Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An Interview with Nera from Darzamat. Nera (real name Agnieszka Górecka) is the singer of Darzamat, a Polish symphonic death metal band. Darzamat will release their latest album, “Solfernus’ Path” at the 28th of August. 2009.
Did you always want to become a singer?
Yes and no, I mean I’ve been singing here and there since I can remember and I knew that music would be a part of my life this or the other way. But it wasn’t my big plan to sing in a band. I’ve always treated it as a great hobby, an escape from everyday life, a perfect way to express myself. However I am very happy I ended up doing what I do.
And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
Well, I try not to limit myself to one and only genre. I think it is the only way to evolve and free your mind, which doesn’t mean I can force myself to listening to techno. 😉 I always pick music depending on my mood, so the range of it is quite wide: different kinds of rock and metal, ambient, smooth jazz and some classical music.
And who are your favourite bands and musicians?
At the top of my list there are Peccatum, Emperor, Ulver, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Leszek Mozdzer, Satyricon and some soundtracks like from Twin Peaks, Requiem for a dream, Dracula or Bastard.
Did you have any other bands before Darzamat and/or are you active in any other bands now besides Darzamat?
Yes, I started in a doom/gothic metal band I co-founded, but that was years ago. Now I am dedicated to Darzamat, although I have to admit I’ve been preparing my own project called NeraNature, which is very feminine and private piece of music.
What does the name Darzamat mean?
The name comes from Latvian mythology and it denotes garden goddess (“darzs” – “garden”, “mate” – “mother”), which I really like as it seems to me very “organic”, close to the nature and paganism.
And how would you describe your music?
The fact is that Darzamat‘s music differs a bit from album to album, but it always keeps the sound and melody characteristic of the band. I don’t like talking about music, as it should be listened to. 😉 If you would like to know what we do today, check out songs from the last albums at: www.myspace.com/darzamat
Since you cannot erase more than 40 years of communism within a few decades, what are the differences between Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe and the spoiled West Europe when it comes to metal as music and life style?
Actually, when it comes to music, the differences are pretty blurred now. Luckily we’ve got the borders opened and as you know thoughts fly fast 😉 The worst situation is when it comes to economy. The good quality instruments cost a fortune in terms of Polish earnings, so lots of talented people are stopped at the very beginning of their possible career. The other problem is the lack of the social approval towards metal music. We live in a Christian country and as a consequence we’ve been treated as renegats and satanists. But at least we’ve got something to fight for (laugh).
Is there any reason why you used English versions of your names on the Darzamat MySpace?
Those are our nicknames, not real names. 😉
Markus is the session bass player – will he go with you on tour or are you looking for some one else?
Marcus‘s been playing with us only for a few months and he’s doing really well. We just need to get to know better one another and then the decision to have him as a permanent member will be made.
You are about to release your fifth album, “Solfernus’ Path”. This album will be released by Massacre Records and it will be your first concept album. Massacre Records is not the smallest label and they are the home of bands like Atargatis, Legion of the Damned, Crematory and King Diamond. Why did you choose for Massacre Records?
As far back as in the late 90’s the band was close to signing a deal with them; unfortunately it didn’t come through. So, after all these years we are all the more thrilled to see that the “Solfernus’ Path” ultimately led us back to Massacre Records door (laughs) and that finally we will have a chance to work together. As far as our expectations are concerned, we’d really appreciate much better promotion of our band than we experienced before. The previous companies we worked with had much, much smaller possibilities. That is why I’m positive that thanks to Massacre Records we will take a leap forward. I firmly believe that the experience which the MR staff has gained over the years will result in the chance for many more to even get a hold of Darzamat‘s albums. We put a lot of hope in the promotion and distribution prospects of the “Solfernus Path” album and also we are really looking forward with great curiosity to seeing the fruit of our cooperation with Massacre Records over our future albums.
Concept albums are not the easiest pieces to write. Did you plan to write a concept album from the start or did the album evolve into one while writing the songs?
We had the idea of the concept long time before the music was composed. It just needed some time to be born, some research to be done, some ideas to be put together. This time it was Flauros to take care of the whole story. I found it impossible to take part in it, as it had to be a coherent story invented by one mind.
Speaking of song writing, is this teamwork in Darzamat or is there one mastermind who writes the lyrics and music?
It is a kind of a collective work. The instrumentalist compose pieces of music, then the vocalists write lyrics. I also invent all the melodies I sing. Then me and Flauros make vocal arrangements and in the end we all take care of the songs’ arrangement.
What is the story behind “Solfernus’ Path”?
The story told on the album takes place in a mystic scenery as provided by Countess Josephine von Küchmeister’s manor, the inspiration for which we derived from two truly fantastic places in Silesia, namely the Willa Caro in Gliwice and the palace in Plawniowice. The tale itself is set in the beginning of the 20th century. Our main hero is a young medical student who undergoes a spiritual transformation – he experiences the existence of the incorporeal world and perceives the other side. The whole story is permeated by a fairytale-like atmosphere, full of occult key concepts. Nothing is obvious, nothing is predictable. Naturally, the eponymous Solfernus is not the main hero, he’s just a gray eminence. This character is respectfully lifted from a work entitled “Playing with the Devil”, written by Czech dramatist Jan Drda. Still, this is just inspiration, an impulse which does not mean we take Drda’s story as-is. In fact, his play is grotesque and rather humorous. Our story, on the other – left! – hand (laughs) has a totally different character, closer to horror stories of a Polish classic Stefan Grabinski than to the work of the Czech playwright.
Andy LaRocque from King Diamond (and he appeared on the Death album “Individual Thought Patterns”) also has done a part for “Solfenus’ Path”. How was it to work with him again? Also Andy LaRocque was the producer of the Darzamat album “Transkarpatia” (2005)….
Yes, we did meet during the sessions for our previous album. We’ve been in touch ever since, and when another occasion for cooperation arose, we didn’t hesitate for a second. Him playing a solo on a Darzamat album was a dream come true; it was really supernatural that he agreed to participate in the sessions. This is the most important album in the history of the band, and it took us a lot of work. We poured loads of energy and emotions into it, and the presence of LaRocque on this album is the crown jewel in the whole structure.
Another familiar name is Jonas Kjellgren from Scar Symmetry. Did you look for another producer this time or was it clear from the start that Jonas would be on the job again?
We were well acquainted with Jonas‘s previous production work: Katatonia, Sonic Syndicate, Centinex or Steel Attack, to name but a few. But it was our friend Marek Dobrowolski, drummer for One Man Army and the Undead Quartet, who recommended Jonas to us, as he had worked with him before and knows his skills and abilities first-hand. The preliminary talks with the Scar Symmetry guitar player made us feel very optimistic. Jonas mixed one song of ours and the effect was staggering. It only reinforced the idea that it had to be him. The cooperation was smooth; Jonas is very patient and listens carefully to any sort of suggestions from the band. In my view, he is presently one of the best young generation producers, in Europe anyway.
The main difference between “Solfernus’ Path” and it’s forerunners it the fact that “Solfernus’ Path” is a concept album. Are there other differences as well when it comes to the music on the album?
I feel a completely new quality was brought in to our music. Additionally, we realized that this album was supposed to create interest in the record label circles. That’s why we took extra care not only to write and record great music, but also to achieve the best possible sound. Plus, we paid a lot of attention to the visual side of the whole endeavor, working on the photos and the cover. All details of music, arrangements and the artwork were taken into consideration. I’m positive that after getting acquainted with the album, the fans are going to say that it was really worth the wait. Getting back to the music itself, this time around we started working on everything much earlier. Before entering the studio we prepared a very good demo. That allowed us to work out all the small details well before the real thing started. I admit we worked like this for the first time and we are really satisfied with such tactics. When you listen to the practically ready piece which sounds as good as it can at the preproduction stage, you can analyze the arrangements one more time and have less of a trouble imagining its final shape. Entering the studio(s), we knew exactly what we wanted and how the songs were supposed to sound. And our guidelines were simple enough: to record the most thought-out album in the history of Darzamat, on which there would be at least a couple of truly fantastic songs. I know we did just that (laughs), but that’s also for the fans to decide.
Darzamat is will appear on the Metal Female Voices Fest this year. Darzamat was supposed to do a gig at this festival in 2007 but had to cancel it sadly. What can we expect?
Let’s hope the best! (laugh) No, seriously- exactly because of the fact we couldn’t appear there last year, we would like to double the energy for all those who expected to see us and were disappointed. We promise to do our best and additionally it will be a chance to present some stuff from the new album.
And the last question: is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
If there is, I believe we will have some more talk in the future. 😉
Thank you for your time!
Thank you for your interest in Darzamat! Horns up!
Photos by Sebastian Cviq