An Interview with Simon Heath of Cryo Chamber

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The Swedish-turned-Oregonian mastermind behind the dark ambient label answers our questions about artist collaborations, field recording and album artwork.

I stumbled upon Cryo Chamber a year ago while looking for new ambient sounds, and was immediately taken with the rich, expansive atmospheres created by its artists: haunting dreamscapes of mist-shrouded worlds, crumbling ruins of lost civilizations and droning paeans to vast, unknown gods of the abyss. Listening from one album to the next, it can feel as though these auditory odes to the bleak and mysterious are interconnected; each artist retains a unique voice while somehow feeling as though they occupy the same mind.

This is where the talents of Simon Heath step in. As the label owner, mastering engineer, visual artist and dark/ambient artist himself, Simon perfectly understands the needs of the genre and assumes a high level of responsibility for his artist roster that results in some of the best art-through-sound available today. I reached out to him to ask about the details of what he does on a daily basis. Here’s what he had to say.

SimonCC

How did Cryo Chamber get started?

It’s something that has always been on the back of my mind, but it got started when I moved from Sweden to the US. With a new studio in place, a new album in production and the slow death of the former label I was on, CMI, it was time.

You not only master albums for Cryo Chamber’s artists, but create the album artwork as well. Is this to maintain a consistent quality?

That plays a big factor, but also the fact that I work very closely with our artists on conceptualization means I can reflect that in the artwork when I personally work on it side by side with mastering the release.

For those of us who aren’t familiar with music production and bit rates, please tell us why you put an emphasis on having 24 bit quality.

It’s more of a counter towards the trend of compressed formats with inferior quality, like MP3. With 24 bit we are already at a higher bit rate than CDs and while some might argue that it’s not too much of a noticeable difference, the hard drive space for 24 bit files isn’t really any issue compared to MP3s today (2015 at the time of this writing) since our hard drives are so big. It makes little sense to audiophiles compressing music to save a few gigabytes of space when our hard drives take terabytes; we just offer both options.

MetatronOmega_cover_smallMetatron Omega | Gnosis Dei

How do you balance the day-to-day operations of the label with your own creative output in Atrium Carceri?

I set aside time to work on AC in my “free” time; I work full time with the label under normal circumstances.

What inspires you musically? What about in terms of your artwork?

Right now, I am getting inspired a lot by all the artists on the label after having just worked with them all on the Azathoth album out soon. As for artwork that’s a tough one, there are too many artists and painters to mention, I like art in all its styles. From oil on canvas to the purely glitchy and digital.

How do you find and procure new artists?

They find us.

AegriSomnia_cover_smallAegri Somnia | Monde Obscure

How are collaborations between artists (like 2014’s Cthulhu) organized?

That takes a very long answer, but basically we have a private label only channel where we meet and discuss and brainstorm at the start of a project, we then proceed to link our studios to audio dropzones where we can bounce and export/import layers to/from and we go back and forth until we find a direction we like, we then repeat by discussing, editing, working with each others material until it’s finished. It’s a very draining and long process, but enlightening for all of us and a great learning experience, not to mention the honor of working side by side with the scene’s finest artists.

How did you get involved with creating the soundtrack for the “narrative philosophical” game The Old City?

They reached out as fans of Atrium Carceri, and after hearing their pitch and reading the narrative notes I jumped right in.

I saw via Twitter that you were recently in the woods of Oregon doing some field recording. What are some of the challenges and/or benefits of that?

The biggest challenge, apart from the purely technical, is to find a location so far away from civilization that you can’t hear the highways, or hear the rumble of tractors in the distance, or airplanes. If you do find a secluded spot, sometimes there will be a pesky bird making noises I do not want to sample. The benefits are the enchanting experience of realizing your previous conceptualization of sound sources, being at exciting locations and the payoff of getting back in the studio and polishing it all up.

Atrium_cover_smallAtrium Carceri | The Untold

Any plans for the future?

Azathoth, a collaboration of over 20 artists is being released in a few months. Onyx, my collaboration with Kammarheit and Apocryphos is out soon, and Q4 calls for the 6th Sabled Sun Signals album along with a three CD release IV-V-VI.

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Check out Cryo Chamber on BandcampFacebook and Twitter.

(images via)

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  • I will definetly check the new Azathoth compilation. Since last year, when you shared the Cryo Chamber albums I saved the name in my memory so I can search for some of their recordings when I need dark apocalyptic ambient spookyness.

    Thanks, Simon Heath! And thanks Cybro!

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Please listen to that Metatron Omega album. It sounds like a worship ceremony for a dark matter god.

      • Pagliacci is Kvlt
      • I think I did it wrong and I summoned some kind of malevolent creature and help please?

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Throw a donut at it

          • It yelled something in an ancient and horrific tongue but I’m pretty sure it meant “I can’t have gluten”.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Was it this one? You don’t want to see it having an allergic reaction.

            http://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/upload/106013/images/Shub-Niggurath.jpg

          • Vote for Jeb

            Can you imagine vomit rocketing out of that thing from every orifice?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I can now,

          • Vote for Jeb

            Arousing, isn’t it?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Extremely.

          • That’s definetly a venereal disease.

          • KJM

            Was it a jelly? It should’ve been.

        • Waynecro

          Does the creature look sort of like Glen Benton in a black-knight helmet? I accidentally conjured that guy once by reading passages from the Necronomicon out loud to amuse myself during a power outage. Mostly he just griped about Cthulhu getting all the attention. He left on his own after a while, but he made all the batteries in my apartment go dead to demonstrate his power.

      • Mxxk Bxnxntxn™

        I’m listening right now.
        Did Cristian hacked into your account?

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Negative.

          • Mxxk Bxnxntxn™

            It’s so obscure.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I’m listening to it right now and I feel a presence that is very disturbing.

        • Mxxk Bxnxntxn™

          Ever since playing the clouds have been getting darker and the wind stronger, I think is gonna rain.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I tried to play Ouija while this plays. I’m scared now.

          • Awesome.

          • KJM

            It’s cool, spookier than skeletons.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            NOTHING is sp00kier than skeletons!

          • KJM

            Jason & The Argonauts!

          • Vote for Jeb

            Some killer stop-motion effects in that classic.

          • KJM

            I’m a big Ray Harryhausen fan.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Me too! His work on The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is one of the reasons I love monster movies so much.

          • KJM

            I saw a few of the Sinbad movies on the big screen as well as Clash Of The Titans when it first came out, skipped school to see that one.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Radical.

          • KJM

            Boston TV used to show his stuff pretty regular on the weekends so I got hooked at an early age.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]
          • Vote for Jeb
          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            You’re going to hell.

          • KJM

            He’ll meet Captain Howdy on the way there.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I’m sure that I’ll be waiting for JJD there.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Perhaps even blasting Mgla as a welcome.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I got the album today. It be pretty good.

          • Vote for Jeb

            I shall be placing an order soon. I’m waiting to see how much extra cash I have this month.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I technically got it for free. My local record store has this thing where you get a stamp every time you buy an album over 17 euros. After 10 stamps you get a free 20 euro or less album of choice.

          • Vote for Jeb

            That is boss.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            It’s pretty nice to get a free record every once in a while. Especially when albums are pretty expensive here.

          • Vote for Jeb

            I wouldn’t mind it! I noticed the No Solace store has some Enemy of Man CDs with slightly damaged covers on discount. Probably will get one of those too when I make my order.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Porvarikauppa Äx<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
            Except whenever you fill the stamp-card or find your favorite album from a -70% sale.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I don’t have Porvarikuppa Äx here. I pre-ordered the Grave Pleasures album from them over a month ago. They promised that it’ll be here on the release date. The fuck it was! They goofed and didn’t even get the album. I bought it fron ny local record shop. Fuck Levykauppa X!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            No I’m not. I believe unless you badmouth the holy spirit if you’re truly sorry for what you’ve done you go to heaven.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            You took part in the occult. That shit is a sin. You can believe what you want. I know God (we were in the same school) and he ain’t about that shit.

          • KJM

            Jesus was a poopyhead. NYAH!

      • KJM

        It’s some freaky deaky shit. I like it.

  • Vote for Jeb

    Hey, very cool interview. I liked that Cthulhu collaboration, so I’m looking forward to Azathoth.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    A great reminder of a great label. And the interview wasn’t bad either 😉

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    This is a great interview and this is great dark ambient music.

  • Sir Tapir The Based :]

    This is pretty some pretty cool stuff right here.

    • I scared a friend with the Cthulhu album.

      Another satisfied costumer.

  • Vladimir Poutine

    This article series got me into dark ambient. Nice to have a new installment. Excellent interview. Cheers