July 17, 2016

VARANG NORD music and experiences

I interviewed Khurr from the band VARANG NORD.

01. Hi, Khurr! VARANG NORD has seen the day light from the ashes of the BALAGURI band. What means the name and the band for you ?
Hello! For us, the name Varang Nord signifies that transition from the former band and all the characteristics we want to put in our music. It's harsh, it's wintry, it's northern and it's warlike. Moreover, if the name Balaguri suggested closer ties to the Slavic culture, Varang Nord actually broadens this, because we wanted not only to make our music more serious and heavy, but also sing about the whole northern/north-eastern and bit of central Europe. 

02. BALAGURI did not work… What problem have you met there ? 
Many members of the band were pretty young at that time, and, you know, still trying to find themselves. People change, plans change, ideas change, and not always it is possible to maintain a band with all these changes around.

03. Last year was released the debut album for VARANG NORD that is entitled "Masters of the Forest".  What is it about ?
Master of the Forest is about ancient tribes of central Europe - the ones that lived where modern Germany, Belgium and Netherlands are. However, the album does not concentrate one their actual history much, it is more about the culture and the whole concept of free, forest-dwelling people fighting their enemies, Roman Empire in particular.
Because it is not about the actual history of particular people, but rather just inspired by them, the theme of this album can be tied to many other cultures as well.

04. Have you sold many copies of this full length ? Do you know the top countries for the album sales ?
Yes, the sales go quite well - our personal stock (although it was not very big) has almost run out and SoundAge Productions, who re-issued the album some time after it initially came out, also report pretty consistent sales. We are very happy about the situation, especially considering the fact that we are a comparatively small band.

The main buyers of the album are European countries, mostly Germany and the Scandinavian countries, but surprisingly there are quite a lot of buyer from other regions as well, for example from Turkey.

05. Are the feedback for this album, positive ?
Generally positive, I would say. Many notice the improvements comparing to Fire of the North album, which is nice - it shows that we are actually progressing in the right direction. For us, it is sometimes difficult to understand if we are doing everything right, and all the feedback is really helping.

06. Can you tell us what are the tracks about ? 
Let me look at the list of tracks, I already managed to forget what there is in the album, hehe.

So, the first an the last tracks, Warriors' Song and Song of the Forest, act as an intro and outro respectively.
Number 2, Berserker, as the name suggests, is about berserkers as they are portrayed in modern popular culture. About them crushing entire armies, half-shifting into bears, that sort of things.

Number 3, Eagle's Blood, was inspired by the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest where Germanic tribes crushed an advance of the Roman Empire into the region. It basically depicts a battle, stating that the free folk will triumph and, quoting the lyrics, "the Golden Eagle shall fall".

Number 4, Warchant of the Forests, is a song that warriors would sing while going to the war, and the whole point of it is that it depicts warriors, their equipment and battles using forest-related metaphores.

Number 5, In the Halls of the Fallen, is about not fearing death and being furious in battle, because the bravest warriors go to the Halls of the Fallen after that, where they feast and battle until the final hour of the world strikes.

Number 6, Glory found in Battle, is another war song. It conveys the idea that warriors may die, but their names live on - their martial glory lives on in the songs of those, who march after them.

Number 7, Beer and Vodka, is...well, it's not about battles, certainly, hehe.

Number 8, Blood surf, is inspired by the attack on Lindisfarne, and depicts the approach of raiders and the bloodiness of the battle.

Number 9, Wild Freedom, is about the proud spirit of free folks who are not going to yield to an enemy. They would rather die than live in the shackles of the Empire.

07. VARANG NORD published official videos.  Share with us your experiences making videos!
Well, it was certainly something new for us. I think the main discovery was that it is difficult to do everything exactly as planned, especially time-wise. Not that the videos turned out worse or unlike we imagined them, but they are certainly somewhat different from what we initially thought it would be. And that is not bad by any means, I mean, we like the videos a lot.

Another discovery was that 80% of the result depends on the operator, not the idea or the participants. Ivars Utinans, who is an utter genius when it comes to shooting videos, was able to make an eight-men skirmish look like a truly epic battle, and we were extremely satisfied with the result.
And, the most imporant, we had lots of fun shooting the videos! Too bad we did not include any bloopers, there were some hilarious moments.

08. Dan the Warmonger is the new comer in the band as live sessions. Do you fear the world ? he he
The world is big and scary, hehe. But if we're serious, then being in a somewhat successful band is a new experience for me, and finally achieving music-related goals that I was striving for since I was 16 certainly made me re-think my attitude towards music.
I basically asked myself: "Well, you got what you wanted, now what? Do you want to continue as it is, or change something?" And I understood that touring and living on the road for several weeks is not what I really want from music.
I am not against performing in general, and 2-3 days long trips to neighbourhooding countries for 2 or so gigs is not a problem though. Major gigs and festivals also - they take rather long, but if you are going to play one big event and the rest of your time (even if it is 1-2 days to get there and 1-2 days to get back) you can hang out with your bandmates and other cool people - I don't mind that. By the way, I am really glad that we were able to solve this problem and my eternal gratitude to Dan, because he saved us from some serious troubles.

09. Do you have some shows coming soon ? Share with us!
For now, there are two main shows scheduled : Metal Crowd Festival in Belarus (20th - 21st of August) and one gig together with Tyr in Melnā Piektdiena club, Latvia (14th of August). Both events are really important for us, because Metal Crowd will be our first music festival, and Tyr are legends of folk metal, so it is a big honour to perform together.
Also, performing at a festival is a huge landmark for our development, because it is one of the many things every one of us has achieved for the first time in their lives as musicians.

10. What are your future plans ?
Mainly performing. We have announced a Russian tour recently (9th to 16th of September 2016), and hoping to get some other gigs going as well. As for new songs, we have some new material ready, but that's all about it - it has not yet been conceptualized into an album.

We also have some surprises for our fans in stock, so stay tuned!

11. What are your favorites folk metal bands ?
For Wolf, it is certainly Turisas, Eluveite, Korpiklaani and alike.
My favourite band of all times is Skyforger, no doubt. Besides that, I really enjoy Nine Treasures, Metsatoll, Heidevolk and some others.

12. Do you have some favorites folk music too ?
Auļi, Obscurus Orbis, Stary Olsa, Yoshida Brothers, Takahashi Chikuzan, Omnia, Oki Kano, Troll Bends Fir, although I am a little bit less invested in them than in folk/pagan metal bands. I also like folk music in general, not tied to a particular band or performer.

13. Do you have one message that you would like to share to the world ?
Stay metal and drink up!
And my personal thanks to you for making this interview possible ;)

Thanks for the interview!

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