Ghosts & Goblins 3 : Avery Bradshaw
Best experienced in the Ghosts & Goblins 3 PDF zine
My name is Avery Bradshaw. I am a Columbus, GA based visual artist, art educator, and musician. I’m 28 years old. I’ve been drawing since I was 4, and have played music since I was 14. My full-time job is being an elementary school Art teacher. When I’m not teaching, I’m usually creating art or music. My concentrations as a visual artist are ink illustration and oil painting. My current solo music projects are:
Disquieting: Dungeon Synth/Dark Ambient/Post-Rock
Ephemerus: Dungeon Synth/Ambient
I’m also the bassist and vocalist for Sludge/Death Metal band Giger. When I’m not creating art or music, I’m usually watching movies (particularly sci-fi, horror, or documentaries), listening to music, reading (particularly sci-fi), or spending time with my fiancée Samantha and our cats.
Tell us about the story / world building / themes behind your project/s
I don’t necessarily try to establish a specific story with a beginning, middle, and end within my art and music. Instead, I try to channel certain feelings and concepts into a look and/or sound that the viewer/listener can expand on what they are seeing/hearing. Basically, I create the setting and theme, but how the narrative plays out is up to the viewer/listener.
“The Ruins Of Conscience,” was meant to be an abstract story of what the listener would see and hear entering the mind of someone who has just experienced some form of death. What the listener experiences, and what kind of death the other person experienced (physical, spiritual, etc.) is ultimately up to the listener.
“Empty Throne Amongst The Stars” does not specifically focus on one theme running throughout the entirety of the album. However, what I can say is the album artwork and title (that may apply to the whole album in a very abstract broad sense) comes from my thoughts about God and religion. The idea was for the viewer to be transported outside of linear time and space to experience divinity that can be found amongst the stars and the whole of the universe. The throne in the throne room on the album cover is supposed to be empty because it always was. God is not some giant old man that sits on the throne, granting wishes or punishing “evil,” but rather the entire experience of the universe itself, including ourselves. “You are the universe experiencing itself” – Alan Watts. Overall, the goal is for the listener to have an audio interpretation of something bigger than themselves (though I’m definitely not trying to convert anyone to religion).
“Ephemera” 1 + 11 is a meditation on time. Time continuously flows like the waves of the ocean, creating, destroying, and creating again. We can’t get out of the water right now, but instead of trying to resist it, we can go with the flow, letting the waves carry us wherever we need to go, watching the sun and stars change the colors of the sky and water in the meantime. When our time comes, and we wash up on the shore, we then can see the beauty of the whole sky and water.
For Giger, we approach a variety of different topics, such as history, war, religion, and death. My interpretation of where a lot of our music comes from in exploring these topics is living in a world that becomes more chaotic and overly-modernized as each day passes. We don’t try to create anything super high-concept or fantasized, but instead try to find roots and explore deeper and darker aspects of the human condition in the world we live in. ‘Welcome to the worst nightmare of all…reality’.”
Tell us about the art & design associated with your projects
Since I am a visual artist as well as musician, I felt it was important to create/use my own artwork for Disquieting and Ephemerus, as they are intertwined and work together to (hopefully) further express not only the ideas and goals I have when I create, but also establish more of a connection with whoever is engaging with what I create.
Disquieting has an overall darker and more melancholic sound, so I use my black-and-white ink drawings to further convey that sense of darkness. Ephemerus has more of a contemplative and not-as-dark sound, so I felt it was better to use color from painting for it. Color and Value are very important Elements of Art, in that they not only can make an artwork more or less realistic, but how the artist uses them can greatly affect the moods and themes of their work. While I try not to get too specific, as I want the viewer/listener to come to their own conclusions, I do have general imagery and sounds in mind that are connected and want the viewer/listener to have as the starting point for their experience.
What are some of your influences (musical and otherwise)?
Some of my favorite visual artists are: Giorgio di Chirico, Salvador Dali, H.R. Giger, Arik Roper, Junji Ito, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Mariusz Lewandowski, Gustave Dore, Albrecht Durer, J.M.W. Turner, Caspar David Friedrich and Vincent Van Gogh. I also enjoy a lot of medieval art and Christian iconography.
I listen to almost all kinds of music except modern country. My favorite genres of music are doom metal, progressive rock, and ambient. Some of my favorite bands are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, Crowbar, Acid Bath, Sleep, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Autopsy, Van Halen, Rush, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, and Joy Division. Some of my favorite electronic, ambient and dungeon synth artists are Brian Eno, Chihei Hatakeyama, Chords Of Orion, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Jaaportit, Vindkaldr, Mortiis, Secret Stairways, Thangorodrim, and Ornatorpet.
I’m also influenced by science fiction and horror movies and literature, particularly the works of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick. I liked fantasy as a kid, but lost interest for a while. However, I’m starting to get back into fantasy as an adult, so some of the general themes/imagery from fantasy are also starting to come into my work.
My personal feelings and life experiences also have become an important part of my work, as creating art/music has helped me process things, especially the more traumatic moments in my life. On top of having a great support system of family and friends, creating art and music is part of what is helping me process the unexpected death of my mother. Mom didn’t always “get” what I was trying to do artistically, but she knew it was part of my purpose of being, so she was always supportive. I try to keep going for her. “Empty Throne Amongst The Stars” is dedicated to her.
Tell us about your creative space and process
Typically I wait for something to come to my mind before I start creating. Sometimes it happens quickly and semi-regularly, other times it takes a while. I try not to force it, as what I end up trying to do when that happens ends up looking/sounding forced and overall not genuine.
For music, usually what comes to me is a basic outline of a melody/riff first. I make sure I can play what I’m hearing in mind first, then gradually add other parts or layers to it. For Disquieting and Ephemerus, I’ll play that basic melody outline on one of my synths first, then from there play around with different melodies and layers. I’ll usually have the start of a song in (at least what feels like) not a lot of time, though it rarely ends up sounding how I imagined it once I’m finished; I feel this a good thing, as I’m not constricting the creative flow. For Disquieting specifically, I’ll arrange a synth part or two first before anything else. From there, the order I add instruments is acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, percussion, then any effects. For Ephemerus, I usually just jump around between different synth settings until something sticks, sticks being whatever doesn’t overpower what I started with.
For Giger, that initial melody/riff will come to my mind, then work it out on bass. I’ll see what other riffs I can come up with, then from there I get a basic idea of guitar and drum parts to show the guys. They both beef their parts up way more, add/take away parts, and we work out the rest of the song together.
For Art, I’ll have what I can only describe as quick flashes of other realms that exist outside of our perception of space and time. They rarely come to me in dreams at night, and instead will pop into my mind for what will only be maybe a few seconds of real-time. From there, I try to create a rough sketch with pencil, then add the specific layers and details with ink for drawing or paint for painting. Like with music, the final artwork rarely turns out how I initially saw it.
Regardless of what I’m working on, I rarely set out with a particular theme in mind. Instead, I let the images/melodies come to me, then try to figure out what the theme may be later. I try to establish a theme that the viewer/listener can expand upon and ultimately interpret for themselves. The art/music feels more genuine to me when that connection is made.
I have two separate rooms in my house for working on art and music. What would be the den is the music rehearsal space. I find that whenever I’m working on music, I seem to have the most inspiration and best workflow when there is not a lot of light. Not completely dark, but usually just a light coming in from the kitchen that is connected. The guest bedroom in my house is also my art studio space, where I usually shut the door and have music playing while I work. I’m usually alone when I work on art or music, though my cat Buddy does keep me company sometimes. Maybe it’s because the den is the only room with carpet, but lately he’s been coming into the den more when I play my synths, so I’d like to think he likes the sound of them.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Georgia, USA. From the time I was born until I was about 14, my Dad was a state park ranger/manager, so I grew up on parks surrounded by nature. I look back on it fondly not only because of how beautiful a lot of it is, but it’s also so quiet and still. I’ve always been extremely quiet and introverted, so it was always nice to walk around through the parks without a lot of other people around to play when I was a kid, then start forming my own thoughts and opinions about the world as I started getting older. Specifically when we lived on a historical site, the sights of the old forts and buildings still stick out in my mind. I think being on the parks surrounded by nature instilled a sense of affinity for it, so I try to capture the power of nature as a force within my artwork.
However, I’ve never traveled very far, though I’ve always wanted to do so. I’ve never been farther north than South Carolina, and not farther west than east Texas. I’ve only been out of the country once, to the Bahamas on a cruise, which was nice, but we spent most of the time on the ship. I’ve always wanted to travel to the mountains and desert, and have also always wanted to go to Europe, specifically Iceland, as that is somewhere my Dad has always wanted to go. I have fond memories of him showing me pictures of Iceland in books that he has. I hope we are able to go together someday. All these places I have not been to have instilled not only a little bit of wanderlust, but also yearning for the fantastic, because those places seem fantastic in the original sense of the word. I want to bring that into my artwork and music.
An aspect of living in Georgia I don’t care for though is the weather. It is almost always not just hot, but extremely humid. My friends and I joke about how we are looking forward to the two weeks we get in the year when it is actually cold. I’ve always liked the cold, and while the sun being out is nice, I’ve always enjoyed the evening more, especially sunset/dusk. My artwork and music provide a sense of escapism for me, so I try to create a sense of space within it that isn’t hot and humid, and instead is dark, cold, or doesn’t abide by the normal laws of physics period.
What does dungeon synth mean to you?
Dungeon synth is not a genre of music I thought I would be so involved in a few years ago. However, as I’ve learned more about it and listened to it, I realized that it was something I didn’t realize I needed. There’s really not any other music that sounds like it, and there’s so much to explore within the genre and all its various forms. It has had such an impact because, to me, it’s the sound of the metaphysical and the spiritual. It ebbs and flows like traditional ambient music, but uses melodic motifs and song structures that take the listener to emotional highs and lows the way metal does. Not to mention the possibilities of creating it are endless, and even dungeon synth albums I’ve listened to probably 100 times now still feel full and instill a sense of wonder because of the many layers within it. Now that I create music that can be considered Dungeon Synth, I feel as though I have more sense of purpose and artistic drive.
How would you describe the Dungeon Synth community?
The Dungeon Synth community is great. There are a lot of kind and talented people within the community, and all very supportive. In my opinion, it’s very difficult these days to find a community of people like those in the DS community. Specifically the artists within it are always looking to push the genre forward, without the elitism that can come with that sort of thing. I wasn’t sure how well Disquieting would be received, since I include other influences besides DS and other instruments besides synths, but the reception from DS fans and artists alike has really made a positive impact on me artistically and personally. The Melkor’s Dungeon server on Discord is full of great people. Specifically, I always give eternal thanks to Cursebitten. His music made me get further into dungeon synth. He gave me more of a platform as an artist and musician, because he commissioned me to
create the artwork for his first album, “Seize It With Thine Own Hands,” and had me on his Castbitten podcast twice. Some other dungeon synth artists whose music is great and are great people are Elyvilon, Forgotten Relic/Gray Friar, Ithildin, Angel, Willow Tea, Thanaphos, and Fogweaver.
Tell us about your gaming habits: video games, RPG, tabletop, other? Past & present.
I don’t really play games much these days unfortunately. There’s not a lot that interests me, and what little bit does I don’t have the time for. I will say that a lot of the artwork for video and tabletop games is really cool, but currently that’s all I’m able to say about it unfortunately.
However, as a kid, I did play a lot of video games, particularly Nintendo games. I loved several of The Legend of Zelda games. I played Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker constantly. Those games were easy to dive into, but continued to challenge me. The world-building was so vast, everything looked so cool and unique. If I ever have the time (and extra money), I would like to get a Switch to play the newest Legend of Zelda games, Breath of The Wild looked great.
If you could step through a portal to any realm of fantasy, where would it be?
It’s hard for me to say, as I’m getting back into more fantasy now, because I wasn’t super into it for a long time. I guess I’d either want to go to Middle-Earth or the realm of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The Shire seems like a beautiful comfy place, though I’ve always thought it would be cool to sail around to different islands and explore old ruins. Also, while not fantasy, I would like to time travel to the far future. I’d like to see what humanity has (hopefully) achieved and finally get to explore the cosmos.
Facebook: Avery Bradshaw Art, Disquieting_music, Giger
Instagram: apb_art94, disquieting_music, & gigerbandofficial
Bandcamp: disquieting.bandcamp.com & giger.bandcamp.com