most of the concepts behind our songs and our albums have been from various philosophical or poetic inspirations I’ve accumulated throughout my life reading books for school or just reading on my own. It definitely has been an organic process, and I’ve never set out with the intention to write an album or song about a specific subject. Moreso, the process has been one where I’ve written some music to bring to the band and the music starts attaching itself to particular philosophical or poetic themes I’ve had going on in my head for a while.
When creating tracks, where do you pull ideas from, sound wise and following on from that who are your musical inspirations?
Isaac: My biggest musical inspirations for Daxma have been Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mournful Congregation, Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Subrosa and I think there are definitely traces of all of them in our music. Outside the world of metal, the work of Philip Glass has been really influential in how I think about the layering of melodies.
Was there any reason for the gap between releases? Was it Covid related, or just letting ideas come together naturally?
Isaac: COVID definitely impacted our ability to practice and get together as easily as we would have liked, though we found a way to come together, social distancing and wearing masks both in our practice space and in the recording studio under pretty hellish conditions in order to bring this album into the world. I’d say the biggest reason for the length of time between releases is simply that we are all very busy working professionals with demanding lives and we’ve had to find a way to fit our love of writing music together around our busy schedules.
Forrest: A trifecta of COVID, being working professionals, and wanting to take the time to do this album justice were all driving factors in the gap taken for this release.
we want our music to have a ‘big’ sound – the layers of guitars and bass, violin and drums are creating the heaviness and ‘epic’ feel…
Vocal wise, it’s low down in the mix, is there a reason for this?
Jessica: I suppose for us, vocals are just one component of the music we create. While we certainly write vocal melodies, harmonies, and lyrics to integrate well into the music we write, they are not meant to sit above the instruments in the mix. Additionally, we want our music to have a ‘big’ sound – the layers of guitars and bass, violin and drums are creating the heaviness and ‘epic’ feel – having the vocals too high in the mix would potentially detract from this.
And will you be looking at making any more pronounced vocal on any future projects?
Isaac: It made me glad to know that people seemed to like the vocals on the album in several of the reviews I read. However, I don’t see us really trying to tailor our art in any direction other than the one our writing organically leads us in. We have some more instrumental tracks in the works, and if inspiration strikes us, I’m sure we will include some with more vocals as well.
Jadd from Blues Funeral and Marco from Majestic Mountain Records were stoked on the album, and they teamed up to release this double LP together…
Unmarked Boxes was released through Blues Funeral and Majestic Mountain, what was the reason for having two labels involved?
Jessica: This was actually Jadd from Blues Funeral’s idea! Since Unmarked Boxes is a lengthier album, pressing it to vinyl meant a double LP, which is a pricier endeavor, and also complicated with how slammed and busy vinyl manufacturers have been. Luckily for us, both Jadd from Blues Funeral and Marco from Majestic Mountain Records were stoked on the album, and they teamed up to release this double LP together. We’re happy with how it all turned out and feel very lucky for their support!
8. Moving forward, are there any plans yet for a follow-up?
Isaac: We do have a couple of tracks already recorded and ready to go for a future release and are currently figuring out the best medium to bring these into the world. Stay posted on this one.
9. Are there plans to be touring the album any time soon?
Isaac: It’s unlikely, given our demanding personal lives and work schedules, that we will be touring soon. However, we could see ourselves making more limited appearances at one-off shows or festivals should the stars align to make this kind of thing happen.
10. Commercial success, or underground heroes, which is more important to the band?
Jessica: For us, the most important thing is that we create music together which is genuine and honest, without any added artifice or ‘trying’ to create something that is not real to who we are. We pour our minds and hearts into the music we write. The most gratifying thing for us is when folks hear our music and reach out to let us know that our songs helped them through a hard time, or coping with loss, or that it made them feel something real. If the music that we create with pure intentions also resonates with others, what more could we ask for? Anything else is just gravy.
the most important thing is that we create music together which is genuine and honest, without any added artifice or ‘trying’ to create something that is not real to who we are…
Thanks for answering my questions, and please use this space for any final words…
Isaac: We’ve really been touched by the feedback we’ve received on this release from reviewers and listeners, and we are so grateful to learn what this album has meant to you all. Thanks for letting us share a bit more about ourselves and our art here!
Forrest: It’s been amazing to see the response to this album. It was a very special project for us and it’s an honor to see all of the reactions.
Daxma and their latest album Unmarked Boxes is out now via Blues Funeral Recordings and Majestic Mountain Records and is available as various vinyl pressing, compact disc, and digital download.
Interviewed by: Lee Beamish