Interview: ARKONA
Title: Darkened shamanism

On their new album "Kob'" the popular Russian Pagan Folk Metallers challenge old and new fans not a little. After all, the dramaturgical density this time is so high that you first have to be able to cope with it - in addition, fulminant devouring atmospheres are cultivated, which are not infrequently downright intoxicating spiritual nature.

A remarkably mature and hungry performance, with which the 2002 founded penetrate further than ever before into their very own artistic self. I am talking to singer Masha Scream.

Congrats to the new and ninth album from an old fan soul, Arkona just never disappoints ... the new songs are awesome, deeply spiritual, often times summoning, even pretty shamanic, I am happy with them. How do you rate the new material in general?

„Thank you very much, I'm very glad to hear that! Well, probably, for any musician, the latest album is always the best, because it is the embodiment of fresh views and ideas. It would be foolish to say that I am not happy with anything, we all have put all our strength and soul into this album and we are very pleased with its implementation, the shape it has taken as a result.“

Do you feel something like a pagan Shaman in your soul?

„I don't think about it, I just do what I do. In the end, I am an ordinary mortal, but it seems to me that any creative person is a shaman to some extent, because through their creativity they contact with the living energy, which is not subject to scientific interpretation. Where the spiritual prevails over the material, there is a place that we call a temple, and we are shamanic servants through whom this energy finds its incarnation.“

Who of you guys out of the band did the lion's share of the new song material?

„I am the only songwriter in the band. All arranging parts from scratch to the very end were also developed by me. I write all the music and arrangements, from start to finish with the ‚Cakewalk Pro Audio‘ sequencer program, or I come up with guitar parts, then I shift the entire musical score to ‚Cakewalk‘, I bring the whole arrangement to perfection and give each part of every instrument to our guys to learn.“

How did your collaboration for the new work go in these rather difficult times?

„Everything was without any problems, because we all live and work in the same location and are always available for any collaboration, whether it can be rehearsals, concerts or recording an album. In 2020, we parted ways with our drummer Andrey Ishchenko due to a number of personal and creative differences, and it happened right at the moment while we were analyzing the drum parts for recording the new album, so we had to turn to a session drummer, who was Kevin Paradise, a famous French drummer; he coped with the whole task amazingly, and even brought some variety, which fit perfectly well into the concept of the songs. He turned out to be the only person not from our location, who worked with us at a distance, but even this did not prevent us from fulfilling all our plans and in the end we got an amazing job from him.“

How was the selection of songs for it done? Was it very difficult for you, regarding the atmospherical flow between the songs?

„I follow this scheme: not a single song written by me remains on the sidelines after it has been written, it will definitely become one of the constituent works of the future album. And this time it happened the same way: over the several years, song after song was simply born, and as a result, all these musical canvases lined up in a full-fledged album. The lyrical concept of the album was built only when the entire musical component was ready and I only had to distribute the tracks according to the numbering step by step, which track follows which. It wasn't difficult at all, because the concept of the album was developing gradually, more and more with each lyric written, and in the end it was completely defined after the lyrics for the last track of the album had been written.“

The new album offers a noticeably modified style, less extreme, less energetic, much more moderately and more assiduously kept, which, however, suits the songs very well - what was the original intention and how did it develop further?

„Before answering your question, I want to clarify some points in more detail. ‚Kob‘' is quite a challenging album, it is very unusual in terms of energy and on the personal level. All along the way of its creation I was haunted by very strange, but extremely interesting events, which, in fact, subsequently formed this album bit by bit. This applies to everything: the events of our time, or watching certain films, or studying some philosophical trends, or meeting certain interesting people who gave me specific kinds of information and thus making a huge contribution to the creation of this album. In general, from the very beginning of composing music, I had no idea what exactly the album would be in terms of concept, the chain was build up in stages, for all those 5 years something has been happening around me, and that all has been reflected in the final concept of ‚Kob’‘. The final comprehension came when I wrote the lyrics for the last track of the album, named ‚Razryvaya Plot' Ot Bezyskhodnosti Bytiya‘, after watching the trilogy of the famous Russian film-maker Konstantin Lopushansky. This track brought an absolute understanding of the concept and led to its logical conclusion.“

The new songs deal with the sheer everlasting plague of over mother earth, called "Society" - guess, one hast just to watch 'Global News" on brainwashing TV and understands the new album concept?

„"Plague" is people, or rather, modern society, which has been stuck in its development and which is inevitably approaching its own death. You don't have to watch TV to realize this.“

What is or are the song lyric(s) with the most meaning for you on the new album?

„For me there is no such choice, each lyrics are important in their own way, because they describe their own individual story and every one of them is a very important link that builds up the concept of the whole album.“

Modern days, more than ever brainwashed humanity, it could learn so much from the ancient pagans of prehistoric times, but it apparently much prefers to head once more toward the abyss, perhaps the greatest and deepest that is ever to engulf billions of lost souls. Where will the journey for the 'Homo Sapiens' go in your opinion in the next decade?

„Nowadays it is generally accepted that humans have reached the pinnacle of their intellectual development, but this is not the case at all, since the studies of anthropologists say quite the opposite. Thirty thousand years ago a human had a much larger brain size on average than it’s now, and the ability to develop thinking was much higher, since this was due to the survival criterion of both the strongest and the smartest. Now our thinking is based on the millennial experience of generations, and in the age of scientific and technological progress, almost everyone lives to puberty, and not every tenth as it used to be. On the other hand, what defines intelligence? An IQ number? I wonder how many hours a professor of Cambridge university with an IQ of 150 would have lived in those conditions. Humanity has rapidly degraded, turning from a rational and creative person into a consuming person. Man has no future, perhaps our descendants will be able to build it on the ruins, taking into account the mistakes of our days, but this is if humans can exist as a species after the global collapse, and we are now moving with great enthusiasm towards it.“

And, as global wars, 'crises' and such disasters seem to happen (controlled) cyclic, I see no hope at all - mankind will never learn. Or do they simply not allow it 'from above', i.e. from the system side, in order to keep them stupid and manipulable?

„The current social formation - capitalism used to be progressive and necessary at the stage of the late Middle Ages when the death of the feudal system was due to the need for the development of society. The peak of this development came in the middle of the 19th century, but the society did not want and could not develop further. For almost two hundred years we have been living in an outdated and degrading system, and all systemic crises are just consequences of this. All world wars were unleashed by the leading powers to solve their internal problems and, as you noticed, all this happens in cycles and predictably. Unfortunately, the “mighty of the world” are not interested in changing anything and I see no prospects. Any change in the structure of the world is associated with huge sacrifices and upheavals, but Progress has led us to the fact that we simply will not survive the next global upheaval.“

The majority of modern - 'smartphone-slave-people' are without any natural spirituality. Materiali$m ha$ replaced everything. How do you prefer to cultivate your own (natural) spirituality?

„Yes, the main god in the current reality is the Golden Calf. He has replaced other gods and all the current "spirituality" and "philanthropy" is nothing more than a lie and hypocrisy. All mankind is set only to consume and consume as much as possible, otherwise someone else will consume it. We, like ancient primates, walk along the coast of the ocean, leaving behind us mountains of waste and garbage, and for us this coast seems to be eternal, we don’t want to see the last cape beyond which there is nothing, after which we will have to go back to the devastated places. Unfortunately, I am a part of this society, but I am in a position where I can leave it at least for a while and live by my own rules. And to some extent I am a creator, I have my own creativity, in which I am absolutely free and this cannot be taken away from me.“

Nearly everything has changed since Covid etc. etc. - the world, the music business, the societies - how much have you changed, how much have your views on true art changed over the years til now?

„Real art is invariable, in any of its forms, images, interpretations, it will live forever and manifest itself only as it wishes at the current moment in time. Life is constantly changing, and our views, moods, goals and stages of the further life journey are also changing. Of course, my attitude to the world has also changed, and it is my views that I describe in the new album. They have changed, I want to say, not so globally, it’s just that over time you start to notice that the situation is getting more complicated, the world is becoming increasingly of black colour, and we and our creativity are changing alongside the world, these are quite reasonable and real things that are difficult not to notice. I really liked how Lopushansky once said in his interview: “All creations of art are a cast of the soul”. Actually, this is the reflection of the personality in everything what they see and feel.“

Anything you would like to add?

„Thanks for your excellent and interesting questions, follow our news, maybe we will see you very soon.“

© Markus Eck, 29.05.2023

[ to overview ]

All Copyrights for band-photos & -logos reserved by its Respective Owners.