If you’ve ever associated with the Post Metal, Sludge or Doom sound in this country, there’s a more than likely chance you would’ve heard of YLVA. Having released the stellar debut “M E T A” in late 2017, reaping admiration from the scene as well as supporting the high and mighty black metal lord Ihsahn and sludge metal titans High On Fire, YLVA have already been treated to a very luxurious welcome to underground music. Now with their headlining show with Mental Cavity, Masses and Post Truth just weeks away, we spoke with main man and recording engineer Mike Deslandes about his knowledge of the scene and the genre YLVA is known for, juggling his role between performing in YLVA and High Tension, and more importantly, YLVA’s upcoming headliner at the Bendigo Hotel.

“As a group, what we’re trying to focus on is to do our own shows in a more dysfunctional environment than just a standard pub or club show” he says. “So, doing this shot at The Bendigo and to have those bands play along, I think as you know within any kind of heavy stuff, the more mixed, the better. It may still be guitar-based, drum, bass kind of music, but with Post Truth, Masses, Mental Cavity and us, it’s quite the spectrum of the heavier side of music. It actually is sort of our only headline show for the year so far, but we will be doing more shows later in the year. So, we’re just doing our own thing for now and letting the other stuff follow. So many bands will be out there ready to play, but with YLVA, we’re more about putting on our show and that might be a few times in the year, where we choose who want to play with and what the purpose of the show.”

YLVA’s Melbourne show is set to feature Newcastle locals Post Truth, Masses from Melbourne and Sydney representatives Mental Cavity. Having familiarised himself with all three, Deslandes states that seeing them execute their glory in front of him felt like an unconfined and astounding experience, and that he considers it as one of the zeniths of his career while touring with them and YLVA.

“Playing in the band, for me, it’s a funny one. It doesn’t really differ too much between a rehearsal room and a public performance. To me, with it being my baby band, there’s a transcendence that happens when we’re playing as a group and playing that material. We’re quite different to a lot of heavy bands, so we’re not just straight doom or sludge or anything like that. So, being able to play with bands like Post Truth or seeing Bonnie Mercer doing her thing, and then for us to be able to do our thing before or after those kind of acts, they’re some highlights. When you travel around and go to Hobart to play in Departe’s local pub, that’s some impressive stuff. Post Truth are from Newcastle and they’ve been around long as players in other bands. They’re probably the best new band that I’ve seen hands down. They opened for a show that we did in Sydney, and I was just like “holy f***!” They’re some highlights when you can travel with YLVA, but then see a band like Post Truth who might not necessarily sit within the same style as YLVA. It’s certainly refreshing.”

When he’s not in the middle of production or engineering, or in the rehearsal space with YLVA, Deslandes will be putting his strings to use for High Tension, whom he’s been with since 2015. Being involved in two different acts while working in a studio seems like a lot on your plate, Deslandes keeps a steady schedule.

“For High Tension, joining the band, it’s very much my band as anything else. Joining an existing entity meant there were roles and regulations already in place. So, it was like “How do I write for this project in the way that I would see that the band should go?” So, I find that to be an interesting challenge and easy enough to do. The best way to describe all of it is just a pure compulsion – I can’t not do it. I’m always writing. With High Tension, the record (“Purge”) is out, we just finished the launch tour, and now, I’m onto the next thing which is YLVA. I don’t consciously think “I should do this at this point” or something like that. It’s literally, the next thing. Separating my work side of things with writing to both bands, I can very easily just leave work as work. Even if I’m recording my own bands and mixing, I still treat it like every other job. So, I feel quite removed from the process when I’m doing the technical side of things. But I guess it’s the writing, and building songs with a group from scratch where I really come alive.”

The number of post, sludge and doom metal bands in Australia is deeply scarce. Being one of the newest appendages to the continent’s underground movement, YLVA have been held in high regards by copious amounts of those loyal to heavy music and those that work within in the boundaries. Deslandes states that he found the heavier and more peculiar to be the most persuasive and welcoming to his needs as an artist. His dedication to acts such as Sumac and Neurosis has led him to finding more local finesse that he’s been able to relish and feel inspired by. Especially when he’s heard something that no other band has established within their audible structure.

“The enticing thing for me is to hear bands like Neurosis and Sumac, to hear new ideas in sludge, doom, whatever you wanna call. I listened to Sumac’s last record, and that was as perfect as you could get for left of field, new wave thinking in that sort of confines. I think I’ve always been attracted to the odd – I’ve always liked things that are a bit left of field within Australia, because it’s such a small climate, especially for guitar-based music nowadays. I work with this band called SUNDR who are from Melbourne, and you could reference them to the other bands and YLVA. I work with them and I’m just like “My god… why are you the only band in Australia that’s actually doing this?” And we’re so starved for this information within heavy music, but there’s such an appeal because there’s nobody else that’s doing this. So, when these bands finally are able to tour, it’s a breath of fresh air. If you’re living within those circles, those circles might only be about twenty people nationwide and it can be pretty worrying. Things that entice me for that world are the weird things – the things that stand out.”

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