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ORYAD - ''Music forms the backbone of spiritual experience

Oryad is band that defies normal convention. From soaring operatic harmonies and excellent heavy passages that transcend the boundaries of metal, classical and gothic. It begins with the ancient ritual

Moira ‘’I have a very deep interest in world religions and mythologies, and even work as a professional freelance musician for various religious institutions and have recently been really delving into Gregorian Chant. I’m drawn to the ways in which music forms the backbone of spiritual experience for every culture in human history. The hypnosis of rhythm, the importance of words, the ability of songs to lift us beyond ourselves.

‘’So, I like to envision that any set we perform, any songs we record, facilitate rituals for the listener. Their interpretation and gratification are their personal experience, but my intent with every song is to touch on that collective, Jungian need for spiritual release via ritual.

‘’Oryad does come from the oread, which are the wood-dwelling nymphs that follow the goddess Artemis/Diana. When I first started delving into song writing, I was mostly lyrically inspired during my hikes in the Rocky Mountains. I have favourite trails where I would just sit in the middle of the pine-heavy forest, thinking and writing. I am most content when I’m deep in the woods, and so I feel an affinity for green, nature-based mythologies and figures. I like the idea of Diana running through the woods in the moonlight, intent on the hunt. Her self-sufficient power and lack of dependence on others makes her an inspiring character.

‘’I was feeling burned out by the opera audition cycle and the sameness of it all (more on that later), and feeling that, even though I loved to sing in a bel canto (classical, operatic) style, the music still didn’t hold the power and aggression that I craved. I found symphonic metal several years ago with Nightwish as the gateway, and from there started exploring different metal subgenres. I saw a lot of folks combining classical and metal elements; the formal structure, key relationships, and poetic content were exactly the same in metal and classical music.

‘’It lit a fire in me; I wanted to create a project that would blend the two and bring in other stylistic elements, without being strictly “symphonic metal.” Although, we conveniently use that term. When you’ve got a classical vocalist over the music, it’s hard to market it otherwise.

The Excellent new album Hymns of Exile and Decay.

‘’Thank you! COVID became the impetus to finish this recording and put it into the world. We’d recorded most of our stems late 2019, so when the United States locked down in early 2020, I had the opportunity to take the time to stitch the tunes together remotely, finish any remaining bits.

‘’I contacted an old colleague, Vikram Shankar, to do our mixing/mastering, and I’m forever indebted to him for taking on this metal newbie. We met when I was a young artist at a summer opera festival. We played jazz standards together for outreach events hosted by the organization. It was pure serendipity that I discovered later that we’d both ended up in the prog and metal worlds. He’s simply a juggernaut right now in the metal world, working on a project with Tom Englund and scoring and producing all sorts of stuff. I’m so happy for him and proud to know him.

Hymn of The End has religious themes whilst Doxology is celestial. The inspiration?

‘’Most of my poetic sources come from universal feelings of the wretched human condition in the face of brutally beautiful and terrifying nature. This 19th century Romantic feeling of a tiny human existence in the eye of the storm. Sometimes, my personal experiences with grief, loss, and anxiety come into play, but are filtered through a nature-based or ritual-based language. I’m also fascinated with dream imagery and dream logic and have been playing with that recently in my writing.

‘’Hymn of the End’s lyrics are from a poem by Stephen Crane, a prominent 19th century American writer and noted atheist. His writing was really ground-breaking for its time. I was drawn to the apocalyptic imagery, and the idea that allowing the desire for power to overtake everything is destructive. Doxology also touches on this feeling that the world is near the brink of implosion, on intermingling with stardust.

Your incredible vocal talent.

‘’Thank you! I’ve been studying voice for 19 years. I have a Bachelors (undergraduate) degree in piano and vocal performance and a Masters (graduate) degree in vocal performance. My range is about 3 octaves, but as a lyric soprano, I spend much of my time on the higher end of the spectrum.

‘’I still work a little in the opera and classical worlds- I do a handful of small, experimental operas and have dabbled in stage direction. I’ve been lucky to travel around to a few countries doing this. I also work as a freelance singer performing works by contemporary composers for recitals and recording sessions, and work as a cantor for a beautiful historic space near me.

‘’A few years ago, I found myself doing the regular audition season with about 600 other sopranos and feeling both beaten down by the soprano-against-soprano competition, the awful odds of success, and the lack of imagination allowed in interpreting arias. Being told, at the cusp of 30, that I’d lost any chance of getting my foot in the door was the impetus for me to do my own thing…and here we are, several years later.

What draws you to the heavier side of music?

‘’Given the seemingly infinite number of subgenres of metal, I would venture to say that it is indeed a genre without limits. I’ve always been attracted to dramatic, heavy, and brooding things, so this was a natural progression. I feel free to explore that as much as I want and am still figuring out where I want my sound to live on that spectrum.

‘’I love the expansive forms of bands like Cellar Darling, Oceans of Slumber, Myrkur, and Thou, the classical influence in the music of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Apocalyptica, the cross-cultural sounds of Ignea, Glasya, and Fabulae Dramatis, the melodic power of Blackbriar, Evergrey, Salduie, and Epica, and all the intensity of Gojira, Shadow of Intent, Eleine, Insomnium, In Flames, and Phantom Elite.

Is the song writing process an easy one? Do the Hymns write themselves?

‘’The process usually goes something like this: poetry, then vocal melody, then the harmonic structure/thematic idea. After that, I bring a song to my collaborators. We work on guitar riffs and orchestration, and then fill in the blanks and polish the orchestration.

‘’A little over a year ago, I started taking orchestration and arranging lessons with Francesco Ferrini from Fleshgod Apocalypse, and it’s been life changing. This is where the new orchestration is coming in, a new perspective on form and part-writing.

‘’This new material feels radically different yet carries the same heart. It’s taking a long time to write, but that’s because we are diving into the deeper end of a fully composed experience that is more mature in its combination of really heavy riffs and intricate motivic part-writing for orchestra.

Is Sacrifice a tale of unconditional/unrequited love?

‘’Yes, it’s about unconditional (but very reciprocated) love! This is one of the few, actual “love” songs I’ve ever written and it’s about the strong bond I have with my husband, who’s always supporting me. It often feels like the world is crumbling around us in a brutal storm, but we’re hanging onto each other and willing to take that mortal step needed to save the other. I don’t like writing songs about relationships or being open about my personal life, but something spoke to me when I wrote this particular poem.

What inspires you?

‘’The woods, mountains, dreams, gothic horror, paintings by Caravaggio and Hieronymus Bosch, poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Baudelaire, the music of Richard Strauss, Heilung, and Hildegard, old noir movies, the photography of Nona Limmen.

Plans for the future.

‘’We’re currently finishing up writing the songs for a full-length album and have plans to expand our worldwide marketing outreach along with a release campaign in 2023. My long-term goal is for Oryad to work on playing open-air festivals and special events with the hopes of securing a supporting tour role (maybe for one of my role-models…! I can dream…). I also hope to continue growing my compositional skills for Oryad and collaborations with other artists who live between genres.

Top 6 albums of all time

‘’This is hard because I’m on the cusp of the post-album generation and tend to collect singular songs from albums that I like. However, the following 6 are simply ideal start-to-finish and represent a wide variety of the stuff I like to listen to, from classics to new work:

Master of Reality - Black Sabbath

Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits - Chicago

Undercurrent - Bill Evans

Hour of the Nightingale - Trees of Eternity

Winter - Oceans of Slumber

The Spell - Cellar Darling

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