Sunday 20 June 2021

An Interview With Anna C. Chaos AKA - UMBILICHAOS

Anna C. Chaos is the driving creative force behind one woman noise- doom/psychedelic post-hardcore act - UMBILICHAOS. I wasn't aware UMBILICHAOS before I was recently asked to review their latest release To Become Unreal and possibly interview Anna as well.

UMBILICHAOS have 12 excellent releases on their BandCamp Page and play an interesting style of Post-Hardcore, Doom Metal, Drone Metal, Sludge Metal and Post-Metal grooves. If you dig bands such as Neurosis and GODFLESH but with a more Psychedelic/Shoegaze feel then UMBILICHAOS are definitely worth checking out.

I admire Anne's use of heavy distorted sounds and vocal imagery she projects with each UMBILICHAOS release. 

You can read my review of To Become Unreal here. Anna kindly agreed to do this interview where we discuss Anna's creative process and musical influences

Hi Anna. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. For people not in the know. Can you give a brief history of how UMBILICHAOS came together and where it is today?.

Hi Steve! Nice to talk with you, I appreciate the request. I’m fine, trying to stay healthy and productive among the Apocalypse. I started Umbilichaos, in São Paulo, Brazil, by myself in December, 2007. I tried to play with some people, but we weren’t at the same page musically. Then I bought a drum-machine, which I had just found about and that was used by bands I really love, like Cocteau Twins, Big Black and Godflesh. 

Then I learnt how to use it and what a drummer does in the song after intensive listening sessions, and arranged things so I could do all by myself. All you hear is vocals, guitars, drum-machine, and stolen samples. I’m releasing my 12th record this year, 7 or 8 months after the 11th. As the world is ending I’m trying to focus my free time in writing and recording.

How would you describe your sound in your own words for this project,. As you seem to delve into different areas of heavy music for this project.

I have a lot of different influences into the spectrum of rock music, and a few other stuff. I listen from Joni Mitchell to Ion Dissonance and Ravi Shankar. My plan always was to take this all together and make music and records I would like to listen. I would describe as heavy and intense, yet very emotional music. I like epic and cinematic approach, with no conventional structures, exploring different dynamics, heavy low end multi-faceted riffs, melody, dissonance and feedback, and to put together a lot of discordant parts in one song.

Why did you choose the name UMBILICHAOS for your band and what does it mean to you

I always wanted it to have “chaos” on the name, because I love the concept of infinite chance, and amorphous randomness that is the creative force of existence. And I also wanted to express something really visceral. One day, I was listening the first Mars Volta record, and I heard the lyrics “umbilical blisters”, I think. Then I got the click. Umbilichaos, to me, is our inner and innate state of confusion and creation.

We’re here to talk about your new release –To Become Unreal. What can people expect from this record and what’s the concept or story of the album?

It’s crushing and slow, with weird tempos and noisy chords voicings, epic low end riffs, dark psychedelia, relentless and surgical drumming, and lung-bust howls.

The background of this record is the same of the former 3, I call them Tetralogy of Loneliness. They were all written between 2013 and 2014, and deal with themes of depression, isolation, personal failures and struggles, broken relationships, bad ways of coping with pain, and the search of a healing that seems distant. 

This record, in particular, was written around something I was living by the end of 2014. I was experiencing something I was longing so much in my life, but then I didn’t feel I was giving the due respect. Coz’ it happened when I felt so broken and beyond salvation, unworthy. I thought I could never heal, and was doing things that would only cause the corrosion of what was happening around me.

Was this a hard album to write and record for. Especially during COVID-19 still being around us all.

Not really. I think the emotions behind it were really intense, but to write music became a process so organic to me, that I couldn’t say it was hard. In fact, is a great joy to compensate the shits in our lives making music, I think. But, I definitely hate recording. I don’t like the pressure of not making a mistake. Ha ha. But it’s really sad to had such a productive time, with a series of strong releases and not being able to play them live. And sure, there’s the terrible reason of COVID. We’re going to half million dead people here. Thanks to our scumbag sociopath president allied with the military. It’s a shame.

What influenced you when writing and recording To Become Unreal.

Musicwise, I could name Black Flag, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, Germs, Joni Mitchell, John Fahey, Sabbath, Floyd, Obsessed, Celtic Frost, Amebix, Death, Sepultura, Presto, Portishead, Elma, Hurtmold, L7, King Crimson, Jesu, Neurosis, Earth, Hole, The Gits, Sonic Youth, Slint, Swans, Meshuggah, Opeth, Behemoth, Integrity, Starkweather, Eyehategod, Botch, Fugazi, Soundgarden, Helmet, Melvins, Tool, Tar.

About lyrics, Carl G. Jung, Rollo May, Joseph Campbell, and Brazilian writers Graciliano Ramos and João Cabral de Melo Neto.

When recording and mixing, my references are records of Neurosis, Jesu (specially Times of Grace/Through Silver in Blood and Infinity), and Pitchshifter’s Industrial. I could say my main goal is to sound like a louder and crushing Damaged.

About guitar tone, I could say I’m try to get live and on record the sound of Kirk Windstein, Tom G. Fischer, Justin K. Broadrick, the first Cathedral record, and Entombed’s first two. And Brazilian band Elma.

What comes first for you - Music or Lyrics.

Always the music. I’m not a shredder, and all the elements are important, specially the drums. But Umbilichaos is definitely guitar music. The lyrics doesn’t come attached to any specific song. They’re poetry written thru the years, and I choose the ones I feel fit to the song. To Become Unreal is a rare case of lyrics written in the exact period I was writing the music.

This is your 12th release overall under your UMBILICHAOS project, Does it become easier and harder with each release. Do you ever feel like trying different areas of music or releasing something under a different name.

I don’t usually think this way. I love to write and rehearse, and play live. It’ a great pleasure, even when I’m not in the best mood. But is always laborious, I try to make something I didn’t make before in each work, and I’m very obsessive with details. And as I don’t make a living with it, there’s not much time as I would like to be playing. Tough I’m always writing in my head.

And I have an acoustic solo project, Ismália, which is more country-blues.

How has the reception been to your music in Brazil and globally. Are there any major differences. I’m a fan of your music but I;ve only become a fan recently. Since Matheus contacted me to check your upcoming new release.

Hmmm. I think Brazil is difficult to rock bands, and the heavier you are, worse it is. And if you add some kind of experimentalism in it, you’re done. Ha ha ha. I think we never had such a fertile time in rock and metal, globally. Technology offers the means for people have their music recorded home and available to the world.

There’s a LOT of great artists. But it’s really hard to stand out, at the same time. So many awesome things are lost in the internet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get much exposure so far, I think. But there’s money and time involved to get to that point, that is hard manage all by myself. This said, I think there’s a real audience for experimental heavy bands outside.

This scene isn’t so strong here. Not many bands or public. I think in Europe and North America, people are more open to different forms of heavy music. I only know some countries in Europe, and I had a real good time playing there. Specially Germany and Belgium.

COVID-19 has pretty much put a stop to all life as we know it for the time being. How big of an impact has it affected you. And how are you surviving in this stressful time.

I’m fortunate enough to be safe and healthy so far, as my loved ones. A lot of people can’t say that. Worst thing happened was to cancel an Europe tour already scheduled, a tour by Brazil’s South I was starting to plan, and a lot of confirmed gigs in my State. I was already working from my house for a year, and never was a very social, party-time person. But after a year and half at home, half million lost lives, a genocidal government, we’re all exhausted. I’m surviving working a lot in my day-job, doing studies, searching new bands and artists to inspire me, and making music.

After everything is back to some sort of normality. What does the future hold for you.

I want to reschedule the tour in Europe, and get to know other places in Brazil. Maybe other countries too.

Do you ever perform live. If so, do you have plans to play more live gigs in the future.

Yeah. Not as much as I would like. I spoke a little about it in the former question. But 2019 was a great year with lots of cool gigs, mini-tour in Brazil, tour in Europe. It was the best moment of playing live in years. And unfortunately, there’s this gap now.

Do you have a local scene in Brazil that allows you the opportunity to perform gigs regularly. If so what is the live UMBILICHAOS experience like.

We have a very intense scene, but there’s no real money, except for two or three more commercial bands that shows up once in a while. In the underground, we have a lot of first league bands, that have a public. But from more hegemonic genres, like death, thrash, hardcore, grindcore. Heavy and slow, or somewhat experimental artists usually don’t last much, unfortunately. I think Jupiterian is the only one getting a fair recognition, here and overseas.

There’s no festivals, or a circuit to play often, and not much public. I think I’m here so far, coz’ I didn’t have any band members to fight with. Ha ha ha.

Umbilichaos live experience, if the right sound conditions are given, will be intense, relentless, rage filled, painfully loud, earthshaking low. In the wrong sound conditions, rage will fill the spaces! To me is like calculated and ritualistic exorcism.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom that you want to say to your fans.

I thank you. It was really cool to answer. I really appreciate the interest. Everybody take care, stay healthy and alive. Hope we all can meet together when touring is possible again. And check To Become Unreal.

Words by Steve Howe and Anna C. Chaos

Thanks to Matheus Jacques for arranging this interview and Anna C. Chaos for participating.


Facebook | BandCamp | Instagram