Thanks to Aftermath of ADFM NW for conducting this interview.
Interview with AfterMath of American Dark Fucking Metal NW
Interview with WENDE!Major thanks and respect go out to Zamiel of Wende for joining me for this interview. Zamiel is a talented one man band out of Okanogan, Wa., who not only creates all of the material, but also plays all instruments for Wende. Judging from his replies to some of my questions, it was obvious to me that this guy is very intelligent, thought provoking, and has a real grasp on his musical style. His material (in my opinion of course) is rough and raw; but with ambient undertones which are the perfect foundation for his haunting, almost tortured vokill style, all of which are arranged in a fashion to compliment each other instead of competing for all of your attention; unlike so many metal bands these days where they seem to be attempting to out-play/out-blast/and out-solo each other recklessly to the point that their 'music' is so muddy and distorted that it comes out as pure shit. Zamiel, on the other hand, has arranged his material in such a way that nothing is drowned out, and the various mixes and fusion of different styles is a welcome surprise, as it seems to "blend together" in a way that just sounds right. Well, enough of my lecture.. Its time to check out his words, and listen to his music. Interview done by AfterMath (ADFM) and Zamiel of Wende..Also.. check out his page for any thing new from Wende.
Please introduce your members and what instruments they play?
When concerning Wende, my name is Zamiel, and I imagine, write, play and record all material pertaining to Wende.
When and how did you get together to form Wende?
I began writing and recording music in the autumnal season of 2006, because, honestly, though I enjoyed the so-called ‘black metal’ genre immensely, I was not too pleased with most of the music, especially recently. I started my musical project in an attempt to make the sounds I wanted to listen to, which I felt I just was not getting much of anywhere else, if at all. Wende really began in the winter of 2007/2008 when I wrote the beginning section to ‘Sorrowful Journey of the Ages’. I might add that though I control all aspects of the project, that wasn’t necessarily an aesthetic choice, at least not at first. It simply grew from necessity being that I’m from a very rural area and I didn’t know anyone who was into ‘black metal’ at the time.
How did you choose your name?
Well, the name Zamiel is simply a character from Weber’s opera Der Freischütz, the plot of which is based off an old German legend. In the opera Zamiel is portrayed as a demonic huntsman representative of the devil. Zamiel is the German spelling of Samael, or ‘venom of god’ in Hebrew, who acts as the Angel of Death. I thought the libretto and the etymology of the word were interesting. As for Wende, really, I took the word from the German translation of Burzum’s ‘Snu Mikrokosmos Tegn’, or ‘Turn the Sign of the Microcosm’, or Wende Im Zeichen Des Mikrokosmos. In German, Wende means to turn or change, to make a u-turn, so to speak. In English, it’s an archaic spelling of the verb ‘wend’ meaning to proceed, go or direct your way. Wende is also a given name to an amalgam of ancient pagan cultures that once populated what is now northern Germany along the shores of the Baltic. Mostly though, I would say the main meaning of the name is ‘to turn’ or ‘change’.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?
You wouldn’t like it, it’s not meant for you. Or I might describe some of the characteristics of the music, which I answer in its own section below.
What was the first metal album you remember hearing, and how it affected you?
My dad’s old tapes; Sabbath, Zeppelin, Floyd, AC/DC, Beatles, etc. Some of which could be classified as ‘metal’ and some that decidedly could not. Honestly though, I listened to more classical music than anything else when I was younger. I went through a slew of bands in high school which I imagine much of my demographic listened to, and that’s not a compliment. I would listen to most bands just long enough to decide that I didn’t like what they were offering, leastways not most of it, and move on. I remember overhearing a guy playing a cd of what he called ‘black metal’ at a skatepark and immediately latching onto the fact that the music was ear-piercingly heavy, yet had the sensibility of a rousing classical composition. I quickly bought up a Dimmu Borgir/Old Man’s Child split and Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane, based purely on the cover artwork. I guess I’m affected by the sheer heaviness of the metal genre, and the compelling kinetic energy that is contained therein. There is NOTHING more awesome than a good, well-written riff.
What would you say some of the key defining characteristics of your music are?
Hopefully, that fact that it is at least intended to be MORE than music. Whatever you breath into that is fine, but my new demo/album will not be called Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft/Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future for nothing… Of course the title comes from the sub-heading of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, but the philosophy outlined is certainly not a reiteration of Nietzsche’s own philosophy (though perhaps that wouldn’t be an entirely bad thing, especially for modern society). I’m certainly influenced by the writing of a few philosophers, Nietzsche included, but the lyrics are my own thoughts and expressions enunciated through an artistic medium with the (albeit) lofty goal of changing the way people actually THINK. Though at the same time, I think it much more important that I write good music before anything else. If I wanted to be a writer, I’d just have become a writer.
I think the music itself could be described as morose, plodding and minimalistic, highly polyphonic (I like to have both guitars playing completely different musical passages, except when doubling would provide emphasis, usually on a particularly tasty riff), and modal harmonies instead of tonal. The latter two things will probably only interest people with a background in musical theory. I also enjoy dissonance and motivic writing in my guitar parts, and on the forthcoming demo I’m experimenting with leitmotivs, or leading motives, which are recurring musical figures used to identify recurring themes or ideas. Think of the recurring three-note dirge on Pink Floyd’s Wall album.
Overall, I hope the experience of listening is one of escapism and fantasy… sadness and rage sure, but also with an empowering under-theme. I should also say that my chosen genre of playing is really best listened to alone; preferably in an environment that allows the listener to easily allow their mind to wander, perhaps wonder. It is personal music.
What are some of your influences.. musically or non-musical?
Musically, I’m an avid listener of music, in every genre that has merit. There are a few ‘genres’ of music that I would not even consider music, and more that I wouldn’t consider good music. But I listen to genres like (old) black metal, neo-folk, martial/industrial, techno/trance, contrapuntal Baroque works, avant-garde modern art-music, folk-metal, alternative rock, classic rock and even some jazz. Basically, if it has merit, I’ll listen to it. Lately, I’ve been listening to lots of ‘funeral doom’ and ‘depressive’ stuff, and also a healthy smattering of ‘neo-folk/martial’ and ‘classical’ music too.
Completely outside of purely musical influence, but still pertaining to Wende, I can say I’m very interested in fantasy, history, mythology, philology, literature, philosophy, escapism, geology/geography, art in other mediums… all of these probably influence Wende on different levels, but there it is.
What themes do your lyrics explore?
I think my underlying messages should be readily apparent, though the veil of applicability and personal reaction to my lyrics should in some sense remain intact. What I mean is that though I certainly have ideas and themes I wish to bring across, it is a function of good art when it can be enjoyed at different levels of nuance, meaning and response.
Literally, Wende is a turn from the present course. It is the long, winding, overgrown path. It is a weapon.
Ultimately, Wende is designed to influence the people of Western Civilization, and Europe in particular, to grow out of their metaphysical infancy (or precisely, return to an earlier metaphysics) and cast away the shackles of Abrahamic religion and all the debilitating effects of this paradigm of thinking. Wende is also designed to encourage the denizens of these areas to embrace a more ancient, simpler and profound interpretation of nature and the world around, though of course without the baggage of deities or higher justification. I do not see the ‘desert triumvirate’ as religions alone, but rather as a destructive and, sadly, all too pervading anti-culture. Equally depressing and dangerous are ideas like ‘urbanism’, ‘modernism’, ‘consumerism’ and ‘pseudo-equality’, which are contributing to the destruction of the planet and ourselves.
I do have an overall ‘map’ of what my lyrics are and where they’re going. There will only ever be four Wende albums, yet perhaps a fifth, though it will have completely no relevancy to the arc of my concept. The first album, by it’s nature, is primarily woeful and cheerless, as it describes what went wrong with ourselves culturally and what is currently wrong with the status quo – the modern and foreseeable world. The second album will be more dynamic and powerful, and also much more intricate, as it describes what we might possibly have to do to change course, and return the ship from the brink, so to speak. The third album will mostly be frenetic and violent as it describes the actual process of reforming and recreating a healthy relationship with ourselves and our environment, and casting away our current situation. And the fourth album will be primarily peaceful and calming as it describes the more enlightened and serene state of affairs upon arrival. This is all purely conceptual and I don’t for a minute think I’ll have an effect on much of anything, but this is the message of Wende all the same. I’m not a signed artist, though I hope perhaps I might be sometime. All the same, I’ll continue writing and recording all four of these albums, even if it’s their doom to reside in obscurity.
What motivates or drives you to create your style of metal?
Well, originally ‘black metal’, or at least the style of ‘black metal’ that I might be classified as, was meant to be a revolt. It was a knee jerk reaction to the uniformity and sub-standard artistic quality of so-called ‘death metal’. But it, lyrically especially, evolved to encompass a revolt on a much more nuanced and perhaps metaphysical level. Anti-religious, anti-government, anti-trend, anti-modern… these things appeal to me, simple as that. Also, the music itself (can be) fucking fantastic, and that’s as good an inspiration as any for ‘chiming-in’, I suppose. Wende is my escape.
Tell us about your recorded releases so far?
This answer is best described in other sections, but I can share a little about the process of making the first album. Really, I’m not too satisfied with it, and I hope to re-record it sometime. But there are things I like about it. I didn’t change the strings on my guitar the whole time I was recording which is saying something, as I recorded the guitar parts over the course of about 10 months, off and on. They refused to break and I really saw no reason to replace them. This is interesting only because I recorded the songs linearly basically as they appear on the album, so you can actually hear the deterioration and decay of the strings from beginning to end. I recorded the vocals onto a tape-recorder at an undisclosed location in Colville National Forest in north-central Washington. The next album is almost done conceptually; all the songs are completed and almost all the lyrics are written. There are a few jokes thrown out to those interested in classical music and philosophy in the lyrics and song-titles. It will be recorded soon.
Do you use a home or pro studio to record?
I’d like to try recording in a professional studio sometime, but so far recording has basically been limited to wherever I happen to be living.
Do you bring in an outside producer or handle that yourself?
I handle everything for now, though this probably won’t change too much, ever.
Explain your writing process.. Is it a group effort or is there a designated writer within the band?
I write everything. I’m not musically opposed to working with other artists, but conceptually, Wende will always be me alone.
Most people will never know what it feels like to be on stage in front of a crowd, explain to them that feeling?
It’s certainly interesting. (For those that don’t know, I play bass and contribute conceptually with NW black metal band Skinwalker). I’ve had some really valuable and educating experiences traveling, and it provides a necessary catharsis for me as I navigate university. A huge benefit is getting to see different bands perform live, though most bands don’t really impress me, there have been a few whom I quite enjoy. It’s very rewarding to play through your ideas for people and see their reactions, and it’s nice to be able to cause some hearing loss too. I’ll add here that I’m not opposed to playing live as Wende someday. I’ll need to find the right musicians and the show will have to have the right audience and atmosphere, but it could be done.
What are your long term goals regarding music?
I’d like to have my message with Wende heard and understood. I’d like to see Skinwalker achieve some degree of notoriety and success (those guys have earned it), and basically I’m going to continue with music in some form or other until I expire. Music is actually what I’m studying at university…
Where do you stand on the issue of file sharing?
I think the so-called ‘artists’ who are usually in fits over this issue themselves make terrible music and are dissatisfied with it, so they feel they need to milk everything else out of their project that they can, e.g. notoriety, image, and most of all, money. I personally am just fine with it, as I never set out with Wende intending to make money. In all honesty, I think the moment Wende starts to become a ‘source of income’ to me is the moment it would die, because the impetus would be to retain its position of financial significance, perhaps to the detriment of the music. If someone should feel the need to express their gratitude to an artist with money, that’s their decision and it’s not the place of the artist to refuse. I can’t imagine my view on this is particularly endearing to any prospective record labels out there, but there it is. Obviously though, if one truly supports an artist, they should respect the wishes of said artist. If the artist is against what technically amounts to people stealing their art, then don’t steal their art. Let it be known though that I personally have no problem with people acquiring my art in such manner. I think a bigger failure would be if people didn’t take anything from my music/message to themselves, or have any sort of reaction to my music/message. But I suppose that would be more a failure on my part…
What is next on the horizon for Wende?
What would you want to say about yourself and / or music that you feel has been misunderstood, unsaid, or misinterpreted?
I don’t suppose I’m on enough people’s ‘radar’ for this to concern me very much, though it wouldn’t if I were anyway. Perhaps this interview will be misunderstood?
Anything at all you want to talk about that hasn't been covered here or anywhere else?
Plant a tree.
How can fans contact you to buy CDs / Merch and / or just get ahold of you guys?
I can really only be found online through worthless ‘social-networking’ sites. It’s really very sad. A website is currently under construction though. I can be found at any Skinwalker show throughout the Pacific Northwest, and I usually have demos on me. Anyway I’m contacted, if you want an album, I’m basically giving them away for now. I would only ever think about selling them if it was worth it for someone to buy them, i.e. getting more from the total package than just the music. I’d really prefer the album only get to people who are really into this kind of music and message and aren’t just some sort of pointless ‘collector’, but I’ll readily disperse the albums to anyone who asks. I don’t have any merchandise to speak of, other than the albums, but possibly that will change too. It’s very likely Skinwalker will have merch before I do, but maybe not.
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