Written by Alexis Zygan
VANCOUVER POST-PUNK BAND DROPS ONE OF THE MOST HAUNTING EPS OF 2020 THUS FAR.
In these chaotic times, listening to Red Vienna's latest release provides solace for those walking through darkness, in search of the light at the end of the tunnel. Tomhet, which is the Swedish word for “emptiness”, is a beautiful and haunting continuation of Red Vienna’s previous album, The Book of Hours (2015). The ghostly vocals and acute drumming define their sombre sound. Although Tomhet only contains two tracks, they earnestly portray grief and allow listeners to build affinity through melancholy.
"Dark subject matter is what I'm drawn to as a music fan,” says Red Vienna vocalist/bassist Jahmeel Russell. “When I write music, I do not find happy topics inspiring. [The song ‘Tomhet’] deals with some heavy personal stuff I went through. ‘Evelyn’ was inspired by ‘The Most Beautiful Suicide.’”
“The Most Beautiful Suicide” is a photograph of Evelyn Hall, a woman who jumped from the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1947. The now-iconic photo was taken four minutes after her death by photography student Robert Wiles, her lifeless body captured from a high angle as she lays on top of a car.
Tomhet allowed for collaboration with Jason Corbett, who Russell plays alongside in the post-punk band Actors. Their previous experience working together in the band allowed for a very smooth process in the recording booth.
"He is hands-on as a producer - with some pretty strong ideas and suggestions in terms of what we can do with arrangements and instrumentation,” Russell explains. “I respect his opinion in the studio. He is also one of my best friends."
In terms of what is next with Red Vienna, the band continues to play music even if it is just from their homes, demoing material by emailing files to each other.
Although venues remain closed for the time being. It is vital to continue supporting the scene, as many musicians are out of work. Fan support is imperative for the resilience of the music industry.
"People have been amazing so far with this release, and everything counts to us, you doing this interview. It has been great having people check out the video, check out the songs, download the release on Bandcamp, anything, to me watching the video on youtube - awesome, I am happy, it is getting out there."