Mark Garrett has 100,000 subscribers and 8 million views on YouTube. Under the pseudonym of Kardavox Academy, he reacts to extreme metal bands from Zeal And Ardor to Slaughter To Prevail, unpicking the technique and talent behind what so many lambast as “just screaming”. In his downtime, he’s invented a whole new genre. His five-piece band Kardashev claim to be “the world’s only deathgaze band”. What does that mean? And how has viral success impacted his band? We quizzed Mark to find out.
So what exactly is deathgaze?
“It was Nico [Mirolla, guitars] who came up with it. I was very sceptical of coining a new genre term – I thought it was super pompous – but it’s worked very well. Essentially, deathgaze is a combination of the aggression and movement of death metal with the emotion and openness of shoegaze. I don’t think anyone listening to Kardashev would say, ‘This sounds exactly like shoegaze,’ but that’s a conscious effort. A lot of bands mixing genres go from one to the other, whereas we try to be really cohesive and blend these sounds together. We create this very atmospheric, washed-out sound.”
As a vocalist, you have to sing both death metal roars and those delicate shoegaze melodies. How challenging is that?
“It’s rewarding, which is why I keep doing it, but it’s really tough. I started out my vocal journey as a deathcore vocalist, and Kardashev are not a deathcore band at all. I’ve had to reinvent the way I do my vocals: taking gutturals and making them less grotesque and more focussed, and making my clean vocals less snarling and more soaring.”
With Kardavox Academy, you react to other metal singers’ vocal techniques. When you’re singing, is the shoe on the other foot? Do you get people reacting to you and critiquing you?
“We’ve had a couple of reaction channels do videos, but we’re not that big in the reaction scene because Kardashev are not that big. A lot of people who know Kardavox have no idea who Kardashev are, so it doesn’t really pull that crowd either. But it’s still where a lot of anxiety lies, because I’m on YouTube saying, ‘Hey, I’m a vocal coach; I’ll teach you guys all these things.’ Now we’re releasing an album and it’s all stuff that’s really fucking hard, so it’s like, ‘Oh God! I’m really under the microscope!’”
Why don’t a lot of Kardavox’s subscribers know about Kardashev?
“I don’t talk about Kardashev a lot in my videos, because I want the video to be about the artist [I’m reacting to] and about the vocals. If I was doing a video on Brand Of Sacrifice and talking about Kardashev at the beginning, middle and end, that wouldn’t be appropriate. I mention it at the beginning of my videos, but analytics show that people skip to one or two minutes in, because a very large portion of the reaction audience is interested in the reaction, not the person reacting. They don’t wanna hear me talking about why I’m qualified.”
Quite a few musicians have a YouTube channel on the side, from Justin Hawkins to Devin Townsend. Are YouTube videos a viable way to make extra cash?
“I’m able to monetise almost all of my reaction videos, but after I pay my business partner and expenses, I have enough money to take my wife out for a meal. You’ve gotta hustle hard, so I think it would be quite difficult to be a full-time touring musician and a lucrative YouTuber at the same time.”
Kardashev’s new album, Liminal Rite, is out on June 10 via Metal Blade.