Sophist – Interview

Interview with Davis R. Hay (programming/vocals) of Sophist and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (

PD:  How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?

Davis: Sophist is a simple 3-piece recording project. We combine grindcore, black metal, and death metal. The new EP “Avenger… Liberator…” has a greater focus on industrial and electronic elements and even some thrash and speed metal influences.


PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.

Davis: We’re based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. All three of us were active in the local metal scene prior to recording in Sophist. Michael and I were playing in a death metal band called Sallow Regent (which was killed by the pandemic and distance), and we started recording some new black metal/grindcore demos on the side which eventually became Sophist. Soon we invited Helge, who has played and recorded with lots of different bands, to join us. We wound up producing 1 EP (Betrothal of the Stone…) and 2 full-length albums (Dissolution & Putrid Faction) in a very short period (middle of 2019 – end of 2020)

I handle the programming, synth, and vocals. Michael handles bass and guitar. Helge does additional and lead guitars.

Michael moved a little ways away, so now we can only record once in a while. Other priorities and time commitments in my life also slowed things down. But we finally have a new EP coming out after some delay.


PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?

Davis: What really inspired Sophist at the start was a lot of black metal and grindcore like Anaal Nathrakh, Fukpig, Gorgoroth, Napalm Death, Rotten Sound, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Satyricon, Shining, Thorns. Anything with a seething, evil sound and albums with classic 80s and 90s production also – we try to incorporate some of the old sound. We are adding more death metal now and that is probably because we all have a history of playing death metal – death and thrash metal were big phenomena in our city. I’ve been listening to lots of synthwave and phonk lately, which could be a new influence when I start producing our next songs. (But not too much…)

The lyrics for Sophist were originally centred on the occult and alchemy. Also nihilism and hopelessness for humanity. Now I have shifted to writing about working-class politics and class struggle. In the new song “Piercing the Nervecenter”, the lyrics are adapted from a poem at the end of “Sabotage” by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Sophist has never published lyrics and never will, but it would not be hard to understand the gist of it all.


PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?

Davis: The goal has always been to release as much music as we can. After “Avenger…” comes out, I will start producing the next songs. It’s like a compulsion.


PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?

Davis: “Avenger…” has turned out to be on a higher level than our previous material, so we can definitely be proud of that.


PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?

Davis: I haven’t been as focused on promotion as I once was, but it is an even bigger challenge for Sophist given that we don’t have any plans to play live. Playing shows in different cities can do a lot of the work. The best we can do is capitalize on our release windows and leave it up to the PR agent and hope that the songs resonate with people.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?

Davis: It’s impossible to stand against the waves of technological change. I have a fairly large collection of CDs and digital Bandcamp purchases (832 albums), but even I’ve begun to switch mostly to streaming. A real solution to the issue would be taking public control of the streaming services and making sure artists are paid fairly instead of all the profit going to the top.


PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

Davis: One artist who is always thinking outside the box is an Indonesian band called Kekal, I’m always fascinated and impressed by their creativity. Any of their songs really, I often think about what the production behind them would have been like.


PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?

Davis: All of the parasites, scammers, and fake services trying to leach off small artists, they could be gotten rid of. Now they just cloud up the internet with their garbage.


PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?

Davis: After the release of “Avenger…” I plan to start producing new songs, and then we’ll have to put together a plan to do more recordings with Michael and Helge. Maybe another full-length album? Time might only allow for another EP.


PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?

Davis: The best place to go is Bandcamp

“Avenger… Liberator…” is available on Bandcamp on March 24 and on all streaming platforms on April 28th.

Sophist links:
Band/Artist location – Edmonton, Alberta
Website – Facebook – You Tube – Soundcloud – Bandcamp – Merch – Reverbnation –
Twitter – Instagram – Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – LinkTree
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