Monday, 1 June 2015

Uruk Hai interview in Atmosfear #15

Item: An interview with Hugin/Uruk Hai in issue #15 of Atmosfear Zine, a printed Ukrainian magazine about extreme music running since 2006.  The interview would have been conducted in late January 2015 for June publication.

Keeping up with all things printed in the world of underground zines, websites and other nooks and crannys is a fraught business.  THere's just so much out there, in terms of interview, reviews, adverts etc. that it is an impossible task to have sight of everything that's relevant to Honour and Darkness.  Thankfully Hugin came to the fore by highlighting this recent interview for Nazgul, which is reprinted here for reference.

Go and visit the Atmosfear site, though, and buy a copy (and a few back issues, maybe) to show your support for the cause?  And it's nice to see Uruk Hai mentioned on the cover too, on the far right of last but one line of text listing the contents!

As ever, the translation of the interview into English utilise online translation software so will not necessarily be as accurate as Nazgul would like, but you'll certainly get the gist!

Atmosfear: Hello! What news in the Uruk Hai camp?

Hugin: Hello! The new  Uruk Hai album "Elbenstahl" has just been released (on January 22nd) – this time it is a solo/ instrumental album without any guest musicians but it is still epic as hell!!! Also, the new mini CD "The Sword Of Revenge" was released back in late December 2014.  A trilogy about the wars of Beleriand will be released in February 2015 called: "Die Kriege von Beleriand Vol. 1", "Die Kriege von Beleriand Vol. 2" and "Glaurung".  This trilogy will be available on CD in a DVD case, and the first copies of "Glaurung" come with an A3 size poster.

Last year's album "And all The Magic And Might He Brought" became perhaps the most unusual work in extensive discography of Uruk-Hai. It became the most diverse in terms of sound and composition, and moreover, contrary to your habit to record alone, for this album you invited a lot of guest musicians. Was it a one-off experiment or do you plan in the future to use a similar approach?

I did the same kind of work back in 2009 on the "Black Blood, White Hand" album too, using a lot of guest musicians there too.  Therefore it was not the first time on ".. And All The Magic & Might He Brought" and for sure it will not be the last time!  I have so many great friends in the music scene and it is always a pleasure to work with them together.  At the moment I'm working on a song together with Joe Matera (ex Geisha) and J├ínos Krusenbaum (Seeking Raven) – it will be a very rocking track, not typical of Uruk Hai but still epic!  But you are right about "“..And All The Magic & Might He Brought..." being a really unusual work in the Uruk Hai discography and I'm still proud of it because of the armada of great guest musicians like Tony Dolan (M-Pire of Evil, Atomkraft, ex Venom), Trevor Sewell (ex Tygers Of Pan Tang), Rich Davenport (See Red, The Blackmail Snaps), Bart Piette (Dead Man's Hill), and many more. The song-writing and various recordings took me more than one and a half years to finish!

Probably due to the work on "And all The Magic ..." you seem to have had new creative ideas that were....ummm,  unusual for you before?  

As I commented I did the same on "Black Blood White Hand" but not to the same intensity.   ".. And All The Magic & Might He Brought"” opened many doors for Uruk Hai and showed me a new way of working on my music. I learned a lot from those guest musicians, especially Joe Matera who gave me a lot of ideas because he is a perfectionist and a very good musician too, and he did a REALLY great job!

What is the main goal of your art?

The main goal of my art is to export fantasy stories into music; to create a soundtrack without a movie. I call it a 'soundscape' – people should close their eyes and follow my music through a journey to a world of mystery, dragons, battles and the beauty of all that what fantasy means. Uruk Hai plays Fantasy Ambient Metal and the goal is to make it sounds like that!

What situation is the most suitable for listening to your music? After all, your music in many ways is contemplative and, I think, requires a special approach and attitude from the listener?

The best would be to listen to it at night by candlelight and a glass of wine, but I love to listen to it with my headphones with eyes closed sitting in my hammock too: in my opinion everyone should find their own way to enjoy it.

A stupid question -  given the huge amount of releases under the Uruk Hai name, could you from memory immediately list ALL of your albums in chronological order? Not here of course, but in principle for you it’s possible?

Sure, the Albums I could list in the right order, that's not a problem.  The demos and rehearsals and split releases I could not list in a chronological order – but it would be fun to do that someday!

It seems to me, you're constantly in a process of creative self-realisation. How can you explain this continuity of the creative process?

That's my way of life, I cannot live without doing music.  I'm working each day on new music, not only for Uruk Hai as I have different other bands I'm involved in like Eismond, Ceremony Of Innocence, ILL, Hrossharsgrani, Hrefnesholt, WACH, Elisabetha, and Bonemachine.  You see, I'll never get bored, there are many ways to make different kinds of music from ambient to metal, from industrial to neo-folk, or from neo-classical  pop.  Most of my inspiration I get from nature and the main inspiration for Uruk Hai I get from J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful books, a never ending source of great fantasy characters.

Do you ever rest? Are there times when you say to yourself, 'That's enough! I need a break!' or are your vacations also somehow connected with music?

Oh yes, mostly in summertime I try to have a break: I vacation in the mountains of Austria (which is a great inspiration too) and I also love to travel to United Kingdom to visit my friends there!  Without these breaks I could not do that much music, but always after a vacation I'm more than hungry to do new music :-)

What is the attitude of your family to what you're doing - do they support you in this?

My family remains strongly behind me and they support me in every way!   Thanks to my beloved wife Elisabeth and to my 2 lovely kids, Birgit & Erik!!!!

Is music your only employment and source of income, or you have to work at a 'normal' every day job?

I run a record label called W.A.R. Productions too, so yes, music is my only income: it's very hard to live from it but it works and I don't wanna miss this chance to make my hobby my job – not many people have the opportunity to do that!

When did you start to be seriously interested in music and realise that you wanted to be a musician too? And tell us about your first favourite bands?

It was back in 1981 when I started to seriously listen to pop and rock music, and from 1982 I started listen to Metal music.  I started with bands like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Saxon and Venom (Venom are still one of my fave bands ever, and I have a huge Venom collection with more than 600 items). Soon after that I started to listen to the more extreme music of the day like Bathory, Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, Celtic Frost - the harder they were, the better!  In 1984 I played bass & vox in a band called Schlaganfall (the first band I played in – it was a Hardcore/ Punk band) and I played in different bands before I started my first solo project Hrossharsgrani in 1998.  One year later I founded Uruk Hai.

There are words in Dio's song called 'I Could Have Been A Dreamer' that say, 'We take away tomorrow  and never see the end of today...' and another lyric that reads, 'I always could have been a dreamer, 'cause dreamers never die.'  So, what do you think, how relevant are these words in today's world? And how far can dreams lead you, in your opinion?

It is so important to dream, NEVER STOP IT!  But there are also some very important words to be taken from the Rocky Horror Picture Show: 'Don't Dream It, Be It'!  Both things are very important in modern life – you need to always have a dream, a goal you can reach for but you also need to try to live your dream as well as you can.  Dio was great, by the way!

Tell me, Hugin, is your creativity for you is some alternate reality, a sanctuary, an escape from reality? Or music for you is some kind of addition to everyday life that allows you to look at familiar things from a slightly different angle?

Yeah, music offers a possibility to flee from reality – it always takes me away to another world.  I'm deep into this fantasy world when, for example, I am doing music for Uruk Hai.  I really enjoy it, it is like a trip to Middle-Earth.  Music describes everything much better then words as it is pure emotion.   In everyday life music helps me to make get through it – it is a bit like when you close your eyes when you're on the subway and just listen to the sound of the train on the rails – everything seems so different in such moments and nothing seems to be important...

By the way, tell me more about the new album and your new trilogy about Beleriand before we end?

The new album is a mix of instrumental songs recorded during 2014, there is no special concept behind it, except the Middle-earth theme I always do!  The trilogy about Beleriand, is about the great battles of Beleriand: The first great battle; the second battle (Dagor-nuin-Giliath); the third battle (Dagor Aglareb); the fourth battle (Dagor Bragollach);  the fifth battle (Nirnaeth Arnoediad); and the sixth battle (War Of Warth).  They are split over 2 CDs (first 3 battles on CD1, second 3 battles on CD2) and the trilogy's third and final chapter is about the dragon Glaurung who came the first time at the battle of Nirnaeth Arnoediad - I thought this character was something cool, which is why I gave him a special part of this trilogy!

Well, what final words from you to those who have yet to discover your music after reading this interview…

Thanks for the interview my friend!  Uruk Hai will release a 'Best Of 15 years' release in April through Aphelion Productions in the UK where all the songs were chosen by the fans – expect something cool.  It would be nice if you could give Uruk Hai a like on Facebook too: 

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