White Moth Black Butterfly on the joys of making "happy music"
How TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins braved sadistic midges, toxic fumes and self-sacrifice to find atonement at the end of the rainbow with White Moth Black Butterfly
"The midges in Scotland are fierce – they destroyed us!” Daniel Tompkins laughs as he reveals one of the menaces of the beautiful British countryside, where he was being filmed for his experimental project White Moth Black Butterfly.
“Our director had 130 bites on his body!” he adds, his voice lifting in amazement.
It’s a warm and dry afternoon when the TesseracT vocalist lets Prog in on the secrets behind the rain-soaked sets in the mock medieval village of Duncarron, near the lush Loch Lomond. Not only did the videos for Tempest and Evelyn result in him working with the team at Dark Fable Media – they’ve previously filmed the likes of Devin Townsend and Ihsahn – but they also mark a new multimedia era for the project. And fans are already referring to the diptych as a cross between Game Of Thrones and The OA.
“Me and Jordan [Bethany, co-vocalist] did a performance inside the longhouse,” he says. “There were three braziers burning within this confined space so we were getting choked for at least three or four hours – it was quite hardcore. We had to break every few minutes to dry our eyes because we were crying from the smoke. We were filming on the land, in the forest, by the rivers – doing anything we could to get the right shots. My and Jordan’s feet were sodden after an hour and we were there for two days, but we got some amazing footage. The last shot we did was this epic fight scene. There was a break in the rain and a big rainbow came out. It was unbelievable.”
The two-part storyline follows Tompkins and Bethany through their quest to save the soul of a fictional village, which results in their on-screen deaths. The prog-friendly productions are far bigger and more ambitious than anything the pair have done before, so to suggest the singer is excited would be a massive understatement.
The battle scenes and interpretative dance rituals they filmed are a far cry from his other band’s very modern videos, but then again, the free-spirited White Moth Black Butterfly are very different from TesseracT.
Tompkins has enjoyed an eclectic career so far. Before becoming a full-time singer and vocal coach, he was a police officer, and it was during this period that he first started dabbling in the solo project that became WMBB. Back in 2009, it was little more than a light-hearted creative outlet, albeit one that would allow him to experiment musically and learn how to use music production software.
WMBB also filled the creative void between him leaving post-hardcore band First Signs Of Frost and first joining djent newcomers TesseracT. But the project soon evolved into a collaborative effort when he began writing with Indian musician Keshav Dhar. (Tompkins was also in Dhar’s own band Skyharbor for several years.)