Interview with Pyrolysis

At Keltfest 2015 we had a nice chat with the guys of Pyrolysis about all sorts of topics. How their musical careers started, about hopes and dreams, and their upcoming performances at for instance Castlefest.

Mind you, it’s audio only, though you can find the written text right here. 🙂

CeltCast: So, we’ve gone somewhat full circle at Keltfest this year ’cause last year we met a couple of people who were playing acoustically. They weren’t invited by Vana, they were just playing and drawing at least our attention, but no really a lot of people’s attention, and we met again at the Midwinter Fair which we wrote to you about and this year we thought we would have to get back to these people because to us they are very special and we’re going to have a little talk with them and show you why. So please, could you first introduce yourselves?

Sven: Hi, I’m Sven, 23 years old and I’m a chemistry student and guitarist of Pyrolysis.

Stan: I’m Stan, I’m 22 years old. I’m a psychology student and I’m the lead singer and drummer for Pyrolysis.

Rikke: Hi, I’m Rikke, I’m 19 years old. I study biotechnology and I play the violin.

Laurens: Hi, I’m Laurens. I study biology and I try to play the accordion.

CeltCast: So, you are a diverse group of people and so is your music. Because, we have been in contact the last year and we heard your acoustic set which drew us to you. And when we got back in touch via Facebook we said “Please give us some tracks and we’ll see if they are suitable for our station.” And what did you do?

Laurens: Well, normally we do something entirely different then we show on these, like, sort of fantasy festivals and we play with heavy electric guitar, electric bass, drumkits, we play some sort of rock, folkrock.

Stan: So we might have sent you something that sounds more like punk than like folk.

Sven: Something Flogging Molly like.

Laurens: Silly us, of course. We should have known.

CeltCast: Well, it was brilliant music, because we could still hear the quality of you guys, but it wasn’t what is played normally in our stream. So when we met up at Midwinter Fair you kind of had a surprise for us, because you were recording a CD, which was like total death metal, or not?

Stan: Well, sort of…

Rikke: Maybe not death metal, more punk, like we play normally. But then we also thought well, CeltCast liked us so maybe we should make some acoustic music and put it on our album.

Laurens: Well, actually we thought, all these festivals are really great, and we like all the bands that play here. We like this kind of music more and more ourselves now, like live, and the last two years done that more and more and started to like it more, a bigger repertoire.

Stan: It was kind of like when we switched from metal to punk, which not, like, to folkpunk, which happened very early on in our band. But now lately we’ve been trying to, actually, not trying to, it just happened, we’ve been starting to feel drawn towards actual folk more then punk folk.

Laurens: And more people seem to like it actually, so…

Sven: We want our album to show our different styles which we play. Acoustically, non-acoustically.

Stan: Yeah, ’cause not only does our album have like folk, but it also has the more metal-like songs that we wrote, so there’s a great diversity.

CeltCast: Yes, you have sent us a couple of tracks already, thank you. And what we heard, even within that selection, is that you are very multi-talented and diverse. The quality of the music is very good, for such a yound band.

Laurens: We have invested all our money.

CeltCast: Well, you have our attention now. But, you already said, the album…something is about to happen now, right? So tell us more about the time schedule.

Laurens: So we have our release date, and also of course our release party at the 26th of June in our very beautiful hometown Zaltbommel. We are all from there and it’s a very cosy place, very nice.

CeltCast: For those who haven’t picked up on the accent yet, that’s in the Netherlands.

Laurens: And there we will present the album and we have avery nice group of friends that we met at these festivals called Fiddle ‘n Drum.

Sven: Last year at Keltfest actually.

Stan: Exactly one year ago.

Laurens: They also crashed the festival, we crashed the festival, and we played some songs together which is, I think, very common and very nice in this scene. And they will support us, they will play with us together. Then we will also play of course more the rock songs and the acoustic songs that we play, I think everything.

CeltCast: So you’ll be playing in both styles? Acoustic, as well as more rock or punk?

Laurens: Yes. But next to that are very other things on the programme as well. We’ve got Castlefest this year. We play at the campsite. I think it’s actually the first year that a band is allowed to wake all the people up.

Stan: Everyone at Castlefest is going to hate us!

CeltCast: You are warned!

Laurens: So at nine o’clock we start to wake everyone up and it’s going to be a party from nine to, I don’t know…

Stan: We’ll try to play metal there sneaky so (…inaudible…)

CeltCast: Ehm, remind us to book another camping.

Sven: Acoustic metal…great idea!

Stan: Definitely. We will start to sound more like classical music maybe.

CeltCast: So, but, you’re really doing rather well. I mean you were just crashing the festival last year, I would like to paraphrase you, you were crashing the festival last year, this year you are actually without any instruments, sadly, I should add.

Stan: Yeah, we are fully reparing for the return of our bass player.

Sven: Which will be in half a week.

CeltCast: We should say we are of course now lacking Tim in this interview. Tim is over in England right?

Stan: Yeah, he’s in Leeds.

Sven: He’s an English student, so now he’s half a year in England.

Laurens: And very happy there. Drunk all the time, maybe that’s not a good thing when releasing an album.

Sven: Not missing us at all, the bastard.

Laurens: No, but he will return coming Tuesday and then the group will be whole again and we will start writing songs and…

Stan: Rehearsing of course.

CeltCast: So, Pub stage in Castlefest, and…what’s beyond this year’s Castlefest? Where do you see yourselves in, like, five years?

Laurens: That’s a tricky one, because we never plan anything, we never think about anything, we just, I mean, we’re very happy now that we got in to Castlefest, but hopefully next year we will be able to play a stage where no one will hate us, and also we would like to go to Keltfest of course this year again, next year I mean, and be programmed, maybe in the Pubstage.

Stan: We were a little late this year.

Laurens: Yeah, we were a little late this year but next year maybe, hopefully, we can do all summer festivals, but also still probably electrically. And you know, we hope to support some cool bands that like us, that we like of course and maybe, I think after our show everyone is very warmed up so that’s nice.

Sven: And drunk!

Stan: Generally quite drunk yeah.

Laurens: So for some sort of main act that is very nice. For us also but…

CeltCast: I’m fully convinced that you can go way beyond Pubstages so…

Sven: We hope so too.

Laurens: In five years we will be the main act hopefully. That’s the plan.

Sven: Let’s hope the post-student life doesn’t break us up.

Laurens: Yeah, so, we’re almost all finished now with our bachelor, with our masters, except for this young girl. But then we’re not very sure where we’ll be. Sven and I are probably going to do a PhD afterwards, hopefully in the Netherlands so we can still play together.

Stan: So I’m still not allowed to go to Scotland.

Laurens: No, but so far the vibe in the bands is very good.

Sven: I’m staying the Netherland at least, I don’t know about you.

Laurens: I don’t know either so, as mentioned, I don’t plan anything.

CeltCast: So you’re all studying, you’re all still learning, where did you learn to play your instruments? Can you give us some background on how you got to be in the music scene, especially how you grew into this part of it?

Sven: I got my instrument quite late, I got it for my 16th birthday, and then I started learning it myself first and a few different teachers and different styles, some rock and metal, and now I have more blues and folk oriented lessons, mainly thanks to these guys.

Laurens: Yeah, I basically dragged him into the band very quickly. Because I’ve been playing piano, I must say forced by my parents, I was forced to play classical piano. In the beginning of course, and then I started to like more and more and I had lessons for like twelve or thirteen years and then I got into this weird kind of band and then I had to pick up the accordion of course.

CeltCast: You don’t strike me as traumatized by it.

Laurens: No, no, I’m very happy.

Sven: He’s traumatizing us.

Laurens: But Classical music is less free than this folk music is so I had a very strict teacher that taught me to play very clearly and very well.

Stan: But not how to play in a rhythm.

Laurens: No. He’s always angry with me ’cause I always play…

CeltCast: Why is rhythm so important to you?

Stan: Well, I’m the drummer so…obviously.

CeltCast: Can you explain how you got to be a drummer?

Stan: Ah yeah, ehm, well, I don’t know. I think, we had a drumkit at home, when I was like six or seven, because my parents are really into music and they all play instruments, they both do, and so they wanted me to play an instrument, so they tried guitar and piano…

CeltCast: Oh, you were both force fed.

Stan: Yeah, both parents. But I wasn’t very good at guitar or piano, so I played drums. So I started lessons when I was seven and then I played a few gigs with a few other drummers, but then I got in a band with these guys and I started learning more instruments. I didn’t learn them from, like, teachers. I did have some singing classes, but then I taught myself how to play harmonica, mandolin, bodhrán, stuff like that.

Laurens: Well, he definitely, the only thing he didn’t want was to sing, but all the other ones really can not sing and we just forced him, eventhough he’s behind the drumkit all the time.

Stan: We were a band with four guys, we had a different bass player when we started, but we didn’t have a singer. I was like, yeah, I learned how to sing like six years ago for a few weeks, so I had to sing.

Sven: Then we shoved a microphone under his nose.

Stan: I got a microphone…I just wanted to drum though, I didn’t want to do anything else. But I had to sing. And I kept having to sing. And now I still sing.

Laurens: Well, hopefully you’ll start to like it.

Stan: It’s not that bad.

Laurens: It’s a bit scary maybe.

Stan: I don’t want to be at the front of the stage. It’s good I still have a drumkit to hide behind.

CeltCast: So after you were force fed by your parents you are now being force fed by your colleagues.

Stan: Yeah, kinda…

Laurens: But it’s still great fun you know?

CeltCast: To you three yes! What’s your story?

Rikke: Well, when I was six or eight, something around that, I learned how to play keyboard. My dad played keyboard so I was like, oh I want to play keyboard too! But then after half a year I quit because I did not have the motivation. So when I was fifteen my physics teacher brought her violin to class to teach us about strings, that they get a higher tone when you shorten the string and such. So I fell in love immediately, at the violin.

Stan: Not with the teacher?

Rikke: No, that would be just weird. Well, and the I asked my parents can I please please get violin lessons, but they said no, you’re too old, you can not…it will not have a gain. But then I just asked the teacher, the violin teacher, myself, can you teach me how to play violin without, really, my parents having to give a fuck about it. They just pay it and then ok, just go do it, but they did not think I would really pull through playing the violin, because I quit at playing the keyboard very early. And, well, after a few years I played in the school band, and then one of my, one of the colleagues at the school band mentioned my name to these guys because they were looking fo someone to play the violin and that was quite a coincidence. Because at the time that they asked me to play in their band I was looking for something to do…

Laurens: With your life.

Rikke: With my life yeah. I was in my last year in high school, well, at school, so I did not have anything to do after school and well, I had lot of free time. Yeah, poor me. And I visited one of their rehearsals and I thought it was amazing so the click was already there.

Laurens: Yeah, it was great, because we are just four guys that are very annoying to be with.

Stan: And very nerdy. Very important to mention.

Laurens: But she just fit in almost immediately.

Stan: She was just as nerdy.

Sven: When we said our nerdy shit, she replied with more nerdy shit.

Stan: She was like “Oh I already know that, do you know this?” and we were like WOW!

Laurens: Yeah, so she was really the last piece of the puzzle I think.

Sven: Well, we think. There might be more pieces.

Laurens: Yeah, but so far it feels very nice.

Stan: I think it’s good like this. Maybe a piper. I’m not going to play pipes guys! Don’t force me! It scares the shit out of me.

Sven: We don’t have to force you, you’ll do it by yourself.

Stan: Yeah, maybe, eventually, probably.

Laurens: Well, I think we’ve got the most important people now, the most important instruments, and the most important creativity that we need to write more songs. To hit the stage.

CeltCast: Because that’s another thing, you do write your own songs.

Laurens: Yeah.

Sven: Mostly, yes.

CeltCast: For a band that’s quite this young that’s very special. Most start out as a coverband.

Sven: We started out as a coverband.

Stan: Yeah, but then we got Tim and then songs kept flowing.

Laurens: Tim is an English student and he writes most of our, he writes the best of our lyrics. All the not so good lyrics are made by someone else, no offence to anyone, but…

Sven: Including yourself.

Laurens: Yes, of course. So he writes most of the lyrics and also a large part of the music, but we also try to ll add our own meaning to the music, I think that’s why it sounds…

Stan: Complete

Laurens: Yeah, complete, but also, well, fresh, you know? Because everyone is putting something in.

Sven: So often we start out just with a bit of music and then we just add stuff, change stuff and eventually we end up with, well, our songs.

Laurens: Well I think we’re still changing songs but…even the songs that are recorded on the album.

Stan: Even the songs that we play for, like, five years. Small adaptations…

Laurens: I think it’s never finished.

CeltCast: It shouldn’t be. I think it’s good to keep it in a steady state of evolution. You evolve as a band, as a person so, so does your music.

Laurens: Yeah, you must kep it fun to play.

Sven: Eventually we had to add violin, so we had to change the music anyway.

CeltCast: For bands that are starting now, would you have any special advice for them to grow into this scene, apart from crashing next years Keltfest?

Stan: Get a job, make sure your wallet becomes heavy, buy very cool instruments, buy many of them, learn all of them, learn all the jigs, play together with everyone and you’ll just meet awesome people and then you’ll roll into the world automatically. If everyone knows you you can get everywhere.

Laurens: Yeah, but I think the most important thing that has helped us to get so far is that we didn’t want anything really. We just wanted to be a group of friends, we wanted to play music that is, has some sort of high level, that sounds good. And we didn’t want to do this show, we didn’t want to do this very quickly. I mean we’re already playing together for five years now and well, some people say we are “only” here, but I think well, we’re still here as a band and so many bands that we met during our five years of playing everywhere, they are all gone.

Stan: All the local bands just vanished.

Laurens: Yes, and we are still here and we’re still making fun and progress. Slowly, but we have fun and we don’t set any particular goal for next year, we want to have so many gigs and so many sold albums, we just, I don’t know, we just…

Sven: Everything is a great bonus that we do.

Stan: We just play for the music and not for anything else.

Sven: We love playing together, surround yourself with friends, keep playing music, keep doing what you love and you’ll just grow into stuff.

Stan: What helps is that we as friends, we don’t just, we really became friends. We’re just real friends, if you play music together with other people, if you can’t be friends, if you didn’t like each other, don’t play music with each other.

Sven: Your band lasts mostly a year then.

Laurens: Yeah, and I think, especially in this scene where there is I think so much friendship and everyone knows the tunes so, I don’t know, when you’re open to play with other people you can play with everyone in the scene because almost everyone knows exactly the same songs which is very very cool.

CeltCast: Even in the Netherlands, here we now have Irish sessions in pubs. So yeah, I love going to those. So what are you off to now, today, in Keltfest? Are you going to see Soar Patrol that will finish the day?

Stan: We already saw it.

CeltCast: Yeah, they are here twice.

Laurens: But probably we will check them out again yeah, that would be nice I think. I liked it.

Sven: Very nice music.

Stan: No, I really liked it! I mean finally a band actually has an awesome amount of drums, so many drums! It was awesome! Three freakin’drummers!

Laurens: Yeah, and the Scottish accents.

Stan: An actual genuine Scotsman!

Laurens: We couldn’t understand it, but he goes to Scotland all the time, so he was…

Stan: Not all the time, like two weeks every year.

Laurens: Every year yeah.

Sven: He’s the Scot over here.

Stan: Well, I’m the local Scot.

CeltCast: Well, make sure you team up and you’ll be supporting them maybe. Alright, well, thanks very much. I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival and we’ll be sure hearing more of you at CeltCast!

Pyrolysis at Keltfest 2015 (750p)

Pyrolysis consists of:

Stan Eimers
Vocals, Drums, Harmonica

Tim Elfring
Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals

Sven Schipper

Laurens Krah
Keyboard, Accordion, Backing Vocals

Rikke Linssen
Violin, Vocals

Interview with Mark van der Stelt (3/3)

At Keltfest 2015 we had a very open and heartfelt talk with none other than Mark van der Stelt, one of the driving forces behind Castlefest and everything Vana-related!

On this rainy but beautiful festival day we talked for almost 45 minutes about the festival scene, how Castlefest and other festivals came to light. We talked about the importance of music and creativity, and of course about the future!

Because Mark was so kind to take a lot of time for us we had to cut the interview into three parts, of which the third and final part is released today! Mind you, it’s audio only, though you can find the written text right here. 🙂

CeltCast: Is there any limit to this? Where do you see yourself in like ten years?

Mark: That’s a difficult question because there’s no goal in growth. So when I think of the future I only think about all the plans I have, all the dreams I still have, and how we could manage to make them true. So there is no view to the future, it’s always “this day, and what we are doing now, and what we like now, and what we would like to create.” We are only creating, that’s what we like most. I hope in ten years I will still be creating things.

CeltCast: Like the festivals, you are building on the past?

Mark: Yes, but that’s because of the atmosphere around “medieval”, medieval things, and nature of course.

CeltCast: What is your opinion on series like Game of Thrones or Vikings?

Mark: I like them. I like them a lot. And also other Fantasy films like The Golden Compass or Narnia and of course Lord of the Rings. We like fantasy and we like history, not in the historical correctness of it, but in the atmosphere around it.

CeltCast: Do you still get time to enjoy your own festivals?

Mark: Yeah, more and more. We have very very good colleagues and we have…our volunteers are the best. We still have quite a few volunteers since the first year, so they are already with us over ten years. At the festival, after about an hour after opening on the first day, then it’s good, and I can visit bands or enjoy the festival. And what I enjoy most is the smiles on the faces of the public, because that’s the goal.

CeltCast: Like just now, we were walking to a say more quiet area to do this recording and there were people just walking up to you and say “Oh my god, I haven’t hugged you today yet” and you allow them to and you just…

Mark: Well of course. It’s something we do together. We can’t make a festival where people enjoy if they are not willing to enjoy. The person who came up to me when we were walking, that’s a market salesman, and if market salesmen are with smiles behind their stands because they are enjoying themselves it reflects on the public, and then it reflects on the rest of the public. It’s a sort of snowball effect.

CeltCast: When talking about enjoying yourself at a festival, what’s with Castlefest and fruit stage-diving?

Mark: We have a very very good friend, Hans Rek, who is with us since the first Castlefest and never ever skipped a festival, and when we started to know him he only did his “nar” (jester, red.), he did only one act. And we said to him “we would like you to do something new, something different.” And he had so much ideas. And after a few years he came in a banana suit. And he asked me before “do you allow me to stage-dive in a banana suit?” I laughed my ass off, I found it the best idea ever. So yes of course you can! And the year after he made two grapes, and my brother and I were not asked to, no, we were pressed to get in that suit and stage-dive with him. And the public went wild. From that moment it was something special for us. We didn’t do it every year. We stopped doing it for a few years. One year Hans did it together with a couple of friends of his, but we got emails of public who asked us if we could do that again because it was so much fun. And from what I’ve heard it still is at Castlefest at the Sunday that people, when the last band is on stage, people are looking over the fences or between the fences if they are already seeing someone in a fruit suit. So it became a big anthem, it’s nice.

CeltCast: The other big anthem is of course the wicker, every Saturday. How did that come into being and how much of the pagan aspect of it is important to you?

Mark: If was an idea of Steve from Omnia. He told us that he, every year he did a wickerman burning, and that he would like such a ritual on Castlefest, and what we thought about that. And from that moment we created the wickerman. Mostly Steve at first because he made the pictures, how to build it. The first few years they helped with building it. So it became a real important part of the Castlefest Saturday, the Pagan night. And of course it’s an old religion, pagan ritual, but for Castlefest it’s more than that. We have visitors that are not only pagan, but they all have a special feeling for the wickerman, so it’s not only pagan anymore. People find closure, or new beginning at the wickerman with offering the thing they want to offer. So it’s very special for us, that’s even why we started to make it a sole ritual and not a part of the Omnia show.

CeltCast: It stands with music now, I think composed by Fieke van der Hurk from Orchus Studio.

Mark: Yeah. What we did, we composed it together with Fieke. Natasha and I can’t compose music but we had an idea of how it should be, emotionally, energy wise, and we took the videos of the last few wickermans and we made a sort of time-line from lighting it until it burned big and it went smaller again. And on that time-line we started creating the music. For us it’s real emotional. Some people call it just a tape but for us it’s so much more.

CeltCast: I’ve been in the crowd for ten years now, and I can tell anybody who disagrees that it’s way more than that.

Mark: Yeah, there’s so much love and also cries in composing this piece. And Fieke did a really really good job. Because that’s what makes Fieke such a special creative person. She can translate a feeling into a graphic design or a music design.

CeltCast: Yes, she does a lot of graphic work for you as well.

Mark: Yeah, almost all.

CeltCast: Well, I know she’s multi-talented. Of course she’s also playing in Cesair and she has her own studio. It’s wonderful to be able to build on people like that. Alright, well, I want to thank you for your time.

Mark: You’re welcome.

CeltCast: And before we leave, is there anything people should know, if they’re not already convinced that they should come to Castlefest this year?

Mark: I don’t know how to answer that question. The only thing I can say is that every person who I tried to persuade to come to Castlefest, when he finally came, after that it wasn’t even needed to ask again because everyone wants to stay. It’s such a special, magical place. I don’t know why, but it is.

CeltCast: That’s true! Just keep on at it! Thanks again, thanks very much.

Interview with Mark van der Stelt (2/3)

At Keltfest 2015 we had a very open and heartfelt talk with none other than Mark van der Stelt, one of the driving forces behind Castlefest and everything Vana-related!

On this rainy but beautiful festival day we talked for almost 45 minutes about the festival scene, how Castlefest and other festivals came to light. We talked about the importance of music and creativity, and of course about the future!

Because Mark was so kind to take a lot of time for us we had to cut the interview into three parts, of which the second part is released today! Mind you, it’s audio only, though you can find the written text right here. 🙂

And of course, stay tuned for part 3 🙂

CeltCast: Well, you know, you have become like a godfather to this scene for a lot of people. I know you are probably to modest to accept that title…

Mark: That’s too much credit, really!

CeltCast: But really, people have, I think, really developed into themselves because of festival scenes like this. You’ve created an atmosphere in which they could. Take Brunhilde who now designs her own clothes and makes a living out of it, or Lunadea who stepped into the more pagan scene and has found grounds here to, you know, have her own public come over here and do her thing.

Mark: We give, together with other festival organizers, we give a platform. A place where they could do their thing. But more than that we don’t give them. So the creativity comes from themselves, and when they go for that they can make beautiful things.

CeltCast: You said music was central when you started out. What does music mean to you?

Mark: Everything. From our youth, my wife’s and mine, music always has been a main part of my life.

CeltCast: Do you remember the first album or single that you bought?

Mark: I think it’s Thriller from Micheal Jackson. I don’t know what LP or song it was for Natasja, but it will probably be some kind of hard rock band. She was very much into hard rock. And we like about everything, except a few kinds of music we don’t like, most kinds of music we like.

CeltCast: And when did you come into contact with the more Celtic, or Pagan/Viking scene?

Mark: Visiting Elf Fantasy or Anno Domini in Limburg and MPS. There we got in contact with that kind of music, and Celtic Festival before it was named Schotland Festival.

CeltCast: And what about yourself? Do you play an instrument yourself?

Mark: I’ve tried desperately to learn to play the guitar, but I don’t have the patience or the skills to do that.

CeltCast: I know what you’re saying, I’ve been there myself. But have you ever dreamed of being in a band yourself?

Mark: Yeah, that’s why I bought the guitar. I wanted to be famous and be a rock-star like most kids I guess.

CeltCast: For me music is equal to emotion. It’s like a thought or an emotion put into sound. What is the last song that made you shed a tear?

Mark: I don’t know which song it was, but it was at Wave Gotik Treffen last weekend at the show of Cesair and it was so, that show was so good, that I got tears in my eyes. But I like the music program on Dutch television “Best Singer Songwriter” and there are pearls that can really touch your inner emotion.

CeltCast: Ah, here’s Soar Patrol starting now. I haven’t seen many people shedding tears at Soar Patrol but ehm…we went from the rain in the background now to Soar Patrol. But is that how you find the new bands for your festivals, visiting MPS or…?

Mark: Visiting as much festivals as possible yeah.

CeltCast: Because there are a lot of uncut gems out there.

Mark: Next to that we get, almost every week, CD’s in our postbox, or emails, and sometimes there are very very nice rough diamonds in that. And then we try to visit them at a concert because we don’t book bands we, or someone we trust, haven’t seen themselves play live. If we don’t see a band play live, we don’t book them.

CeltCast: So that’s the secret to getting in to Castlefest for a young band? They have to invite you to a live show so you can watch them perform?

Mark: No, first send a CD. All CD’s are listened to, and when we think of possibilities to put them on one of our stages then we get in contact with them. And then after that we find someone, perhaps, who has seen them already, because if a band plays gigs already, they play gigs at a certain festival, and then we find out who has been to that festival and if they have seen them.

CeltCast: Last year a group called Pyrolysis crashed Keltfest here. They just went in with their instruments and started playing. Which is kind of daring of course.

Mark: Yeah, they sent me an email asking if they could play on Keltfest and I said “our stages are full, I don’t have a place anymore.” And they said “but could we play on the terrain?” I said “sure, ok, no problem.” And they did an it was nice. They made a party out of it and this year we booked them for the camping stage at Castlefest.

CeltCast: Brilliant! We love them. We did an interview with them yesterday and we think they are marvelous. They have a bright future ahead. Well, you do Keltfest as we mentioned, Castlefest, but you also have other festivals?

Mark: Yeah. We have our medieval festival, Middeleeuws Spektakel, where we start a stage this year, first time. Before, the other years, it was just knights on horses and totally medieval entertainment, so now we added a stage to that to make it more interesting, also for ourselves. We have two editions of that, one in Dordrecht and one in Amsterdam. Then we have our Halloween festival, Haunted Castle, which is really a Halloween festival with haunted houses, scary acts, a lot of costumes. And this year we had our first Castlefest Winterparty and we will have, next December, our first real Castlefest Winter Edition in Lisse.

CeltCast: Real, as in outside, because the other one was in a theater of course. It was totally crammed. It’s a good sign of course!

Mark: It’s not that we want to expand or anything, that’s never the goal, but we have so many ideas and so many dreams, and a Winter Edition was one of them. And now we have the possibility to go and explore our dream.

CeltCast: Yeah, and of course there are people coming to those. I mean, it’s like you said a natural evolving scene. You started Castlefest with like 8000 people the first year?

Mark: 5500.

CeltCast: 5500? And last year I believe you had like over 30.000.

Mark: yeah, 32.000.

CeltCast: There were people waiting for an hour in their car, you had to hand out water bottles to keep them hydrated. It’s amazing.

Mark: And what’s even more amazing is that that was our tenth edition, so we expected to have a lot of extra visitors. Not this much, but we expected growth. But we thought the next year, the eleventh edition, will be a bit less crowded or the pre-sale shall be less. That’s what we expected. But at this moment we sell much more tickets than we did last year. We sold already 150% of what we sold at this moment last year. So we don’t understand. But for us it’s never a goal to have more visitors or to get bigger, but it’s always the consequence because now we know we sell that much tickets in pre-sale we think OK, but if all those people come and we have that same growth at the door, what will happen and how are we going to entertain all of them and how can we get all of those people on the terrain?

CeltCast: Yeah, because you already expanded a couple of times.

Mark: Yeah, and there is not much more space, there’s no more space extra to get. So what we are trying to do now is changing the terrain so we split the public more, and pull them to all the sides of the terrain so it’s less crowded, it feels less crowded. That’s really important. The feeling and the quality of the festival is more important than how much people we can push into that. And we have ideas about that. But if the sale will go on like this there could be a possibility that we will sell out in the pre-sale for the Saturday. We don’t know if the sales will go on like this but we anticipate on that possibility at this moment.

CeltCast: Wow! Well, if people are aware of this I’m sure you’ll get another run on tickets ’cause nobody wants to miss out. Last year you did something new. You had a live feed streaming on YouTube. Bastaard, of course who already made lots of videos and does wonderful camera work for you, they innovated. You reached people in Brasil or all across the world, it was a huge success.

Mark: Yeah, that’s the same growing thing as we were talking about earlier. Bastaard does his film shootings at all fantasy festivals in Holland and make very nice compilations, and Erik, Erik Wildeman, who does now all registrations at, all stage videos at Castlefest for us, grew so much in the couple of years we are working together, we tried to find new things together and last year it was the live stream. We didn’t promote it, at all, until we really knew that it would work. So the first time we ever told anyone about the live feed was when the first band was on stage. And it worked and we said OK, now we put on Facebook that we have a live stream. And we had a lot of visitors on that. It was a real success. So we will do that again this year and add a new extra to it by putting a LED screen on the festival terrain so the public can also see more. Because sometimes it’s so crowded, you can’t even see the stage. And then they can see the show also.

CeltCast: So you reached out to people abroad. I don’t know if you can measure this, but can you see in the pre-sales that people from abroad, more are actually visiting Castlefest?

Mark: I could probably see that but I didn’t check that yet. But we have visitors from all over the world.

CeltCast: And how about the other way around? Because the Netherlands is only so big. Do you have plans on going abroad?

Mark: That question is asked us since I think our third or fourth Castlefest. “Please bring Castlefest to Belgium, Germany, France.” And the we always said “No, we’re not going to do that.” Because it’s too risky, it’s too difficult. We don’t know the culture good enough, we don’t know the rules good enough. But last year when we were at Trolls & Légendes in Belgium I said to my wife “I think I’m not willing to say no all the time.” Because there I got the same feeling I had when we came with the idea of organizing a market, what eventually went to Castlefest, what became Castlefest. And we very much want to follow our feelings, so if we feel that, we try to open up the possibility, and if something happens then, perhaps, who knows? And in this particular idea, when I told just one person that I would probably, if someone would ask me now I would probably not say no again, but who knows. And after that so much happened! So yeah, we are going to organize a festival in Belgium next year. The guys from Bastaard had it right!

CeltCast: “Kastelenfeest” all along! Congratulations! I think you will be changing people’s holiday destinations, depending on the time of the year of course.

Mark: Perhaps. The time of the year is already…we already know where and when it will take place. We are even already in contact with bands for that festival. At this moment the website is created, so we are working hard on the background to present it to the world, and we will present it before Castlefest.

CeltCast: OK, well we will sure be helping you along to let the world know that Castlefest is coming to Belgium!

Interview with Mark van der Stelt (1/3)

At Keltfest 2015 we had a very open and heartfelt talk with none other than Mark van der Stelt, one of the driving forces behind Castlefest and everything Vana-related!

On this rainy but beautiful festival day we talked for almost 45 minutes about the festival scene, how Castlefest and other festivals came to light. We talked about the importance of music and creativity, and of course about the future!

Because Mark was so kind to take a lot of time for us we had to cut the interview into three parts, of which the first part is released today! Mind you, it’s audio only, though you can find the written text right here. 🙂

And of course, stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 🙂

CeltCast: We are currently at Keltfest, which is sometimes called Castlefest’s little brother. We’re having a chat with Mark van der Stelt, one of the founding fathers of the Dutch festival scene, that makes the world behind the music your hear on CeltCast come to life, if only for a few days. So Mark, thanks for finding the time.

Mark: You’re welcome.

CeltCast: Now, your involvement in this scene goes way back. Last year Castlefest had its tenth anniversary. What were your first thoughts behind Castlefest, creating the festival?

Mark: We were first just visitors of festivals. We went to some festivals in Luxembourg, of course Elf Fantasy in Holland, and also some festivals in Germany, and what we saw in Holland was that we missed some details. We missed some real important atmospheric pieces and we thought “perhaps it’s a good idea to organize a little market.” And so it went on and on and that became Castlefest.

CeltCast: You started out with a little market. Where do you find those people?

Mark: Because we were visitors, we already had contact with the market salesmen, and we knew a couple of bands like Omnia and Rapalje and they helped us a lot in starting the event, getting us in contact with important other salesmen and other entertainers. So we did it all together with a lot of people.

CeltCast: A lot of people, a lot of volunteers as well. Were they there from the start? Because you have like an army of hundreds of volunteers?

Mark: Our first edition we had a hundred volunteers.

CeltCast: How did you manage to round them up?

Mark: It’s quite simple. We just put a question on our internet site and they registered. And we went to a lot of festivals with a promotion booth. There we also got in contact with a lot of possible volunteers.

CeltCast: It’s a wonderful world, with people that are willing to do stuff for free, just to feed the flames of this scene. Castlefest of course is more than just music and merchants. Where did you find the source of inspiration for the way Castlefest presents itself? Like the way you have The Wonder Of It All, Twoia as a symbol, but the whole entourage of Castlefest, it’s like you’re stepping into another world.

Mark: Yeah, that’s something that’s not “created”, that’s grown. When you come in contact with people and you talk to them about the plans, they got inspired by that and they added their own creativity to the festival. Twoia, The Wonder Of It All, is something our good friend Martin Jansen made and we talked a lot about Castlefest with him and brainstormed about the feeling, about everything creative. So that grows. It’s not something that you can say “OK, we’re going to put a festival and it has to be that kind of atmosphere and we put some thing over here and some other creatures over there and then you have something.” It doesn’t work like that. We still don’t know why Castlefest became what Castlefest is now. We don’t know.

CeltCast: I think that’s actually the best answer you could give. You didn’t start, because we are at Keltfest now, that’s a festival you didn’t start but you, say, took over?

Mark: Yeah, when we took it over it was Schotland Festival, but it’s not that festival that became Keltfest. We recreated the festival.

CeltCast: How did you make it yours? Because then it was more like a deliberate way of redesigning the festival.

Mark: When we started with Schotland Festival it was more a bagpipe contest festival than it was a music festival. And our heart is more in the music than in the bagpipe contest, so that was the main switch we had in the second year by not inviting, or not doing the cooperation with the bagpipe contest and instead of that put a bigger stage with more music. And then we also changed the name into Keltfest.

CeltCast: Yes, because it was originally of course called Schotland Festival.

Mark: Yeah, and before that Celtic Festival.

CeltCast: Even before…see, I didn’t know that!

Mark: It exists for fourteen years now.

CeltCast: That’s incredible! And when you first started out doing this, what were the thoughts of your family and your loved ones? Because it’s kind of a risky undertaking, it’s a weird undertaking, it’s not something that would be considered normal. Only yesterday I was picking up one of my daughters at her, shall we say, mother in law, and when she opened the door, her mother in law, she had to take something like a minute because I was dressed the way I am now. It was a huge leap for her to understand what I was saying, I had been to a festival, it’s like a different world, like a modern Woodstock. It’s like neo-hippies, police are there to support but they actually haven’t got a thing to do because it’s all just weirdo’s, goofballs and many lovely people enjoying music and the company of each other. But what were the thoughts of the people surrounding you when you said “I’m going to do something else. I’m going to do this”?

Mark: That was not a big change. It was just a bit more work, more to do. When we started Castlefest we did it in the night time. We had a full-time job, so it was a hobby and the first two years it remained a hobby. After that is was too much to keep doing that next to our jobs and my brother stopped his work and started working for the festivals almost full-time. And we got our first employee, Frank, to do the organization of our festival. And that was almost the same time that we started talking with the old organizer of Schotland Festival. For us it was a chance to have the possibility of paying someone for his work. Because before that it was just a hobby. We didn’t get any money out of the festival, the first year it even cost big money.

CeltCast: I know, it was kind of tricky.

Mark: Yes, but we only found out it was tricky after the festival. We didn’t realize that. Totally not! We believed so much in what we were doing that we didn’t even consider that it could go wrong. Not ever, not a moment.

CeltCast: Just blindly stepped into it, you followed your heart. There’s a lot of kids in this scene who would also like to follow their heart, but then you have like, you know, parents, who allow them to go over here, but who wouldn’t applaud a career in music or festival. You have made a family business out of it.

Mark: No, I don’t think my parents, when they thought of a future for their kids, ever would have thought of this. No, you keep a steady job and earn your money so you can pay your bills. That’s the kind of way you try to bring your kids to adulthood.

CeltCast: That’s the mantra of parents. What would you say, what would your advice be to young bands who are starting out in music now?

Mark: Follow your heart! And do what you like. That’s the main thing. Everybody should do, not only bands, but we see a lot of salesmen and women, or artists, who also need to follow their heart and their own creativity, because everybody has one kind of creativity. For one it’s sculpturing, for the other it’s making music, for another it could be accounting, but everybody has his own creativity.

Cesair – Dies, Nox et Omnia – Sine Fine

cd-DNOSF (750p) Last weekend Cesair gave their début performance in Germany at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig.

After their impressive gig on the “heidnischess Dorf” stage, Monique and Thomas met up with Lena (of Miroquesen auf Tour) to take some time to answer a couple of questions for CeltCast.

Music is always something living and vivid. In what way do you feel this counts for “Dies, Nox et Omnia” compared to “Dies, Nox et Omnia – Sine Fine” and what are the reasons you remastered the CD?
– One thing we strive for is for our music and sound to keep growing and evolving. The influences and experiences we’ve had throughout the years contribute to this and affect the way we, and our listeners, listen to what we create with Cesair. We are very proud of our début album, and when the opportunity to produce a new version presented itself, we wanted to make a real special edition, so that we could intrigue new listeners, and at the same time treat the people who have already known our music for two years to something new and exciting! This is why we remastered the CD – to get the most out of what we made two years ago – and why we had some of our friends create remixes of our songs – as a bonus to our most loyal fans.

A lot of people compare your music with the “good old” Faun stuff – how do you feel about that?
– Honoured. They were and are a huge inspiration. Being yourself a fan for years and to now get compared to your idols is something we feel proud of.

WGT “heidnisches Dorf”: How do you like it? Is it different from other festivals?
– At first sight of Leipzig you see a crowded city full of traffic noises and everything you’d expect of a huge city as typical city life. But approaching WGT “heidnisches Dorf” is like diving into a forest-oasis with it’s own magic. And for some of the band members it is even stranger, in a nice way, since they attended the festival as usual festival guests and now they are here as artists on stage.

Being part of the Pagan Folk scene, what makes it special for you?
– For us it is contributing to a modern form of romanticism, some sort of escape out of the difficult world we live in today. The world today expects perfection from everyone, but the Pagan Folk scene and the Pagan lifestyle is much more open minded, tolerant and lets you just be who you are and what you are. It is some sort of free asylum a different world we love to be a part of.

Songs turn special to people when they know the story behind it. Is there any story you like to share with us?
– Some songs are very close to ourselves. With “Dies, Nox et Omnia – Sine Fine” we tried to tell the story of the goddess Cesair. The title-track “Dies, Nox et Omnia” is one of those songs of which the lyrics got very close to us. The song tells the story of her last thoughts while falling off a cliff into the ocean, and for us this story makes her and our story complete. So we are now at a point were the circle has been closed that was started by creating music and that now gives us the opportunity to go beyond this with our next CD.

– Lena

Yes, indeed: Cesair are already in the process of working on a second CD, but they want the album and the music on it to grow in an organic way without pressure, so they can make it as good as possible. Well, with that promise in mind, we will just have to wait impatiently until the moment has arrived…

In the mean time we can practice on the right pronunciation of “Cesair”, thanks to the phonetics provided by Thomas: [kjæsər] 😉


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