In the history of Heathen Harvest we have always had a focus on supporting small labels as well as new emerging artists who we feel should gain wider recognition for their craft and output, so it is with this thought in mind that an interview was conducted with Atay İlgün. Wounded Wolf is a private press producing music, art objects and pressings of very collectable value, all limited, handmade and personally dedicated. The art varies from musical recordings to poetry chapbooks to photograph prints. Generally concentrating on folkloric, textural and natural source without belonging to any genre or movement.
HH. When did the label take shape?
AI. I think in the material world, the label took on its most mature and present form just a few weeks ago. Before that what Wounded Wolf means to me is quite old and goes back to the summer of 2009 when I made Wounded Wolf’s first release Ashberry – Resin. But the editions were almost sold-out and we got a few reviews, after I moved to England there was a long break. Later on I was influenced to to do more as my partner and I made some music together.
HH. Did you have a vision of what you wanted?
AI: I had a few things in my mind which led me to do this. Firstly I think that if a listener of mine is not near me and if I can’t play live or the sonically captured thing is available in a sub-par recording, everything becomes lost in translation. The music mustn’t be damaged during that process. To avoid that break in the signal chain I found the solution to make a box that music could inhabit, as if it is its home and to make that box’s presentation quite gesture like. I mean I think I’m originally a musician who found himself running this press after a small ideological experiment or a problem. (Ashberry – Resin)
On the later stages, which was around 6 months ago, I think I can say that I embraced the idea of being on the vanguard of some kind of forgotten value system and having another creative side and it led me here. When I look around I see a lot people needing technological stimulation which are rather shallow and easily available and I believe technological easinesses in the future will bring the loss of a feeling that leads us into an in-depth study or an attempt to decode what is deep and truly meaningful, will take us into a horrible future where art will be almost like a historical study. I would like to think that Wounded Wolf is somehow trying to keep things sacred and special in an ancient manner.
HH. What are your thoughts on monetized streaming media such as Spotify?
AI: I think that it’s awful and this is caused by our nature as human beings. As we all know if the access to something becomes easier it also gets less valuable. With things such as Spotify and illegal downloading I think the sanctity of what is available and the thrill of searching-finding is getting lost. Playing only a track rather than an album makes listeners more impatient and less able to communicate with music, which is quite insubstantial anyway.
HH. Wounded Wolf Press pays attention to detail; from the music to the graphics, is this a family affair?
AI: I believe I can say that I do come from quite an artistic family that have been extremely supportive to me all the way. And as a matter of fact, nowadays, I’m working on a chap-book which will include my mum’s poetry and short stories. But currently it is being run my me and my partner Gozde Omay.
Thanks, yes I do believe we can say that, we pay attention to every detail and it probably is caused by my sometimes dangerous perfectionism. Besides, considering the fact that we value the material and the ideas contained within probably more than anything else, I believe it is crucial to be careful about every detail. For example, we tend to use recyclable or recycled material to make our albums and try to deliver things which are more aethereal in our music and our packages. For example a few months ago I was quite obsessed with making a phial of essential oils and various other natural ephemera to capture the essence of wet soil and rain- brewed odours to accompany The Hogweed And The Aderyn EP. I think I felt that particular smell carried within it a breeze which was crucial to comprehend the music entirely.
We also love handmade material, I love these two quotes;
“There is a spiritual quality in the hand-made thing that is lacking to the machine made, however good may be the design, for the man who makes with his hands the thing which he has himself planned, weaving into it his dreams and the many sacrifices for the sake of his art, giving to it of his best, cannot help loving it by the time he has finished it ; and the well-loved thing, warmed and worn by human hands, becomes ensouled with a life of its own”
- Dion Fortune
“Something individual goes into every object made by man; his thought and skill create it. It may be less noticeable to-day when so much is produced in great factories, but the idea is still there”
- T. C. Lethbridge
HH. Should music be free?
AI: In it’s most pure and away from humane codes form my answer would be ‘Yes, music should be free as it always has been’ as in ancient times of minstrels as they had the highest statue in society and were supported by everyone. But in today’s world it has a lot of aspects rather than a Yes/No question and even if that is a bit of a utopia, I think a good artist should be able to afford his/her living by art only even today.
More down to earth and from a listeners perspective; I think, if someone can’t afford the amount of music which is desired to be studied I think it can be free, such as books in libraries. In this case I believe one must be very careful about sensing how cryptic the artwork is and must spend time with it before dwelling into records like a kid in a candy store. I think what made me select the more valuable music and made me develop upon that, was the limited amount of music that I could choose to listen to when I was a kid.
Also I believe that the artwork must be controlled by the artist – I can’t imagine a true musician who doesn’t have an idea what kind of artwork would accompany their album- if the control of the artist’s product is in the control of someone else and if the artist is malcontent about that, then the artist needs to do what is necessary to gain control over ones work. Besides that I’m sure that everyone will compromise on the fact that music is free anyway. To reach the ideal, we just have to bring the internet to a point where the artist is the only one who is in charge of his/her art and this can be done only when the artists themselves present their downloads to the public. By doing that, the quality of the files can be controlled too, but I guess that is an entirely other issue.
Lastly I want to add that I believe most of the artists feel rather happy as long as they are being heard one way or another, illegally downloaded or paid. That is the greatest gift that can be given to an artist. At least to me.
HH. Who is responsible for the design and graphics?
We don’t consider ourselves as any sort of designers or think we do ‘design’ things because it feels like it separates sound and vision and is a totally unnecessary term. I personally like to think that it’s two halves making a whole as I’ve stated above and to me it feels like ‘Design’ is another humane term which was invented in 19th century just like the term ‘Art’ was invented after the Renaissance while both were there all the way intuitionally, sometimes together, but most of the time apart. I also lose control in the line where the design ends and the art begins and decide upon that by looking at the purpose of doing. With Wounded Wolf having these debates so long, I would like to think that ‘Art Object’ is the best definition as it removes the commercial aura surrounding the word ‘design’.
Credit wise, after the 2nd and 3rd releases it has been me and my partner Gozde Omay ’till now. I have to say that she was the main influential driving force behind most of the releases except Aokigahara. Also, In the past I’ve used many photographic and design contributions, to name a few Alper Yıldırım was the one who did the majority on Treefingers Op. I and Marc Hasselbalch did some photography on various releases of mine from other labels. But as we have progressed it seems like things are branching out more, for example Alper Yıldırım is contributing and producing under Wounded Wolf more and more. As a matter of fact he did a marvelous introductory video for Aokigahara -The Black Sea Of Trees- which is an ambient/noise album we made together about a woodland in Japan which is quite fascinating with its association with Japanese Daemons and suicidal stories.
HH. When looking for new artists/musicians for Wounded Wolf, what are some of the considerations, is there a particular sound you like?
AI: Well actually we are not ‘looking’ for artists because this thing was started as a private-press which I intended as a vehicle for my music exclusively and maybe a few from my friends. Also as time passes by I’ve made some friends -mostly over the internet- and decided to make a few editions for them. But the truth is that this thing is really time consuming and doesn’t have a guarantee of financial comeback. So I think we can say that I usually try to avoid promises and but on the other hand if I have time and the influence to work on Wounded Wolf rather than my own musical exercises I think I can say that I tend to fall for devotion and dedication rather than a superb piece of music.
About my tastes; I like almost anything, that my tastes can be a little spooky time to time. But on Wounded Wolf I think some sort of aura has been created where there are particular ideologies and emotions are fronted. To me, it feels like it investigates nature as a medium of spiritual awakening.
And we actually are planning to have some photography and poetry publications as well in the future.
HH. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a label?
AI: I believe it depends on what ones aims are and what is on offer. Personally speaking, since I was a kid I have always liked treasures and to collect, and study things. I believe what I do is an extent of what I was, and I am still evolving, so people who do like my offerings are similar at some point. Usually the recipients tend to write me back after they receive the package how much they enjoyed unearthing it and listening to it as a ritualistic experience. That is an extent of me and my desired flow that is created. Another thing is that it almost feels like people who do support what we are trying to do are not buying or purchasing the publications, there needs to be some sort of support as gifts are exchanged if you ask me.
So what I would suggest for anyone who is considering to start a label would be to treat it as it is an art form but beyond that make art from it truly. To craft it and adorn it with love, to stand strong behind your ideas and most importantly to use the technology wisely, don’t let it take control.
For more information and audio:
Interview conducted by: Paddy