Heathen Harvest: Can you begin by explaining when and how Omnia formed as a band?
Steve Harten: In 2002 Omnia changed from being a Circus / Theater group (est. 1996) doing Fire-shows, sword fighting / combat performance, historical theater AND music throughout the Historical Festivals of Europe into a more mundane and boring concept of being “just a band" playing on Historical festivals AND Fantasy /Gothic / Pagan Festivals in front of a more deranged audience throughout Europe...
The decision to be just a band came with the appearance of Jennifer to the mix, with her very superior skill in all things musical and her complete lack of skill in close combat, combined with the fact that all the other members of the Omnia circus had fecked-off to find boring jobs which ensure a steady income of money...
HH: Who are the founding members and who are the current members?
SH: Sic is the Founder of OMNIA. Jenny (Harp Faery of the Nether-land and Sic's wife), Luka (Dutch born Maori half/cast), Joe (100% Irish export product) and Sic (prehistoric pagan scum fromCornwall) are the current members.
HH: Can you explain what the name Omnia means and what relevance it has for the members?
SH: OMNIA is Latin and means "Everything," says it all doesn't it? To us it's our life and thus it is everything.....
HH: Omnia originally began as a 14 person ensemble of musicians. How did the band transform from fourteen original members down to two?
SH: Some left for (financially) greener pastures, some thought Sic was an evil-bastard and fled, some couldn't take the pressure of the rock-stage......and then there were 2.......
HH: How has the music and vision of Omnia transformed from its conception to its present formation?
SH: There was never a vision, we live, we eat, we perform, we grow, we change, we live etc.......We are just ourselves...ALLWAYS.
HH: Omnia was previously a medieval reenactment and battle group in addition to be being music performers. Do you feel as if this experienced helped form the identity of the band?
SH: It was Celtic and Roman re-enactment by the way (medieval is for Christians and people with no dress sense) ;-)Well it certainly helped us to get over any stage fright we might have had a long time ago, and it makes it "normal" for us to have this confrontational-attitude towards the audience. (You don't want to know what kind of stuff we've done in front of audiences of the past..........) Also we've been the real "Celtic freedom fighters" for so long now, that we can't do anything else anymore, except now we use instruments instead of swords...
HH: Jenny joined Omnia in 2002. How did Jenny meet Omnia and how has her presence influenced the band?
SH: Sic met Jenny at a festival, they fell in love immediately and as well as joining their lives they joined their music, which is the largest influence in present-day OMNIA.
HH: Previous to 2003 Omnia did not play amplified concerts. What were your live performances like previous to going amplified and what changed?
SH: Amplification gives you the possibility to play any kind of music in front of HUGE crowds (including the really soft difficult stuff).Our old set up was much louder and more aggressive with more sick humor to make the amount of volume necessary to reach a big outside audience, we also used much more " props" and gimmicks to make the show more visual (fire-stunts, chopped of body parts spraying blood, exotic dancers and dancing bears etc.)
HH: You define the music of Omnia as Neo-Celtic Pagan Folk music. Can you explain what this title means for you?
SH: We are 100% Celts in the truest meaning of the word pertaining to our head-hunting warrior / bardic forefathers hence the term "Celtic."We live now and not in the Iron Age hence the "Neo" (which means "New.") We are animistic pantheist Pagans, hence the "Pagan."We are the people of the land, we make the music of the people of the land and this is best described by the term "Folk" (which means "people.")
HH: The identity of Omnia is strongly linked to the Iron Age pagan tribes of Europe. What inspired the band to look back into the past and seize upon this period in history for inspiration?
SH: Sic's mind connected with the Iron-age during a heavy fever when he was 9 years old and he never came back again.......Also it started going downhill around here when the Fecking Romans came.........
HH: What values or ideals do you hope to bring to the modern world from the ancient past?
SH: Respect for the land, the earth, all the other creatures on this planetIt's best defined by the "Zap-code" which Sic penned down during yet another fever (aged 37) aided by a lot of drugs.... The life-code of Zap McClannad (the all purpose Neo-Celtic Pagan Folk Hero), Chief of the Clan McClannad. The Zap-Code:
- "Do what you will, you know what you shouldand if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing good."
- "Take what you will, but, no more than you needfor the balance of lifeis disrupted by greed."
- "Give some to the Gods of all that you have, for they can give you their blessingsor they can cut you in half."
- "Care for nature around you, all the trees and green things, for we're in life together.We should all do our thing."
- "True friendship, strong as iron, will never turn to rust.An everlasting curse rewardsbetrayal of this trust."
- "To your Clan and to common folkbe respectful and mild, and to all of your enemiesbe nasty and wild!”
- "Choose your friends wisely, all that glitters is not gold.A promise made must be fulfilled, as Fire burns and Ice is cold".
- "Feed your guests, should you have them.Share your mead and your bread.Don't drink too much of the ale-horn, don't be first in your bed."
- "Do not boast about powers you do not possess.For the True deed, makes the false speech completely worthless..."
- "When bad times are upon you, don't forget they won't last.With a light heart and courage, they will soon be in the past."
- "Laugh each day, 'cause it feels goodand make love, don’t make strife.With enough sex and laughteryou will live a full life".
- "Don't be frightened to lovedon't be too tough to cry.Give your feelings expressionand your spirit will fly."
- "If rules are wise, respect themif they're foolish, then don't.If your work has purpose, do it!If it's pointless, then don't!”
- "Don't think you can do nothing, when you see all is wrong.For you are Clan McClannad!and you're one of the strong!"
- "In a heart filled with honourthere is no room for fear.Trust in Zap and DON'T PANIC!and your head will stay clear."
- "Keep your sword and spear sharpened, when a conflict you feel.So if harsh words don't solve it'you can trust in cold steel!”
- "Take good care of your body; take good care of your soul.For you need BOTH in this life to take you to your goal."
- "Follow no other leader; they are all full of crap.For the Gods they are many, but there's only one Zap!".
- "BURN EIKEL!"
HH: Do your pagan identities extend into your personal lives as well or are you simply “pagan” on stage?
SH: Don't be silly.....we are ALLWAYS ourselves...there is no ACT in OMNIA, one of the things we so hate about this stupid human world is the amount of FAKE!
HH: Do the members of Omnia adhere to any identifiable form of spirituality?
SH: Yes, but it's only identifiable by us ....we are not really into Dogma's.
HH: Is the music of Omnia intended to be sacred or just entertainment?
SH: Both, some pieces are "just music for fun" most pieces have a much deeper meaning.
HH: Omnia’s music is deeply rooted in European mythology. What role does such mythology play in your private lives?
SH: It helps to form and guide our private lives
HH: Is their a specific epoch or region of mythology that the band feels particularly drawn to?
SH: Well the Celtic Iron age with it's Finn Mac Cool's and Cu Chullain's is a personal favorite of most of us, but basically all mythology draws from the same roots and Archetypes.
HH: Omnia wears interesting costumes constructed of leather, metal, and bone while performing live. Do you make your own outfits?
SH: Yes we do its great fun to create; besides we are all Artists in the very widest sense of the word.
HH: The members of Omnia are also decorated with Celtic facial tattoos. Are these tattoos authentic or are they painted on for performances?
SH: We paint our faces in the manner of the ancient Celts with" woad" only for specific rituals, (religious stuff, gigs, war etc.), The sigils and shapes are different for different days/places/effects...
HH: Who is involved in song composition within Omnia? Is it a group effort?
SH: Jenny and Sic do most of the composition; everyone is involved in arrangement...
HH: On your website it states that “Crone of War” was a bench mark album that saw Omnia expand the quality and range of the bands sound and output. Can you explain how “Crone of War” saw the band transforming?
SH: We had a Jenny on board, we had Joe (as a guest at the time) and we had enough time and money to do it properly in the studio of our choice....these are all important factors.
HH: How much of Omnia’s music is sampled and how much of the musical content is played on actual instruments?
SH: AAAAAaargh!!! SAMPLED!!?? we haven't sampled a single fecking tone on any of our CD's , we only play " Honest" music on real acoustic instruments, which leaves the emotional content of the music intact for the listener to feel......
HH: What kind of research does making the music of Omnia entail?
SH: It used to entail TONS of research (when we still did the Historically correct stuff) Sic used to practically live in the Utrecht university library....but not anymore! Nowadays we only make the music that we feel bubbling up from the inside....so we don't actually have to research anything anymore....
HH: How did the band members learn to play the various historical instruments used in the music of Omnia?
SH: Luka is autodidact on all his instruments, Sic is autodidactic on all his instruments, Joe is autodidactic on his instruments, Jenny had lessons on piano (from age 5) and learned the Celtic harp partly in Ireland and all the rest autodidact as well.
HH: How much of your audience comes from the medieval reenactment community and how much comes from the neofolk / gothic community?
SH: I have no idea, we play before so many mixed bunches of people... your guess is as good as mine.
HH: Omnia is not mentioned on many neofolk websites. Why do you think this is?
SH: Either they don't know us or they hate us. Many Folkies think we are a bunch of Satan-worshipping psychos who have no business mixing with normal good-Christian people. We can't be a folk band, because we dress cool and don't sit on chairs on stage......
HH: Do you think your music has the potential to reach a wider audience?
SH: No we are much too anarchic and underground to reach a mainstream audience...
HH: Omnia has a pattern of playing live in ancient Christian churches. What draws the band to these structures?
SH: The great acoustics for unamplified gigs, combined with the knowledge that all the really old churches are built on indigenous pagan-holy places.....
HH: Is the band attracted to such churches because of the historical tendency of these structures being built upon ancient pagan places of worship?
HH: What role does nature play in the music and spirituality of the band and its members?
SH: Nature comes first, in the middle and last...it is what we are and where we come from, it feeds us we are part of it...
HH: Omnia also performs live with flaming swords. How did you come to develop such an eclectic art as flaming sword dancing?
SH: We actually fight with the big flaming buggers as well just dancing with fire is wimps and girlie girlies. We actually enjoy feeling the flames. We came into the whole macho weapon wielding maniac thing because of a dangerously high level of testosterone in the blood stream of certain members of the old OMNIA, which could only be relieved by the frantic waving around and clashing of specially made "dick-replacements" in front of live audiences....Also from our site: About the fire stuff, Sic likes to tell people that he started working with fire as a form of shamanic performance art. Using the most powerful of the elements, as a medium through which one can induce a trance-like state, wherein it is possible to see the fractal pattern of life's deeper truths within the coiling spiral-dance of all consuming flames, reminding us of our own mortality and subsequent imminent destruction. But most agree that he is actually just a socially maladjusted pyromaniac who likes seeing stuff burn...
HH: Has the band been working on new material since “Crone of War”?
SH: We produce new material as easy as breathing; the new CD is already lined up for this winter.Of course “Live Religion" our latest CD, has one of our newer pieces in live version on it.
HH: And lastly is their anything you would like to share with the Heathen Harvest audience before parting?
SH: Live life to the fullest, try not to be an arsehole, respect nature and keep smiling! We do have something extra we'd like to share with your American readers!
GET RID OF GEORGE W.BUSH AND HIS CRONIES BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! DO SOMETHING... NOW!! REVOLT!! DON"T BE ANOTHER COG IN THE MACHINE!! YOUR GOVERNMENT IS SCARING THE SHIT OUT OF ALL OF US!! AMERICA IS BECOMING THE NEW EVIL-EMPIRE AND IT’S SET ON WORLD DOMINATION!! (I just thought it prudent to tell you guys this, so that in a few years time you can't say:"Wir haben es nicht gewust........." = "we didn't know......")