(Feature photo by Todd Davis, coat by Rose Mortem, guitar by Schecter Guitars)
Gothic Rock icon Ashton Nyte and The Awakening recently ended their 5 year sabbatical by announcing the release of their first new single since ‘Fault’ off Anthology XV (2013). The new song is called ‘Shore’ and is the lead single from The Awakening’s ninth full length album, Chasm. Torched Magazine is pleased with having the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Ashton about Chasm along with his recent collaboration with Michael Ciravolo’s Beauty In Chaos.
The Awakening has just unveiled a rather extensive pre-order campaign in support of the new album, with a host of exclusive items guaranteed to please devotees, along with the newly initiated to the dark world of The Awakening. Hand written lyrics, signed CD’s and vinyl, merchandise bundles and a range of other dark delights await at www.theawakening.com/chasm. All orders include an immediate download of the lead single, ‘Shore’ and access to weekly updates and exclusive content as the band gears up for the album release on 26 November 2018 via Intervention Arts.
Now based in the USA, The Awakening is a musical project originally from South Africa, founded by singer, songwriter and producer Ashton Nyte. The Awakening has released 8 albums to date, along with Ashton Nyte’s 7 solo albums. Nyte has also contributed lyrics and vocals to recent releases by MGT (Peter Murphy, The Mission) as well to Michael Ciravolo’s Beauty In Chaos project which features many well known music industry luminaries including Wayne Hussey (The Mission), Simon Gallup (The Cure) and Michael Aston (Gene Loves Jezebel). Information on the new Beauty In Chaos debut album finding beauty in chaos can be found HERE.
Nyte has said that the primary motivation for The Awakening’s extensive album campaign is to see the band back on the road, on a world-wide tour in 2019. The band last toured with The Mission in 2016 on a 17 date sold out tour, spanning 12 European countries. “It feels magical to be putting out a new Awakening album again. Most of all I look forward to sharing the songs with the fans in a live environment again. That completes the circle for me.” – Ashton Nyte
Did you grow up in a musical environment? When and where did it all start for you?
I grew up in a family of music lovers. Whilst they are not musicians or “professional” singers, my parents have always been passionate about music in a range of shapes and forms. The first voice to resonate with me was Elvis Presley. Seeing a re-run of the 68 Comeback Special on TV changed my life forever. My first “live performance” was singing Blue Suede Shoes to my unsuspecting second grade class. By the age of 8 I had discovered David Bowie who duly usurped the throne and has remained the brightest torch on the highest hill for me, ever since. I remember pretending to be in music videos in my back garden, while other children were chasing each other with sticks or plastic guns. Not much has changed.
MGT was your first collaborative project outside of The Awakening and now you’ve teamed up with Michael Ciravolos’ Beauty In Chaos. How has the creative process been different from The Awakening’s?
With The Awakening and my solo albums I am able to take every song and album literally from a seed to tree, as I write, sing and perform almost everything on those albums. With both MGT and now Beauty In Chaos I was given the music, or in some cases with MGT sketches of the music and I would then respond lyrically and vocally, sometimes re-arranging the music to help tell the story a little better. It was a unique experience for me to be reacting to an actual piece of the song puzzle, rather than giving birth to it all.
You’re getting ready to release a new The Awakening album entitled ‘Chasm’ for which you now have a fundraising campaign. Tell me a little about this campaign and where fans can go to get information and purchase items?
I was looking for a way to engage the fans in a meaningful way again. It has been quite some time since The Awakening put out anything new and I guess on some level I was testing the water just to see how much love was still out there. Thankfully the response has been simply overwhelming, in a good way! We have a range of items, including signed CD’s and vinyl, handwritten lyrics, your name in the credits, acoustic house concerts and much more, as part of the campaign. Every pre-order purchase also includes access to weekly behind the scenes updates and other oddities. http://www.theawakening.com/chasm is where it is all happening :-).
The new Beauty In Chaos album ‘Finding Beauty In Chaos’ is pretty diverse with many musical luminaries taking part. This makes me feel like each song is a unique piece to a greater collection and should be listened to as a whole. Would you agree with this observation and why?
I do agree. Even with the diverse range of singers, lyricists and other contributors, Michael’s music is still the foundation and common thread throughout. He has a very distinctive style and approach, which has been beautiful realized by Michael Rozon, his producer. Having sat in the studio with them over many a glass of wine I know how meticulously this was created, with a desire to make every song all it can be and the album a journey in and of itself.
Who or what are some of your creative influences?
Well, I mentioned Elvis and Bowie earlier…and yes, there are many, many more. Creatively speaking and as insanely eclectic as it may sound I would have to acknowledge Kate Bush, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Nick Cave, Nina Simone, Iggy Pop, Johnny Cash, Cat Stevens, Bauhaus, The Sisters Of Mercy, Woven Hand, PJ Harvey, Echo And The Bunneymen, Love And Rockets, Fad Gadget, U2, Suede, Neil Young, T-Rex, The Mission, The Cure, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Tom Waits, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Duran Duran, INXS and the list goes on and on. There are so many artists I absolutely adore and in my opinion I’m sure they all have some sort of effect on me, whether I’m conscious of it or not.
Of course books, movies, poetry, life, love and the universe all influence my writing too, but maybe that is a conversation we should save for another time.
A new video has just been released for Beauty In Chaos ‘Storm’ for which you contributed vocals and lyrics too. What was it like working with Vicente Cordero of Industrialism Films? What was your inspiration behind the visuals and lyrics for this video and song?
It was lovely working with Vicente. I had worked with him in a long distance capacity before on the MGT video “All The Broken Things” but this was the first time we were actually together in the same time zone. “Storm” is essentially a song about trying to find a light in the proverbial dark, destructive and tediously distracting world we find ourselves in. We wanted to create a performance space that felt like a storm, without being too literal. We then added a series of vignettes to illustrate some of the distractions and challenges of the modern world. All in all it was a well caffeinated and very enjoyable shoot over 2 days and nights in LA. It was also the first time Michael and I had performed together in any way, so that was an added bonus.
Are there any plans for The Awakening to be taken on the road for live shows in the near future?
Yes indeed. One of the main motivations for the album campaign was to identify where The Awakening should play next year and then do our damndest to make that happen. So far, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, the USA and South Africa are in the running, with more to follow. The last tour we did was 17 European dates with The Mission back in 2016, so we do need to make up for lost time!
What was your inspiration for the new The Awakening album ‘Chasm’?
To firstly create the best work I possibly can and to have something that represents where The Awakening is today, both artistically and emotionally. It was created over a rather lengthy period of time and has evolved and mutated significantly over the years, with some songs dating back to just after the last Awakening album and some written as recently as last month. I tried to keep an open mind and heart and not get attached to songs just because I had spent literally hundreds of hours on them. So yeah, some songs had to be set free to make room for those that told this particular story more effectively. Suffice it to say, there is at least a double album’s worth of out-takes from this one!
Thank you so much for taking the time for Torched Magazine! Is there anything else that I may have missed that you would like to share?
Just a big thank you to all who have already supported The Awakening’s new album campaign! I feel suitably encouraged and blessed, to say the least.
And thank you for the lovely chat Judy! x