Friday, 7 January 2011

Uruk Hai interview in Transmission zine

Item: Interview and album review with Hugin circa 2004 in the Spanish publication 'Transmission'

In the never-ending quest to keep the spotlight on all things Hugin, todays post concerns a translation of an interview and album review between Hugin and the Spanish zine Transmission circa 2004, relating to the then recently released Uruk Hai CD "A Night In The Forest". The photographs accompanying this post are of the original paper articles (themselves coming courtesy of Hugin), though Nazgul couldn't immediately tell you if a hard copy version of this zine still exists.

The zine was - I believe - run by Sara and Keni Pérez at the time of these features, and we begin with the short album review for the "A Night In The Forest" release on the Spanish label, Drama Company (previously reviewed in Honour and Darkness on 3 July 2009).

"A Night In The Forest" review

"This unusual project comes from Austria; it's music is pure Dark Ambient in the style of Burzum, Mortiis or Vinterriket. Conceptually, this project takes us through a journey into the woods of Fangorn in a search for magic places, mystic and enchanted sceneries, and is also a cult to old pagan gods. Uruk Hai bases its own fantastic creation on the book “The Lord of the Rings” and Nordic Mythology in general. Musically speaking, this creation could be considered as a risky bet, because it involves only one 72-minute long theme, although split into four chapters. Having said that, the record is very entertaining and easy on the ear. One can enjoy it whilst reading a good book." Sara

Generally a positive thumbs up!

Transmission also did a short interview with Hugin around this time, the detail of which has been kindly translated for Nazgul by Tanya, and is reproduced below, warts 'n' all:

Transmission interviews Hugin
Transmission (T): Tell us how and why Uruk Hai was born. Why did you choose this name?
Hugin (H): I recorded several instrumental songs for my band Hrossharsgrani in 1999 in order to publish a new demo called Uruk Hai. After playing it a few times I felt that the sound wasn't quite there for Hrossharsgrani. That's why I decided to create a new project that would carry the name of the demo in the first place, so Uruk Hai was born just then! From the very first moment, I decided to create sound sceneries that would transport the fans to the old and dark ages.

T: Besides "A Night in the Forest", do you have any other work or demos that have been published?
H: Uruk Hai has recorded lots of demos and rehearsals. Rehearsal tape "In Durins Halls" was published in 1999 by W.A.R. (limited to 33 copies), rehearsal tape "Elbenwald" published in 2000 by Beverina Prductions/Elvenwitchcraft (ltd. 500), rehearsal tape "Orcish Battle Hymns" published in 2000 by Chanteloup Creations (ltd. 200), rehearsal tape "Darkness" published in 2001 by Chanteloup Creations (ltd 300), rehearsal CDr "Elbentanz" published in 2003 by Odium Records (ltd. 100), rehearsal tape "Battle Yells" published in 2003 by Werwolf Productions (ltd. 66), demo tape "In Durins Halls" (remastered version) published in 2004 by EOLP (ltd. 300), rehearsal tape "Long Forgotten Tales" published in 2004 by Werwolf Prduction (ltd. 50), split demo tape "Von blinkenden Schwertern im Reiche des Nordens" (with Arkillery) published in 2004 by EOLP (ltd. 250) and a split CDr "Von blinkenden Schwertern im Reiche des Nordens" (with Arkillery) published in 2004 by the same guy from Arkillery (ltd.100), rehearsal tape "Battle-Magic" published in 2004 by Werwolf Production (ltd. 22), digiCD "Barbarians (Orcish Battle Hymns Pt.II)" published in 2004 by Eisenwald Tonschmiede (ltd 222), split demo tape "Nazgul" (with Vinterriket) published in 2004 by Eisenwald Tonschmiede (ltd. 600), and promo tape "Honour" published in 2004 by Werwolf Production (ltd. 40).

With Uruk Hai I'm always working, always trying to progress; I have old recordings that haven't been published, which will be used for future publications, and as a sample for future works there is a CDr named "Ea" that will be published by Werewolf Productions, a CD called "Über die Nebelberge weit…" that will be published by Musique & Tradition, a split demo tape called "In des Drachenfeuers Glut" (with Arkillery) – with no label at present yet! - a CD called "A Warriors Legend" - no label, either - and another demo CDr called "Quenta Silmarillion" that will be published by A.M.F. Productions. And, last but not least "A Night in the Forest", the new album published by Drama Company!

T: How did you contract with Drama Company? Why did you decide to go for this solid Spanish label?
H: I have had a contact with this label for a long time now – since the beginning of Hrossharsgrani (my other band) - so I decided to send them a promotional CD with hopes for a future publication. And this musical journey, far away from the tired paths of the metallic art, was the basis for a new deal with Drama Company. This alliance has given birth to Uruk Hai in every epic battle. Furthermore, I like most of the publications from Drama Company and I think that Uruk Hai has found a good place with them too.

T: Are you satisfied with the results from "A Night in the Forest"? How was the composition and recording process, considering that it's a single creation lasting 72 minutes?
H: Yes, "A Night in the Forest" has been the best so far! It's exactly the atmosphere I wanted to create to show people the real darkness of the woods…. In April 2003 I recorded the 4 chapters of 'Fangorn' - (1) Enter Fangorn, (2) The Spirit of Wood, (3) Elvenpath, (4) A Light Into the Darkness - and to keep the spirit alive I thought that the best way to get there was giving more and more every time, creating a better ambience for the entire mix; so I used lots of nature sounds like rain, thunder, etc. A year later, I accomplished the final mix for this album and then I decided to go for only one long song with 4 chapters in this CD.

T: Can you explain to us who the figure that appears in the cover is, and what those symbols are?
H: It is a portrait of the 'One Eye God' himself, Odin! I have used it because I like to compare the Nordic mythology with some of the stories written in The Lord of the Rings book, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I've tried to create something special around the musical concept of Uruk Hai. I want to express my own mythological fantasy! And, again, I think that some parts of The Lord of the Rings book are very close to the Nordic mythology concept.

T: The record has made some allusions to pagan gods, spirits of the woods, myths, legends, etc. Can you tell us some more about the concept of your record?
H: In the first place, this album is about a journey into the woods of Fangorn. It is also a story about the powerful spirit of the woods - ie the power of nature - the silence within… Just imagine, you are lonely at night in the woods where it's very dark, everything gets very still, you are starting to feel pure fear and then you begin to hear unreal sounds and voices, this is the spirit of the woods. This is exactly the concept of the album: surreal but real at the same time – no place in this rotten planet is so close to the old gods such as an intact forest. Each person can relate to his/her own beauty or fear in this album. I won't show the way to anybody, I will only show where the journey begins… There are many references taken from The Lord of the Ring book.

T: Yes, there is no doubt about The Lord of the Ring references there. At what age did you read the book? How this story has contributed to your own life? What are your views with regards to the movie?
H: I read the book about 23 years ago, when I was only 12. Afterwards, I read all the Tolkien books related to The Lord of the Rings, such as The Silmarillion, and The Children of Hurin. Some years later I started to collate all music that has been composed around these novels, and also later I begun to create music under this concept, but this isn't all. I wanted to create my own Tierra Media (Middle Earth), so I initiated a symbiosis between Nordic Mythology and the glorious world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Now the Uruk Hai stories are truly unique.

And when Peter Jackson made the films (which I loved!), well that was fantastic! It doesn't really matter if some important characters haven't been taken into consideration (such as Tom Bombardil) while others have (Arwen). They are great films, and the soundtrack is also fantastic – I like the voice of Enya in particular. The book, the music (Summoning, Valar, Druadan Forest, etc) and the movie keep the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien alive! The 1979 film is also very good.

T: Your style is very similar to the Black Metal one. What are your musical roots? Why do you think that many people have evolved from the strong side from the Black Metal towards Dark Ambient instead?
H: My musical roots are the pre-Black Metal bands, such as: Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory, etc. Since the mid 90’s I like the raw Black Metal a lot, I also like 'Pagan Black Metal' with bands like Graveland, Burzum, Nachtfalke, Moonblood, etc! Black Metal is always very atmospheric and sometimes epic too! Dark Ambient resembles the Black Metal but without some instruments like guitars and bass.

Mortiis initiated this movement around 1992 with his demo 'Story of a Long Forgotten Ghost', and I think that without this demo the whole ambient scene wouldn’t exist in its current form, as we know it. Dark Ambient can also be obscure and severe like the Black Metal, without a doubt. For me, one of the best albums I have ever heard was "Filosofem" from Burzum, half Black Metal, half Ambient!

T: Considering that 'The Woods' is present throughout your creation, out of curiosity can I just ask: do you live in the countryside or in the city? If you live in the countryside, can you tell us how is any day in your life?
H: I live in a very small town, 30km far from the nearest biggest town, surrounded by forests and vast green fields! A good day in my life is when I'm able to open the windows early in the morning, and look at the fields humid from the rain and the colour of the forest at sunrise. I like to take a stroll very early in the morning, contemplate the scenery, breathe lots of fresh air and feel the powerful spirit of nature itself.

The best moment for me to achieve this feeling is in autumn or spring. But I also like the other seasons. In winter, I love the freshness of the cold weather and the snow that inspires me to create really obscure music! And, finally, summer is the best moment to climb mountains and practice some sports.

T: You are from Austria, if I’m not mistaken, aren’t you? What can you tell us about the dark scene in your country?
H: Yes, I’m from Austria. We have several wonderful bands like Trollskogen, Valhalla, Summoning, Abigor, and hundreds more. Furthermore, we can enjoy lots of concerts all around the country, we have great clubs and the best I think we have are the old castles and ruins. We also hold festivals of Dark and Black Metal. For more information about the Black Metal scene in Austria, go to [note: now apparently defunct?]

T: Have you planned to present a live concert of "A Night in the Forest"?
H: Not yet! But maybe in the near future. So I'm thinking of writing a very special song only for this concert!

T: Thank you for the interview. Transmission wishes you the very best of luck.
H: Thanks for your support.

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