‘I think this EP is a really good representation of just how loud it is in here, how weird and wonderful it is. And not just in my head, as a universal human experience.’
Monique Pym is excited to be sat down chatting about her band Reliqa’s new EP I Don’t Know What I Am. Excited is certainly a word you can use to describe a collection of songs that swings in its diversity, rhythms and soundscape for the bands third release.
‘That’s what happened when we wrote it! It was going everywhere and it’s a little scary when that happens! It’s all in the name really, we don’t know what we are, we don’t know where we’re going! We don’t know what sound we are and we wanted to explore that. This EP is a manifestation and exploration of self , personally and musically. So it’s really cool to say that because that’s kind of the intention’
The six tracks take you a prog metal journey of musical discovery to all parts of your consciousness while interwoven with deeply personal and reflective lyrics. Oh and it’s all wrapped up within four minutes. Is this a new style called prog punk?
‘It’s funny to hear you say that cause technically it’s progressive music but usually when it comes down to prog and the exploration of those sounds, they are within a 10 minute song and you sort of arrive back where you started kinda thing. Whereas we have figured out a way to condense those thoughts and experiments into a radio friendly length track. Now whether that’s a hit or a miss remains to be seen depending on how the audience feels about it!’
As the music shifts and changes shapes, such as the eastern feeling Bearer Of Bad News, so do Monique’s vocals, Ritualist goes from a whisper, to high angelic melodies and rhythmic rap rhythms all sitting naturally side by side. How does the vocalist construct their lyrics to fit the music?
‘Such a good question and it’s something that’s been changing. I’m definitely trying to been adaptable when it comes to my approach to writing. For example, when I started I would try to hum melodies then I would tie lyrics to it in a formulaic way. Instrumentals, I hum a melody, melodies turn to lyrics, turn to better lyrics then you’re done kinda thing.
These days I’ve tried to be a lot more flexible in the way I form my vocals. The boys write so fast, they usually have full instrumentals and I see if I resonate with them. They are some songs they put forward that don’t seem viable to me. I don’t imagine myself here then we say put that one the back burner, others I go I can hear myself here. Then it’s an ad lib process when it comes to forming melodies.
Lately I’ve been starting with lyrics mainly because this record is a lot more introspective in terms of lyrics and much more based on personal ideas, feelings and emotions. I’ve been trying really hard to tap into the lyrical side of things first and then seeing how it fits into the song. Kinda weighing up how does this song feel rather than what does this song sound like.
I’m just trying to be adaptable in my approach, as I’m choosing not to scream how else can I create interest here whether it be fast rhythmic rapping or a whisper in places.
In ‘Bearer Of Bad News’ where it feels like it’s building to a really big scream and then I drop it right back to almost a whisper. I’m not a pioneer of that style or technique but we use it a way of subverting expectation but working with the tools we have.’
The title track itself lyrically inspires images of feeling trapped and fighting to escape, one of many personal themes on the EP.
‘A lot of self exploration, we are trying to figure out who we are as people, as specs on a rock in space, there’s moments of sonder. It’s who I am in this huge world, huge industry, musically and personally. Fear is a huge one on this EP and I’ve really tried to tap into that one. I’ve struggled with fear and anxiety a lot, especially over the last two years and I’ve tried to process that on paper. Which is new for me cause I’ve never written from a personal place, our earlier material is more narrative based.
I treated it as a form of catharsis, a lot of health and medical themes in there, especially in ‘Safety’ (co-sung with Make Them Suffer Sean Harmanis) which you can see in the video.
Being someone who comes with a pretty complex medical history and my vulnerability in the world, vulnerability is another big one. Even love, even beautiful things being thrown together in this mess that can happen up here’
Which brings us back round to what a great representation this I Don’t Know What I Am is. As Monique Pym has said – it’s loud, it’s weird and it’s wonderful.
Interview By Iain McCallum