Shane Embury: On a new path

Interview by Francis Dugas

For over 30 years, Shane Embury has been touring the world and recording with the band Napalm Death, pioneers of grindcore, in which he is the bassist and lead composer. He now presents Dark Sky Burial, his solo project. PAN M 360 got more details from him.

Genres and styles : Dark Ambient / Electronic

Additional Information

In his spare time, Embury participates in countless side projects that share a penchant for brutality. Brujeria, Venomous Concept, Locked Up, and Anaal Nathrakh are among the bands he has collaborated with. As if that wasn’t enough, Embury now presents Dark Sky Burial, his solo project. This time, the tempo is dialed down and there’s no trace of metal. Dark Sky Burial’s music is as dark as Embury’s other projects, but it follows the electronic paths of dark ambient. A change of tone, but not necessarily of Embury’s universe. We had the chance to discuss with the man with 1000 projects, so that he could tell us a little bit more about it.

PAN M 360: When did you start making electronic music? Did you know from the beginning where it was going to go?

Shane Embury: “Commands from Beyond” is one of the first tracks I attempted to create, and also “Hallowed be thy Names”. As I invested more time in sounds and ideas, they evolved over the course of two or three years, I suppose. I’ve just unearthed 12 solid ideas from my old iPad in Garageband – it’s quite amazing what you can come up with wherever, now! But I’ve been obsessed with simple loops for a long time, and seeing how many counter-melodies or percussive sounds I can build on top from the very first loop –  at times it can switch around those ideas  and mistakes become better ideas, I like this. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but also trying not to to jump into harsh noise all the time –  that stuff will come, as I envision DSB as an evolving concept one that at some point might include other people for eventual live performances!

PAN M 360: One would have thought that for your first electronic project, you would have rather taken the paths of pure industrial, noise, or more hardcore techno. Why did you opt for something more ambient?

SE: I’ve been wanting to do something electronic for years and the timing seems right. There’s no set agenda with this project , it reflects my horror-based, sinister notes. I’d also like it to be uplifting, while at the same time forcing me to isolate myself, which I hope will lead to reflection and new possibilities. Having said that, I have dabbled in the past with industrial, I guess, In the form of a project called Malformed Earthborn, which came out I think maybe in 1995, ’96!

PAN M 360: De Omnibus Dubitandum Est has been released on Extrinsic, your own label. Why?

SE: The reason for me starting Extrinsic Recordings was originally and solely for Dark Sky Burial, but obviously this album wasn’t the first release, that was the Born to Murder the World album that had been hanging around unheard for some time, but both needed to be put out in a slightly alternative manner, I suppose. I tend to be Impatient, for sure, and am always working on music or projects, and depending on the day or mood I am in, I get tired of the usual rituals that have to be performed to release albums I’m involved in! I guess it means more control for me, and I also like to experiment, to please myself – this is less hassle and no pressure. The DSB project is also the start of something different for me. I’m in no hurry to see where this takes me.

PAN M 360: Before DSB, some former members of Napalm Death, such as Mick Harris and Justin Broadrick, were known for their electronic music, which is quite unusual for a heavy metal band…

SE: Well, knowing those guys as I do, and also Nick Bullen the founder of Napalm Death – these guys were always distorting the boundaries between different types of music, and when I met them in 1986, they were at that time crossing over into death metal or thrash, and I was going the other way into punk, etcetera. They loved Swans, Throbbing Gristle, Killing Joke, these were unknown to me at the time, but appealed to me rather quickly. It was normal for us to search out other stuff. It was an adventure based on what John Peel had said the night before, or what we read in the NME. I also spent a lot of time at the Rough Trade record store in Portebello street, London. I am not sure if it’s the water, but some fans of music are, as King Buzzo once said to me, musical anthropologists. This makes sense !

PAN M 360: De Omnibus Dubitandum Est is the title of a book by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, which could be translated as “we have to doubt everything”. Is that where the title of the album comes from? Does the cover have a link with all this? 

SE: Yes. The title is from the book. On one of my late-night internet quests for lyrical inspiration, I came across it. I am generally a nonbeliever of sorts, but then sometimes quite the opposite. But the title seemed apt for the timing of the release. The artwork is based on the tower of silence, and linked to the sky-burial rituals, which I find fascinating and inspirational.

PAN M 360: When you produce electronic music, the border between creative and technical aspects is never watertight. With Dark Sky Burial, do you see yourself as a musician, a producer or an engineer?

SE: A musician, I think. For now, this is the beginning of a long journey, I hope, where I have plenty to learn – followers of DSB, I thank every one of you, and hope you have the opportunity of seeing me get better at this. I hope for some collaborations with other like-minded people, also. The technical side of this can be quite frightening, but everyone has their way of using the tools at their disposal.

PAN M 360: As a member of a group, you’re used to receiving feedback from other members. With DSB, have you sought feedback from others? 

SE: I love the isolation of creating tracks, either at my home studio or in a hotel room after a show. I zone out in the sounds and time passes by quickly and trance-like. It’s excellent escapism, which is what I’ve always been, really – an escapist. I’m quite fortunate to be able to start this all now. I do play some of the tracks to some of my friends, and take on board what they say, but from the start, I wanted this first album to reflect moods and drama.

PAN M 360: For the moment, the album is only available for download, do you plan to release it physically?

SE: Well, last week I got to thinking, since the 13 tracks for this album were chosen from a whole bunch of tracks I have here that I have put together, that I’m going to try and release an album every three or four months, possibly. Initially, anyway, for now. After the fourth release, I would like to put out a limited four-CD box set and vinyl – something like that, I hope.

Latest 360 Content

P’tit Belliveau Talks About His New Album, Frogs, and Income Tax

P’tit Belliveau Talks About His New Album, Frogs, and Income Tax

At Annie-Claude Deschênes’ table: between utensils & sound experimentation

At Annie-Claude Deschênes’ table: between utensils & sound experimentation

OSL | Naomi Woo | Musique du Nouveau Monde

OSL | Naomi Woo | Musique du Nouveau Monde

Anderson & Roe, piano duo great innovators

Anderson & Roe, piano duo great innovators

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Shades of Bowie, composed for the man behind Blackstar

Shades of Bowie, composed for the man behind Blackstar

Isabella D’Éloize Perron – Conquering America with Vivaldi and Piazzolla

Isabella D’Éloize Perron – Conquering America with Vivaldi and Piazzolla

Shaina Hayes and her Kindergarten Heart

Shaina Hayes and her Kindergarten Heart

Piano Symphonique | Julia Mirzoev, Braden McConnell & Antoine Rivard-Landry

Piano Symphonique | Julia Mirzoev, Braden McConnell & Antoine Rivard-Landry

In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats Experience Strives for Human Connection through VR

In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats Experience Strives for Human Connection through VR

Martha Wainwright about her new jazz festival

Martha Wainwright about her new jazz festival

Semaine du Neuf | There Is No Music Without the Wind. L’être contre le vent by Matthias Krüger

Semaine du Neuf | There Is No Music Without the Wind. L’être contre le vent by Matthias Krüger

Deena Abdelwahed’s Swana electro: syncretism, commitment, a new standard

Deena Abdelwahed’s Swana electro: syncretism, commitment, a new standard

The Cool Trad of Nicolas Boulerice and Frédéric Samson

The Cool Trad of Nicolas Boulerice and Frédéric Samson

Semaine du Neuf | Psychedelic Afghanistan by Sam Shalabi and Shaista Latif

Semaine du Neuf | Psychedelic Afghanistan by Sam Shalabi and Shaista Latif

Semaine du Neuf | Sixtrum: the magic of… aquatic percussion!

Semaine du Neuf | Sixtrum: the magic of… aquatic percussion!

Semaine du Neuf | Haptic and Interdisciplinary Experiments by Jimmie Leblanc and Fareena Chanda

Semaine du Neuf | Haptic and Interdisciplinary Experiments by Jimmie Leblanc and Fareena Chanda

The country chaos of Nora Kelly

The country chaos of Nora Kelly

Matana Roberts explores radically different musical settings

Matana Roberts explores radically different musical settings

Gueuleuses: a web directory of extreme female vocalists

Gueuleuses: a web directory of extreme female vocalists

Semaine du Neuf: Les Percussions de Strasbourg… Ghostland of another kind

Semaine du Neuf: Les Percussions de Strasbourg… Ghostland of another kind

Ëda Diaz: a Colombian “French touch”

Ëda Diaz: a Colombian “French touch”

The Asadun Alay label: independent rhymes with the Levant

The Asadun Alay label: independent rhymes with the Levant

Erika Angell and The Obsession With Her Voice

Erika Angell and The Obsession With Her Voice

Subscribe to our newsletter