While there is a lot of music out there that focuses on mental health, few take the same approach as Daniel Bohn. With his album Colors of the Land, he mixes the struggles of mental health with fantasy for a rather epic journey through storytelling tracks. Through the melodic metal tones of the album, he takes listeners on a journey worthy of the great fantasy epics while touching on a rather difficult subject. We were able to talk to Daniel Bohn about the album, merging fantasy and mental health, DIY recording, vinyl pressings and much more!
OSR: What first drew you to making music?
Bohn: From a very young age I always enjoyed listening to music with my father. He always was spinning records in the basement, anything from Black Sabbath to smooth jazz. My mother always enjoyed singing. I think deep down these influences helped me understand the beauty in music. Not to mention, I think around the time middle school started, I was always seeing drummers like Danny Carey from Tool and Mike Portnoy from Dream Theatre and was completely amazed by their talent, and knew I wanted to be like them.
OSR: Earlier this year, you released the album Colors of the Land. Can you tell us a little more about the concept of the album?
Bohn: Colors of the Land is a bleak, dark album, with a splash of hope and perseverance. The concept behind the album revolves around a person who suffered greatly from depression and anxiety which resulted in them taking their own life. ‘Subsidence’ starts the album with the aftermath, a sort of collapse of the soul, and the creation of the Khan (the main villain). The following songs take place as the main character travels through the fantasy land trying to find their way. They experience pain symbolized by the different landscapes or Colors of the Land, which they ultimately must overcome and accept to move on and confront The Khan.
OSR: Each track on the album is a different sonic landscape, did you find this easy to achieve while keeping the cohesion of the album?
Bohn: At times. I had few struggles with a couple of songs on the album such as ‘Infinite Forest’. That track has a lot going on, it took some time to express such a pivotal moment in the album. Overall, the music in a way sort of flew through me.
OSR: What prompted you to address mental health within a fantasy landscape?
Bohn: As far as I can remember I have struggled with anxiety issues. For most of my life, I just dealt with it and buried it. Anxiety and depression are such powerful forces, and they are unique to each person like fantasy universes. Over the last years, I realized I wasn’t alone; I am not a “freak” or “weak” because of it. Admitting it, and accepting it was very difficult. My goal with my music is to connect with people in their own unique ways and help someone else who is struggling with these issues. Thankfully, I have a really good outlet, music and fantasy stories. This sort of led me to combine them into one project in music and storytelling.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with the concept or an individual track?
Bohn: My creative process started with a theme. I had the album name decided before I even wrote one song for it. Next came the music, writing something I was passionate about and letting myself experiment led to the sound. As for the story, it all started with ‘Heart of Whales’. This was the first track I wrote for the album, and I knew from there I wanted to follow that theme.
OSR: You recorded the album primarily on your own, what was the biggest challenge you faced with this?
Bohn: The biggest challenge I faced was getting that sound. I spent so much time trying to get a tone or a synth to sound the way I heard it in my head. It’s difficult to learn and accomplish this. My mac also completely died halfway through the process, which resulted in me losing ‘Arachnid’s Web’ and ‘Boundless Realms’. I had to get a new mac and rerecord them.
OSR: The album has also been pressed on vinyl, what made you decide to do this?
Bohn: I think this can also tie back to my dad. He collected vinyl and currently has a large collection, so once I really found my own taste in music and decided to write my own songs, I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it would be if I had my own record on vinyl one day. I think I have dreamed about this moment for the last ten years or so.
OSR: The sounds of the album are a wonderful blend of metal and prog-rock, what first drew you to this sound?
Bohn: Thank you so much for the kind words. What really drove me to this sound was Porcupine Tree and The Ocean. These bands are some of my favourites of all time and really have influenced me over the years.
OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, which would you recommend and why?
Bohn: That’s a good question. I think I would have to say ‘Void in the Mountain’. I think it captures a lot of what I am trying to accomplish. Fast, intense grooves, mix of emotional cleans and screams, yet really homes in that prog feel with lots of variations. Not to mention, it also has one of my favourite drum patterns that I have written so far.
OSR: What do you feel has been the biggest influence on your music
Bohn: Overall, I think my biggest influence would be other bands and artists. Hearing some of my favourite albums, and really dialling in and connecting with the music is powerful. Personally, I think feeling that connection and hearing their passion in music really motivates me. I hope that with my music, I can have someone feel that same connection with my songs because it’s incredible.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Bohn: My goal really is to focus on marketing and outreach for this album. I am working on some playthrough videos and maybe a music video. Perhaps in time maybe either find help or work on a live set with backtracks so I can play a few live shows. As far as more material, I plan on writing more, the creative juices are most certainly flowing, but I don’t expect a new album out within the next year. Maybe two.