When Forest Whispers Black Metal Suites. Interview with Winterherz (Waldgeflüster)

First started in 2005, as a gesture of Winterherz‘ inspiration, Waldgeflüster, moves from a solo concept to a full and a more complicated one. Thus in 2014 there join Arvagr, Thomas Birkmaier, Dominik Frank and Markus Frey. With Herbstklagen (2009), the first full-length, the whole idea of this musical project emerged.  To be mentioned that before this album was a demo, Stimmenim Wind (2006), which, like any project of its kind, had its flaws. The approach is really interesting; this melancholic sound remained about the same on Femundsmarka – EineReise in dreiKapiteln (2011), as well as MeineFesseln (2014). The Waldgeflüster music can be classified as an atmospheric black metal. I would say that before listening to this music, there should be a specific warning “Attention! You’re about to listen to music that can have an emotional impact.”

A relatively new name in this extremely large metal world, Waldgeflüster, is a name that imprints in your mind, is like a tattoo on your skin, you make it a part of your life.

Baldo, Cultartes: Hello! Let’s get back to the roots! What was the primordial inspiration that led to this project?

Winterherz, Waldgeflüster: Hi! I started Waldgeflüster in 2005 as I needed an outlet for all the ideas I had but couldn’t realize with my old band Scarcross. I wanted to start something new that focuses more on Black Metal with a simpler but more emotional approach. Also I wanted to express my ideas of nature, heathendom, philosophy and emotions in a different musical outfit, in which I would not be dependent on other people.

How the idea of this transition from the solo project into a form that includes other musician, first started?

The guys that became full members about one year ago have been with Waldgeflüster for a very long time. They proved their dedication on many occasions. This line-up kind of felt “right” to me. Furthermore Waldgeflüster has become a very time consuming “hobby” by now. To be honest sometimes it feels more like a second job. To be able to handle everything I had to bring in some more people to divide the jobs on different persons, and not to have to do everything alone. So you see there were several reasons for this step: The line-up felt right, I also wanted to kinda “reward” my guys for their hard and unpaid work, I wanted Waldgeflüster to profit from the new musical input they bring into this, and I needed to get rid of some duties to be able to focus more on the music again. So far I have not regretted this decision, this was the right step for me and for the band.

Now that we’re talking about a band in a complete formula, can there be said, that is an easier, or contrary, a better job? I am thinking here of the existence of different opinions and its consequences.

Somehow both is true. It is easier in a way that different jobs in a band can now be handled by different people, and also the guys were already able to deliver some great ideas for the demos for our next record. It can be more difficult if it comes to questions of personal taste, this can be difficult in the writing process. But as I have many years of experience in playing with other people in a band and writing together, I knew about this difficulty beforehand. That’s why we created some basic rules for our working process, which everyone agreed upon. One rule is that I still have the last word. This sounds a bit unfair, but we talked about this in the band, I will not agree to any compromises when it comes to Waldgeflüster. Every idea of everyone will be listened to with an open mind, but in the end: If I don’t like something I will not write the name Waldgeflüster on it. So, that’s kinda my “veto”- right. The second rule is that if you don’t answer fast enough (with fast enough I mean a couple of days) to some new ideas that were recorded in my studio, you forfeited your right to object. From my bands before I knew that one of the most exhausting and time-consuming thing in writing and mixing a record is to wait for feedback of everyone and then arguing about this. So this rule keeps us from taking too long for some basic decisions. Everyone gets his chance to object, but he must take it. Otherwise we move on. I think these two rules give us the advantage of a band but is cutting out the disadvantages. We have the creative input of 5 people, but if necessary we can make decisions fast like in a solo project. 

Do you think nature can be an inspiring motif for your creative instincts?

Nature is definitely inspiring to me. That’s the reason most of my lyrics deal with motifs of nature. Every time I manage to get away from society and feel the power of nature and the woods I can feel my creativity growing.

If it were discovered that God had created the Universe, with all its beauties, that would be the first thing you will do?

Nothing. To me it doesn’t matter if God exists or not, even though I strongly believe that he/she/it doesn’t. I try to live a life I can be proud of no matter what a fictitious entity might have to say to that. My mind and heart are the only authorities I am accountable to. As those authorities are quite satisfied if not always with the outcome, but with my continuing strife to fulfil their terms, the existence of a god would change nothing at my goals or ways of living. If this entity would demand other terms than my conscience, I would gladly go to “hell” for that. Because even if it existed, my consciousness will still stand above it.

Is there any artist or band from this metal area that never ceases to amaze and inspire you at the same time? But in other musical areas or artistic domains?

Panopticon. Every record Austin releases is a masterpiece in itself and his music and he himself as a person are inspiring to me. I feel honoured that such a warm hearted and talented person is one of my closest friends. There are many other bands that have several good records, but most of the time there are also some in their discography that lack something for me. So in “never-cease-to-amaze-me” way only Panopticon. But for example Katatonia is one band I can’t stop listening to. Their last few records are amazing in my point of view.

Are these shoegaze/post-rock elements some prints that have an extremely impact on rock music. Is it somehow a fashionable thing nowadays?

Shoegaze and post rock elements are kinda fashionable nowadays, that’s true. But who cares if in the end this produces some really great music? I like some of the elements of post rock and shoegaze combined with black metal, I think that can be very interesting.

What is the passage (from a movie, book, whatever), that you can testify, if not necessarily influenced you, product you an emotional impetus?

One passage from a book that struck with me for a long time is the appearance of Mephisto in Faust’s study room, when he introduces himself and explains what he is in Goethe’s Faust. That definitely kept me thinking for a long time. Not a passage but more a sentence that I try to follow in my daily life is from Thomas Mann’s Dr.Faustus: “A bissalVerständnis” (can be translated as: A bit of understanding), which is said several times by the innkeeper. So this influenced me, as I try to have some understanding for the point of view of all the people I have to deal with. Even though this is not always easy…

Let’s play a little with our imagination! If you had to sing for the End of the world, in what location would you do it? And how this whole landscape would look like in your vision?

I would try to reach a place which still has some woods and where it is still beautiful, so I can sing under the trees and have a last look on what is to be missed. But more importantly is probably not where to do this, but with whom. So I hope that my loved ones and my friends would be there. If the world would really end I imagine a broken landscape: rocks, lava, destruction.

What’s the first thing that crosses your mind when you hear about Romania? Honestly.

The first thing that comes into my mind when hearing the name Romania is my friend Liviu and his band Noptishanu. I met Liviu a couple of years ago in London when we both visited a symposium on Black Metal there. This was a pretty interesting event and Liviu and me have been in touch ever since. Some first ideas for Noptishanu were even recorded in my studio. So this is really the first thing that crosses my mind.

Most of the people (the uninitiated ones) think that black metal has no substance. Can we refer to black metal as an artistic activity?

To be honest I think that Black Metal is one of the few (mainly) artistic genres that is left. Of course there are bands and artists of other genres that have an artistic vision as well. But as a whole genre, Black Metal is one of the few that is left. Most of the other genres are mere “music” nowadays. Now, to defend this statement I think it is important to explain my definition of art: Art, I mean REAL art to me means suffering. Music as an art form is not about a cool beat or a nice melody for you summer party. It’s also not about super complex and hard to play riffs. All of this is just craftsmanship. This can be learned by everyone and to me nowadays music mostly consists of this. Don’t get me wrong, learning your craftsmanship is important and difficult and should be respected. And I think you can and should enjoy a good done song. If in the right mood, a party song can be the best thing. It’s just not art. Art to me is expressing your deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings to start a “healing” process or bring awareness to a topic. Now, if you take this definition of art, I think Black Metal is an artistic activity for sure.

If Jesus would show off again, on Earth, and he would make a band (especially that carpentry is no longer rewarding), what kind of genre do you think he will approach? What instrument would Judas play on?

Probably he would do something like The Kelly Family or like a Christian Rock/Pop band to spread his so called “message”. Somehow I imagine Judas to play the bass. Just because bass players are most of the times the odd ones. At least that’s what a guitarist/singer would say, hehe.

Can you give some details about your future materials or where can we see you guys?

Our next live appearances will be in Zurich and in Radolfzell in autumn. But we update our Facebook page and our homepage regularly when new shows are confirmed. So probably it would be best to check those places for updates. As to new material: Currently we are working on a long overdue split, which will hopefully be released in the beginning of next year. But we are not ready to reveal all the details yet. We are also in the writing process for our next record. So far about 4 songs are written, and we are very happy with the demo recordings. I think this will be a very versatile album, and I am very pleased with the input the other guys brought into this. Although this will clearly be a Waldgeflüster record, I think their input broadened the style, which fits perfectly.

Thank you for the time you’ve shared with us! All the best!

Thank you for the interesting questions and the support!

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