This is really a strange and difficult question for an intro, but one I would like to ask you for a long time: What's music and why is music for you? Can you determine yourself in your music, if it's possible? Someone finds music to be like a sort of ritual, shamanism. Someone as his personal historical way, maybe as any type of Missionarity, as his own meaning for inner self-cognition, too. What is your place in music, in your opinion, what about it and why is music so important for you and more important than some other artistic/cultural directions?
Igor, this is indeed one of the most difficult questions we've been asked ever - even if it may sound profane for many readers. I'll try to answer them seperately (in my poor school english...), but I have to underline, that this is my opinion and of course might differ from other band members opinions: Music is any sort of entertainment, evoked by any possible sound source - the question if the result is music, depends on the personal preferences of the listener. To determine our music is definetely the most difficult job of this conglomeration of questions, as we don't like the idea of putting ourself in some sort of drawer. Some might characterize our music as folk music, some as neofolk, the other as bombastic sound fields, others as middle ages orientated tunes etcetera etceterorum. For me, drawers aren't necessary, as they set limits. If you ask, where we see ourselfs in a so called scene, I must say again, that I don't like this kind of classification. But - if you ask where we see Hekate in the whole universe of music, I would like to stress, that we make music principally to feel comfortable. For us, Hekate is some kind of physic motor, something we've to do, something like an inner equilibrium for everyday life, something to express our deepest feelings in a more or less metaphoric way. The fact, that we attract some people by our music, is the most beautifull side-effect I can think of. What I consider to be very important concerning this side-effect, is, that you've to take care, not to take yourself for too full. I wouldn't say, that Hekate, or let's say music in general, is the most important part of my life.For sure it's one of the real important things in my life, but I would lie if I would range the power it gives to me, higher than the power my 'little wife" is able to give. But - as you allready indicated - Hekate/music in general is for sure the most important artistic/cultural direction in my/our life. For me it has to be ranked in front of all literature and other comforts of life, that please me day by day. I could live without my books, without photographic arts and without wine and food (as I consider this as very important parts of my way of cultural life, too), but I couldn't live without music.
You play and write some sort of a quite specific music among todays traditional mass-known trends and influences - both in words and sound. Please talk about the spirit of your music. Can you tell me about the most important inner aspects of it? I mean the themes that deeply concern and alarm you, I mean my inner confusion that I got some time ago from your "Hambach - 1848" - both in design and in music personally.
Something, that probably is one of the most important aspects of Hekate is, that we don't want people to forget their roots, to lose their inner peace and to be ready to follow the rules of the mass on command, which means to lose individuality. Our interpretation of 'Die Gedanken sind frei" is probably the song, that describes our matter perfectly: Whatever you do to me, you will never be able to destroy my ideas. You can kill me - but not my thoughts. Everybody should try to carry a small light of individuality in his heart, even if it's hard to succeed in this battle - to express this, is something of highest importance for us. We try to show, that there are things worth to be kept, worth to be reminded - and this is something, which has nothing to do with longing for the past, as many other people do, who - sadly - believe, that 'everything was better in the past". 'Hambach - 1848" was our way to honour certain individuals, who fought (physical and psychic), lived and died in and for the first important German democtratic movement. With the entire appearance of this record (artwork, texts and tunes) we tried to remind the listener of the wish for equal rights (of course: from todays point of view this democracy was no democracy of equality) and their struggle against dictatorship and limitation of life in any possible way. A german editor wrote, that 'Hambach - 1848" proved well, that Germanies history doesn't only consists of 12 dark years, which seems to be the only inspiration for many records. This is a point of view I like to share.
I found many wisdom and pain from the human historical dramatic way, but faith, too. Sorry, if I'm wrong in my impressions, but if no, what is the Faith for you?
'Historia Ê un cazotto", that's what life teaches us everyday. History proved itself as a beast more than once. Life and history show us day by day, how stupid, ignorant and listless a large part of mankind is. This is sad enough and that makes us suffer - but, wouldn't it be sad to acceppt this and live a grey life? We don't want to give anyone sermons and we are no history teachers, but we cannot accept this stupidity and especially not the indifference towards history and the responsibility for the day. That's what keeps us hope. Our music, lyrics and artwork are the tools we use to give certain hints, inducements and sometimes to put them as a finger into an open wound. And - we deeply believe, that we are not alone in this mental struggle. That's our faith.
Also I would like to ask you WHY drum-percussion power live-accustic sound is that important for your recordings and especially your concerts alive? No secret, that last years we got a big interest in military drum-powerful sound, that remind of a sound of ancient ritual or military ritual drums - you, Camerata Mediolanense etc. use it a very active nowadays...
We've been allready asked this question several times, and we cannot explain it in an attractive way, as it would be like asking a workman, why he uses this nail and not the other one. What I can say is the following: We've allways used drums and allways will. Drumming reliefs, sets power free and underlines the stories we have to tell in a perfect way. This has nothing to do with a military attidude - more with a ritual feeling, that is set afree during our performances. Sometimes, drumming evokes trance-like moments - on stage and in front of! For me, Camerata Mediolanense is one of the very few bands, that are really able to play their drums in a perfect way. They're strict to the point and produce themself on stage perfectly. But they express something totally different than we do. Sorry, that I cannot answer your question in a more intelligent way.
You had a close active tour-collaboration with Andrea/Hagalaz Runendance - the true important person in today's ritual-pagan-folk music scene and philosophy. Can you talk more into detail about it - about joint impressions, influences, about maybe some specifical moments of the collaboration and your joint personal contact.
As you said, Andrea is really one of the true important persons in todays heathen music scene. Together with Ian Reed she's probably the one person, who really connects music with her religion, or better let's say, her doctrine of life. I don't want to say, that the're no other musicians, that follow pagan paths. There are lots of - even if there are too many bands, which use certain attitudes, as it's trendy and makes other people frighten or at least curious. Anyway - talking about joint impressions with Andrea Meyer-Haugen would mean to talk for hours. We met her three years ago, when she was to perform in Leipzig at the Wave Gotik Treffen, but didn't know how to put it on stage. Hearing about her problems in finding musicians we suggested her to do a joint performance of Hagalaz' Runedance and Hekate. After watching a video of one of our performances she accepted. When Axel and I catched her up at Frankfurts airport we didn't know what to expect, but when we met it was like knowing her for years. The same counts for the rest of us when we'd the first rehearsal. The performance was a total success and we decided to do a whole tour through Germany one autumn later. We shared wonderfull moments on stage, unforgetable moments of excessive drinking, partying, discussions and laughing. As a symbol of our deep friendship Andrea came to Koblenz to support us during our 'Sonnentanz"-release-party last years April. Musically I wouldn't say that one influenced the other - only psychic, in a human way. Even if Andrea lives in Norway and now found her 'own" musicians there, we feel connected through a mental force field. This will remind us of each other for a long time.
I think for your creative personal sacriface you've chosen the image of Hekate - the Goddess of the waning moon, the extremely ancient symbol. What is it for you - your personal creative journey in Underworld of human souls and minds as a history, sort of inner exorcism or something other/else?
The name Hekate was chosen in the early 1990ies by Axel Heinrich Menz and the other band-founders when they were very interested in ancient cultures and rites. You allready answered your question partly: They've chosen this name as moniker, as all of them/us show(ed) great interest in the deep abyss' of human souls and behaviour. But there've been several other reasons to 'adopt" Hekate as our/their 'child". When I remember right - since 1997 I'm a permanent member of Hekate - Axel Menz was impressed very much by Hekates biography and her ambiguity. Hekate is one of the oldest godheads of Asia Minor. The most interesting on this godhead is its importance in the area of the Mediterranean. The cult of Hekate got very important in different cultures because of trade relations and migrations of the people: Greeks and Romans gave character to Hekate as goddess of the moon, goddess of the underworld and as oracle. Many artists as e.g. William Blake or Shakespeare have been fascinated by her - and obviously the other founders of Hekate, too. For them, Hekate was more than an ordinary name. They used the name Hekate as a metaphor for the mystic, female, correlations and occupation with different cultures and religions. For myself, Hekate got a symbol of our conduct. Her character and outward appearance is more than conflicting. On the one hand, she attracts you with her beauty like a femme fatal pulls you into her bed, and on the other hand, she pushs you off, surrounded by excrements. Sometimes I can notice this behaviour in our audience, as they don't know, how to handle us. Finally we catch them, as Hekate allways does...
How in general mythology and folklore of ancient Germany and Europe is important for you ?
European folklore and history (and consequently Germanys-) is important for us to a very high degree. We take inspiration out of a lot of traditions of pagan Europe and European history. You can find indications to Germanic, Greek, Prussian, Roman or Celtic rites in our texts or e.g. flags on stage. We understand it as some kind of duty to remind people (and ourselves) of traditions of their own- and European culture, which are worth to be rediscovered and to be kept (not to forget that we're interested in any cultures and rites of the world). With Hekate we describe a way of cultural change and of a revival of old ideas and values. Because of this interest we ask our friends from all over Europe to tell us myths, that impressed them most, to bring them into music and tell them by time in our way. But - I cannot underline often enough, that it's the folkloristic European history in all, that is of great importance for us - not a certain one. And - this is only one aspect of inspiration in Hekates horizon: Human behaviour, wistfull ideas, our everydays life with all its conveniences and troubles. That's what drives us.
Where do you see the reason for that many people getting interested in the past; and how do you value this?
Obviously this interest increases out of a dissatisfaction of peoples status' quo. It seems as if people search for a niche to hid themselves and to find security of everyday life, which seems to evoke more problems than amenities. I've two different points of view concerning this escape into the past. On the one hand, it means, that people try to keep certain rituals remembered, try to show, that there isn't only progress and easy-living. This conduct proves, that something is wrong and that there are things worth to be kept in mind, in a time, where one invention gets detached in one day through another and moral is just a word. You can see this in peoples increasing interest in heathen and/or occult habits, in peoples electoral behaviour and sadly enough in peoples fear of foreign and exotic habits. People start asking for reasons and/or alternatives, but, and this is my other point of view, often enough get in a "in-the-past-everything-was-better-mentality". I deeply appreciate the interest in past religions as e.g. the doctrines of pagan habits in all. They all show up with a very sensible feeling for nature and members of society - but: I deeply abhor the idea, that these people start to negate other existing religions (or better let's say: the right for people to join other religions), and start to treat them as they got treat by them hundreds of years ago. I also cannot understand people relying on the wish for a time, when we got reigned by kings or dictators - this is a habit I got aware of very often in the last time. Even if it's their own thing, relying on whatever they want and longing for something - maybe understandable - they value to be better, they deny the fact, that they probably won't be on the "winners side". Do you get, what I try to express? I also believe, that our way of democracy is a democracy for just a few, but this way of escapism can get really dangerous. Therefore I prefer my way to escape from reality for some hours: That is reading a book of e.g. Henry Miller or Thomas Mann. The first one describes peoples way to escape e.g. from the shadows of WWI, prohibition and world economic crisis via getting drunk and having sex. In these moments I join the author through Paris' pubs and dark and fullcrowded streets. The second one takes me to decadent Venice. While he gets the boys, I get the girls... This is one of my ways of escapism - the other one is giving a concert, meet up people from the audience or befriended musicians and flee the inconveniences of every day life. One just has to come back...
Do you've an idea, why symbols are that important for people?
Symbols allways had and will have an intriguing influence on mankind. They're guides through life and to death. In former times, people used symbols to bridge borders of language, to honor their gods or followed them to survive the day. In our days, most people don't recognize symbols anymore as some kind of natural phenomenon, but as a stylish accessory - that counts especially for runes. No doubt, many of its wearers know about their meaning and strength, but the most of them prove by their behaviour, that they're not worth to show them nor are aware of the responsibility they take by wearing them. I've to admit, that I'm very intrigued by one rune, too - Algiz. I'm driven by Algiz now for several years, but never could specify Algiz' attraction 100%. Just some days ago, a very close friend from Sweden brought me on the track and I hope to quote him right: 'Used with its three arms downwards, Algiz symbolizes death, but also peace - as one should know from the peace-symbol. Used with its three arms upwards, it represents life, but as the opposite of the symbol of peace, it also means war." I've allways been attracted by contrasts (which consequently build a unity), by beginning and end, by the difference of men and women, by Ouroubourou, by ascent and decline. Through giving me the above mentioned hint, I'm able to specify my attraction a little bit more - and I'm thankful for this. Of course symbols have the quality of giving someone strength. Symbols charakterize, form and guide its wearer. But - one allways has to be aware, that symbols get dangerous when they don't represent the way of thinking anymore, but a party-badge - the worst example I can think about is the swastika.
Igor Vaganov vs Arne Thau/Hekate
to be continued...
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