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The Ruin As an Ornament: The Waldgeflüster Interview

.:.The Ruin As an Ornament.:.

An Interview with Winterherz of Waldgeflüster

by: Chris Viator


Back in two-thousand-and-six Waldgeflüster was initially a solo venture founded by Winterherz, after several solo releases and limited edition cassettes such ‘Stimmen im  Wind’ on Irminsul Records , the debut release ‘Herbstklagen’ , the concept album ‘Femundsmarka – Eine Reise in Drei Kapiteln, and ‘Meine Fesseln’.

As of August two-thousand-and-fourteen Waldgeflüster is no longer a solo-project, but a full band. The full line-up includes: Arvagr, Domi, Markus, Thomas, and  Winterherz. All questions were written in reference to the band as a singular entity, and not any one individual.



Heathen Harvest:  Since transitioning from a solo project to full band ensemble in 2014, has this affected the creative process any? Is there more collaboration? Less freedom? Do you feel the music has improved overall?

Winterherz: I don’t think that the creative process has changed that much. I still collect riffs, put them together in my studio and add a drum computer. We work on each of those demos until the respective song steps out of the surrounding fog and finds a final shape. The only difference is that now four additional people can contribute their ideas and have an opinion about the songs. Of course there is more collaboration due to that, as beforehand there was basically none. However, I still feel I have the freedom to try anything I want to try, only that there are five filters for bad ideas or choices instead of one. In my opinion that improved the music.

Heathen Harvest: Much of Waldgeflüster’s focus has been on nature and similar themes. Do you find these themes expanding to include other ideas? Or do you believe Waldgefluster works best as a project solely focused on nature and man’s relationship to it?

Winterherz: What most people do not realize is that in my lyrics nature is mainly used as a metaphor and a setting for the real topic I am writing about.

Heathen Harvest:  What are they [the lyrics] about?

Winterherz: Waldgeflüster’s lyrics are mostly about my inner demons or about issues I face at the moment, all embedded in a nature setting, as this creates the mood I want the songs to be in best. For example I constantly use the metaphor of the whispering or singing woods, which just stands for those areas of my inner self that are hidden and which cannot be explored that easily. Not many of my songs are about man’s relationship to nature. They exist, but mainly I sing about very personal topics.

Heathen Harvest: What were some of the main inspirations for Ruinen? How did Ruinen come to be?

Winterherz: Of course there are a lot of records that gave inspiration to Ruinen. Also some books I read. But the songs are not really connected in a sense of a conceptual work.

Heathen Harvest: When did work on the record begin?

Winterherz: We started writing the first song even before we released Meine Fesseln and worked on Ruinen since then. It takes us a lot of time to write new material as we always come back to it and try to make it perfect. The songs are not connected in any way, so it is hard to name you a major inspiration for the album.

Heathen Harvest: Are there particular themes or concepts specific to Ruinen that you would like to elaborate on?

Winterherz: After all the lyrics were finished, I realized that the ruin was a recurring image I used. Also, the sense of something past that was left behind or that you try to leave behind but is still luring in the landscape of your newer self, was a combining element to the songs.

So the ruin is a very important metaphor on this record. After the title was decided, I searched for a quote about a ruin that we could use for the introduction. Friedrich Nietzsche just perfectly summarized the feeling of this album with “The ruin as an ornament”. It is the perfect introduction for this record as it is about leaving something of yourself behind.

Heathen Harvest: Given that Ruinen is your fourth studio record in 7 years, do you feel that the scope of the music has changed much? Have you found your sound or approach to song writing maturing or changing?

Winterherz: Yes, I think the scope changed a lot. When I started Waldgeflüster the music was kind of “rough” and not everything was written out perfectly. For example, there are tempo changes on Herbstklagen that I would never do like this again. But this was a natural learning process.

Heathen Harvest: How has that natural learning process influenced the changes in sound?

Winterherz: I learned more and more how to approach song writing, how to achieve the mood that I want to create. Also my taste in music changed a lot since the beginnings. This of course, has an effect on the song writing as well. But most important is probably that the new band members had a big effect on the song writing for Ruinen, they brought in riffs and ideas that I would not have thought of. So I guess our approach to song writing was maturing over the last years. We work more and more on details and on whole songs rather than putting together some riffs, as it was sometimes in the beginning.

Heathen Harvest:  How do you personally feel about how Ruinen came out? Are there any things you could change?

Winterherz: There will always be some details you want to change after the record comes out.

Heathen Harvest: Any details in particular?

Winterherz: Some snare or bass drum hits are not loud enough, or sometimes the vocals do not sit in the mix perfectly, and so on. But mainly these are all just minor sound issues. As for the songs itself: Up to now I would not change anything. Let’s see if I’ll change my opinion in the coming years.

Heathen Harvest: After Ruinen, what do you see in Waldgefluster’s future? Where is the band headed artistically?

Winterherz: To be honest: We don’t know yet. I was thinking that I want the next record to be a bit harsher, but then again I also love quiet and soft music. And you’ll never know what record I find tomorrow that will have effect on our music again. The only thing I know: Again, there will be no artistic boundaries for us. Whatever we like to try, we will try. And if it works it will become part of the Waldgeflüster sound.

Heathen Harvest: Anything new you are trying now that may become part of that sound?

Winterherz: Currently I am thinking about getting myself a kantele, as I love the sound of this instrument. Who knows, maybe the next record will have some kantele parts?

Heathen Harvest: You get a lot of comparisons to Saor, Panopticon, etc. do you think these are fair?

Winterherz: I sometimes get the comparison to Panopticon, at least depending on the song. But to be honest I think that we have found our own sound and even if there are some connecting elements, both are independent musical entities.

I never understood the comparison to Saor, though. As much as I love the music, I was never able to identify what we should have in common. But some writer also compared us to Suidakra which I don’t get at all. Don’t get me wrong both bands have some great records but I don’t get what we should have in common with them. But who am I to judge this.

Heathen Harvest: Are there any particular countries or cities you would be excited to tour? If you could tour anywhere, where would it be?

Winterherz: I guess an US tour would be a dream for us. But before we dream about this I guess we should focus on touring Europe for the first time. After we accomplished that we’ll work on the next dreams.

Heathen Harvest: Are there any other words, comments, thoughts or otherwise about Ruinen, Waldgefluster as a project, or things you would like to say to your fans?

Winterherz: Just thank you for your support. This record means a lot to us and we are glad that some people really can connect with it.