TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This live interview with the German dark-folk band Neun Welten was done by Boris Van Berlo on April 24, 2005 at the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands.
Neun Welten is a group of five young, friendly and talented persons who compose and play dark, melancholic, nature inspired folk music. If you are into Tenhi, Agalloch, Empyrium, Prophecy Productions in general or even black metal, you should give them a chance. They will most probably enchant you with their atmospheric music. Enjoy…
You are playing here at the Elf Fantasy Fair (www.elffantasy.nl), probably one of the biggest fantasy festivals around. How did you manage to get these 4 gigs?
Somebody actually asked us to play here. Martijn Van Gessel from the Dutch folk site www.folkforum.nl wrote a review of our mini-cd and liked it very much. And because this year he is booking the bands for the Elf Fantasy Fair he asked us if we wanted to play, and of course we wanted to play here!
And is this the first time you play outside of Germany?
Yes, this is the first time far away from home.
I’ve read in another interview that you do not do so many live shows but that you would really like to perform more often. Is this because of a lack of time, or because you are still looking for recognition and not so many people know you or book you?
The second reason is more true, because now at the moment we have some time to play live, but only few people know us, nobody wants us or they do not know that they want us (laughter). Another thing is that we do not have a booking agent, so no office is doing the bookings for us, we are doing everything by ourselves, and that is taking a lot of time that we at the moment do not have because all of us are working or studying. But actually we want to play more, because we think that… our music is of course quite slow and more atmospheric than for example Faun, what is more danceable, but we want to present our music on a stage for a lot of people. If somebody wants us, we’ll come!
So for the people that do not know Neun Welten, please tell us a bit more about the band and its history.
In this formation we actually play together for around three years. Before that, the three guys in the band played together in a black metal band in our hometown. So for us it was a long slow transition to this type of music, and after some months of searching for good musicians we found Anja and Aline, and that’s the formation now and our history.
What was the name of the black metal band?
It was Insomnia Astrorum, a very nice band.
And did you release some demo’s or so?
We actually recorded a very nice demo-CD, maybe you can still find it somewhere.
And is this band completely set aside or is it sleeping and maybe will be revived?
Some of us would like to make more music with Insomnia Astrorum, but there is a problem because of time. There is actually no more time for black metal.
So all your concentration is on Neun Welten now.
It should be yes.
Back to Neun Welten: are there other recordings of the band prior to the ‘Valg’ mini-CD?
Our first recordings were made at home in our rehearsal room and were sold at our concerts. It was with a self made cover and the CD’s were burned at home.
And is this music still representative with what you play now?
Yes, all the songs are, except for one song on our very first CD-R which we do not play anymore, but all other songs are. You can find one song on the ‘Valg’ mini-CD that was also on the last CD-R.
And are these CD-R’s still available?
Actually I do not know. We do not sell them anymore at concerts, but maybe there are some other people who sell them?
Are you going to put them on your website as mp3’s or so?
We did not think about this because most of the songs are going to come on our first full length album, so they will be available on our future record.
Your mini-CD ‘Valg’ has been released about 6 months ago. Can you tell us a bit about how the album was received by the press and fans?
I think most of the reviews were very good. But Prophecy Productions said that it was more intended like a promo CD, they were posted to a lot of magazines and so, and not so much for sale. But the fans who have it really like it I think. And most of the magazines that did a review also like ‘Valg’ very much. So no negative response.
There are no vocals on ‘Valg’, but they are also not necessary.
That’s the idea that we had. Our idea for these songs was to play the music so that nobody is missing the lyrics. The melody is so full so for somebody who wants to sing there is no place for him or her.
So it is deliberately done now, will this continue in the future or not?
We will see. There is no concrete plan, maybe sometime we will find somebody who will be singing for us that we like, but at the moment we will do it like with the old songs, no singing. But lyrics are a different story. There are often some ideas laying behind one song, so sometimes there are lyrics for a song, but nobody is singing them. So something we wanted to do is to print the story behind the song in the booklet.
So you do not have the problem that some bands who sing in German have abroad, people asking why they are singing in German?
No that is not our problem. (Laughs)
I think this is strange, because when someone sings in Swedish or Finish its like “cool”…
…but in German it’s ‘hmmmm’, that’s awkward.
Actually I did not really think about this, but somehow I thought that if we would have a singer, it would be in German as well. Our idea to play our music and were we come from, our nature and our family,… I think that if we would sing it would be in German, maybe with English transcriptions or something like that, because we are a German band, so why should we express ourselves in a different language?
In Germany you have a big folk and neo-folk scene. Do you mainly get response from that corner, or also from different sides, maybe unexpected sides?
From different sides. Last year we played on one of the biggest folk festivals in Europe, it was in Rudolstadt. So that was a totally different audience, only folk people. But also neo-folk people reviewed our CD, some gothic magazines and also metal magazines. It really comes from everywhere.
My opinion is that your music has more ‘Schwung’ (translation: drive, energy, force) than some other folk or neo-folk bands. Were do you get your inspirations, how do you approach writing music?
We are five people, with five different sources of inspiration, so it’s in a quite diverse way that we get all the ideas for the songs. We do not really have one songwriter, but the two guitar players mostly bring in an idea or melody and then we turn it around. Sometimes one of them brings a whole song and we give our ideas about it. Inspiration from other bands comes of course from metal, some Prophecy bands like Tenhi, medieval bands,… also nature, not only the music is important but also the atmosphere, spirit,… and this often comes from nature.
So you found yourself a nice place on the Prophecy Productions sub-label Auerbach Tonträger, because a lot of their bands have the same ideas and approach.
For that thing it is very nice to be on Prophecy. But actually at the moment we do not have much contact with them, because we only have one EP with 3 songs, so we will see how it will go further with our full length album. But you’re right, the bands on Prophecy, or most of the bands, have the same spirits in their music. So we think it’s good to be on Prophecy and not on another label were we are the only band playing that kind of music.
So you are happy with your colleagues?
And how did the contact between you and Prophecy developed?
Actually Prophecy Productions was the only label we’ve send our CD-R to because it was THE label we wanted to go to. Another thing is that someone of PP was at one of our first concerts and he liked our performance. After the Wave Gothic Treffen in 2003 we came together. Martin, the label manager told us “fine, let’s try it”. So we were lucky.
My next question is about something I noticed with myself and some other people, namely that quite some people from the metal scene also like the kind of music you play. You yourself also underwent this transition at a certain moment. What is your personal idea or explanation why those two musical styles are somehow so close to each other, but also so far away from what is seen as mainstream by people who pretend that metal is not even music at all?
I think that the link between these two musical styles is first of all melody. A lot of metal bands that we like have nice melodies. And if you play black metal on an acoustic guitar it is really nice most of the time. And the other thing is the idea that’s standing behind metal and our music. Often it is the spirit of nature, the spirit of being outside and expressing what you feel. Our music has as you said some ‘Schwung’, sometimes it is quite heavy, so there is also a link. Our music does not only come out of the direction of metal, but it is very close and I met a lot of people who think the same thing.
A question that just popped into my mind. Some bands do acoustic versions of their songs, did you ever think or tried to play your songs on electric guitars?
(Laughter) Yeah, we thought about this.
Because I think that it would really work for the songs from ‘Valg’.
Actually at the moment we have an idea to play some of our old black metal songs in the style we play now if we get the possibility to do it. Maybe, but actually not with Neun Welten.
You were talking about new music and a full length album. Is the music already written? When are you planning to record the album?
Plans are very concrete: we plan to go into the studio in August/September of this year. Writing is a different story. Almost everything of the CD is already written because it are songs we play now and some new songs. We hope that the album can be released at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.
Are there other things you are planning for the near future?
We have two more gigs. One in our hometown on a small street festival and another one. That’s all for the moment because we plan to go into the studio so we want to write more than we want to play live. And the first problem is that we do not have anyone to do bookings for us. It is quite difficult to find the right people. We are looking really hard to find a booking agency at the moment. We wrote a lot of letters and have sent a lot of CD’s out into the world, and hopefully somebody wants us.
Do you have any final words for our readers to finish up this interview?
Have a look at our homepage to see where we play live, listen to some mp3’s or maybe buy our CD. And if somebody wants to see us in his town, maybe we can arrange something, so please contact us.
It’s actually a very nice website, the first time I visited it I thought it was a historical or information site on Nordic Mythology and not a band site.
A friend of us puts quite some time and energy in this website.
Thank you for the interview, have a nice gig this afternoon and good luck with the new album.
I would like to particularly thank Marten and all the other members of Neun Welten and their crew for a very nice day in Holland, for their company and catering!
Links of interest: