Pridelands recently released “Dark Sources”; their first release since their Any Colour You Desire EP. The single came along with an intriguing music video, where images of runes, possession, and darkness featured prominently. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I had a whole lot of questions about all that I was seeing. Thankfully Pridelands’ guitarist Liam Fowler not only satisfied my curiosity, but shared much more about the inner workings of the song and also the video.
Firstly I had noticed the word “Necromicon” within the lyrics of “Dark Sources”. A quick Google search revealed this to be what author H.P. Lovecraft had named a textbook of magic. I wondered whether Pridelands were literally exploring Lovecraft’s creation in their own way, or whether the term was just used to represent something metaphorically, such as dark states of mind. In Liam’s words, “The Necronomicon line is more of a metaphor in context to the song/video.” Though careful not to give much away for Pridelands’ future work, he added “You will be seeing more work loosely inspired by Lovecraft.”
By way of the song as a whole, Liam says that the base concept is about “the feeling of holding forbidden knowledge of either the occult or other dark sources, which is where the Lovecraft inspiration loosely takes place.” Talking less cryptically and more relatably, Liam says that “Dark Sources” describes “the feeling or pressure of being silenced or manipulated by the weight of things or person that you wish you had not known, and not knowing what to do about it; leading you to feel trapped or like you have no control anymore. These ‘dark sources’ can be anything the listener relates them to, whether that’s an unhealthy relationship, a secret about a someone you aren’t meant to be aware of, an addiction gripping you, or anything of the like.”
The music video uses the literal idea of a book of dark sources. It’s something filled with forbidden knowledge or text, coming across as things that can’t be unlearned once read. Liam explains that the main character/man in the video (Kyle), the one who takes the forbidden text and paints it onto the walls, “is essentially the physical embodiment of this information taking over or controlling you, like an infection spreading through your body.” It’s well done, where the paint goes beyond the page, beyond the walls, and meets skin, and seems to have a mind and power of its own.
Runes were featured in the single’s promotion/teasers/artwork, and it turns out that there’s much more to them than just their aesthetic appeal. Pridelands have used four runes, which correspond with four steps of this infectious control that occurs at the hand of the book.
Liam shares that the runes were adopted from a writing system used to write Germanic language before Latin was brought in. “They’re used loosely in the video as either a neopaganism or new age esotericism jig with our own some what twisted take on them. The runes are taken from the book Talismans & Amulets by Felicitas H. Nelson.”
As well as with the runes, the four steps are also demonstrated with scenes in the video, each signified by a rune being painted on the wall. Liam says “Each scene represents or stands for a step further in your mental decline after obtaining the aforementioned knowledge; each step this infection takes to gain further control over you.”
Scene One: The Possession
“This first phase marks the learning of the information and the beginning of it consuming the person. Each of us are imitating some movements Kyle makes as if to appear possessed.”
Rune: Fehu – Livestock – Possession
“This rune portrays the horns of cattle. It binds us with possessions and material goods in a secular as well as divine sense. Thus the two branches reaching toward toward the sky can signify arms.”
Scene Two: The Initiation
“This knowledge you’ve acquired has really sunk in and started to affect the way you look at everything, leaving you internally branded and burdened with the lack of knowing what to do or how to fix the situation. The hand prints represent the branding.”
Rune: Perthrom – Dice Cup – Initiation
“A cup rolls on it’s side and the dice spill out, determining our fate and fortune. The oracle tells us about our past, present, and future. It helps us to become familiar with the flow of time and law of cause and effect.”
Scene Three: The Exchange
“By this point you’re completely overwhelmed by the terrible feeling of something eating you up inside. You feel completely trapped or even possessed by what you’ve learned without a way out. The exchange is this infection taking the last of your will to cope with the situation and your mind as a vessel, quite one sided really. In the clip, this scene is where you’ll see Kyle in the same shots us, interacting and toying with us all. You’ll notice that there is a little bit of fight left in everyone that’s shown. This scene can almost be seen as a final stand type of thing, but the outcome isn’t a good one.”
Rune: Ansuz – God (Ase) – Exchange
“The two crooked lines of the Ansuz rune are like two outstretched arms reaching for another person. They express the desire for spiritual exchange and empathy. This rune endows its wearer with with power over language and the ability to infuse words with divine power.”
Scene Four: Pain
“The ‘dark sources’/infection have completely diminished your sense of self and you’ve given up on trying to fight the situation any longer. You’ve accepted the fact that something or someone has just walked all over you, dragged you through the dirt, and left you feeling out of control, like your spirit and will has been ripped straight out of you and you’re left feeling like you’re dead on the inside. This is represented by everyone losing all energy and life at the end of the clip.”
Rune: Naudiz – Need – Pain
“This is a man in need. Something has crossed him. Change is necessary to alter fate. We do not have to suffer passively but can intervene in our own fate. We can fight a fire with two sticks and thus diminish our need.”
As a song, “Dark Sources” comes with urgency and darkness that you’d expect. The last minute of the song is a standout to me, feeling like Pridelands are going into more experimental or progressive places with their brand of heavy music. Liam says the process to bring “Dark Sources” to life wasn’t too different to previous Pridelands’ tracks, but that its creation took a lot more time than he’s ever spent on a song.
“I actually started writing it just after the recording of our last EP Any Colour You Desire. It kind of just sat there getting chipped away at for a year or so. It drove me absolutely nuts and I think I have about 50 different versions of it! It took a lot of re-arranging and re-working for me to be happy with it, and to be completely honest I wasn’t really sure of it even going into the studio; I didn’t fully believe in the track until I finally heard it back mixed and mastered. After hearing it the way it was intended to be heard, it became my favourite released Pridelands track to date. I guess that’s probably the difference between this track and previously released Pridelands work; this one felt like a big gamble. I’m not entirely sure why, it just did!”
I’d noticed the visible breath in the music video, and figured it was COLD. I figured that this element must have added to the discomfort and weirdness of the visual experience and asked Liam about that. “Oh boy, to use the word ‘discomfort’ to describe this video would be an understatement. Originally this video wasn’t going to happen until after the tour. We were given the option to release this a completely different, much easier way that we’d originally planned on, or put ourselves in a very tight spot and give ourselves just under three weeks to somehow find a location, someone to shoot the video, someone to edit it, and have the final product ready to go in order to make an ideal timeline work. So naturally we decided it was best to go with the option that seemed completely impossible and would induce the most amount of stress possible… BUT WE FUCKIN’ DID IT, BOYS. YEYAAAAAH!”
Liam expanded upon the discomfort factor, setting a tone for what he was about to stay by starting with “Strap yourself in for this one.” Liam is credited as director for the music video, and I’d asked about his experience from that perspective as well. It seemed like Pridelands were hitting barriers at every step!
“Starting with the location: We couldn’t find a room to hire that would suit and be within our budget; namely a square room we could paint repeatedly, with no doors. Not having the time to do a lot of digging or put together the funds for a location remotely close to that, I decided to do it myself. We were very lucky that a friend of mine saw a status I’d posted on Facebook and put me in touch with her parents, who own a large shed on their property up in Shepparton that was big enough to house the room we built. Being out of town, noise wasn’t an issue, and we had no time constraints due to them being two of the most chilled out folks I’ve come across in my life time. Endlessly thankful for your kindness and hospitality Dave, Mandy, and Maddy!
“Myself and my good friend Cade drove up to Shepparton on a Thursday morning to build the set. The frame itself really didn’t take too long at all, maybe two or three hours or so. We absolutely shot ourselves in the foot not painting the sheets of ply for the white walls though. This is where the headache began. We started painting the 20 sheets at around two in the afternoon. They soaked up the paint a lot more than expected and the grain of the wood stuck out like a sore thumb, meaning we’d have to coat it a lot more than we were advised. Bunnings’ paint ‘specialist’ was adamant two coats and eight litres of paint would be more than enough so that’s what I was prepared for. Fuck you, man!
“These sheets were all laid out on the properties driveway so whilst we were painting them the sunlight would help speed up the drying process. At around 4:30 that afternoon the sun started to go down, and with that the air got very cold, very quickly. An hour later we’d just finished the second coat and realised how much more we had to go, by this point the sheets were saturated due to the moisture in the air, the sun was gone, and we were getting tired and pissed off real fast. We ended up putting up the wet sheets on the frames, going and buying a heat gun, and slowly drying and re-coating the sheets until they were ready. 15 hours and 35 litres of paint later, we got out of there at 1:30am. The expression “about as fun as watching paint dry” had never been more painfully real and I’ll be happy if I never have to look at a tin of white paint ever again.
“We got back to Melbourne just before 4am. I cleaned myself up, packed the car with all the gear, drank a beer for breakfast (god damn I needed it don’t you judge me, reader), and then we all left at 5am to go back to Shep and shoot the video. Once we’d arrived and everyone had gotten into gear to start shooting, we’d realised that the ideas we’d had in the lead up to the shoot seemed a lot more disjointed and rushed than they did at first. It was all just a bit bit too vague, and whilst the ideas on the table were really cool ideas, they were just simply unattainable without a huge crew and large budget to match. This obviously created another world of stress for us all, we had a location, we had someone to shoot the video, we had an actor… but all of a sudden we didn’t know what the hell to do with all of these things.
“With any chance of a nap for me being completely out the window, I put pen to paper and started writing a script with some of the parts of the ideas we could use, whilst coming up with completely new ones, and sifting through all of the ideas everyone was throwing around to make something work. Next thing you know I’m directing my first video. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, I felt completely out of my element, and I was scared that the final product would just make no sense and everyone would hate it. I had to really just trust in myself, and honestly the universe that it would work out; that the amount of effort would pay off.
“Similar to the day prior, the shooting process went about 6 hours over the projected timeline. We were shooting until 2am, and then we had to take apart the whole set so we left no trace of ever being there, getting out at about 4am. Everyone was freezing cold, tired, and VERY grumpy. I think in total I’d slept 3 hours over the course of 3 days leading up to/during this shoot, it got to the point where coffee or Red Bull was just making me even more tired. But you best believe I slept for 17 hours straight once I got into bed. Reflecting on it all, I honestly can’t believe we managed to make it all work, and funnily enough I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
“To me it’s a true testament to how hard work, a positive attitude and not letting any hurdle get in the way can pay off. We’re endlessly thankful to the crew involved, without you guys this wouldn’t have been possible and we ARE SO GOD DAMN SORRY WE PUT YOU THROUGH THAT. I’m also very thankful to the guys in Pridelands for trusting me with a lot of this process, I learned a lot about myself creating it.”
Liam wanted to specifically acknowledge the crew involved, referring to them as insanely talented individuals deserving attention and also consideration by others who may be in Pridelands’ shoes:
- DP/Director of Photography – Max Hopkins
- 1st AC/Gaffer – Bryce Padovan
- Editing/VFX – RedBoss Productions
- Actor/Artist – Kyle Evans
The single’s artwork is yet another feature of this release which is well done. It captures the book, the paint, the possession, and appears to be somewhere between photo or painting. Liam shares that the artwork idea came from Joshua Cory’s brilliant brain, and was brought to life by their friend Hamish Matthews.
Lastly, I wanted hints for the future, as I couldn’t help but feel like the story isn’t quite over when the video comes to an end. But Liam was fairly tight-lipped! “Unfortunately I can’t give away much more than what I already have. Other than the fact that we didn’t just record one song when we recorded “Dark Sources”…”.
Pridelands are: Mason Bunt (vocals), Joshua Cory (vocals), Liam Fowler (guitar), Daniel Lohrey (bass), and Joe Lipsham (drums).
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