I am not a parent yet so I haven’t been lucky enough to experience pride when my child does something rad and is rewarded for it. I do however feel a huge sense of pride when bands I know and like release things that are incredible, get added to amazing tours and get the recognition they deserve. That’s pretty much the same thing, right?
Reliqa‘s HUGE EP I Don’t Know What I Am will be making its way through your ear-holes and into your brains today and honestly, I DON’T THINK YOU’RE PREPARED!! Like I think you think you’re ready, but I am here to tell you – you’re not. Ahead of release day, we spoke to the enigmatic Monique Pym about the EP, the direction the band is heading in and if more fantastic collaborations are on the cards…
Welcome back to WoS Ms. Pym! First of all, you just played Monolith Festival and you’ve been playing some huge shows across the last year and a bit. I spoke with you waaaay back in 2020 and there hadn’t been live shows for a long time. I guess it goes without saying that it would be amazing getting back on stage and you’re absolutely killing it. Tell me all about it.
Thank you, such kind words! It really has been so special. These shows have felt like the missing ingredient in our lives for quite some time, and I know we’re not alone in that experience. To be picking back up not just playing shows, but playing to the biggest crowds of our career so far, with some of our personal favourite artists of all time, is truly unforgettable and something we don’t take lightly. We’ve had a blast on the Monolith Tour, and one of the parts we’ve loved the most is how valued we feel as artists, as musicians, and even just as people. The entire team involved with this tour have made us feel very welcome, and like a core part of the ecosystem. We adore everyone here and are especially thankful for being so fiercely believed in.
It was actually June 2020 that we spoke and I noted in my interview that we had no idea what was in store for us for the end of the year (and the one following) but that you were a glass half full kind of person. How did all of that time shape the band and the EP that you are now putting out?
That optimistic attitude was definitely tested at times, haha! We’ve been through a lot as a band and as individuals over the span of the last two years, but we’ve actually picked up some really valuable tools along the way. A large part of this EP was developed remotely, so it really challenged our communication skills and ability to work independently, and we’re so proud of what we ended up with on the other side. We’ve learned to be adaptable and patient with each other, ourselves, and the world around us – but we also know that learning isn’t a static process, so we’ve got a long way to go. I think a lot of these feelings are actually reflected in some of the EP’s lyrical content, because at the time I was really making a conscious effort to pay attention to my experiences and translate them on paper. That’s another skill that I’ve added to the toolkit – writing on a more introspective level.
I don’t want to dwell on the past so I will ask, how are you all going now that things are 100% brighter in 2022?
We’re doing really well! Our new drummer Ben (Knox) is settling in super well and we’ve all been having such a great time getting back to rehearsing and playing live together. Not just as bandmates, but we really missed each other as friends during the pandemic too, and I think we had to rekindle that a bit. Touring has been an awesome way to reconnect and get back to our antics, especially since we’re encountering a whole lot of “firsts” together at the moment – first time in certain states around Australia, first time releasing music with our current team, and more.
There are definitely some new sounds coming through the EP and you have said it marks a new era for Reliqa. Tell me more about what this means and where you envision it taking the band sonically and just in general.
During our lifetime as a band, we’ve always heard this recurring piece of feedback which always leads back to something along the lines of, “what even ARE you guys?” Haha! It’s been difficult to place our sound – whether it be more prog, or more metalcore, or what have you – and I think that’s quite cool actually. So we’ve sort of aimed to explore that theme, paying tribute to the idea that Reliqa is an amalgamation of SO many different sounds, influences and styles. This EP is an exploration of who we are as musicians and where we fit in this industry, and as the lyricist, who I am as a person. It’s playful and curious, but also really introspective and has provoked a fair bit of reflection. It’s a huge challenge to look at yourself in a mirror and pick apart what makes you “you”, and I have an incredible amount of respect for the artists I look up to who do that in their own music. I think this EP is a good taste test of who we are and where we’re going.
The sounds on the EP vary a lot too with you getting a bit more soulful on ‘Second Nature’ and some electronic sounds on ‘.blip’, tell me more about what prompted these changes?
There definitely is a fair bit of variety in there! Sonically, we’ve sort of taken everything that’s floating around in our cluttered brains and formed it into an accessible, digestible listening experience. A lot of things led to that sort of diverse outcome – things like trying new songwriting strategies, trying to “zoom out” so to speak and look at the EP as a whole, and even collaborating with our producer, Chris Blancato, towards the later part of the process. Chris was extremely valuable to this process, lending us an outside pair of ears to help us find some clarity and cohesion.
You’ve teamed up with Make Them Suffer’s Sean Harmanis on ‘Safety‘, what was it like working with him and are more collabs in Reliqa’s future?
Sean was the perfect final touch in making this song feel as complete as it does now, and we’re so grateful for everything he’s contributed here. It was a really natural, organic process. As the song developed, it became more and more apparent that a feature would be the icing on the cake, because it’s definitely one of the more “modern metalcore” tracks we’ve produced. I knew that if we got a feature, I would want them to be sort of woven all throughout the song rather than just dropped in a verse, so that was an interesting step to navigate. By the time I’d finished the vocal parts, Sean was a clear choice, and it was really easy-going from there! He nailed his parts, and I think the best thing is that he really feels like “part of the band” during that song, rather than an outlier. That element in particular is something I’d want to consider when doing any collabs in the future.
Will Brandon or Miles step up as a screamer to keep it in house or will you stick to collabs?
Never say never! Right now we’re really happy with what we have in our repertoire, but sometimes that extra ingredient of harsh vocals really does feel necessary, so we might branch out in our future music. In saying that, external collabs are really fun, and it’s always great to bring an unfamiliar voice to the party.
When will we get to see Sean step up live with you on stage?
Sean and I are both really keen on making it happen. He’s a busy man, so sometimes it’s just a matter of schedule! The answer is: as soon as we can.
Congrats on the EP’s vinyl release (via Anti Vinyl Vinyl Club) – how does it feel to be a published creative entity?
Thank you! This is an incredible milestone to hit, it even feels like a “bucket list” moment. It’s been such a smooth process working with the AVVC team. They’re so enthusiastic and attentive, and everything just snapped into place once they came on board. I’m obsessed with both variants, I can’t decide my favourite. We’ve had a fair few people express interest in vinyl and we’re over the moon to have the opportunity to get this EP into their hands.
What do you want fans to know about the EP before/while they listen to it?
IDKWIA is ultimately about our identity, both musically and personally. We’ve put ourselves totally on display here, it’s a bit of a gateway into who we are while we actively figure that out ourselves, you know? While there is a whole lot of vulnerability to it – especially through themes of fear, self-doubt, finding yourself – it’s also just this celebration of our ongoing journey. We had a lot of fun making this EP, and we hope others can experience that too. This is a sound that we’re hoping will one day become signature to us, in the way that so many artists we look up to have created iconic sounds for themselves.
Interview by Caitlin MacDonald @cait_2tone
Get I Don’t Know Who I Am EP here
Reliqa – I Don’t Know What I Am EP tracklisting:
1. I Don’t Know What I Am
2. The Bearer of Bad News
3. Safety feat. Sean Harmanis
4. Second Nature
6. The Ritualist
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