INTERVIEW: Ceiling Demons | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Delphine Ruston

Ceiling Demons have never been, and likely never will be, an average, run-of-the-mill-type of band, and in this respect their new album, Snakes & Ladders is truly extraordinary.

An alternative art-rap group from rural North Yorkshire fronted by twin brothers Psy Ceiling and Dan Demon, their music and lyrics are heavily symbolic and introspective, dealing with a broad range of themes. Though this was evident on their 2017 debut album, Nil, the band delve deeper than ever before on their new release, as they collectively explain. “Spiritually, the key themes are love, the universe, Mother Nature and the cosmos. Politically, there are key themes of freedom, peace, empathy and unity along with a rebellion towards centralised power and the corruption within current systems.”

Another cornerstone of Ceiling Demons is their focus on mental health in their lyrics and charitable work. “Mental health has long been a theme that we have addressed in our music and Snakes & Ladders continues this tradition. Having birthed our project out of bereavement and our own experiences with anxiety and depression, we try to champion remedies such as creation, speaking, accepting, self-care and self-healing as medicines through music.”

we try to champion remedies such as creation, speaking, accepting, self-care and self-healing as medicines through music

Musically, the new album also develops Ceiling Demons’ sound. “Snakes & Ladders feels like a mature progression from our previous work. It still has a lot of traits from our last album ingrained in its esoteric DNA, but it has also grown into its own entity with adulthood. It takes a step away from sample-driven sounds and dives more into a realm of live instrumentation and songwriting.” Perhaps one of the best examples of their sophisticated songwriting is demonstrated on Dust Of The North, a dark and menacing song, which builds pace throughout and is perhaps one of Snakes & Ladders’ most compelling tracks. “It’s got a lot going on and sounds like an apocalyptic film score with drum ‘n’ bass breaks!” They explain. “It felt like an organic song to write which came out almost like a freestyle and helped plant the foundations that encapsulate the essence of the album-to-be.”

Another notable feature of Snakes & Ladders is its special guests, which includes violinist and music therapist Andy Lawrenson; folk singer-songwriter Zarahruth, who co-wrote some of the album including one of its singles, Silver Birch, which is a powerful piece marked by Zarahruth’s enticing, ghostly chorus, to the swung-rock final verse, a perfect burst of pogo energy before the end; and the legendary producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, someone the band felt privileged to work with. “He is a real elder with super wisdom and incredible life experience. He recorded some real magical blessings over a full moon in Jamaica and sent it back. We’re still pinching ourselves!”

For an album as riddled with symbolism as Snakes & Ladders, striking artwork is naturally essential; the answer to this came in the form of a continued collaboration with Art Demon. “He originally connected with us in Leeds after we started the project and released our first EP. He resonated with our music and imagery and has been collaborating with us ever since. His artwork has become synonymous with our releases and in recent years he has become an important part of the live show as he creates while we perform. In his words: the era of the creative is rising!”

Ceiling Demons release Snakes & Ladders via Butterfly Effect and Fake Four Inc on 22nd September. They launch the album at The Forum Music Centre, Darlington on Friday 24th September with support from Zarahruth


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