Music for the mind and the spirit – interview with ’Sun and Moon Dance’


Picture by Cody Stiles

Hi Chris and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! It fills me with joy to
feature your project ’Sun And Moon Dance’ on our site so thanks for
sharing your story. How are you doing today?

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am doing great today. Thank
you for asking. I hope you and all who are reading this are doing well
also.

Where are you from?

I live in the United States and I am nestled in the beautiful
Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. I was born and raised
in the state of North Carolina.

Would you like to tell us some details about ’Sun And Moon Dance’?
When was it formed? Who’s involved? Where does the name come from?

Sure. So Sun and Moon Dance first came into being in 2014. A friend of
mine left me in the house with a Mountain dulcimer while he went to
the store and it was the first instrument in many years that ”clicked”
with me. It was the first instrument besides my voice that I had
played in a very long time. If I remember correctly, that day was when
the first song I ever composed started to take shape. The song was
”Hymne til Freyja” which was the first song to be released (with the
help of Rúnahild on the Hardingfele) by my newly formed project Sun
and Moon Dance. The idea for the name was inspired by the two wolves
that chase the Sun and Moon in the Northern European mythos. To go a
step farther with the inspiration of the name it was loosely inspired
by the song ”Dualitit og ulver” (Duality of the wolf) by the Norwegian
Black Metal band Helheim. The concept of the balance of light and
darkness has been the central focus of Sun and Moon Dance since the
beginning. If anyone wants to know what Sun and Moon Dance is, it is
quite simply me. Sun and Moon Dance is my journey, my magic, my
purpose. Everything is done by myself. I definitely have that punk
rock DIY spirit with my art. Even if the sound suffers a bit because
of my lack of recording knowledge, it’s all part of the journey I
started. I learn something new with each album release. When I started
recording the music, I never wanted it to sound perfect. I wanted it
to channel all those raw emotions and energies of being human. I do
from time to time have guest musicians appear on some of my tracks. I
am very picky with who I let into my art because it is something
sacred that is very special to me. I have to really trust someone’s
magic and intent to allow them to enter that space with me.

You have released quite a lot of music during the past years. Has the
music changed a lot or have you kept your course as an artist?

The music has changed a lot since the beginning and so have I. I have
kept the same course though it has evolved a bit since the beginning.
It has been a natural progression that I truly am amazed at how far I
have come as an artist and composer in the past 6 years. When I
started I did a lot of stand alone instrument songs that would feature
just one or two instruments and no vocals. I had the idea of letting
the instrument tell the story but at the time I was also recording
with a Tascam dr-40 voice recorder haha. I literally had to take the
SD card out of the tascam for every layer of the song and individually
line them up in the recording software. It was tedious and quite
hilarious to think back on. I can’t believe I actually did that but it
was all I knew how to do and the only form of Microphone I had. Now I
actually have a fairly proper recording set up which makes doing many
layers much easier.

What inspires you when writing songs for ’Sun And Moon Dance’?

All my inspirations come from the natural world and the experiences
within it. Experiences of joy, sadness, despair…life and death. The
beautiful mystery of life that encompasses all of those facets and
more inspires me daily. I love the mystery and the acceptance of it.
Runes… My life revolves around runes and their secrets. I also find
great inspiration in these mountains that I call my home. They are
ancient giants that hold so many amazing stories and history. I’m
thankful for them and their wisdom. They’ve helped me grow and learn
how to truly listen.

When listening to your songs I feel there is a unique storyline to
each of them, they are like short journeys of the mind. How much do
you plan these things or are they born straight from your intuition?

Yes, each song is a journey and they are crafted as spellwork or to
induce a trance. They are meant to heal and to take you deep into your
mind to bring back memories and wisdom that has been hidden away or
forgotten. Since Ginnungagaldr, each album has targeted a specific
part of the body and spirit for healing. That is the purpose of the
droning notes that became present in the music since Ginnungagaldr.
They are consistent through an entire album because they target and
activate a specific Chakra. I have been learning to hone in my
practice as a sound healer by learning the note correlation with each
chakra and also learning different sacred and spiritual sounds from
various shamanic and spiritual practices from around the world.
The songs are planned but not planned at the same time. It is as much
a journey for me to create these pieces as it is for the listener to
listen to them. What has happened in the albums since Ginnungagaldr is
I will sit down and write out the tracklist for the concept of the
album. None of the songs are written at that point in time. There may
be a segment of an instrumental that I had that finds its place in a
specific song but 95% of the compositions are done when I sit down to
record. At this point I basically become a conduit for the vocal
melodies, lyrics, and instrumentation to flow out. The lyrics have
always come to me in the moment and they usually come out as a prayer
or as a mantra. Pretty much all the vocal melodies you hear in the
songs are ”on the spot” improvisations. They’re based on feeling
rather than thought. I’m literally in a trance-like state when
recording a majority of the segments of the songs. There have been
times where I have a general idea of how I think a song is going to
sound and when it’s done, it sounds completely different from what I
had envisioned. That’s where you learn to trust the spirit to guide
the song because they come out exactly as they are supposed to. I cant
tell you how many times I’ve sat back and listened to a finished
composition and said to myself ”what the fuck did I just write?” It’s
a really humbling experience.

What instruments do you use in your music?


I use a variety of folk instruments from scandinavia, appalachia and a
couple from other countries. Also I incorporate natural sounds as
well. The ones you hear mostly are the Nyckelharpa, Tagelharpa,
Bukkehorn, Munnharpe, Mountain Dulcimer, Tibetan ceremonial bells,
Birch twigs, bones, stones, antlers, Frame drum, Kraviklyra, and a
couple Native American flutes. A little bit of dancing is also
featured in some of the recordings. Any time you hear bells, I’m
usually dancing around shaking the bells on my clothes haha. Keep that
in mind the next time you hear bells in one of my songs. Imagine a
dude dancing around jingling bells in a shed.

Do you play live?

Before this whole COVID 19 pandemic, I was just starting to get
comfortable playing live and had visions of creating a much bigger
live performance with other musicians and visual artists. One day I
will play live again and something much bigger than Sun and Moon Dance
will come to life. I’m excited for that time to come…

What plans do you have for ’Sun And Moon Dance’ in the future? Are
there any new releases coming or so?

I already have the concept and name of the next album that will come
after Re:member. I’m really excited to see what road that album will
lead me down because the concept is a really powerful one. Ill give
everyone the name of the next album and I’ll let you all think about
what it means. After ”Re:member” will come ”Spirit Saddle.” As far as
what is coming soon, ”Re:member” will be coming out in the beginning
of 2021. Im not sure of the date yet but only one song is left to
record. I am super unconventional when it comes to releases. I do not
follow any kind of schedule. It’s done when it’s done and it’s
released when it’s released. If i’m not feeling inspired, i will not
work on music. I do not force anything. I’ve gone months without
working on music or even touching an instrument for that matter.
Something else I plan to do is to finally get some merch. I have been
focusing on my visual galdr work and I’d love to get some of those
designs printed on shirts. We shall see what else comes out but you
can be assured that the art in various forms will flow.

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

3 words. Love, Hope and Trust. Think about those 3 words and how lost
we are without them but also how deep those 3 words are.

You’ll find Sun and Moon Dance’s music and more at:

https://sunandmoondance.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/sunandmoondance

A wave that breaks the flow – interview with ’Pororoka’

Picture by Viki Shkimbova

Hello ’Pororoka’ and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! I am truly glad to feature you on our site. How are you doing?

Hello! I’m fine, thanks. And I’m also glad to join the Dark Folk Nation community. 

Tell us a bit about yourself – Where are you from? Who’s involved? How long have you been playing together?

We live and play in Kyiv, Ukraine, but came here from the east and central regions of our country. This project was started in 2017 year from an unusual decision for us, for me (Svitlanka Sugak, vocalist) and my friend Eugene Kolyada (multi-instrumentalist). We decided to take part in song’s competition devoted to one of the greatest Ukrainian poets Taras Shevchenko (he lived in the 19-th century). Shevchenko wrote a lot about common people and these poems sound for me like traditional Ukrainian folk. 
So we wrote one song and just continued to play together because it was an exciting experience. During the 2017 year we also found pianist Elizaveta Zharikova, bandurist Olena Hetmanska and Pororoka sound was completed. 

What influences do you use when writing music for ’Pororoka’?

First album was written early under emotional influences. We didn’t think about style nor did we focus on any other specific music.  Some of the songs were devoted to love, man’s fate, death and another transferred our feeling of that time – dramatic events in our country. For example ”The Crane” is about my lost friends. In Ukrainian culture this bird has a deep symbolic meaning both fun and sad.  As vocalist and lyrics’ author I can say that traditional folk had a serious influence on our work, at the same time this stuff is really subconscious. 
One more thing makes a great effect for today on Pororoka music, it is growing interest into the roots of Ukrainians beliefs, I mean pagan, our ancient history and its connection 
with Scandinavia and the East. Our new single ”Hagalaz”, which we’ve released this October, shows this definitely. During the last two years I’ve founded for myself tatar folk music and then music of Danheim, Wardruna, Heilung, charming vocals of Eivor and Tanya Tagaq. It was like a breath of fresh air and seemed to be very close. 


What about instruments?


In our debut album we used guitar, bass, piano, ukrainian bandura, okarina, djembe, different types of tambourines, shakers and three women’s voices.
And in ”Hagalaz” you can hear our igil, made by Eugene Kolyada. We took this two-stringed Tuvan instrument for the prototype. 

When it comes to songwriting do your songs have specific theme to them?


It is spontaneous action. I feel myself like some kind of battery, which accumulates, takes inside different events, views, energies and at the same time it has its own mood. When it is enough the battery switches in another direction – outside and time for writing comes. I don’t know exactly. 
Sometimes melody comes first and points out what to do. Sometimes there are specific themes, connected with events. For example, we work on a new single, inspired by a series of big fires in central and eastern regions of Ukraine this year.  But I never could write something by plan, mental goal.

You have released one single and one album on Spotify. Are you planning to release more music in the near future?


Yes. We hope to release the second EP album ”Polyn”(from Ukrainian – wormwood) with 5 tracks soon. Maybe in December.

What does your name ’Pororoka’ mean and what does it symbol to you as a band?

To be frank, it’s not Ukrainian word and phenomenon, but South America and its great Amazon River. ”Pororoca” is the name of a wave, which appears twice in a year on this River, when the Atlantic Ocean invades it. I saw it just on video and was so impressed by the power, its ability to break traditional flow. And as for the symbol… I believe that music influence is very great on man’s life and it has enough power to break those bad ”traditions”, wrong harmful things, which people got used to. 

Do you play live shows?


This year – no. One reason is an active work in the studio and another more serious – quarantine. In general we don’t exclude such an idea but only in safe conditions.
Today the situation stays difficult.   

What’s next for ’Pororoka’?


There are so many ideas, staying under the door in a chaotic queue and knocking from time to time…

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


I say to myself very often – Everything is connected.

You’ll find Pororoka’s music at:

https://pororoka.bandcamp.com

Music from the ship of the mind – interview with ’Munknörr’

I am really glad to feature ’Munknörr’ on ’Dark Folk Nation’ so thanks a lot for taking some time and doing this interview with us! How are you doing today?

I’m great, now sitting with my coffee – its a pleasure for me doing this so thank you too.

Tell us a bit about ’Munknörr’ – who’s involved? How was the project born?

Munknörr is Aethelwyne and I (Damian) . The project was born when i started to make instrumental music, but it was not Norse or shamanic inspired music at the beginning – it was more meditative and cinematic at the same time. 

And then Aethelwyne commented one of the first songs I made (Cernunnos) and I took a look at her channel and was blown away with her haunting voice…. and that was when the project was born.

What does ’Munknörr’ mean? Is it Old Norse?

It means ”the ship of the mind”. I found a rare Old Norse dictionary on internet and saw that word and the meaning and loved it.

How did you become interested in writing nordic mythology influenced music? 

I dont remember the precise moment but I can tell you that it was Celtic music that influenced me at the beginning.

I used to listen to Lunasa (a band of Irish traditional music), Omnia , Turisas (Viking Metal) and some meditative Celtic music before I started to make music and then i guess in the suggested video in Youtube I discovered Heilung.

Then I started to read a lot about Norse mythology and culture and that was it… I connected with all that very quickly and deeply and begun to make Nordic inspired music.  

What instruments do you use in your music?

I always use my big shamanic drum that has 60cm diameter and a very thick skin, tagelharp, jaw harp, different kind of shakers, sticks , colombina (is a kind of little harp with high notes), and sometimes I use Guitar. 

For some songs in the previous album I recorded a giant shamanic drum … like 1.70 mts tall. I saw that drum in a place when I went for yoga classes…and instantly i thought ”i have to record this” and then i asked to the man in charge of the place and he let me record the drum. So i took my hand recorder and record some sounds that i have used for some songs like Nauthiz, Othila, Teiwaz. 

Your songs have a very ambient, almost cinematic kind of a feel to them. How important it is for you to create those kind of soundscapes and is it important for you to tell a story through your music?

For me in our music the soundscapes and the music itself is more important than the lyrics and words. 

I’m very much influenced by instrumental music. In fact Eikthrynir is our first album where all the songs have lyrics. I’m not a very expressive person so I guess music is my escape and I learned how to put what I feel there.  

You have just released your new album ’Eikthyrnir’. Would you like to tell us a bit about the album?

Recently I was listening a lot of black metal and that influenced some parts in the music of the album like the orchestral parts, and you will be wondering.. why is the album full of ”death songs” like Deyja, Andleg Umbreyting and some more reference in other songs. 

I was reading a lot about shamanism, animal totems, prey-hunter in the animal world … the duality, something has to die first to bring life, is not a bad thing in nature. So I believe that death is a change of energy and we don’t have to fear death. 

When I was a kid my worst fear was death – when i realized that i was gonna die someday I freaked out and I locked myself in the bathroom and then I was depressed for some time. But now I have a different vision I guess because I have faced that fear.

Do you play live shows?

Not for now since Aethelwyne lives in Greece and I live in Uruguay but maybe in the future…who knows!

What’s next for ’Munknörr’? 

I don’t know exactly what is coming because that depends mostly in what I’m feeling at the moment, what I’m reading or which instrument I’m playing.

But what we know is that we will keep making a lot more music.

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

Balance, we have to act in favor of the balance, for example… we can’t say technology is a bad thing because technology has opened huge doors to musicians for example but on the other hand we can’t live depending on technology – I mean I think we have to learn how to deal with technology and society respecting nature.

You’ll find Munknörr’s music at:

munknorr.com

https://munknorr.bandcamp.com/

Melodies from a spiritual path – interview with ’Osi And The Jupiter’

Picture by Jacob Spurlock

Well hello there ’Osi And The Jupiter’ and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! It fills me with joy to feature you and your beautiful music on our site. How’s it going?

All is going fairly well, been busy writing music and spending time with family. Thank you for having me.

Would you like to tell us a bit who’s behind ’Osi And The Jupiter’ and where are you from?

My name is Sean “Deth” Kratz, I do all instruments and writing for OATJ besides Cello which is done by my friend Kakophonix. I am from Kent Ohio.

How long have you been writing music for this project and what is the story behind ’Osi And The Jupiter’?

OATJ has been a spiritual folk project of mine since 2015, I’ve actually been writing for it since 2010 but had no name for it, and didn’t record anything till 2015. Project is named after my two german shepherds Osiris and Jupiter.

What instruments and elements do you use when writing music?

Acoustic guitar, synths, organs, drones, various percussion instruments. 

How are your songs born? Do you have a specific way to write music?

Mostly acoustic guitar when writing, sometimes I’ll have a synth pattern layed out too start as well. In recording certain sequences I like using drones as well too give a certain meditative atmosphere too the music.

Sometimes I’ll have a vocal pattern first but rarely, usually lyrics and vocals are one of the last things I put into a song. After all is done I’ll send to Kakophonix to do cello on certain songs. Then I mix everything before I send it out.

Your songs seem to take a lot of influences from old the nordic / scandinavian mythology. How important are those influences to you?

Scandinavian mythology has had some influence in my music, but many different folklore from around the world has influenced. This project helps me on my spiritual path and my art is my expression of it. Nature has the biggest influence.

How much music have you released so far? Are you working on something at the moment?

OATJ has three full length albums, one split album with mosaic, fellwarden, and By the Spirits, and one EP. Next full length has been done before even the release of the Appalachia EP as well as a handful of covers that we did during the first part of COVID. So there is much in store in the future.

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

We do.

I would love to do more shows in the future and we are definitely ready to even tour, just need to book. I think it is very important to do live shows, it helps you get even closer and more personal to your audience.

What’s next for ’Osi And The Jupiter’?

We have a lot in store from what I answered above so stay tuned on more info.

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

Thank you for having me, and I wish the good health to everyone. May nature guide you on your path.

You’ll find the music of ’Osi And The Jupiter’ at:

osifolk.bandcamp.com

www.facebook.osifolk.com

Instagram:@osiandthejupiter

Eisenwald Label Webstore 

North American:https://store.eisenton.com/osi-and-the-jupiter-a-2754?artist_id=2754

Germany:https://store.eisenton.de/en/osi-and-the-jupiter-a-2754

Ancient words brought to life – interview with ’Nemuer’

Welcome ’Nemuer’ to Dark Folk Nation, I am glad to feature your music
on our site! How are you today?

Hi Amanda! Pretty well, considering, with Covid and all that.

Where are you from?

I am from Czech Republic just like our keyboard/sfx player Martin is.
Our vocalist and hammered-dulcimer player Katarina is from Slovakia, and
our drummer Alex is from Romania.

How was ’Nemuer’ born and how long have you played together?

We started the project together with Katarina in late 2014, a few months
after I returned from my studies in Finland. For a long time we
performed as a duo until 2019, when Alex and Martin joined us to form a
full band.

What instruments do you use when writing songs?

It varies from album to album. Each is devoted to a different mythology,
culture, and stories. The latest album (2019) was Norse-themed, so I
decided to use tagelharpa (Old Norse bowed harp) as the core instrument.
Of course we used many more instruments like hammered dulcimer, shaman
drum, Davul drum, jaw harp, and the most powerful of all human voice.

When it comes to writing lyrics what inspires you the most?

All our lyrics are written in dead languages, and because I respect the
intricacy and perfection of the original words, I always use extracts
from the authentic texts. While I do not try to compose historical
music, I do like to give a glimpse of the ancient times to our
listeners.

It seems that you have released music since 2014. Has your sound or
sources of inspirations changed along those years?

Indeed it has been a while. I believe our music has evolved tremendously
both in terms of the technical quality of sound and the ability to
express the stories well enough to immerse people in it fully.

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


Yes, we do. I find it extremely important, because our concerts are like
rituals that take our listeners on a fantastic and unusual journey. The
same could be said about our music in general, but the concerts have
some extra magical quality to it. Something that cannot really be
captured by cameras or audio recorders.

What’s coming next, any releases in the making?


Although I can not unveil much right now, I can tell that I am working
hard on a new release. As a hint I can tell you that I study the Book of
the Dead intensely.

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

Try to learn how to listen. I mean really listen. First your
surroundings and other people, then music that will speak to your
subconscious mind, and ultimately to yourself. Being able to listen to
myself and my subconscious mind is in my opinion a priceless ability to
possess.

You’ll find Nemuer’s music and more at:

http://www.nemuer.com/

https://www.instagram.com/nemuer.music/

The spiritual side of sexuality – interview with ’Nebala’

Picture by Espen Winther

I am really excited about this interview with you Jonas and to hear the story behind ’Nebala’s music, so thank you so much for making this happen! How’s it going?

Fine thanks! And you? 

I’m good, thank you! Would you like to tell us a bit about ’Nebala’? Is it a band or a one man project? 

Nebala is both a one man project and a huge collaboration. 

The first music for Nebala, melodies, beats, vibes n such, came to me sometime in early autumn of 2019. I’ve since allied myself with philosopher Naina Gupta, old Norse religion specialist Mathias Nordvig, a slew of talented singers and musicians and composer/producer Sebastian Gainsborough to shape the content and music of Nebala.

You have just released your three song EP called ’Lustuz’. Is this your first release under the name ’Nebala’?

Yes this is the first release, before Nebala I was performing with Heilung since their first concert in 2017. I left the ensemble in November 2019 to do Nebala.

I remember reading somewhere that the lyrics in ’Lustuz’ are written in some rare old language. If so, what is this language and how did you learn about it?

The language of Nebala is essentially Proto-Norse. So it’s the oldest of the Nordic languages that scholars have a grasp on. The language is found on runestones, bractaetes, bones, wood etc from northern Germany and Scandinavia. So almost all of the lyrics are set in this language and the reason is, that we when working with the texts, wanted to create a sort of, ritualistic feeling to the words, so we thought to use this language in the same way that older languages are used round the world, only for the expression of something religious or ritualistic. I can mention examples such as Sanskrit, one of the oldest known languages, which in India, is not spoken among people on the street, but reserved only for rituals, reciting of mantras and such like. Aramaic among Christians in the Middle East, Latin in the Catholic Church and so on and so forth. 

Is there a specific storyline that goes through the whole EP?

I’m glad you asked. Yes there is. 

All the music revolves around the subject of sexuality. There a lot that can be said about this subject from a philosophical, spiritual and also mythological point of view, but if you don’t mind I’d like to start with the more personal reason for choosing this subject. 

I basically had a few experiences, which I won’t go into details about, that’s to personal, hahaha. However; these experiences completely overturned what I thought I knew about sexuality. I realised the importance of relating to sexuality in a healthy and yes, in fact spiritual way. The way we are relating to sexuality in society today seems to be quite empty and based on two positions, no pun intended, only. Either sexuality is hidden away and riddled with shame and guilt or conversely we are overexposed to it in purely carnal sense, on billboards, in entertainment, adds, and yes this translates into how we interact with each other as well, female and indeed male self esteem being entirely based on how we can present ourselves, superficially, in the most alluring way in order to win the favour of the others gaze. I’m off course not saying that there is anything wrong in making an art piece of oneself, this is I think a natural tendency and a creative one, which I think is awesome, but if it is not accompanied with an understanding of what sexuality and intimate, sensual relationship are and can be, it becomes shallow, objectifying, violent and devoid of substance. 

Hence, through these experiences of mine I got completely absolved in the subject of sacred sexuality and started looking for ways of expressing these ideas. I knew already, at least on a cerebral level, about how sexuality was treated as a spiritual subject in places such as India, where for instance kundalini yoga is all about transferring sexual energy into a positive creative force for the benefit of the entire universe. I was therefore convinced that these ideas had to be found in old Norse religion as well, as there are so many similarities between the religions and spiritual practices of the old world. 

Through various discussions with Naina and Mathias I defined three main subjects to explore in the creation of the music. 

Lustuz: desire, longing, and the need for sharing each other’s darkness to fully merge sexually in total mutual vulnerability.

And as you know Lustuz is the name of the first Ep. 

Laþu: sexual tension, mutual objectification, and unfulfilled sexual longing.

Woþuz Alu: sexual release into absolute subjectivity and mergence, transcendence, and an explosion of the cosmic creative force.

And to be clear it’s not like there is any clear message with the music, like, have

More spiritual sex or something, it’s simply an artistic exploration of sacred sexuality, people can digest that in whatever way they want. 

I could speak endlessly on this topic but I hope this sort of answered your question for now. 

How is your music born? Do you have a certain way of doing things in songwriting or do you like to experiment things?

I love to experiment, but I also like to make strict frameworks and dogmas for myself. I feel, it sharpens the mind to say, ok these three elements you can work with and you have to come up with a way to get to your destination using only these. In some way this pushes the mind to maximum creativity. It’s a bit like, why is Batman such an infinitely more interesting character than say Superman, because the faacking guy ain’t got crazy otherworldly powers, he has to make due with what he’s got and just a butt load of decisive death defying determination. That is how I like to do music these days, using almost only percussion and vocal, with the odd wind and string instrument here n there, but mostly these are used for effect rather being carrying pillars of the music, otherwise if I can hit it with a stick, it’s not invited to the party, so to speak.

In your music there are many layers of different kind of percussions. What kind of percussions can we hear in ’Nebala’s music?

So there’s everything from framedrums, various temple bells from around the world, Tibetan singing bowls, an old polish bombshell, that was very random but ended up having a central role in one of the songs on Lustuz, and a layer of significance relating to the song even, which shall remain a secret. A bit of lyre and tagalharpa, which are the sort of quintessential Nordic folk instruments, however when I use these I want to mix it up a bit, so for instance I’d tune the lyre in and Indian tuning or tune the tagalharpa way down so it gets a more effecty feel, rather than just using these instruments in the way a straight up folk musician would use them. It’s a kind of conversation with the instrument where I go, “yes I know you can do all these marvellous things,  but, what else have you got”.

Your music has a very trance like shamanic feel to it. How important it is for you to create these kind of shamanic of atmospheres?

That is very important. The music is heavy with all sorts of textual and conceptual significance which can be explored in a very cerebral way, we are working on releasing a lot of extra material about the subjects and concepts that we explore through the music of Nebala. However; at the end of the Day, its Music, and it should be able to be enjoyed entirely on its own merits. What I mean to say, is that the listener should be able to simply put it on and feel connected to it, without knowing what it’s about or anything. Therefore I’m very happy to hear you say that, that is what you get from it! 

Do you play live shows?

Not yet, but as soon as the situation allows, oh yes, this will be played live! 

Have you done any collaborations or are you planning to do any in the future?

I love collaborating. On Lustuz for instance you can hear on the track Blotha Hunaga Bolanan Alu, the voice of Katrine from the Norwegian band Kalandra, singing backing vocals. Visy from Seidrblot also came by the studio with various instruments and Also played on a few tracks. And on subsequent releases I plan to have more different people gracing the tracks with their particular skills etc. Also beyond Nebala I’ve been asked to come do some stuff on people’s music, but I can’t reveal any of that yet. 

What is next for ’Nebala’? Can we expect new music any soon?

Yes the next Ep Laþu will be released later this year.  And a complete album is set to be released in early spring next 2021

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

Yes, The world is full of Magic.

You’ll find ’Nebala’s music at:

https://nebala.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/nebalamusic/

Ancient rituals brought to life – interview with ’Kallomäki’

Welcome to Dark Folk Nation Tero from ’Kallomäki’, I’m truly glad to feature you on our site! How’s it going?

Thanks! We just had good show at the Pakanalliset Syysmessut, Helsinki (pagan fall fair) and now are publishing some videos and awesome pics from there. People gave good feedback and there’s always good vibes many days after a good show.  

You are the second Finnish band featured on Dark Folk Nation so far. How do you find the darker folk music scene in Finland?

It’s an honor to be featured in DFN and all interviews are important to us, with this kind of music it isn’t so easy to get interviews in Finland (even if you’re a Finnish band).

Actually I have to admit I don’t know so many dark folk bands from here, I think it’s still quite underground music. Recently I found Okra Playground and I was amazed that it sounded almost like my second dark folk band, Uinuos, in a good way.  And I follow my favourite dark folk band Tenhi quite regularly, hoping that they’ll release new music soon and do some gigs.

Would you like to tell us a bit about ’Kallomäki’? How was the band born and how long have you been creating and playing music together?

Kallomäki started as my solo band, Kalliomäki. If I remember right, first single was released at the beginning of the 2018.  It started from a vision where I played jouhikko at the stage with a skull mask on. Also I had idea of the theme; stories of some ancient pagan cult from Finland.  Somehow it seemed such a cool idea in my head that I ordered a professional 3D printed skull mask, one of a kind and started to practise to play with that on my head. It isn’t so easy, jouhikko is hard to play even without that. 

After I booked the first gig I started to ask friends from my other bands to join and soon there was 8 people, I don’t know what happened to “solo”, hah. I’ve played with couple of our members (Hapa and Samu) almost 20 years now.   

What instruments do you use in your music?

Main instrument is my self made electric jouhikko named Rotakko. Then we use cello, bass, shaman drums, bones, other kind of percussions and real drums. And in some songs there’s kantele played by our good friend Aslak Tolonen / Nest

When it comes to songwriting do you have some specific themes from where the lyrics are born? Are you inspired by the Finnish folklore or so?

Our debut album was mainly based to myth of Roka Ukri (Jouhien Herra / The lord of the bowed lyre), written by me. That is the pagan cult theme that I had in my head for a long time. You can find the whole story from debut album’s covers. Some of the lyrics was made by guest singers like Helena Haaparanta, Anne Rajala and Timo Paasio. 

Our second album “Uuden Kuun Aika I&II” is a double album and first part is not that theme, it’s based to personal feelings after some period of depression, broken relationship etc, I felt I had to get rid of those negative feelings and made sad and gloomy album part from those. Of course that is also written in same “oldish” style than debut album. Second part of the album is heavier and continues the story of Roka Ukri. 

We also mix some Finnish traditional myths to Roka Ukri’s theme. And to Roka’s main story have influenced old horror films also, like Wicker Man and Children of the Corn. 

How does the songwriting process go for you?

I do all the main song structures and compositions, lyrics are mostly from Petri Määttä and me. First album was mainly done as improvisation, one hour before our drummer arrived to my studio I made some jouhikko riffs and then we jammed those to songs.

Second album was done more traditional way, I made song demos and then we recorded those actually. We always record vocals last, it’s easier to figure out singing styles to “finished” recording. 

You play live shows and they seem to have a big role in your music. How much do you plan your rituals before? Is there a certain pattern to your shows or does it vary? 

Yeah, from the beginning the show has been 50% of our music. We decided we want to give audience more than a just music and it has worked well. We don’t practise those rituals, those are improvisation that has set to patterns to our show. And those rituals are taken from Roka Ukri’s myth. For example we sacrifice one believer at the stage as gift to Ukri. In that story Roka’s followers gave victims to their lord that he won’t take their soul away.  In the story there was starvation in Finland at the time and they also ate their victims (we don’t do that for some reasons, we only drink the blood of the victim). 

Right now we’re planning some new visual elements to show like tribal dancers, creepy scent effects and fire. 

It seems you have released two albums so far, are you working on some new material as we speak?

I’m working in studio with my doom metal band, Saattue right now, but we’re starting to record new Kallomäki album at January 2021. We have some songs already and can’t wait to record the new material. For me the best thing in music is creating new. It gives such a good feeling when you manage to record something unique, and that is my goal almost every time. We also released one special cover song in July, that was a Pink Floyd song, played with jouhikko and lyrics translated/modified to Finnish… You can find that and our albums from Bandcamp.

What’s next for ’Kallomäki’? 

As said, right now we’re planning some new elements to our show. And also we’re looking for new festival gigs, so if you want our show to your festival, email to tero.kalliomaki@gmail.com… 

There’s also some smaller shows coming in this year, one of those is acoustic show at Porvoo.

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

My new favourite Finnish word, Sättänä! Hah, thanks to our member, Petri!

For really; don’t forget your roots, it’s sad that there’s some nice pagan celebrations that people seem to forget now days. And always respect nature, it gives and takes.

You’ll find the music of ’Kallomäki’ at:

https://kallomaeki.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kalliomaeki/

Melodies born from silence – interview with ’Illuriah’

Hi Igor, so great to feature your music on our website and to hear more about how it is born and from which influences! How’s it going?

I’m really excited about this! This is awesome and I wanted to thank you for supporting small artists all over the world, Amanda. Everything is ok on this cold night, I’m composing my second album and soon I’ll begin to record the songs. So, I’m very happy!

Tell us a bit about ’Illuriah’? Is it a band or a one man project?

Illuriah was a band before, but since 2019 is a one man project. Illuriah means everything and nothing. Everything that came before and after the giant Ymir.

Where are you from?

I’m from Curitiba – Brazil.

From which influences is the music of ’Illuriah’ born? What inspires you as a musician and a songwriter?

The influences of Illuriah are Wardruna, Heilung, Skáld, Myrkur, Sigurboði, Storm (norwegian band with Fenriz, Satyr and Kari Rueslåtten), Faun and Heidevolk.

I feel very inspired when I sit in front of my keyboard or hold my Kravik Lyra and remain silent while I drink coffee or beer. When I smell the rain approaching or when I’m closer to nature, I feel that ideas start to pop up in my head and I need to write down or record everything as soon as possible.

Are your songs written in Old Norse?

Not all of them, Loki and Þórr were written in Norwegian. Bragi has mixed lyrics, Old Norse and New (?) Norse hahahaha, Varð and Fimbulþulr have parts of Havamál.

You have released an album called ’Illuriah’ which consists six songs. Does this album have a specific storyline to it?

This album doesn’t have a chronological storyline or a specific storyline but some stories from the Eddas are told, as a reference I used Havamál, Skáldskaparmál, Gylfaginning and the book Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

What instruments can we hear in your music?

You can hear Kravik Lyra, Frame Drum, Cello, Tin Whistles, Piano and Synth.

How important role does the Viking Age play in your music? Can we hear this in your music?

Very important! When I was 14 years old I was having some weird dreams about crows, runes and more. After doing some searches, I discovered a new world.
You can’t only hear it but also feel it in the songs. The idea of Illuriah is to bring different emotions and feelings in every song. This is why I study and search for real materials about the Eddas so that the listener has the feeling of listening to a Skald wherever he is.

Do you play live shows under the name ’Illuriah’?

Yes, but I played only one time at Medieval Market Camp. I hope to receive more invitations to play live when the coronavirus pandemic is over. For now I’m planning on doing a livestream playing some songs.

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


Don’t take everything too seriously, you need to laugh sometimes. Be happy, drink beer, drink coffee and listen to Illuriah!

You’ll find Illuriah’s music and more at:

https://illuriah.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/illuriahofficial/

Ancient tales from the North – interview with ’Vévaki’

Hi Will, I am really glad to do your interview and to hear how your amazing music for ’Vévaki’ is born! How’s it going?

I am very happy to be doing this with you, I love Dark Folk Nation! It’s going really well, just got back from a camping trip in the south of England. Got to see some ancient sites including Stonehenge which has been on my list for quite some time. 

Would you like to tell us a little about ’Vévaki’? Is it a one man project or are there other musicians involved?

Vévaki is mostly me, I write all the songs, but I often recruit my good friend Sigurboði Grétarsson to play things like tagelharpa, percussion, vocals, whatever is needed really. I also feature a very talented Nyckelharpist named Florian Baudrain from the band ”Les Compagnons du Gras Jambon” a medieval folk band from France. 

Does the word ’Vévaki’ mean something?

It does, simply put it means “Sacred Dance” Vé, the name of one of Oðinn’s brothers, means Sacred, or something so sacred it’s beyond words. “Vaki” means dance and is taken from the word “Vikivaki” which is a type of traditional circle dance in Iceland where they sing old songs, hold hands, and dance in a circle. “Vaki” can also mean to watch over, so I guess a Vévaki could be someone who watches over the sacred.

You have just released your new album ’Edda’ some time ago which includes 9 new songs. How were these songs born?


The conception of many of these songs started years ago before I ever thought of recording them. I was brought up on all different types of mythologies at a young age, when I got older and started to fall in love with Germanic myth, I naturally wanted to try and put some of the poems to song. It was more for my own personal spiritual practice than anything else. For example the song Hétumk Grímr, which is based on the poem Grímnismál, was originally written as a simple chant with my drum to kind of ..call upon Oðinn.. by chanting his many names or “heitir” during rituals. I eventually decided to record it years later at which point I think it took on a much more evolved form. Then there are songs on the album like “Sigtíva” which just kind of came to me during the recording process. A melody would pop into my head at random, and the rest of the pieces would fall into place around that melody.

What instruments do you use when writing music for ’Vévaki´?


I actually used a lot of Cello on this album, I really enjoy the warm tones and it was fun to also experiment with processing and creating different drones and atmospheric sounds using the cello. I also use different percussive elements, like frame drums, shakers, and bones. The occasional tagelharpa appears on the album, and of course my voice. I also like to record rain, wind, and more natural sounds to get that sort of “out in nature” kind of feel. 

How did you become familiar with these instruments and how did you learn to play them?

Well, my father is a professional Jazz drummer and got me to start playing drums at a very young age. Later in life I developed a love for frame drums, for the more trance inducing ritual aspect. I like to zone out with a drum, I think everyone should try it wether they consider themselves a musician or not, it can be a great form of meditation. I always sang and played guitar in bands growing up, and then I got into a lot of traditional folk bands which sparked interest in learning instruments like the tagelharpa. The more traditional folk instruments came pretty naturally to me, and I love the challenge of learning a new instrument. As for the cello, I was inspired by an Icelandic cellist named Hildur Guðnadóttir. I fell in love with her music, especially the way she loops the cello and creates these eerie soundscapes. It lead me to getting one on somewhat of an impulse buy. I started to fool around with it and it has become one of my favorite instruments, but I am by no means a trained cellist. 

When it comes to writing lyrics do your songs have a certain theme or how are the lyrics born?


The lyrics for this album are all taken from the Poetic Edda, a mix of some of my favorite stories and verses. The song ”Þá Kvað Völva” for example is the first 9 verses of the poem Völuspá. I had committed these verses to memory and was playing them live with just a tagelharpa for quite some time. The song ”Vafþrúðnir” was my attempt at recreating a flyting, a sort of war of words between two main characters in a poem. I had Sigurboði do the part of the giant Vafþrúðnir while I sang the part of Gagnráðr, or as he’s more well known, Oðinn. 

How does the songwriting process work for you?


Usually if a verse or a story speaks to me I will try to put it to music, that is mainly how my process has always worked. Often times a melody for a verse will just pop into my head, I will then play around with it, maybe with a drum or a stringed instrument of some sort. Once I feel it has reached a certain point I will record a very basic version of that song and then build on it with different instruments and ambient sounds as I see fit. 

Have you done any collaborations?

Me and Sigurboði collaborated a lot on Edda, he is predominantly featured on the songs “Vafþrúðnir” and “vegtamskviða” which are probably my two favorite songs on the album. I also have some collaborations coming up very soon that I’m really excited about. 

What inspired you to write nordic influenced folk music?


Growing up I was exposed to a lot of different mythologies, and then when I was about 18 my mother introduced me to the runes. I started to study them and read more into the Eddas and various Sagas. I always had weird spiritual beliefs growing up and was always kind of “vaguely pagan” so it wasn’t long until I fell into Ásatru, heathenism, whatever you want to call it. I enjoyed these folk traditions but it was really the music associated with them that drew me in the most. This kind of music just really resonated with me as I think it does with a lot of people. I feel very privileged to be able to share my love for the gods and these stories with people all over the world. 

Do you play live?

I have only played live a handful of times, usually just me and an instrument around a fire pit or something in front of a handful of people. But I do want to play live more in the future and there are some talks going on trying to figure out how to make that happen on a bigger scale.

What’s coming next for ’Vévaki’?

I am very excited to be collaborating with Andreas Axelsson and Sigurboði on an upcoming Ursprung album. Im not sure if I should say much more than that, but I think it’s really going to blow people away. 

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

Yeah.. do what you love, always, even if some people might think its a bit strange.. especially if people think its a bit strange.

You’ll find Vévaki’s music and more at:

https://vevaki.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/vevaki/

Weaving with sound – interview with ’The Old Loom’

Hi Sean, I am really excited to feature you on Dark Folk Nation and to hear the story behind your beautiful music! How are you doing today?

I am doing great. Thank you so much for having me for chat.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your project ’The Old Loom’?

Yes. Hmm…what do I say? First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Phillips. I am the face, the musician, the vocalist, and the artist behind The Old Loom. I’ve always tried to remain hidden, for what reason, I do not know. I’m guessing I just wanted the attention to be on the music rather than myself, so for a while I would not even offer my name to the record. The Old Loom is its own entity. Its own monster, you could say. I started The Old Loom in 2018 after about a year or so of writing music that was unlike anything I’ve ever written before. In the past, I played metal, punk, industrial, black metal, you name it. But never folk. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the sound of an acoustic guitar. But to really strip everything down and get to the absolute basics was unheard of for me. But I started writing these “stripped down acoustic” songs, and I really, really enjoyed them. It almost felt liberating, like I wasn’t doing something to sound like someone else or write in a certain genre like I listed. The songs were simple, but they were deep. And I enjoyed that. They seemed to weave themselves into existence. When I wrote one piece, it led to another and became exactly what I never knew I needed all along. That simplistic freedom of music straight from the heart and soul. That is where the name, The Old Loom, came from…that weaving. While the music was liberating, I knew I wanted it to contain elements of influences that I had learned from all my life. I wanted to take elements of black metal, country, and hard rock to “weave” this blend that would create the sound of this project. I wanted the music to be dark, and sound dark. But I wanted the lyrics to speak life. I wanted the lyrics to be real. Real life experience. They would tell a story, but it would be my story. At the point in 2018 when I started the project, I wrote the song, I Am The Storm. However, shortly after putting it out for a few people to hear, I became frustrated with the songwriting and scrapped the idea. I felt I was trying to hard from the excitement of this project, that maybe I was rushing. But it made me extremely frustrated. This year in 2020, I came back to it. I had been continuing to write music for it in the background over the last two years, and decided to resurrect it. The Old Loom was back, and this time I felt really good about it. I really wanted to put my all into it, and do it right this time. The Old Loom is raw, old world dark folk. It is also the narrative of my life and soul up to this point and will continue to be. It is music and art. As a graphic designer, I try to create a visual representation of every piece of music released, and that is what I mean when I say The Old Loom is its own “monster”.

Where are you from?

Currently, I am residing in Bakersfield, California USA. I have lived here for close to 7 years. I am in the process of moving back to my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was born and raised, in October. Texas is absolutely my home, it’s where my heart and soul lie. It is basically its own country and its people know that. There is a lot of pride, sense of belonging, and community there. There is no other place like it. Growing up in Texas had a huge influence on my styles of music that I write, and The Old Loom is the root of it. So, when people ask, “Where are you from?”, I really like to just skip right to Texas.

You have released your music mainly through Youtube. How much music have you released so far under the name ’The Old Loom’?

Yes, so far, I have only released two singles under The Old Loom on Youtube and BandCamp. It is a fairly new “old” project, if that makes sense. I am currently writing and recording a total of 5 songs to release on an upcoming EP that will be the first official release. I’m hoping to have that out sometime before the end of the year. ‘I Am The Storm’ was my first single, and is actually an older song. It was written in 2018 when I first began what was to become The Old Loom. It is a darker song, but exactly what I wanted it to be for this project. I threw it out there for a couple of people to listen to, but just did not get a great response to it. Maybe it was just the wrong time, or the wrong people. Who knows? But I have had an amazing and overwhelming response upon its release here in 2020. The second single, ‘The Tree & The Stone’, is the title track to the upcoming EP I mentioned earlier. This song still has some of the dark elements, but feels like a much lighter note musically. I have promised a third single, ‘Blessed Is The Rain’ to be released soon. I am in the process of fine tuning the recordings and getting it where I need it to be before I release it. So please look for me on Youtube and BandCamp to stay tuned for all future releases. I am working to get the music onto Spotify and iTunes, which will be happening very, very soon.

What instruments and elements can we hear in your music?

Well, like I said earlier on, I like to keep the music as raw and unproduced as possible. My main instrument of choice is the acoustic guitar. All of the melodies that you hear will be on the acoustic. I am trying to not have anything electronic in the music, but at times, some of my songwriting is leading me to go a little deeper with a mixture of heavily distorted electric guitars. So, you could be hearing some of this very soon. I feel its okay, as a lot of my style of writing these songs has come from the influences of black metal. I love the sound of a smooth, dark cello as well. While a guitar can create a melody and an emotion, I believe the cello is what truly captures the atmosphere and emotion in the songs that I am craving so much. You can also hear upright bass, plucked behind the other instruments. I use this because, at this time, I am opposed to drums. A plucked upright bass almost provides a beat, while also giving some low end to the mix of instruments. Field recordings are something that I am very interested in, and have been for a very long time. You can absolutely expect to hear the sounds of rain, wind, birds singing, the sound of trees, the ocean. Every time I go out anywhere, I am looking for sounds that I love and want to include with these songs.

When it comes to writing lyrics do you some specific themes from where they are born?

The Old Loom is very raw and nature based. It is almost primal at its core, in every sense of what primal is. The Old Loom is old world, that is how I best describe it. The lyrics are tales of simplicity, or striving for simplicity in this life. We are too bogged down with technology, social media, and politics. And in all of this mess, we have forgotten where we have come from. We have forgotten that we are children of nature, children of God (whatever God that you may or may not believe in). We are lost, and in being lost, we have learned to forget. We have learned to forget our core, our ancestry, a higher power, the things that truly make us human. In my lyrics, I strive to call back to that. I want to remember. I want to slow down and remember what is truly important, where 99% of everything else is just noise and inflammation to your soul. My lyrics speak of emotion; hurt, anger, sadness, happiness, love, faith, and hope. I try to incorporate my evolution of self into my music. I’ve always thought, if I could have a soundtrack of my life up to my death, what would I want it to sound like? What would I want to say? What would I want to be heard? The Old Loom IS that soundtrack. It is our former selves, before all of the noise. And I hope that in my lyrics and music, every listener can gain something from that and begin to find their true self under all of the distraction. Unplug for a while. Step off of the concrete and let your feet touch the grass, feel the dirt, hug a tree (Haha). Whatever it takes, just do it, and find yourself.

How about the songwriting process, do you have a certain way of doing things?

The songwriting process is probably the most frustrating to me. I can usually hear a melody in my head, clear as the day. It feels like it is right there, where I can just pick up my guitar and play it out just the way it sounds. But that is not what happens most of the time. And the hard part is not putting it to the guitar. The hard part is incorporating it to guitar in the way that I “feel” it. I am a huge fan of emotion and feelings in my music. When I hear it in my head, I can almost give myself goosebumps from it. But when put to guitar, sometimes it does not quite accomplish that. It’s okay though, that is where I usually draw upon a background cello to accompany the main guitar line. Most of the songs start with a guitar line. I have probably hundreds of them, many of which will probably never even be heard…ever. But based off of the emotion I receive from the music, that is where the lyrics come to life. They usually flow from those feelings and I find myself just simply telling a story.

Is there new music in the making at the moment? New releases coming out or live shows?

I have five songs right now that are being recorded for the upcoming debut EP, The Tree & The Stone. Beyond those five songs, I do have some others that are currently incomplete that will be featured on a full-length album most likely by the end of 2021. That is what I am aiming and hoping for currently. I do not have any plans for live shows yet, but I can let you in on a secret that I am looking for other musicians who can help be achieve that very soon. I am a one-man band at the time, and I suppose I could sing and play my guitar for people, but I want it to be a full experience if it’s going to be done. So, yes, live shows are a possibility in the future at some point. For now, though, you’re just going to have to stick to my Instagram Live.

Have you done any collaborations or would you like to do some in the future?

No, I have not worked on any collaborations at this time. But I would absolutely love to do some in the future. I have discovered many great folk artists and musicians from all over. Eventually I would love to see what a great mind can bring to The Old Loom. Or maybe I can bring something to someone else. Either way, I think it would be good fun.

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

Unplug. Unplug and go outside into the world. And I do not mean go shopping or have dinner with friends. Get out of town. Go someplace barren. Isolation is okay and it is surprisingly healing. Isolating in your home is not the same. Go outside. Feel the vibrations of nature around you. It will hold you and it will heal you. With that I leave you and thank you. I do hope you will decide to listen and get a feel of the music yourself. Be encouraged.

You’ll find the music of ’The Old Loom’ at:

https://theoldloomofficial.bandcamp.com/

THE OLD LOOM (@theoldloom_official) • Instagram photos and videos