Interview by Michelle HenriquezReino Ermitaño is a doom metal band that originates in Lima, Peru. They were formed in 2001 by founding members Marcos Coifman on bass, Tania Duarte on vocals, Julio Almeida on drums and later they’ve introduced Eloy Arturo on guitars. They incorporate social issues, spirituality and introspection in their lyrics, which adds an extra layer of depth to the dark melancholic sound of the band. Welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, it’s a great pleasure to have you with us here. First of all, I want to congratulate you on your latest release “Conjuros De Poder”.
Tania: Thank you very much. We are pleased with the results of the new album.For many of the metal fans that don’t know Reino Ermitaño, do you mind introducing yourself and telling us more about the band’s history?
Tania: Reino Ermitaño plays witch doom since year 2000. We have released five records (two in vinyl) so far, and played many gigs in Lima and different cities of Peru, two tours in Europe in festivals like Doom Shall Rise 2009, Malta Doom 2014, Doom Over Vienna 2014 and Hammer of Doom 2014. Our first three records were recorded with Henry Guevara on the guitars and our last two records have Eloy Arturo, currently in the band, on the guitars. Our lyrics deal with introspection, social issues, ancient wisdom, spirituality, inner conflict, magic and nature. We include native and other instruments like quena, zampoña, charango, mandolin, sitar, ceramic flutes, steel guitar, violin, and Andean harp which are played by guest musicians in our five records. Our covers are designed and painted by Marcos Coifman (bass). The sound is raw, slow paced, heavy and thick.What is the meaning of Reino Ermitaño?
Tania: Hermit Kingdom is a concept where the hermits are all of those self-banished from ordinary society, obsolete traditions, “trends”, consumerism, and all the absurdity in the world, conforming a kingdom of outcasts united by music and arts, a non-conformist mentality, true to its own truth around the world.What are the responses of your fans and new listeners to your new album so far?
Julio: It´s been very good. In our country the fans were expecting the record since we announced that we were entering in the studios, and have been greatly surprised with the results. The same has happened abroad, since there are some very positive reviews on this record.Have you noticed a difference between South American fans and European fans? If yes, how are these two groups different?
Tania: In Peru there is a big underground rock scene, but the highest percentage belongs to extreme metal and punk. Fans of doom, stoner are fewer but very passionate, open minded and with a wide musical cultivation. Since the number is more reduced, the Peruvian doom metal scene has become a brotherhood similar to what we have seen in Europe regarding these styles.How has your music spread to Europe?
Marcos: After we released our first self-titled record in 2003, we signed with Austria’s Psychedoomelic label, with whom we released “Brujas del Mar” in 2006. Our third record, “Rituales Interiores”, came to be via Sweden’s I HATE in 2008, after which we did with a Euro tour in 2009 where we played Doom Shall Rise VI among other gigs in Germany and Switzerland with many cool bands we love – after that we kept with I HATE and released “Veneración del Fuego” in 2012 and “Conjuros de Poder”, followed by our latest Euro Tour where we played Malta Doom Metal, Hammer of Doom , Doom Over Vienna and other shows in Spain, Germany, Hungary (with Trouble – that was awesome!), Amsterdam and the such… so getting to Europe was a gradual process, but also a very rewarding one, we’ve had great experiences in Europe, audiences there have been very receptive and engaged with what we do and we have nothing but love for the whole experience. We mean to mantain a link and a bond with Europe for as long as the road goes.I noticed that you incorporate a lot of ethereal sounds of your cultural heritage in your music, for example in the beginning of the song “En mi Mente”. Can you tell us about the creative process that went into the making of this album and how your cultural heritage inspires you?
Tania: Our cultural heritage has great weight on the music we make. Living in Peru gives you daily sources of negative and positive inspiration. There’s always something amazing or terrible going on, there is so much to work on, so many traditions, lively cultures all living in the same land, myths, magic, ancient remains wherever you go, incredible biodiversity, varieties of music, food, dances, colors, cultural manifestations, social and political turmoil, horrific gaps between rich and poor, scarce realization of having rights in still many people, deficiencies, conflict, corruption at its highest levels of immorality and lack of ethics. It´s a never-ending source of creativity that you live day by day. Routine does not exist, since anything can happen at any moment.Your lyrics are written in your in Spanish, your mother tongue. When you first started with the band, was it a deliberate choice to do so? Would you ever try to write in another language such as English, ancient Latin or even a native tongue of a tribe in Peru?
Tania: We all decided to do the singing in Spanish, our mother tongue, since it´s the language we write in, and it allows us to convey our inner thoughts and emotions more accurately. I would definitely sing and write in other languages since I find linguistics, sounds and language associated to culture fascinating. Invented languages like Tolkien amaze me. I also enjoy rock in languages like Italian, German or French. Our native languages are also very sweet. I believe rock is an art of freedom, and revolution and doesn’t need to be standardized in just one dominant language, especially because we include translations in English of our lyrics for those interested in the messages in them.
Speaking of lyrics, what are your lyrics about and what are your inspirational sources for writing? How is the theme of magic an influence?
Tania: Lyrics deal with introspection, magic, ancient wisdom, social protest, inner conflict, darkness and spirituality. Going out in nature and literature and philosophy inspire me. Magic is an ethereal concept that I’ve been working with a lot lately. Ceremonies with sacred plants for introspection and inner knowledge with shamans that master the arts of healing and ancient wisdoms from cultures who have always lived in contact, from and with nature have deepened this relationship with the magic within and the other dimensions of the spiritual realm.Your album covers are strikingly beautiful and artful, especially the latest one, which resembles a painting of trees coloured with greens, blues and yellows. Can you tell us the idea behind this artwork and who created it for you?
Marcos: Thank you kindly. I do the artwork, I’m a painter. Since I’m in the band and I’m involved in the songwriting and know the lyrics and intentions, painting the covers comes naturally – I just try to visually convey what the music does; to complement it, in a way. “The Conjuros” cover is just a bit more loose and a just bit more in the direction of my non-album-cover-artwork kind of work. It is a human in the forest/rain-forest, attaining unity of spirit with nature and the cosmos through ritual and the magical world of power plants. You can see some of my other paintings here.How do you feel the sound of the band has grown since you first started in 2001?
Julio: We have always had an idea of the sound we want and it’s heavy, thick, low, with tough and loud drums, very low sound of the bass filling everything, guitars with a seventies touch but a potent distortion. Throughout our records we have been polishing recording details, trying to establish the sound we imagined at the time of composing.Tania, what does it mean to have a witchy voice? What are the characteristics of singing in this style?
Tania: It’s a style developed a little from black metal singing style combined with dark memories in my soul, a catharsis for hate and frustration, a connection with magic. It´s a connection with that primitive persona, a witch character that allows me to say and represent things I can’t do when I’m simply me. It’s my personal touch reminiscent of an underworld of elementary beings where hexes and enchantments create reality.What are your inspirations for writing the melodies, riffs and rhythms?
Tania: Other bands that move me, ceremonial music, things I read, nature, Peruvian and other folk music.
Julio: Melodies that come to my mind in different moments of my life when I am influenced by my surroundings. Since I live in a city, many of my lyrics talk about social topics, but because I travel a lot inside Peru I have a very strong connection with the Andes and the jungle, which makes me become inspired by ancestral Andean traditions and indigenous healing ceremonies.
Marcos: Mostly, I don’t “try” to write, I just compile what surfaces on its own, anywhere, everywhere, whenever the subconscious songwriter inside my brain is feeling strongly about something and decides it should materialize into riff inside my head, so I always keep a recorder handy. Certainly for me, it also happened in moments of great awe and inspiration when the huge scenery here makes you feel like a spec of dust in creation, but most of the time I’ll just get this riff in my head which cries with emotion at the oddest possible time, and I just save it and follow up from there. The only thing is – and this is true both for lyrics and melodies, I think: I never try and force stuff – if there is no inner, true pool of feeling there, for the art to flow from, then it’s just forms and tricks, and it’s ultimately dry… I never try to set something to pour something out if I’m not really in touch with what’s inside. There’s got to be something moving you inside. If not, what’s the point? This certainly isn’t a business or a production line.How does your specific genre convey your identities? How does your music define who you are and to what extent?
Tania: On the one hand you have the lyrics. Most of my ideals, feelings, current life experience, protest, existential pain, realizations and magic imagery are first a text that I later put in music. The type of music, the heaviness, slowness and doominess is what moves me most among the different styles of rock and metal. Also, it is a style of music where I have found awesome people I share a lot with, both musicians and public with a common musical root and lifestyle no matter what part of the world they are from. The inclusion of native Peruvian instrumentation is a tribute to our culture, a music that has always moved me and to forms of civilization in the Andes and jungle that I´d like to spread awareness of. We have so much to relearn from our ancestral selves, the wild, wise spirits we once were, now submerged in rational sophistication missing this animal primitive side.What are the future plans for Reino Ermitaño?
Tania: Continue composing, releasing new material and playing our music in different places.What is the most bizarre/funny thing you’ve ever experienced in your career?
Julio: The first time we played live we were introduced as Tany and the Hermits, which was funny since in Peru that sounds like a cumbia group or something.Is there a message you would like to share with your fans and readers of Femme Metal Webzine?
Tania: Keep up the wild, magic spirit. Thanks so much for your support!