Hail! This is my first interview ever. I’ve only been listening to your project for a few days and I’ve already a lot of questions to know a little more about Marţolea. As I like Folk Black Metal and bands from Eastern Europe I was very careful to your music.
Can you present your project to us? How did you have the idea to create Marţolea? What does this name mean?
Marţolea is a one-man project being a personal way of expressing music and art related to the area I grew up in (Bucovina, Northern Carpathians). The name represents a Demonic entity in Romanian mythology that lives up in the mountains and descends on Tuesday nights to lure with his singing and punish the women caught working. The whole musical concept is a journey through the mythological world of Romanian dark folklore. There are lots of folk tales around in Bucovina and Northern Carpathians, which are a vast source of inspiration. I think it was the right moment for this project along with this kind of approach towards folklore.
Your first and only demo was released in January 2009. How were the recording sessions? Were you the only member to produce it or did you have some help from other people?
People address it as a demo, but for me is more than that. It is a conceptual mini-album that presents a glimpse of this fascinating world of Romanian dark folklore. Second of all, I did not want to release a demo out looking for labels. My goals are art related, not commercial related. It was self released, self produced, and I am very happy with the result. I am the only one responsible for all the music, arrangement, composition and performance. The recording sessions were carried out in my improvised studio as well as in the natural surroundings of my home area, for the acoustic instruments. I have my own land in the wild, and I often use to go there to practice, or for recording in the most suited environment for Marţolea: close to the forest. Not all went smooth though, as I had a few problems with the rain (it always rains over there) and problems with wild birds trying to sabotage my recordings. My good friend Schaerban made the cover art for the project and he also helped me with the production and the open space recording sessions.
What are the lyrics talking about?
The lyrics are charms for different malefic entities, like Samca or Muma Pădurii. They are taken from the Romanian folklore and deal with protection rituals against these malefic forces or how to escape such encounters. They are strongly connected with the Dark Romanian Folklore. It would be almost impossible to translate the lyrics or their meaning.
Your demo is completely available on your website and MySpace. What is your goal by doing this: reach a wider number of listeners and therefore progress; make yourself known in the world of extreme metal; only the joy to share your music with others or is it another reason?
I think that music should be free, especially with today’s technological achievements and I strongly support music sharing. If you like it, then buy it! You should always know what you’re paying for. And support the artist by going to the concerts or buying their stuff! Marţolea does not have any commercial connotation though, no concerts or anything like that. There are cds out there just because there are a lot of people who prefer to have them. I don’t get any money from the wholesale process, therefore I couldn’t care less if people would buy it or not. Well, of course, the more audience, the valuable the feedback.
Your demo has only been released for two months so it’s probably too early, but did you have some feedbacks, positive or negative?
I have received very good feedback and they all ask for more material, hehe! That aside, criticism is always welcomed, so I would not mind at all receiving negative feedback. And of course, everything is highly subjective, so there is no right or wrong in the end.
I regret the use of a drum machine on the demo, it spoils the folk and rustic side of your music. Do you plan to hire a drummer in the future? In a more general tone, do you wish to collaborate with other people or do you prefer to stay alone in command?
I had no choice with the drums. First of all, I tried to play the drums myself, it didn’t work out. Second of all, I don’t know any drummer in my home area. So I chose the drum machine, with the simplest and crappiest sound possible. Regarding other people, I’d like to stay alone, as a general rule of thumb, but anything can happen in the future. If you can recommend me a good drummer on the same wavelength as mine, I’m all ears.
It seems that the use of traditional instruments is the base of your project and a will to make the culture of your country known in the world. Can you present these instruments to us?
Buciumul(trâmbița) is a wooden horn, 3 meters long, made from spruce, covered in birch tree bark, still used by shepherds in the Rarău Mountains for signaling. Its presence nowadays includes Northern Romania as a musical instrument in traditional manifestations. The buciums used on this album were recorded in the natural surroundings of Moara Dracului.
Cavalul(kaval) is a wooden pipe with tonalities in the low register, present in the life of shepherds throughout all Carpathians and Balkans. Its sound is warm, melancholic and pleasant. The cavals used in the recordings are made of cherry tree.
Fluierul(pipe) is a wooden instrument with tonalities in the middle and high register, present in the life of shepherds for sheep soothing and entertainment. Often with six holes, the shepherd's pipe is a common pastoral image. The pipes used on this recording are made of elder tree.
Drâmba (mouth harp) is a lamellophone instrument present in many cultures and thought to be one of the oldest instruments in the world. Its presence in the Romanian traditional music is nowadays rare, but still used in isolated villages.
I can see that you only use Romanian language in your music. I imagine that it is to keep the authenticity of the emotions? Yet, do you plan to use other languages in the future?
I have never thought of using another language in the project other than Romanian. I use English for making it known to external audience, sure, but that’s it. Authentic language, instruments and dark emotions. That is what Marţolea is all about. And of course, a big pile of riffs and drumblasts to go in the blend and make it more evil.
By the way, are you part of an orchestra or another popular musical entity besides of Marţolea? How long have you been playing to these instruments? More generally, how long have you been having this love-of-your-country and cultural flame? What was the starting point?
I am not part of any orchestra and never had been. I travel a lot, so that makes it hard to collaborate with traditional ensembles, being far from my home area most of the times.
Ever since I was a child, the bucium ensembles made a huge impression on me, so it was naturally to want to try it someday. I always felt attracted to its mysterious and powerful sound. And I grew up surrounded by lots of folk tales and fascinating stories, as well as breathtaking landscapes, spruce and fir forests and dark cliffs. They always had a strong influence over me. I started playing the wind instruments some years ago, and I learned everything by myself. Of course I’ve bought a lot of crappy pipes back in the day. But eventually I started to know the instruments and know what to look for in a pipe. There are of course a lot of skilled people who I highly admire that master these instruments with grace. I am far from that, to be honest. I have found good instrument makers and I am very proud of it. It is quite hard to find good wood traditional instruments or people that put passion into making them. It so hard to find them, that most people quit in the early stages.
Does Romanian youth like enough folk music to see it integrated in other musical styles such as Black Metal, or Harsh Noise, etc?
As I see it, nowadays, there are not a lot of young Romanian people listening to any of the traditional music or metal. I think it’s better to see it as the other way around. Metal listeners like the idea of the folk instruments integrated into the music. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a commercial trend, and many bands fell for it. It’s cool nowadays to be folk metal and pagan/Viking metal. Just adding tunes with exotic instruments for the trend, doesn’t make good music, doesn’t make art. You have to use an instrument because its presence is necessary and the music is demanding it, not because the fans ask for it or other bands use it and they look cool.
What are your favorite bands? What kind of music do you listen to as a rule?
There are not so many bands I listen to; generally Norwegian black metal, mostly from the 90’s along with Viking metal bands and some other interesting Finnish acts. I also listen to traditional Romanian music quite often, old recordings or various skilled performers.
What do you think of the Romanian scene? Can you tell us some Romanian bands that could be of some interest to us?
Well, I am not that proud of the Romanian scene in general. Except Negură Bunget, I cannot name you anything out of the ordinary.
Usual question: what do you think of the French scene? What bands do you like?
To be honest, I haven’t followed the French scene lately. But there are some good acts. I’ve spent some time in France and been to a few concerts and I can say that there are quite a few people into metal! I really do think they have a lot of potential. Some interesting acts that I could mention Peste Noire, Celestia, Mortifera, Svart Crown, or Artefact. Unfortunately, French lyrics are always a problem for the non-English speakers, so good music with French lyrics does not reach that far.
I’ll be honest with you: I’ve discovered your project by looking at the line up of Negură Bunget. You took part in the “Om” album. How did you end up collaborating with this great Romanian band? How were the recording sessions?
I’ve met Negură Bunget a few times before that, and they liked my interest in the traditional instruments. They wanted to experiment with authentic Romanian musical instruments on the OM album, and the pipe managed to create a unique and special uplifting, solar atmosphere on Hora Soarelui. It was a very nice experience for me, as I learned a lot from them, both in musical terms as in ways of thinking. The collaboration has been not only for the recording sessions, but also in terms of some live appearances, which were ones of the best I’ve seen. Awesome people, and definitely the best I’ve ever worked with regarding music.
Does Negură Bunget want to collaborate again with you in the future?
I do not know, but I am quite far away from Romania nowadays, and distance is always a problem.
I’m really looking forward your next productions. Do you have any ideas or compositions in mind already? What sort of evolution would you wish to bring to your project?
I haven’t started the work on the upcoming material due to the fact that I am very far from home these days, continuing my studies in Denmark. I have no specific plans of evolution of any sort, because there’s a lot more to explore in what I’ve started. I can tell you for sure that the future is dark...
Do you have other musical projects in mind?
Not at the moment. I am still waiting for the day when I’ll get all my instruments in the same place. But other than that, there are no plans for the future. I don’t make any plans regarding such things. They just happen.
Thanks a lot for this interview! If you’d like to add something else, the last words are for you.
Thank you very much for this interview and for your support! This is actually my first interview as well, and I sure hope not my last. Just in case we meet one day, the first beer is on me! I sure hope to come to see again the Cote d’Azur and to drink many Belzebuth beers! Best regards and keep the France scene rocking!