First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
Àrnica is an Ur-Folk project from Barcelona (Spain). My name is Carles, 37 years old and I’m part of the band together with Daniel Pablo. I’m a little bit nomadic lately...
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
Sadly we don’t have a vibrant music community... Well, of course Barcelona is a main stage for everyone, but I’m not interested in mainstream bands or radio stars. Underground culture has been passed through a very difficult time due the City Hall politics. We are growing involving culture and history in music scene, which means go further and beyond aesthetics.
What does Àrnica mean to you guys in 2017? And how does that compare to what the project meant to you guys when it was formed?
Àrnica has been growing opening a new wide look into Iberian folk scene. We are now conscientious of our duties and responsibilities with our own history and legacy. During these 10 years of live acts, we have become more independents and we have learnt to be just ourselves. Some great bands has been joining us during the last decade, and a lot of people is involved in a scene that its not just music but identity and spiritual. So it begun as a therapy or a need but it has become a personal duty.
Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What are your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?
Well, yes. I know most people want to be unlabelled and stuff... but you know people we are gregarious so we need to be part of something, a tribe, a neighbour or a part of any kind of urban tribes. It has work like that since the beginning of the humankind, so it’s not going to change. We are part of the scene we choose to be part as music listener. NeoFolk it’s a very small scene but it has a brutal cultural (political, spiritual, philosophical) background. Even if our music it’s not purely consider as NeoFolk, we are into that family, and we feel ourselves comfortable. Of course, it doesn’t means we can play in front of a different audience or play with bands from other scenes. Daniel and I we listen very different kind of music. Just to be brief I can say that it goes from Opera to Noise, passing through Black Metal, Folk, Power Electronics or Cajun music.
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
It’s always difficult to say, as life goes and comes. I’m also a kind of nomad in the last years, so it makes more difficult to see a couple of years ahead. I’d like to keep myself involved in music and of course working hard in my (flying) design studio. I guess art will be always around my path as It has been a good companion all the way long until today.
Anyway, in a creepy way, the creative force should be poured over the day-by-day surviving stuff. You know, talk with other people, with strangers, keep yourself sane in a insane society... Regular shit to not become a serial killer one shinning morning, that’s all.
You have released quite a few releases over you're active musical years. What has been your favourite album you have put out so far, and how do you feel your music has evolved over the years?
Our next release, of course hahahahaha. Well, I’m very happy and satisfied with our last album, ‘Cabeza de Lobo’ in which we have been playing more instruments and opening wide our minds about synthetized atmospheres. We use to work with fields recordings, but this time we rejected limitations and got more fun with electronic ambient.
Every album is a reflexion of the time we were recording it. Experimentation, research, obsession... I can feel every record as a mental and emotional status.
When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself?
We started to play music back in the 2008, and of course some band where around us all the time. Sangre Cavallum, Sturmpercht and Waldteufel are probably our most clear and direct influences. Even if we listen more other artists, musically that was the way we wanted to start playing and creating songs. Anyway soon we will start to change our way of making music, more interested in create our own instruments and reaching a very personal sound that today is really strong.
Thinking about that, nowadays are the same bands our main influence. Even if our sound has change a lot, our way of doing things is quiet similar and our message has not change but develop.
When it comes to fan and critic feedback, how much do you take it to heart, and how much do you feel it evolves, pushes, or holds your sound in place? Do you feel that the personal response and interaction in the live environment, and the subsequent positive press you've regarding both your live and recorded music has consciously encouraged you to do things a certain way?
For sure opinions and feedback is important for us. Even if you are creating for yourself, the very first moment you decide to publish your music, it not only belongs to you, so you have to be ready for people’s opinions. It’s part of the game. Obviously you have to be smart and skill to understand that opinions and feedback. You must know very well from who and where is arriving and the language its use for it. You cannot just leave the door open and leave anything comes in. You need some filter and also be critic even if the opinion is good or bad.
As I said, in living acts we really work the best with synergy, which means we need audience to be part of the Ritual. When it happens is when we can reach the highest peaks of energy and dynamism on stage.
So much has been said, and it sometimes feel that every word combination has every been taken. As a lyricist myself I know the pain of how hard it can be to articulate something in a way that is both engaging to the audience and uniquely artist. How do you find inspiration for your lyrical poetry?
Lyrics are the more instinct process of a song’s creation. As long as we are very involved in a certain time in history, our inspiration comes from those epic myths and sagas, but also from the weaponry, from spiritual celebrations and how they saw and understood nature. Always trying to explain that vision nowadays, not trying to recreate but to bring it here and now.
If you could say there are underlying themes or messages that permeate throughout your discography, what would you say are the most important concepts and ideas you've tried to express throughout your artistic career, political, spiritual, or personal?
Well, yes, there is a message. Not sure if you can read it as a doctrine or philosophical thoughts, but Àrnica is very rooted on tradition and songs are mainly talking about that. Something like “take you life back as a fight” could be a kind of plot about our work. Losing the fighting element, the thing that “you don’t have only to work for what you want but fight”, the sovereign right of use violence to defend your ideas and tribe. Both things are entwined. So, we can say that the most important speech in Àrnica is tradition and tribalism.
When it comes to your musical self and your real world self, would you say that their is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?
There is no separation. All what we put into lyrics and music is like we are in our daily life. Even more, probably thanks to music we have been powering the values and attitude we talk, explain and expose on our works. If we need to create a character or something like that to create music, I’ll consider myself a kind of faker... I mean, are you pretending transmit a message or ideas to other people that you cannot hold on your own life? Don’t like at all that way of do things... So, what you listen, what you see and can feel listening our music is what we are.
When you write music there is a lot of trial and error. Would you consider yourself a person who goes into production with a defined sound in mind, and you work at it until you achieve the closest to the results in your head? Or would you consider yourself more of a person who feels and grooves music, letting songs progressively evolve and define themselves throughout the creation?
Our way of creating music is very organic and based on instinct. We can part from a concrete rhythm or from a sentence, even from a single word. Then, at the studio, we start to talk about the song and where we want to go... A main rhythm track will be the basis to build the song. Sometimes we arrive where we wanted, but sometimes not because the song itself starts to show up a different face or attitude, then we just flow recording in that way.
When it comes to making music it can be difficult to balance atmosphere, song progression, musicality, and excitement. Do you have any tricks, techniques, or methods that you commonly use to help your music sound coherent and engaging?
Mmmmmm, no, no special tricks. Every song has its own nature and character so every song needs its own elements. We have some ideas how we like to start or end and album, so that defines at least two songs. But we just like to get totally involved in the process of creation and understand what song is demanding.
Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?
Not really, we don’t have a routine with the band, we only have rehearsals when a live act is close and we only have record sessions when we start to create an album.
For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
Our Rituals, as audience started to refer our live shows, has not been change too much from the beginning (2008). Our formation on stage, our elements like the Totem stick with skulls, cowbells, etc... used as a percussion instrument. And the bowl for burning plants to create a more heavy and dense atmosphere in the venue is still present as a very important part of the action. Essentially we are a band that needs the energy of the audience, synergy its essential for the right development of the Ritual. We use to finish our shows having creating a kind of spiral where audience and ourselves are into with not much control. That power, that energy it’s now much more powerful than two years ago... and will be rising its power in the following Rituals for sure.
Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?
We are part of a very small scene, so it’s not very exhausting to work in that way. It’s never easy to work promoting your work, you need some special tools and skills, and we just do what we can through social medias. We have never had a special interest in promotion to be honest. We have been lucky regarding live acts and we use to be contacted by promoters and organizers, which is really nice.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Well, as you well know every concert is a challenge. Facing new audience is always hard and until you can reach that of synergy its not easy at all. Maybe hardest concerts are those ones in festivals out of your style. We have been playing in metal festivals (with huge success) and it’s harder to move energy there because audience is use to their own music style, obviously. So we are really grateful when they also bend down the walls and get into our Rituals.
By the other hand, we have been playing in lousy venues with terrible sound systems and maybe that’s the biggest challenge; deal with a lot of technical problems that you cannot fix and finish the concert with success.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
Luckily we have been had a lot of wonderful moments and memories playing Rituals over all Europe. It’s extremely hard to pick up just one or two, but probably those ones could be a good show up;
The moment we got the call from Percht (label). That very first moment when you know that your project can have a place in a major league. Even you are playing in your very own way it’s important to have some support from big bosses, you know hahaha...
Drumming for Death In June was an amazing experience for us as its one of our references not musically only. Sharing stage with Douglas Pearce and the late Jon Murphy performing ‘Bring in the Night’ and ‘Death of a Man’ was more than a dream. Those rare and treasure moments keeps us working hard and fighting to not leave our own way of doing things.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
No, my life has no change since then in that way, maybe now those ideas are now more powerful and present every single day. I have been always a creative person; my daily work demands that, so I’m always exercising that skill.
Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?
Daniel has a couple of metal projects . . . . . I’m not involved in a fix way to any other project even If I collaborated with some artists writing some lyrics or recording some vocals (Urze de Lume, Cuélebre and Cruor Martyrium). It’s always an adventure and of course an honour that other band let you in their realms to work with them.
Punctually we worked together with our brothers Keltika Hispanna creating a special project for a live act; Eburos. This project was more epic and ritual and focused exclusively on Pagan Gods from Iberia. The name itself its related with the wild boar God of War, Eburos.