Melodies behind smoke and mirrors – interview with ’Henry Derek Elis’

Hello Henry Derek Elis and a warm welcome to the Dark Folk Nation! I am truly glad to feature your music on our blog. How are you feeling today?

All is as well as it can be I suppose, considering the current climate of the world. Today, I am simply okay. Thank you for having me.

Would you like to introduce yourself first – where do you come from? How long have you been writing these kind of darker folk songs? 

Well, my name is Henry, a name I’ve learned to embrace after along complicated history. I’m originally from South Georgia. From a sleepy, yet somewhat strange little town with a dark past. It was perhaps the catalyst for my music.

When it comes to your music, what inspires you most?

I’m inspired by a lot of poetry, still life, symbolism and metaphors. There’s a lot of smoke & mirrors involved in being an “artist” and I think that many things are open to interpretation. Nature is a great motivator as well.

How does the songwriting process work for you? Do you write music with other people as well?

I tend to write by myself when I am composing my songs. It just makes more sense on a grand scale. Usually, I’m focused on my own personal experiences, so it’s easier to go down that rabbit hole alone. However, I do enjoy collaborating with creative people with the same mindset.

What instruments and elements can we hear in your music?

Musically, there are many pieces of the puzzle that help accompany the songs. Certainly, lot’s of organic instrumentation. So, of course that’s an acoustic base with the electric components pushing the song forward. I like trying to find the vibe first and then experimenting with different instruments to see what sticks. Whether it’s banjo hiding in the mix or mandolin in the forefront. Sometimes its the small things that can make a big difference. 

What about lyrics, how are they usually born?

I think the best songs write themselves in a way, so it’s really important to me that my songwriting is never forced. If something doesn’t work right away, I usually come back to it later. Lyrically, I try to be honest and perhaps take advantage of implementing things I could never talk about otherwise. 

How much have you released music so far? Are you working on anything as we speak?

So far, I’ve released a full length album and 2 EPs. I’m currently writing songs for my 2nd full length LP. 

Do you play live?

I play live occasionally and I will certainly be playing more shows in the future. It’s not easy with they type of music that I make. 

What can we expect to see or hear next from you?

My next album will be much darker and more of a rock recordI think. Of course, some of the country and folk elements will remain. Other than that, I will be focusing on my doom band QAALM.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Wisdom with age will come and hopefully there’s enough to go around for all of us. Be well and give ‘em hell. Cheers! 

You’ll find Henry’s music at:

Artist of the month: ’Annika Weidner’

Hello Annika Weidner and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! I am really glad to feature you on our blog since I am a big fan of your artwork. Firstly would you like to introduce yourself – tell us a bit of who you are, where you come from and what do you do in the field of arts?

Hi there, thank you so much for having me! My Name is Annika Weidner, I was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany and still living here. I work as a full Independent/ freelance Artist in digital Illustrator (@pitchblack.Illustration)

What is your art background? Did you go to any schools or just learned all techniques by yourself?

I have been drawing since I was little and today I am a self-taught artist. I never visited an art-school. In my education I actually come from a digital background with two qualifications. 

One as assistant of screen design and the other as Media Designer. After finishing the apprenticeship I worked in an advertising agency. But I came to the point where I realized it was nothing for me. So I made the decision to become an independent artist. And it was the best I ever made! 

When it comes to your art what inspires you most?

There are actually many things that influences in my work. Sometimes it is music I listen to other times I get inspired when I take a walk though the woods or places I traveled. Also ancient rituals and myths are a big inspiration. So history is a big deal. I also have a lot of books about myths and sagas. 

How is your artwork born? By using a specific pattern or by trying things out?

I don’t really have a specific pattern. Sometimes I make sketches but other times I just start to draw and sometimes I research for hours to make the idea I have complete. It just depends on how complex the idea is. The good thing is working digitally on a tablet, I can take my work everywhere with me.

Do you do commissions?

Yes absolutely! I take commissions for any kind of illustrations from merch, logo, to album art or flyer. If you have an idea just write me via DM on my Instagram account (@pitchblack.Illustration) or write me a mail at I also sell licenses for artworks who where already made, just take a look in my Instagram gallery.

Is there some technique or so you haven’t tried yet but would like to?

I would really like to try Linocut printing!

What is coming next for you as an artist?

Many new Illustrations and Projects. And I will open my first Etsy shop where you can buy prints etc of my illustrations. I am very excited about that!  All new infos will be communicated via my Instagram.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Never give up is definitely an important one! Because I need to say this to my self still too. Especially in hard situations. And don’t let anybody tell you what you need to do or who others want you to be. You know best what is right and what is wrong for you. Also be good to people and nature.

Behind the mystery of existing – Interview with ’Crooked Mouth’

Welcome to the Dark Folk Nation blog ’Crooked Mouth’, I am truly happy to host you here! How’s it going?

Hello, thanks for your interest! I am trying to make the best of our current world-situation, and how I’m doing that seems to vary with each passing day and week.

Firstly would you like to give us a little summary of ’Crooked Mouth’ – where are you based? When was the project born? Who’s involved?

Right now I am based in the central region of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, though I have lived and made music in many areas in this general region of the world. The project was born on the shores of an obscure northern lake called Lake Babine in the winter of 2011. Living far away from human settlements in a harsh winter brought me my first glimpses of spiritual communion through first learning to “read the script of nature,” and this is what I wanted to express through my music.

I am the only constant member, but I have had a rotating cast of characters join me through the adventure over the years. We have managed to create our own tiny community of dark folk weirdos here in southern BC and there is a lot of cross-pollination between our bands. Some other musical projects with ties (through sharing members who’ve worked with me) to Crooked Mouth in one way or another are Night Profound, Headstone Brigade, Tithe, and more recently, Kinit Her.

What kind of basic influences does your music have?

There are many! Some of the early ones were English folk rock bands of the 70s, a group from Quebec called Harmonium, Gordon Lightfoot (the two artists who inspired my use of a 12-string guitar) as well as the Cascadian dark folk underground circa the 00s; Fearthainne, Alethes, Novemthree, River, Chet Scott’s work, and more. A little later I would get inspired by European and American neofolk from the 90s to contemporary times, as well as the spiritual and folk musics of many traditions and ethnicities.

It seems that you have been releasing music since 2018. Has your sound changed during the years?

Since 2012 actually. I’m sure it has, but I would leave the specifics up to the listener to judge. In my own opinion my songwriting and general album-making skills have gotten much better, but the spirit out of which I started creating back then hasn’t changed, its just been refined over time. I have recorded all of my music myself, in home-studio situations, and am self-taught. The single time I have been in a professional studio ended up with tracks being lost and never recovered, so I prefer to do it myself be in total control of my own process. I have also found reliable friends to help with the more advanced aspects, such as final mixing/mastering and other audio sorcery.

What kind of instruments do you use for writing music for ’Crooked Mouth’?

I write almost all of the songs with acoustic guitar (a 12-string has been my primary instrument for many years now), but I also have a fairly large collection of instruments that dabble in and use to colour my recordings. A few of them being: harmonium, cittern, a children’s glockenspiel, bodhrán, some large frame and tom drums, a beat-up zither, various percussion bits, a trombone from my childhood etc… My latest purchase just a few weeks ago is an old Italian accordion, which I am enjoying learning very much, and look forward to incorporating into new work. Often I bring in friends to play instruments which I can’t, such as Lillian Liu playing violin on a few releases, and my cousin playing drums on the Coastal album.

What about what kind of themes inspire you to write songs?

The mystery of existing as a human being in an ever-evolving cosmos. That is it in the largest sense possible. There is no experience or topic that is off-limits to me, but as someone who has a mystical bent and the drive to create an aesthetically coherent statement through my work I must constrain myself to certain limitations. I purposely don’t just write songs about things or concepts that I have previously decided on as subject matter. Every song has a touch (or more) of my personal life in it, though I often hide it deeply, and purposefully. In some way they become talismans charged with the energy of a certain time or feeling. The objective is not to wallow in egoism, but to raise the personal experience up into the spiritual world, the cosmic, or the universal, and in that way be able to open two-way communication between us.

You have just released a collaboration album with Headstone Brigade – would you like to tell us a bit about the release? How was the idea born? How did you work with the release?

Egan of Headstone Brigade and I first met because of our connection through our mutual label, Brave Mysteries. He is based in Seattle, and at the time, I lived in Vancouver, a three-hour drive away. Egan would often be up here at concerts, and we played together for the first time at the release-show for my Decay record. Soon it seemed like every time Crooked Mouth performed in Vancouver, it would be Crooked Mouth and Headstone Brigade on the bill. In 2019 we played several times together in various locations and did a small tour together in the summer, which was great fun, and where we’d join each other on stage for one song from each band. Kevin, the absolutely brilliant cellist who plays on the new album, was with us for those times too. Finally at Yule 2019, in a small shed, packed shoulder-to-shoulder with audience members, we played together again for the 5th or 6th time that year, and decided, “we need to do an album together.” So it would be.

The lockdowns hit and both Egan and I were anxious to do something with our time to stay sane and we decided to start this album, first with a few songs that were “leftovers” (didn’t fit the atmosphere of our full-lengths, etc.) and such, then writing some new ones. I think it turned out to be remarkably coherent considering how it started and the conditions it was created under. We recorded everything in our home studios many hundreds of kilometres apart and actually haven’t played any of this material in the same room as of yet.

I, Voidhanger, a label that does not usually release this style of music, was kind enough to take a chance on us and will be releasing the album on March 19, almost exactly a year since we started laying down the foundations.

Do you play live shows?

Yes. My last concert was at the Mėnuo Juodaragis (MJR) Festival in Lithuania in August. I was somehow able to make it there amidst the pandemic and it was a fantastic and life-affirming experience. I have played this material live since around 2014 or so. I perform solo, stripped-down versions of the songs, other times I have a backing band, and a few times I have played ambient/ritual sets that involve playing multiple instruments through a looper to create a soundscape.

What are your plans for the near future for ’Crooked Mouth’? What can we expect to see or hear?

Well, with a lack of chances to play live I will just be working on more new material. I have a few things coming up that I can only tease… a cover song on a tribute album to a very well-loved neofolk artist… playing guitar on the new album of a group I’ve listened to as a fan for years… and also a split release with a Polish forest-dwelling friend.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world? 

The world would be a better place if more people listened to and understood the truly magical music of Romowe Rikoito.

You’ll find Crooked Mouth’s music at:

Old tales from the solitary one – interview with ’Anhaga’

Welcome ’Anhaga’ to Dark Folk Nation and thanks for this opportunity to feature your music on our blog! Firstly let me ask how are you doing today?

Hi, thanks for having me. I’m doing ok, just anxiously waiting for the UK lockdown to ease so I can get back to spending time outside wandering the forests. 

What’s the story behind ’Anhaga’? How was the project born? Who’s behind the project? Where are you from?

My name is George Sykes and I’m a musician, sound engineer and instrument builder from the UK. Anhaga means “the solitary one” in Old English which seemed to fit well with this being a solo project rooted in history. I’ve been involved with music and sound in different forms for a long time and had been searching for the right musical outlet for a quite a while. The first spark for what became Anhaga happened when I was hiking alone in the Preseli Hills in South Wales. In the area where the blue stones originated, which were used in one of the earlier phases of Stonehenge. I started thinking about those ancient people undertaking such an overwhelming task of moving large stones over 100 miles to leave such a lasting mark on the landscape. I sat down on the hillside and wrote the lyrics to the song Blue Cliffs, and I found the musical direction I wanted to go in.

What kind of elements do you use in your music?

I use of a combination of acoustic instruments, like frame drums, bowed lyres/jouhikkos, blowing horns and flutes, with my own vocals as well as some sample driven synth instruments. I also have a background in woodwork, so I try to make as many of the instruments I use as possible. I find I’m much more connected to the sounds I’m making when I have used my own hands to shape the instrument I’m playing. I also like to use natural objects like stones, sticks and bones as well as field recordings of nature to fill out the overall soundscape. There is nothing quite like sitting perfectly silent in a forest while field recording just listening to the natural world.

What about how are your songs born? Do you have a specific way of writing songs or do you like to try out different methods?

I don’t have any tried-and-true methods for writing songs. Sometimes I start by just improvising with an instrument until something I like emerges, other times I can hear the tune or lyrics in my head before I start.  The main thing I aspire to do though is just let my guard down and see where ideas take me and try not to always conform to any preconceived notions of how things should sound, but that is often easier said than done. 

When it comes to lyrics do they have specific themes or storylines? What language do you use when writing songs?

I like to write songs that have a narrative of some kind and explore different aspects of human history. I do a lot of reading about the past and enjoy visiting ancient sites when I can, where I often just sit and contemplate all the footsteps that have walked over the same land for millennia. I mostly sing in modern English, but I am fascinated by older languages. This led me to singing the Lover’s Message in the original Old English, which took a while to get the pronunciation correct but I hope I did it justice.  I’d love to write something in some of the older Celtic languages too if I can.

It seems that you have released an EP lately called ’Sefan’. Would you like to tell us a little more about this release?

Sefan was the first release for Anhaga, and so was very much about exploring the kinds of sounds and themes I had been playing with, and the instruments I had been making, to find a tone I was happy with. Its themes stretch from the Neolithic monument builders, with Blue Cliffs, to Bronze Age attitudes towards death in Hearts Born New, through to the setting of the Old English Anglo Saxon poem, The Lover’s Message, which tells the story of lovers separated through circumstance. Sefan is an another Old English word which means heart, spirit, or mind, as can be found in the poem The Seafarer, “All these things urge him who is eager of spirit to travel” I wanted the EP to be very much in the spirit of exploring new things to see where the musical ideas I’d been thinking about for a while would take me.

 What inspires you most as a musician and a songwriter?

History and nature are my biggest inspiration for writing music. I enjoy reading about anything from the Neolithic era to the Viking era and most things in between. I’m always looking for that human connection to our past and our ancestors. We are all connected as human beings not only through our DNA, but through the natural world we inhabit and the human experience of emotions, of love and loss. Exploring the ways our ancient ancestors navigated these ideas, through their myths and legends, and the remains they left behind, looking for the differences and similarities to modern attitudes, I find to be a deep source of creative inspiration. 

Do you plan to do live shows at some point?

I would love to do live shows, but I think this is something for the distant future at this stage. To create the kind of sound I would like live will mean putting a band together, which I don’t have time for at the moment. But it is hopefully something for further down the road.

What is next for ’Anhaga’?

I’ve started working on the first album. I’ve mapped out the themes I want to explore, started gathering new sounds and planning new instrument builds. I’ve been doing a lot of research and some of the songwriting has begun. So I’m hopeful it will be done by the end of 2021, but don’t hold me to that.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Just to say look after one another and spend as much time in nature as you can.

You’ll find Anhaga’s music at:

A journey to the Inner Self – interview with ’Tithe’

Hello Tithe and a very warm welcome to Dark Folk Nation blog! Love to feature your music here so thanks for making this happen. How are you doing today?

Presently, and for the past year, my existence resembles an isolated opportunity to stare myself blankly in the face in an attempt to really see the Self. I know I’m not alone in this solitude, as these are exceptionally strange times. But the strange days have found us, and optimistically (perhaps the first time the word has been used in any interview I’ve ever given!) this is indeed a rare opportunity. A chance to shed layers of nonsense that we’ve built up for years and years and just be honest for a change.

We would like to know a bit behind the story of ’Tithe’. Who’s behind the project? Where do you come from? How was ’Tithe’ born?

I’ve been involved in music in both extreme and somber forms for several years now. In my younger years, when I was first gripped by this genre that this blog takes its name from, I felt an incredible, though unknown, longing fulfilled. Mysterious imagery, aching beauty, perfect simplicity, and melodies to get lost in. But it was just the beginning of a journey of exploration and introspection that nothing else I had dabbled with could provide. In those early, naïve days I knew I had to participate in this music in some form! So I grabbed my old guitar (that I still compose with) and started hammering out chord progressions and ill-fitting vocal melodies. Obsessed by an unnamable need to connect to something rooted and real, I became enamored with an idea of my heritage, and with the same naïve spirit chose a name from an Anglo Saxon poem I was studying in university. Tithe (or was it tythe? memory is fleeting) was born, but still only resembled a kind of incubation stage. In an attempt to ape my influences, I wrote the name in runes and adopted a Neofolk 101 sound, as I like to call it. I believe I recorded a song or two and another handful of bedroom recorded ideas that are lost to the aether. Of course this didn’t last long, and was probably the result of a failed relationship, but I shelved the project and buried it in time and dust. 

Flash forward some 13 years, now after seeing some winters, the same need to return to a rooted reality is stronger than ever. A more secure sense of who and what finds me much more grounded and focused in many ways, but still unfulfilled. It was time to explore the inner journey once again. The necessary rites were performed, and my guileless vehicle of expression was reborn into a new form with eyes wide open. 

How would you describe your music?

Finally seeing the dawn after a long Dark Night of the Soul? An attempt to make something heartfelt after years of ugliness? Or just my hopeless effort to elicit the same degree of beauty and torture that I first experienced when hearing the Nature and Organisation album? The decision is yours.

What instruments do you use when writing music?

A 20 year old acoustic guitar, fingers blessed with a degree of dexterity, a cheap glockenspiel, an even cheaper melodica, a flute found in an alleyway, and friends.

How about when it comes to songwriting, what inspires you most? What do you want to pass on to your listeners?

A nearly demented and solipsistic mapping of the Tarot upon my life’s journey that somewhat resembles a spiritual belief system. A brush with self-imposed insanity. Extreme despair, incredible elation, and trying to find an existence in the balance point between the two.

Some time ago, you released an EP called ’Wildfires’, how was this release born?

It was a mix of two impacting experiences. The first was a summer spent in clouds of wildfire smoke here in British Columbia. My life had just changed drastically for the better, and it was a strong metaphor for the person who I had just burned to the ground, while finally stepping out of his shadow. The second was a nearly magical experience while performing on stage in Iceland in the middle of summer, hours before midnight, with the sun shining bright. Staring upward, mid-song to receive … something. I’m still not sure what. There was power in that unsetting sun transmitted in that moment unlike anything else. Solar energy? Lucifer’s embrace? The essence of unifying opposites? It’s still something I’m processing and making sense of. 

Are you working on something at the moment?

Always. There is never a sense of finality or satisfaction. I think this is the curse of the musician or (dare I say it) artist. At the moment, I’m planting seeds for my next attempt and exploring some traditional tunes. Thematically, I think things will take a turn or perhaps go even deeper. I’ve reached a point in life where I feel like a great shift is incubating and I greatly want to capture that energy somehow. Where will the strangely sunlit path lead? 

Additionally, I am working on some very exciting collaborations that I cannot wait to see come to fruition. Pay attention – it will be worth it!

Do you play live shows and if yes how big of a role do they have in your music?

Since I unveiled this project mid-pandemic, no, I have not: aside from the Hyggeasy live streams to receptive small audiences. While I was and am grateful that anyone wants to hear what I have to say, it leaves me deeply shaken and unable to function for hours afterwards. So clearly live performances don’t factor in too strongly, as that was never part of the vision. Perhaps it’s incongruent to present such introspective music outwards? Perhaps not?

What is coming next for ’Tithe’?

It’s not for me to say. Inspiration works in funny ways and the winds of creation blow when you least suspect. I just try to stay humble and stay receptive. 

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

”A spark can glow the brightest when submerged in the deepest darkness. A flicker can act as a furnace in the bitterest cold. Truth lies in its opposite. The value of suffering. But remember: you are just a visitor in the Abyss.”

You’ll find Tithe’s music at:

Artist of the month: ’Dmitriy Konev’

Hello Dmitriy and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! You have also the honor to be the first artist of the month in the history for us. Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, where you come from and what do you do in the field of arts?

My name is Dmitriy Konev, I’m from Russia, the city of Perm. I’m a photographer (@_vvarlock_), illustrator (@russianvvarlock) and medical worker in a state mental institution.

Was is your art background? Did you go to any schools or just learned all techniques by yourself?

I have been drawing since I can remember. I have a professional education in digital design and academic drawing courses. I like to learn about new techniques on my own. It always comes with thought: how can I apply this to my artwork! 

When it comes to your art what inspires you most?

Many ideas come in dreams, sometimes in nature I notice shapes and textures that look like images. The branches and roots look like patterns, in stones you can see the images of magical creatures, etc. Music and movies also stimulate the imagination. Most of all, I am inspired by ancient traditions, myths and any ancient art.

How is your artwork born? By using a specific pattern or by trying things out?

It depends on the task. Sometimes I start with research, sometimes I take notes or sketches, and then I go back to them. Often, works are born spontaneously, I just sit down and start developing an idea. Sometimes I draw a sketch, then scan it, and work in the editor. There are works that are completely done in a digital editor, work on a computer makes the process easier. For example, an ink illustration can take from ten hours, and a digital illustration can take up to ten hours!
What equipment do you use for creating art?
In the traditional art, I use ink, watercolor, canvas and paper. In pyrography, I use a set from STAYER (pyrograph). For digital graphics, I use an interactive display from XP-PEN Artist 15.6 Pro + raster graphics editors. I really love synthetic brushes, they are easier to control in the process. I’m also a fan of varnish markers, but I rarely use them!
Who do you look up to in the art world, who’s your ’hero’?
I really like the traditional northern art of the Vikings, Slavs, Komi-Zyryans (The Komi are a Permian ethnic group whose homeland is in the north-east of European Russia around the basins of the Vychegda, Pechora and Kama rivers. They mostly live in the Komi Republic, Perm Krai, Murmansk Oblast, Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Federation). I’m also a big fan of  Art Nouveau and Art Deco and artists like Harry Clarke and Alphonse Mucha. But I don’t try to get attached to specific artists, because it spoils the personal perception of my style.

Do you do commissions?

I sell my work on , sometimes I make individual orders (photography, illustration, pyrography).

Is there some technique or so you haven’t tried yet but would like to?

I really want to try linocut printmaking! To do this, you need to have specific tools, and right now I only have half of them.

What is coming next for you as an artist?

Lots of new illustrations! Maybe I will create an account on Etsy. I also plan to make a book – a photo album in the style of a road movie.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Listen to yourself, I know it’s difficult, especially now when society dictates its own standards. But the inner voice will always tell you what is right, and be kind to people and nature.
Thank you very much for inviting me, it means a lot to me!
From Russia with love!!!

You’ll find Dmitriy’s art at:

Instagram: @russianvvarlock, @_vvarlock_

Dark folk tunes from Appalachia – interview with ’Harry Pedigo’

Hello Harry and welcome to our little dark group of music lovers! I am really glad to feature your music on Dark Folk Nation, finally! How’s it going today for you?

Thank you so much for having me! It’s a real honor to talk with you – I’ve been following Dark Folk Nation ever since your interview with Osi and the Jupiter. Today has been quiet and snowy – the perfect time to sit down with a coffee and talk music!

Tell us a little bit about your music. How did you begin writing these kind of dark folk songs? How long have you been writing them? Where are you from?

The culture of the region I live in and my music go hand in hand. I’m from a rural village on the Ohio River that is part of the Appalachian region in the United States. Certain styles of American folk music and bluegrass originated in this region and have played a major role in my own sound. Traditional American folk music is already quite “dark” with songs performed in moody, modal tunings and lyrics that deal with death and nature. When I set out to create and perform Dark Folk music in 2020, my intention was simply to intensify these preexisting characteristics; to play faster, heavier, and to deliver in a more abrasive style. I’m quite a fan of Black Metal and I set out to do to folk music what Black Metal did to metal. 

What instruments do you use in your music?

I’ve made it a point to exclusively use acoustic instruments in my music and to refrain from the use of any electrical instruments or amplifiers. Guitar and bass drum are the only instruments really used in my music. Nearly all of the guitar parts are performed in a drop D or in a DADGAD to effect a modal sound reminiscent of American mountain music. On a few songs I’ve incorporated bowed guitar and synthesizers but, ultimately, I try to orchestrate my original work in a way that can be replicated live by just myself. 

When it comes to your lyrics what kind of storylines do they tell? Is there a specific theme that appears often or do you prefer mixing things up?

A number of my songs are inspired by traditional Appalachian ballads and ghost stories I heard growing up. This is especially true on the upcoming release which features a song titled “Voice Like the River” which is entirely based on a semi-truthful story from Kentucky that my great-grandmother told me as a child. 

I’m really inspired by the “crossroads” mythos popularized by blues musicians like Robert Johnson. This comes up pretty frequently in my songs although I try to change it up. For instance, the first three songs on “Dylan is Dead” tell the story of a man who, in desperation, travels to the crossroads to make a deal with the devil. I’m also quite fascinated by the “highwayman” or “outlaw” figure the appears often in traditional American and English ballads. 

How about songwriting in general, do you have a specific pattern of how to write your songs?

As far as writing is concerned, I generally begin melodies and progressions in drop D or DADGAD. I had a fiddle instructor that, as a child, told me that “all of the best fiddle tunes were in the key of D” and I guess that stuck with me. I tend to write lyrics after the instrumental parts are written and recorded. I like to listen to the song and imagine what would be happening if it were a soundtrack to a film before I start writing lyrics and singing. 

You have released one album and a single so far. Are you working on something new at the moment?

Yes! My sophomore release, titled “Deathlore,” is to be released on February 25th through Road Rat Records. February 25th is the birthday of bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley who has been a major inspiration to me musically. The album was recorded in an isolated log cabin built in the mid-1800s. This atmosphere definitely contributed to the overall mood of the album. 

I’ve always been a fan of Dungeon Synth but have had a difficult time relating to or creating it as I come from a very different cultural background here in the United States. One of my goals with the upcoming album was to compose a few atmospheric synth tracks inspired by the wintery Applachian scenery around me. The melodies of these synth tracks are loosely based on traditional American folk songs which hopefully lends some credence to my take on the style. 

Do you perform your music live? If so, do these performances have a big role in your music? 

My father is a very talented musician and I’ve played live music with him ever since I was a kid; He really introduced me to the art of live performance. I’ve played in a handful of country, folk, and bluegrass bands over the years – mostly bar gigs and small festivals. With the release of my first album, I turned my attention to booking more solo shows to showcase my original music and to play darker, more authentic acoustic music. Unfortunately, this endeavor coincided with a global pandemic which was rather disappointing. After the release of the new album, finding venues and opportunities to play my own music will be my number one priority. 

If you could see in the future, where would you like to see yourself in 5 years from now?

I certainly hope to be making new music and performing to a wider audience but I also hope to be working on a PhD in American Literature. There never seems to be enough time for everything, does it?

Do you like to collaborate with other musicians?

I absolutely love collaboration! The upcoming album features a collaboration with “Wanderer” of the bands Stone Ram and Forests of Orthanc. I really admire both projects and am incredibly excited to have his vocals featured on the second track. There are few artists that exercise such mastery in both synth-based music and extreme metal. He also did the logo for the release which I’m really proud of! The album also features a collaboration with Father Dawn of the Trash Bats and the owner of Road Rat Records. Father Dawn has an incredibly strong and dynamic voice – hearing him sing the bridge on the fourth track really completed the album.

What is next for Harry Pedigo?

To sell a bunch of copies of DEATHLORE! The album comes out on February 25th and can be purchased exclusively from Road Rat Records at!

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Break strings and break hearts – play it loud and heavy!

You’ll find Harry Pedigo’s music at:

Painting with sound – interview with ’Bjorth’

Hello and welcome ’Bjorth’ to Dark Folk Nation! So glad to feature your beautiful music on our site. We’ve just started the new year and firstly I would like to ask you how’s your 2021 been so far?

Dani: So far so great! Started the year strong already working on new music and some interesting collabs that you’ll get to see hopefully soon.

Björn: Thank you so much for considering Bjorth for an interview – 2021 could not have started any better. In general, the first week of 2021 was awesome for us.

Would you like to share the story behind ’Bjorth’? Who’s behind the project, where are you from and how long have you been writing music for this project?

B: My name is Björn, I am a songwriter and music producer from Cologne, Germany – I started Bjorth end of August 2020 with releasing Drums of Midgard as an “experimental” track. So, the project has just started and there is no big saga yet. With Dani joining Bjorth, we are now a Duo – I contacted her after seeing her doing some great cover songs on Youtube.

D: I’m Dani, I’m a musician and sound engineer from Valparaiso, Chile, and I’ve been a part of Bjorth since late October 2020, so nearly 3 months by now.

How does the song writing process go for you?

D: It’s a bit messy for me, and it changes with every song. Some songs I start with the lyrics,
some with the instrumentation, and some just come together all at the same time. When I start with the lyrics, I like to read a lot about the topic I’m interested in writing about and make a draft full of phrases that come to mind while I’m reading,
and then compile everything into a lyric afterwards.
Or sometimes I would borrow from the Poetic Edda as well, because I find old Norse to be fascinating. And when I start with the music, I either sit to improvise with an instrument or sometimes I would randomly get a melody in my head out of nowhere,
while I’m doing something totally unrelated, and then I transform those ideas into a song.

B: For me it’s completely different. I start with something absolutely random and develop the song from there – the more I progress, the more a vision develops. However, sometimes I stick to that initial idea and sometimes the vision adapts to changes done to the song (for example when vocals are added).

What instruments do you use when writing music?

B: The core elements for me are tagelhapra & frame drums – Also some virtual instruments ( for example for the drones ) play a major role.

D: When making a draft and laying out the main idea for a song, mainly vocals, lyre, violin and frame drums,
as well as some virtual instruments. But then, when building up the song further,
I tend to leave the non virtual instruments as main and I would add bass guitar, and sometimes irish bouzouki or acoustic guitar as well.

In some of your songs you seem to have an ambient kind of touch which seems also movielike. How important it is for you to create these kind of atmospheres?

B: The soundscape is for me the most important thing – as a listener and as a music producer.
I express myself more through the sound and not so much through lyrics.

Your songs seem to have a strong influence from the Nordic mythology. How did you become interested in these themes when writing songs?

D: For me, at first it was discovering all of the amazing bands the genre has to offer that inspired me to learn more about mythology,
in an attempt to understand and interpret their lyrics better.
I’ve also always been interested in mythology and history in general,
but I found the Norse one to be particularly appealing and interesting enough to make music about it.

B: I’ve produced a lot of music within different genres before starting Bjorth – this is the first time I truly feel connected to what I do.
I like how Nordic, Gaelic & Germanic themes were interpreted by other bands,
the unique sound of the instruments but of course also the stories being told.

Do you do collaborations?

B: Collaborations are great – we have done a few already and there will be more to come.
We are always open for new ones – so get in touch.

How about live shows?

D: Would love to! If only Bjorn and I lived closer and we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, of course.

B: We currently use the restrictions to write, produce and release more music and focus on building an audience. Also, we need to rehearse songs we would like to perform live, produce backing tracks and even the show itself. I really appreciate that we now have some time to do so.

What are you planning next for ’Bjorth’? Any new releases coming up or so?

B: Next release is a collaboration with the very talented “A Tergo Lupi”.
We were very glad they have agreed to work with us – the result is the track “Nornir” which will be available on the 22nd of January 2021

And of course there is a lot more to come in 2021.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

B: You’re more likely to succeed if you enjoy the overall process – especially as an artist.

You’ll find Bjorth’s music at:

Music from ’The Land of the Light’ – interview with Falcata de Fogo

Well good day to you Falcata de Fogo! You have the honor of being the first band on Dark Folk Nation in 2021. So lets start this interview with this little question: how’s it going?

Hey! First of all, we would like to thank you for the invitation. For us it’s a great honor and pleasure to get interviewed by Dark Folk Nation. Keep up the good work! Given the current ”pandemic” situation, we can state that we are doing alright. Trying not to get stuck and always moving forward for whatever is yet to come..

Would you like to introduce your band? Where are you from?

We are four great friends (Inês, Tiago, Gil and Daniel) that know each other from basically twenty years ago. We live in the west coast of Portugal, between Leiria, Caldas da Rainha e Vimeiro, right in the heart of Lusitânia.

What’s the story of Falcata de Fogo? How long have you been playing together?

Falcata de Fogo started around eight years or so with also a former founder member and friend Rui. We always had the common interest in playing a more darker folk sound, given the fact that we also have other projects more in the heavier side of metal. Despise the fact of being different styles and sounds, we feel that in some intrinsic way are connected and bounded. 

Where do you get inspiration to your songs? 

First and foremost, we receive our creativity from our Land itself. Nature and its elements is and will always be our primordial inspiration. Before common Era, Portugal was used to be known as Lusitânia, that means The Land of the Light. In those ancestral times, many ancient civilizations, namely the Romans, wanted to conquer our land and so the lusitanians, known as barbarian people, were the natural defenders. During a period of time, a very popular man, named Viriato led the lusitanian tribes on the war against the romans. And so, we tell in some way through our music about these ancestral times.

What instruments do you use when writing music?

Usually we use the string instruments as the main writing tools for the songs, naming the bouzouki, the classic guitar or the bandolim. Them along with the percussion we rearrange the structure of the songs, adding later the flutes when needed and the voices as choirs.

Your songs have a very traditional folk sound to them. How important it is for you to create these ancient soundscapes? 

Soundscapes is the key word. For us it’s all about that, to create a soundtrack for the ambient we want to give and transmit the stories we want to tell, like we explained above. It’s all about concept. Music is a pure and primordial creation and we use it to honor the ancient Earth.. Additionally, the fact that we rehearse on the top of a hill also give us a direct and strong influence.

How much music have you released so far?

We have released a few demo songs and then our homonym debut album, which consisted in our presentation in a physical format, our introduction in the general folk circle and the concept that we where aiming at the time, something more dark ambient folk.. 

Do you play live shows? If so, how many and how important role do they have in your music?

Yes of course! One of the main reasons we have this project is to play live shows.. That’s were we can truly connect with ourselves and others. For us it’s a true ritual and the best way to tell our ancestral narrative.. We are lucky to have shared the stage with such amazing bands and friends, like Urze de Lume and Arnica or Azagatel and played in some great places and festivals like Oestryminis fest, Castrum Quiffiones, Raiz Ibérica or La Noche de los Candilles in the beautiful Serra Nevada, just to name a few..

What plans do you have for the future?

For now our goal is to release our second album. We are very anxious and proud of it and we see it as our natural evolution in all the story and concept. It has more attention on the composition, more percussion, reflecting a lot our live performance with more diversity of instruments (like the bandolim), faster and warlike sometimes and more intimist and mysterious in other hand.. We also had a invitation for a compilation from Raiz Ibérica with a exclusive track. And of course, get back on the road as soon as possible.

Any wisdoms you’do like to share with the world?

Wisdoms can be said by anyone.. But from us, all we can say is: Be true and be awesome to each other and Mother Earth. Truth and Respect.

You’ll find Falcata de Fogo’s music at:

Unleashing the intuition – the story behind Amanda Aalto’s new album ’Ikisanat’

The founder and keeper of Dark Folk Nation, which is me – Amanda Aalto from Finland (nice to meet you folks!), have released a new 8 song album called ‘Ikisanat’ and this week I wanted to take a moment and introduce you to the story behind the making of my new release. I want to share with you what the themes of those new 8 songs represent to me and who else was involved when making this new album of mine.

At first I want to introduce you to the core idea of making the album which is: all the material is straight from my intuition or – in other words – that nothing was planned. When I went into the studio and started recording I had 0 % of the material ready – I just started to play and to create from nothing basically. The reason why is that during the past few years I have noticed that the songs that have been born straight from my intuition have been the ones that have got the most attention – and to be honest, they are the ones I feel most satisfied with as well. So I wanted to make the whole album by just playing around with my intuition – playing what it wanted for me to play, singing what it wanted for me to sing.

I like to try out new ways of working when recording music. With ‘Ikisanat’ I decided to record all the percussion first – keeping in mind that I had no idea how the songs would take form after that. So I spent several weeks recording the percussion, different kinds of frame drums, sticks, bones, shakers, jaw harp, tambourine, bells. When I got the percussion done, I had to find a way to start ‘adding more meat onto the bones’ of the songs and this is where something very interesting happened – the electric guitar came along. I had been listening to quite a lot of ‘Skuggsjá’ by Einar Selvik and Ivar Bjørnson by the past year and I guess this is why the album ended up sounding the way it did. Firstly I only had the idea to play the guitar with a bow – which I did on the songs ‘Routa’ and ‘Varjot’ – but then I just started strumming out some riffs and that’s when the album found its’ main direction, I guess.

I was also very keen on adding some distorted vocals on the album. I recorded my two single releases ‘Kaiho’ and ‘Surutta’ at first and with ’Kaiho’ I did something that I’ve never done before – I spent some days learning a distorted metal vocal technique and played around with that knowledge in the backing vocals for the song. I had much fun with this process! But I was also glad to feature my friend Lauri Korhonen in the song ‘Varjot’ with his growls. It ended up sounding pretty deep and authentic, I think.

I also wanted to have some more male vocals on this album and this is when I got Joonas Kunnasluoto, Lauri Korhonen ja Igor Gartzea to sing backing vocals in the more ballad like song ‘Valkea Kuolema’ (which I was truly grateful of!). I also did a collaboration song with Christian Krizmanits who did some pretty amazing throat singing on ‘Raivo’ and composed all his vocals to the song as well. I also got my friend Anni Helenius to play cello in one of the songs, ‘Valkea Kuolema’, which ended up being one of the main things in the song. My other good friend Valter Pilke did some crunchy electric sounds on the first song of the album ’Routa’. The last song of the album, ‘Musta Vesi’, was co-written with Corey Judd and he also plays the tagelharpa in the song.

When it comes to lyrics, this is the first album of mine that is completely written in Finnish. This was a really important aspect to me. I wanted to dig more deeply into my roots and also into Finnish folklore tales ‘Kalevala’ and ‘Kanteletar’. I ended up borrowing some texts from these folklore tales in ‘Kaiho’ (where I combined two poems from ‘Kanteletar’) and ‘Musta Vesi’ (where I borrowed one poem from ‘Kalevala’) but all the other texts are written by me. The album ended up being the darkest and heaviest that I’ve ever written and I think it reflects on the couple the of hardest years that I’ve paddled through somehow. There are a lot of poetry like storytelling about nature, finding yourself and learning how to live with yourself and your feelings – partly it gets quite deep in couple of the songs but I tried to disguise all this in a mythical storytelling form.

When it comes to my music it is really important for me to do as much as I can by myself. This is why I tend to record, mix and produce all the material by myself (except for all the guest recordings that appear on the album, of course). As an artist it is also very important for me to do my own cover designs and I had the idea of the cover much earlier than the album was done. The picture in the cover is also taken by me this autumn (2020) in one of the dearest places for me ever – Kuusamo, Finland. It meant a lot to me to have that special place, where I have visited more than 20 times in my life, in the cover of this album which also ended up being pretty personal to me.

Soundwise I was inspired by three releases when making this album – I already mentioned Einar Selvik’s and Ivar Bjørnson’s ‘Skuggsjá’ but I was also inspired by Nebala’s ‘Lustuz’ and Wardruna’s ‘Ragnarok’. These were the main references for the sound of ‘Ikisanat’ – which you might hear here and there – but of course the outcome became something of its’ own, something different.

I am really glad for this journey and really pleased to share these 8 new songs with you! The album is to be found in all the streaming services (links below) and for buying in Bandcamp as well. I hope this music will take you where my soul always wanders – deep into the woods, far away from the hustle and bustle of the human world…



You’ll find ’Ikisanat’ at: