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EMPYRIUM (English)

“We can’t wait for the Istanbul shows.”

-Can you explain the change of your music since Wintersunset? Dou you believe musical development over time and expansion is a natural part of the music?

Absolutely. I’v always wanted to be honest and transfer true emotions with Empyrium. Thus the development of the band’s sound. You simply feel different and write different music at different stages in your life. It would be damn boring too, to try to repeat the same stuff all over, don’t you think? On the other hand I think Empyrium was never bound to a certain style of music. It has always been about the atmosphere, the mood and the emotional part rather than a style of music.

-We knew you are influented by nature and mythology. Are there any daily life inspirations out there for you? If so, can you give us an example aboout it?

Life is the inspiration. I see with my eyes, feel with my heart and soul and get inspired by that everyday. You can only reproduce in music what is really inside of you. That’s the secret to all great art. When I am out in nature I might get inspired, I might get inspired by a great talk with a close person or just the same I might get inspired watching a movie or Series or reading while I am having a nice pour of Whisky.

-We know, You have many listeners in Middle East especially Persia. Why do you think you are loved so much in the Middle East?

Yeah I realized that quite some time ago and we are very flattered about this. Maybe people from the middle east are in general quite emotional persons that’s why our utterings of melancholy hit a certain string within them? Maybe you have a better answer ;-)?

-You utilized a painting of Theodor Kittelsen on “Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays”. He is a respected painter in Norway and he also lived in Münich for some time. His paintings were also used in Burzum artworks, such as “ Hvis lysett tar oss” and “Filosofem”. Did any of these have an effect on you deciding to use his work? And what do you think about Burzum and Varg in general?

Of course! I stumbled upon his paintings for the first time being used by quite some of the early norwegian Black Metal Bands. Satyricon, Burzum, Carpathian Forest, Wongraven for example – bands like Ulver where pretty inspired by his art too. I loved the atmosphere of his paintings and alongside Caspar David Friedrich his work always has been greatly inspiring.

As for Burzum. I love early Burzum intensely and like his new work too. He is an exceptional artist full of dignity and integrity and has always put alot of emotions into his songs. It’s pure magic. I don’t give a flying fuck personally whether Burzum should be avoided because of politically correct reasons or not.

-Second wave of black metal bands used extremely harsh statements and images against Christianity, yet many black metal bands afterwards tend to delve into more pastoral themes, albeit having the former anti religious aspect. Since you have Sun of the Sleepless, what’s your take on this issue? Do you think it’s the feeling of misanthropy that pushes the artists to go towards nature, or is it the fact that religion is the source of all evil in the modern world so they reject it and lean to nature and pastoral concepts more and more?

Absolutely. I’ve always feel drawn towards nature and more desolate places because I’ve always been afraid of huge gatherings of people. Obviously by the time and playing many concerts I’ve overcome this fear but it’s still inside of me. I have alot of misanthropic feelings but at the same time I love the potential in man and people I love – I love dearly. I think religions as such are not faulty – some people need to follow certain rules in life, some don’t (me for example, hehe). The problem is how personal believe and religions are misused by the religious authorithies to control, manipulate and suppress their believers and go to war against the non-believers.

-Only a few bands in the metal world had major stylistic changes in their careers yet managed to establish themselves to the listeners with their new sounds; Ulver, Katatonia to name a few. Same thing applies to you too. What do you think is the the secret in this phenomenon?

I think – as I answered earlier already – the secret is to stay true to the emotion and the atmosphere of the band. Ulver or Katatonia are great examples too of sticking to whatever form of expressions they felt appropriate in a certain period of their lives while at the same staying true to the atmosphere and the feeling in their music. This is why people could always follow them. This is also the case with Empyrium I think.

-Why did you choose the name “Ulf Theodor Schwadorf”, what’s the story behind it?

I was looking for a pseudonym to give the artist within me a name and play with this two sides of myself also psychologicaly. Since I wanted a name that has the sound of an old German romantic poet I finally came up with Ulf Theodor Schwadorf. Nowadays I prefer only “Schwadorf” though.

-Andreas left the band after “Songs Of Moors…”. What’s he doing nowadays, do you still see each other?

I haven’t seen him in a long time but last summer he visited our show at Balver Höhle at the Prophecy Festival. It was nice talking to him after 15 years when I last saw him but it also underlined why we couldn’t continue to work together anymore.
He has nothing to do with music anymore and is quite successful as a chef.

-Empyrium has a well-deserved reputation for having a completely unique sound. How do youdescribe your music and its impact on listeners? I mean what is the main motive of Empyrium?Negative thoughts or the admiration of nature and life itself?

Empyrium is a mirror of our feelings and our thoughts about life, death, loss and love, bitterness, melancholy and darker, negative emotions. I think we need to express this to keep our minds in balance.

The admiration of nature and finding your own emotions in the many moods of nature and really feeling the strong bond between the individual and nature – even the universe – makes Empyrium.

-15+ more years without a single show and yet Empyrium was still one of the first –if not first- bands that comes to mind when its about Neofolk or Doom metal. Earlier albums created an inimitable impact on the fans and made Empyrium unforgettable. How do you observe to this? Did you ever hesitate when writing new materials with such a thought like this?

When we did our comeback show in Leipzig in 2011 I was very happy to realize that Empyrium has definitely not been forgotten during all these years of rest and silence. That was a touching moment. We are very pleased with our reputation and it feels awesome and uplifting that the music I composed more than 20 years ago isstill held in high regard. Something like this is only possible in the Metal Genre and that’s why I love this scene so much!
When writing new music we always only follow our lives and subsequently our emotions and thoughts at the period of time we compose new music. We try to free ourselves from expactations cause this is the only way to truly express yourself.

-Empyrium is not a completely metal band, not like the others at least. Do you believe Empyrium is apart of a scene where bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Anathema and such stands, or do you feel that Empyrium stands alone?

Empyrium has always been a band between the chairs just like my other band The Vision Bleak. It seems both bands are so unique that they are very hard to classify which is kind of awesome isn’t it?

When we started we were hugely inspired by My Dying Bride (just check the title of their first MCD) and Paradise Lost just as we were inspired by early Ninetees Norwegian Black Metal and also bands like Dead Can Dance, Deine Lakaien, Landberk, The 3rd and the Mortal, White Willow and many more. But to answer your question: We feel as a part of the Metal Scene in general.

-There are a lot of other influences known that inspires you. I mean literature, paintings, tales and nature itself of course. Personally, I think that this side of your personality is the true essence of Empyrium, do you agree? And how much do you get from the modern culture?

A big part of Empyrium is to gather inspiration from what really touches you – in art and in life – and to be able to bring all these different influences into music and lyrics that truly vibrate with our personalities. So yes I agree with you.

As for modern culture. The older I get the more alienated I feel to society. I thought it would get better with age but unfortunately I was wrong. We are living in the age of flesh (vs. the spirit). Vanity and foolish self-worship. I have always been about putting the piece of art into the foreground as opposed to the artist that created it for example something that is turned around in these times in our culture!

-There are a lot of distraction in modern society and in daily life that makes harder to focus on the essence of life. How can you isolate yourself from all the rush to create your art, or do you embrace and benefit from it?

You are so, so right. Even more true when you make your living with music and a recording studio and people expect from you to be available 24/7. It’s hard sometimes. You really need to plan things properly and find spots in time where distractions are down to a minimum to find inner peace and right state of mind to open yourself completely and let that flow into the music.

-A relatively sentimental question: The concept of the “The Turn of the Tides” refers to a cycle. A cycle of life and the relationship between the man and the nature. And the last song makes an impression about accepting the death, the end, and overcoming it. What can you tell us about this concept? Where does the man stands in the grand cycle of nature?

Man is in unity with nature and thus a part of the cosmos. As above so below. If you look at nature, everything, and I mean really everything is a constant cycle that is forever. There is no reason there should be a differences when it comes to our lives.
The seasons can be very comparable to the life of man (in an artistic sense) and seasons are an everlasting cycle of death and rebirth.

-You are in no rush of releasing a new album for Empyrium but fans are probably not feels the same way. So what can you tell us about the future of Empyrium?

True, we are not in a rush. Absolutely not. And true that fans think different of course. As an artist I can only listen to myself and believe in my instinct when the time is right for a new album and when I feel ready and inspired to do it. Besides, as you know I have many musical projects and always want to give them full attention when I am working on each of them.

-The Vision Bleak is also a unique band in its own way and the “Witching Hour” was one of the best albums of 2014 with its perfect theme. Can you tell us about the concept or the tendencies of the new album “The Unknown”?

Thank you. The Unknown is definitely a new step for The Vision Bleak as it is less about the theatrical gothic horror of the previous albums and more about the inner demons and the abyss within each of us. It’s a very, very personal record full of haunting melancholy and true darkness from within ourselves. It also features many proud and uplifting moments.
You should really check it out! I am 100% satisfied with this album. It’s really vibrating with my personality.

-There will be a TIAMAT cover in your upcoming EP “The Kindred of The Sunset”. Are you fan of early TIAMAT? I personally love’em and seing one of my favourite bands covers a TIAMAT song is just great.

Oh yes of course we are fans! I love early Tiamat. I listen to their music since I am 13-14 years old and saw them live in 1993-94 numerous times. they hugely inspired Empyrium and The Vision Bleak and this is our tribute to them!

-Are there any underground bands/albums really touched you recently? Or can we have any suggestions that might inspires you directly or indirectly?

Recently I haven’t heard many releases that really made me love them. I really liked the last releases of Ghost and Paradise Lost from last year. I also really loved In Solitude’s “Sister” Album and the last Tribulation. I just finished a production, mix and mastering for german underground band Bethlehem in my studio whose music I always really liked and their new album turned out really great! A band that has always inspired Empyrium and which is an underground jewel of the 90s is This Empty Flow and their album “Magenta Skycode”.

-Where is Nadine? :) We miss her… Will we ever see again on the stage with you?

I see her every day (well almost :-)) since she’s my wife. She will never perform Live since she has always been very shy when it comes to that. Also she hasn’t touched the Cello or the flute in quite some time!

-And finally, what should we expect from the upcoming 2 shows in Istanbul? Any message to the fans?

I am already working on the setlist. The focus will definitely be on “Songs of Moors & Misty Fields” and “The Turn of the Tides”. But we will play songs from each album of course. It will be a great journey from the 90s Empyrium to now with focus on the Metal and Rock Side of the band.

We are really looking forward and we are eternally grateful for the great support of our turkish followers!

Oytun Bektaş
Melike Babataş
Görkem Şahin

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