San Francisco post-punk outfit Octavian Winters presents their new single ‘Undertow’, a dark propulsive offering underlining an aspect of separation from the world and the darkness that comes out of it – a sort of ominous current capable of pulling someone away from all hope. The accompanying video was directed, filmed, edited and produced by Jay Adams with design by Eric Olson and Steve Devaney.
Born into the ghostly isolation of San Francisco in 2022, Octavian Winters is Stephan Salit (guitar), Randy Gzebb (drums), Jay Denton (bass) and Ria Aursjoen (vocals, keyboards), who together weave their visceral and ethereal sound into a texture all its own – of stories once told but half-remembered, under a dusk of shadows and stars, in an abandoned city under the winter moon.
Drawing from darkwave and post-punk traditions, Octavian Winters dives into the ethereal, their layered music counterpointing edged grooves alongside lush synth textures and soaring vocal harmonies.
‘Undertow’ is the second single from the quartet’s debut EP ‘The Line of Curve’, recorded in San Francisco at OW Studio and Room 5 Recording by Mark Pistel (Meat Beat Manifesto, Consolidated). Produced by Octavian Winters and William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse, Christian Death, The March Violets), whose credits include Jarboe, Clan of Xymox, Bootblacks and Autumn, the EP was mixed and mastered by Faith at 13 Studio in Chicago.
‘Undertow’ is loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of the little matchgirl, standing outside a window on a winter’s night, separated from all sustenance and warmth. Ignored by everyone around, and unable to sustain herself after lighting all her matches for warmth, she freezes to death in the snow.
“Could you join me here, could you find a way to melt the bones of the night?” Aursjoen sings, referencing the theme of isolation again, and the yearning for connection that will never come. “I think we have seen this dark ‘undertow’ overcome so many people in different and tragic ways during quarantine,” says Ria Aursjoen.
Octavian Winters’ story begins in late 2021 thanks to a jam session that spawned from unfinished business. Gzebb and Salit, former bandmates in Thrill of The Pull, had met to discuss a film/television publishing deal for Thrill’s catalog (a four-year licensing deal has since been finalized with Expressive Artists). A subsequent jam session produced several motifs, inspiring them to meet several times over the next weeks to explore.
Gzebb invited Aursjoen, who he had met earlier via another project, to a session and the musical chemistry was immediately evident. Gzebb brought in bassist Jay Denton to round out the line up. Randy Gzebb notes, “This gave us the chance to really focus on composition and fully flesh out the song ideas”.
Octavian Winters debuted with the single ‘Ondine’, a song that draws from a mythical tragedy of love for a sea nymph, and the search ever after for her after she returns to the sea. The music itself transports the listener to a mythical world of sea elementals and an almost courtly love,
Each member of Octavian Winters brings their own rich musical tapestry to the collective and have shared the stage with many iconic acts over the years, including Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, Lords of the New Church, Savage Republic, Christian Death, The Frozen Autumn, Everything Goes Cold and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.
Ria (Amenti) Aursjoen, who has synesthesia and has nurtured generational musical seeds planted by her opera diva grandmother Lillian, has recorded and performed in the UK and US in genres ranging from Celtic folk to progressive metal and darkwave. She left her graduate work in theoretical physics to pursue music, touring as a Celtic harpist and vocalist for several years before making her home in San Francisco.
Drummer Randy Gzebb relocated to California from Canada, immersing himself in the San Francisco and Los Angeles music scenes in various projects. He was a member of ’80s gothic rock band Love Club, who were signed by Sandy Pearlman (The Clash and The Dictators), released on MCA Records, and produced by Bill Buchanan (Fields Of The Nephilim, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Leather Nun).
Stephan Salit, who considers performing live his sacred space, has recorded and performed with a wide variety of groups including Specimen. Approaching each song as a canvas that calls for colour and depth, he views his playing as painting with sound.
Bay Area native Jay Denton, who spent some time on the road with Jack Kerouac, has had a diverse career performing classical and contemporary composers, and playing for various jazz and rock bands, including extensively with the house band at San Francisco’s famous Condor strip club. Jay has toured in London, Japan and across the United States.