For all those that don’t know I’ve known WiS and appreciated his musical output for several years now, going back to the Graveyard Calling Records label and a site the unsuspecting internet first found my crude scribbles appearing on (Hi, Renfield).
Since then Chris Cavoretto (the sole brainchild and genius behind WiS) has delivered several full lengths, a number of EP’s and numerous collaborations. One a soundtrack to a comic book (themed around a pizza delivery man) and the other most notably a contract with Fangoria Musick. For the record we share a mutual respect for several metal acts, Arsis among others, and a hatred for natures dandruff, snow, and dirtying our digits with yard work.
DIAG: Evening Chris, please (if you don’t mind) tell our readership a little about yourself. What first interested you enough to warrant you turn your attentions towards keyboard manipulations and synth?
WIS: Hey Cult. Good to talk with you again. As far as getting started with the synth thing goes. It was kind of by accident. I was pretty much just listening to punk and metal all the time back in the mid-2000s and I picked up a Relapse Records sampler. Zombi was on there and they stuck out like a sore thumb. In the middle of all this metal was this prog rock synth band that sounded straight out of Dawn of the Dead. Being a huge fan of horror and especially old school horror, I was hooked immediately. I told myself I’d do something similar one day when I could do it all myself.
Fast forward to 2013. I was sick of playing in bands and working with other people’s schedules. It just gets too hard to do it after a while. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a dictator asshole when it comes to my music, too. I was going to do some acoustic stuff and, when I started recording, I had the epiphany that I could try out the synth project I always wanted to do. That’s how it all started. I put the acoustic thing on hold and probably didn’t touch a guitar for about a year once I started going.
DIAG: How hard was it to get started down the ‘synth road’ as opposed to what you were already doing?
Did you encounter any un-assumed obstacles along the way?
WIS: Not really. I really just messed with sounds and when I would come up with one part, I’d find a sound that went with it. Things just fell into place. That first album, The Rising, came together in two weeks. It was so new that I was spending every free minute messing with the songs and different sounds. Just exploring how to work all this stuff out. It was fun learning something new so I was just feeling it. I guess I was just ready to do something outside the box and not worry about what I’d done in the past.
DIAG: I should’ve thought of this one earlier. My apologies.
I have to ask, inquisitive minds demand to know, why the moniker “Werewolves in Siberia”?
WIS: I used to always try to come up with band names when I was in between bands. Not for any specific reason. I just liked having some names on the back burner in case I started a new band… because I’m a weirdo.
I was watching some Destination Truth on SyFy or Netflix or something and Josh Gates (is this a first? His name in an interview about a Synth artist?) was searching for a Siberian Snowman. Something about Siberia seemed like a cool fit. In Idaho, I feel like I’m in Siberia a little. The Siberian Snowman didn’t have the right ring but I thought another creature might work. In another episode he searched for a Lobizón. A Mexican werewolf. Lobizóns in Siberia didn’t have the right ring to it but Werewolves in Siberia did.
So, when I started doing this, that name immediately popped back into my head and I thought it was the perfect name. People usually end up thinking it’s a full band. I hardly even correct anybody anymore. They’ll figure it out eventually.
Either way, it’s kind of a dorky story, but that’s how it came to be.
DIAG: How well was the new style received? Was it difficult finding an audience or a distributor?
WIS: Distro is way different these days than it used to be. So much is online, that’s all I really do anymore. Vinyl is so expensive and I’m honestly way too lazy to try to push myself to labels to try to get my music pressed so I stick to the online thing.
As far as the style goes, it seems like everyone way pretty into it to begin with. It felt like I got clusters of people all over the world listening to it and getting into pretty much right out of the gate. It’s definitely not for everyone so it’s never going to be super popular but I realized pretty quickly that I needed to get horror fans hearing my music more so than just synth fans because most of them got it. A lot of the diehard synth fans want the smooth synth-wave stuff, not so much what I’m doing.
DIAG: With that in mind what has been your most successful release to date?
I vividly remember reviewing …Of the Dead a while back and I’ll admit it tossed me right back to the first time I watched a Fulci feature (splinters, spilled entrails n’ all).
Is there a specific film, if given the chance to, that you would want to compose a soundtrack for?
Are there any scores or synth soundtracks that stand out for you as particularly influential?
WIS: Oh man, I’m not sure which I’d say was the most successful. I feel like The Rising was kind of unexpectedly well received. I feel like people were really paying attention at that time and I had reviews popping up everywhere and it was getting put on “best of 2013” lists. It was kind of crazy. Plus, Graveyard Calling got behind it for a limited-edition cassette release that sold out pretty quick.
The Slasher EP seems like maybe it was up there in popularity, too, though. That one came out of nowhere to me. I just did it as a Friday the 13th release a couple years ago with no expectations of anyone caring about it but that one gave me hope that people might still care about the music I was making. I think there’s a small core audience who is always playing attention but as far as widespread success, probably The Rising or Slasher.
As far as scoring films, it seems every filmmaker I know either isn’t doing anything that fits my musical style or they’re too busy to make a film right now but it’d be cool to work with any of them on a short. I think a short would be perfect because the filmmaker has so much more control than a feature length with all the producers so overly involved.
Before I started doing Werewolves in Siberia, I paid attention to themes and soundtracks but not necessarily the full scores. I definitely hear all of that stuff so much more now. I pay a lot more attention. I take influence from pretty much any of them that I hear. Off the top of my head, I’d say The Fog, the first three Halloweens, A Nightmare on Elm Street and both Dawn and Day of the Dead are probably my top influences. Then, there’s always The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre with their scores that are mostly just weird noises. I’m not sure they’ve made much of an impact on my musical style but it’s worth mentioning how much tension that adds to those movies.
Got any more questions for me, I’m ready. Bring em’ on!
DIAG: Ahem! Did you wanna’ finish the last one?
I asked about collaborations and if you’d ever want to add guitars or anything different to your sound.
WIS: You’re not gonna’ let me dodge those questions. Shit! haha!
Since you’re insisting on me answering all of your questions and not just skirting around them…Hahaha!
I think if it were the right circumstances, I could see a collaboration. I talked about it once with someone but nothing came of it. It could still happen but it’s a tough one when you’re used to doing all of this yourself to just let somebody else jump in and take control of other parts. That’s the beauty of a collaboration but it’s also the toughest part.
Here and there, I’ve done guitars in songs but never very prominent. There was a guitar solo in “Werewolves in Cyberia” and recently in “Odyssey 2”. I’d definitely never say never on that one. Some of the one-off projects within WIS that I keep thinking I might do revolve heavily around guitar and are minimal on synth so we’ll see. Is that vague enough?
– A brief pause…
Oh, back to the guitar question…
I actually did a guitar-driven song for the Monster Guys podcast, too. They’ve been on hiatus for a bit but I’m guessing it should be on one of their shows when they’re back. It’s got a big 90’s industrial vibe to it.
DIAG: So what does the future hold for WiS?
Any there any immediate plans for future releases? Perhaps a change of direction?
Have you ever thought of collaborating with anyone (even though you admit yourself that it might be hard)? How about adding other elements to your music, say for example guitar tracks or vocal elements?
My apologies that was more like four questions, I tend to get carried away when I’m excited (can you tell?).
WIS: Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going next. I have a few good starts to songs but I’ve also got a ton of ideas on different things. Until I really get into it, I don’t know what I’m actually going to do. I’ve got to feel it when I’m in it and go with the flow from there.
I’ve got so many ideas of doing one-off albums in a completely different style. I think if it’s horror themed, it can keep the Werewolves in Siberia name, but who knows? I’ve also got a particularly fun idea running through my head at the moment for a Halloween ‘19 release. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. I change my mind every 10 minutes and a lot can change in a year’s time.
DIAG: Well that seems about it for now, thanks for your time Chris. Do you wish to add anything?
WIS: Thanks for having me. Um, I think the main thing is that I hope people will take the time to check out the music. Every album is a little different so there might be something in there that someone likes. And, if you dig it, tell your friends. Word of mouth is a big thing. The music I make isn’t for everyone and I know that. I just hope the people who might like it check it out.
A humble, talented, chap indeed!
More information about Chris, Werewolves in Siberia, album themed merchandise and associated updates can be found here http://werewolvesinsiberia.com/
Also on his Bandcamp page https://werewolvesinsiberia.bandcamp.com/
More information about Wis releases on Graveyard Calling (Horror) Records can be found here https://graveyardcalling.bandcamp.com/
More information on Fangoria Musick here http://fangoriamusick.bigcartel.com/
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