Listening to his bandmate, at one point Sam adds his admiration for the position that Djamila occupies in the group; for both standing up and shouting, and for the willingness to share what’s within.
“I would say it requires an enormous amount of bravery and vulnerability from someone like Djamila,” he says. “Very few people are willing to put that level of bravery and vulnerability into it.”
This is partly why Ithaca’s current visual element is as it is, with Djamila depicted as a powerful presence in a crown, a queen, with the male contingent around her, in an almost protective manner. It’s a visual that graces the album’s sleeve, the band’s photos and feeds into the videos.
“The whole photographic album cover isn't something that really gets done any more in metal, unless you're Manowar or something,” says the singer. “We wanted something that was like very regal and very powerful, but also really vibrant. Because, again, it's not something that you see with a lot of metal, really – bold, vibrant colours, and things that look really atmospheric.”
Taking influence from the concert film Stop Making Sense by ‘80s new-wave outfit Talking Heads, the spark came when that band’s frontman David Byrne explained that their look was a way of communicating “radical ideas” through what he saw as a brick wall.
“To me we're all there behind Djamila as, not like her bodyguards or something, but this defensive line standing behind her, so that there's no way of challenging her,” explains Sam on how Ithaca picked up the thread. “And also, we're communicating our own femininity, and we're communicating intimacy. We're holding hands, and we're touching each other, all these things that are the opposite of what heavy bands do, which is stand far apart from each other wearing Carhartt. Everyone’s close, there’s colour, pre-Raphaelite painting, references to queer art, intimacy, love, joy. Because those things are at the core of healing, really.”