Latest release: Midnight Sun (Independent)Website: www.facebook.com/introspect.prog
It was a little over a year ago when modern Sydney prog metal unit Intrøspect began to take their first steps into the live arena in support of their newly-minted debut EP, Ad Astra. It was an unsurprisingly brief dalliance, given the global circumstances but the shutdown led to the band reconvening to write and record a second EP.
“We released our very first single – single, single, EP – throughout September and October 2019,” explains vocalist Felicity Jayne. “We released that music, did an EP launch, had three shows and then COVID hit. And that was that! That very first release for us was a very short period. We didn’t get to take it to the stage and show people this thing we had created. But I think that everything happens for a reason, and we’re very excited about this opportunity we’ve been given to just keep writing and come out with another record.”
Created in Sydney’s northwest almost exactly twelve months after the release of their first clutch of material, Midnight Sun is a deeply evocative collection of tracks exploring the eternal existentialist themes of consciousness, belonging, spirituality and purpose. Reflecting the overall concept behind the band and its name, the lyrics are the domain of guitarist Jamie McVicker.
“He’s an incredible writer and storyteller,” Felicity says of him, “and he’s a videographer, so he has that background behind him and he definitely manages to capture all those sensory experiences.”
As the vocalist, it’s her role to convey those lyrics faithfully, but through the filter of her own understanding and experience.
“Even though Jamie wrote it, and it’s his story, I obviously need to understand the lyrics so that I could deliver the same sort of emotion and message. My stories are the same, but completely different,” she says. Going further, Felicity explains that it’s part of Introspect’s vision that the audience develop their own interpretation of their songs, too. “Because they’re my version of these songs, and that’s what we want the listeners to be able to do as well: to listen to the music we’ve created, and have their version of what’s going on, and it’s that moment that gives them goosebumps, or pause for reflection or moments of possibility. It’s kind of deep, really! But that’s the whole point of it. It’s so unique to everybody. It’s specific, but it’s open at the same time, so everyone can make it their own.”
Felicity came late to the creative process on Ad Astra, joining Intrøspect in time to add the vocal tracks to an EP that was almost completed. This time she was able to work more closely with McVickers on the way to approach his lyrical visions.
“This time, because I was involved from the beginning, Jamie and I got to sit down together and talk about the lyrics he’s got and the story he’s got to tell and how I put that… still keep it in his words, but put it into my words by adding my emotions and my feelings. We definitely go through a process where we go through those things together. Sometimes I think that I don’t know what that word means, I can’t spell it and I certainly can’t pronounce it, so let’s rewrite that section, or paragraph or even an entire verse, so it will mean the same to both of us and we’ll still capture everything that was intended.”
Even though she was thrown in the deep end when she first joined the band, Felicity says she didn’t find it as overwhelming as some might imagine. She admits to a belief in some level of kismet with Introspect from the moment she met them.
“I connected with the guys immediately,” she says. She felt as if she had found her place. “Everything from the name of the band, what the songs were about, the sound they had created, where they wanted to take the music, the goal of the music, the goal of the message – what the whole entire project is about. It‘s something that’s always been a part of me. It was like I was coming home. It felt like something that I want to, and need to, be a part of. It wasn’t a challenge in that respect. It was really something to immerse myself in and add that final element and bring it all to life.”
While their lyrics explore deeper meaning and philosophies, musically Intrøspect also cover a lot of ground from djenty riffing and polyrhythmic drumming to cosmic atmospherics, soaring vocal melodies and moments of stunning heaviness.
“It definitely goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, but I think that’s a reflection on us individually as musicians and where our influences come from,” the singer says. “There’s really, really broad influences in music that we’ve come from, but because it all overlaps, we keep bringing in all these aspects and elements, and that’s probably why we get really heavy, and then soft and airy and ethereal, because we all connect with those parts of music no matter the genre. Whether it’s from fifty years ago, or five minutes ago, it’s all in there. It all comes out in what we do together.”
With venues opening up again and live music returning, Intrøspect will hopefully get to do what they couldn’t do with Ad Astra, and tour it and present it live properly. The group are developing a stage show to accompany their rich musical feast, and with the EP dropping today (March 19), performances are in the pipeline in Sydney and interstate.
“Now we really want to focus on being able to bring this to life in a live setting,” Felicity Jayne says enthusiastically, “get on stage, connect with the people. The Internet’s great and there’s all these platforms you can use to connect with people, but there’s nothing at all that will ever replace that live music environment and that emotion and connection you have in person, just being there in the moment.”