Interview: Genessier Vocalist Ryan Policky

Horror industrialists Genessier have done some damage in the scene with their album Graces the Bone, and the soundtrack to the well-received terror short Shovel.  Join us as we chat with Genessier vocalist Ryan Policky on making the music and films that keep us haunted and chilled.

How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto industrial?
I first woke up to wanting to be in the music industry when I picked up a cassette tape as a young kid that had this super freaky looking killer on the cover. Not knowing (or really caring) who the band really was, or what the music sounded like, I knew I had to have that tape. Being an early fan of all things horror/haunted this visual instantly made me want to be a part of the album or one like it. So Iron Maiden, with their debut pushed me into making music. Over numerous years of experimenting with what my instrument of choice would be, I found I loved them all and started playing anything that made sound. Bass, guitar, keys, vocals, whatever other stringed instrument I could find all became an extension of who I was and who I am today. As time went on of course Industrial found it’s way into my life. I was always always looking for those scary albums, and how would I not discover Skinny Puppy? Well, in all honesty I dove first into Death Metal, then I found myself rolling back a bit to the electronic side. I’m glad I did because making electronic style music became one of my biggest passions.

How did you become a (blood covered) vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
As stated above, I was constantly looking for that musical extension that represented who I was. I tried everything I could get my hands on. So in essence I became a producer pretty early on, and one which could develop songs solo or with my friends. I could fill in on whatever, so I did. My main go to’s are guitar, vocals and keys. I’ve been in countless bands since then, with a few standouts being Pure Drama (who back in the day got signed to Cleopatra Records for a Marilyn Manson tribute CD), and a shoegazey act named A Shoreline Dream which landed itself in many places over the years, from the front page of Myspace, to a video for GQ, to producing some songs with one of my biggest electronic influences, Ulrich Schnauss who landed us in some pretty big places on and off CD’s. Being the label owner and operator, many business and artistic skills have developed over time. I’ve constantly pushed myself creatively due to the goals I’ve laid out for myself. This on top of the fact I was a multimedia director and developer at a fairly large advertising agency in Denver for 12 years, I can say that the creative side is now pretty much 90% of my life. It’s not an easy road to go down, but I’ve for sure seen and done things I never thought were possible, such as making games for many of the early Adam Sandler films, to working on VFX for Comedy Central spots, and developing my own Video Business that specializes in custom content creation for many brands.

What is the local scene like in Colorado? Was there ever a particular local band you aspired to be like?
The scene in Denver has mostly been a mix of numerous genres and risk takers. And ever since weed came to town this place has blown up with the amount of talent and bands spread about. The industrial scene has been comprised of bands you may know much as Velvet Acid Christ and even old schoolers like Fiction 8 and Blackcell. Being that back in the 2000’s I was a promoter at The Church Goth night, bringing in any new bands I could find in the genre I quickly became friends with many of them. My influence for good shows however came more from horror films and haunted houses. The idea of making someone squirm or have to look away really gave me the drive for Genessier.

How did Genessier come about? Where did you develop the name? Where is it derived from? What other band names were considered? How would you best describe your sound?
Genessier came about after my bandmate and I for a completely ambient/dreamy project titled “The Parallel Light” decided to switch it up and do the complete opposite of what we were doing with that project. Rather than putting people to sleep we wanted to wake them and make them hide in the corner. The name itself comes from the film “Eyes Without a Face”. The doctor’s name was Genessier, and we loved that. The movie itself was so horrifying for people when it came out, and that’s where we wanted to be. The next horrifying thing for people to experience. Musically, the goal was to translate music into something that feels like it’s coming from the basement an old abandoned haunted house. Something that would be explosive enough to play in a stadium, but scary enough to become a horror soundtrack.

Your debut album Graces the Bone has dropped.  Did you get everything you wanted from the songs? How about the album presentation as a whole? Is there anything you wish was different?
We had no idea if what we were making was something that would be easily digestible at first but as we followed the path we learned we were truly developing what we sat out to achieve. The music was dark and brooding, but still had a pop element to it. The title track itself became that compelling piece that I myself really love. I think after tinkering with some experimental ways of building the songs we landed right where we wanted to.

Why do you feel people should hear Graces the Bone?
The music is something familiar but still completely fresh. The vibe is haunting but completely danceable. It’s an explosive emotionally destructive journey that I think many can relate to, and I hope people do give it a try. For those into Suspiria, or any of those vivid Italian horror films, this is the perfect complimentary piece. Mute the soundtrack and play Graces the Bone and you’ll see the horror we bring is the equal to the visuals of early gore and suspense.

What is the plan for recording new music, where, when and with who will be recording you? Will the new material be released in physical form at all?
We have already begun a new set of songs in the middle of 2018, and just finished up a track that is gigantic. This all taking place in my haunted pinball arcade studio in Barnum, Colorado (Yes, a neighborhood circus god PT Barnum himself once owned). We are working with a fellow producer who has recently released an album under the name Cellar Graves and are coming up with the next progression into the depths of fear. My personal goal is to be able to take this new stuff and hit the live scene a bit harder and in bigger places to match the vibe. Now with having proper management (MGI) we also hope to branch out and sell this new stuff to a larger label and start touring with some amazing contemporaries. 2019 plans to be a big year for Genessier…

What’s the biggest show you have played so far, and do you still get nervous before a gig?
Well the biggest show I personally played was at a Rave of about 10,000 in the Pure Drama days, with some other huge gigs I did with A Shoreline Dream in San Francisco and at SXSW (a couple sold out appearances). I don’t really get nervous about the shows themselves, but more about the setup and making sure I have everything I need to properly pull them off. During the gigs I literally go into a trance and really don’t have a clear vision again until the gig is over. I guess it’s kinda like I get possessed by something. The gigs we’ve done with Genessier were gruesome, with a VFX person on hand (Monster Midian, who recently worked on the new Haunting of Hill House and The Waling Dead lent us a hand with live gore for those shows and I hope to build on that. I love transforming into a psychopath on stage, and it really has helped me through some super difficult personal issues as of late.

What makes a good Genessier song?
Well I personally feel we hit it perfectly when I can paint a picture of the haunted location we are looking to portray. It’s all about experiential. All about setting a tone and a vibe. When we hit that, I instantly get a maniacal grin.

What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?
As mentioned horror films and haunted houses are where I draw my inspirations. I used to work at a haunted house in Denver named Brutal Planet (Which yes, Alice Cooper used for an album/song he made) and the sound engineers used to always play industrial tunes throughout the rooms which really got me going conceptually in my mind. I always conjure up those particular images when starting a new track, and build upon it.

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Which do you hate the most but can’t live without? Which do you like and why?
I constantly am having to post on one of the many platforms/sites seeing as I am not only promoting this band, but also 3 others I’m currently in, Latenight Weeknight as a record label, and Latenight Weeknight as a video production/content creator. This on top of the fact that I also run a horror film company called Bloodshed Deathbath Productions, I would say I’m almost always on one of them at nearly every moment of every day, trying my best to promote and sell as much of this entertainment I’m making to stay afloat and alive. Though I really think overall humanity is faltering from social media, social devices and the like, it’s a necessary component of the entertainment business and not one I can just simply ignore because I think it’s terrible for the many reasons it kinda is. I embrace it when I need to and try not to make it my personal journal for all to read like most people are doing.

Who living, or dead is in your dream 4-piece super group?
Peter Steele (bass/vox/dead) from Type O Negative, Sean Reinert (drums) from Death/Cynic, James Murphy (guitar) from Obituary/Death and Dwayne Goettel (keys/dead) from Skinny Puppy.

What kind of gear is bringing us the Genessier sound?
We work with so many sources, from Eddies custom modular synth setup, to guitars by Schecter, Marshall 8100 tones, numerous pedals and customizations for vocals by companies such as Old Blood Noise Endeavors, ISP and Wampler samples taken from any recording source we have on us during those moments of external discovery, to a recording interface consisting of Apogee and Avalon components. Some of our other tones come from Keyboards such as the Roland GAIA, Access Virus, Alesis Micron and the OP-1. It varies but anything that makes dark tones are part of our setup.

Name the one album that epitomizes industrial over all others? And why?
Oh man, that’s a tough one, but I would always go back to Skinny Puppy and “Last Rights” due to its overall composition of dark, evil tones merged with production only a band like Skinny Puppy could create. One of the most musical nightmares I’ve ever heard.

You’re on an asteroid floating through space and only have five albums to listen to before your oxygen runs out, what are they and why?
1. She Past Away “Narin Yalnizlik”
One of the best recent bands I’ve heard in years. These guys from Turkey have reinvented the goth sound and I love them
2. Death “Human”
Quite simply one of the best Death Metal albums of all time and one that changed my life. The musicianship is far beyond anything else coming out at that time.
3. Type O Negative “October Rust”
I absolutely love Type O Negative. This album was one I listened to consistently during my years of working at haunted houses and probably my favorite album of all time.
4. Iron Maiden “Self Titled”
This was what I thought was by far the biggest influence I had growing up as I mentioned earlier, and the sound I wish Iron Maiden would have stuck with. It was like a melding of Punk with Metal, and each song had an aura that matched their album covers brilliantly. They were one of the first bands that created wild visuals in my head.
5. Drab Majesty “The Demonstration”
Another new disc I simply can not put down. I was listening to this mastery of production over and over ever since I picked it up and can barely put it down today. These guys have created one of the best discs in the last 20 years and I wouldn’t leave this planet without it.

What does industrial mean to you?
Building and construction. Genres are just words. I love that name “Industrial” but at the same time I fight with it as it doesn’t really mean all that much in reality. The best music never has a definitive genre in my mind.

What are Genessier’s goals for 2019?
To take what we’ve spent countless hours making and spread it as far as it can go in the world. I want to see ourselves playing in a giant venue scaring the hell out of as many fans as we can, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen. This on top of landing a larger deal and finishing a new album, what else could you want?

Anything else you would like to add?
Make sure to check out the horror short “Shovel” on Amazon as we put together the score for that film and are extremely happy with the way it turned out. Sure, I’m the Director/Producer of that film too and am biased, but it really is magic what we made with that… Hell, go watch all our films. Maybe then you’ll understand the vision a bit more.

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