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The Awakening

Ashton Nyte is a very busy man. Of course, he's the sole member of The Awakening, the South African gothic rock band. With this band he's working on Beyond The Realm, the fifth full length album. But that's not enough for him. A second solo album, called Dirt Sense, is in the works. And now he appears to have another project (Cut The Rope) going as well.

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Discography: Risen (1997/1999), Request (1998/1999), Ethereal Menace (1999), The March EP (1999), Sentimental Runaways EP (1999), The Fourth Seal Of Zeen (2000), The Fountain EP (2001). Solo: The Slender Nudes (2000). Available through: The Awakening. Official website: The Awakening. Interview by: mpo. Date:  April 11th 2002.

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Ashton Nyte

Can you first introduce The Awakening? What kind of musical entity is it and what's the history?

I would probably describe The Awakening as a "Dark Alternative" band with styles and forms including goth, rock, electronica and anything else that I have the urge to include on the work in question. It has existed since 1995 and currently has seven CD releases to it's name.

Your music can be described as gothic. It's quite dark, emotional music. How did you get involved with this kind of music?

It seemed to be an obvious choice as my voice is naturally suited to more sombre tones. I have always gravitated towards more serious and poetically inspiring subject matter, the romance of what goth music can be, has always been a strong attraction to the genre for me.

The Awakening once started as a band consisting of three members. Nowadays the albums are done by only one person: You. What are the reasons for staying the only member of The Awakening while you do have a live band?

I have always been the sole composer and but for a couple of exceptions on Risen, the sole studio performer for The Awakening, originally due to the hunger with which I move through my work and the variations in live band line-up. Up until recently I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and reward of taking a recording from demo to complete album status in every sense of the process, which is probably why I produce the albums as well - control freak personality syndrome. On my current project, my second "solo" effort I have finally included the live drum capabilities of my drummer of the last 3 years, who performs in both The Awakening and my solo shows. The live musicians performing with me now have been a unit long enough to develop an energy that has in a sense become the "new" Awakening and will more than likely be performing on the next Awakening album as such.

The Awakening, live band

Speaking of the live band, who are currently in the line-up?

Mark Sprawson (guitar), Kate Towsey (bass), Glenn Welman (drums), Matthew Fink (keyboards), Marcus Kuschke (guitar), Ashton Nyte (vocals & guitar).

Besides The Awakening you've done a solo album called The Slender Nudes and you're currently working on a second solo effort called Dirt Sense. Why are you doing solo albums while The Awakening is already a one man expression?

The "solo" work has no stylistic or genre allegiance, whilst The Awakening has always been dark-rock-goth-orientated outfit. I maintain that just as humans have many sides to their personality, artists have numerous variations of how they wish to express themselves, some ways tend to be darker, heavier or just plain different to others.

The albums from The Awakening are distributed in America in the Christian market. As far as I know The Slender Nudes isn't. Seeing the cover with the naked girl I guess most conservative people will raise their eyebrows. What is the idea behind that cover?

The model is representative of an artwork to be appreciated in the bare essence of itself - which is one of the statements I was making with the album. Some people perceive that, among other things, I am a one dimensional artist obsessed with a "gothic/sinister" facade. The iconography used in the album was intentionally theatrical in an intentionally very non-goth way. Every body enjoys a bit of escapism and the album is loaded with characters like The Glam Vamp, The Naked Poet, The Electric Man etc.

On your website I read that you're doing another project called Cut The Rope. Are you overflowing with inspiration? ;)

Absolutely! I have a pathological hatred for the non-productive nature of eating and sleeping.

What's Cut The Rope compared to your solo outings and The Awakening?

Very heavy, very aggressive, very loud.

Right now you're working on the second solo album Dirt Sense. What can be expected?

Absolutely no genre allegiance yet again. Where Slender Nudes dabbled with glam rock and new romantic, Dirt Sense strips the music to it's primal form. Rock, trip hop, the blues, jazz, folk and the avant-garde all get nods of respect. It's a form that I believe to be very unique whilst keeping the lyrics quirky and far more weighted than the frivolous escapism of The Slender Nudes. It's actually a relatively serious album, off-set by the fact that I get to wear a cowboy hat and leather jacket at last. 

The Awakening will do another album as well, tentatively titled Beyond The Realm. As the band has a second guitar player now, will you head into a more guitar oriented direction? Can you tell about the musical realm you're heading to?

I probably write an average of 4 or 5 songs every week of my life and find it difficult to remain engrossed in any one music form, but currently I feel the songs that are tentatively being selected for the new Awakening album are decidedly more guitar-driven and aggressive than anything we've released before. I really would like to capture the energy of the live band, as I mentioned earlier. Lyrically, there's an air of angst and urgency to what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. The objective is always to keep the work fresh, challenging and relevant, not just re-hashing some trite formula.

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