Interview: Beware of Darkness
BEWARE OF DARKNESS
Life can give you a great series of ups, but then from out of nowhere hit you with a series of downs that rattles you to the core as it shakes the foundations for which you stand. Something that Kyle Nicolaides, known as the front man of alternative act Beware of Darkness, is all too familiar with. The release of debut album Orthodox, and it’s follow-up Are You Real?, led to much critical acclaim and opening slots for such heavyweights of the alternative genre as The Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, etc. But even from the seemingly top of the mountain, a crippling depression and anxiety set in and overtook Nicolaides – a battle that plagued him for a decade. However, with the recent release of his new single “Bloodlines,” his first new music in three years, Nicolaides boldly declares he’s won the battle and has given us our first glimpse of things to come from his newfound spirit and drive. We chatted with him about his battle, the importance of “Bloodlines” for today’s society, how it will compare to what’s still to come from his new music, and more!
Photo by: Nick Smalls
1. You've recently release your brand-new single "Bloodlines," you're first music in three years. Tell us about the song.
It’s just a simple upbeat song, and that’s what I like about it. With all the personal chaos I’d been through I was proud to just have this song that is fun, upbeat, and joyous.
2. This song is an ultra-personal one for you as you’ve stated, “It’s the first time I’ve written, recorded, and released music without the burden or despair of depression and anxiety. Can you tell us a little bit about your battle with those crippling mental health disorders?
I look back and call it my “Dead Decade.” Age 18-28, depression and anxiety defined my existence, wove in and out of my life, and were always present, whether they were blaring loud or a subtle whisper. I struggled with it so long, I began to assume that’s who I am, “A depressed and anxious person with no future”, and for a while I really embodied what it means to be dead in life. I look back now, 9 months out of it, and I’m frankly amazed I survived. The magnitude and ramifications of living with depression and the demons I was up against is still something I’m reconciling and waking up to. It’s akin to getting out of a 10-year abusive relationship with yourself, or to waking up out of a 10-year coma. It was a daily struggle, waking up every day with a brain that wants you dead, and devoting most of your waking moments justifying reasons to stay on the planet and trying to reduce the pain you’re in. It gets exhausting.
3. How did you find music being a healing agent to helping you through your battles and ultimately overcoming them to get you to where you are at today?
At a lot of times it wasn’t, music was hell. But now being healthy, looking back with hindsight, music healed me through fire. It worked it’s magic in a backwards way.
A lot of my despair, depression, and anxiety were stemming from events that were happening in my music career. I had no tools to deal with the uncertainty, heartbreaks, stress, and disappointments, in addition to all the success and wonder (which sometimes can be equally damning) so that led me to almost accidentally begin a spiritual journey. All these hardships led me to yoga, meditation, and plant medicine.
It could be said all that struggle I felt from having a career in music was alchemized into purpose, and now I am astonished to think that spirituality, healing, and a connection with the divine is another unexpected fruit from the tree of music bore. Magic, right?
4. With all that is going on in the world today – bullying, tragedies involving shootings, etc. – why do you feel that “Bloodlines” is an important song for people to hear today?
Stick with people you love. Root for, champion, and wish peace and send love and wellness for people you don’t love. Believe in people when they don’t believe in themselves. Be their champion. Surround yourself with people you love and adore so much, you want to be on their team for life.
We’re all the same. Divinity is in every single person, every plant, and every animal. Any differences we see in another person are usually just imaginary walls we create.
We are all a family on this planet, and all we need to do is remember that other people, despite how different they might seem, probably have the same exact hopes, dreams, fears, and desires that you do.
If more people saw that I think the world would be a different place.
My friend Arywn says, “The answer to what’s next is always more love.”
“Bloodlines” touches on some of these points.
Just be kind to people. Ram Dass said, “Treat everyone you meet like they are God in drag." That’s the truth.
5. You worked with producer Braden Merrick on the song. What was he able to pull out of you that may not have otherwise been a part of this song?
I was wildly, wildly depressed last year, and he kept bringing up the idea of cutting “Bloodlines," and every single time, I said no. When you’re that depressed, you think everything in your life is doomed, so I didn’t see any point of doing a session. I didn’t see a point in being alive, let along record music. He, thank God, was a stone, and relentlessly month after month kept bringing up the idea of a session, and it wasn’t until this year when I got healthy that I said yes. He made the entire thing happen and then brought in the all-star cast. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and stuck with me when I didn’t want to stick around on this planet. He pulled me out of myself for this session, and then we produced the song together.
6. You had several guest musicians on this track with you, guitarist Jeff Schroeder (The Smashing Pumpkins), bassist Mark Stoermer (The Killers) and drummer Jon Safley (CRX, Bleached). Why did you feel that these musicians were the perfect fit for the direction you were going with the song?
They are all family in one way or another. I look up to Jeff like a brother. Braden worked very closely with Mark and Jon, so it was a highly curated group put together lined with respect and admiration. Its essence fit well with what “Bloodlines” is really about.
7. Why did you feel that “Bloodlines” was the best representative of what you’re currently working on for releasing in 2020?
Well, it was what we had. This year was a mental health year for me. I devoted all my time and energy to taking care of myself and learning how to recuperate from depression and be a person again. “Bloodlines” was a song we had from a demo session two years prior that stood the test of time, and its message was especially potent to what I’d been going through, so we put it out.
8. With new music on the near horizon, what will your longtime fans find in the new material that is similar to what they’ve heard from you in the past, but also, what differences will they hear?
It will be potent. It will have the heart and soul of debut album Orthodox and the mass of most recent album Are You Real?. A rainbow is what I imagine.
9. You've had the incredible opportunity to tour with some huge acts (The Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, 30 Seconds To Mars) and play major festivals such as Reading and Leeds, but is there one act you've never shared the bill with that you've always wanted to - and if so, why them?
I'd love to open for Muse or Queens of The Stone Age. I just think we'd fit well together.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band today?
Write as much as you can, play as many shows as you can, and keep getting better at your craft. We only have 60-80 years on this planet, so take the risk. Be nice to every single person you meet, whether it’s a fan, sound guy, roadie, backline, radio person or mom. Be grateful for every opportunity. Enjoy the ride. Any amount of success is meaningless without mental health in place. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it. It doesn’t matter what you do in life as long as your content and happy.