ASHLEY DAYOUR: «Fear not for the future weep not for the past» (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Pic by Werner Nowak

Pic by Werner Nowak

Ashley Dayour is today one of the most prolific artists in dark music (whatever it means). Near Earth Orbit, The Devil & the Universe and, of course, Whispers in the Shadow publish a bunch of records periodically. Yesterday is Forever is the last record of WitS and here it is an interview with Ashley Dayour about this (and about… read and understand)



  • Why did you start making music? Why this kind of music? What is your personal description of your sound?


I think it was the need to create, and the need to belong to something, and for sure a means to escape from reality as well, especially when we began as teenagers. I always had a thing for all things rather dark, morbid and grotesque, so this style came naturally. 

It’s basically rock music, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes darker, sometimes there’s light, sometimes there are shadows. But basically, it’s rock music. That what it comes down to if you strip it all apart. However, we do try to keep it interesting and evolving. Sometimes we even succeed; I certainly think we did with this album. 



  • Your style is very eclectic and original, includes influences of several and different kind of music… Which bands do you think influenced your music and what the lyrics are about? And other artists (not musicians)?


Well it all depends which period of our career. The influences are there for sure, but they are indeed Legion. In the very beginning, it was The Cure, more than anyone else, it would be stupid to deny it. I mean listen to our first records. Thing is, back then in the mid to late 90’s The Cure & all things 80’s were very much out of fashion, so we were totally out of fashion even in terms of the goth scene, but we didn’t care much anyway. 


With time, we opened up to all kind of things and styles. Not only music also writers and also movies. There are just too many to name and it would take more than one interview to single them all out and explain why.


Same goes for the lyrics, they changed through our career. In the beginning, they were personal and sometimes even “stream of consciousness” style. From ca. 2008 to 2014 most of it was very occult and spiritual, it was a 4 album period, and all albums where connected music wise and theme wise. With the last album “The Urgency Of Now” and the new one there is a lot of social commentary and some of them are a bit more personal again. Nostalgia is one of the main themes of the new album. “The more we fear the future the more we recycle the past” (from the song Passion Project) is sort of a key line to grasp the album. 




  • You are one of the bands that somehow lead the “today dark rock”. We think that we’re living one of the most prolific stage regarding bands but not regarding the amount of public ¿Do you agree?


Hmm I don’t know if we lead something else than ourselves, and I’m not even so sure about that. I can’t really answer that, because I don’t really keep up anymore with what is going on in terms of new music, especially in the “dark” scene. I became one of these old boring farts who doesn’t really care anymore and rather listens for 10.000 time to the odd old David Bowie album.

However, there are many good bands out there, I’m sure of it. But especially during these last couple of years I spent more time listening to classical and recently (in lack of another word) world music like Sufi music from the middle east than rock or even goth music.



  • How do you think about the changes in the “dark” scene over these years? The way you create music, is the same now and in the past?


I embrace change! Change is the only constant in life. However, I don’t see a lot of change in the dark scene to be straight. More of the same old, same old. But I don’t want to be too judgmental here. Writing songs pretty much stayed the same over the years, the thing that did change is the technical advantage one has these days. But mostly, I write on my own until the band comes along and we record the tunes together in a proper studio. Only then, it really becomes Whispers In The Shadow. 



  • What has music done for you? Is it “only” a way to express yourself?


It sure is and it is about the only thing I really enjoy doing. Except reading and watching movies. I love the creative process the most, writing and arranging. When you create this whole world out of nothing. It’s like a magical thing really. In the true sense of the word. 



  • How important are lyrics for you? What do you want to express through them?


Let me put it that way, the longer I’m doing this the more important they become.

With “The Urgency Of Now”, the album before our current album “Yesterday Is Forever”, I made a big step in terms of lyrics. Actually, it was the first one I’m really pleased with some of the stuff. Same goes for the new album. It’s hard to write good lyrics though and it took me some time to get to where I am now. I’m still no Shakespeare though, that’s for sure. But there are a few lines here and there that I’m very proud of. “We won the war but lost the peace” (From Passion Project) is one of these. Or “Trumpets instead of flutes” (from The Rat King on the Album Urgency Of Now). 


What I want to express depends on the actual song. Some are like stories, like “The War That Never Was”. Some are personal like “Walk On The Mirror” and some are social commentaries like “Toxic Express”. Some are just plain babble and I don’t have the simplest idea what they are about like “Straight & Narrow”.




  • You have just released a new album, “Yesterday Is Forever”. I think it is an amazing collection of songs: if you have to define it with only a word, which one could be it? Are you happy with its sound and welcome?


Well thank you, that is very nice of you to say. Yes I am very happy with this one. I really believe it is one of our best. It might take the listener a few spins to get it though; at least that’s what several people told me. It’s funny because I thought it is the most accessible album we ever did, but it is also very diverse, I think that might confuse people a bit when they hear it for the first time. So, in that sense there is one word to describe it: Kaleidoscopic. And that was the intention from the get go.  



  • You publish nowadays for Solar Lodge who edit albums by other interesting bands like Merciful Nuns, Aeon Sable, La Scaltra, Your Life on Hold, and of course, Near Earth Orbit and The Devil & the Universe. Today is one of the most prolific labels, just in a time when it’s very difficult to publish physical albums, Spotify (and others) is near to “eat” all…


The times certainly haven’t gotten easier with the record sales stuff, that is for sure. Thankfully, we have a very loyal fan base and I’m very happy and humble about that. It is more important than ever to actually buy music or at least some merch from the artist you love and you listen to. Especially now with all the gigs gone because of the pandemic. Solar Lodge is indeed doing a great job in doing so and keeping things interesting with different kind of bands and styles, yes. 


  • You have maintained a steady rhythm of album releasing, YiF is your tenth album in 25 years. Looking at all of those albums in perspective (specially the last two), we can notice (at least as listener) some kind of conductive wire. I don’t know if there’s a «global» concept behind this.



Now I could say: yeah there is, I’ve always had a grand masterplan. I would look very mysterious and cool.

But to be honest: no there isn’t. Thank god there isn’t. It would make things so much more boring to have such a big plan. You are right, every album could be seen as a logical step after the previous one. Sometimes we are going 2 steps forward sometimes 3, but it is always this band. But I might be wrong. Maybe there is a grand plan, maybe magic is playing with me and I’m not playing with magic. Maybe one day at the very end, it will make perfect sense. No seriously, it will not. We are just doing our thing, and most of the time we did it to a 120%, despite what anyone else thinks. Apart from a very few songs I can honestly say we were always true to ourselves and didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought. That wasn’t always the easiest path to follow but for sure the most interesting. 



  • I think your old albums (specially The Rites of Passage, Beyond The Cycles Of Time or Into the Arms of Chaos) sound a bit different, the gothic rock’ taste and the darkwave flavour cover the songs. Maybe Yesterday is Forever and The Urgency of Now are more rockers, more today post punk, more coloured and diverse. All of this without losing your essence.


I would also add The Eternal Arcane to the ones you mentioned first, and that was intentional because back then we actually did have a plan, and that plan was to record 4 occult/alchemical driven records which are connected with each other in terms of sound, song writing and themes. Each album represents a stage of the alchemical process and at the end, we even had our very own Tarot set. It was a very intense time and experience to keep that up for 4 albums and at the end I was pretty burned out for some time. It took us 4 long years to come back with a new sound. I would say there are 4 phases of this band. The beginning with 2 more Dark Wavy records, then we opened up a bit to alternative and psychedelic sounds, then we went more into the Gothic Rock direction and now we are…I don’t know. Whispers In The Shadow, finally?



  • One of the most common feature of the bands mentioned (besides a strong taste for the Gothic Rock) can be the esoteric touch or the references to ancient civilizations in the lyrics. But you maybe add some sense of humour and a “lightful” point of view over the dark scene. What do you think about it?


Yes, those themes played a big part in the period from 2008 to 2014, and they still do, although underneath the surface, hidden from plain sight. But a song like “The I In The Void” is as much as spiritual as all the songs from that period, maybe even more so. And in terms of humour, yes that is true. We don’t take ourselves so damn seriously anymore. I mean we are all in our 40’s, if we wouldn’t have learned to laugh about ourselves by this time, something would have gone terribly wrong, don’t you think?



Pic by Werner Nowak

Pic by Werner Nowak

  • What’s Live for you? Is it more or less important than studio work?


It’s a different thing, you can’t really compare it. I like both, playing live and recording, creating in the studio. I love writing songs, even with all up and downs. I love arranging. 

Playing live is totally different. It’s all about the moment and the connection between you and the crowd. I can’t decide which one is better and wouldn’t want to give up either one. It’s like asking me which one is my favorite foot: the right or the left one?



  • What is your favourite song to perform live (and why)?


Tricky one. If we would have played any shows with the new material this year I’m pretty sure I would have picked up one of these, but for some reason we haven’t. 😉

It changes. “Drowning Like The Moon”, a song from our debut album from 1997 is still one of my favourites. “Back To The Wound” always transports me somewhere else too. 

They are the ones where I, when the show is going good, totally lose any sense of time and space. 



  • Billy Phobia designed the artwork of YiF. I think he (as ever) has made a gooood work with it. Why you choose him? How important are the visual aspects for you?


I know Billy for some time now, and he designed all the t-shirts for The Devil & The Universe, my other band. I was looking for someone new to work with in terms of the whole visual presentation and I just asked him and sent him the early demos of the album. He was very intrigued from the get go. He seemed to have understood what these new songs are about.

We worked close together and I’m really happy with what he created for us. It fits the mood of the album perfectly. 



  • You are involved in other projects like Near Earth Orbit in a recent past (darker and more atmospheric) and The Devil & The Universe (more electronic and dance oriented). Where do you buy time!? (I ask this for a friend of mine… :))) ). Seriously, you have a lot of inspiration and creativity!


Well I actually left NEO last year. No bad blood though, it was mainly a time thing, with more and more gigs coming in for The Devil & The Universe and Whispers In The Shadow. There just wouldn’t have been as much time as was needed for NEO. Nobody could have foreseen there would be plenty of time this year though 😉 

Anyway, the die is cast. I also felt like I contributed everything I had for this project and we did some great stuff, no doubt. 


To answer the actual question, I know from the outside it looks like I must be working 24/7 all the time, but let me tell you. this is not the case. I’m way lazier than it looks like. 

When I’m working, I’m actually pretty fast and I can be very creative in a very intuitive and direct way, I don’t need a certain space, time, atmosphere or whatever.

I just sit down and work until it is done, I’m very happy I can work this way though, not everybody can, and when I do, I emerge myself fully into it, I totally surrender to it.

I couldn’t surrender to it 24/7, 7 days a week 365 days a year, which from the outside sometimes it looks a bit like this. I would get mental though.

So, between projects, I take time off. Because like Pooh the Bear once said: “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.”  



  • The pandemic attacked the entire music scene. How did Covid19 affect WitS as a band, apart of the cancelled gigs?


Not so much actually. We had a couple of shows planned, but we have more plans for 2021. Not sure if these will actually work though. Personally, I’m very much a recluse anyway, so for me this whole isolation stuff is not that big of a deal really. But surely, it will affect everything and to be honest the hardest time is yet to come. It will be the time after the pandemic. It’s not like this will be over and it will all be “happily ever after”, far from it I’m afraid. There will be bills to pay and it might get tough. But even that shall pass. It’s nobody’s fault. I however do feel for those who are not as fortunate as me and for whom this is hell. What a mess. 



  • What about the future?


We have our 25th anniversary next year and there are some things in the drawers but it is too early days to talk about that. There’s also a 25th anniversary show planned at a well-known German Festival, but I’m not sure if that happens. If not, we’ll do a 25th+1 Show in 2022 😉

There are some ideas for a special release to celebrate the occasion but the ink is far from dry. 

I do have some ideas for a totally new project though. When this will materialize, we shall see. And I will start working on the next The Devil & The Universe album soon. We will release a new album in 2021, that will happen, pandemic or not.



Pic by Werner Nowak

Pic by Werner Nowak


To the end, we always ask three questions of a more frivolous nature (not sure if the above are not so):

  • You have released many songs in all these years… Which three would you choose from your whole career?


That is tricky! Can I choose at least 4, because I would take one from each period of the band.

“Drowning like the Moon” (from Laudanum 1997), from our debut, because that one changed a lot for us in terms of direction and what I wanted to do with the band. There are a lot of elements in this song which are still there to this day. 


“A Taste Of Decay” (from A Taste Of Decay 2000) because we opened up and changed direction for the very first time with this one. It was the first time we didn’t care, so to speak. 


“The Tempest” (from The Rites Of Passage 2012) because this one, together with “Back To The Wound” (from The Rites Of Passage 2012), was something entirely new for us, that tribalistic but also atmospheric soundscape, and in hindsight it was the beginning of what became my other band, The Devil & The Universe. 


And “Walk On The Mirror” from the new one, because we achieved something with this song we haven’t before. It has a certain romantic and laid-back feel to it but still has the same depth as our darker and heavier songs. I am very happy with this particular one, it is simply one of the best songs we ever did and will always remain very dear to me. Same goes for the video clip btw. 



  • During the last years, I am sure that there have been a number of bands and songs that have had an influence in you… Could you choose three songs from other bands that you would have liked to write yourselves?


In terms of music I almost never say that to myself, but when it comes to good lyrics, I really envy some artists. Something like The Flaming Lips / Do you realize, with a line like

“You realize the sun doesn’t go down It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round”, damn there are days I really would kill for a line like this. 


But well why not aim big and go for the real hymns because most likely I will never be able to write something like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, David Bowie’s “Heroes” or Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, Songs that will still be heard in a 100 years’ time. Or something as grand as Gustav Mahler’s 4th Movement from his 5th Symphony…. Ok I stop before I make a total Idiot of myself. Do I wish I could write stuff like that? Of course I do. 



  • Apart from the three songs just mentioned, which three songs would you cover?


We did some covers in the past, only a few were any good, our recent cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans” actually was. I don’t know, I’m afraid I can’t answer that question. But I just remembered I actually started to work on a version of The Walker Brothers “the sun ain’t gonna shine anymore”. I wonder what happened to that idea… Might be the right time to pick that up again.



Thank you very much for all!. The last words are yours.


«Fear not for the future weep not for the past» – to quote Percy Bysshe Shelley