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Interviews
Irfan Interview; Return to Eden
Friday, June 04 2004 @ 10:05 AM PDT
Contributed by: Malahki Thorn

Irfan Interview

Heathen Harvest: Can you please begin by telling us how Irfan formed? Moreover, who are the founding members?

Denitza Seraphimova:
Irfan has formed when Denitza Seraphimova joined the experimental project of Ivailo, Kalin and Kiril on the "mirror" day 20.02.2002

HH: What is the musical background / training of the full time participants including the guest musicians?

DS: None of us is actually a professional musician but each one of us has his own musical background back in time. Denitza used to work with the musicians of the Bulgarian Art Formation "OM" before joining Irfan.She also sings in a chorus for Orthodox chants. Ivailo used to work on solo industrial project before the foundation of Irfan. Kalin was a founder and a member of the Bulgarian ethnoIrfan: ambient band "Isihia" before that. Kiril was a founder and a member of the Bulgarian gothic band "Zaratustra".


HH: Please share with us how each member became interested in performing historically and culturally influenced music?

DS: We are very influenced and inspired of the past times. Some of us are professionally working in the field of archeology, history and cultural studies. We like to travel to a long forgotten worlds.


HH: Irfan is described as a Bulgarian band. Are all of Irfan's members Bulgarian natives?

DS: Yes, all of us are native Bulgarians.


HH: Share with us how your homeland of Bulgaria and its history as a cultural crossroads has influenced Irfan.

DS: Bulgaria as a crossroad of civilizations with its more than 3.000 years of history has lots of cultural layers, traditions and ethnic communities. The result of all this is the spirit of tolerance and very rich folklore which is influencing us.

HH: Irfan's members come from numerous backgrounds that relate to studying the past such as archeology. Can you explain the members other occupations. Moreover, how these activities relate to Irfan?

DS: Medieval history, archeology, cultural studies, fine arts and scenography, Sand of course, music.

HH: Irfan states that the band has a deep interest in history, religion, philosophy and culture. Can you please elaborate on this subject? How does this inspire the individual members and the band as a whole? How do these studies and interest influence the musical direction of Irfan?

DS: All this stuff is an important part of our life, sensibility, mentality and point of view that finds an expression in our music.


HH: Your homeland of Bulgaria is fairly close to the Baltic region of Europe that was ravaged by ethnic cleansing and war during the 1990's. Has the previous war and ethnic violence in the Balticss influenced Irfan's decision to integrate such a wide variety of cultural influences? Have the events in the Baltic?s had ny influence on the band?

DS: The Baltic region is far away from Bulgaria. But very near to us, here in the Balkans there is still burning the fire of ethnic violence in the exIrfan: Yugoslavian region.There is no particular connection to our music but of course whenever and wherever in the world there is war and violence it reflects on our feelings.

HH: Irfan's music unites liturgical or religious musical influences with tribal folk influences. The music communicates a sense of spirituality that is not confined by strict definition. Can you discuss your thoughts on combining such diverse influences such as liturgical and folk influences?

DS: There is a certain level of provocation in searching and finding common sense and harmony in the world of the diversity.At the end everything seems to come from one and the same spring, root or source.


HH: Since the war on terrorism began in the USA, the Muslim religion and many things Eastern have been demonized and criticized. Eastern influences can certainly be heard in Irfan's music. Without focusing on politics what is the bands relationship to the Eastern part of the world? What influences do you drawfrom this region in your music?

DS: Although Bulgaria is in Europe and soon will be a part of the European Union, our cultural background and traditions are related also to the Orient. Thatπs why our music is also crossIrfan: cultural. Actually the present world situation and the attitude of the Western civilization to the Eastern world is not quite new. During the time of the Crusades the Muslim and Orthodox Orient was also demonized, although in the same time the Western Medieval civilization was very influenced by the Byzantine and Muslim culture (philosophy, art, music, literature, medicine, fashion, food, hygiene, etc.)


HH:
Irfan is distinct in that you do not sing in English. Can you explain what languages Irfan chooses to sing in and what influences these choices?

DS: We sing mostly in the wordless "language of the heart", using our intuition but in some songs we use old Bulgarian (churchIrfan: Slavonic), Latin and Medieval Spanish (Castilian/Galician) language.

HH: Irfan's female singer has a distinct strength associated with her voice. During parts of the first album, my emotions were passionately engaged by the strength and beauty of her voice. Many bands who attempt to create "neoclassical or period" music often choose female vocalists who deliver a very "angelic" or "innocent" vocal performance. Irfan's music chooses to explore the feminine voice as a vehicle of power as well as beauty. Is this intentional or just coincidence?

DS: We are very happy to met and work with Denitza and her splendid angelic voice which comes from her strong and deep spirit and beautiful heart. Actually We donÃt believe in coincidences.


HH: Being a heathen I found your music to be deeply spiritual without being proselytizing. Can you explain the mystical or spiritual dimensions of the music as you see it? What role does spirituality play in the conceptualization of the bands identity and the music?

DS: We believe that the music is an act of the spirit.As Jalal ad Din Al Rumi and Hildegar von Bingen wrote more than 800Irfan: 900 years ago the music is the long forgotten language of Paradise before the fall of humanity, the bridge of holiness between the worlds.The vibration of the sound and the music has the "magic" power to create new worlds, to open gates to other space and dimensions. But this is also very dangerous because creating spiritual music is a big responsibility that needs clear mind, intention and pure heart.


HH: Irfan incorporates musical instruments from a number of far reaching regions including Bulgarian, Balkan, Indian, NorthIrfan: African and Persian traditional instruments. How has the band approached incorporating these instruments into the music? Has it been challenging the musicians to learn to play these instruments?

DS: We have a passion to collect different folk and early music instruments that we try and learn to play which is really a sweet challenge. It is another way to reach and touch different cultural traditions and models of thinking.


HH: Many of the rhythms and percussion passages in Irfan's music sound eastern or akin to traditional gypsy music. Please explain how Irfan develops the percussion aspects of the music and what cultural or ethnic sources you draw upon.

DS: As you probably know the percussive instruments are the first invented instruments in preIrfan: historic times,they are related to the first religious form of experience the shamanism.The percussions have a special role in Bulgarian, Balkan and Oriental folklore music and ritual traditions.That is why the percussive sound, rhythms and instruments from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, Iran, India, Egypt and Marocco influenced us and have found a special place in our music.


HH: With so many members in the band who writes the music and the songs? What is achieved collectively and what is done separately?

DS: It is a common and collective process. In the beginning one of us (mainly Ivailo and Kiril) is bringing a primary idea and than all of us are working in the building of the composition.


HH: Irfan's debut was on Prikosnovenie Records, which seems to be an appropriate label for your music. Can you explain how you came about working with Prikosnovenie Records?

DS: We knew and like the Prikosnovenie line and conception for the last few years.That is why we wanted to contact them.They liked our demo and invited us to send one song for the OπFairy World Vol.1ππ Compilation. Than came the first album, and now weπre working on our second album, which the Prikosnovenie label is going to realize.


HH: How has Irfan's debut been received in Bulgaria and Europe? Has the band experienced interest from the US?

DS: We still have not much of a back information but we believe the people who are interested in this kind of music will like our album.


HH: Has Irfan Played live? Does the band have plans for a tour?

DS: We had a little tour with a few concerts in Switzerland in November 2003.When weπll finish the work on the second album we plan to make a few concerts in Bulgaria and a little European tour.


HH: Lastly, is there anything you would like to add or share with the Heathen Harvest audience?

DS: Thank you for your interest in our music! Best regards to you and to your audience! And please excuse our bad and poor English...Letπs hope youπll understand what we've tried to say.

     


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