Interview by Svetlana Likhacheva
Vargstuhr is a melodic Black metal one man project from Spain (Canary Island). They are about to release their second album – Dystopia. It describes a dystopian future of a technocratic society in which an alienated human being has forgotten the fascination with nature and has succumbed to the myth of science, with all their terrible consequences.
1. Hey and thank you for your time! You are releasing your second full-length album, Dystopia, soon. Can you reveal more about a kind of story it is going to take us into?
It is a melodic black metal project linked with nature and environmentalism, and in which tracks are multi-faceted to describe a dystopian world.
For the songwriting I focused on a philosophical aspect. Influenced by the first Frankfurt school (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse …), I focused on the criticism of the instrumental reason that governs contemporary societies, and for which we have lost our ability to awe ourselves in the presence of nature, which we have reified, then reducing it to a mere commodity, a product that we can manipulate at will. But all this has a price, because in reality that power we hold is fictitious and inevitably leads us to a dystopian world in which the only possible telos (end) is our absence. To show this whole world musically, I focus on the compositional style, hence there is some variability within it.
For example, the most Black Metal themes are destined to describe that hyper-industrialized society, in which speed and mobility have so much weight (as the futurists saw at the beginning of the 20th century). On the other hand, when nature arises as a dialectical opposite to this society, I opt for a more atmospheric Black Metal, returning to a more violent style when both are in conflict. A struggle that culminates in the triumph of a nature to which no opposite arises. This last moment I wanted to reflect it with the style and moment more pagan metal of the album.
2. How did you come up with the core idea for Dystopia? Is it intended to build on the themes of Howlings, such as the potential conflict between man and nature, or as something more stand-alone?
It is a more philosophical detailing of the same subject, which is the contrast between human beings and nature. It´s not from such a narrative point of view as in Howlings, where a story was told, but one that delves into the consequences of such actions.
3. Where do you mostly draw your inspiration from – outer world or your inner self?
I think that both aspects are inseparable and we cannot draw a dividing line between them. We cannot know where the outer world and where the inner self ends, since both are in a dialectical game that cannot be broken. One cannot be understood without the other.
4. What was most inspiring for you in the upcoming record? Did any works of science fiction influence the futuristic direction of the setting?
To this album I drew my inspiration from dystopian novels such as 1984 by Orwell, Brave new world by Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Dick… And the films also are a font of inspiration for me.
But the main inspiration came from philosophy, in particular the first Frankfurt school: Marcuse and his one-dimensional man, Adorno´s Minima moralia and Dialectic of Enlightenment…
5. Which track from the new album was your favourite to work on and why?
Maybe “The force of the ancient Earth” or “Utopia”. I have no reason for it, it is simply and complexly taste, something “subjective”.
6. Do track titles like “Rebirth” and “Utopia” show a more optimistic or hopeful side to the tale here, or do they remain focused on darker themes?
It depends on the point of view, both tracks do a reference to nature in which humans have no place, so it is not good for us. But yes from the nature perspective. Then, the thematic is dark. It is simply by putting ourselves in our place, we are not the center of the universe. Life did not begin and it will not end with us. Maybe, It’s like a vision of the eternal return that the Greeks had.
7. Did the way of recording change since your past record? If so, how and why?
The way of recording did not change but I did not do the editing or the master by myself. These were made by Yeray López in his own studio Th1rt3en. The reason is that he can achieve better results than me. And I’m quite satisfied with the sound he achieved for the album.
8. What kind of aim did you have for this album? Are you satisfied with how it turned out?
As a first objective, I wanted to release it with a more important label, and secondly, to start being named in the underground scene.
9. Did the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affect your writing, recording, the idea or the record release timing?
No, in fact the songwriting and recording was done long before the pandemic (in 2017) but being immersed in other projects (bass on Muert and guitar on Cryfemal gigs tours) I left it on hold for a while. Although it has always been in mind and I´ve go on with the songwriting of new stuff.
10. It’s been six years since the release of your previous record, Howlings. Why did it take so much time to come up with the new story? Did you take a break from making music?
I didn’t take a break to make music, instead I prioritized other musical projects that I was involved in. But I have continued composing and I have ideas for two new albums. However, that in a still distant future.
11. What are pros and cons of making all music by just yourself? Have you ever considered inviting other people to your project as a constant member?
On the one hand, when you’re alone only depend on yourself, so you can work at your own pace and do what you like, without give any explanation. But on the other hand, you can´t enjoy the variety of ideas as if you were in a band where several minds are synchronized, nor there is the coexistence of rehearsals, neither the possibility of gigs, so everything is more personal and introspective.
But I have considered having a drummer for the future, for getting better results.
12. Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with, or invite as a guest, for future works?
At the moment no one in particular, but to have a human drummer.
13. What are the your plans for the rest of the year?
Go on with the songwriting of new ideas and prepare the new stuff.
14. What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
Reading [Philosophy (Nietzsche, Adorno, Sartre, Marcuse…), Terror (Poe, Lovecraft, Bierce, Campbell, Barker…), Fantasy (G. R. R. Martin, Tolkien), Historical (Cornwell, Follet, Eco…), Dystopian (Bradbury, Orwell, Huxley…), Thriller…].
Cinema: from the Hammer productions to Scorsese and Polansky films.
Writing, in fact I just finished my doctoral thesis on music and philosophy.
Trekking. Thick forests and rugged mountains overwhelm me. I love to get away from the pageantry of the noise of society.
Traveling. Heidelberg is one of my favorite places, the city is totally picturesque: red brick buildings, castle ruins guarding from above and totally surrounded by fairytale forests.
15. Thank you for your time, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Thank you very much for your work and effort; and greetings to the readers of Metal-Rules.