Atlanta, Georgia’s Malevich makes deeply unsettling and equally compelling music. Back in 2019 the band released their second full-length Our Hollow (see our review here) and what a disturbing ride that was. Now the band is back as part of a 4-way split EP and they were kind enough to spend some time answering some questions about their music, their beginnings and what they’ve got brewing for the future. I hope you’ll enjoy…
First of all, who are Malevich and what does each member contribute to the band?
Malevich: Josh McIntyre plays guitar, Daniel Desimone plays bass, Connor Ray plays guitar and Sasha Schilbrack-Cole plays drums. Sasha, Connor, and Daniel all share vocal duties. We also all take part in the other parts of being a band. Connor runs a recording studio called Sobek Sound and has recorded our most recent material. Sasha is an illustrator and printmaker who has done most of our art. Daniel and Josh handle most of our booking and general management.
Your latest track Impedance comes on a 4-way split single with 3 other artists. How did this release come together?
M: We began working with Zegema Beach Records after being asked to play their music fest in Vancouver in 2019. Dave later asked to put out cassette versions for Our Hollow when the album came out later that Fall. We met Bobby who runs The Ghost Is Clear during our Midwest tour that November. The two labels work together for the Meditations in Affinity series, of which four are already out and we highly recommend. The pandemic obviously set it back so we are excited that it’s finally happening. The other three bands (R Josef, Heel Turn, and Wanderer) are absolutely fantastic.
Is there a new full-length release on the horizon and if so what can people expect from that?
M: We actually just finished recording for a split 12” with another band. Our side consists of four songs that are quite different from each other and will showcase some new elements that we hope to build upon as we begin working on our third full-length.
Your album artwork and titles like Held by the Throat and Distended Empire give a very unsettling impression (not to mention the music). What lyrical ideas is the band exploring?
M: Those two songs in particular convey feelings of being trapped within our capitalist system. Autonomy doesn’t really exist when you lack the capital necessary to cover even the most basic needs and when you have to work to survive you’re at the mercy of not only your employer but the system itself. We’re speaking generally too, not just about our personal lives or even the US where people don’t have access to health care unless they’re ready to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This alienation from each other and from our environments (both literal and social) is another connecting theme, with inspirations involving everything from our personal lives to philosophical film and literary sources.
When you view the current landscape of extreme music, do you think Malevich fits within any particular style or sub genre?
M: Extreme music is so interesting because even though it is so incredibly niche it is also incredibly diverse, especially when you include non-metal genres like noise. In terms of our place within it we don’t feel that we belong to any particular grouping. Our influences come from all over, the end results being whatever satisfies our own wants, musically and emotionally. We strongly feel that by combining different sounds and dynamic ranges the individual parts become stronger. As a result of this we kind of end up befriending and playing alongside other artists who also have diverse tastes and aren’t afraid of playing on the same bill as, say, a death metal band, a sludge band, a screamo band, post-rock, etc.
Are there any active bands you feel a particular affinity with?
M: We are particularly excited by bands that are weird, challenging, and willing to push genre boundaries. That said, we have tons of friends worth mentioning here more than would fit on a concise list. Infant Island, Respire, Closet Witch, Teeth, Bathe, Soul Glo, Amygdala, Haunter, Sunrot, and Planning for Burial all come to mind as must listens.
What’s the band’s songwriting process like and how much do you like to experiment when playing live vs keeping true to the recordings?
M: The songwriting process is very collaborative but also grueling. We try to get together once a week as consistently as possible even if all we do is practice a live set and talk about our stuff. Songs can start out with a rough idea only to be torn apart and rebuilt over and over for months until we are satisfied. Now that we’ve started to practice at Connor’s studio space we can get decent demo recordings any time we want which is a substantial improvement over cell phone recordings where we could barely make things out.
In terms of playing live we sometimes change up some things but it’s not often, especially considering how densely composed some of the songs are. We’ve extended parts of some songs, we’ve tweaked vocal duties, and we’ve experimented with some of the looser, slower songs. “Death Will Never Be Enough” from our first album is the easiest example to give as it has these long dynamic breaks with textures that peak at this blast-heavy noise section before coming back together. If you watch our Bloodfeast live stream that we did with Adult Swim (here) we extended that seven minute song into a fifteen minute behemoth that involved three of our friends joining in with us.
Is there a meaning behind the name Malevich?
We are named after the Russian abstract artist Kazimir Malevich. While his particular style isn’t much of an influence, we are most drawn to his overall philosophy regarding art. He had anarchist tendencies and he fought for the value of art existing without the need for utility. Suprematism, his self-proclaimed movement, emphasized “pure feeling” in art and, crucially, that art could not only exist for its own sake but that it had the right to. This movement existed within the context of a radically changing Russia as new ideas of freedom and expression were emerging. Eventually this came into conflict with the state as Stalinism consolidated its power in his later years and began to restrict other forms of expression not deemed as valuable, especially the avant-garde.
How did the band first come together and did you always intend to make music this intense?
M: The band first started with Josh and Sasha. We were both in more indie-oriented post-rock/slowcore/emo bands that weren’t as active, particularly with touring, as we wanted them to be. We originally set out to be a grind-heavy band with sludge influences and lots of inspiration from late 90s Hydra Head era metallic hardcore (Coalesce, Cave In, etc.) with more black metal inspired tonality. We always wanted to create music that was absolutely visceral but with the dynamics that we feel make the visceral parts all the more intense. After the first album we went from a stand-alone vocalist (Will, who ended up leaving to attend grad school) to now being a quartet with two guitars, three vocalists, and a more collaborative and complex song-writing approach.
Do different musical formats (vinyl, cassette, digital) make a difference to you?
M: They do. While digital is obviously the most commonly consumed medium there’s just something special about holding a physical version of an album as a work of someone’s creation. It’s there, it’s done, and it’s tangible. This is especially true with the album artwork itself as Sasha works incredibly hard to have these intricate pieces done as a collective whole. That being said, we also think that accessibility is incredibly important. We grew up on discovering new music through the Internet so having our music on every digital format possible is crucial. Cassettes and CDs are cheaper than vinyl and also offer unique experiences to engage with.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
We mostly look forward to just being an active band again. The four-way split will have preorders up December 27 and hopefully the 12” split won’t be too far behind it. We miss touring more than anything and plan on being all over the US, parts of Canada for 2022 and hopefully beyond in the future. We love traveling, playing shows, and we have friends all over the place that we are excited to see again.
interview by Tom Boatman
Thanks to Josh, Sasha, Connor, and Daniel for their time. Meditations in Affinity “Understanding” featuring Malevich will be released on February 11th 2022 on The Ghost is Clear Records. The Malevich track for the EP is available to stream and download now. Follow the band on all their social media sites to stay up to date with news and forthcoming releases.
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