On June the 7th of this year, we had the opportunity to see the relatively new Hungarian Neo-Folk act Sturmast live in all their glory. (For a concert report about this event, please see the concert reports section.) Highly interested by this new band, we received the honor to ask the band a few questions. But lacking time, we weren’t able to do an interview sadly. But by the ways of internet, we were able to ask the band questions which haven’t been answered before. We spoke with Varga Gabor, the founder and creative mind behind this magical Neo-Folk group, to find out what is the driving power behind Sturmast, to hear their thoughts about their album “Ibis Redibis Nunquam In Bello Peribis” what their influences were and are and what they think about our beloved scene.
Heathen Harvest: Varga, when did you start to make music together, as Sturmast?
I have founded Sturmast roughly three and a half years ago. Before the current, stable (and the best) line-up we have had many changes. Sturmast are:
HH: How did you come to meet each other?
- Varga Gabor - voice, keyboards, programming, percussion, kaval and jaw harp
- Kürtösi Erika - percussion
- Gresz Agnes - violin
- Sörös Gergö - drums
- Kiss Balazs - acoustic guitar, bass and percussion
Hungary's scene is considerably small, and all groups and most of the audience are familiar with each other. (Foreign labels released almost all major Hungarian neofolk/martial material - from Actus, Scivias, Cawatana, Larrnakh, Our God Weeps and Kriegsfall-U, and I know all of them personally.) About a year and a half ago I was looking for band members and I asked Kiss Balazs, frontman of Cawatana, if he would be interested in joining Sturmast. He said yes. Sörös Gergő of Larrnakh (and singer in Cawatana) became our drummer the same way. A friend introduced our violin player, Gresz Ági to me. Kürtösi Erika is my girlfriend, and plays in Sturmast since the very beginning.
HH: The name of the band has raised some questions; can you tell us what it means? Or what it means to you?
This is a created neologism, with the meaning storm branch. To shed light on its meaning, I would suggest thinking of thunders. The thunderbolt is a very complex, active and militant symbol, attribute of godly power, a solar symbol, and full of light - light flashing in the night or the godly sparkle that lives in man. Thunder is catharsis, catharsis of the moment full of light. Storm branch expresses that.
HH: What do you see as being your main influences?
The main influence must be Traditionalism. Such Hungarian authors have to mentioned here as László András (contemporary traditionalist thinker), Hamvas Béla (traditionalist-oriented author), Horváth Róbert (contemporary traditionalist thinker), and various foreign authors too: Julius Evola, René Guénon, Titus Burkhardt and Frithjof Schuon, just to name but a few. Among our influences Greek philosophy and mainly Plato has crucial importance, and of course the "great titan" Friedrich Nietzsche, the most significant German philosopher ever.
HH: Why did it take so much time to complete your debut album?
Some parts were already completed at the time the band formed, and these parts were undergoing constant changes until finalised as heard on the album. Besides the 7 tracks that make the album, a number of other songs were also composed, unfortunately lacking the necessary potential I consider as standard, so they gradually vanished.
I am experimenting a great deal with different sounds, and I wanted to reach the point in my progress where I am now.
HH: You only seem to use traditional and acoustic instruments. How did that evolve?
This is only true to a certain extent. From the beginning my goal was to have as many live instruments in the band as possible. I was experimenting with the sound quite a lot and I tried to incorporate various instruments to each live performance we had here in Budapest. Thus we have zither, pipe, whistle, guitar, horn, kaval, Jew’s harp, violin and cello either via sampling or live (guitar, violin, kaval, Jew’s harp and percussion) on the album as well. (Unfortunately I quickly found out that we cannot use all the live instruments on stage that we would like to, as too many people are required for that, and also it is very difficult to have the necessary technique at the venue.) Besides live instruments, the album is made up of various industrial elements, noises and sounds. These were created by me usually with the help of microphone. This way I gathered a sampling arsenal, which I uploaded on the computer and worked with afterwards. Of course I also use "built-in" samplings as well, but our concept is to feature around 90% original material. I work with synthesizer and computer, this later mainly being used for recording. To summarise, I use machines and electronic tools as well, besides paying primary attention to live instruments for both melodies and noises.
HH: What does the album title “Ibis Redibis Nunquam In Bello Peribis” mean?
It is a Latin pun with double meaning: “You go, you return, you never get ruined at war” or “You go, you never return, you get ruined at war”. This phrase is valid by all means including “minor holy wars” (fights and wars that go on in the outside world) and “major holy wars” (inner fights of man with himself). There is no middle way; all is black or white on this chessboard.
"Régmúlt istenek múzeumi tárggyá lettek. Dicső hősök s birodalmak föld alá temettettek. A nagy játszma folyik, a bábuk hadba rendeződnek, s futár viszi királyának a hírt: Fekete sereg tört előre."
(“Museum items are now the bygone gods. Glorious heroes and empires are buried underground. The great game is on, the men are deployed, and the bishop delivers news to his king: black army has advanced.”)
HH: The CD cover is quite simple, only the name of the band appears on it and a horse. Can you explain why?
A very talented graphic artist friend of mine, Bakos Levente(he hes a really notable project: Romokon is the name of this project.myspace.com/romokon I advise for everyone) is responsible for the CD booklet. Many versions were made before I made my choice. This is a clear-out one, with simple yet complex message that is very much in the same vein as the album title, just as the horse armour on the front cover.
HH: What can you tell us about the logo on the back cover?
The back cover features a Roman symbol and it refers to the name of the band.
HH: Can you tell us the reason why you only use Hungarian lyrics?
Hungary as a solid state exists from 1001 in Middle Europe and we are proud of our ancestors, traditions, culture and language, so for me it was evident that the majority of the songs will feature Hungarian language, our mother tongue.
Our history has been extremely stormy, including a number of fights where we had to battle for mere existence, and we can thank our ancestors all for all this. Even though at present, since the end of World War II Hungary is only a minor Middle European country where things are going in the wrong direction, we are proud of our country and nation.
HH: “Ibis Redibis Nunquam In Bello Peribis” is released on CMI. How did you get in touch with Roger?
The usual way. When the album was completed, I have sent a copy to him, asking if he would be interested in releasing it. He gave a positive answer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him and Jouni Havukainen (In Slaughter Natives) for the mastering. I think CMI needs no introduction. It is a cult label with many a great albums I like, so I am all the more glad they are the company backing the album.
HH: We would also like to know your thoughts about the scene and how it is right now. What is your opinion on the Hungarian Post-Industrial music scene?
Here the Industrial and Neo-Folk scenes are not that separated. As I have mentioned before, we have many bands to be proud of, the audience is not that big (we have 80-120 people at concerts), but enthusiastic and foreign bands enjoy performing in Budapest. In October 2006 I have started to organise Hyperborea festival, and presently we are working on the 8th one. We are always trying to invite the best post-industrial, martial industrial, Neo-Folk, dark ambient and neoclassical bands. (More information can be found at myspace.com/Hyperborea.) Hyperborea 8's line up for the 6th of September features Von Thronstahl, The Days of the Trumpet Call and the Italian Rose Rovine E Amanti.
HH: Do you think the Martial-Industrial scene has developed over the last years?
We have many, many bands nowadays, as modern technology makes it easy to put songs together. This is good to a certain extent, because a lot of good bands surface, but the problem of quantity/quality also. Does it develop? I am not sure it should develop, probably the trend of “development” should be completely abandoned, as a wide range of absolutely forgettable Neo-Folk, Industrial material is also being released in all available formats including even mp3.
HH: What do you think about the highly criticised “Battlenoise!” book?
I don't have any problem with it. It was a subjective review, and personally I don't agree with certain statements, but in general I do appreciate the effort. There are things I would have done differently. PHJ is an active member of the Hungarian scene a long time ago, and he published many good books in Hungarian (e.g. Der Blutharsch, Sol Invictus, Death In June books). It is a pity that such scandal surrounds the book. I think the disagreeing parties should have settled the matter in a different way.
HH: Last question; in “Battlenoise!” PHJ wrote that you carry on der Blutharsch’s legacy. What do you think about that?
First of all, I think we should clarify what is the legacy of Der Blutharsch. Does such a thing exist at all, and what is it that Albin considers as legacy of Der Blutharsch. I assume Albin could tell you more on this. What seems to be certain is that Der Blutharsch is a highly influential band of the scene, but took on a different approach, be it good or bad, I cannot tell. What I do is go on my own way and Sturmast represent that. Surely there are similarities, as with all bands within the scene considering both form and content, but I personally do not follow any bands. Instead I am trying to project my system of beliefs into Sturmast, all that inspired me, all I consider as mine, and all that I think of the world that surrounds us, modernity, history, suprahistorial status, metaphysics and traditionalism, the valid way of man, the principle of I-myself(ness) (see lyrics of the opening track) The lyrics are very important, and what they express is Sturmast itself.
HH: Thank you very much for this interview Varga, we hope to hear from you and Sturmast soon!
Co-interview by ChAwech and Gorebatjov.