Interview with Unreal

“As summer draws its last dying breath, time is ripe for reflection on the light that has been and the darkness to come. What could be more apt than some beautifully introspective neofolk from some of Europe’s finest? We had a quick talk to our friends Solblot about the new compilation Rites Ov Summer.”

Interview with Oslopuls

1: How did Solblot come about?

– Solblot has existed as a pure light design since the late 90s, when we began to interest us to make music in this form. We had previously dealt with abstract conceptual-based music in the border country towards ljudkonst, and one can perhaps say that Solblot was born from our desire to make a simple, straightforward music that pervaded by feeling rather than reason. Eventually the project was solid, but there has been a long and protracted maturation process and our first appearance as band took place in Copenhagen in spring 2005.

2: Neofolk is a part of the new folk movement with many branches.
You participate in a collection plate with other so-called neofolkartists/-bands,
with different musical expressions. Do you feel kinship with any of them?

– Neofolk as a defined genre is difficult, and much of its charm lies precisely in the difficulty to find any fixed boundaries. There is a spectrum of bands that usually excluded, whose music is from the purely electronic, industrial, and sample-based to something close to traditional, acoustic folk music. Often, it has a dramatic, romantic and symbolic charged content of the roots to some extent rooted in European history and mythology. Someone popular, it is probably still does not talk about, even if you may be able to imagine a greater interest in this type of music in recent times. The collection disc where we are represented shows perhaps one of the breadth of what is called neofolk, although it is far from a comprehensive selection.
Our music is of course related to other contributing artists in the sense that we all fall into this musical cases, but we have more in common with some artists than others. We look also like a family with ties in other genres than neofolk, such as many of the bands in the Swedish progg movement in the 1970s.

3: Can you tell something about the disc contribution “Medborgarsång”.
Solblot is an acoustic band. Why did you choose this expression?

– It is a little funny that the song had such a spread, it is a demo recording, and as such is of course beset with their faults and shortcomings, but it still gives an insight into what you can expect music wise from Solblot. We are a purely acoustic band which primarily seeks devotion and frankness in our music, which emphasizes the enthusiasm and the joy of performing instead of a polished and arranged surface.

4: Solblot uses texts by Werner von Heidenstam, a famous Swedish national romantic and Atheist.
What does his text frame for the band?

– We have indeed looked at the composer a selection of Verner von Heidenstam poems, and this project has become a major musical influence. Heidenstam has more or less come to personify the National Romanticism in Sweden, and the feeling that pervades his poetry is very much the same as we are trying to achieve with our music. We strive to convey a subjective, personal and nostalgic picture of the past, the Sagans and Scandinavian myth and the fantastic nature that plays a central role in this. It has therefore fallen naturally to use Heidenstam texts in order to let the music and poem complement and reinforce each other. We certainly have considered themselves to writing lyrics for our music, but when one considers the enormous source of inspiration to the literary tradition and earlier authors is looks while the sort of innovation is not particularly necessary.

5: Various political and religious organisationer want to embrace Neofolk movement.
On Solblots myspace page do you clear that you are not interested in being associated with such. Is this a problem within the movement?
For some time ago, there were several bands that pulled out from a festival in Sweden because of such links.

– Art is a reflection of the human being in the physical and spiritual life. As is politics. Both strive to realize an idea and that is its reason for existence, politics is often general and comprehensive, while the art is personal and exclusive. Art and politics, however, is essentially different, the reason for this is that the language of politics is logic, while the language of art is ambiguousness. The rational rhetoric of politics is at odds with art which strives to be multi-layered and difficult to define. The result of combining these two essentially different human expressions are confusion. Confusing rhetoric with objectives diffuclt to define.

– We, and others, are reluctant to mix politics with art, just because of its essentially different nature. But, as art and politics pervades all of human existence, it is impossible not to in any way affect them in our daily acts. What most seem to want to defend themselves against the politicization of art, ie a logical mutilation and rationazing of the ambiguious and free. Neofolk has traditionally always been very multi-layered and difficult to define. Its practitioners have rarely or never been interested in any way to explain their music with logical or rational argument. Party politics wise, neofolk has always been difficult to define because of its unwillingness to follow a logical chain of thought where left and right is black and white.

– In recent years, however a couple of band wanted to break out of ambivalence and thus politicizing their music. Extremist groups have tried to use these and other non-politicized actors for its own purposes, which has led to strong protests from both listeners and event organizers, which provides for a more secular approach in which art is divorced from politics. We do not want to go in someone else’s leash or represent a specific idea, other than our own artistic vision with no logical or rational basis, and be mated us because of confusion with these elements. In our view, is one of the most appealing elements of the neofolk movement (to the extent we can speak of such) its fundamental openness and tolerance, and hopefully it can be so still.

– As for the attention of the festival, we chose, along with most other artists that were involved, to set our participation. This decision was taken in full agreement between the bands and was based in that we could not feel any confidence in the organizers. The initial assurances we received on the festival lacked a political agenda, we had time and again reason to question, with the result that we finally did not feel that the festival was an appropriate forum for our music.

6: Which band will Solblot recommend Oslopuls’ readers?

– There are many bands Oslo Puls’ readers certainly would have a large exchange, but Solblots own / Best of Neofolk / – list is as follows (without order):

Death in June
Sol Invictus
Nature & Organisation
Current 93
Of the Wand and the Moon
Gaë Bolg

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