Band Interview: Esses (Re-published)

(This interview was originally published in either late 2018, or early 2019. We forgot to save the dates of each republished interview. Everything is as is when it was first published except the cover photo)

This amazing goth band comes from Oakland, Ca. They have such a unique sound. I hope you all enjoy the interview, and if you have never heard of their music- that you find some new music for your ears. Oakland goth music is full of down to earth talented musicians part of the California Deathrock scene. Oakland along with Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County deathrock scenes all work together. Spreading music, sharing music, booking bands. Our music scene is small, but we are spread out worldwide- and all help each other. That is what our community is about - so just a reminder all the stuff you see online throws a lot of misconceptions of what goth is- fashion is a choice, but the core of goth is music. Without further-ado, get some coffee or tea and enjoy this rad band interview with Esses!

What is behind the band name Esses? Did you guys have any other name ideas?

Kel: When we were thinking about a name for the band we wanted a name that didn’t really mean anything - so the music would be presented as a blank slate for you to form your own opinions about. I had been recording with Skot (who at the time was not in Esses) and he was joking that recording the sound of the letter S is particularly hard with me and then the idea of calling the band Esses - as in the sound of the letter S in plural - was planted in my head. Long after the fact, we found out that the word esses in portuguese means those, which also seems kind of appropriate for us.

Many people we have shared your music with say you guys sound a little like “Scarlet’s remains” and “Soviet Soviet” are these bands an influence? Also, I personally think Miss Kel vocals sound similar to EveGhost of “Scarlet’s remains.” I love it.

Scout: I grew up listening to 90’s crust punk, grindcore and doom. His Hero is Gone, Antischism, Assuck, Zero Hour, etc. But my record collection is all over the place and I would be embarrassed to let my phone shuffle at random. Esses might kick me out if they heard some of my guilty pleasures.

Kel: Thanks! My influences are really all over the place, but I have consistently come back to Crass, The Birthday Party, Rudimentary Peni, early Bauhaus, Pain Teens, and Dead Can Dance. I could probably list 50 more… but I won’t.

Dawn: Some of my influences are early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Neurosis, Cocteau Twins-Garlands era.

So you guys formed in 2014, how has your music journey been? Have you toured, if so where? Do you have a favorite place to play yet?

Kel: The band has changed a lot since January 2014. When we first formed the band we were going for more of a doom crossed with The Birthday Party sort of sound. It was just a fun project in our garage that we didn’t put a lot of expectations on. Two of the original members left to pursue their other bands and fine art projects and Scout and Skot joined. I think that as an artist you have to let things evolve - when you are too rigid about what this is supposed to sound like or that is supposed to be then your art gets stagnant and old - it doesn’t sound authentic. Last year we played the Out from the Shadows Fest in Portland and did a summer tour through CA. It was really fun!

Scout: Locally, I’d have to say my favorite venue is First Church of the Buzzard. Everything about the place and the people who run it are dreamy (but in a cool, gothic, nightmarish kind of way)

Kevin: First Church of the Buzzard is also my favorite spot.

Who writes the music, and who writes the lyrics?

Scout: I typically write the skeleton of the song outside of practice in my cave. But when I bring it to practice, it often changes quite a bit with everyone else’s influence. Kevin and I will to jam it out a bit. Dawn and Skot seem to instantly find the perfect creepy atmosphere and melody. It’s generally a pretty seamless process which is really fun.

Kevin:Scout and I come up with the basic patterns and then everyone adds to it. It’s a collaborative process

Kel: I write all the lyrics and when the band is in the process of working on a song I chime in with regards to timing and how I think things will fit with the mood, lyrics, and performance. I try not to get too bossy! ;)

What advice would you give new bands and bands forming?

Esses: When we figure out what we are doing, we will let you all know...

You guys released “Offering” in the summer of 2018, how was it coming up with these tracks? What is behind the track “Kingdom of dust?” I swear I have played this one a thousand times, it is so beautiful and different.

Kevin: This was a pretty transitional album since half of the songs were written with our former bandmates and the other half were written with Scout and Skot.

Scout: I had joined the band earlier in the year and Skot filled in to go on a Southern California Tour a couple weeks prior to going into studio. I guess he decided to stick around and I think he may have come up with some stuff while in the studio (haha!). We recorded with Greg at Earhammer Studios, which was a great experience. But in comparison to No Light In This Fire and the new material that we are recording now, you will definitely hear Offering as a transitional album. I had just lost my dad when joining the band so a lot of my bass lines were a reflection of those difficult times. We actually recorded Forever Gone on his birthday, which I struggled with a bit honestly.

Kel: Kingdom of Dust is based off of a vivid dream that I had. A lot of my lyrics are pulled from experiences like these - I build stories around them. I am very interested in how memories and the sub - and unconscious mind works.

Talking about songs, what is behind the song “White silence”?

Kel:To be honest, I don’t really like talking about what specific songs are about. The reason behind this is that I want people to connect with the music on a personal level and to put their own experiences and imagination into building a story that speaks to them. It’s like asking what an abstract painting is - it means something to the person who made it, and something completely different to the person experiencing it. If I tell you what a song is about - then it becomes less personal for you.

Do you guys have anything planned for 2019? New songs, albums or shows? Tours?

Kevin: We are working on a new full length album which is halfway finished. We have a bunch of local Bay Area shows lined up through September - including the Near Dark Festival in Oakland. All of our shows are listed on our bandcamp page - and on Facebook. We are hoping to make it back down to L.A. and Sacramento this summer as well. Then in October we are off to Europe and will be playing the Return to the Batcave Festival in Wroclaw, Poland! Those European show dates will be announced as soon as they are all confirmed.

What is a quote you like or live by?

Scout: hearts, not parts

If you could play with any band anywhere, what band would you chose and where would you play? Like location and venue or open space?

Kevin: The Butthole Surfers on Uranus

Dawn: Pink Floyd at Pompeii in 1972 or how about The Nation of Ulysses at Jabberjaw.

Silly question; I throw this in sometimes every few interviews- What do each of you stand when it comes to pineapple on Pizza?

Kel: It is an abomination that sadly tastes pretty good at 1am.

Scout: I actually love pineapple on pizza, but I’m not going to fight anyone over it. Just no cheese pleeeeeease thank you <3

Kevin: It’s my go-to jam. Fuck the haters.

Dawn: No thanks

Is there anything you stand for? Like a cause or a movement? Something you are passionate about? Tell us what and why? And if you would like add three hobbies you enjoy doing outside of music.

Kel: I am a painter and illustrator (you can check out my work on instagram @kellycorrellart). I spend most of my free time working on art and music. I also love baking and I loathe capitalism.

Scout: Oooooof. I am really passionate about the decriminalization of sex work. SESTA / FOSTA has done more to endanger than protect the most marginalized communities and has taken away their ability to screen out potential predators. We need to get over the idea that some  people are willing to pay for. consensual sex and others are willing to get paid for it. After that, it’s just a matter of basic human rights. Other than that I like quiet nights, walks on the beach, and smashing the patriarchy.

Kevin: I’m passionate about music and the underground DIY scene in the Bay Area. I have been documenting this since 2003 both through my photography and video work. You can check it out on my neverending Youtube page: and on Instagram: bandseyescene.

Is there anything you would like to leave us with?

Kel:Thanks interviewing us!!!

All things Esses


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