Interview by Matteo Bussotti
Din Brad is an “extremely” folk band from Romania. With the world “extremely” I mean they’re really folk, in such way that they’ve taken songs directly from Romanian tradition and put them in their album. “Dor” is an album that may not appeal to everyone, but it’s undoubtedly interesting and worth listening: it opens a window on Romania’s traditions. Negru, their drummer and leader, told us why they chose this musical genre in particular, and what’s the story behind this album and every song. Give Din Brad at least one chance. If you’re in the right mood for some “ambient/folk” music, you won’t forget them easily. And now let’s start with the interview!
Hello Negru, and welcome to Femme Metal! It’s not an usual thing to have a Romanian band here! First thing is: why this very particular, folkloristic and unusual name for the band?
Well, it was really an effort to come up with this name for our band. It somehow captures the essence of what we explore through it. Din Brad would be in English something like “from the fir tree…”. The fir is an omniscient symbol in the local folklore and mythology, with many faces and nuances that we feel closely connected with. It emphasizes the relation with nature and universe and our place in it. It is a simple yet wise understanding that we may still find “alive” in some parts of the Romania.
Can you explain us the main idea behind your band? I think that the purpose of sharing a country’s traditions to others is really a beautiful one, but why did you choose this purpose in particular, instead of “simply” making music?
We feel connected to this lands that carved a certain spirituality and we try to capture this natural feeling, without spoiling its inner beauty, parting ways with mainstream folklore, returning to the roots and taking a glimpse at that old traditional way that is fading away, revealing “Dor”. It’s a personal unique experience of sadness and sorrow when things seem closer to you and yet so far away. Nature, hills and mountains, deep waters, blue skies, hidden forests, home, a spiritual presence, places where the soul feels free, this is the path we choose.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties with this particular music style? Were you used to it, or did it “opened” your mind?
We’ve been into this kind of music and folklore for a long time, so it was just a natural thing to explore it more directly musically… There was more of a inner pressure to be able to express some parts of the richness and deepness of the local elements. But that’s something that we’ll always have. This project finds a path of its own, it all developed naturally becoming a unique experience that we want to share with our listeners.
In your opinion, what is the most fascinating thing about Romanian traditions and folklore?
I was always fascinated with the overall local traditional vision… every part of life, being it material, ceremonial or cultural were governed by “rules” passed from generation to generation, in which every aspect had a certain purpose and meaning and all put together made things flow in shapes of prosperity for the community. It was a very simple way of living, but enriched with deep meanings if only we have the right “eyes” to see. Even today traces of this old traditional vision can be seen in some isolated communities.
Did something or someone particularly influenced your songs? And also, are the songs in “Dor” composed by yourself, or did you take them among the Romanian traditional songs?
The album is composed of two distinct parts: on one side there are some traditional Romanian songs, sung by local performers in their original environment and on the other side is our personal musical view on the local folklore. We nourished our inspiration from old unknown folkloric songs but it represents our vision about “Dor”. It is something we cannot put in words without losing its meaning, it is a certain atmosphere we try to capture through our music.
In the album, there is a growing complexity in the tracks. The first ones are very “simple”, with some drums and vocals and some guitars, while in the last ones we start to hear more sustained rhythms, and also an organ is played. Did you make this on purpose, maybe to create a particular effect in the listener?
It was not a conscious decision… everything just shaped up this way naturally. I was not even aware of this until now… he he.
How do each Din Brad‘s member contribute to the songs?
We usually start with the overall concept, and from that pass to individual songs. Usually each of us has glimpses of inspirations about a certain song or theme, which we then explore further all together. So we combine individual ideas with team work in order to achieve the kind of atmosphere we fell expresses our vision.
There are many “only-vocal” tracks in “Dor”. Apart from Inia, I guess who’s singing them? Did you “hire” someone who’s external from the band?
We have two female singers in Din Brad, Inia and Alma. So they do both vocals on the instrumental songs. The “vocal only” tracks are all singed by traditional performers, which are all guests on the album. We felt this mixture between personal creations and authentic traditional performances would make a nice balance on the album.
Do you think you’ll do this same kind of songs in your next album, or maybe you’re open to a bit of a change?
I think for the next album we’ll have some more of our personal creations. We already started working on it, and it will be quite different compared with “Dor”. We might still have some traditional guests on the album, but it will be something very different, as the whole concept of the album explores other territories.
Is there any Romanian artist with whom you’d like to collaborate?
Yes, there are several Romanian artists we feel we could work with. There’s Tudor Gheorghe, a famous singer of the Romanian spirit, or Grigore Lese, a well know researcher and preserver of true local folklore. We have explored such possible collaborations already, and I’m sure we can do it when the time comes and in the proper circumstances.
How did the audience react to your music? Did you receive more attentions and appreciations than those which you were expecting for? Or maybe less?
I think it’s still early for us to evaluate this aspect. We are still a young band, and we’re aware of this status. So we take things slow, and allow us an evolution as a band, both musical and conceptual. It was a bit surprising though to discover that on the US tour we did earlier this year along Negura Bunget there were people that came to see Din Brad exclusively and even left after our performance.
Did you have the occasion to confront yourself with other nations’ folk music scenarios? Is there any band from another country you appreciate the most?
We all listen all kind of international folklore. There are a lot of folklore band we appreciate such: Marga Musik from Lituania or Irfan from Bulgaria and some artists we feel they keep alive the same feeling: Mari Boine from Norway, Chavela Vargas from Mexico, Maritza from Portugal.
Thank you so much for your answer and your very interesting and unique music! We hope to see you soon playing here in Italy!
Thank you too for the support! It would be our pleasure to play in Italy, and to tell you the truth it might happen sooner that we think…