Their sound melds traditional black metal with ethnic Baltic rites instrumentation and the ancient technique of “whitevoice” clean singing.
“bal Lada” was recorded live in an old manor in Northern Poland and it’s their much-anticipated follow-up to 2018’s “W ciele nie.”
I had a chat with Lasota (vocals/guitar) about clean singing, genre fusion and the lifestyle of a musician today.
Welcome to MHF magazine.
You infused traditional black metal with musical influences that pay tribute to the ancient Baltic tribes of the historical Warmia region of northern Poland, and created something entirely new and original. Do you think that this is what sets you apart from all the other metal bands today?
Hi and thanks for that statement. In a way, yes. I think we have our own sound and vibe that is blocking us form fitting one specific genre. We originate from balck metal, that’s for sure. But we don’t end up there. We have this pagan aesthetics that can dominate the listener’s perception. Even if he hears blackened guitar riffing for the majority of time, these ethnic elements will make powerful entrances. In my opinion finding a good balance between these two worlds is the most challenging and rewarding at the same time. So the proportions are the key. We try to make a genre of our own. For us.
In other words, is it necessary for a band to have a unique element to be successful or being a good and passionate musician could be enough?
Good question. I think the first option is true. Having passion is one thing but having a story to tell is an entirely different situation. People perceive the emotions and authenticity above all else. This is our first catalyst. Is the voice I’m hearing telling something he means or just shouting the words that fit the music. You cannot fake your artistic message. Especially in metal music. So in my opinion if you have a passion to play the instrument then sure, do it. But don’t expect people to pick up interest on your music if you don’t have something unique to serve them. Even then it is extremely hard to get the attention.
What was your goal when you first started out? Where you driven by fame, success, passion or maybe the whole metal musician lifestyle image that we all have in mind?
I wanted to put out my music recorded live. That was the very first notion. The inner need. Everything else came after that including assembling the band, making the preparations for the records and so on. The musician lifestyle is not that pleasing as people might think it is. It needs a ton of sacrifices and takes not only your focus and energy if you’re serious about it. Other people are involved as well. The chase after your goals takes a years of investment, devotion and in a way insecurity. That’s the reality. I don’t know any young band that had this lifestyle you mentioned and achieved something meaningful. And also private life is always at risk when you’re traveling that much.
Let’s talk about that lifestyle stereotype that is still lingering I people’s minds… How far from the truth is the whole ‘sex drugs and rock n roll’ kind of thing? What is the real life of a musician like in 2021?
In 2021 nobody really knows as there are no shows. We are at mercy of the current events related to that shit in the air. So in case of year 2021 everything is still upside down. I fee that the distance between the bands within the scene has deepened. And between the audience and the bands after that. And it makes sense. The problems that people used to have has been just multiplied on so many levels. In many cases sustaining the band is a struggle. I guess nothing will be the same after we’re through it. That means that the distance between people will not decrease. I think that lifestyle you mentioned is long gone. All the big bands seem to be settled and maybe that killed that RNR stereotype as well. Seems to me that people in bands are much more focused on playing itself than on everything else. And it is better that way cause if you’re walking on stage to impress anybody than you’re in the wrong place to begin with. On the other hand it’s getting hard to find someone to have a shot with after the show.
You record all your music in culturally significant remote locations throughout Poland, and “bal Lada” continues that practice, as the 11 tracks of ominous and atmospheric pagan black metal contained within were recorded in a makeshift studio set up in an old 19th-century manor in Northern Poland, where you recorded while playing together as a live unit with no sound editing. That sounds truly extraordinary and we want to know all about the creative process and your day-to-day life there. Please share all the juice details!
Well to tell the whole story I’d need a tone of words. So I will extract the essence of it. We’re recording all our music live. That means that we record the songs by playing together. This was the way to go since the beginning of the recording era. To capture an extraordinary performance of music. With the technology shift the process evolved to so called separate recording. That is when every instrument is being recorded separately in a separate sessions. Musicians can not even meet during the whole process. After the last instrument the record is being put together by the engineers and producers. So the actual performance was made after the recording process. We feel that recording live is so much more musical and unpredictable. Especially in that kind of music that spreads its wings fully on the concerts. And for that reason I decided that we should record our albums as it were a live performances. That was my vision and the rest of the band was open to the idea. At the same time I didn’t want to put us in the regular studio. Mainly because this music is connected with the wilderness, natural spirituality and contemplation. Also it is balck metal so the dirtier the better. And thus I came to the conclusion that we should cut ourselves off somewhere in the vastlands in order to serve this music its justice. So we’ve found the right place(s), rented the necessary equipment to set the studio up and shut ourselves at the lcation(s) for a week or two. Great thing about it it that you can really immerse in this isolation and focus fully on the music. It is challenging and might be inconvenient but the end result is sooo satisfying. Imagine living one week in the ruined manor that doesn’t even have running water… But it was all worth it. Recording vocals in the forest is much quicker and it is like a meditation and contemplation process. Very much out of this world.
You represent the voice of disquiet, passion and agitation. Who is your ideal target audience?
People who crave to hear the passion in music. Who perceive it as a whole. Who are stuck between the genres. Everyone who listens to black metal but feels that there could be something more to it. That’s our audience in my understanding. People who listen to the music not only by ears but also with their heart.
You have many spirits yet to summon. What does the future hold for Varmia? Any specific plans?
We are releasing our 3rd album “bal Lada” on March 12th via M-Theory audio. That’s the most important thing at the moment. Then we have a rescheduled Scandinavian part of the Heathen Heroes tour on which we support Arkona and Tyr. It’s starting on September this year. Obviously no one knows if this will happen or not. Time will tell. Other than that we are always doing something behind the curtain. Usually conjuring the sounds to unveil something new.
Until we meet again,
Until. Thanks! Lasota
Place of Origin: Poland
Album Title: bal Lada
Album Release Date: March 12, 2021
Record Label: M-Theory Audio
Genre: Black Metal
For Fans Of: Enslaved, Satyricon, Wolves In The Throne Room, Wardruna