Of Harps, Hearts, and Honesty: an interview with Lindsay Schoolcraft
Originally featured on Alternative Control CT
“We’re all so connected by social media and the internet these days, and yet, we have never been so distant from each before,” states multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Lindsay Schoolcraft.
Without a doubt, this sentiment perfectly captures the feeling shared by many as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people all around the world. Furthering this statement, and coinciding with her celebration of a decade of music as a solo artist, is Schoolcraft’s upcoming album Worlds Away. Comprised of previously released material reworked for harp and joined by two brand new songs, the album is a perfect companion to last year’s Martyr, from which some of the rewritten songs were taken from.
“I got the idea around Christmas/New Year’s,” says Schoolcraft, “some of older songs just worked so well transitioning to harp.” In recording Worlds Away, she was “recording up to 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, from March to May.” Between running her own label, her work as part of black metal unit Antiqva, and everything surrounding Martyr, to say Schoolcraft was (and still very much is) busy is a tragic understatement.
With beats and programming contributions from Rocky Gray (We Are the Fallen, ex-Evanescence), who co-wrote Martyr, as well as viola performances from Dagda of Celtibeerian, the reworkings of Schoolcraft’s past work are enchanting and nearly spiritual in nature. “I chose most of the songs based on fan favorites,” including “Dangerous Game” off Martyr”, which “I actually figured out sounded like a harp exercise…a few changes and there was the melody for Dangerous Game.”
While each of the songs on Worlds Away has its own story to tell, one track that stands out is the jaw dropping “Dancing On the Strings,” a perfect play on harp, viola, and heartstrings. The lyrics tell of a friend who, in entering a toxic relationship, lost their identity and became someone unrecognizable. Originally written during the sessions for Schoolcraft’s 2012 debut solo album Rushing Through the Sky, the song has been in the vault for nearly a decade. Schoolcraft expresses her delight in being able to introduce it to the world at last in a way that best serves the music and the message.
In dealing with the isolation that comes with social distancing and coming back to her hometown of Oshawa, Ontario, after years on the road as a member of Cradle of Filth, Schoolcraft experienced a “return to roots”. Yet, in many ways, the return home brought with it a feeling of restlessness, which was only increased by current events. “(Antiqva) was supposed to go into the studio earlier this year, but COVID quarantines closed them all down.”
To satisfy her longing for music and in creating what would become Worlds Away, Schoolcraft “started practicing music, specifically piano more (often), and I started taking formal harp lessons.” Speaking with Alternative Control CT, a playful laugh is followed with “I felt like a teenager again, just trying new things and rediscovering my instruments.”
Still, the homecoming experience, and the whole of 2020 in general, has been nothing short of revealing for Schoolcraft. In answering what means most to her these days, she says, in addition to her beloved cat, “being authentic and living truthfully, being honest when you mess up, or make a mistake, or when it just sucks to tell the truth.”
In many ways, Worlds Away, is another kind of honesty. The album replaces driving guitars and drums with subtle keyboards, ambient beats, and, of course, Schoolcraft’s exotic voice and harp stylings. The lyrics from the songs taken from Martyr and Rushing Through the Sky may be unchanged, but there is a different kind of passion and truth behind them this time around.
Perhaps it’s the music, perhaps it’s what music can mean to the listener in these challenging times, or perhaps it’s what the artist has discovered about herself in the time since the songs were first written and released and now. Whatever the case, Schoolcraft’s message is clear: sometimes learning to be more honest with yourself, your passions, and the people around you can get you through hardship and rekindle your love for things that matter most.