Few labels/individuals have managed to stir the waters of the underground. O is certainly one of them, as he is behind Haeresis Noviomagi, Turia, Iskandr and Solar Temple, among others. He has been part of many excellent releases, so here are his answers to our “interrogation”.
This Is Black Metal: To tell you the truth, I was very troubled, since you are involved in many projects, about which I should have asked you at first. But I think that Turia is more close to a “normal band” since you have 2 full length albums and perform live often. So, let’s start with Turia. So, what are the major differences between Dor and Dede Kondre?
O: First of all thank you for taking the time to do this interview and taking an interest in bands I’m involved with. Indeed, at the moment Turia is the most active live band and with the most released material. The main difference between Dor and Dede Kondre is a maturation of what we try to do. This process is of course incomplete still, and will probably never be complete. We try to develop the band further within the confines of the genre, atmosphere and our technical abilities.
TIBM: Though you have maintained the minimal structure as a base, you have added some elements harmonica, acoustic parts that add more variety and complexity. Also, the sound is better, more “black metal”.
O: Yes, production wise the second album “Dede Kondre” felt like a big step in the right direction. The first record “Dor” was actually recorded live, one evening, in our rehearsal space. For the follow up we actually went into a decent studio on a nature reserve near our hometown. The extra time and better equipment allowed for a nicer sounding recording. We did still record everything (including vocals!) live though, that became an integral part of how we want to present our music and will probably remain so.
TIBM: Since all the lyrics are written in Dutch, could you tell anything about them? In general, what Turia is standing for?
O: I’m not actually responsible for the lyrics, our vocalist T, is. If I would take the liberty to explain them, I would say mainly they deal with historical themes. Without going to much into the details, “Dor” dealt with christian notions of purity and devine judgement when confronted with cholera outbreaks in the 19th century. “Dede Kondre” refers to the jungle interior of Surinam, a former Dutch colony. In these woodlands the maroons, or escaped slaves, built their own society with a culture that was a mix of indigenous amazonian and west African culture. “Dede Kondre” literally means “land of the dead”, it is how christian missionaries, lending the word from the maroons, referred to the humid tropical rain-forests that harbored all kinds of evil spirits and demonic creatures. But when you read the original Dutch, a lot of metaphors and symbolism can be found in the lyrics.
TIBM: How you came up with the use of no bass at all?
O: We started the band as a three piece and just started making music, and after a while decided it was not really needed to include another member on bass to achieve the sound we were hoping to develop. After a while it also became something of a challenge; to minimize your options to really bring an element of struggle and overcoming into writing this music.
TIBM: Now let’s pass to Lubbert Das. My personal favorite is Deluge EP. I think that is more complete than Keye and has this “ambient” feeling, this monotonous repetition that is present in all Haeresis Noviomagi work. Are there any plans for the future?
O: Thanks for the kind words! Yes, it definitely is a more mature release than Keye, although both have their own qualities. An album is in the works for a while now. Whoever has followed Lubbert Das since the early stages can tell we are not a particularly fast band with writing and releasing, already four years had passed between the first demo and first EP. If we manage to release the debut album two years after the EP, it will be ok.
Lubbert Das – “Deluge” Full EP
TIBM: In October 2016 I watched your live performance in Athens, both Turia and Lubbert Das made a some kind of ritualistic performance. Often I closed my eyes and let myself flow with the music. What do you feel when you are playing live? I think that you aren’t expecting a kind of “mosh” reaction from the audience… (I would like to see Yellow Eyes, Ultha tour!)
O: Well that is exactly how we hope to reach our audience. Like you say, we don’t hope for mosh pits and extreme headbanging, although we don’t mind of course if the audience is into that. When I’m at a show myself that features this kind of more introspective black metal, I just close my eyes and let the music transport me to whatever realm is appropriate. At some moments on stage I gain this same feeling, it’s the ultimate goal. But of course when you’re playing fast and giving an intense performance sometimes focus is necessary.
TIBM: I think that Turia and specific Lubbert Das music, is better when it’s performed in small clubs, with small but dedicated crowd. This ritualistic, ambient or however you wanna call it feeling can be achieved better there than in larger gigs. What do you think?
O: We’ll always be grateful to whoever asks us to perform, be it in a smaller venue or a larger stage. I do agree, I like to attend these smaller gatherings myself, and it’s a nice way of reaching people very intimately. But to be able to transport your show unto a bigger stage and still reach the crowd without compromising your goals (transcendence vs. rock-and-roll entertainment), that also requires a lot of talent and is not to be underestimated.
TIBM: I don’t want to separate Iskandr from the whole Haeresis Noviomagi collective, but I think that Iskandr is something like a solo project; it’s your most personal work. What do you want to express with Iskandr that doesn’t fit with the other bands?
O: It is, although I would not really separate it from the rest since solo-projects from HN members are entirely within the idea of HN. First of all Iskandr is perhaps more inspired by more Pagan/heathen influenced Black Metal like old Hades or old Enslaved. Secondly, being a solo project, it forces me to write differently than how we compose music with the other bands, which is mainly in the rehearsal room.
TIBM: Since there are no lyrics here, what can you tell about them?
O: There are lyrics, although not published. “Heilig Land” deals with how the surroundings of my home and it’s history and geography have shaped me. “Zon” deals with entheogenic experiences and facing the desert of your psyche. Perhaps the lyrics will be published in the future.
TIBM: All H.N. releases have in common the minimal artwork you use. Also there are a lot of similarities between the bands, as it concerns the music style. I think that there are influences from Fell Voices, Velvet Cacoon and Urfaust. Do you regard them as your influences?
O: Yes, we make artwork ourselves as a group, so they share a style that we try to develop. Fell Voices is definitely a great band, Regnum Saturni is to this day unsurpassed in it’s very particular style, although the album gave rise to a lot of unsuccessful pretenders. Velvet Cacoon I have never heard. Urfaust‘s early minimalism is for sure an influence in our approach, although the same can be said of Burzum and Darkthrone.
TIBM: Another thing that is common is that in all the H.N. releases, mastering has been done by Peter Johan Nijand. A rather strange choice, since he isn’t into the metal scene. How you came up with this choice? Obviously his background as a composer of dark/experimental/electronic music…
O: Great that someone notices this. Peter is a dear friend and absolutely brilliant composer/producer. He perceives this kind of music very different than the regular metal producer, which yields interesting takes on our music. Although, don’t be fooled, he really knows his black metal. For some newer release we have been working with other people as well, but our collaboration will continue into the future for sure.
TIBM: So, you do you listen any Ambent/noise/drone music? I think that you’ll answer yes, judging from your work with Galg.
O: Yes, obviously. HN also released Paean – “Bloemfontijn”, an Ambient/drone EP. More releases in this vein are planned for the future too. Favorite records in this style are too numerous to count, but some examples are: Earth – 2 and Hex. Everything by a composer named Richard Skelton from the UK. Some recent highlights in noise/PE are Con-Dom – “How Welcome is Death to I Who Have Nothing More to Do but Die”, Genocide Organ – “Obituary of the Americas” and Puce Mary’s “The Spiral”.
TIBM: Let me ask you now about your most recent work, Solar Temple demo tape. An excellent work, yet more atmospheric/hypnotizing than your previous ones. What did you want to express with Solar Temple, that couldn’t do with Iskandr? I’m mentioning Iskandr, because Solar Temple seems as a work of two persons.
O: Every project stands on it’s own, so you are right in saying everything is the result of ideas I couldn’t fit into another project properly. Solar Temple has a very different approach and deals with other subjects; mainly ancient religions and their relationship to psychedelics and fertility worship. The music is written to evoke these feelings.
TIBM: Apparently Haeresis Noviomagi is something like a D.I.Y . collective, promoting projects that you are involved. The common factor is the musical approach (transcending, monotonous, hypnotizing BM) and ritualistic live performances. Are there any plans expanding H.N. with other bands?
O: HN will probably keep expanding, we are working with a larger group of people since the start, but so far we will keep involvement in our circle as a prerequisite for us to consider releasing something under the banner of HN. Theme and sound also plays a role that is why for instance Galg is also not operating under the same banner.
TIBM: In my opinion, the Dutch BM scene hasn’t made any major breakthrough throughout the years. There were some old bands (Bestial Summoning, Funeral Winds, Countess), but only after Urfaust came along, Dutch BM scene had acknowledgement. Why do you think this happened?
O: While I haven’t been around long enough to really know this development, but from what I gather it also has to do with just a lack of bands playing in this style. A lot of the bigger bands internationally that had come from the Netherlands either play death metal (Gorefest, Pestilence, etc.) or some kind of terrible Symphonic Opera Metal. Dutch Black Metal has been on the rise for a while now, a lot of bands are popping up and gaining some international traction. Although it should not be overstated; some journalists came up with the term “NWODBM” which makes no sense at all. It is in no way a coherent wave of bands, vastly different sounds, approaches and outlooks.
TIBM: Another label/collectivity that has many in common with H.N. is The Throat. As it concerns me Haeresis Noviomagi and The Throat in the past 2-3 years have released the best BM from Netherland!
O: We have a lot of respect for what The Throat is doing. He focuses more energy into the really Raw Black Metal scene, which is cool. Also be sure to check out The Shadow Kingdom, with related bands like Orodruin, Blood Tyrant and Ultima Thule. Some excellent stuff there.
TIBM: Finally, what about your future plans with your bands?
O: There is actually a lot of stuff happening for 2018. This year will mark our biggest year yet with the amount of releases lined up. The first of these will probably be the second Iskandr full-length record as well as a unique new anonymous project associated with Haeresis Noviomagi.
TIBM: Thank you for this interview!
O: Thanks for your interest!
Iskandr – Heilig Land (Full Album)