By: Shayla Lee
The Comet Is Coming is a three-piece band based in the UK comprised of Danalogue on synths, drummer Betamax, and saxophonist King Shabaka. The music and universe that the three artists have created is nothing short of otherworldly. Their music represents humanity and the human experience at its roots.
When listening to The Comet Is Coming, it’s easy to drift away to another world in your mind. Their unique blend of instruments, specifically the sax, synths, and drums, makes it nearly impossible to place the music into a specific genre. In short, it’s a beautiful hybrid of jazz, psychedelic rock, and funk.
The Comet Is Coming has a busy year ahead of them touring in Europe, the US, and Canada. We had the chance to chat with Danalogue, Betamax, and King Shabaka about new music, their artistic vision, and their upcoming tour dates.
Femme Riot: To people unfamiliar with you and your music, how would you describe The Comet Is Coming to them?
Danalogue: We have analogue synthesizers, saxophone and drums. We are three instumentalists at the top of our game smashing together like particles in the Large Hadron Collider.
We embody the sound of resistance and determination, to summon the fire to meet the challenges of life with courage.
We have been said to draw upon elements of electronic music, spiritual jazz and psychedelic rock, but I would contend that we are making completely new music, we meet and interact with previous music through Rupert Sheldrake’s theoretical morphic resonance – by having similar experiences, outlooks and states of consciousness as previous artists, we potentially tap into some of the same pools of inspiration and sonic palettes.
Your music is more than “songs.” You have created an entire world for your listeners. Where do you draw inspiration when you are developing this unique world? Who or what has influenced The Comet Is Coming in a musical sense as well as personally?
Danalogue: We have our own way to write our music, which remains slightly shrouded in mystery even to us, but involves certain rituals and states of consciousness, a lot of freedom of expression, trust in one another, improvisation, and involves very little discussion of what we should each play. So perhaps counterintuitively, what may appear as a world designed by a creator, or particular inspiration, is actually formed naturally by the sum of its parts in active self organisation, when they search deep within themselves.
The first LP was called Channel The Spirits, in this way perhaps we are not playing music but channelling lifeforce from somewhere else, and this in turn creates a unique world. I have taken great inspiration from Terence Mckenna in this way, considering the boundaries of our regular waking consciousness as just one interpretation of reality, that may exist amongst many others.
Alan Watts also encouraged me at a young age to abandon any notion of pandering to a crowd or a scene, and to create exactly as you imagine you would like to, because ‘somebody somewhere is into everything’.
You have been collaborating together for years, how do you approach making a song? Do you have a system set in place that works for you or is it a bit different each time?
Danalogue: We always record to tape. This is a process that sets a finite time frame in which to create, the length of tape is 30 minutes. Our lives are finite, so far, perhaps Kurzweil will change this in his search for immortality! Finite time creates a viceral charge and meaning to the present moment, and an urgency.
After the initial recording sessions, Betamax and I spend months in a little studio panning for gold in amongst the many reels of tape, often cutting them up and rearranging them, so in this way we’ve bottled the initial creative outburst and then manipulate that precious substance into the eventual final form on the album.
So far we have mainly written music and recorded it within the hour, so we are bottling up new, fresh energy, the excitement of that first moment of creation before it becomes overworked. This has its ups and downs, and music very carefully and laboriously written can be magnificent, but like a volcano exploding, the character of our process tends to contain a lot of heat, colour and chaos.
You are touring a lot this year in the US and in Europe. What can fans expect from your live performances? Can you give us a sneak peek into the experience of The Comet Is Coming live set?
Betamax: The live set is supposed to represent a journey through different states of consciousness, exploring each track’s nature and potential for self reflection. We’re always looking to explore deep mental states of focus and high states of energy and get a feel for the physical and mental limitations of our performance. We musically aim to arrive at the edge of something- where we loose ourselves and surrender. This is the most gratifying thing as a performer and hopefully people can bare witness as a shared experience of something unique to that moment.
We musically aim to arrive at the edge of something- where we loose ourselves and surrender. This is the most gratifying thing as a performer and hopefully people can bare witness as a shared experience of something unique to that moment.
You are slated to play Bonnaroo this year, a festival that is described as being immersive and life-changing for attendees. What experience are you hoping to provide for people at Bonnaroo?
King Shabaka: I genuinely hope that each member of the audience is able to find their own true interpretation of our sound. If the music can heal or shed light on an emotion or make sense of a situation. Or perhaps offer hope and light, or give strength to confront darkness. The Psycho-acoustic experience is always subjective and not always easy to reduce to words, so i would invite listeners to be open and curious. Music without words can tell many stories and it really depends on the way people listen and react. Betamax
We provide a space for people to potentially see beyond their realities if they surrender to the music and abandon themselves to our attempts to harness energy forces.
Last month you released ‘Summon The Fire’ which is an explosive track. Can you tell us more about this song and the inspiration behind it?
Betamax: When we first started playing this track it felt like we needed to make a bold statement, the sound of being direct and forceful and driving forwards. Once we recorded it we then realised that the track is really about summoning the ability to change something in the physical world. So if it sounds explosive that’s great- but understand that that energy comes from within- so it’s really you who are exploding with potential.
King Shabaka: We got into the studio and tried to give an honest depiction of the landscape which our respective histories and personal sources of inspiration have led us to as a communal force. Summon The Fire is one of the offerings and is a sonic reflection of our attitude towards life which is necessarily informed by our habituation in London and the cultural fragrances which this infuses us with.
Have you experienced a “wow” moment as a group when you realized all of your hard work has paid off? What is your ultimate goal as artists with The Comet Is Coming?
King Shabaka: Maybe the answer is different for each of us individually but my personal reflection is no. I don’t really have wow moments. I work and try to articulate as accurately as possible the zeitgeist as I perceive it and as it is reflected back to me through the insights (musical and otherwise) of my peers. Our ultimate goal will become clear throughout this year of sharing our music with various audiences throughout the world. I think there is a danger in approaching the advent of a band’s journey with preconceived notions of end goals. My aim is to stay receptive throughout the development of the comet is coming so that as our intuition shows us ever more deep and meaningful ways by which our music and message can be of service to humanity and that we can stay humble enough to listen and disciplined enough to articulate our insights to the wider public.
Your album artwork is absolutely beautiful. How do the concepts for your artwork come to fruition?
King Shabaka: Our artwork is always a collaborative space whereby we allow artists we trust to express themselves in relation to our music. we trust our intuition to guide us in showing what is appropriate for our work. The work of Nat Girsberger stood out to us as soon as we came into contact with her world of images and placement. The way she creates mythological landscapes which force the viewer to dream future stories and narratives is totally in line with what we want to express with our music.
Mental health is something very important to us at Femme Riot and we love hearing about how others maintain balance in their lives. Being busy musicians who are working on music and touring, what practices do you implement into your life to ensure your health and well-being is taken care of? Is it difficult to maintain this type of balance with your busy careers?
Betamax: Meditation is a new addition to my life and i’m finding it helps with being present in the moment. also you can do it whilst travelling sometimes. For me i also find that i need to phone-detox every now and then as that little thing really sends my mental state into nervous tension and boredom.
Anything else we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Danalogue: Our live concerts really expand and take off from the starting point of records, I can’t wait to bring our music live to the people around the world, and I urge everyone to come and take part in the meeting of all the minds there. I am grateful everyday to the universe that our music is travelling around the world.
One last thing – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery.
For more information on their tour dates, check out their website here. Follow along on the band’s journey on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re ready to open your mind to the universe The Comet Is Coming has created, their music can be found below!