The debut EP from the band is an exploration of grief and growth
Seven months ago, I spotlighted the music video (watch below) for “Past Tense” from Karmella, which tells a tale of painful loss and eventual, hard-won closure, taking peaceful palates and moments of softness and lacing them with mysterious, ominous undertones to create vibe that could best be described as if the Grimm brothers were alive, into metal and went to film school.
Today the NYC metalcore / alt-rock band dropped their debut EP Marcescence, which feels like a continuation of this journey— an exploration of grief and growth, of life’s darkest moments and the feelings of lightness that frequently, and thankfully, eventually follow.
“As a debut EP, we wanted to make sure we expressed what Karmella was about as an idea, both musically and lyrically,” Karmella’s Javi Delez told me over email. “We experimented a lot with what sounds and tones we were comfortable using to get across the emotions we were trying to convey. And with the support and attention we received from the release of our first few singles thus far, I hope that we lived up to all the faith people have been putting in us!”
In addition, Javi sent over thoughts on the experiences and emotions that went into the EP’s five tracks, which don’t so much deal with dichotomies but how the good and bad parts of the human experience are often closely aligned—surviving through struggles, bonding after breakups and conflict followed by forgiveness.
MARCESCENCE—TRACK BY TRACK
“Peace With The Pain // Marcescence”
Javi: “Originally ‘Peace With The Pain’ was going to be an entirely different full length song on its own, but when I upgraded my DAW, I overlooked where my files for the project had been saved and accidentally erased them. I recreated the piano and bass, but decided to go a different direction and wrote ‘Marcescence’ from there. These two were actually written last, and kind of served as a summary for the EP, as if I was giving a synopsis for the entire EP. Throughout the days while I was getting all the pieces together to be cleaned up by our producer, I was reflecting a lot on my own personal faults, failings, vices, and regrets, but how little effort I find myself putting into correcting them. I spend so much time in school, working, and handling the countless things that come from managing a band that the issues I’m dealing with right now are pushed to the back of my mind so I can stay afloat with all this other stuff, haha. It really feels like sometimes we’re just teetering on the very brink of the end. It feels a lot like how those marcescent trees look, haha. I was really trying to paint this picture of ‘We’re dying, maybe? But we’re hanging on for now!'”
“Our debut single!! The first we wrote with our producer, Will Carlson! Also the first music video I got to shoot with the power duo Ian Bridgman and Jake Ringold! Everything about this song means so much to me! I got to work with some truly skilled and kind people while we were planning to shoot the music video and jumped through countless hoops with the team putting everything together. I honestly get so worked up thinking about everything that went into putting it together, and how once we all started it was like everyone was firing on all cylinders. I’m pretty sure I cried the day after, haha. Some fun tidbits of the music video: the ‘flower girl’ made her own slippers when we couldn’t find any that would fit the costume! She cut up a canvas bag and molded it around her foot with just the soles she had taken out from a pair of real shoes! Regarding the lyrics though, it was actually heavily inspired by a really hard breakup that our bassist, Arnaldo, was going through. It was one of those times when you hear someone express their frustration and pain so vividly that you can really feel it, and empathize deeply. He was in a lot of emotional pain, and we bonded a lot during that. I hadn’t seen him or our friend group for months due to the pandemic, and a lot of our conversations revolved around what he was going through, as well as mental health and the trials of life as a whole. I remember just going on a walk through World’s Fair Marina by CitiField and writing it all out, weeks before the music was ever even written.”
“This song does follow some of the same themes as ‘Marcescence,’ but if we were to look at the songs so far as if they represented a stage of grief, ‘Marcescence’ is Acceptance, ‘Past Tense’ is Depression, and ‘Wither’ is bargaining. I had written ‘Wither’ when my mental health was probably at its worst. I was stuck somewhere between making excuses for not being anywhere near where I wanted to be in life, but also constantly trying to find a quick and new way to make up the difference. It was pretty much like an extended hypomanic episode, just constantly reinventing myself and making plans and arrangements for someone that clearly wasn’t me. I still get kind of tight in the chest thinking about it.”
“Beauty In Death”
“Firstly, I just wanted to say how amazing it is having Justine Grove’s voice on this song. We went to the same college, and I had booked her for a few shows when I was doing that in Brooklyn, haha. Every single time I saw her she just amazed me with her musicianship and performance. We play very different types of music, so I was absolutely floored and honored when she agreed to be on the song! A million shout-outs to her!
In general, I think this is the pop-iest song I’ve ever been a part of, haha! I was really out of my element at times. For my own parts, the general idea was ‘I guess this is where things with this person come to an end, but where do I go from here?’ It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, but I think it’s a feeling we all reach in all kinds of relationships, romantic or otherwise. We all kind of teeter in this space every now and then and think to ourselves ‘Do I ignore the flaws and issues, and pretend everything is okay, or do we address this and move on?'”
Justine: “I just wrote from my own experiences. I was in a very toxic relationship and when things came to end, I remember finally finding peace from all the chaos. I genuinely found beauty in the death of our relationship and I’m happy I finally got the strength to cut him off.”
“This was the first song I wrote during the pandemic. I had no idea that people were going to like it as much as they did! We had gotten a shout out on TikTok from our friend Brandon (@brandonbreakdowns). It was huge and the two of us were constantly checking the numbers on Spotify, TikTok, and IG. Suddenly, I’m getting messages on our socials from people saying how much they liked our sound, and giving so much support and positivity! It was a wild turn, and I’m so grateful that the all powerful algorithm somehow got us to so many new listeners!”
“This was a really cathartic one for me. During the pandemic, I developed really severe tendonitis in my arms that made me have to leave school because I couldn’t keep up with the intense amount of writing that was required for me to graduate. I was really far along into the program, and was excited to start working, but it got so bad that some days I couldn’t form a strong enough grip to hold a cup properly. I was devastated, and in a terrible dark place. My parents both suffer from either physical or mental health issues, and at that time I was diagnosed with both back to back. I was constantly thinking about them, their struggles, and how they’ve succeeded to thrive despite everything. Although I’m very close with my parents, up until that point I still failed to realize the gravity of the struggles they persevered through. Throughout all the bull that life was throwing my way, I got to truly empathize with my parents and see them as people who just tried their best, even when I couldn’t always understand it. This song is essentially me asking them for help in making it through that period in life, but also asking for forgiveness for how harshly I judged and how little I understood.”
Marcescence is out now. Experience it performed live from start to finish TOMORROW NIGHT at the band’s EP-release show at The Nest with Balcony, Modern Day Machines and U Blue.
Follow Karmella at @karmellanyc and add the music to your Spotify playlists!
Feature image provided by the band.