It wasn’t exactly ten years ago today when it happened. It was something I came to slowly.
I like to put the exact founding of the project of Appalachian Winter to when I got the name in my head. Likely, that means it was sometime in March of 2008 when I somehow generated the name “Appalachian Winter” in that eternally empty vacuum cleaner bag I call my mind. Knowing me (which I do very well), it would have been a very short time after which I emailed my good buddy Jason with a logo request, and you can feel free to judge for yourself how that went by having a look at every release cover to this project’s name.
But it wasn’t as simple as saying “Hey, I’m going to do a black metal project. Once I have a name and a logo, all the rest will just fall into place.” The song “Into the Abode of Wolves” had been written before in – if memory serves me right – November of 2007. The writing of that song, which I remember as being a sudden and explosive happening, ended a really bad point in my life, musically. Back then, when I was doing music on my own (I’ve always had projects and bands with friends, and my solo stuff was alongside those), I was going under my name, D.G. Klyne, or D. George Klyne. I had until recently at that time planned three separate solo albums, and all of them fell apart.
Those weren’t my first failures, and they won’t be the last. But three of them on top of each other was a hefty kick in the face for me. The truth is, my solo stuff under my own name was always quite sub-par. These three albums – when I realized they had no future – would have been a step down even from what I finished before then. God, one of them was going to be a generic prog-metal effort that was trying to deal with shit like String Theory. Seriously, what the fuck was I on about with pretending I was smart like that? So that shit had no soul nor reason for existing to begin with. Another was a generic black metal album which may at least have been important in turning me towards what would later become Appalachian Winter, but the imagery and themes were generic and unfocused, meaning that it too would be soulless and without need of existence. A third would have been an acoustic album, and while that one had the best music and the most focus, it would have required a good singing voice which is something I do not at all have.
So, there I was with three legally dead albums that I had put time and blood into. That was the worst I had ever felt about my musicianship in my life, and I’ve never had a healthy relationship with my own music (I still don’t). Seriously, if my music was an actual person, I’d have some kind of psychotic co-dependent relationship with it, because I’m always stuck between being awe-struck that I can do anything with a musical instrument and then hearing other people’s music and saying, “No, everything I do is rat-fuck garbage.” The point being, I wanted out of the music thing. I wanted to sell all my shit and never have to worry about the pressure of putting an album together again. That is how the story of my musicianship almost ended.
But, by some miracle, it didn’t. Looking back, it was all too obvious what was happening. The albums I tried to make were unfulfilling and meaningless because I was doing it all for the wrong reasons. I was trying to be something I was not, doing music for somebody who was an abstraction, and doing things that would have called abilities greater than what I have down from the realm of Platonic Perfection.
Shortly after everything fell apart, “Into the Abode of Wolves” happened. It’s weird to say that about something you’ve written, like it happened to me instead of it being myself that affected change, but I’ve always had a sense that I don’t write music. Instead, it feels like I’m some vessel through which music is written. Anyway, all I knew when it was done was, “This is it. This has to be it. I finally found it, right? What my whole life as a musician has been leading up to?” The only thing that stole absolute certainty from me in the roaring high that followed the completion of that song was the track record of THREE ALBUMS FAILING ON ME SIMULTANEOUSLY. But my friends verified it. They all said things which could be boiled down to, “Yeah, I think you’ve found what you’re meant to do,” or “Yeah, this one’s different somehow, and it looks like this is the right way for you.”
I may not be smart enough to write about String Theory, but I can Goddamned write about these mountains in whom I’ve been nestled my whole life. I may not have enough abstract thought to perceive what a large audience might want and try to write for them, but I can sure as Hell write something that will make me, myself proud (kinda). I may not be able to sing well, but I can howl like a raging storm, and I’ve dealt with enough frustration that I can really put some force behind such a thing as well.
This is Appalachian Winter. It’s the best I have. It’s the top of my musicianship, the best of my poetry, and the whole of my soul.
While I do this for myself, and Appalachian Winter would exist even in a vacuum, to those of you who also enjoy this stuff along with me, you have all of my respect and gratitude. Always remember, the downloads are free and with my blessing.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
-A silly boy named Danny