Heathen Harvest: Dawn and Dusk Entwined just recently celebrated its tenth anniversary as a band. I would like to begin with a discussion about the bands origins. When and how did Dawn and Dusk Entwined begin?
David S.: It was in 1994, playing electro stuff with some friends, that I realized this organization smothered me in creating songs, because of too many compromises, etc …, and that I found myself happier to make things on my own, and elaborate the sound I wanted, in fact completely different to the one we were playing until then.
HH: When you were initially conceptualizing the project what where your intentions? What did you want the music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined to symbolize and communicate?
DS: I think the first goal I more or less consciously wanted to reach was to establish an atmosphere, around in temporal themes about the European spirit in its manifold aspects, maybe to maintain in life a certain ideal of what our civilization should be.
Music can stir emotions to the listener, and maybe feel in his turn the same vision.
HH: Where there other bands producing music at the time of Dawn and Dusks creation that inspired the band or motivated the creation of Dawn and Dusk Entwined?
DS: Yes, indeed, at the time I was listening much of the newcomers of what was called “European music” in the early 90’s, but if I was to really pay tribute to any bands, that would be the followings : In the Nursery, Sixth Comm, Blood Axis, and Upsland.
Without them, it would have never been D&DE …
HH: What were your earliest expectations of the Dawn and Dusk Entwined? Did you expect the project to endure as long as it has?
DS: I wanted simply try to make something by myself, and see what it would sound like. That is why the 3 or 4 first years of D&DE were very discreet, as I gathered about ten tracks on tape, and distribute to some friends. There was no real plan made about it, but as long as I will take pleasure in D&DE I think it will endure.
HH: Can you please explain who the members of Dawn and Dusk are and have been through the past ten years including yourself?
DS: That’s a very easy question to answer, since I am the only member of D&DE since the beginning!
HH: Dawn and Dusks first two full length albums A Leftover of Gaia and Forever War were both released on the now deceased World Serpent Records. How did you come about working with World Serpent Records for these first two releases? Was it surprising having such a prestigious label interested in your very first recordings?
DS: Really! I had sent more tapes to labels, after some friends asked maybe there was the right time to make a step further, but WSD were the only ones, and if I remember well the first, back in 1998, to make me a proposal. It remains a great moment of joy!
HH: It is widely known now that World Serpent ended its elite history in bankruptcy. The financial situation experience by World Serpent has damaged the finances and scheduled releases of many artists and bands related to the label. Has World Serpents collapse effected Dawn and Dusk Entwined?
DS: No, in fact I had already left them in 2001-2002 when I realized they had a strange behavior with me, by becoming more and more vague or silent on the picture 7” they however asked me to make. I needed a healthier relationship than this, but I just would have preferred they told me about their problems, and I would have understood, canceled the 7”, etc … but no explanation came, so I thought I didn’t have to give in return either…
HH: What was your musical experience previous to Dawn and Dusk Entwined?
DS: I have played since about 1990 in a pop/rock formation, along with the already mentioned electro project, but nothing went very far.
HH: When did you become aware of the neofolk / neoclassical music scene and how did you first become involved?
DS: I think it was about the same period around 1991-92 with the music by Les Joyaux De La Princesse, In the Nursery or Death in June, that did really attract me like the “sound” I expected for long, I followed all that was related to this new stream, but it was actually when I discovered the aforementioned bands that I decided to make the step .
HH: The music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined has a very substantial identity established amidst the neofolk / neoclassical genre. Dawn and Dusk Entwined’s sound is a very unique combination of neoclassical, ambient, and martial music elements combined with singing, spoken word and sound samples from movies and historical recordings. Though these individual elements have appeared before within the genre Dawn and Dusk Entwined has successfully crafted its own unique sound out of these elements. Can you discuss what drew you to use and combine these musical elements? Can you discuss how you came about this particular musical path?
DS: Well, it is not very clear for me, as I just have in mind that the music brings an emotional part to the listener, through an atmosphere, an ambiance that can make the track memorable. I try to keep in mind the “already-done” to step further to squeeze the best of every track I make …
HH: Elements of Dawn and Dusk Entwined music is often described as martial or epic. As many involved in this musical genre know there is an extremist element in the political leftists that often target, defame and attempt to censor bands that they consider have an extreme right wing political agenda. These censors usually attack musicians and artists that incorporate a martial element into their music and subsequently label the artists Nazi, Fascist, and Totalitarian political sympathizers. Has Dawn and Dusk Entwined ever been targeted by these political attacks against artists? And how do you feel with persons imposing external politics and censorship on other artists?
DS: You mean these so-called defenders of democracy that still bear the red flag that caused about 80 millions of dead in the world? I think everything is summed up in this, as they behave as those they think they purchase. It is a very easy thing to do to impose cultural dictator on organizers by threat and menace, as they know neo-folk artists have obviously no means to defend, and that they risk nothing attacking them. Until now I have not endured the idiocy of Stalinists, but I still wonder about the right they have to behave like they do (surely the very same reason that they are Stalinists …), whereas they are the real criminals to me.
HH: Can you discuss why Dawn and Dusk has evolved towards such epic and martial expressions?
DS: It is the very essence of the European music, just listen to Wagner! As for my little personal level, I include these elements when I feel they have to be, I mean especially the martial ones. I have difficulties to imagine D&DE without the epic mood…
HH: The music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined is often enthusiastically described as “Pagan” or “Ancestral.” These descriptions often discuss the bands identity as straddling the modern world and an ancient lost world. Can you please discuss these “Pagan” labels?
DS: It could be drawn a parallel with in temporality, better than ancestral … As for the pagan statement, well, I don’t believe in any “modern” monotheist religion, I rather think the human beings have to remain a simple part of the whole natural environment, and has not to take the best on it by destroying it . This relationship with nature and the natural order of things brings me to feel much respect toward these ancient religions that worshipped the natural elements, especially the solar ones, because they are the real source of life, instead of a God ruling from above. Now when I see what considerations the modern world keeps for these ideas, you won’t be surprised if I don’t subscribe any enthusiasm for the new “values” it carries.
HH: Does Dawn and Dusk Entwined attempt to communicate a specific modern “Pagan” doctrine or movement or is the identification more personal and universal?
DS: I have never meant to try to indoctrinate anybody, what I express is only a personal way to see things, and if it stirs somebody’s attention, I won’t complain, but I don’t hope for higher than this.
HH: Many “Heathen” or “Pagan” artists and bands in the neofolk/neoclassical musical genre specifically identify with the Northern European branch of “Heathenism.” This association is commonly presented in the bands images through the use of runes and lyrical references to Nordic mythology. Dawn and Dusk Entwined seem not to have followed in the genre in this regard. Can you explain the relationship that Dawn and Dusk Entwined have or have not with the Northern European Pagan traditions?
DS: I think it is a bit too easy simply to put an elhaz rune on the cover and saying you are a fervent defender of the tradition. Runes are to be handled with care and respect, and not as what sadly sometimes seems as a commercial or fashionable gimmick. You must know the runes to use them, as Freya Aswynn does, not as a pentagram or other toy. It could thus be considered as a lack of culture … This modern trend to “appear” instead of “being” … D&DE uses references to the Nordic themes from the start, but I never felt they had to be particularly more visible amongst other heathen ones.
HH: Would you please discuss some other subjects or themes that motivate or inspire the music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined?
DS: Taking the risk to be filed under monomaniac label, I’m afraid there are none except the various aspects of Europa! But as they are to my eyes so vast, it is a goldmine to deal with …
HH: Can you discuss the creative process involved in creating Dawn and Dusk Entwined music? When Dawn and Dusk Entwined enter the studio to record do you go in with notes and songs partially written? Or do you develop the songs as you are recording?
DS: Yes, for better efficiency I know now that I need to have an amount of notes of ideas and lots of papers, and when I record the song I try to apply all this to an already partially written skeleton. In the past it was far more instinctive and I often improvised parts of some songs, like “Kala” (on the special edition CDR). I think I need a little more time to judge what has been recorded, so it takes much more time, but I think it’s for the best.
HH: The music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined is largely bilingual with an emphasis on English. What motivated your decision to sing in English as opposed to your native French?
DS: It is due to the music I listened to in my teens, that were all English singing, and also to the fact I have several years of study in the university. It is a language that always pleased me and still pleases me today. I think also it is difficult to make real good lyrics in French, without falling into mock romanticism or cheap poetry … Even if you could find a paradox for it’s my native language.
HH: It is notable that you do not include copies of your Dawn and Dusk Entwined’s lyrical content in any of the releases. What is your motivation for not sharing the lyrics to your songs?
DS: It was especially a question of place on the booklets, but I prefer to choose photographs or pictures that tell more on the music than texts, and give another dimension to the disc.
HH: The music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined is a mixture of electronics and acoustic elements. Some acoustic purists have pointed out that in their opinion the electronic symphonies should be replaced by acoustic instrumentation. How does the band feel about using both electronic and acoustic elements?
DS: If one of those “purists” can hire me an orchestra that’s ok! By the way, what the “purists” do by themselves except telling out the others what to do? To answer your question, there is NO acoustic elements in D&DE, so I guess the difference between acoustic and electronic is not so wide, no?
HH: Does Dawn and Dusk entwined ever play live? And if so how does the music interpret from studio to stage?
DS: It is a question that comes over and over frequently, but there have been no concerts of D&DE so far. The reason is that I don’t want to come on stage just to push a button, and I would need motivated personal as well as appropriate material, but the idea is still in the air.
HH: Do you recruit guest musicians for live performances?
DS: I think Alan Wilder has not a busy agenda these times! Well as I said, I need the right people if possible living quite near me to organize something valuable …
HH: The last full length album by Dawn and Dusk Entwined was titled Remergence. Can you explain the meaning of the album title?
DS: In fact it was the temporary title of “Wild hunt,” but a friend of mine (hello Sylvain!) found it would be great for the CD, as I had found nothing till then. It has a part of mystery, wondering, that fits well to the whole ambiance of the album.
HH: Given that the albums of Dawn and Dusk Entwined do not include lyrical content I would like to ask you to share some insight into the personal meaning of some of your songs. In particular could you discuss what meanings the following songs have for you personally and what you were striving to communicate when you produced them? The songs I would like you to discuss are: From “Remergence” – Sacrifice of Purity, The journey Home and At the Heart of Darkness and from your most recent release “A Harvest of Winds – She Came from the East and The Awaker?
DS: Once again, I don’t try to communicate any message, everything is just a personal point of view, which I don’t even know if I‘d like to explain with anybody … In short, “She came from the east” is about the shame of the eastern European girls enslaved in prostitution in the western countries, whereas “The Awaker” is a song from the “C.Z. Codreanu tribute” for his centenary, homage to the Romanian activist. “The journey home” simply evokes the feelings of the traveler coming back home after a long journey, a tiny reference to “The odyssey.” “At the heart of darkness” is also a journey, but through some dark and troubled times of Europe, with samples from the Lars von Trier movie “Europa.” Finally, “Sacrifice for purity” is about the loneliness and hopes of a man that sees the world he knew collapse.
HH: As an objective listener the music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined it often feels as if the band and music are a way for something much older to be transmuted through the music. It often feels as if the band is a vehicle for some form of archaic remembrance. Is this intentional or am I just reading too much into the music?
DS: I am glad to read this! No, you’re not reading too much into the music, you have just put the finger on the thing! If ever you should feel something listening to D&DE, that is what I’d like you to feel!
HH: How has the music of Dawn and Dusk Entwined been embraced in your home country of France compared to Central & Eastern Europe and the United States?
DS: To be honest, I don’t really know the impact of D&DE here or there, for it remains quite a confidential project. It is nice however to receive e-mails of support, or questions, anywhere they come from. It’s amazing for me to get such from China, Argentina, or South Korea! I guess D&DE is more “popular” in Germany than in France, for instance …
HH: You have a new album coming out very soon titled “The Hikimori Songs”? Can you discuss what we should expect from Dawn and Dusk on this new release? Who is Hikimori and what is the theme of this new work?
DS: In fact, this will be an EP on a 10” vinyl on Eternal Soul Records. If you liked the “Scherzo” 7”, you should not be surprised, since the tracks from HS are the main bulk of what I recorded in 2003, not knowing at the time if a whole CD would be adequate . So I made a deal with ES for a 7” and watch how it would be received, and its encouraging reviews made us considering releasing the rest of the tracks later. A Hikimori is a youngster in Japan that chooses suddenly to withdraw from society and live by his own for sometimes several years. To me, even if this is a localized phenomenon, it shows very well where our society can bring individuals with its oppression of success, money, and rent ability. It still tries its best to utilize the individual to an obedient consumer and worker. In these songs you’ll find various elements of this maddening society the Hikimori's want to leave behind them, and that threatens more people than simply in Japan I think.
HH: Are there other musicians or artists that you would be open to collaborating or working with musically?
DS: Well, if Douglas P. reads these lines, I would be honored to make with him the new DIJ! More seriously, things could see the light of day with a guy I met recently with interesting ideas, nothing is planned for now, but it could be a very interesting experience… Last but not least, I think collaboration with Tribe of Circle in a kind of French friendship society should be really valuable also!
HH: On the Dawn and Dusk Entwined website the bands biography is a rather poetic description of the bands role as a single torch amongst others attempting to illuminate the darkness. What darkness is it that you strive to illuminate and what is the light that you attempt to pierce this darkness with?
DS: I think too often that our times, whatever the media can say, are times of iron, and that should not be better with time passing by. We live in mock democracies with false ideals and values determined by big multinational companies in order to make money, not considering individuals more than simple human matter and the earth as a big trash bin. That is what I call darkness. As I don’t want to live this way and give credit to these schemes, so at my personal level, I express in a personal way my view of the world, another “weltansschaung”!
HH: What should we expect from Dawn and Dusk Entwined as they transgress past the decade celebration?
DS: To endure in time with more wisdom and best works to come …
HH: And lastly, is there anything you would like to share in parting with the Heathen Harvest audience?
DS: Try to live the best as you can in this America ruled by Bush the Great …