Progressive, avant-garde black metal experimentalists DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT have never stopped smashing through the boundaries of the genre they’ve called home since forming in early 2009. And with 2021 welcoming the release of their fifth album, “Noktvrn”, the Germans are looking to expand the minds and perspectives of their ever-increasing fanbase, similar to how they pushed themselves in every element of the new album’s creation. We talked to Nikita Kamprad about their newest material and many more in an enchanting interview.
CVLT: Hi! “Noktvrn” already presents itself as an album with one hell of a sound. Tell us a bit about it! Is there a hidden message behind it?
Nikita: Thank you! It’s difficult to describe the whole album and its message in a few sentences. But basically “Noktvrn” is an album about the night, about dreams and the world between being awake and asleep. For me, there’s a strong feeling of freedom within dreams and there was notably one particular experience I had a few years ago when I got up in the early morning hours like between 5 and 7 am or so, when I was somehow still asleep but also awake.
And it might sound odd, but in this state of mind, the basic structure of the song ‘Immortal’ came to my mind. Like the very basic bassline with the simple drumbeat and actually the whole buildup from the intro, the first verse until the second chorus. It was like half an hour or even an hour when I was lying in bed, the first rays of sun shining through the window’s shades filling the room with this kind of purple early morning light – a mood that we also wanted to express through the colors and gradients in the album artwork.
It was kinda surreal but interesting to experience that my half-awake mind was apparently able to write a song. I could even play it back in my head somehow like in computer software or a music player. At some point, I got up, grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down this basic structure, and later in the day, I elaborated this song, like adding the ending part, more melodies, basically making a proper song out of it. I found this experience so weird but also inspiring at the same time that it became the very initial point when I decided to base the whole album theme around the night.
Music and art is such a personal thing, so the first person you want to impress should be yourself.
What is the hardest step a band has to overcome when starting to play? Can one think of success when we refer to such a niche?
Success always depends on the point of view. It might sound trivial, but it’s the most important thing to start with: ask yourself what is the true motivation and reason you want to write and play music. I started writing songs in the first place because I love creating music and I love being connected to my own music when performing, recording, and listening to it. It’s a feeling you can’t compare with anything else.
Over the years I got the impression that today’s music business and society rather wants you to impress other people first and to follow certain ways of presenting yourself in public to achieve some kind of success. Music and art is such a personal thing, so the first person you want to impress should be yourself. If you are successful in that, it’s the first move! I feel privileged to say that I can make a living out of this band, my job as a music producer, and thus music in general. It is possible, yes, although it took me years and a lot of patience. This might be the hardest step, not to force things, give it a lot of time and let things evolve naturally.
Do you think it’s tough nowadays to come up with something original that sets you apart from other bands?
Definitely, it’s tough, but it has always been tough. As we have these millions of possibilities to create music, it’s harder than ever to focus on what’s really important and not to lose yourself in the process. Sometimes it helps to limit yourself to just a few means that you have available and to see how far you get. It will get you to think differently, come up with new ideas, maybe adjust your playing, singing, producing in a way you haven’t done before, thus writing in a more original way.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
For me, what has always remained the same is that I need some kind of solitude when being creative. It’s a physical solitude, being on my own, away from other people – but also a mental solitude, having nothing else on my mind, not having any duties or daily business to do. That’s why I started to block certain timeframes in my calendar to be creative. I know this sounds pretty pragmatic and quite uninspiring, but it helps me a lot when I know I have this or that week blocked for creativity exclusively and nothing else could distract me here. I don’t have to meet anybody, there are no other jobs to do. Some would say, there might be more pressure to be productive in this certain timeframe. But since our daily adult lives are full of deadlines already, I need this kind of “organized productivity” and I found out that it works great for me, it makes my mind free and I can fully concentrate on creating new things here.
Let’s get back to the new album “Noktvrn”. If you were to advertise it, as a TV commercial, let’s say, what would you start with and what would it look like?
I would tell everyone to throw their TV out of the window, send us a picture and receive a free copy of “Noktvrn” to listen to immediately.
Music has known a solid change once with the evolution and development of technology. How do you see this change given the fact that there where technology appears, the emotion may lose its course?
I don’t think technology necessarily means a loss of emotions. Of course, if at some point everything, each step, each action we do is automatized and taken over by some kind of algorithm the world definitely loses some of its humanity. But technology can also be very inspiring and brings a lot of possibilities to the table that, if you are able to control and understand them, can definitely be useful to create something completely new and original.
In the present conditions, some are not favorable at all for spiritual development, what role can have the artistic act and creation?
Art and music are very important for our cultural environment and are integral parts of our basic needs we need to take good care of. If you go back in time you will always find art and music, like very early cave drawings or music instruments, because the urge to express oneself through a different, universal medium other than just the language has always been there. Of course, the recent past has been fatal for our cultural development – and it’s far from being over – making it hard for people to come together, be creative, make music and art. I find it kind of frustrating to see our governments not really paying attention to the cultural landscapes or at least making it hard for creative artists of any kind to get help in these difficult times.
I mean, it has improved over the past months and there are a couple of programs that help artists (at least here in Germany), but I often had the feeling that decisions about who gets help first are very biased and you can clearly see where the priorities are. While creative artists and all those millions who work in the background have been left on their own. Understandably this doesn’t really help your motivation and inspiration to get creative.
If your music travels the world, where do you think it will find its fulfillment and inner peace?
In outer space where you can see the whole world in one piece.
When listeners make their way through your music and hear all the songs, what do you want them to feel? What kind of situation do you see your music accompanying?
I’d like them to be connected to themselves, to get aware of what’s important, and remove all unnecessary thoughts, tangibles, and obligations. I see our music as some kind of shelter, a companion in times of solitude, being alone, and when it’s important to listen to yourself.
Of course, you can also enjoy our music with others and obviously, there are live shows with many people in one place. But I like when people close their eyes, escape into their own world – l often do this on stage, too. I think our music has the ability to paint pictures in your head and enhance your own imagination.
Guilty pleasure time. What would you say are some of your current most guilty pleasures? All is fair game-food, books, video games, or even cock n’ ball torture, whatever floats your boat. Let us have it.
Accounting and taxes.
Photos: (c) Mario Schmitt
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