Ritual Cloak is Daniel Barnett, former member of the Samoans band, and drummer / producer Andrew Sanders.
Glacial sonic post-rock inspired by Mogwai, Kiasmos and Sigur Ros.
We have had the pleasure of speaking with them, and this has been the result.
Hi there ! Where can we find you right now? How did you start your day?
Dan: Hey! I’m at home, just outside of Blackwood in the valleys (I moved out of Cardiff at the start of the year). I started my day by being woken up by 4 of my cockerels competing against each other to see who can crow the loudest.
Sanders: I’m usually woken up by my baby daughter, but I made it until my alarm at 6:30 today so I consider that a lay-in!
When did the idea of starting a project start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
Dan: Weirdly, the idea for this project started to take shape before we had even released our first album back in 2019. Darren (Autumn Juvenile) and I are really old friends and we’d always wanted to work together creatively. We used to have a bedroom dub project years back called The Way The Whale Works where we’d mess about trying to be De Facto as we idolised Cedric and Omar. I remember sending Darren the demos for our debut album to see what he thought. We later went out drinking and he told me that he’d started writing lyrics to the songs and that he wanted to show me. I was blown away when he read out You’re The Summer to me in his flat and knew that we had to do this. It wasn’t a quick process getting the collaboration done with other release priorities and major life events like our friend dying of cancer. I’m glad we persevered though. I’m really proud of the album.
How would you define the sound of your latest work? What is the concept behind?
Dan: I guess when we started Ritual Cloak it was probably defined more as post-rock but as we wrote more and experimented in the studio the lines between genres began to blur as we incorporated elements of minimal techno and electronica. With A Human Being is the Best Disguise, we’ve let someone else in on the creative process. Darren’s (Autumn Juvenile) spoken word pieces have given the music a new vitality and raw emotion that perhaps wasn’t there before. We’re always open to trying something different for each release and collaboration certainly inspires us.
All the lyrics are a mix of real-life lies, workplace gossip, political provocation, online flirtations and (most unforgivably) pure imagination. They were written on stifling summer nights working in secure mental health units across Cardiff, in between rolling cigarettes for rapists.
Sanders: Having Autumn Juvenile on this album has taken the songs to totally new places, given them new meaning and attached new emotions to them. That’s something that would never have happened if we hadn’t had the opportunity to collaborate. We were fortunate to have a number of tracks from the first release remixed, which we put out as an EP, Ritual Cloak Remixed. This feels like a totally different beast.
What artists are you interested in these days?
Dan: I’m still heavily attached to a lot of the bands that inspired me growing up like Mogwai, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Deftones and Sigur Ros. In terms of new music I love Kelly Lee Owens, Annika, Kiasmos, Gold Panda and Sylvan Esso.
Sanders: I’ve been digging the latest Waxahatchee record of late, the vocal harmonies are stunning and the songs on the whole album are so well written. I’ve also been playing Brian Fallon’s 2020 release, Local Honey a lot of late. Great production on that record.
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?
Dan: We always say the only rule in Ritual Cloak is there are no rules, so that really frees us up to make whatever comes out and to act on whatever we’re feeling or wanting to express at the time. I think that’s what makes our releases interesting, one song could be a solo piano piece followed by something heavy or dancy and it not feel out of place. Everything is usually built around melody so exploring disparate genres around a simple melody can really open up possibilities.
Sanders: I get a lot out of working with other artists that I produce. I’m always learning something new whenever I work on a project with someone else and I’ll often bring what I’ve learnt back to Ritual Cloak. I think it’s important to push yourself as a musician, engineer, producer or whatever and to always be looking to learn from your experiences.
How would you define your sound?
Sanders: It’s rooted in post-rock with a very strong electric influence. Our music takes the form of soundscapes.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
Dan: We’ve not long ago released a cover of R.E.M.’s Orange Crush as part of Godisinthetvzine’s tribute album A Carnival of Sorts. Our minds were blown when we saw that the band had listened to the album as well. We’ve collaborated with a good friend of mine, Polish photographer Michal Iwanowski. We were so inspired by his recent work Go Home, Polish that we wrote a song for him. We asked Michal to come into the studio to record spoken word pieces to the music in English and Polish. It’s definitely one of the best things we’ve ever done, so I’m excited to get it out there next year! Other than that we’ve started fleshing out ideas for the next album, but not putting too much pressure on ourselves to get something out straight away. 2021 has been pretty busy for us in terms of releases so it’ll be nice to give ourselves some space to work on new material.