Hello dear friends and fellow music lovers. Today we have a special Weekly Featured Artist to share with you! Okay, they’re all special, but this one in particular is special to me because it is an artist that I have been listening to for quite sometime now. Ever since I first heard the song “The Grace” I was instantly hooked, and was pleased to know that the entire album Act I: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies was chock-full of impressively written songs. The artist in question is Neverending White Lights, and I was lucky enough to be able to ask the sole driving force behind NWL, Daniel Victor, some questions!
I want to gush about this band a little bit before we get into the conversations I’ve had with Mr. Victor. I had first discovered Neverending White Lights when I was out of high school – when I was around 19 or 20. For anyone who has been through those years, you know that that time in life is full of discovery, confusion, and failures. I experienced all of those: a crumbling relationship, failing education, and the realization that you don’t quite know who people really are. Without making this a therapy session, I discovered NWL during this tumultuous time. My confused and sad self ate up the first record like it was nobody’s business.
Those who have never heard of Victor’s work in Neverending White Lights are in for a treat. The first record, as I stated before, is titled Act I: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies; just by the title alone, you know that this is a heavy album! Not heavy as in metal, heavy as is the context and concept. Victor states about this album: ‘ACT 1 reads to me as a very specific journal of where my mind was when I was 18 to 25. The title Goodbye Friends Of The Heavenly Bodies is a way of saying that we’re losing faith and hope in the angelic realm, that we don’t believe in this spirits anymore in modern society and were losing touch with that entire world.’
‘Life isn’t meant to be distracted all the time by a random job until you die.’
To my younger self, this approach to concept inside of an album was something I needed. Being able to take a look at the world behind our actual world was a way to explore my thoughts and emotions. This deep connection with the album made a huge impact on and stuck with me for many years. To this day I still love it, even if I don’t listen to it that often anymore. Gushing over! Victor offered some explanation about what the opening song, “From What I Once Was”, is about:
‘The first track on that album “From What I Once Was” asks in its opening line ‘Would you settle for a wasted life? We can’t always belong to a place in time.’ Meaning that we might be wasting our time here doing meaningless activity every day and missing the whole point of existence, and that our true self doesn’t live in ‘time’ as we experience it now. That we really don’t belong here. ‘Come along for the ride let them take you inside’ means let the angels guide you somewhere different.’
Another interesting thing about NWL is that while Victor is the main creator of the music, there are a ton of guest vocalists found throughout every album. If you have listened to the song above then you heard Dallas Green from City and Colour/Alexisonfire fame lending his pipes to “The Grace”. Act I also has many other guests from bands like Finger Eleven, Our Lady Peace, 311, Hum, The Watchmen, The Velvet Teen, The Black Maria, and many others.
‘During the making of my first album I was having a hard time pursuing something so large scale with so little help. It was very stressful because I had no money and was just out of school. The normal idea from my family was to get a ‘regular’ job and stop daydreaming about my music. Of course, knowing I was born to do this I had to push my way through a lot of adversity from people who were just rolling their eyes and saying how hard it is to ‘make it’.’
Before getting into some of the heavier topics we talked about, I want to go through some of Victor’s musical influences: ‘I find we all connect to certain styles more than others and I always gravitated towards the 80s sounds because they were lush and big.’ This love of the 80s sound really becomes apparent when listening to Act II: The Blood And The Life Eternal. The moody, gothy atmosphere really lends itself quite nicely to the flow and feel of that record. In keeping with inspiration, Victor goes onto add:
‘I find the breadth of synthesizers and keyboard pads to really resonate with me and I use a lot of that in my own music. When I think back to the 80s produced music like Tears For Fears or George Michael or Depeche Mode or Duran Duran there’s this thick gloss of syrup over it that feels soothing. There’s also some sexiness and mystique to a to a lot of it with the darker synth wave acts that took a little Gothic influence in there as well. The big snare drum sounds from the older drum machines were emotional to me.’
‘My philosophy is to always take action in love…’
If you have been paying attention to the lyrics and feel of the songs I’ve been adding in, then you know there’s a constant element alluding to a world behind the world. ‘I was always fascinated with that – the before we were here, where were we question. I also had a longing to return ‘home’ in a sense, to where I felt I was from, not Earth. Every song on ACT 1 is about this feeling.‘ Where Act II focuses on eternal life, however, it was changed to this theme due to external circumstances – more on that a bit later. Act III: Love Will Ruin (Part 1) is focused on love seeping through into the afterlife.
Now whether this spiritual aspect of Victor’s music sits right with you or not, it has certainly held weight for him during his writing and recording processes. During the recording phase of Act III: Part 2, his studio was flooded and had to be gutted to the base cement, meaning he lost all of his equipment and a bunch of recordings. ‘I took it as a sign not to release that album or try to re-record it. This has been a recurring theme for me the past decade where I’ll be working on the new album then it will fall apart somehow. I can’t argue with the universe so when it’s time, it’s time.’
The recurring theme he is referring to was during the recording of Act II as I have previously alluded to. Victor recalls of that process:
‘When I began the writing and research sessions for Act 2 I had initially decided to make it about ghosts. Every NWL album has a theme and concept that runs through it. I began researching ghosts and spirits and that realm of things. During those few weeks as I was tapping deeper and deeper into it, strange things would occur. Very loud noises around the house. I heard someone playing drums in the middle of the night once! I was losing my mind thinking how can this be possible. Some of the songs we recorded went missing, they just weren’t there days after we swore we laid them down. And equipment was malfunctioning constantly. It was trippy. I didn’t get a good vibe from it and I sensed what was happening, so I decided to brainstorm some other themes of interest. I decided to venture into making an album about eternal life, the idea of living forever, and how that would play into love and other aspects of life as we know it. That became Act 2: The Blood And The Life Eternal.’
Around the time of Act II’s release, Victor decided to forego touring due to his mental health being at the worst he’s ever felt. ‘It had hit its peak during Act 2 and was really wearing me down with the exhaustion of repeating things.’ During this time, there was a lot of self-healing being done by Victor: ‘The “a-ha!” moment was when I realized that no person or thing had any control over me- that we choose to give our power to something or someone and that’s where the pain comes from.’
Mental health is something a lot of us struggle with everyday, and of course Victor is no different. I asked about his struggles in the past within his own brain and about how he became an advocate in talking about mental health. Victor struggled with OCD, depression, anxiety, and depersonalization disorder. ‘I was living with depersonalization disorder – which is where you feel detached from normal life and normal things and everything just seems like your not in your body all the time, like it’s acting. You’re very aware your body isn’t really you.’
After the release of Act III, Victor spent a good amount of time healing and taking the time needed for his own mental health.
‘The last album I put out I was at my worst mentally. And in fact I completely crumbled after it came out. It was meant to happen because I needed to hit my personal dark night of the soul then find a way to get better. And I did that. I found self-help through books and releasing patterns that I was giving power to and I completely restructured my brain, emotions, and life. I am a completely different person now which is why I’m writing about it to help people through it. Everything happens for a reason.’
‘There is too much fear and struggle out there.’
Speaking on Act III, this album took a different approach to the dark and gothic feel that we have been used to. Act III is much more upbeat than the previous two releases. Where Act I and Act II were pretty low-key and filled with melancholy, Act III steps up the tempo quite a bit while still managing to be filled with the same Neverending White Lights feeling we’ve come to expect. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the more overt pop tendencies when it first came out because I was getting into heavier and heavier metal. But nowadays, I am enjoying it and it feels almost like a long lost NWL album to me.
Since Act III’s release back in 2011, everything has been pretty quiet on the Neverending White Lights front. But Victor hasn’t exactly been sitting around twiddling his thumbs, he has other musical ventures besides our topic for today. He has written a solo album that is much brighter and more danceable than NWL, this album is more of a dream pop-infused with synth. He is currently waiting for the right time to release this to the world.
‘The last album I released was called Black Ribbons which was an album I made very fast inspired by 80’s synths, shoegaze, and retro drum machines with real bass. I have copies on vinyl for sale still, it’s a rarity of mine. I collaborated with a couple hip-hop artists as well which was a great way to branch out into new territory for me. J Diggz and D-Sisive are two Canadian rappers I had a lot of fun collaborating with, both of those tracks were well received.’
Besides all of that, Victor helped put together a band called Bed of Stars, which is led by a Vancouver-based artist currently known as Evan Konrad. ‘I produced and assisted him in launching his career and partnered with a great friend of mine, Mr. Jon Rodzik, on a new indie label called Last Light/Ocean Records.’ Finally, he also released a 24-hour streaming radio station called Loveless Radio, which streams all of Victor’s favourite indie music.
‘…there are some low, soft whispers afoot.’
So what’s next for Daniel Victor and Neverending White Lights? Well, those paying attention (like me) have been noticing that there is some activity brewing on the social media platforms surrounding NWL. Since there have been some hints and whispers, I asked Victor if there is anything in the immediate future we should be paying attention to. ‘I can’t truly say when that will be, but I have an inkling that 2020 will be the start of a new upswing in music, so I’m starting to think about what I want to do.’
According to Victor, Act IV is written and consists of 25 songs all sitting in various stages of development. ‘I have written and recorded hundreds of songs the past decade but there is a batch that seems to want to speak.’ So obviously, this is great news for us fans! Victor says that when the album reveals itself he will know. Right now, he is acting as a one-man team with Neverending White Lights which he says is both liberating and daunting.
‘I have evolved NWL’s sound a lot since the last album and it’s sounding quite exciting. To me there’s really nothing out there like NWL. That’s the beauty of being the authentic version of yourself. And I know it’s my calling to keep making music, so I will get back to doing that very soon.’
‘…it’s about shedding the darkness in our lives’
So what can we expect thematically in Act IV or whatever the newest release may become? Well, keeping in form, it’s not a light subject Victor is broaching here. ‘The themes for this album have to do with the ascension of the human soul, and the planet.’ What the hell does all of that mean? Well, it’s – and I’m paraphrasing here – about paying attention enough to make real change throughout the world. We’ve all been sitting in a semi-comatose state because of constant distractions (thanks for reading btw!).
It’s hard to just say people are all asleep at the wheel here; lately, we’ve been seeing a huge uprising, especially in the youth, taking back their power. So it will be interesting to see how everything ties together in the new album, especially in such a nuanced and complicated world. ‘I go through phases. I may choose to scrap what I have entirely and the theme could change. We shall see.’
‘My best to you always!’
Victor stated that he still approaches songwriting in the same fashion: he reaches into the aether and pulls out what the world and universe offers him. They come to life as small seeds and after watering and love they sprout into something beautiful. I for one am excited to hear what the future has in store for Neverending White Lights and Daniel Victor.
‘I just want to thank you for taking the time to do the interview and I’m a big fan of Everything Is Noise. I wish you continued success and I send you mass respect for shining a light on indie artists and music. My best to you always!’
Of course, thank you, dear Everything Is Noise readers for your continued support in our quest for great music. And thank you Daniel for your musical contributions to the world.
Neverending White Lights is:
Daniel Victor – Everything
Guest vocalists – Vocals