•  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

This legendary project has released an exquisite album at the end of 2003, even if it actually came after 6 years of "silence". Vratyas, the mysterious character, has decided to answer a couple of nice decent questions but I must tell you that I succeeded not in finding out his real name, not even in the end! Well, he is the one who, during almost 15 years, had come up with the famous FALKENBACH and SKALDIC ART label. Perhaps not exactly a success as far as the real name is concerned but otherwise... this is a nice intriguing material and I assure you there is much interesting information you will enjoy by reading the following!

   Hi Vratyas! Finally, the new FALKENBACH album "Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty" was released after six years of silence. I know that in the meantime you had created enough songs for 2-3 albums. Why did you wait till now and what did you do with the rest of materials? Are you satisfied with the sound, the promotion, and the feedback?

   " There were several reasons. On one hand I've been rather busy with building up my own label Skaldic Art Prod. On the other hand personal reasons which I do not want to explain more detailed. Of course a lot of people, mainly Napalm told me that such a long period of silence would harm FALKENBACH. To me this was of no importance. To me FALKENBACH was never a business thing, and to me the only aim was to release a new album no earlier than I felt it was the right time to do so. During the last years I got some insights in how this underground business works, and obviously 99% of all people think of money when they talk about music. This goes for labels as well as magazines. I wanted to show that to me FALKENBACH would never be just a way to get money, and if this period of silence leads to lower selling, it's absolutely ok with me. This new album needed its time, and I gave it all the time it needed. Fortunately Napalm did not give me any pressure, and in the end the final result showed me that I did the right thing. Beside that I think people who keep the truth in heart do not forget after just some years... About the promotional work of Napalm I cannot tell you too much, as I do not use to care about such things. But as far as I can say Napalm is doing quite some work for it."

   You say it somewhere that the new album is more a step back, back to the roots. Why? Also, on this album you have two very old songs. "Donar" is about 10 years old and was featured on one of the older demos. The song Homeward Shore was taken from the unreleased "Fireblade" album that was recorded about half a year before the debut album "en their medh riki fara". Why did you choose for these songs to fill the new album?

   "I always used to work with older material, on all the albums so far. So, this is nothing new for FALKENBACH. In my opinion the new album is more or less a step back in FALKENBACH's history because of the fact that the songs created in the very beginning were more or less pure folk songs, with acoustic guitars, clean vocals, percussions etc. The new album now features quite some aspects of those early days, at least more than the former two official releases."

   It's for the first time when you used help of session musicians here: drummer, addition vocal and acoustic guitar of VINDSVAL. I know you are very exact. So, did you ask/require just for their musical skills or the first reason was their characters? Tell about the role of these guys in FALKENBACH.

   "I have been looking for a good drummer for years, also for the former albums already. But it is hard to find someone who can offer musical skills as well as a good character. Boltthorn seemed to be the perfect decision to me, and in the end he did a really good job on the new album. Hagalaz added a couple of acoustic parts, Tyrann a few vocal lines. Both were not meant to participate on the recordings, but as they are living at Karlsruhe , where the Tidalwave Studio is placed, they simply visited me, and when we sat there with some beers we had the idea to let them add some parts to the new album. No one of the participated on the song writing process, and they are no constant members of FALKENBACH as well. Still in my opinion they enriched the album a lot, not just because of their musical skills, but also because of their attitude."

   Let us refer a little to the album's tracks... the cover (excellent one)... the same logo (why did you prefer to keep the same one?). And the sound is more Epic and Bombastic... A real Nordic Folk Metal...

   "What to say about the single tracks... well, the opener is called "Vanadis", a song in the vein of "Heathenpride" or "When Gjallarhorn will sound" in some ways. '...for as long as Winds will blow' is one of the newer songs on this album, not too long after the 2 nd album was released this song was created, same goes for 'Aduatuza', though this track is a bit older as far as I can remember. 'Donar´s Oak' was taken from one of the older demos, and this makes this song to be the oldest on the album. 'Homeward Shore' was taken from the unreleased 'Fireblade' album, and 'Farewell' is also a rather new track, released in between the 2 nd and the new album. The cover was created by an artist more than 100 years ago, so obviously not for FALKENBACH exclusively. The logo is still the first original one, once created by myself with the artistic help of Christophe Szpajdel. He did a fantastic job with this logo, in my opinion one of his best works ever. To me there is no reason to change the logo, though some business aspects may promise some advantage from changing the logo, like so many bands did during the last years. This logo is a part of FALKENBACH and will not be changed I guess. The sound became a really good one, due to the outstanding work of Mr. Damiani at Tidalwave Studio."

   The title of the new album is a quotation taken from the Edda, a part that describes how to handle runes and what for to be used. What does Edda represent for you? And, speak about the way it influences your existence, please!

   "To me the Edda consists of truth, and also of Christian aspects on the other hand. One has to handle the Edda carefully... to realize which parts to trust, and how to understand the other ones. It is one of the sources, but not the only one, though many people seem to think that way. It's a part of the whole, no more and no less."

   For you the lyrics are even more important than the music. Without the lyrics there was no message behind the songs, the message behind it is the only reason why FALKENBACH exists. So, what is THE message that your music gives to the humanity?

   "I think everyone should make up his own mind about the lyrics. I am not the pope, and therefore I will not tell anyone what to think about the lyrics of FALKENBACH. Who ever wants to read them should just have a look at the booklets of the CDs /LPs. Sometimes the way itself is the point you want to arrive at. To tell someone the meaning of the lyrics often means to kill the meaning itself."

   FALKENBACH is not a project that changes masses but it was able during the years to give some impulses to some people. Which are the effects discharged by your music and in what way do you think it might have influenced peoples?

   "This is a hard question. I am not sure what FALKENBACH was able to give people out there. Maybe it gave an impulse to some to think about some aspects different, maybe it gave them strength."

   Most of the lyrics refer to Edda and the hyperborean lore called Vatan. The same goes for the visual artwork of the booklet. Especially the last page shows all important aspects of Vatan, it's a kind of a guidepost through all rites and possible experiences of a human soul. Also, I know you are heathen/pagan. What represent Vatan/Asatru for you?

   "As I said already earlier before, this kind of knowledge is a part of myself, as it has been a part of my education."

   A lot of people do not know about the differences between northern and western Germanic aspects. They think FALKENBACH was about Scandinavian mythology, and this is only one single part. FALKENBACH is Germanic and this means much more. Can you tell us more about this story?

   "There is not too much to tell you about it. In fact there are things that Northern and Western Germanic mythology have in common, but there are other aspects as well that are quite different. FALKENBACH describes a lot of aspects of Western and Northern Germanic traditions, cultures and traditions, beliefs, values, life in general. It is sad to see that there are rarely persons who are able to hold distinct views of these two cultures."

   When the stuff of myth and fantasy become our proper study of man, however, the range of our investigations expands enormously. Industrial statistics are the language of the present; myth is the language of the ages.' (Theodore Roszak - 'The Making of a Counter-Culture'). What is your opinion about that?

   "It depends on how you handle mythology. It has got the potential to give you very much, but to others it worth of mythology today, though it has a great importance seems to be nothing more than fairytales. Superficiality is the language of our time, and this affects the potential as I said already."

   FALKENBACH has 15 years of existence. I know you wish to celebrate that by re-recording those 9 demo tapes under good conditions, but something like that in limited edition. What feed-back did you get from Napalm?

   "At the moment I do not feel like doing a big celebration. Maybe something special will be done, a small gig, or something recorded in limited edition. We will see."

   Skaldic Art is a non profit project, means all the money you earn with it... is reinvested in the bands. It's your label much more like a family than a record label? Which are the bands you wish to have under your label? I know you had a close relationship with Furthest Shore guy, who moved from Finland in Germany a few years ago.... A great friend of mine, too...

   "All the guys signed to Skaldic Art know each other and are in constant contact. We decide everything together, we visit each other quite often, and to call it a family is much more the truth than to call it a label in fact. Skaldic Art just wants to offer the maximum of artistic freedom to the bands, and this leads to outstanding results."

   Can you describe every band from your label and the reason of signing with them? You also fired some of them. Why?

   "The first release of Skaldic Art was Furthest Shore . This band in my opinion managed to create one of the most outstanding Epic Metal albums ever! They came up with a demo containing a really bad sound, and this one was meant to be the final result. I offered them to re-record the whole songs under good conditions, on my own costs, as I had 100% confidence in their skills. And they proved me right. Unfortunately Teemu decided to put Furthest Shore on ice for the moment. I hope he will continue one day. Obsidian Gate released its debut album along with Furthest Shore via Skaldic Art: a band with a maximum of musical skills in fact, somewhere in between Limbonic Art and other orchestral music. I liked the mixture of classical parts and raw black metal a lot. Same goes for their 2 nd output, which was released later on. After that we decided to stop out cooperation due to several reasons I do not want to comment further. Rivendell created a great demo, and after some discussions we agreed about cooperation on long terms. Sometimes Rivendell reminds me on older FALKENBACH demo-material, so it is obvious why I like this style that much I guess. Falagar is without any doubts an artist with big potential, and I try to support this as good as possible. Vindsval also offered a superb demo, which was meant to be released as their debut album. We agreed about changes of the artwork, and the album received very good critics. Above all the new album is going to be one of the best albums ever, as I had the chance to listen to a pre-production already. This takes a lot of time, and that is what I give them, as I know about the quality of what is to come. Ordo Draconis came up with a self produced Mini-CD, which was released by the band itself already, but distributed by Skaldic Art as well afterwards. Their debut full length album turned out to be rather complex and of high quality, an album that asks for several listens. Whenever I listen to it, I find new aspects of the songs, something a band rarely is able to create. Now we agreed to stop our cooperation. Nevertheless we are still very good friends and in constant contact. German Pagan Metal band Menhir was signed quite a while ago, and their best album so far 'Ziuwari' was released via Skaldic Art. Due to several reasons we agreed to not continue our cooperation."

   What is the right attitude about art and the definition of art in your opinion? I know you gave to the bands the freedom to decide what should happen' regarding the promotion, advertisements and so on without too many compromises in the end. Isn't dangerous for label?

   "It is dangerous, no doubts about this. Some were not able to handle this kind of freedom. Whenever you are free to act the way you want, you are always responsible for those who are working with you. If you ask for a lot of money for the studio, you have to keep in mind that there has to be money for the band that is going to record its album next. Egoism is something that destroys a project like Skaldic Art. Everyone has to work with full strength, not only for the own recording, but also for other bands."

   In your opinion everyone should feel free to check out songs on the Internet, and even should download full albums. But - as soon as someone really likes an album, he/ she should be honest enough to buy this one, to support the band, and to support the label that gives this band the chance to release great art. Do you not feel fear about the direction that will have art music in Internet epoch?

   "There are far too many people stealing art from the internet. It is as easy as this: the more people were going to steal albums from the internet, the less good underground bands will be there. Young bands and labels need the support of the people out there, without it sooner or later only business and commerce will be left."

   In past time you added a few clean vocal lines to an album of Ad Inferna. How was the collaboration with this band and which was the reason of doing that? Do you keep the contact with Orias?

   "Well, in fact I did not participate on their album, means I did not add anything. They recorded a FALKENBACH cover songs, that's it, but without my help."

   What can you tell us about Vanadis , the project with Marcus from Obsidian Gate?

"There is no such project with Marco from Obsidian Gate . We had some ideas, but never realized it. Meanwhile I am not in touch with this guy anymore."

   Crimson Gates was a band that existed during '91-'94, with two demos released, and two gigs played, in vein of Venom , old Bathory , Possessed , Celtic Frost or even Masters Hammer . I now you still have good contacts with the rest of the band. Isn't any serious chance to make a reunion and to put all materials into a CD? Can you speak a little about that?

   "As you mentioned already, we all are still in constant contact, having a couple of meeting a year and so on. Whenever we have a few beers too much, we are thinking about some sort of reunion. But on the other hand our keyboard player and the bass player did not participate in any other band in the meantime, means more than 10 years of musical inactivity. The drummer did some session jobs as far as I know and actually is going to build up a new project. I think Crimson Gate should remain what it has been during all those years, a nice remembrance. It's been a very nice time, something I would not like to miss. But there are no plans to re-record the old tracks actually."

   Everybody knows that you don't like to play gigs. But you don't exclude probably to make sooner or later 1-2 small gigs, somewhere in your hometown, without big promotion, in a small venue and with limited number of tickets. Can you tell us more about that?

   "You are right, some plans exist to play 1-2 live shows. It is not sure yet, but I really wanted to give back something to all those who supported FALKENBACH throughout all those years, and who constantly asked me to play live. Those 1-2 gigs would not take place for promotional reasons, without advertisements by me etc. I want to give something back, no more and no less. I cannot tell you much more about it right now, as I do not even know if it really was to happen. The new line-up rehearsed for the first time at the end of 2003. It turned out to be quite ok, but there are still aspects that had to be improved and discussed with the guest musicians."

   You spent your childhood in Iceland ... What represents Iceland for you? I remember the first promo-tape I have received from No Color many years ago and they informed about a great Iceland solo project... After then, you moved in Germany ...

   "No comments about this one. There are far too many rumors, and no matter what I am saying, people continue to spread weird things. That is why I decided to simply shut up about such topics, hope you understand..."

   Why do you 'hide' yourself from other people? It's true, music and lyrics make persons important, not reverse, and the result is much important that the person behind that, but are you sure that can be answered all questions related to the music and lyrics just listening the music and reading the lyrics?

   "The music and the lyrics are the only aspects people should care about. In my opinion such person related cult belongs to pop music. I am the one in the background, FALKENBACH counts, and all it stands for, not me. I do not think to hide myself anyway; I simply think my everyday life and my character are of no importance related to FALKENBACH. It is always sad to see how much people care about unimportant aspects, and how superficially they treat important aspect."

   And about your image, your photo... Everything is hidden... You used only two photos in the years. Why?

   "It is due to the same reasons. I think a photo of me is simply of no importance. Now two photos were released, showing myself on behalf of FALKENBACH. I hope this will be enough for a long time."

   As you say, life is an eternal search, for whatever one feels to search. Did you find what you were looking for? Or the searching is just the reason for keeping your interest alive?

   "Whenever you found what you were searching for, you would realize that there were more or new aspects you will long for. If the feeling of longing for something was missing, it could be due to two reasons: either you realized/obtained everything you wanted and there is nothing else for you to long for, what is pretty unrealistic and rarely in my opinion, or you suffer from a psychological sickness like depression etc."

   Do you think the universe could influence our life?
What do you think about movements, sects and the relation between religion and science?

   "I am not a part of any movement or something like that, and I have never been. So I cannot tell you too much about this topic. Personally I prefer to stay for myself with my own values and rules."

   Are you married? When you are 30 years old, life could be a real challenge... Don't you think it must be the proper time for you to grow a family and raise children?

   " I am not married and fortunately I never have been married until now. Maybe one day I will have children, we will see about that when time is right."

   What about your free time? What new hobbies did you lately discover? Football perhaps... or Playboy magazines, he, he...

   "My hobbies all have to do with sport more or less, nothing more to say about this."

   Normality usually executes on personality because of the routine. Do you think or actually find music as an escape, an oasis of meaningful realms which are considered, for and by some, abnormal? There are other ways to fight routine like drugs, alcohol... what about you?

   "To me music conveys a message. This message, and all it stands for, is something that has to be done. I am doing my part for FALKENBACH not for fun or for personal reasons, but because it is of importance and has to be done."

   15 years of Metal in your life and of your life! Could you imagine or could you picture a complete view into which you might immortalize the most important and touching moments those 15 years made inside your soul?

   "Every single demo I did is worth the same, and same goes for the CDs and LPs. None of them was more important than another one. FALKENBACH did not change attitude wise, and will never change in that way. CRIMSON GATE has been a nice period in fact, but also with bad moments. The most touching moments are probably those when a new song is finished, the new ones always move me most."

   My friend, that's all. Thanks for your time and I wish you all the best! One final question: why did you use the nickname? What is your real name?

"Thanx for your support!"

January, 2004.