Thursday, 29 September 2016

An interview with ... Hulduefni

What's on offer today then, Nazgul? A rarity nowadays - it's an interview!
With whom? Hulduefni
Bless you? No, I didn't sneeze, it's the name of the Portuguese band that recently had a split release with Uruk Hai released through WinterWolf Records
Aah I see! And it's a good read too, so enjoy!

We've seen a few Uruk Hai releases coming out of the WinterWolf stable in recent months, which is a nice thing indeed and one that promises much for stabilising the release schedule from one of Hugin's most popular bands. One such release came as a split album, featuring two songs from a band previously unknown to us on Honour and Darkness - Hulduefni - alongside three tracks from Uruk Hai.  This has, of course, already been reviewed and most favourably too. 

So it seems like a golden opportunity for Nazgul to adopt his 'old hack' persona and conduct an interview with Huldeufni founder João Simões about his band, collaborating with Hugin, and life in general. 

Welcome to Honour and Darkness, João! Where in the world are you based? 
Hello! and thanks for this interview! I'm based in the suburbs of Lisbon, in Portugal (but now I'm actually in Berlin studying, and I will be here for some months and then back to Portugal).

I read online that your band name comes from an Icelandic word?! 
Yes! After searching and looking, and thinking for long hours I found this name "Hulduefni", which means 'Dark Matter' in Icelandic. Dark Matter is tied to space, mystery and at the same time the word "black", all connected with my music. I chose Icelandic because I wanted a weird name, confusing and even difficult to pronounce, so to speak, but at the same time not too exaggerated. Even the Icelanders themselves consider their difficult language. And for all these reasons, it is perfect!

And how would you describe Hulduefni's sound? 
The sound is generally speaking a mix between dark ambient, drone and experimental, with a touch of psychedelic, but I also have recorded music that is close to black metal and to noise, so it's a mix of strange music genres and styles!

It's a potent mixture for sure! How did it come to evolve? 
It started in November 2011 when a friend of mine shared with me the soundtrack of the game "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines". I really liked the album, and I was extremely interested in the music. After further investigation into these musical styles - the darker, minimal and sometimes repetitive ones like Dark Ambient, Drone, etc. I decided to try writing an inspirational track based on several songs I had heard so far, using only an electric guitar and sometimes a bass.

Over time the tracks started to get more and more interesting, until I decided to start to pay more attention in the production of each of them. From December to early February 2012 I created and produced several songs until I decided it was time to put the best songs into a demo. After showing the songs to several people, most encouraged me to release it so I did, and in March the "Deep Darkness" demo, limited to 20 copies, was released (which also had the participation of two friends). The reception was very good, which made me immediately start thinking about the creation of new music....

You have an extensive discography: over 35 releases to date on Discogs - including solo releases and a number of splits with familiar bands in this area, such as Saturn Form Essence, I AM Esper, etc. Do you prefer collaborative work, or solo recording? 
I worked with some musicians in most of my albums. In "Deep Darkness", for example, I did 2 tracks that were recorded with some friends at my house, and in another example, like the split "Life (When Nightmares Become Reality)" I have 2 tracks that were played by both artists, and there are some more examples... When I have some friends over my house and we start jamming, sometimes those recordings end up in albums, some times don't. I just remembered another one, the track 'Depressive Spring' from the album "Journeys Of The Mind", the guitar was played by a friend of mine that lives across the street and the drums were played by me, and then the mixing and production is always made by me:, that is the only thing that I do not want anybody to do but myself, you know it's that "final" touch in completing the tracks.

For most split releases I just see who are the artists that are usually active in the dark ambient scene and the ones who care about music and love music like I do and contact them and try to work with them. And up until now almost all have been very open to splits and to work in collaboration and stuff. Great people, I have to tell you :)

Can you share with us the very first, and most recent, albums that you bought?! 
The first... hmm... probably Iron Maiden or Metallica, from Metallica I remember the "Black album" and from Iron Maiden "Death On The Road". The most recent?  Ha ha It was a compilation of Darkthrone demos, "Darkthrone ‎– Sempiternal Past (The Darkthrone Demos)". I love this band.

On your albums you have had song titles that deal with occultism, aliens and horror, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics? 
Well the occultism it comes from my love of black metal since way back, and horror topics too, like death metal bands and such. Before I knew what dark ambient was I was already an "metal head" so that's why! Regarding aliens well it's obvious, space and terror mixed, giving topics like the "end of the human race" of something like that that you normally see in the movies, like Alien or War of the Worlds, where aliens enslave and try to kill humans.

I like to do themed albums. So some albums can bring to your mind the image of space in a good (relaxing) way or an image of space in a bad way, again like the movie Alien or something. Or it can be very industrial like in the album "Synthetic Works", where you can only imagine a grey, industrial city. Very different themes and landscapes as you see between albums.

Are you also involved with any other musical projects? 
Yes, I'm involved in LostsoL my black metal band, that is running a bit slow now. I'm also running my own label (Dark Matter Records) and my new adventure is hip-hop and beats, with my crazy/funny artiste name Crazy John: John because of my name João, that is John in English. It's a totally different world the beats and hip-hop instrumentals, but it's also great to be able to work with new people from a totally different music background.

You sound like you've been influenced by a fairly eclectic set of bands over the years, then? 
The music styles that influence me are black metal and metal in general, a lot of the soundtracks to games and movies, and the list goes on and on. But if you want names, I can give you some including Burzum, Xasthur, Darkthone, Mayhem, etc. but also a band that I would like to give a special thank you for existing is Darkspace ! This one is just 'wow'... I don't have any words to describe this band, other than MASTERPIECE!

Regarding games, it is without doubt the soundtrack to "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines" and these days I listen to anything, I mean it! From black metal to classical to hip-hop, I listen to it all ha ha. (But right now I have been listening to a lot of old school punk! UK PUNK! Like Chaos UK for example).

For readers unfamiliar with Hulduefni's music, which of your albums would you recommend as a good starting point for an intrepid listener? 
Hmm good question.. I think that it varies from listener to listener... if you like something more (dark) ambient well... "Deep Darkness" is the way. For something more "spacey" you can go with the split with Saturn Form Essence "Outer Space", or my album "The Alignment". If you like something more experimental "Synthetic Works" is a good starting point.. But please notice that a lot of my old albums are/are almost sold out everywhere, so it will not be so easy to find those....

But that's why I also like to do compilations from time to time, so that the fans that miss my old albums can still have and enjoy a physical/ hard copy of a Hulduefni release with some old sounds on it ! :)

Are there any songs or albums out there that you think, 'damn, I wish I'd written that'?
Amazes me every time ....

On a global level, what feedback have you received by fans of experimental and dark ambient? 
This is a great and controversial question in my opinion. Well, one great artist that guided me through the scene and how "dark ambient works" that is the artist "Merankorii". He is also Portuguese, and told me that the dark ambient and experimental music takes time to settle down, people need time to listen carefully, to grow the love for the music as the artist grows itself, and it's very true.

In the beginning I thought that because I was releasing a lot of stuff and dedicating myself like 200% to this that I could like getting a music contract or something and that I could get into "big business" with it, but well ... with time I saw that it takes time, it's not like from night to day. And with time I think that my fan base is growing and that a lot of new people are discovering and liking my music, and that feels great! But yes, I still dream of one day do music for a major video game or a movie or something, that would be awesome!!

Which leads us nicely into the matter of where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future? 
Well, I really do not know, but like I just mentioned I would like to start making music for movies and games, and to be able to be "more" than just some tracks on some CD and to "bring to light", bigger stuff like, when working with image (movies or games for example) you can feel the music and see it also in the face of characters in games or actors in movies, you know what I'm saying, right?

Do you have time for any outside, non-musical interests? 
Ha, interesting question! Well right now because of college unfortunately I do not have much free time. When I do get some I try to relax a bit, go out with friends, sometimes do a music jam, and when I can, I like to go to the country side to relax away from the stress of the city and just to breathe some fresh air.

Regarding the split CD with Uruk Hai, I believe that it's your first collaboration with Hugin. Are you familiar with Uruk Hai or any other of his bands/projects, and if so do you have any favourite releases by him? 
Well I know Uruk Hai from the music industry a long time. And, well, for me he is BIG, one of the most active and probably with a lot of fans too! Sincerely I never thought that he was so chilled and open, in emailing him (like I did with some other artists - that ignored me!) I never thought that he would answer back! I dont know.. I really do not know if the name "Hulduefni" is a big name in the dark ambient world or not... maybe it is and I do not have the sense of that?

But yes, I knew of him and emailed him and he was a very easy guy to talk to and said yes to the split and I think that the final result is great ! And it's great for me to work with an artist that in my view is way bigger than Hulduefni! And I have to thank him for this oportunity of course! :)

About his other projects I don't think so: I know the Uruk Hai project only, but I have to check out the rest, then!

How pleased were you with the final WinterWolf release of this album? Have sales been good, do you know?
Ha ha ha - you know .... these underground labels never talk much.  We tried a lot of labels and then WinterWolf was the one that accepted it ... finally! Hugin dealt with the label so I don't know if he knows about sales, but I know  nothing! I hope that is selling well and that the people are liking it, but the truth is that I personally just do not know.. :/

But yes the release by WinterWolf is great! Great quality! And they are also selling the item on eBay which is good marketing so, yes it's great!

What are your future plans for Hulduefni - are there releases being planned, or surprises around the corner? 
Yes, yes.. for the future I plan to release less material , because releasing a lot sometimes makes the fans miss out on some CD or something and I don't want that.  So what I want to do is release like 1 or 2 albums a year or less, but with that time work even more on the tracks.

I always do my best on my albums, but there is a time that you already done a lot of stuff and you can not repeat yourself and for me that time is now. To evolve and to make a more refined Hulduefni... music with EVEN MORE details and being more immersive, etc.

The thing here too is that the labels release less and less stuff now, so it's also hard for the artists who like to do CD or any other physical copies like myself. And a lot of people also prefer to listen on the internet than to buy a CD, although a true fan will always buy, so I do not worry.. ;) )

Would you like to take this advantage to send Hugin a message through this blog? 
Yes! Thanks a lot for this opportunity! And please keep up the good work with your music also! :D

And to end, do you have any final message for the readers of Honour and Darkness? 
If you are still reading ... you are a true fan! Thanks a lot!

Support the artists you like and please buy their stuff do not simply listen to it online...

Thanks a lot again!!! TO ALL!


So as the Icelandic black matter swirls and spirals back to its temporary base in deepest Berlin, we wish João nothing but success in his musical and other endeavours in the future, and look forward to seeing the next chapter open in this interesting story...

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