INTERVIEW WITH PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL
‘One Step To Hell’
By Stephanie Stevens
Press play to the album “ONE STEP TO HELL” from Chicago’s…
PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL and you get submersed into the emotional and raw personal stories that have been seen by the eyes and felt by the heart of founder and frontman Drepsea. The loss of a loved one, a tale of drug addiction and the overwhelming effects of Narcissistic souls that creep into our lives sometimes. This band has the sound that captivates me due to the industrial and metal soundscapes, but it was how the lyrical content, and the way it was delivered, pierced my soul and made emotions awake in my heart. That really drove me to fall in love with this album from start to finish.
The band has a way of intertwining chaos and beauty on tracks like ‘ONE STEP TO HELL’ but then can delicately mesmerize you with a track like the beautiful n dark ‘AS ABOVE, SO BELOW’ and then firing you up with the sultry yet heavy ‘QUEEN OF FIENDS’. Beauty, anger and compassion is what this band is made of and it is truly an epic listening journey.
The past is also something of notability for this band! After getting a taste of this album I went backwards into the discography. One thing to be said is the band has stayed true to the “sound”, but you can instantly appreciate the growth, the developing and the honesty which has stayed intact. Older albums like “END OF THE TAIL” and “DREPSEA” are just as influential as the new one. The way they bend genres to manipulate it into a sound all their own is tantalizing as they have made it into a unique, expressive and relentless journey of madness and beauty.
The storm of truth not only bleeds out of Drepsea on this newest disc “ONE STEP TO HELL” but made its way into this interview which I had the honour of having with him. I am elated that now I am ‘in the know’ of PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL and I hope you all enjoy this truly impeccable album and chat with this amazing artist.
Q:PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL has been around for a few years now. Can you give us a quick synopsis of how this band formed?
Drepsea: The band was started years ago as a solo project. Music gave me a sense of identity, soul, and purpose. Programmable Animal was a creative outlet for me to express my views.
Q: You go by the name DREPSEA which was an album of yours back in 2014. What made you take on that persona and do you feel you are creating another form of yourself when you create for the band?
Drepsea: The album “Drepsea” was the cultivation of this character. I would say this persona expresses my truth. Within the music and lyrics, I’m telling exactly how I feel. On an everyday basis we portray a version of ourselves that is socially acceptable, and that can be a multitude of different versions given the situation. The idea of Drepsea isn’t that…it’s my truth.
Q: Your music definitely has the mix of industrial, dark aura and at times could sound chaotic and insane (in a good way) especially listening to your last disc “END OF THE TAIL”. How does the band set the tone when you start writing for new albums etc?
Drepsea: It primarily revolves around the situations I’m dealing with at the time. “End of the Tail” was an end of a particular “tale” in my life that was dark, yet a turning point. Due to the circumstances at that time, I started making poor decisions, I was engulfed by bitterness, and delved into chaotic situations. I realized the path I was going down was purely destructive. “One Step to Hell”, fundamentally acted as a means to pull myself out of my own hell. I wanted to take a more empowering approach that no matter what kind of hell we face, we can break the spell. It can start with incremental steps, whether that be associating with the right people, overcoming our vices, or pursuing our passions, etc.
Q: Making art from pain and heartache usually makes for brilliant work. Your new disc “ONE STEP TO HELL”, defines that. For you what were the pros and cons of getting your emotion out as lyrics?
Drepsea: I 100% view it as cathartic and therapeutic. Anytime we express our truth, it’s always a pro. Bottling up our feelings inside can make someone go mad.
Q: Growing up who were the artists that formed your appreciation for music and what you believe as a performer, who adapted to your way of making music?
Drepsea: There are so many, but two come to mind. KoRn because of Jonathan Davis’ lyrics. It was clear that he was hurt, the music was just raw and powerful.
Also, Nine Inch Nails. The first time I heard “Closer” I was in awe because it had such a unique sound. I was maybe like 5, I didn’t know what the hell the lyrics meant haha, but the sounds were nothing like anything I’ve ever heard before.
Q: Have you ever done theatre or acting and is it something you might venture into if you haven’t already?
Drepsea: I honestly haven’t besides for our music videos. I appreciate the art behind it, though who knows what the future holds.
Q: On the new disc you talk about almost losing someone to drug addiction and dealing with the passing of a loved one. These topics resonated with me. 5 years ago, I lost my mom then 6 months later lost my boyfriend to drugs n alcohol. My question is two parts
1. How do you deal with loss and what would you tell fans who are having hard times with that aspect?
2. Do you feel that people dealing with the disease of drugs n alcohol can eventually become stronger than the demons that are courting them to these deadly substances or its always going to temp them?
Drepsea: I’m sorry to hear.
Art and music were a means for me to reflect. Personally, with my recent loss, having spiritual beliefs helped mitigate certain feelings. Dealing with loss will be different for each person though. It does take time to heal. For fans, try to look at the brighter side of the life that the person lived and remember the good they brought into the world. Loss can be a reminder to us to make sure we treat others the best we can. Most importantly, try to enjoy the moments we have with them.
Absolutely, we can overcome our demons. I’ve been around many people with drug issues. One situation I found myself in was having to perform CPR on someone close to me in order to save them due to a heroin overdose. That person is doing a lot better now, no recent episodes. We are all capable of ridding ourselves of addictions / similar issues. Again, it’s forward thinking, start making small changes, eventually it starts to make “hell” less severe. Yes, the voice lingers but only if we allow it. Try to surround yourself in a better environment and reassure yourself you are capable of overcoming it. When in doubt, reach out to someone.
Q: You worked with two producers who have worked with some giants in the industry. How much did you learn from both of them about magnifying your songs and also anything they said to you vocally to expand or focus more on, since the album is a more personal storyline for you?
Drepsea: Both definitely guided me into the right direction. There were things that I didn’t think of that they pointed out and through that, it made the songs better. We did some of the recording with Chuck Macak at his studio. After, I took the individual parts and recorded a bit more at mine. Eventually bringing them to Sean Beavan. It was simpatico, he would send me a mix and it was right each time. I wanted to take the listener elsewhere, to create the personification of flesh in battle with the soul. Hence, the industrial sounds contesting against ambience. Sean nailed this approach; he is a sound genius and understood the project fully. Very glad we crossed paths. In terms of lyrics, there was no suggestion on anything. I wanted to stay true to me, that’s important for me as an artist.
Q: Another step for the band is having Negative Gain behind this record. How did that partnership happen and what is the most important thing for you when beginning a relationship like this?
Drepsea: Negative Gain noticed Programmable Animal back in 2018 with our release, “End of the Tail.” At that time, I was playing guitar as well for a couple of well-known acts in the industrial scene: Hate Dept. & Project 44. I met Micah Skaritka from NGP at Cyberfest in Chicago, my intuition was telling me I will probably be speaking with them again lol. Over time we all chatted, and I also worked with Christian Bankes who runs Fade In PR. He’s another person who I respect and really believed in this project. He helped pitch the record to Roger Jarvis and Micah at the label. The rest is history. The most important aspect is trust, I trust them. This goes with everything in life, find people who are good and who you trust.
Q: What advice would you give a new band looking to do something off course of the norm for music but hesitant about not being accepted?
Drepsea: Persistence is key. Doing something different is a good thing, that’s how some of the most prominent musicians came to be. They pioneered a new sound. Of course, you want to relate in some regard to the audience, music is communal. If you love and are passionate about what you’re doing though, odds are someone else in the world will be too, you just have to find them.
Q: Where can people support your band and music, and do you see any plans in 2021 for a tour?
Drepsea: Our album “One Step to Hell” is on Spotify, Bandcamp, etc. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
www.linktr.ee/programmableanimal – Links to everything Programmable Animal.
We are optimistic about 2021 and touring / playing, though we will see what happens with the pandemic. Most important, we want our fans to feel safe.
Q: Empower another artists and tell us why they inspire you?
Drepsea: The artist that inspired me the most would be Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Apart from the unique sound, what intrigued me the most was one person composing each part in a song. It was the same approach Prince had; I fell in love with this idea. It led me into learning multiple instruments, eventually making my own songs.
CONNECT WITH THE BAND:
‘One Step to Hell’ (Official Video)
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