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Der Blaue Reiter / Narsilion Interview; Catalonian Majesty
Wednesday, August 15 2007 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: isis

Heathen Harvest:  Let's start from the beginning. I have been able to see that you enjoy the dark music from the 80's. How did you get interested in dark folk? How was your first contact? Do you remember what surprised you the most?

Der Blaue Reiter: 
The truth is that without knowing it I was in the dark folk scene in a symbolic way for a long time. I remember composing music in my house, for myself, that didn't fit into any style. I didn't worry about giving my first composition -that came from some inner inspiration- any label or explanation. However, there is no doubt Arcana's 'Cantar de Procella' was guilty of my finding a new way full of hopes that made perfect sense for my music. I started investigating and since then I was marveled at the quality of the many bands I encountered - and almost without knowing, they became the basic pillars of my inspiration as a musician up to today...

HH:  The decision to create Ordo Funebris came around 2001-2002. How was the scene at that moment? How did the members meet?

DBR:  I remember that time as a very beautiful period. Lady Nott and I had been rehearsing some of the pieces for about a year, and it was an injection of illusion and emotion to be able to create a band like Ordo Funebris. The scene was followed stongly in our country, yet by only a minority group, and for that reason we would have never thought that we 'd have such a warm welcome.
We met Mireia in a club we used to frequent at that time. One night I gave her a tape of the songs we had been composed as a present and I proposed she collaborated with her voice. Almost without realizing, the three of us were recording our first work, more united than ever... It is a pity that time is the owner of our destinies and I suppose it wasn't ours to follow that magical path...

HH:  With Ordo Funebris you already wanted to fuse in a certain way neofolk with medieval inspirations. Could you tell us about the creative process and the releases you had? Which would you say were the differences between one record and the other?

DBR:  Yes, it's true, although I would say our tendency was more towards medieval and 'heavenly voices' than towards neofolk. .
The creative process of the songs was very much based on the synthesizer. I composed most of the songs and Mireia worked on the lyrics. Nuria was in charge of the violins and together we arranged every song until all three of us were happy with the results.
Three albums came out of that period as Ordo Funebris. One demo that was followed by two long plays that were released by Drama Company. After that we decided that each had to follow our own paths and Ordo Funebris dissolved.

HH:  How was the initial contact with Drama Company? Is there still a contact with them?

DBR:  Well, when we finished the recording of your demo we decided to contact them and give them a copy. It seems they really liked it and we signed a contract with them for two further records.
Regarding myself, I have no further contact with them. Even though they helped us a lot, something that I will never forget, I would say there was more suffering than glories. When the opportunity came to change label, I did not hesitate.

HH:  After the separation of Ordo Funebris, were you still motivated to make this type of music or was there a period of abandonment and distain?

DBR:  All the contrary. I think the separation of Ordo Funebris made Lady Nott and I understand that it was the moment to demonstrate that we loved this music with all our souls. Perhaps at that moment, when nobody would have bet on us is, when we saw completely clearly that we should start from zero and win through pulse everything we have now – always with the help of those that have supported us unconditionally since the beginning.
All I can say is that five days after leaving Ordo Funebris I had already composed eight of the ten songs that would appear in our first record as Narsilion, 'Nerbeleth'. What came after that was pure magic...

HH:  Your project Lugburz is the least spoken about and the most unknown. What can you tell us about it?
DBR:  Lugburz was born almost at the same time as Ordo Funebris and I suppose it was an escape way for my fanatism towards Tolkien's worlds. I recorded a demo and two months later I had on my table a contract with Drama Company for the release of the first record as Lugburz. A couple of months later the record was on sale and I remember having a very good response from the public and from the media, which inspired me to keep on composing material for the project. But all in this life is unpredictable, and when Ordo Funebris ended I knew I had to be 100% in Narsilion and I did this, paying the price of leaving Lugburz in oblivion during all these years.
'Songs from forgotten lands', my second album, has been finished for more than four years. In just a short time I'll be back from the shadows to show it. During all these years I have got a couple of offers from labels to release the record, and, if nothing happens, this year it'll finally see the light.

HH:  How was the birth of Narsilion?

DBR:  Narsilion really existed before Ordo Funebris, although at the moment it was named Aranmanoth”. When Ordo Funebris was born into our lives, we decided to leave Aranmanoth on the side, to center in the novelty of the moment. That way it remained buried by the passing time during some years.
When Ordo Funebris disappeared we decided to return to our solitary path and we though it would be a mistake to call the project the same name it had had many years ago since our goal was to start from scratch. That way Narsilion was born, and, as in its elfic meaning, for us it was the rebirth of our dreams and illusions.

HH:  Since it was already a second project, do you think the step towards 'professional' was faster: records, an image, etc?

DBR:  There is no doubt that the previous years helped us in many aspects to clean the mistakes we had made with Ordo Funebris and I think it is very obvious in many things; for example in the production of the records, which I think got considerably better. 
I think having been in Ordo Funebris helped us to have people being curious about what we were preparing in our next stage. But I don't want to lie to anybody and I can say that, besides some punctual things that were easier, it wasn't simple for us. A couple of weeks after finishing Ordo Funebris we already saw the advertisement of Drama Company having signed our singer, and we had to start from nothing. This implied recording a demo and sending it to labels. Thankfully we found Caustic Records, a label that loved our music and that demonstrated to us that not all labels are the same. It meant that there were still people out there that loved to do thing for the music in itself and not the benefits.

The work with Lady Nott is a constant in your life. She even collaborates in Der Blaue Reiter. In what way do you think you complement each other?

DBR:  Lady Nott is the best thing that has happened in my life. Her naturalness and nobility make her remarkable as a person and also as a musician.
She has always encouraged me to fight for my music in a very special way and I suppose for that matter she becomes a part of everything I do. It actually was her that convinced me to release Der Blaue Reiter, for initially my idea was that this project was not going to leave my room. For that matter I decided she should be part of it, I wanted to do something with her alone, as we had started so long ago.... She really is a marvelous person that I admire with all my heart.

HH:  How did Dark Wind become part of the project? In what way do you think he influenced the difference between Narsilion and Ordo Funebris?

DBR:  Dark Wind came into Narsilion purely as a musician for our first lives. After that we asked him to join us in the recording of two songs for 'Nerbeleth'. I think it was something very natural, and it only took a while to realize that he fit perfectly into the philosophy of the band and I proposed him to become part of it.
There is no doubt that the fact he did not come from the scene we moved in was very positive for Narsilion. It gave the band many different shades that differed a lot from anything we had previously done, being at the same time in perfect harmony with everything I was composing at the time. I really think we got it right with him forming part of Narsilion. 

HH:  ‘Nerbeleth’ received excellent reviews. Did you expect it?

DBR:  The truth is we really believed in that record. It was something so sincere from our part, so full of illusions, we really thought it could be liked. But, truly, I don't think we had ever imagined it would have the success it did. As I mentioned before, I think we really encountered some grand people that helped us make of our dream a beautiful reality.

HH:  With 'Nerbeleth' you already presented a constant feature in Narsilion's work: fantasy, lost worlds, and the promise of stories. How did you decide what the title would be? In what way did it represent the contents of the record?

DBR:  'Nerbeleth' is a record that speaks about the rebirth of hopes, of how the light can bloom in our destinies when it is least expected and I suppose that meaning is linked in a way to each of the songs that compose it. 
The elfish word means 'the end of the afternoon and the fall of the night', dusk, in a way. For us the night is the owner of everything we love: darkness, mystery and, over all, dreaming. I suppose that is the main reason we decide to title our first album this way. 

HH:  Do you think 'Arcadia' is a cleaner and more mature album than ‘Nerbeleth’?

DBR:  Evidently, experience can be called a 'degree' and every record, in my opinion, seems to have an additional degree of maturity. Nonetheless I prefer to think that they are two records that differ quite a lot. 'Nerbeleth' is very sincere and intimate at the same time that it gives off a lot of strength that I suppose has a lot to do with the impetus of starting from zero in those times. 
On occasions I find it as quite a sad and dark work, even taking in account our hopes at the time, for it was a moment full of difficulties and it wasn't easy for us. In a certain way, I think this was reflected in 'Nerbeleth'.
On the contrary, 'Arcadia' is a very luminous record.  Narsilion had found its place and needed to shout out that it would never yield for anyone. It was also our introduction into singing in Catalan, something very special for us. I guess in a way it gave off many new feelings. 

HH:  In both records Narsilion plays with the combination of two voices, feminine and masculine. Do you normally decide who is going to be in charge of the main vocal line before writing a new song? Depending on who will sing, does it influence the composition in any way?

DBR:  The use of both voices is one of the most significant values of Narsilion's personality. For us it represents a clear equilibrium for our music.
Normally when I compose a new song I think of what I want to transmit and, with this in mind, I know who should be in charge of the vocals. Nonetheless, what I prefer is that we both sing at the same time, for this way our bond becomes so much stronger.

HH:  The dichotomy between the epic and the delicate is a constant in your records, both in Narsilion and in Der Blaue Reiter. Where does one start and the other end? How do the great ideals work together with quotidian details?

DBR:  I have always used the epic in my compositions as a form of expressing the entire wrath I feel against the events that color with sadness our current existence.
I think the contrast between that and the delicacy is, without doubt, the perfect combination to express that type of feeling. I think for that reason it is easy to find that contrast in everything that flows from our heart. I think even in the thickest darkness there is a small light shinning, however faint it might be...

HH:  On another hand, speaking about the instruments, I know you are very interested in old instruments and have quite a contact with 'luthiers'. Have you veer considered making a project only with old instruments?

DBR:  We are big fans of ancient instruments and, of course, we have always commented the possibility of doing something only with these types of instruments. Unfortunately, right now it is impossible for we, literally, have not time left from our other projects.
What I can comment is that, for some time, we have been working on developing our sound towards the possibility of introducing new instrumentation by old instruments in our current music.
This will be one of the novelties of 'Namárië', our future release as Narsilion that will count with the sounds of bagpipes, Bodhrán, Tar and, in a near future, with a zanfona, and instrument that has bewitched me and I will acquire in very soon!

HH:  With Narsilion you have moved to Black Rain Records. How was the contact?

DBR:  The contact with Black Rain came through myspace. They got in contact with us this way and they seemed really interested in Narsilion. Since then we haven't stopped working together to prepare our new release with them.

HH:  How is the relationship with Caustic?

DBR:  The truth is that we owe everything to Manix from Caustic Records. He has always demonstrated that, besides being a great person he is also a great professional with his label. As you can imagine through these words, our relationship with Caustic at the time is very good. It is true that with Narsilion we are no longer in Caustic, yet with Der Blaue Reiter we still are, so our link is still very strong. 

HH:  Returning to Der Blaue Reiter, one of the things that is most surprising of your record is the inclusion of classical music pieces. Why this decision?

DBR:  I am not the first person to think that the keys to music lay in classical compositions. On occasions there are pieces that are so accurate to my own thoughts that it would be sort of absurd to try to compose something new when a certain fragment already expresses everything for me. For this matter I decided to include some pieces, sort of as a reinforcement of my concept as Der Blaue Reiter. It is also a way to give homage to all the classical music I so much admire.

HH:  Did the atmospheres take you to a certain piece or did a certain piece take you to create certain atmospheres?

DBR:  I think I keep the first option. On the inside, the music is always sort of like an open book that narrates each moment of the things that happen in our lives... Every time I think about something that has happened I find myself also imagining what would be sounding in the background or what music would accompany it. I guess I am trying to explain that, on occasions, for me, even silence can have its soundtrack, however difficult it might seem to imagine it.

HH:  Why the war related theme?

DBR:  I always say the same thing. For me the war is only a cover to my entire message as D.B.R. There are stores full of war related books and I don't think I can contribute anything new about this theme with my music. The reality is that, under that bellicose sheet that covers with darkness and sadness my music, there is a reflection of our present and possible tragic ending of our future. The world harvests hate and humanity crawls like the shadows of those eyes that prefer not to see what will later be its downfall and destroy its dreams...

HH:  Do you think there is a controversy between the fantasy theme in Narsilion and the bellicose theme in DBR or do they complement each other?

DBR:  I think that, although both projects are very different, they are highly related. It is true that while Narsilion flees reality, DBR tries to show it up-front. This does not mean that the feelings that arise from both of their compositions don't have any similarities. I guess in a way Narsilion is the onirical part of all those dreams that seem to be broken and impossible in DBR.

HH:  The image is also different. Narsilion is full of fables and mythological characters while DBR covers itself with industrial photographs and broken landscapes. Who is in charge of the image of each project?

DBR:  The image of each of the projects is something I decided while I started the first compositions for each. I guess when the music transports you to places like these, it is easy to understand what images have to take a greater prominence. In a style like this, where perception is so important, every element has to be detailed and taken care of.

HH:  Was it a premeditated decision to have an image like this? Are the suits you wear as DBR also part of the image?

DBR:  I actually think that the image of DBR is something that is still under evolution and has many potential changes. We started out planning on taking an image with a militaristic and industrial style that showed our rebellious feeling towards all that happens around us, something I think can be seen in our current image. However, the more we speak about it, the more we think that our image should be closer to the period we want to represent in our music, to a point where we should simply be taken as two characters that can be pulled out of the essence of DBR.

HH:  Are there any bands or projects that have inspired both groups?

DBR:  Of course. Taking in account that we are listening to music all day long it would be pretty false on our part to negate our influences. However, I do think for us our main influences are our own environment and, especially the movies -not so much the bands – that we are currently seeing. 
Actually it was the movie 'The Pianist' that made me start a project like DBR. Of course, there are many types of art that also have influence in our music, starting with the name of the band.

HH:  How do you normally build a new song in DBR?

DBR:  Normally, and differing from Narsilion, DBR mover through feelings that emanate from concrete atmospheres or situations.
I always try to image a certain place and time, as if it where a painting on canvas, and slowly I try to portray the different elements that figure in the scene: the characters, their emotions, what is happening...
Perhaps it is all this translated into an atmosphere created by the synthesizer or a martial percussion that narrates an imminent event. What is clear is that, in any way it might be, it is always shaped in a completely free form.

HH:  How do you investigate with the new sounds you want to introduce?

DBR:  It is true that D.B.R. is a project that is very subject to experimentation and, of course , to the result each (experimentation) has in the final essence of the song. For this matter I like to search in each song for that type of sound or sampler that, besides mixing together perfectly with the music, can give each piece a special character that makes it different from the others.
I would consider 'Underworld dreams' a perfect example of my answer. A very minimalist song, yet at the same time it carries feelings that have been meticulously studied, like the passing of the majestic piece by Delibes that fades into the drastic darkness through the rhythm of a haunting martial box...

HH:  Do you think any sound can become an inspiration for a new song?

DBR:  Yes, of course. On many occasions everything starts with a simple sound that is followed by an eruption of different arrangements until finally the song starts making sense.
Probably you yourself can think of a song that has marked your life, and not because of the song itself but because of a concrete sound that represents it.

HH:  You collaborate with Morpheus in one song. It is interesting to see how a harmonica was added to a post-industrial and martial song. How can traditional instruments be introduced to industrial music? Do you think it can make the songs richer?

DBR:  Now that you mention it, adding the harmonica on stage was something totally random and not premeditated. In my opinion, a great idea by Morpheus' part.
I think music has no frontiers and that can be applied to any style. Actually I think ourselves, the musicians, are the ones that impose the frontiers, standardizing our music depending on the style that we work in. For this matter traditional instruments and industrial music can have an excellent result together... Perhaps it's that saying that opposites attract...
Thinking about how so many bands are obliged to carry a lot of prerecorded material when on stage, and answering to your second question, yes, I think introducing external elements that transmit new things to the listener is, without doubt, enriching.

HH:  Are there any plans for future collaborations? 

DBR:  At the time being and at studio level, you never know. I have always been a very open person and very prone to collaborations. The proof is that, until now, we have always counted on collaborations for most of the things we've done. But I also must admit that it is something that I normally leave to improvisation, and, in many cases, when we there are only a couple of days of recording left is when I come up with somebody that I would like to work with in the record. I have always been that way, as far as I remember.

HH:  Are you planning vocal songs for DBR?

DBR:  Yes. When I released alone 'L’envers de la tristese' I never thought I would be able to make DBR go on stage due to the complexity of its music, taking in account that at the time, it was only me in the project. When the possibility of doing lives came up, I started rearranging and composing new material for the stage, especially taking in account that, by then, I counted on Lady Nott with me. Nonetheless, it has to be very clear that our lyrical vision is very different in DBR than the one in Narsilion. Here we introduce vocals with a much more martial spirit, and, of course, we don't want to break the main idea of the band which is none other than letting the music speak on its own, without the necessity of having lyrics in each song.

HH:  You are already working on the new record for DBR. It'll have a name in Catalan, as well as the name and lyrics of numerous Narsilion songs. Do you think the Catalonian identity is important for your projects?

DBR:  This question can be confusing to some, so I'd like to clear up things from the start. Of course, the Catalonian identity is important for my projects, and I hope it becomes even more important in the future. This does not mean that I am an independentist or anything similar to a political way of understanding my music. I simply feel a great admiration towards the land I have been born in, its culture, language and history, but nothing more. Experience has taught me that sincerity in music is highly valued. If anyone thinks that singing only in English will open more doors, he is very wrong, for throughout the world everybody is tired of being sung in English only to sell a couple records more. Many people feel great devotion for other languages that give many views to listening to a band's music. As an example, could you imagine bands like Orplid, Dark Sanctuary or Lacrimosa singing in English instead of their mother language? I can't.
As a conclusion I have to add that we don't close any door. We like how some songs sound in English and, while we do, we'll keep on using it. Nonetheless, I must admit I am thinking that this will happen less in the future.

HH:  With DBR's theme always be war?

DBR:  No. The war has only been the parting point of this path I have been following for a short period in the hands of DBR. 'Silencis' still touches that theme, but it is also the unfolding of new themes and places that I find very suggestive for the development of my compositions. In fact, the future record already mixes many new themes that refer to thicker emotional states and broken feelings that have formed through the passing of time.

HH:  Regarding the live acts, how was the first experience with DBR in the 'Cold Meat Industry fest’? Do you think it differs a lot from the Narsilion lives?

DBR:  The truth is I hadn't had such a great time on stage for quite a while. Narsilion's lives are very prepared and everything fits into place as if it were a puzzle. On the contrary, with DBR the live act is free and it permits many pure improvisations moments, which for me are very valuable. The same as with Narsilion, many things are prerecorded. But let me tell you, I can play the same live set many times and I assure you, every time it would sound different.
On another hand, the public was really great and we felt very backed by everybody that went to that event.

HH:  You will play in the 'Ethereal Fest' that you visited last year with Narsilion. What do you expect from the concert?

DBR:  Over all, to give one more step forward and to try to overcome our last live act. After all, the best thing of going on stage is the fact that you can actually see how people are perceiving your music, and that way you know what the acclaimed points are as well as which ones don't work as well live, even when they seem to be perfect for the record.
I can already advance that the live will be much more martial that our first performance. For this reason we have incorporated Verónica to our ranks in DBR live, that will be in charge of percussion together with Lady Nott and myself. With this I am planning on creating a much more powerful atmosphere, that transmits easier the band's message.

HH:  On the other hand, both projects are having a great reception in Spain. Did you expect this? Do you think the reception is always better in other countries of Europe?

DBR:  It is true that we had hardly imagined that we would find such a warm reception from all the different collectives of our scene and from the public in general. Regarding Narsilion it is more understandable, for the compositions are kinder and easier to listen to. It is with DBR that I have really been shocked, for in a short time it already has numerous excellent followers.
Of course, the reception is still better abroad, but it is evident that this type of music is much more expanded outside Spain. The number of bands that practice these styles is infinitely larger than ours, so I think it is something pretty normal.

HH:  I've run out of questions... please add whatever you think important about your pans, projects, etc. and Thank you for your kind and thoughtful answers!

DBR:  I'd like to thank you for the time you have employed with this interview. I must say it was a pleasure to answer, and of course I'd like to give warm regards to Heathen Harvest and all those that have always been by our side, both in our frontiers and beyond.
Regarding our plans, all I can say is that this year is full of novelties. We'll have the third release by Narsilion, 'Namárië' thorugh Black Rain / Ars Musica Diffundere in October, and also in December we'll release 'Silencis', the second long play by DBR. Perhaps, if time permits, I'll present Edram, a new project more dark folk oriented that I hope you'll get to know very soon.
Thanks again and if you need any further information, do visit us on the interview, where we'll be waiting for you!


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