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1. After listening to the samples of your new songs I simply couldn’t notice the absence of guitars ;) Does it mean that you don’t like guitar sound anymore or we can still wait for another guitar-oriented, metal-sounding album from you?

Hi Oleg! Well, if you say you did NOT notice the absence of guitars it’s a good sign, because it means that you didn’t miss them, haha. The sound of a distorted guitar isn’t that much thrilling anymore for me. There are so many other sounds to discover on this planet, and I especially like this sounds when they can be achieved without having to use effects, electricity etc. There are so many flutes for example, and every flute sounds different, even if they are built of the same wooden material. AND they can express completely different emotions. A Turkish ney flute for instance provokes different images in your head than a Japanese sakuhachi flute or a South American pan flute. Same with percussion and stringed instruments. It would be interesting to write an album with guitars again, but it would for sure include a lot of ethnic influences again and wouldn’t be a pure, normal metal album. However, no concrete plans yet.

2. Yana Veva composed all vocal lines and lyrics for “Nour”. Did she introduced any music ideas for the new album or all the music was written by you?

She also influenced the music of several songs, especially “Anubis”, the second song of the album and favourite track of many people! But her voice itself was a big inspiration for me, so you could say that her voice wasn’t just a voice but also delivered a lot of ideas, just by her style and melodies. I sometimes wrote the songs AFTER I got her vocals, and not always the other way round. In fact it’s the song writing process I prefer most: first hearing vocals, inspiring me for writing a complete song. By the way, Yana’s band Theodor Bastard plays “Anubis” live, unfortunately I didn’t see a video yet, hehe.

3. What “live”, real exotic instruments did you used on “Nour”?

Well, the answer is, that all instruments are real and none of them is real. They were originally played and recorded by musicians, but not by myself or musicians I know. There are excellent studio libraries available for songwriters, movies, TV spots etc. and when you buy them, you can use the played melodies for your own projects. It’s a great way even for hobby musicians to add interesting elements, for example ethnic elements. Unfortunately it’s just a small part of the work. The biggest challenge is to arrange songs, cut those melodies so that they fit well, add keyboards, electronic music elements etc. So all in all it was the longest songwriting process I ever had! For this album, the first step was to use own vocals which was done by Yana. The next step for the next album might be to also use original instrument performances of friends from all over the world. But it’s difficult to do, because the performance and recording quality must be PERFECT, otherwise it doesn’t sound convincing when being combined with synthetic elements like keyboards, rhythm loops etc. But I really admire musicians who have a big passion for all those instruments and play them by themselves, for example my Russian friends Senmuth and Lefthander ? Also Rene of the German band Equilibrium has a nice variety of flutes and likes to play them. But when speaking about myself, well, I have absolutely no time for learning all those instruments and then writing an album. All the rest – making the songs catchy, writing great melodies etc. – takes too much time and energy and is enough challenge for me.

4. Let me ask you about the cover-artwork. At first, who did it? And what does that “pseudo-dragon” mean? And these two hieroglyphs in the lower left corner – is it “nour” in Arabian? Who helped you with Arabian orthography?

The cover was done by my good friend Alex who also designed the artwork for the first Shiva In Exile album and was the webmaster of the Darkseed website for many years. I wanted to have this kind of tribal symbol / dragon because it’s a simple symbol. I don’t like complex cover artworks, hehe. Apart from that it’s a great theme for tattoos. It’s great when fans decide to use graphics from my albums for their tattoos ? Better than using a band name for that, because other graphics are more neutral and you don’t curse too much if you one day don’t like the band anymore but have it as a tattoo on your body, haha. By the way, the dragon first looked to the left side, but then a label recommended me to change it and make it look to the right side, because spiritually seen looking right is more future-orientated, haha. Just for the case some people wonder, because they saw the dragon looking to the left side in some articles. Yes, left you can see “Nour” in Arabic letters. Hanin, my friend from Lebanon who wrote the Arabic poem for the song “Bullet”, helped me with that.

5. Are you getting responses on Shiva in Exile music from Arabian countries? What do people say about your ethnic/oriental music experiments?

There’s not much response directly from Arabic countries, but usually from Arabic people who emigrated to America or other Western countries. Or from people who are interested in this culture or aesthetics, for example tribal dancers or belly dancers. However, this might change of course once the album is released in those territories (if it really will be, who knows, haha).

6. What do you think of an idea of “live” performances with Shiva In Exile?

The music would be perfect for summer events, but also for concert hall shows with a lot of dancing and fire. Of course I am considering it, but I think as a normal band it wouldn’t be possible because there are simply too many instruments featured on the album. You cannot find so many musicians and put them on a stage. But something like a dance/fire show without band or just a few musicians would indeed rock! It’s something I definitely keep in mind, and I am sure that St. Petersburg and Moscow would be on the agenda then!

7. Yana Veva lives in St. Petersburg. Maybe this fact assisted you to visit Russia?

Indeed it would be a reason to go there one day. I also have other great friends there (heyho Priest!). People from St. Petersburg made the video clip of my project SpiRitual, they did an amazing job! Of course I’d want to visit them as well! Check out the video on YouTube, the song name is “Pulse”.

8. Let me remind you about the glorious past of Darkseed. Do you know that Polish label Metal Mind reissued “Spellcraft” and “Give Me Light” albums as digipacks? Have you seen those editions, what do you think about them?

No, as usual I have not seen those editions, but I’d really like to see them. The whole thing wasn’t organized by us but by Nuclear Blast who still have the rights on the Darkseed albums. If the Polish label released these editions because of idealistic reasons it’s a good thing. But I don’t know this label and I also don’t know how this editions look like, haha. For example Mystic Empire/Mazzar released Betray My Secrets as digipack in Russia, because they really love the album (former ethno metal project I did in the late 90s). That’s something I definitely support!

9. All the best from Russia! Do you have anything to say to your Russian fans?

Thank you very much for the interview, Oleg. I hope the Russian audience will like “Nour” and will listen to it during a warm summer evening, leaving all everyday life trouble behind and simply enjoying the music in nature or at any other ideal place!


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