An interview with Bolesław Ren Rygiel,
playing Scarecrow with Furda

I have known Bolesław Ren Rygiel (FB) for a long time now. All the way back to 2012/2013 when I was involved with the World of OMNIA fan group. I first noticed Ren when he uploaded a cover version of an OMNIA song he played on flute. A very good version actually and from that moment on I always encouraged this young Polish musician to do something with his talent. That went on for about ten years and then, in 2022, a package fell through my letterbox from a new Polish neo folk duo called Furda (FB), and one of the members was Ren. That album, Bojany, has become a firm favourite in the de Booy household. I actually consider it to be one of the best debut albums I’ve heard since I’ve started listening to neo folk music, so it is high time I catch up with Ren and ask all about the CD Bojany and his band Furda.

So how did you and your fellow band member Jakub Podskarbi meet up?
– ‘We met at one of the Polish folk festivals but we are not sure anymore which one it was. Jakub (FB) was playing a gig at one of these festivals with his other band Sumana (FB).

Afterwards we just jammed around a fire and we met like that. From then on me and Jakub started to talk about maybe doing some project together.’

And that was the start of Furda?
– ‘Well that is sort of a funny story actually. As I said we were sort of talking talking about working together and at one point in 2021 Jakub just messaged me like: ‘Yo, we are playing a concert in two weeks or something.’ Ren continued laughingly: -‘ So he invited me to his house to talk things through and we decided we needed to make some material. We also decided we wanted to use live looping techniques so that we could use a lot of our instruments, just the two of us.’

I did notice you and Jakub use an impressive range of historic– and neo folk instruments. All sorts of recorders, a xaphoon, a Bulgarian kaval, a kalimba, a darbuka, and the kantele to name just a few.

– ‘Yes that is true. Besides being really active in the local neo folk scene. Jukab is also an instrument maker who specializes in creating some extinct or rare instruments such as the Polish traditional fiddle, the suka biłgorajska.

It is an instrument that had been extinct for over 150 years and now is the core of our sound essentially. The cool part of it is he made that suka biłgorajska himself .
Quite a lot of the instruments we use are either made or modified by us. At the moment I personally don’t really use many instruments I made myself but that is what I ‘m aiming for in the future. ‘

So you wanted to try and use all those instruments at that very first concert?
– ‘Yeah we thought it would be a fun idea to make something that was musically complex, using a lot of different instruments, but only with us two playing, so live looping was the way to go. We sat down at Jakubs house and jammed with a lot of different instruments and a looping effect.
We came up with a couple of song sketches that day that we then polished in if I am not mistaken one more rehearsal.’ Ren says with a smile. –’And yeah, then we played our first gig. Which was quite unsuccessful to be honest because we weren’t fully prepared for what we were hoping to achieve technically. So it was a rather stress full experience. After that we kept making music together. figuring out how to make the live looping concept we wanted work. How to be more consistent technically and how to make it a fun experience for everyone involved.’

That explains the way the songs on Bojany are build up. Did any of those first songs make it to your debut album?
– ‘Yes, most of the song sketches on Bojany come from that first rehearsal and that first gig we played. In the autumn of 2020 we decided we wanted to record an album. So Jakub came to stay at my home. I live in our family house, a nice wooden house my grandma build for us all in the forest. So we set up a studio in my bedroom and we just settled down for over two weeks and recorded every single day. We would wake up, eat breakfast and start recording We did for two weeks in a row. Every single day! Recording, recording, more recording, mixing, composing and recording again. I have to say, it were a rough couple of weeks.
Why? Well when you try to speedrun the recording of an album like that, day after day, and do it in one recording session it is very exhausting. It ended up being a very tiring experience. But a fun one none the less because it is a creative process and creative processes are fun. But , laughing, there were some obstacles on the road. For instance, as I said the studio was set up in my bedroom. Well my dad is a carpenter and his workshop is right next to my bedroom and there is essentially no walls and no doors between my bedroom and his workshop. So you can imagine there would be quite a few electric carpentry devices like saw blades and stuff , that made a lot of noises that we didn’t want on our recordings. So we had to organize a schedule that would work for both my dad and us as well. So yeah, it was difficult to pull it all off but luckily we did.’

You recorded and mixed the album together, did you also do the mastering yourself?
– ‘No, when we had the album somewhat ready we went to a friend of mine, Maurycy Żółtański (FB)(middle), who I used to go to school with. He now is a professional producer. He did the mastering for us and he gave the album a more Polish and a more sparky sound.’

The first video single you uploaded is of the title song Bojany. In the description under it you explain it is a local Polish folk tale collected in an unpublished book by Oskar Kolberg, a Polish ethnographer, folklorist, and composer. Are all the songs on the album based on Polish folkore?
At this point Ren starts to laugh out loud : – ‘I’m sorry Cliff, but actually Bojany is not based on polish folklore at all. The story that you refer to, was actually made up by Jakub, he improvised that post on the go. I think he just felt it was a fun way to introduce our music. Using a mystical story. So I’m afraid it is actually made up, although Oskar Kolberg was indeed a very renowned ethnologist and researcher of the polish folk culture and its mythology, so the story was certainly inspired by him.
So although most of the songs on Bojany are not directly based on Polish folklore, there is one exception: the song Lisek. That song is based around a well known Polish nursery rhyme. Other then that the songs on Bojany aren’t inspired by Polish folk tales as such, but it was recorded in the village of Bojany, the village where I live, and I have to say that Bojany in itself is a very interesting place. It is a very mystical area, with a lot of local folk tales. Lots of ghost stories actually and other things that are on the verge of the metaphysical. It is a place that is quite rich in those, shall I say weird forest myths and ghost stories. It would be safe to say this area definitely had some impact on us and the music we were making as we were recording it.’

Lisek taken from the album Bojany, released by Furda in 2022

When I was trying to translate the lyrics, the program I used found some Bengali in there. Did you really use Bengali lyrics on Bojany?
– ‘No there is no Bengali on the album, all the lyrics are either in Polish or -mostly- a made up language that me or Jakub created. That idea is something that goes back a long time, even before we started Furda. Whenever I would make a song I would quite often improvise some intuitive, made-up language, supposed to just match the song; the vibe or the feelings of that song.
It is not something that is really think through in that sense I don’t t usually write the made-up language lyrics out beforehand. Usually they come to me on the go and then transcribe them afterwards.
An interesting thing I noticed is that whenever I transcribe made up languages there seem to some similarities between them. Like some words that will come up often among these intuitive lyrics. Sometimes I try to piece it all together and create like a full on language created by me. I am not the only on in Furda doing that. Jakub created some intuitive phrases created as well, one example is the song Skeya Rokha.’

So Ney Haro and Skeya Rokha have ‘intuitive’ lyrics?
– ‘Yes Bojany, Ney Haro, Skeya Rokha, Ski’la va, Furdana they all have made-up lyrics although on Furdana there is not a lot of lyrics there beside ‘furdandandandandanda’ -laughs- which is just a twist on the bands name. Jakubs inspiration behind these ‘lyrics’ were the buddhist meditation chants, were they monks often use throat singing too. Those chants become very trans like because of the repeated phrases for a long period of time and we tried to recreate that in our own way.
We do have some polish lyrics as well. There is Lisek, which is based on this Polish nursery rhyme and then there is Zwiędły, which is written by me a couple of years back. These are the only two songs in polish on Bojany, but there is more to come on the next album.’

Oh cool! A new album! how far away is that?

– ‘The next album is quite far away actually. Jakub was very eager to play as many concerts as possible and if you play a lot of gigs you don’t have a lot of time to record new music, but we are planning to start recording some new songs. But we are not going to do it in one session again. We will do it one song at a time this time. Currently we have around four new songsketches for new album tracks that we perform live. With two of them we are almost done recording them.
I can already tell you these new songs will be a bit different. They are more acoustic driven. We want to go for a more live feel this time. The songs on our debut album Bojany are mostly quite slow paced and very atmospheric. When we play them live they become much more dynamic, more dancy. With the next album we want to go for this more dynamic more energetic approach as well. So the new album is gonna be a bit more wild then the first one. Do we already have a release date? No not yet. We hope to have the album out before next season if all goes well.’

Furda has its very own quite unique sound. Which bands would you say inspired you both?
– ‘ Our musical inspirations? For me that would obviously be OMNIA and quite certainly Heilung as well. We were both actually quite heavily inspired by Heilung at the beginning stages of Furda. Jakub’s main inspiration was an electronic music project called Lorn.
That’s where he took the idea for the deep bass sound that is present in a couple of our songs from. So in other words Furda is a mixture of a bit of ruff ambient sounds mixed with nice folky melodies and some electronic bass and percussion.
Something I didn’t mention before and maybe is not that obvious is that those very deep bass sounds like in the end of Skeya Rokha are actually not electronic sample or synthesizer sounds, It is actually the sound of the suka biłgorajska, put through a bunch of different guitar effects.

The fun part is we do try to use these ‘electronic’ sounds, especially in our live gigs, but we do it by manipulating the sounds of the different acoustic instruments we use with effects. That’s a big part of our sound it live gigs I would say, improvising and playing around with sounds.
With Furda what we just try to make music that stands out. It is somewhat rooted in folklore but what we go for is creating music that is open for interpretation. We don’t want to make music focused on a specific style or genre or cultural region or anything. So our music is a pretty crazy amalgamation of different ideas, cultural references and musical inspirations.
But we do try to make it feel a bit, ahm, ‘antique’. We do this with our choice of instruments and with the way we approach our music. It is pretty raw and played on a concert very improvised. When we play live we do have the general framework of how a song is supposed to go. However we do go for improvisation quite a lot. In my opinion this is the fun part of being a musician. That you get to create things and improvisation is just pure creation. We love doing it because it is just a lot of fun and makes every concert unique.’

Are the songs on Bojany also improvised then?
– ‘Well as I said most of the songsketches come from that first improvised jam session and are based on these improvised loops and song ideas we had. There is certainly some degree of improvising during recording. We normally don’t, you know, write our music, like – laughs – we don’t plan it out a lot. Usually we get a quick idea and we hop into recording and see what comes out. So our workflow is– laughing- very much impulse driven. We just have a crazy idea, we hop into the studio, work on it and see what happens.’

It sounds like fun is a big part of the band. I even saw you say you play ‘scarecrow’ with Furda according to your Facebook page?
– ‘Yes I do have ‘scarecrow with Furda’ written on my Facebook page and yes this band is certainly about having quite a lot of fun. We try to not take ourselves, and our music to serious. Everything with a little humor.
Obviously the scarecrow is a reverence to the Bojany video where we put on these crazy scarecrow costumes that Jakub made.’ He laughs: These costumes weren’t very comfortable to walk in actually. It was barely possible to move around in them but we were able to pull of the music video and survive for the day so all was good in the end.’

The official music video for Bojany by Furda

You already told us about that ‘first’ gig that didn’t go so well. What was your coolest gig then?
– ‘Then our first real gig as Furda comes to mind. It was in 2022 at Grajdół Festiwal, a very interesting Polish folk festival in the mountains.Very unusual actually as it is located on top of a mountain! It is pretty much impossible to get there as it is such a remote location. The only way really is by foot, climbing up this mountain. The organization have some very strong jeep-like trucks to stuf to the top of that mountain and they used those powerful Jeep trucks to get all our instruments and ger up there. Its a very nice festival organized by a very nice group of young competent people.

The atmosphere there was just amazing. It was one off the most magical festival experiences I had, maybe ever even, just because of how remote and wild this location is. So it was a great experience, although, the fun part is that we were scheduled to play around 24:00 at night, but as with almost every festival there were some delays in the program.
Now although I still uphold that the organization is very nice and capable, the delay was so severe we ended up playing four or five hours later! So we didn’t play at midnight but started when the sun was starting to come up. We had a hard time keeping our energy levels up till we could play the gig. Also the sound guy had a bit to much to drink and got lost in the woods so it was -laughs out loud- -an adventure. A very difficult but also really fun gig.
We played there again this year, on top of a different mountain, and this time it all went really smoothly. Definitely a magical festival to play at Grajdół Festiwal. If the CeltCast readers ever get the change they should go there.’

Furda can be found here:

Magical music with Folk With Friends

Jesper Weerheijm is a musician and sound tech. Due to the Dutch COVID-19 measures, he can’t go to work. However, he’s still active in the folk and fantasy scene. Folk With Friends is a project he set up at the end of March.

Can you tell us more about Folk With Friends?
“Folk With Friends is an initiative in which I ask fellow musicians from different folk bands to make a cover of a classic folk song. I start with choosing a song and by approaching the musicians with the instruments I need. When the group is complete, I play the first part of the song. I will then send it to the next musicians, who play their part. And so on. When all musicians have recorded their parts, I edit the audio and video and it can be published online. All video is recorded by phone cameras. We don’t use any expensive studio gear.”

Who’s participating so far?
“Folk musicians from big bands, small bands; everyone. The idea is to work with as many people as possible. Preferably a new group of musicians for every song and no two people of the same band. Although that didn’t work as planned. There are quite a lot of guitarists, but a lot less drummers. That is why I ask some people to cover multiple songs.”

How did you get the idea to start Folk With Friends?
“This project has been on my mind for over six months. Due to the Dutch measures, I’ve finally got the time to do the stuff that I have procrastinated on. I don’t think that I have become more creative; you either are a creative mind or you aren’t. Now I’m home all the time, I can use my creativity. Folk With Friends is good to fight boredom. And of course I love to share my music with other people.”

Will you continue this project after the crisis?
“There are two videos online right now and there are two more in the making. Three other songs are ready to be produced. Mind you, it’s not, like we say in Dutch, assembly line work. I don’t have any deadlines and there is no hurry in producing the videos. When I have time, I will work on the project. It is possible that we will make less videos after the worst of the crisis is over. Another possibility is that the content will slightly differ, for example by using way less musicians that we do now.”

The Magic of the Dolmen, an interview

Taloch Jameson, Chris Jones, Kayleigh Marchant and Josh Elliott on the couch during the interview Left to right: Taloch Jameson, Josh Elliot, Chris Jones, Kayleigh Marchant  

The Dolmen are known for their spiritual music. In the last weekend of January, they took us on a magical trip during their two concerts in the Netherlands. In this interview we are joining their trip to see what is behind their music.

What drives you to make music?
Taloch: “On a personal level, we don’t know why we do it, other than we love doing it. The thing is, being a musician is like being a drug addict.”
The band laughs.
Kayleigh: “Eh, not quite…”
Taloch: “We never got any money… Can’t get a job…”
Chris: “That’s it, because we’re all unemployable… We all smell sweaty.”
Kayleigh: “Speak for yourself! I smell fresh.”
Chris: “We don’t only do the music, we do all sorts of stuff. It’s just to give people something that they can enjoy.”
You are quite spiritual. Does that show in your music?
Kayleigh: “I hope so. Otherwise, we’re doing something really, really wrong.”
Taloch: “There is a very simple message in our spirituality. It’s a universal spirituality, which is not bound by the constraints of religion. The individual is always encouraged to follow their own way of spirituality. I live by a five fork mantra: every person is born equal. Every person deserves opportunity. Wisdom will come naturally. No woman, no man, can call themselves free unless they have freedom of choice. It means that everybody is always left in control. You have to take responsibility yourself. This mantra can be said in one word: love. Love for life, love for the planet, love for humankind. And that is our spirituality. We don’t preach it, we sing it. We live it. You can’t tell any of us what to think or what to do, because we’re beyond that. We live through that mantra. Hopefully, that’s what people get from our music.”

“Part of being human is to also have an essence of spirituality”

Do you think the world needs more spirituality?
Taloch: “Every person is spiritual at some point in their life, even if they don’t feel it right now. There will be one point in your life, maybe a few points or maybe an everlasting point in your life, where you will feel spiritual. Where things around you will make a big difference. And you will come to hear that innate voice that echoes down, soon. That is why the human race has always built shrines and stone circles or they go on and build different monuments.”
Chris laughs: “The Shard.”
Taloch: “Part of being human is to also have an essence of spirituality.”
Does your music help with that?
Taloch: “I wouldn’t say that it helps with it. People help themselves to find their own way to it. We play music and our music just happens to tune that way. This is our contribution. Whether it helps someone, is down to the person’s personal take on it. Our music is not to help, it’s just what we do.”
Kayleigh: “We’re sharing our spirituality through our music in the hope that it will make a difference to people; someone will take something positive from it and carry it on from there. We’re not saying that we do do it, but we hope that we do.”
Chris: “We put our own spirituality in it, which a lot of people who listen to us experience or find that in common with us. That five fork mantra goes into all of our music and performances. Some people relate to that, which is great.”

“We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors”

Taloch: “You know, wouldn’t it be just beautiful if the human race could just see the greater love of what it needs to exist and to survive. Countries could learn to sell their differences and learn to actually come together. That is the greater love of life. If enough people could actually grasp this… People can still be proud of their cultures. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We’ve come down through hundreds of thousands of years of evolution to reach where we are. Let’s hope that we continue to evolve and we will reach that point where we can. Where we can settle our differences without dropping a few missiles. War is not good for anyone. Isolation is not good for any country or person.”
This year is the 30th birthday of the Dolmen. Are you going to celebrate it?
Taloch: “We are.”
Josh: “We usually drink, to be fair. It’s a special occasion.”
Taloch: “We haven’t worked out exactly what we are doing yet, but it is a special year for us. The Dolmen was put together to play gigs at campfires. I didn’t want to ruin this atmosphere of a beautiful time out in the country or out in the woods where we would play instruments. We still do it now. In the UK we still have our own gatherings, festivals and other events.”

Fantasy Forest interview

Fantasy Forest is a brand new festival, organised by a very experienced group of people, and it will introduce its concept for the first time to England this year! At a gorgeous location, Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds, they will bring amazing bands to their visitors, like Harmony Glen, PerKelt, The Dolmen and Greenrose Faire. They will organise a market filled with merchants that will cater to all fantasy wishes, and they will even host a costume competition to give people the chance to show off their amazing creations. And that isn’t even the whole of it!

It will also be CeltCast’s first official venture into the UK! In the coming time we will bring you updates on Fantasy Forest, but right now we are starting with an in-depth interview. We had the honour to speak to Martin about organising a festival, about bringing something like this to an area that doesn’t have any experience with it yet. About which bands to book, and how to go about finding a location. And about so much more. If you’ve ever been to a fantasy festival, or you’ve just always been interested in what such an organisation looks like, you can read all about it here. Enjoy, and hopefully we’ll see you all at this beautiful new event!

– First off, please introduce yourselves! Who are you, how old are you, where are you from, and of course, what are your backgrounds regarding festivals?

Well, my name is Martin and I am 48 years old. Born, raised and living in Friesland which is an area in the north of The Netherlands. I started visiting fantasy festivals a long time ago and fell absolutely in love with the concept after the first time. The atmosphere, the friendly people, the music and the smell of campfires and food stalls. Just being there is enough to lift my spirit. After about 5 years I signed up as a festival volunteer for the first time. That was an amazing experience and I never could have imagined how much festivals depend on volunteers and how much effort goes into preparing the venue for a two day festival. Now I volunteer for 4 weeks each year and that basically eats up all my vacation days. 🙂

– When did the first dream of Fantasy Forest emerge?

That was in the summer of 2016. I remember the exact moment well: I had been working as a volunteer at a festival for 7 days already (construction) and the last band was playing their last song on the last day of the festival. I was standing on the stage, to the side where the audience could not see me, but the location gave me a great view of the people dancing in front of the stage. I noticed how happy the people were. How much this festival, this weekend, meant to them and my exact thought was “It must be fantastic to be the organiser of such a festival, stand here and see how much joy it brings to sow many people”. This idea stuck with me and developed in my mind for a while until I decided to move forward and register the company in May 2017.

– We presume that before any plans were made you had to first get your core group of organisers together. How did you go about forming this core group?

After the decision was made to move forward I had to take a good look at the tasks ahead and at my own strengths and weaknesses. What I wanted in the team were people that supplement each other and while each on our own we might not be able to organise a festival, as a group we form the perfect team.

I myself am a project manager (that is my actual paying day job as well) and I can create a whole festival plan on paper, create budgets, host meetings, keep track of tasks and make sure they are completed on time and utterly confuse anyone by producing sheets, overviews and backup plans of backup plans until they are buried in paperwork. But I am at my best in the office. Delegating, organising, problem solving. I needed some “boots on the ground” during the festival. The key to “surviving” a festival as organiser is to surround yourself with people you can rely on when the going gets tough. Enter… Stefan. I had met Stefan before at festivals and had also worked with him at several occasions. Having seen him deal quickly and calmly and efficiently with security and safety incidents I knew he would be the one I would like to have by my side. As a stage manager, often working at festivals throughout Europe, he also had personal contacts with many artists and by adding his personal network to mine we greatly extended our circle of contacts.

That still left a gap though as we are both located in The Netherlands and we had only a few contacts in the UK. I would never have started this adventure without Guy, the third man in our core team. His people skills are second to none. Everybody he meets likes him instantly and I am pretty sure he knows everybody in the UK in one way or another. From his own network and by visiting festivals and meeting people, Guy is responsible for pulling in most of the traders at Fantasy Forest as well as a very big part of the entertainment. He is also our “friendly faced” media contact and our “fixer”. We need a coach company? Guy arranges a coach company. We need a voice over? Guy arranges a voice over. We need an accountant? Guy knows an accountant.

Besides the core team there is a second group of people that play a very important role. Jantien, who is our volunteer coordinator, André who is our Safety Officer, Maria who is our (decoration) advisor, Jurrien who is our design and social media manager and Jessica, our cashflow manager.

– Of course, after forming the initial group there are still a lot of steps to take when organising a festival. How did you end up to where you are now?

Do you have a few hours? 🙂 Selecting a general area in the UK, then the specific venue and the festival dates took the most time. Six months if I recall correct. A process that involved details such using average annual rainfall charts, population density, rail and road connections and creating a huge list of all festivals in the UK, their date, location and genre. And it may sound silly but many people forget about the dull administrative part. Registering a company, setting up a bank account, hiring an accountant, trademarking the name, registering for VAT etc takes a lot of time especially if you are not a UK citizen. Setting up social media accounts, registering and developing websites, insurances, designing and printing flyers comes on top of that.

From January 2018 onward bands and entertainment have been contracted, safety plans created, licenses arranged. And we had to hire stages, trackmats, showers, marquees, market stalls, toilets, offices, fork-lifts, fences, barriers, security, technicians, electricians, generators and several miles of electrical cables, first aid, hotels, crew catering, radios, tables and benches, chairs, a shuttle bus…. the list goes on for a while. Today we are in the final stages of planning, which includes an endless list of details to go through to ensure everything runs smoothly in the weekend.

– How did you find such a stunning location as Sudeley Castle? Were they as excited as you were, or did they need some convincing?

After the decision on date and general area within the UK was made I started searching for possible locations within that area. We started with around 11 possible venues and Guy and I visited each of them. Sudeley Castle was the second location we visited and we were both blown away.

With the castle, the gardens and the amazing views. We did not discuss price with them on that occasion but as we walked out we both said “Wow, how great would it be if we could have the festival at this dream location. But we will probably never be able to afford something like this.” Well we could and here we are!

Astrid (event manager at Sudeley Castle & Gardens) embraced the idea from the very first meeting. She played a big role in our final decision on the location. We were very lucky to arrive at just the right moment as well. Sudeley was at that moment not hosting any large events and it was mainly used as a wedding location. One of the most sought after wedding locations in the UK. They had just decided to allow 2 large events each year and we just slid right in. Today it is no longer possible to organise a new event at this location as all slots are filled. We truly have been very lucky!

– Fantasy Forest seems to combine several aspects, be it music, costumes, markets, re-enactment etc, into one event, but what would you say is the main aspect? Which is the most defining element of the event?

I would say the main aspect is different for each visitor. We have added an abundance of entertainment and activities throughout both days so that if there is something going on that does not interest you that much you still have several other activities going on at the same time. If you would ask me personal I could not even make a choice. I think we excel in many areas. I could not even name you my personal favourite but I am very pleased with the Wickerman Ceremony. That is going to be absolutely amazing. The Wickerman will be built on site by Pyrite Creative who create the most beautiful structures. And Stefan has been working for months on the ceremony itself. Also the costume shows are slowly developing into something amazing. “Costume and Play” is the company that takes care of the organisation and each meeting we have they manage to impress me with their ideas. With a stage, catwalk, monitors and professional sound and light equipment this will be quite a spectacle. The line-up of the bands is a dream line-up. Not just for a first-time festival but for any festival. We also have the top of the fantasy artists worldwide. Imagine Brian and Wendy Froud, Anne Sudworth, Linda Ravenscroft and Anne Stokes all together at one festival on the same field! And I’m particularly proud about the quality of the trader stalls. We have a very impressive selection of around 100 high quality stalls, selling items you are not able to buy in the mainstreet.

So a main aspect.. no, I really could not name it.

– Like the organisers themselves, the bands you invited come from several different countries. Can you tell us a bit about them, and about how you chose these particular bands for your first ever edition?

Well most of them we knew already through Stefan’s network and of course we have seen them play many times at different festivals. That was not the main reason for asking them to come though, we actually did have a plan. 🙂

From day 1 we wanted Harmony Glen as our headliner, closing the festival on Saturday and Sunday. They may not be that well-known in the UK yet but their performance is highly energetic, is very accessible and easy to dance to even if you have never heard it before.

Celt-N-Folk XVI And they will get any crowd dancing and singing in no time. And that is how we want people to go home after the festival.

The Dolmen of course is very well-known in the UK.

They have a very large fan base and it is a pleasure working with them and an honour that they will perform on this first edition.

Greenrose Faire from Finland is another band that was our personal favourite. They are very well-known in the Nordic and Baltic countries and even organise their own festival in Finland once a year. Very talented and professional musicians who compose all their own songs. They have never performed in the UK before but having seen them play before we just know they will be a big hit with the UK audience!

– Fantasy Forest is of course a brand-new concept, but we presume it has its background in one or more other festivals. Which festivals would you say have had the most influence in forming the concept of Fantasy Forest?

Haha, well in preparation I have visited a lot of festivals in 2018. A terrible job but someone had to do it. 🙂 I cannot name a specific festival but I have seen a lot and learned a lot. Not only about what does work but even more important ideas that did not work.

– Did you need and receive a lot of cooperation from the local government with things like permits?

I don’t think they gave us any special treatment but they are familiar with large festivals in their area so they were not afraid to allow this festival to take place and also knew how things worked and which questions to ask. During our first meeting we handed them an impressive amount of documentation which clearly they were not expecting (their actual words: “Wow, we have never seen anything like this before, you are very well prepared”). They took it home with them to read and during the second meeting we received the green light without having to provide any additional information.

– We are all obviously actively hoping for a massive success for this first ever edition. Even though you are still in preparation mode, would you say that there are already things that you would like to do different next year?

Oh yes! In my mind I’m already working on the 2020 edition. We are already discussing which bands we would like to have in 2020 and have reserved the dates (July 18th and 19th 2020, mark it in your agenda). 🙂 Of course the real evaluation will come after the festival, which will also include feedback from visitor experiences, traders and entertainment.

– Where can people find more information about the festival, like dates, sleeping or camping options, and how to acquire tickets?

All the information can be found on our website. Also follow our Facebook page to stay updated on the latest developments. The festival will take place at Sudeley Castle (near Cheltenham) on July 20th and 21st. Camping is available on the venue (though selling out fast!).

– Lastly, what message would you like to pass on to the people reading this interview?

Don’t be one of those people who afterwards posts on Facebook “That looks amazing, I wish I would have been there…”. Just come. It will be grand, amazing and over the top. You cannot compare this with anything in the UK that you have ever been to before.

– Arjan de Groot

Photo Harmony Glen:
– Hans-Heinrich Breuer of Heiners art

Photo Greenrose Faire:
– Mariëlle Groot Obbink

Photos castle gardens: (excl. aerial shot)
– Alex Sealgaire

Sowulo have a new single out called Brego In Breoste. We had an interview with Faber Auroch telling all about it.

It will not have gone unnoticed by the fans of Sowulo that there is a new album on the horizon. The last two months Faber has been visiting Fieke van den Hurk in her Dearworld studio to record the vocals, and mix all the songs that will be on the upcoming album. To shorten the wait a bit Sowulo have released a first single, Brego In Breoste on the 6th of May and it is, in one word, impressive. Brego In Breoste is modern Viking Folk at its best, grand, theatrical, impressive and spiritual. Fans of Wadruna, Heilung and Kati Rán will definitely embrace this new single too.
On Sowulo’s facebook page Faber already hinted that the sound of the new album would be a bit different from the previous two albums, Alvenrad and Sol. When you hear the teasers he put up, it’s clear the sound is more powerful, shifting slightly from acoustic Celtic Pagan Folk towards powerful acoustic Viking Folk. He also hinted that the theme of the new album would be a new one. Alvenrad and Sol were, of course, themed around the Neo-Pagan feasts, the circle of the seasons. This time the theme seems to be more personal, more about an inner journey.
We contacted Faber a few weeks ago for an interview, so he could tell us all about Brego In Breoste, and the upcoming new Sowulo album. The first question of course was about the different theme running through the new music we are hearing.

Through your updates on Facebook the last two months, I noticed that this album is not so much a journey around the sun but rather an inner journey, can you shed more light on this?

My music with Sowulo is strongly connected to my real life’s quest for what you could call the “cyclical life” or the cyclical nature of existence. The first three Sowulo albums contained compositions which, for me personally, expressed the external four seasons and the Pagan festivals. Now I wanted to express an inner cyclical pattern which presented itself to me in these past years. The third Sowulo album actually contains a musical manifestation of my experience and interpretation of the “inner four seasons”, presented as “the four archetypes”. The archetypes were described by Carl Gustav Jung and can also be discovered in various myths and pantheons. I converted the archetypes into a symbolic tale that worked for me. I ended up with the following archetypes: the Warrior, the Lover, the King and the Magician, connected with (inner) spring, summer, autumn and winter in a cyclical or spiral-like movement.

So the new single Brego In Breoste represents a tale of one of those archetypes, which one and what does it represent to you?

The Anglo-Saxon meaning of Brego in Breoste is something like “King in Chest”. This archetypal figure of the King presented itself to me during a time when my outer world looked like it was going to fall apart. It was a period when it felt like I was losing my crown, throne and kingdom (material wealth). During this time, I discovered my “inner king”. I realized that I didn’t really need a material kingdom, and that I was more interested in discovering my inner resources.
The music and lyrics of Brego in Breoste invite me (and the listener) to gain a deeper understanding of the fact that you don’t need material riches to feel more whole. Outer riches will only feed what I call your ego-king. The king in your chest lives inside you and doesn’t need any crown, throne or kingdom. This inner king rules wisely, responsibly and with a lot of honour. Within as well as toward the outside world.

There are some changes to be heard in the choice of instruments and sound. The most striking one is the much more prominent use of vocals. Could you tell us how this came to be.

When I started composing the music that would ultimately become the upcoming Sowulo album, it was for a different purpose. In fact, I started to compose this music for a film project. This film was going to be about a Dutch tribe in the early Middle Ages. Due to the theme of the film, I started composing single conceptual tracks with my early medieval lyre as the main instrument. I added jouhikko, a traditional two or three stringed bowed lyre, the nyckelharpa, Irish bouzouki, percussions, humming and a few cinematic sounds to it. During this composition process, the production of the film came to a halt but it will hopefully resume in the future.
I had created a number of beautiful songs and decided to use them for my music with Sowulo. I thought about a concept for an album which would work with the music I had already made at that point. The theme was eager to be found, hence it was easy to create more tracks with this concept in mind. At a particular moment, I was pointed to a magic Anglo-Saxon rune poem that fit in really nicely with one of the tracks. The text fit in perfectly with the vocal line. This was a point of no-return and suddenly, all the tracks required their own lyrics.

You recorded the last album Sol at your own studio and the mixing was done by Fieke van den Hurk at her, then Orchus studio, now the Dearworld studio. How did the recording proces go this time?

Apart from the vocals, I recorded everything myself. I locked myself in my small studio two days a week for over a year to work on this album. When all the songs were recorded and I had pre-produced versions, I made more recordings to include Celtic harp, violin, shakers and woodblocks. Once this was completed, I went to edit and mix everything with Fieke van den Hurk, a super talented sound engineer, in her Dearworld studio. I find it very pleasant to work with Fieke. I also edited and mixed the album Sol with her, and Fieke was also responsible for all the recording and mixing of the Alvenrad album. For this new album, we recorded my voice in Fieke’s studio because I sing my lungs out most of the time.
The experience was comparable to my past voice recordings with Myrkvar, there were only three major differences: I “roared” a bit less, I sang in a higher pitch for the first time and all the lyrics were in Anglo-Saxon. The latter was often the biggest hurdle. Luckily, I got help from my good friend Veerle Verhagen. She corrected all the texts for me and let me hear the correct pronunciation. I’m making slow and steady progress in Anglo-Saxon!

The sound of Brego in Breoste tends more towards the Norse spiritual epic. Without much of a stretch, a link can be made with Wardruna’s music. What can we expect from the upcoming CD?

Brego in Breoste is a good sample of the sound and energy of the album. But given the different characters of the four archetypes, there will be audible differences between the compositions. You can possibly imagine that a song about a Lover character would sound completely different than a Magician’s, just like when comparing music about summer and music about winter.
The sound is much more cinematic and epic, this is very much the case throughout the entire album. This is thanks to the origins of this music which was initially meant for a film. Until recently I tried to avoid the sound of Wardruna out of respect for the music. However, since in the past few years so many bands have been inspired by this sound, you can, by now, easily call it a genre. I have honestly been longing for years to produce music with a Wardruna flavour. And since I originally designed the music for a film about a Dutch tribe in the early Middle Ages, I now, for the first time, allowed myself to put this into practice. I am tremendously happy with the further developments. Within this genre, I managed to concoct a unique sound. Now to hope that there is also an audience for it!

Last but not least, when can we expect the new CD?

The album will be released this coming summer. A lot still needs to happen with regard to the artwork but with a bit of luck, it will be done in time for Castlefest 2019!

– Cliff

Dutch to English translation:
– Diane Deroubaix

– Anna Schürmann, Cliff de Booy

Spiegelwelten photography
Ruben Terlouw

Sowulo on bandcamp:click here
Sowulo on Spotify:click here


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