Upir (Poland) 23/01/2013
From the first listen of the mcd of Upir from Poland, they intrigued me. Maybe the sample that we have from the band is sort, but I think that it is enough in order to understand that we deal with a mentionable effort by musicians with talent and love for Black Metal. In this interview, for the first time since when began doing interviews, I get answers by all the members of a band. Meet the interesting, sincere and authentic personalities behind the mysterious Upir.
1. Hello Upir. Upir is a quite new band. Do you want to tell me what pushed you to form this band, what do you want to express through it and a small biography of the band? What does Upir mean?
Her Skogen: Heils! Well, the idea of creating “Upir” came from Legion, so I think it’s better that he will do the talking. I would like to add only one thing from my stance – with “Upir” I want to create sick, mind-fucking music that will desecrate any soul that will have a chance to listen to these ghastly sounds.
Herr Legion: Heils! While many expeditions in the Kashubian woods with my comrade Herr Skogen, we decided to join forces and create something together. We had a lot of ideas, but in the end we started to create Upir. In 2011 we have defined how we would like it all to look like and we started working on the music. Working on the music started with creating the first song, which was supposed to be released on a split EP with Necator. However, it didn’t work out. We did our thing anyway and after a while we were able to record more songs that we have sent to Jacek from the EastSide Rec. Jacek liked it, so he released our material on the MCD. Upir was going to be and, how it turned out, is our safety valve. What we would like to express the most is ourselves, and thus gives vent to all this energy which lies dormant in us. When it comes to the meaning of the name “Upir”, the word itself defines a kind of night demon, a vampire, a beast, which is a figure that is deep-rooted in Slavic culture. Upir is a creature as much cursed as we are, so there was no other name for what we wanted to create.
2. Both of you are members of other bands too. Do you want to tell me about those bands?
Her Skogen: Chronologically – at first I formed “Skogen” in 2003. It’s my music, I’m the only member and I play what I want at the time. That’s why most of my demos differ from each other, though all could be considered as ‘Black Metal’. Now, after 6 demos and two split releases, I’m working on a first full-length CD, because I’m fed up with this demo-tape era. Anyway, in 2005 I wanted to create something different, more precise, compact – music that would stick with the certain atmosphere all the time (not like in “Skogen” where it may vary from one release to another). So I formed “Woods of North” and “Ciemności”. The first mentioned is a style of the “Thousand Swords” Graveland’s era and similars from mid ’90 polish BM. For some time the name changed to “Semper Fidelis” and I had some other members in the band, but things went wrong and “Semper Fidelis” was no more (we released a split with “Werewolf” from Poland under “Semper Fidelis” moniker). In 2009 I returned to the former name with Wojmir (Biały Viteź, Wilk) as the second member – he’s responsible for bass, keyboards and vocals. Material for the full-length is composed, but it needs to be rehearsed. The second mentioned act, “Ciemności”, is more atmospheric, if you want to call it that way. It may be compared to the style of Dimmu Borgir’s or Satyricon’s debut albums. One tape has been released till now via EastSide Records, and probably there will be a re-release of this demo on mCD. Wojmir is helping me on this one as a session member, composing most of the keyboards. Last but not least is “Biały Viteź” which is a full band (full line-up, playing concerts, etc.) founded by Wojmir in 2005. I joined it in 2008 to co-compose and play the guitar, to become later a guitarist/vocalist in studio and on stage. Because concerts were a real pain in the ass for me I’m now only co-composing, rehearsing and recording with the band as a studio member. Music of BV is folk/pagan metal in the style of “Temnozor” and “Nokturnal Mortum”. We released one demo tape, split CD with Graveland (both released by EastSide Rec.) and we are in the middle of recording of the first full-length. Recently I became also a session member of “Morkr” where I co-compose and play the second guitar, bass and drums.
Herr Legion: Besides Upir, as far as vocals are concerned, I support a band called Morkr from my hometown. Climate of Morkr’s music is made by misanthropic atmosphere, specific aura of passing, loneliness and death. We have our first demo behind us, "Graves Forgot My Name". We are finishing recording for our full album, which is much more extensive as far as arrangement, music and drums (this time live) are concerned. We are looking for the publisher, so if there is someone willing to help, please contact us. Along with Herr Skogen we created Postumus, in the music of which there is not even a shred of positivity. Postumus exudes total annihilation and madness, that we were able to bring out of ourselves while the all-night lasting recording sessions, drowned in a sea of alcohol. Some time ago, we finally released our first demo cassette "Adversus Vos", due to Terror Cult Production. If you are interested in getting it, please write boldly. Recently I had a chance to support my friend from Till Sum project, recording all the vocals on his upcoming material "In Articulo Mortis".
3. Some months ago you released your first album, “Possession”. Do you want to give me some information about the recording?
Her Skogen: We recorded whole material at my BASTION Studio. It’s maybe not very well equipped, but it’s enough for now. It took two sessions to record instruments and maybe two or three sessions to record vocals. I and Legion live in different cities so we can’t rehearse very often – but with time we’re getting more efficient to do our parts as good as possible. As for mixing and mastering, it’s my part of the job as well, but maybe in the future we will consider giving the tracks for professional mastering.
Herr Legion: Herr Skogen is responsible for the recording sessions, so it would be better if he would describe the whole process. For my part, I can only say that while recording vocals I’m introducing myself in a kind of hypnotic state. This enables me to utterly detach from consciousness and to awake every demon that nests in my soul. All this is possible thanks to the great recording studio of Herr Skogen's - BASTION.
4. I think that although the album is very good, it is too short so it can’t put the listener deep inside the Upir’s madness. What is your opinion about that? How the comments from the fans or the press have been until now? Are you satisfied?
Her Skogen: Yes, it’s short, but it’s a mCD. I find it somehow confusing that a lot of people think “Possession” is a full-length - I don’t know where that information came from in the first place. “Possession” is just a hint, something that shows you what we are about – and what you can possibly expect from us (although madness is unpredictable). If someone sinks into our music, he/she shall only wait for another dose of darkness that we will deliver it anytime soon.
Herr Legion: Thanks for your feedback. Yes, the material is short, but this is a kind of an introduction to what is yet to come. The fact that its length is limited, leaves some kind of hunger, which soon will be satisfied. We are hearing opinions that the material is short but this is how it was supposed to be - it is a starting point. We still have huge amounts of energy that we want to process into sounds. This small response that we have from the Upir’s audience is very positive. In general, people really like what we have to present. Apparently our message goes exactly where it is needed, which shows us that we are not the only ones that understand these sounds. We are still working on the promotion of this material. However, due to lack of time and financial constraints, it is a very difficult thing. As they say, the more feedback, the better promotion, unfortunately this is still our weak side.
5. What I get more intensively by your music is a weird feeling of madness. What inspires you to write music?
Her Skogen: Madness, hatred and despair. So what you feel about our material is what we wanted you and anyone else to feel. And that’s great about it!
Herr Legion: Every sound that we create, is an extension of what is in our insides. Since we do not belong to the society at large, much of what emanates from us can be called pure madness. It will be seen even more clearly in each of our next materials. We have a clearly designated direction in which we are heading, thus each of our next songs will be more and more similar to what you will be able to determine as our style. I understand that you're asking about musical inspirations. I can safely say that the enormity of music inspires me. Not limiting only to black metal, a lot of other genres, along with their performers, bring out those parts of their selves that are inspiring to me. The truth is that this dirty, evil and primitive Black Metal appeals to me, as well as other things currently present in the music industry. There is no iron frame. Music is an energy carrier, and demoniacal rhythms are not reserved exclusively for Black Metal.
6. You (Herr Legion) are the one who writes the lyrics and if I don’t make a mistake you write in Polish. Can you tell me what they are about and how do you get inspired to write them?
Herr Legion: Yes, I am responsible for writing texts and as you could hear, they are written in Polish. On next materials I will also vocalize in my native language, as it is much easier for me to describe what I want to communicate in my own language. Often it is also very difficult to find English equivalents of words that I use to express exactly what I want express. On the following albums we will try to place the lyrics in Polish and the English translation in the insert. I could talk and talk on the subject of inspirations as such, because as a matter of fact inspirations are all around us. In life, not necessarily a fairy tale, and in death, not necessarily romantic. Also, in the symptoms of each type of insanity and in emanations of evil energy. Personally, with every year I'm penetrating the spirituality of all experiences more and more, and a natural direction of interest for me is diabolism radiating from men and from my surrounding.
7. Do you plan to perform live in the future? Have you planned any lives and if yes, where?
Her Skogen: I’m not into gigs. I played some with “Biały Viteź” and I felt that this is not for me. Playing for the audience makes me feel pissed-off at the whole universe and I only want to see those people under the stage dying in pain and agony. I just can’t stand looking at them – it’s disgusting for me. Ok, so one may say that playing Black Metal live isn’t about fun, so while I’m in “killing frenzy” mode I would perform better… yeah, right. For me the purpose of playing concerts isn’t about promotion, but to perform for the people who came to see you (yeah, that’s right – think about those who came to see YOU and other bands, and not that you’re just a toilet or beer break for the whole audience. Everyone should value the music they make). So, it seems unnecessary to me to perform live and not feel, to say at least, good about it.
Herr Legion: As for me, I would gladly put UPIR on stage and envenom other people through this form of interaction. For now it is not possible, but who knows what future brings. If there are maniacs who would like to complement Upir’s line-up for gigs, and Herr Skogen and I would both have a desire to play live, why not. So I think it is an open topic.
8. Have you begun writing material for a new release? When do you plan to have the next release ready?
Her Skogen: Our next release will be a split CD with a polish Death/Black Metal band “Deadthorn” (Check them out! It's worth it). Our side of the split will contain three older tracks and something that could be considered as intro, though in “Upir” way. After that split, we will compose stuff for the full-length. I hope that the split CD will be out in 2013.
Herr Legion: Now we are finishing works on the Upir / Deadthorn split, on the issue of which we’re looking for a publisher right now. Mainly on how quickly we'll find the publisher depends when it could come out. Each of the two bands shall post about 20 minutes of music on this split. Right after finishing these actions, we’ll move forward with our new full album, the shape of which we have already defined. The album will be filled with about 40 minutes of madness, and will be a significant extension of the existing band’s style. I want this full-length album to be released this year, and I hope that these plans will be possible to realize.
9. What is your opinion about the big Polish Black Metal scene? Are you in contact or cooperation with other underground Polish band? Is there any new band from Poland that you respect and support?
Her Skogen: Well… it was ‘big’ in the mid ’90, but in the end it turned into bunch of retards who only wanted to self-promote themselves… especially the undervalued fucktards from ‘true’ zines and ‘true’ underground labels whose only purpose was to gain a fanbase that the bands had. Yes, that is sad. As the war in the scene started and everyone with oversized egos became ‘poseur-hunter’, the music became the least important thing. So, the ‘big’ Polish Black Metal scene took a shit over its own legacy and became a circus arena. I know that it may look strange in your eyes that I have such negative attitude about the BM Scene in Poland which is often considered a big and strong one, but for me it’s overblown. How many good bands from the past play to this day? Though you may not believe, but some of them were or still are considered as ‘false’ and ‘poseur’ by “true-cult-I’m-from-the-‘90” assholes. About the second part of your question – I had some contacts with the ‘Scene’, unfortunately with the worse part of it (the ‘so-called elitists’)… and I’m not into this anymore. I like MY way of thinking, not theirs. Now they’re focusing on putting me down in the internet – so you can see what kind of ‘Scene’ the whole thing became. What’s comforting, there are some guys from the old times that can actually think for their own, and I’m hanging out with only such people – but all of us don’t give a damn about the whole scene thing. And for the last of your questions, though these bands are not ‘new’, I recommend “Cultes des Ghoules” and “Szron”.
Herr Legion: At one time I was in contact with many people from the top of the Polish underground. Starting from social gatherings, to mutual support on the stage. I don’t have much time lately to make interviews, but it happens from time to time. As well as drawing logos for bands, and supporting them by playing their songs on my radio audition called Kashubian Metal Attack. I also contribute to some cassette releases. This year I'm planning to start with my own record label, so at this dimension there will be more things going on. As I grew up listening to music originating from BM stage, from the very beginning this kind of music had a huge impact on me. I constantly come back to bands like Fullmoon, Galgenberg, Legacy of Blood, Kat, Imperator, Graveland, Anaboth, Veles, Thor’s Hammer, Inferno, Sacrilegium, Mastiphal (from Gdańsk), Mysteries, Legion, Thirst, Lord of Evil, Holy Death, Thunderbolt, Goetia, Kataxu, Taranis, Bustum and many others. All the bands mentioned above has recorded albums that, to this day, make a great impression on me and which I’m happy to listen to. Climate included in their music is so powerful that it is impossible to resist. As for new bands from my country, there are still great things showing out but personally I focus more on the international scene, when it comes to news. Some interesting bands that I could recommend today are surely Plaga, Furia, Cultes Des Ghoules, Mgła, Blaze Of Perdition, Leichengott, Evilfeast, Actum Inferni, Kriegsmaschine. I could go ahead and add more and more names, but I encourage to go and go looking for yourself. I'm sure you can find a lot of interesting things.
10. I think that in Poland there are many nsbm bands. What is your opinion about nsbm?
Her Skogen: The NSBM movement was the biggest part of the scene in its glory days (in my opinion), so my answer to your previous question tells it all (especially that most of the ‘so-called elitist-leftovers” are from the NSBM part of the scene). For some time I was into that, but things changed. I like to think for my own, and that’s absent in polish NSBM movement. I will hate everyone whatever skin-color do they have or what they believe in if they'll stay in my way. Besides, I wish that this planet would be destroyed by some comet or other space or none-space thing, and I will have a chance to live long enough to see it and to enjoy it. NS ideology is opposite to this things (you know – white man power, 14 words, etc.). As for the quantity of the polish NSBM bands… it lacks quality in my opinion. I wouldn’t say that it isn’t my cup of tea, 'cause I love the stuff from bands like Veles, Fullmoon, Graveland, Thor’s Hammer, Infernum and such (not all of those band releases, but most of them) and it sickens me that modern bands became “ideology first, music second”-type of shit. So, you are a musician and you strongly believe in your ideology and you want to spread your propaganda to make people to think your way? The BEST way to do this is to fuck up the music to make it unlistenable and unenjoyable, write some retarded lyrics that lack of any esthetic value and release it on tape limited to 100 copies so only people who THINK THE SAME WAY would buy it… that’s how it goes mainly in Underground, isn’t it? So the NSBM scene may be ‘strong’ when you look how huge it is, but their problem is that most of them don’t think about the music. That’s retarded. I’m a guy who thinks that music has to be equal to lyrics in their value or a band has to be fucking awesome in writing stuff, even if it may have lyrics about icebergs. Also, what helps to flood the Scene with bands lacking any quality are those dickwads from ‘true’ underground labels considering that they MUST support everyone with a swastika in their logo… and you buy three/ four/ seven tapes from the label and realize that more than a half of it is plain shit that should be thrown out of the window. Because of this I’m avoiding NSBM bands like a plague nowadays. A Scene with ‘musicians’ who officially say that the music is the least important thing? Really? However, if there will be a band from that genre that won’t be ‘kvlt’ enough to have a myspace/bandcamp/other something-page to listen to its samples or tracks and it will attract me, I will give it a try.
Herr Legion: I'll start maybe by saying that the topic is so wide, that one could write a book about it. Polish scene is full of bands that subscribe to this stream. So being a part of the scene gives opportunity to learn it from any possible angle. Many things about NSBM I like, others less. I do not take anything for granted and I choose only what suits me. Also in the theme of NSBM scene. Many say that it is wrong to mix politics with music. Of course it is, but truth to be told, there are very few bands that mention in their lyrics about who to vote for or about political statutes. Lyrics of the most NSBM bands touch subjects describing completely different themes. I understand that there are references to the Aryan or racial hatred, but doesn’t Black Metal itself imply hatred?! You could develop so much about it that we would come to a number of interesting conclusions. I perfectly well understand those, who think that metal is rebellion, Satan, death, but not a proclamation of the utopian visions of white men hegemony. Anyway, if someone likes lyrics about the Devil, and another one about the National-Socialism, then where is the problem?! Personally, I am politically aware, but I do not have the need to sing about it, because this is not how I want my art to be. Someone else is going to express themselves by exposing their political views to the sounds of Black Metal. I have absolutely no problem with it. I look only at myself and focus on myself. It's my law, I'm my own law and my own God. The rest is less important. So if people do something sincerely, with all consequences, and it makes sense then I can respect it. But if everything one does is pretentious, of frivolous approach, then it deserves nothing but my contempt. This applies to all forms of expression, no matter whether it is NSBM, Black Metal in general, or even painting or writing poems. Art should be honest, otherwise it will never be art.
11. What kind of music do you listen in your spare time?
Her Skogen: Well, first of all I like to listen to music all the time. Even if I’m occupied at the moment like making dinner, reading a book, etc. Music is my companion and she’s always with me. Anyway, let’s get straight to the point - I listen to everything that I like. I listen to Black / Death / Doom / Thrash metal, ’70 / ’80 / ’90 rock, prog-rock and hard rock music, neo-folk and classic slavic or scandinavian folk… and many, many more.
Herr Legion: Music accompanies me, in some way, from the moment of my conception and I can safely say that I'm listening to it all the time. For over a dozen years it was mostly metal music, but I’m not limiting to this single stream. I explained that sooner in this interview. I am quite a curious person and I'm constantly looking for something new that would move me. I need a lot of stimulation. Music gives me a huge range of possibilities, hence my admiration for it. What I'm listening to has to be corresponding to what lies in my soul. It so happened that I am the portal for all sorts of demons, so the whole damn thing called Black Metal speaks to me. But sometimes I like to soothe the madness in myself and listen to some gentle sounds. I could mention here some band names that could shock, however, I think it does not make sense. Basically you can say that I'm interested in film music, psychedelic, unique Polish rock of the 80’s (I highly recommend Polish bands from these years), alternative rock scene in general. I am delighted recently by a Polish bard Marek Dyjak. I love Polish artists representing different styles of music, and there are really many of them in my country. Many of them surprise with both originality and sincerity. If someone is interested in what I’m talking about, you can check names like: Księżyc, Nirnaeth, Variété, Kobong.
12. Which are your future plans? How do you imagine the future of Upir?
Her Skogen: Exhale and spread new plagues. Create something different, more obscure, more mad, more dark. As for me, I want to make something that you wouldn’t just call “a good Black Metal band”, but “Fuck, It’s UPIR alright” – and we will accomplish that.
Herr Legion: The plan is simple, to lead to madness as many people as possible. This should be the result of our upcoming split being released, followed by a full-length material. Who knows, maybe somewhere in the way there would be a 7 "EP also. When I look at the future of UPIR, I see broken chains. Chains which now hold my demons down. I see liberation in its purest form, each of our next materials will bring us closer to breaking the shackles. Total freedom.
13. Thanks for the interview. Do you want to add anything for a conclusion?
Her Skogen: Thank you for your interest and support for our band. It’s been a good time to answer your questions. And to spread some propaganda: Black Metal is individualism and individualism cannot be labeled or kept on a leash. Think for yourself and if you encounter any boundaries – leave only smoke and ashes behind you!
Herr Legion: Many thanks for this interview and for your support for UPIR’s work. I do appreciate your help. All those who wish to contact us, you are welcomed here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let there be POSSESSION!