How‘s Temnozor horde doing? As far as I know you are intensively preparing for two shows in Lithuania and Belarus.
Hails! Everything goes fine so far. And, yes, we're currently rehearsing for our gigs in Lithuania (Kilkim Zaibu festival) and Belarus.
Looking back to the first Temnozors‘ steps and comparing with current state – what has changed? What kind of road was those 15 years?
Huh, a lot of things have changed since mid 90's. The whole world have changed dramatically. Our country have changed and, I'd assume, for the worse. We've changed ourselves, I guess. TEMNOZOR' line-up changed quite a lot.
It's easier to say what didn't change. The ancient Russian spirit we breathe with didn't change. It's somewhere and nowhere nowadays. Deep in our hearts, high in our skies, it lays thick upon our landscapes at the dusk... But still, it's nowhere... and always in us.
How would you assess the current state of Temnozor?
Could you enlighten our readers upon the artistical concept of Temnozor, upon the ideas which the band expresses through its music and lyrics?
The concepts were naturally changing from album to an album. Each of our albums reflects it’s own spirit and the atmosphere of the time when it was created. Thus the latest: “Haunted Dreamscapes” is most surreal of all our albums so far. A lot of it’s aspects deal with archaic Russia and the “other world”. “Folkstorm of the Azure Nights” was more abstract and personal, I guess. “Horizons” and “Fragments” more energetic, warlike, yet still nostalgic. The debut “Sorcery” was rebellion, madness, crime and youth.... back in 1998. As you might see, things change every year, every season, every day. There is something deeper which didn't changed though. These days TEMNOZOR for me is a mystical music and poetic experience which deals with my personal journey, the history, traditions and the folk psyche of Russland.
How important for you is the message in the music, the words behind the notes? Its obvious, that Temnozor doesn‘t belong for those bands, that really cares only about playing ephemeral four chords metal and shouting whatever.
Lyrics and music are equally important, and in case of TEMNOZOR, lyrics are probably even more reflecting to what we want to say, while music is a background atmosphere which emphasize the poetry.
When I get some new music and read through the booklet of CD or LP and I see someone's lyrics are meaningless or generic and are written just "because there should be some words for the vocalist to shout out", then I oftenly lose the further interest in such band. Unfortunately, the most bands are just like that. There always should be a meaning and a message. Even if it is a message to no one, a desperate lonesome cry in the desolate woodland wilderness.
What is your lyrics influenced by? Can you describe what is going on in your mind, while creating all those... timeless epic tragedy‘s, hymns for ancestors etc.? What does it give to you as a creator?
Our lyrics are not literally influenced by anything. They come out of the higher spheres, from the memory of the blood, from the subconsciousness, somewhere from the dark side... I am not sure what it gives to me. I am not even sure wherever I am the creator. And it probably "takes" more than it "gives".
Does today's realities impacts the concept or creation process of your band? Every day we see society loosing old values, people refusing traditional ways of thinking, worldview, and drowning in slough of capitalism. That tide, you are swimming against, is getting stronger...
In the past we wanted to inspire with our music the new generation of young people to be strong and proud for what they are, to learn their own roots and to live by the hammer. But you can't turn a something into a someone he (or it) isn’t. Our ancestors had ships made of wood and men made of iron, now we have ships made of iron and the most of men made of wood… There is no equality in life and socialism in all its’ so luring forms is an utopia. So, at the moment, we don’t aim to necessary tell "what they should do" to, oh so various, listeners of our music. Those who are worthy will find out everything themselves, and I could only salute them, and those who are not, oh well, let jesus christ or jehova save their inexistent souls. We are proud of what we are, we aim to study ourselves, be ourselves and express ourselves, even if our voice wouldn’t be heard or understood. At least, some of us will surely leave this world with a grin.
You use many russian elements in your music, which certainly helps to make you quite unique band. Besides the fact that those elements do strengthen your music, how important is it for Temnozor that people will recognise you as being a Russian band?
We probably "sound Russian" simply because we're Russian, not that we essentially try to force-feed our russian-ness to the listener. We're what we are, and we don't try to be someone else.
Temnozor are quite isolated band, if its possible to says so. I just can take a guess that your cd‘s doesn‘t lay on the shelfs at metal stores in Europe or other part of the world and the concert organisers are afraid of inviting Temnozor, because of public reactions etc. What kind of band Temnozor is in the rest of the world (or just Europe) eyes? In Russia?
The most of metalheads are fine with TEMNOZOR, while the most of regular people don't know and don't care about us and the music we play. However there is a small but aggressive group of punks and soccer hooligans who call themselves "antifa". People who love Karl Marx, Mao Tze Dun and Red Brigades (they call it "fighting for freedom"), they love living in dirt (it is called "squotting"), are into destroying (others) cars (they call it "protest"), eat from the garbage cans (they call it "freegan way"), they also like to assault metal musicans when they are highly outnumbering and are known to run very fast when they are not (they call it "antifascist action"). These nice gentlemen are threatening metal gig promoters, metal labels, metal bands and even simple fans when they think that this or that band is against leftwinged political views and against their morals (they call it "fascism"). No one would really care, but the aforementioned jerks stop at nothing - they give false info to the newspapers and TV, they toss up the facts, they call police and when all of it doesn't work they threaten their opponents with physical violence et c. The most of people involved into the music do not want to engage into the problems, so they just give up and succumb to the aggressive punks who do not even listen to this (our) musical genre. People, who in their majority, do not have anything common with the black / pagan metal subculture are trying to teach us all what is "right" and what is "wrong". TEMNOZOR openly refuse to accept their rhethorics, thus "antifa" try to create "bad image" over our band.
But reality is all what counts not the made up speculations, so we played circa 10 gigs in Europe during the last 4 years, all gigs were legal and there were no real problems with the authorities ever. It's good to see the that more and more people now open their eyes and try to think with their own minds, instead of listening and obeying to the provocations.
Do you feel any pressure or other negative reactions from society in general – metal media, metalheads, politics etc?
I think every person in the modern world feels the pressure from the state. As for metal media and metalheads - of course not, we never felt any pressure. If someone doesn't like our music, it's completely fine for us, because we don't play for everyone, we play mostly for ourselves. When it comes to politics, I am not interested in modern politics, so we simply don't interfer with this aspect.
Your music is a tribute to the ancestors – their values, world view, relationship with nature, war history etc. Basically those topics doesn‘t have a place in nowadays life that is evolving faster than we can understand that. How do you think why its so hard to make people look back and search for answers in their ancestors wisdom? Why does the songs about your homeland and its history are so hardly accepted?
People nowadays are too alienated from their roots and from the natural order of things in general. Although the stupidity is ancient and eternal, it only grows with the coming years and centuries. We live in the world of mass consumption full of hypocrite morals and weak self excuses. That's why it's hard for people to be wiser, I think. Still the most of people who take a listen to our songs are fine with what they hear. Even some people from the elder generations, who has nothing to do with Black / Pagan Metal scene or subculture. It's possible that our music touch some very ancient strings inside their souls. Once, back in 2007, we played at open-air hystorical architecture museum in Transylvania (Romania) at night, and the administration of the museum came out of their working places to hear our songs, they stayed till the end of our show and after we went off the stage, they loudly expressed their gratitude and admiration to what they heard. Although we don't try to ger popular, I'd say it was such a sincere reaction from the people who are not into metal and not into Russian Paganism at all, that we were all pleasantly surprized.
What do you think about releasing an album? It‘s a big moment for the musicians, the band, but after that you kind of become dependent on listeners, because they expect that the next album will be in the same ideas, but with something new and sure – better than the previous one. Does it somehow obligate the band? Who‘s the chief of creation – listener (money, appreciation, perspectives...) or spiritual aspects (freedom, self expression, pleasure...)? Both, maybe?
There are bands who do their music for money & fame and there are bands who do their music for some of their personal reasons and motivations. I guess, we belong to the 2nd cathegory. We never demand any fee for a gig (except for the road cost and proper accomodation) and with growing free mp3 download tendencies, we didn't got any monetary profit from our latest album - all money went to cover the studio and related, expencess, designers, painters, the CD's packaging and production. I'd say we would continue to record our albums for as long as we would feel the inner urge to do so, even if people would stop to buy the music. Of course, no band would say "no" to additional money which could be used to buy better instruments and equipment, their own tour bus as well as a lot of non-musical activities and hobbies, but it surely effects the quality of the music, when such things become the main goal. Thus, our music not "a job" for us to try to get as much money from our music as possible, and, I guess, we're already pretty grown-up from the teenage dream to become a rock-stars, hahah... So for us, at least for me, spiritual aspects are much more important in going on with TEMNOZOR.
How successful went your last album „Урочища Снов“? Does the sales, the reactions and feedback differs from past albums?
It went pretty fine. Although the CD sales are low, but it's all the same just with any other band, because the majority of people prefer to download mp3's for free, than to support the bands they are listening to by buying their CD's. Anyhow, as I already wrote above, high sales never were our main goal. The response was mostly positive. Yet, of course, it is always the same for all the relatively old bands with at least some of history: there always will be people who are whining about the new album, because they wanted a copy of one of the older albums et c. So, it's impossible (and needless) to please everyone. I absolutely believe that the band (equally to a composer, painer or cinematographist) should never compromiss with and vulgarize their art in order to please the wider masses. Otherwise, we should create the highest forms of arts we can, so the people (the auditory) would feel they should evolve themselves to these high standarts. This is the difference between cultural evolution and cultural degradation.
What kinf of album is it in Temnozors‘ point of view?
As I already wrote above, this is the most surreal TEMNOZOR album so far. The thing about "Haunted Dreamscapes" is that it takes you longer (than our previous albums) to get into... It's more atmospheric and, probably, more indepth in some aspects. Therefore it takes some time to discover certain mysteries hidden within.
The show at ”Kilkim Zaibu” festival will be the first Temnozor acquaintance with our country, audience. Until you've been invited to play, have you ever heared anything about this long lived festival? What‘s your point of view in such event, especially at the context of nowadays situation and attitudes? How do you think, what kind of future is waiting for such events and folk/pagan music? Where are we going?
Yes, I heard about "Kilkim Zajbu" a couple of years ago, when NOKTURNAL MORTUM was first invited to play there. I think, it's great when people are allowed to celebrate their old pagan holydays and, at least, to try to embrace the ways of their ancestors. Unfortunately, here in Russia, such festivals are pretty impossible because the local state doesn't support the revival of old Pagan European traditions and holidays, while the artists who get the support from Russian Federation government have nothing to do with Russian spirituality or traditional culture. A festival here could be banned just because someone in the government thinks that the musical style played there is "unappropriate" or the "message" the bands condone doesn't fit into their concept of "raising the youth".
On the other hand, many of pagan/metal gig and festival promoters in European Union countries have to deal with another problem, called "antifa". I already wrote about them in the upper questions of this interview. If the (pagan/black) metal community will not be able to resist these impudent punks in order to defend our own rights to listen to the music we like and celebrate our ancient european pagan holidays the way we want, then, I think, the future of such great events doesn't look bright. The people who oppose us are not numerous and they are far from being brave, because they physically attack only when they feel they are highly outnumberring their opponents, their outlook is an immature cocktail of the alien and extremist leftwinged ideas, their arguements are based on lies and tossed up facts, it's their hobby to start the trouble and then run away. If the pagan / black metal community will organize itself to resist this bunch of losers, then we could enjoy the music and the events we all like. All of it depends on us - on the festival organizers, on the bands and suport, on each private listener who comes to support his favourite bands and praise the ways of his ancestors. If we're strong - our future is in our hands, if we are weak, then others will decide for us what, when and how should we do. Being a lamb should hurt one's pride. Resist!
What can be expected from Temnozor show at “Kilkim Zaibu”? You aren’t from those who plays every weekend so I guess such rare live performances is more or less special not even for public, but for the band as well.
We havn't played live for almost 1,5 years, since our last European minitour, and we also have a new drummer niw in our live line-up, so we all have to wait and see...
This years festival is going to be contemporized with summer soltice feast. Could you tell how it is celebrated in your country/region? Is there left any interesting and authentic rituals?
Yes, I know the Summer Solstice is called "Rasi" in Lithuanian, as far as I heard it is an official state holiday in your country. In Russian language the pagan Summer Solstice holiday was called "Rusalii" or "Kupala". It was widely celebrated since from the most ancient pagan times till the beginning of 20th century as one of the main non-Christian folk holidays. In the old time the celebration was led by a sorcerer and his specially selected host (rusalii militia). Ritual songs were sung accompanied with woodwinds and ritual dances were witnessed to have the hypnotizing effect upon the audience. Everyone was served with the special herbal meads which also had ritual effect of altering the mind and the consciousness. Celebration continued with the ritual games such as mass-fighting, braiding the flower garlands, jumping above the fires and naked bathing in the rivers after that the young couples were able to taste their physical love for the first time. Christian church tried hard to forbid these celebrations, but in the most of occassions it was completely in vain, even Russian princes and princesses were known to take part in Rusalii celebrations. Russian folk culture was finally destroyed during the Civil War and long years of the Soviet rule. Nowadays this holiday isn't officially accepted by the state, of course there are some attempts to re-introduce modern Russians to the traditions of their ancestors, oftenly organized by some neo-pagan groups or folklore enthuziasts, but I don't personally see much success there.
Well, I‘m truly greateful for your time and thoughts. Stay gods to the godless!
Thanks for your interest and for an indepth interview as well. See you soon at "Kilkim Zaibu".