Welcome back to the vault fiends! This week your ol’ pal Daniel XIII has the pleasure of being joined by Chris Cavoretto, the mastermind behind one of the most exciting new music projects in years, Werewolves In Siberia!
Your sound echoes so many classic elements of horror soundtracks of the past; everything from the works of John Carpenter, Goblin, Fabio Frizzi and even the airy soundscapes of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream appear to be referenced in equal measure, while still maintaining a unique sound all of its own. Can you tell our readers a bit about how you came up with your sound?
Chris: When I started Werewolves in Siberia, I had it in mind to make something similar to all those classic synth scores from horror movies. I think the fact that I used to play in metal, punk and hardcore bands really shaped the music into something a little different though. I use a lot of hardcore, metal and hip-hop styles of drumming over the top of these retro synth pieces. That’s where my stuff really differs from so much of the retro stuff going on. It’s nothing that I was conscious of when I started putting songs together. I just realized it after sitting back and listening to what I started making.
Can you tell us a how your creative process works, from conception of a track to finished recording?
Chris: I mostly just turn off my brain and go. I might have a quick idea and I look for the right sound for it and I’ll lay it down. From there, I experiment with sounds to go with it. The music is almost secondary to the blending of the sounds. The main thing is not overthinking what I’m doing though. I try to let it flow naturally. One of my biggest problems as a musician over the years has been overthinking things and trying really hard to make a song happen. Turning off my brain and letting a song guide itself is big when I’m doing Werewolves stuff. I just build until it feels right. I tend to not title it until it’s at a spot where I can listen to enough to start to get a mental picture of what could be going on in a horror movie sequence. It really is about trying to not try too hard.
What would you say is your favorite retro horror film (or films), as well as the ultimate retro soundtrack? How do these works influence your work today?
Chris: My all-time favorite movie is Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The fact that it’s devoid of music is kind of funny for a guy that’s so into the music. That one is all about not having much to work with but making what they did have work well. As far as the retro soundtracks go, I love all the John Carpenter scores. The Fog stands out as my favorite though. The music fits perfectly with the film and it’s so great at setting mood and tension. It’s the perfect example of synth music actually being tense instead of just fun or cheesy. Carpenter is just a huge influence altogether. Most of his music is minimalist but there’s something memorable and eerie to it all. I think I take that approach to my music. I try to overdo it where it’s necessary but sometimes less is more. I like that concept.
From the moment I first heard your work I could envision it accompanying a film based on my novella The House of Thirteen Doors. Do you have plans to score motion pictures someday, and to that end, if you were offered the chance to make your own film what elements would you like to include?
Chris: Yeah, I’m really into the idea of scoring some movies. I’m actually working with Monkey Puzzle Cinema in the UK, scoring their new feature length movie, Post Human. I’ve talked with a couple other independent horror writers and directors about possibly working together, too. I really like the idea of working in the independent realm because you can establish a relationship with the director and see what makes them tick. Having a lot of the same visions as them really helps the whole thing for me. I can feel comfortable with giving them music and trusting they’ll make it work properly. I’m not saying I wouldn’t score a big movie that would give me a big payday. It just seems like a pain in the *** to work with someone so out of touch with making a decent product and more focused on trying to cram crap down people’s throat and making a ton of money off of it. If I were to make my own horror movie, I have a ton of ideas but one that seems extra fun would be making a movie around music. I had the idea when I first got into the band Zombi. Scenes just flash to your brain when you’re listening to their music. I revisited that idea when I started doing Werewolves in Siberia. You could lay out the songs in an order that they seem to work with what you envision, and then write the rest of the movie around that. I thought The Rising would be perfect for doing something like that when I finished it. I’m always coming up with scenarios in my head of what a song reminds me of. It doesn’t really matter the style of music. It’s just something my brain does. Super happy, upbeat songs seem to always bring a feeling of utter catastrophe to me though. Like, extreme opposites. I don’t know the first thing about making a movie but I know plenty that I don’t like about what people do with their movies. Big budget and small, I just don’t like a lot of what people settle for. I like that in Texas Chainsaw Massacre; they used what they had to their advantage and hid what they didn’t have so it didn’t come across as *****. That’s what I would go for. I’m not a fan of all the CGI that it seems just about everybody uses. If you’re going to make something that looks fake, go over the top with it and don’t try to make people play make believe with their movie experiences if you’re trying to make something serious. If you’re making a dorky, cheesy movie, by all means, CGI the hell out of it. But leave that for the made for SyFy movies. They can be fun, I’m just not a fan in anything that’s supposed to be taken seriously, unless it’s so minimal that you can’t really tell. Sorry for the rant. For now, I’m just hoping some people step up and want to help me put some music videos together for the WIS songs. I’ve got some ideas going back and forth with someone but people are busy so it’s hard to really lock down anything for the immediate future. Basically, mini movies to the music are my closest concern to making movies right now.
Tell us about the concepts behind your latest album Beyond the City of the Dead.
Chris: I kind of wanted to just encompass a wide range of horror themes with this one. The Rising was really zombie-oriented. I listened to a lot more score composers when writing this one and it broadened my horizons a lot. On Beyond the City of the Dead, I really didn’t want to stick with one main theme like on The Rising. Instead, I thought it would be cool to have a full album that sounds like a collaboration of main title themes with a few mood pieces thrown in that could be used in a variety of horror/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic movies but fit well together at the same time.
How can our readers obtain Beyond the City of the Dead, as well as your past work?
Chris: Graveyard Calling is doing limited edition cassettes. There are still a few copies of The Rising left and now they’re releasing Beyond the City of the Dead, as well. They come with digital downloads and a few bonus tracks. Some people really like a retro physical copy of something, even if they don’t have a player for it. It’s really cool to me because it’s fun putting everything together for a physical copy.For those who don’t want a physical copy, but do want digital downloads, the albums are available on all the major download sites like iTunes and Amazon. On WerewolvesInSiberia.com and WerewolvesInSiberia.bandcamp.com, I set the price and people get the best deal. I really try to push people there because I think paying $10-15 for a digital download is pretty ridiculous. There are so few I’ll pay that for anymore, so I don’t want to charge that for my stuff. It’s cool to have people willing to pay for something you made but it should be affordable. The new album is officially released on April 1 but presales are already going on at the WIS and Graveyard Calling websites. There are some bonus remixes by some awesome artists for anyone preordering.
Thanks Chris for taking the time to talk to us in The Vault! I know all the creeps and ghouls out there will be following Werewolves In Siberia (which is easy to do on both Facebook and Twitter), and anxiously awaiting each new ghoulish release!