The poet Kahlil Gibran once wrote that art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes…a potent statement indeed, for I believe the human soul yearns for new shapes of art, new manifestations in which we place that which burdens our very spirit, to instill onto such pieces the woes that ravage our gardens.
WitcheR becomes the manifestation for which a wandering mind may seek solace and repose in its seraphic sounds, drawing upon the entrancing qualities of Black Metal to create an altar for which the consciousness can lay upon and in its melodies take flight upon the atmosphere painted in its aura.
This Is Black Metal Webzine recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with the band, a band we very much deeply admire, so to you, the reader, we hope these words pique your curiosity to dive into these waters and let your mind be immersed in its flow of earthly resonance, the very tongue and breath of nature.
This Is Black Metal: Hails and thank you for this interview. The origin of WitcheR from its conception to realization into physical form, how did this come about? Can you walk us through the formation and the early stages of this entity?
What exactly was the driving force to birth such a project? Also, the name WitcheR… I’m sure newcomers to the band would love to know why the name and its meaning towards you.
WitcheR: The history of WitcheR started about 15 years ago. Back then, Karola and I played in a band called Trollheimen, which music-wise was another story. After departing from the band, came the idea to start something on our own, following the footsteps of our favourites, such as Summoning or early Dimmu Borgir. I had already had enough of being in a band with normal line-up, in the background, my one-man project Vrag started taking shape, so everything was together to write our own songs with Karola. This is how the first demo was born without any effort, and the journey has been going on ever since…
The choice of name can be traced back to the fact that from the very beginning, we wanted to consciously take the band toward the witch concept. We were big fans of The Witcher RPG back then, and personally, I was into Sapkowski’s books. To avoid possible legal problems, we simply named ourselves WitcheR, which perfectly expressed everything we stand for. By the way, this name was short and easy to remember, which is not a bad thing for a starter band.
TIBM: Your newest offering, Lélekharang, in summary, is such an amazing work of art, atmospheric in every way. I’m rather curious to know how this full-length came to fruition from its Inception to recording. What was the driving force to create this new album?
WitcheR: Thank you for your kind words. ‘Lélekharang’ was a result of many hard-working months. We deliberately wanted to take this album to the next level, but also keep the essence of WitcheR. The work of the album started not long after our 2019 album, the actual recordings began already in 2020 and the album was done by 2021.
We worked very precisely, experimented with different sounds, started to use midi and developed our instruments, our studio, meanwhile, we focused big time on the image coming with our music, so people could identify us in the future. The album gave a huge push that our previous release ‘A gyertyák csonkig égnek’ was received very well, though the creative work took place just as before, we did not rush, we did not stress, the whole thing just came naturally.
TIBM: The crux that is WitcheR is composed of 2 members, can you give us some insight into the artistic contribution of each person?
What exactly do they offer on this project? For I’ve often admired the synergy of the musical candor and how well the components accentuate each other.
WitcheR: Yes, WitcheR is our child with Karola since the beginning, and the stubborn I am, this will always stay like that. It is possible that a session drummer join us in the future, but the creative work will be always done by the two of us. One part of WitcheR’s essence is undoubtedly added by Karola. She has been playing music since she was a little child; she finished in the conservatorium, a skilled musician, who spent half of her life in front of the piano or conducting choirs. She has an amazing style; everything she plays becomes ‘witchery’. That and the classical music background define the basis of our style.
A raw instinct comes to that from my side. I came from the Orthodox Black Metal, I never learned music theories, I rely on my ears and on my creativity and I do not care about the musical rules. These two opposite things most of the time do not work together, but in WitcheR’s case, they do, and in my opinion, that gives the essence of the whole thing.
TIBM: It’s no secret that the art of classical composition plays an integral part in WitcheR’s atmosphere as it’s rather evident on Summernight melancholy EP to the track, Moonlight Sonata on Lélekharang, as well as your discography on the whole.
The essence of this type of music, what does it symbolize to you? Also, adding upon this question… in your own words, can you explain the correlation that is classical music and Black metal, why do you think these 2 aspects accentuate each other?
WitcheR: As I explained before, with what kind of musical background Karola has as a skilled musician, I do not think it is a big surprise that we experiment with covering classical works. I am not so familiar with the works of classical composers, but any time I hear a great piece of music, I have the same feelings as I had when I heard early Black Metal music.
Moreover, many composers have such works, which are contemporary Black Metal songs. I recognised this similarity many times before, and we would like to strengthen this feeling in our listeners, as well. Let us see the case of Moonlight Sonata. Our cover sounds like it was originally intended as an outro for ‘Lélekharang’ album.
TIBM: One thing I’ve often admired with WitcheR is the precise care towards the aesthetic of the band, being the artwork and photography, it may seem trivial to another but I find it completely riveting as it forms a bridge linking the music with the image.
How important is the image of WitcheR to you where photography and art are concerned? Can you offer us an explanation of the mindset and thought process when envisioning the art of your craft?
WitcheR: Does not matter how much we hate social media, as we do not play live, that is the only option for us to reach our fanbase, even though this is a difficult task – mainly because of these sites’ unpredictable algorithms. In my opinion, many bands, similar to us, use disgustingly social media – they promote their private lives, their everyday routines, which is awful if you ask me -, we decided to choose our own path in this matter, too. Practically, we built our own universe, and we try posting every content, every announcement with a photo connecting to us, to witchcraft, to the themes we represent.
Luckily, we can also solve these ourselves, Karola is the model, I am the photographer and we are involved in the creative work together. According to the feedback, this way could functional in the long term, but we have a huge amount of work in it, because my main rule is, if we got to a level, we do not go lower than that. If we cannot go further or bring the same quality as before, then we rather leave it, we do not have the urge to post everything; we do not make a post about our holiday or what we are eating, this is not our way and we are not able to connect to that.
TIBM: Throughout social media platforms the new album has seemed to be garnering much-appreciated praise, and I’ve also seen it appear on numerous webzines top 10. From an artist’s point of view, how has this reception been received by you? Did you in any way shape figure that the album would be this well received?
WitcheR: We had the feeling that we had managed to put together a more serious album than before, so we hoped for a good reception, but this amount of interest seriously surprised us. As I write these lines at the end of February, we still get reviews, keep getting orders, and fan-mails, though the album was released almost half a year ago.
Telling the truth, we had a solid marketing plan, I managed again the label by myself, so we spent at least 2 months before the release just to introduce our album to the public; we had a huge amount of work in it, but according to the feedbacks, we cannot complain.
TIBM: The lyrics for Lélekharang this time are given the English translation via the booklet, what drove the decision to offer the listener the translation this time around? Also, staying on the path of the lyrics, would you mind giving some exposition on the lyrical content of this album as well as it tied back to the actual artwork?
WitcheR: This credit goes to my friend SzeleZoltán, with whom we make the band Frozen Wreath (the new album, entitled ‘Mea Culpa’ coming soon; keep an eye out for it). Zoltán can catch my thoughts so well, that they do not lose meaning during the English translations. As we have much more interest from abroad than from Hungary, it was very important to us that the lyrics could be read in English in the booklet.
The central theme of the record is mostly the stubborn adherence to old values and the total rejection of the ideals and ideas of the modern world. Personally, I do not really find my place in today’s society – I try to consciously remain an outsider – I find it difficult to identify with most modern ideas. This line of thought appears from several sides in the songs, mixed with a lot of witch romanticism; and the cover partly symbolizes that.
TIBM: If you were to recommend the ample setting and atmosphere for one to ingest the sounds of WitcheR, what exactly would it be? How would you describe the ideal listening ritual to truly absorb the aura that Lélekharang has to offer
WitcheR: That is an interesting question. I would definitely connect it to autumn or winter. Let us say, near a fireplace, sitting by the fire, accompanied by a cup of tea and candlelight, meanwhile outside, in the twilight it is raining or snowing. I believe this is how the songs on ‘Lélekharang’ album can be consumed the utmost.
TIBM: Forgive me if this question may seem a tad bit vague, but I’ve often wondered while listening to your music…how would you ..the artist describe the essence that is WitcheR, not in regards to it being a Black Metal outfit, but the soul that resides within this entity, how would you speak about this? What exactly is the ideology that encompasses WitcheR?
WitcheR: Honestly, it is difficult to answer this question. WitcheR is a self-expression form to us. If you like, our inner darkness takes form in there. In every single song, in every single lyric, there is a piece of our souls, a chapter of our lives. We write songs that we ourselves would like to hear from others, because they take us on a journey, to a bygone time, to a bygone world, of which we now find only the ruins in most places. The respect for this past, our own past and our roots is perhaps the greatest essence of the whole thing.
TIBM: Feel free to keep me honest here, I’ve read in past interviews where you cited Burzum as one of your influences where Black Metal is concerned. I must say, it’s refreshing to see the influence of Burzum be extracted into such beauty without dwelling on controversy…so I must ask, can you expound on your influences where Black Metal is concerned as well as any other mediums that may direct the course of your artistic journey?
WitcheR: That is right, Burzum had the biggest influence on me, which is not so obvious in WitcheR’s music – rather in the case of Vrag. Unfortunately, I do not speak easily about my other influences, because I am such a person, who is influenced by everything, what I read, what I hear, what is happening around me. A meeting, a conversation, a good album, a walk in the forest, a movie, a good videogame, a book, everything. If we consider only my Black metal influences, then surely the Second Wave of Northern Black Metal had the biggest effect on me. Almost without any exception, every Norwegian or Swedish album was born in the ‘90s.
TIBM: Even though Lélekharang is still fresh upon its release, is WitcheR working on any new material? What can fans expect in the future to come?
WitcheR: The interesting thing in WitcheR is that we are always working on something. We cannot and do not want to stop. This is a kind of inner urge. The only question is what ideas, in what form and when realize. The new album, for instance, is already done on paper, the music sheets for the main melodies and harmonies are written, and if everything is optimal, the recording process can start this year, but the new album cannot be expected before 2025.
Before that, we would like to finalize another interesting EP, which could be out next year. This year will be about re-releasing LPs, tapes, and even a CD in the picture aside from other merchandise.
TIBM: This is a question that I’m usually fond of, for I enjoy hearing the varying perspectives of different artists. In regards to the genre of Black Metal, what exactly does it mean to you? Would you regard it as an ideology or a feeling? I’m very intrigued to know from your viewpoint how you would perceive the genre.
WitcheR: For me, it is neither an ideology nor a feeling. Black metal is a lifestyle for me, which has its own genre boundaries but still gives me great freedom in my hands. Whether it is about self-expression or about evoking a certain mood with one of my favourite records. If I listen to a Black Metal album, I feel its mood and the pulsation that it gives more than any other genre.
If someone feels that, it will catch the person forever, and will look for the same feelings again and again. Kind of like a drug. It does not need more explanation, the ones who understand this genre exactly know what I am talking about; the others will eventually disappear.
TIBM: In ending with this interview, I would like to express my utmost thanks for facilitating this interview, and for speaking as a fan, this means a lot to me and I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. That being said, I would leave the final words to you, anything you would like to tell the readers?
WitcheR: Firstly, I would like to thank you for this awesome interview and outstanding questions; it was a pleasure. Secondly, I would like to thank you for your continuous support and fanaticism toward my band; I really appreciate that. Thirdly, let me thank those, who purchased or listened to our new album, supported us, wrote us a message or a comment, or just gave an emoji on one of our social media platforms. Without you ‘Lélekharang’ could not have got to so many places.