Altar of Plagues: James Kelly on his top five influences outside of metal

RICHIE HAWTIN is someone that I got exposed to when I was maybe seventeen or eighteen, at an age when I was most into the metal scene, and something just clicked with me. He had these records that were so trancey but trance in the sense of trance-inducing not trance dance music. You just get locked into it and the next thing you know an hour has passed and your still in that place. It totally clicked with me. He was really the first artist that I was exposed to that really made me understand electronic rhythms and what they can do. And I mean, today, he’s by no means my favorite electronic music producer at all—he wouldn’t even nearly be near the top of my list in that regard—but in terms of his work being important to me, especially in my formative stages of making music and finding my approach to music, I think he was very important. He has got an album called DE9: Transitions; that would be the one for me.I think that you should keep yourself open-minded; there’s so much that this kind of music can offer you.”
RICHIE HAWTIN DE9: Transitions

“I that anyone who likes our band and reads ‘Altars of Plagues are into KATE BUSH’ and thinks what the fuck is going on . . . I mean, we’ve been pretty open about this stuff from day one, we’ve always been clear that we’ve always been sincere about what we are and what we are about—not posturing black metal guys. I think, “Hounds of Love”, it’s a pretty simple classic, the track as well as the album. She is the perfect marriage of theater and totally 100 per cent human musical performance. It’s 100 per cent pop music; but it’s pop done right, as opposed to someone today singing a love song that’s number one on the radio but doesn’t feel real, doesn’t sound real, and you don’t believe that they believe the words that they are saying. Kate Bush was around when sincerity was still around in mainstream music. Whereas now there are very few artists who are sincere. I mean, I think she has so much more sincerity, and it’s the combination of incredible music, the sincerity of a performance from an exceptional vocalist.”

KATE BUSH Hounds of Love

“My thoughts on Kate Bush translate perfectly to BJÖRK as well; she is another person who makes exceptional music, 100 per cent sincere all of the time, and has something that makes her alluring. I think maybe my favorite Björk track would be “All is Full of Love”, and then the album that followed it is my favorite Björk album. Her sound is so soft and sultry but there’s just this massive power to it—it’s an incredibly powerful combination. There is a lot of challenging music on her albums—another album I like is Radiohead’s Kid A, which is one of the biggest albums in the last 20 years but you forget, when you listen to it is so, so challenging. It reminds you that the wider public, the masses do have the capacity to really enjoy and relate to something that challenging in a meaningful way. It doesn’t always have to be disposable trash like fuckin’ Kings of Leon or something . . . Every once in a while, people do have the capacity to relate to something that is really challenging. I think people would want to hear more like Radiohead’s Kid A but the powers that be don’t let them out there. Instead you’ve got Simon Cowell curating the pop world and you’ve got nobody pushing the envelope anymore. I dunno, where have today’s Cocteau Twins gone? Where is the next Kate Bush? There’s not the same music climate at the moment. The most recent attempt that somebody made to be that next challenging icon was Lady Gaga. I mean, it’s so fucking contrived; what’s the weirdest fucking thing she can come up with? Oh yes, I’ll wear a dress made of meat—which ticks boxes of being weird, extreme and challenging. To me, as an act and an exercise, that is no different to some shitty death metal band thinking growly vocals and blast beats is gonna fucking challenge someone—no it doesn’t. People can see through it: it’s not challenging; it’s not real. It’s just trash, and not something I’m remotely interested in.”

BJÖRK All is Full of Love

“Actually I’m gonna be awkward and make it STEVE REICH instead of John Coltrane (close call though). My favorite Steve Reich work is Music for 18 Musicians. Besides being a unique and extremely beautiful piece of work, it completely opened me up to new ideas of minimalism, restraint, and subtlety within music. Work such as this is what has helped me to see music in terms of color and texture, and as something more than merely the sum of its parts.”

STEVE REICH Music for 18 Musicians

“Oh the other one is . . . DOMINICK FERNOW. He’s a noise artist from New York but he’s also got this synthy lo-fi project called Prurient, and a lot of techno projects. But he’s achieved an amazing crossover these last few years because he was coming from a really extreme noise background and getting on lineups with pioneers of the techno scene, guys like Surgeon, British Murder Boys, stuff like that, and he has shown that people have the capacity to get into something that’s more challenging. He’s playing at club events where people might go out and take fucking ecstasy tablets on a Saturday night and he’s making something like that more sincere. People enjoy it; it’s challenging, it’s the part of you that isn’t stimulated that often because everything is always toned down all the time.”


**ALTAR OF PLAGUES Teethed Glory and Injury is out April 30th on Profound Lore
**DISCLAIMER: James Kelly’s top five non-metal influences at the time of going to press