Date: 06 December 2018
Interview by: Beandog
During a visit to the UK for one night only as part of their European tour, Furia‘s multi-talented, vocalist/guitarist, Nihil sat down with The Independent Voice to talk about his recent activities, his thoughts about music and the band’s plans for the future.
It’s a few minutes after soundcheck and Nihil is looking relaxed while we take up a spot in a quiet area of a North London pub, just across the road from the venue of tonight’s gig.
The momentum of Furia’s current tour is well underway and while I set the recorder up, the vocalist/guitarist describes how since leaving last night’s show in Paris and taking the Eurostar from Calais, he has actually spent today in Rochester – location of childhood holidays – visiting the castle and reconnecting with some fond memories. He even shares a photograph of himself as a young boy on a family outing and reminisces on trips he made with his parents in previous years to Sevenoaks and Cornwall.
Fittingly, for someone whose band creates music that has been described as morose and mournful, Nihil says he identifies with the grey climate of the UK. He seems genuinely comfortable experiencing the country’s bleak weather and acknowledges its appeal as being “unique” to England.
With introductions aside, The Independent Voice asked Nihil to elaborate on how things are going for him and the band at present…
Nihil: Actually, it’s pretty good. I’m very tired because it’s our seventh show on the tour… We’re all really, really tired but of the gigs we’ve played, we’ve enjoyed every one! We’re really happy to be here.
The IV: Are you playing in new venues on this tour or visiting clubs you’ve played in before?
Nihil: As a band this is our first time in the UK and yesterday we were in Paris for the first time, playing on a boat – it was an unbelievable place… and there was also Lille and Nante (in France), we hadn’t played there. So, a lot of it is new for us.
The IV: And what about the rest of the year? Can you give us a summary on how 2018 has been for Furia?
Nihil: Yeah. It was a really tough year. We were playing a lot. We did two European tours. Two months ago we were in Russia and we were also recently playing in a production at the National Theatre in Krakow.
The IV: And that was Wesele? Where Furia played the part of a wedding band?
Nihil: Yes. And after that I made the soundtrack for a new production by the same director (Jan Klata). But that was for a different theatre, in Gdańsk . That took me two months, I think it was July and August. It was really hard because we also have to do our own things.
The IV: You mean you have day jobs – you’re balancing this against work, and families, etc?
Nihil: Yes… but somehow, we did it. Now I think I just need a holiday. Apart from, that I feel really happy.
The IV: It sounds like it’s been a year of hard work, but with some significant achievements. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that compared to other successful bands, there isn’t much documented about you online. It’s actually quite hard to find updated information. Is that an intentional thing?
Nihil: That’s a hard one. It is intentional, but it’s not like we are trying to create some mystical atmosphere. It’s just that we don’t use Facebook personally; we don’t fit social media. We are like wild people from the forest! So, that’s why we don’t really care about the internet. I’ve heard that we should do social media, because we are losing some opportunities to make something of it, but for me it’s not like that… It has some pluses. Some people are getting more interested when you are not so much on the internet.
The IV: I agree. It made me realise how much we take for granted; that whatever we want to know about is available at the click of a button, and not having that actually creates some intrigue. I think it gives a band like yours a bit of exclusivity.
Nihil: Yeah, but we are not doing this to be exclusive. It’s just….us.
The IV: And the shows are full, so the word is obviously getting out there. How do you think people get to hear about you?
Nihil: I think this is on our booking agent. This is his work and I’m really thankful to have him around. He has a lot of contacts.
The IV: And it frees you up to focus on the creative side of things?
The IV: And in terms of being creative, I’m interested to know where your ideas come from. Where did your musical journey start? Can you recall your first musical memory? Not necessarily heavy music, but the moment where it all clicked for you.
Nihil: I’m not sure but I think it was ’96 or ’97 when I heard some of Samael’s albums. Then it started. They were the band that opened my mind to that kind of music.
The IV: And were you already playing guitar at this point?
Nihil: No. Everything followed on from there. That was the starting point.
The IV: And more recently, Furia describe themselves as Nekrofolk. Can you tell me a bit more about that. Is it purely a musical thing or does it incorporate other elements? Literature? Lifestyle?
Nihil: I think it is part of the whole picture of the band. To be honest, I don’t actually like this term, but it fits best. For me, when people say we are playing just “music”, that’s the best way to describe us. You can’t give me a better compliment that to say I am just playing “music”, but we live in such times that we have to describe things and put them in “boxes”. So, our drummer was in an interview and someone asked him what we are playing and he said, “Ah, it’s Nekrofolk!” We started to use that term but it’s not like we are close to that description.
The IV: What about black metal music and the black metal Scene?
When I first heard of Furia, you were recommended as band that I REALLY should check out and you were described to me as a black metal band. Yet, when I listen to the music I can hear so many other influences. Is the term one that you connect with? Do you feel Furia IS a black metal band or does the term limit peoples understanding of what you do?
Nihil: We are just playing “music”. I love all the black metal albums I grew up with but I’m not really sure if black metal exists any more. I’m not feeling like we are part of the black metal Scene. I like it, but we are trying to open our minds and just play “music”.
The IV: You want complete freedom to go wherever the music takes you?
Nihil: Yes! And actually, a lot of our lyrics are about freedom. Freedom, as in having an open mind.
The IV: One thing I read about you is that you described the band as being “anti-unique”.
Nihil: I don’t remember that! Haha!
The IV: You said all heavy music was essentially based on the same ideas and rather than trying do something new with Furia, you were simply looking for a “21st century costume for an old vessel.” A new way of presenting established themes?
Nihil: Ah, yes! I remember now.
The IV: The thing is, I don’t disagree with you and it got me thinking. I wanted to ask you – if heavy music is essentially a repetition of the same ideas, what makes a piece of music stand out? What makes a “classic” album?
Nihil: I don’t know. I just feel it, I think. You cant just take an aspect of a band and see if they are true or original or not… it is just like, you see the band, you hear it and you know it.
The IV: And it’s completely subjective. Right? Two people can hear the same thing and one of them loves it and the other doesn’t.
Nihil: Yes. I think that’s all there is to it.
The IV: Do you experience that when you’re writing? Do you instinctively or consciously know when you’ve come up with something special?
Nihil: The way we create our music is really strange. It’s almost like…. it comes from the trees, or whatever. I don’t make music in the way where I play the riff and ask myself if it’s good or not good. It just comes to me. It comes to us. I am thinking about it in mystical categories. I’m not sure if I should talk about it because it sounds weird.
The IV: I don’t think it’s weird. It sounds like you’re referring back to the idea of freedom and describing how you have to get out of the way of the ideas. Just allow them to flow, don’t think about them or try to make them fit.
Nihil: Yes. Exactly.
The IV: You mentioned writing soundtrack music for a theatre piece. Does your writing style differ for that?
Nihil: Yes, I have been involved in two theatrical pieces. When we did Wesele, it was easy because the director used Furia’s songs, so we weren’t creating anything new. We just gave him what he wanted.
But, in the summer I did the soundtrack for a piece of Greek theatre (Oedipus) and that was a hard one because I had to create it from zero. I was taking part in actors’ rehearsals. I had to listen to them, listen to what they were saying and then create my own music, which was in my kind of style but in this ancient big theatre. So, I had to think about how to do it in my way, but also how to do it in an “Oedipus” way. I had to think about writing something and create music that Oedipus would like if he heard it!
Another hard thing is that I had to teach one of the actresses to play it. The music is all played live; not by me or by a musician… but by the actress. I had to spend a lot of time on that and we only had two months. She wasn’t a musician. She couldn’t play guitar before! We were working for 12 to 16 hours a day for two months
The IV: That’s quite an undertaking! You’re a musician and a teacher.
Nihil: Exactly! I really need a holiday! [chuckles]
The IV: Would you do it again?
Nihil: Yes! Definitely. I learned a lot. For me, it was an unbelievable experience because this theatrical “scene”; this world is something new for me. After fifteen to twenty years of playing music and then spending some time in the theatre, it opened my mind. Actually, I think what I learned at the theatre will be useful for future recordings. I learned to listen to music, but in a theatrical way. By that, I mean “visually”.
The IV: I think the music you do write is full of atmosphere already. In many ways it’s like the soundtrack to either a theatrical piece or a film that hasn’t been made.
Nihil: Yeah! I that’s why I’m really happy to have done this [the theatre]. What we are doing [in Furia] is trying to create worlds, and that is how I think about music: visually. Listening to music has to be about entering another world. So having done the theatrical thing has really helped with that.
The IV: Let’s talk about touring. What does touring mean to you? Do you enjoy it? Is it as satisfying as the creative side?
Nihil: Well, just from the rock and roll side of life, it’s a bit like a holiday for us. We get to go outside of Poland, just play and do this whole thing. It’s not like the creative side of what we do. Live shows for me are like a bit like agriculture! Like farming; there’s a period where you cut the crops and clear the fields and then another period where you plant the fruit. Touring is like planting the seeds. Starting from scratch.
The IV: Like the beginning of the cycle?
The IV: You’ve done some great shows too. You’ve headlined in Poland. There’s been Roadburn too. Have there been any particular highlights around the world?
Nihil: The Open’er festival in Poland was a good one. We were the first metal band to play there, among acts like Bruno Mars and other pop stars. It was strange, but people watched us and enjoyed it. They were satisfied.
The IV: Is that typical of a Polish music crowd? Are people generally open minded and accepting of other styles?
Nihil: In general, no. There are groups (cliques) but with Furia it is different. There are metalheads enjoying our shows but I also see regular, “normal” people. So, yes and no. There are groups, but with Furia it is mixed. It comes back to the earlier question. It’s about “music”. I see that they are listening to “music”, not a metal band.
The IV: What about the future? What is next for Furia?
Nihil: We are starting to think about new recordings. We want to stop playing live for a while and create new stuff. We are working on a new album and several mini-albums. It’s only in my head for now, but after the new year we would like to start to play it. We may do one or two shows, but not too much. It’s too hard to do both. We’ve not had time to do new stuff because we’ve been busy playing. So we have to stop playing live to do new stuff.
The IV: Thanks Nihil. That’s all the questions I have. Is there anything else you want to say to our readers?
Nihil: All I have to say is… I like England! Haha! But, this is on the web, right? So it’s not just English people reading this? Ah! I like everybody… but I will say you should come to the U.K. and see Rochester Castle!
The IV: Haha! We’ll end on that. Thank you very much!