The U.K.’s in violet perform riveting post-industrial art rock (to put it one way) on their compelling new single “Cathedral Thinking,” The sprawling track runs over eight minutes, and it’s captivating the whole time. The in violet discography stretches back at least through 2011, but “Cathedral Thinking” is, alongside one other single, one of the only offerings from the project since 2016.
Below, check out a Q and A with in violet’s Jake Murray about the new single and overall direction of the band! First, check out a review.
The track runs in large part on tensely rattling rhythms that prove intricately intertwined. The enrapturing atmosphere here seems more like what the song evokes than an element in the actual arrangement, because the mix is jarringly thick, and in violet keep the trek electrifying with the intense and somewhat industrial-inclined machination of the rhythms, which methodically repeat, eliminating space for an out. Although there’s not a lot of breathing space in the song, the dynamic energy consistently proves enlivening and poignant.
Tone-wise, the sound of the music itself is quite intriguing. Generally speaking, the mix seems crisp, so “Cathedral Thinking” bounds ahead rather than getting mired in abrasion, and the instrumentals themselves sound like they’re revving up at times. Everything seems coated in a kind of melting and even somewhat dream-like futurism thanks to the blend of the sharply driving guitars and drums with the near-constant shifts in dynamics. Synths that course across the track further expand the experience.
The mix mellows out slightly as the song approaches its four-minute mark, but the sound remains formidable. Moving on from there, in violet roll out a captivatingly anthemic jaunt, with temporarily extra breezy blasts of flowing instrumentation that suggest resounding bursts of energy, like sudden wind gusts. The group subsequently turns back into their previous quickly moving instrumentation, which feels profoundly exploratory thanks to the persistence of the rhythms and the intrigue of the particular sounds at work but remains an intense thicket.
The music is catchy at times — the repetitiously growing rhythms can feel trance-like, although there’s also somewhat of an air of exhaustion thanks to the sheer force of the generally unrelenting music.
The song lands like a poignant exploration of the mash-up between humanity’s drive for success and threats of imminent collapse under the weight of those self-imposed burdens. Fittingly, the track features audio of remarks from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, calling attention to the potentially devastating unsustainability of the current path. “Cathedral Thinking” plays out like a moment of existential frenzy on repeat, with adrenaline-induced excitement — the music is danceable at times! — and turmoil both in sharp focus.
Jake Murray handles vocals, guitars, beat programming, synths, and production for the new track. On “Cathedral Thinking,” in violet also features Chrisy Lopez on live drums, Rory Jonas Dickinson on bass guitars, Chad Murray on noise guitars, and Sam Jones on lead guitars.
Listen to “Cathedral Thinking” below!
Check out the full Q & A with Jake Murray below!
The Overall Direction
Captured Howls: Thanks for your time! Your new track is compelling. So, for starters — it’s anxious (to me), but there’s also some real forward drive in there. How would you describe the overarching emotional journey of the song, if something comes to mind? Is there a particular vibe, so to speak, around which your writing centered?
Jake Murray: Thank you for having me! I think it’s fair to call ‘Cathedral Thinking’ anxious, or perhaps rousing. It’s intended to be a wake-up call or an outcry of sorts. It’s certainly desperate.
I’m a bit of a political anorak, and where I once felt the status quo was instilling an untenable apathy in the public, I found since I last put out a record (2016) things have gotten worse in every possible way. Our discourse is so polarised, with once naive echo chambers becoming totally tribal and vitriolic, and the concept of accountability in leaders now feels like some distant memory. All the while, behind the scenes of volatile social dystrophy, we can clearly see the environmental effects of a consumption-based society growing worse at alarming rates.
Bearing all this in mind, I found myself using the voice of Greta Thunberg, much like we all do now, to represent this tension in juxtaposition alongside my own lyrics. I think it’s shameful that this girl reached such a point of fear and frustration that she had to become a global figure, effectively sacrificing her right to a “normal life” to become a symbol for our abandonment of the future.
While my lyrics are predominantly centred around the public debate, accountability of leaders, etc., I use samples from an important Thunberg speech I watched and was moved by to narrate the backdrop we’re all ignoring. This dual narrative was the primary focus of our music video with Steven McFarlane, which I saw as the primary release for the song and the best format to deliver the concept. We wanted to demonstrate the barrage of chaos and overstimulation in current events that people have been pummeled with over the last few years alongside the song’s narrative, and I do feel we achieved that, so it was quite a rewarding return after so long.
Check out that video below!
CH: So, I know that the band has been out of the spotlight for awhile, as I understand it. What were some of the broad creative sparks like that got you creating once more? What was the moment — or were the moments — like where you felt like now was the time to start writing again?
JM: Rory and Chad, who now run Glasshouse Records together, were both independently encouraging me to get back on the horse for a very long time. I had writers block, imposter syndrome, and had reprioritised my life to conveniently take any focus off myself as a musician while I worked through various issues in my life.
At some point I caved and worked with them, and then Chrisy Lopez, to figure out which songs from the iv catalogue still felt relevant or interesting. Eventually, in time from us just playing these various songs, and as I found myself more centred, I started giving myself space to try things out. There was no agenda at first, but I set out some basic rules of things I liked from my various old approaches to writing or production, built a big playlist of music I was listening to of other acts that felt right as an inspiration as an exercise in focus, and just tried things out when it felt right.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit I, much like everyone else, found myself with a lot more time on my hands but carried a lot of anxieties around work, people etc. I found that first UK lockdown to be entirely unproductive beyond basic self care. We did build a new band space and that kept me grounded. It was only much later into 2020 as things picked up, then early 2021 after things got worse again that I knew I had to get some of these ideas finished, and made that my priority.
There’s absolutely no denying that the sociopolitical events of the last five years planted seeds of ideas for me. Once I was in a more receptive and productive place in my life, and I could nurture that part of me again, I naturally found my feelings on life in 2020 coming through. There’s more to come from this period of disintegration and inspiration, so ‘Cathedral Thinking’ will likely make even more sense in context soon.
CH: There is, in a way, a lot going on in there to the point that the track almost seems somehow alive. Are there particular other artists — or broader stylistic ideas, sounds, and the like — that have weighed on your inspiration? Alternatively, did you aim to tie the instrumentals to a particular mood? All of the above?
JM: Although perhaps not plainly obviously in listening, I was listening to a lot of minimal repetitive music for a period of time while writing ‘Cathedral Thinking,’ namely bands like Nisennenmondai, Föllakzoid, but also electronic music acts such as Raine, Regis, Forest Swords, and big banging techno – mostly Pilo, Charlotte De Witte, Daniel Avery. You could surely draw a more direct sonic thumbprint to Atari Teenage Riot, who will always be one of the most important politically minded electronic acts to have existed.
When I’m writing I’m not usually trying to make a song sound like X, Y or Z, more rather trying to simply deliver what the idea wants to be when I make sense of it. I think carefully, but quickly about everything from tempo, timbre, arrangement, structure and production, as this is as important as the melodies and lyrics to me.
‘Cathedral Thinking,’ in its earliest form, started as a rhythmic pattern that I had going around in my head while walking, which I recorded tapping on my phone as soon as possible, before processing it to sound as you hear in the introduction. From that basic loop I knew how I wanted most of the song to be, and we worked on the arrangement, structure and mixing for maybe a year or two to get it there – we recorded Chrisy’s drums three times in three different places before we reached the feeling I felt was right (nothing to do with her playing I might add!).
I guess the short answer would be yes, I am particular.
Overall Directions with in violet
CH: So, live music has of course not exactly been widely accessible recently. The new track, though, sounds like it would be great in a live setting. What role have music and music-making played in your own life/lives over the years? Have you been involved for awhile?
JM: All the music we’ll be putting out this year is designed with a live setting in mind. I miss clubs and gigs more than I can say at this point. There’s a frustration and tense energy in what we’ve been writing that is a product of the time, and writing the songs has been cathartic. While cathartic though, they are not introspective really, or inward focussed, but rather intended to reach out to others. ‘Cathedral Thinking’ is absolutely a song about “Us,” not me.
CH: Where would you like to go from here with in violet?
JM: Currently we’re working to a very tight deadline for the next single, as I changed what that would be from a song that is 90% ready to one we only fully developed while on a writing retreat at Shaken Oak Studios in March. After spending so long working on this comeback single it is nice to embrace the flash spontaneity and momentum. I’m up to the challenge of delivering what I believe is the natural follow-up and Glasshouse were good enough to be supportive and trust me to do so.
We have just announced our comeback show for our friends Portals, at the Victoria in Dalston August 30th. We’re very excited to be back at The Victoria after last playing there in 2015 and are looking forward to getting out of London into as many sweaty rooms as possible now that restrictions are gradually easing. Watching footage of The First Dance in the motherland this weekend was a hugely emotional experience for me, but most of all it was hopeful and galvanising.
Beyond that, it’s early days in some ways: restarting a band is not that different to starting a new band. There’s a lot of people who don’t know what we have to say, and I’m finally back in a place where I’m ready to be heard, so I’ll be working on this new-found voice, developing ideas, and reaching out to anyone who’s willing to listen.
CH: A lighter question I like to ask — what have you been listening to and really connecting with lately? What’s been on your heavy rotation?
JM: Art School Girlfriend