Over the past few months I've been communicating with Bran, the mainbrain of up-and-coming Ukraine avant-black metal project Hexenmeister. These were questions I had about the band, as up till my review, I'd never heard of the project. Bran was gracious enough to provide answers to my questions. (By the way I'm sorry for not posting the last few days.)
Ian: Could you introduce yourself and how Hexenmeister came to be?
Bran: Well, I was born and alive yet.
For years I played in different metal bands and mostly it was Black Metal.
Nevertheless personal ambitions and my vision of music demanded expression in other ways, so Hexenmeister was born. By the way, in the early years the sound was VERY raw, angry and misanthropic.
Name was taken from the book called "Hexen und Hexenmeister" and still I don't really understand why this name was chosen. I only remember that influence of "Autumn Leaves" - Ved Buens Ende's song - was involved. Well you know, about "autumn witches standing barefoot in the sea"...
"Hexenmeister" in mine opinion and context means "Master of witches" in romantic, surrealistic and symbolistic way.
Ian: What led you to work by yourself instead of in a band?
Bran: First of all - it's a lack of musicians who can understand such kind of music.
In our area most of them or too "modern" or too "orthodox" (not in christian meaning, he-he). Most of them are playing hardcore-metalcore, or playing oldschool trash-heavy metal... There is a little percent of True Black metalists, but they're also don't support my vision.
Also I know and "hear" how each instrument will sound when I write music, hear arrangements...
And it's quite difficult to explain it to other musicians that it's the way it should be.
Ian: In 2008 you released a demo that was later re-recorded for a split with Bergrizen. How would you say your sound has evolved from that demo to now?
Bran: Things are changin'.
By the way it wasn't re-recorded but re-mixed and re-mastered. In this demo I tried to express depressive mood at the time and the sound was raw 'cause I had no time and financial resources. Now I can spend more time for arrangements and record.
Ian: How did the split with Bergrizen come about?
Bran: In general, release of this split is a strange thing.
About three years ago I met a Man accidentally, who played some kind of depressive black metal ambient.
I don't know how in EU, but it's quite difficult to meet a musician in such kind of music style here.
Later we found out that we have the same views on many things.
There were many problems with communication because we live really far from each other, and nearly two years passed until split was finally released. On the initiative of Murdraal from Bergrizen only 13 copies was released on CD but I persuaded him to upload the split in the web.
Ian: You contributed the track Autumn Leaves, a cover of Ved Buens Ende, to the "Old Crown, New Spawn" tribute compilation. How did that come about and why did you decide to include that cover on the album?
Bran: Just like that. I've sent a request, accidentally finding information 'bout the tribute album, and after receiving of preliminary confirmation I recorded two songs.
It was a bit presumptuous I think. Most bands from this tribute have quite known members, have an albums... But Hexenmeister was selected and I'm glad, 'cause Ved Buens Ende is one of the bands that influenced my musical tastes.
Unfortunately this wonderful project was not released on CD, remained as internet release and didn't get a decent distro in my opinion. That's why I decided to include this song on the album. It's rather bonus track than real part of it.
Ian: Your sound has been put into the "depressive black metal" and "post-black metal" categories by other music reviewers and websites dispite being much more adventurous, how do you feel about those tags and the bands in those genres?
Bran: It's OK. I like DSBM and Post BM bands.
Hexenmeister grows and changing and so it will be. There were melancholy, some unexpected things, rock and post-rock influence... I don't want to limit my music and I will not. And I claim that Hexenmeister is a Black Metal band, critics will finish the description.
Ian: Some people have said that your screaming is reminiscent of Neige from Alcest and Amesoeurs due to the emotion felt through your voice. Are you a fan and what do you think of him and that comparison?
Bran: Earlier I really was inspired by Amesoeurs, Alcest's "Le Secret" and Neige's vocals in general. His nowadays work does not make such impression to me like the old ones, nevertheless I can't deny his influence on my music. Also I was influenced by the vocal works of early "...In The Woods" and "Bethlehem". Some people compare it with Count Grishnackh's vocals...
All of comparison - it's flattering.
Ian: What kind of feedback have you received about the album up to this point?
Bran: Most of all it's positive and encouraging.
I've recieved some negative feedback as for sound (I really don't get it why) and 'bout the Ved Buens Ende's cover (I think that those people are impenetrable fans of VBE and don't understand that every song can be redone by many ways.)
Ian: In the track Melancholia Attonita it sounds like there is a saxophone used, is that really what it was or was it some other instrument? What made you decide to use that sort of a "wind instrument" sound in that song?
Bran: Actually in Melancholia Attonita it was a trumpet. This sound was in my head when I wrote it and this is the reason why the trumpet appeared in this song. In second album there will be wind section as well and some other interesting instruments. I adore "unexpect" instruments and sounds, so they will be.
Ian: The track In Moments of Tranquillity I heard some faint bells or clean guitar lines being played, which to me shows a lot of attention to detail in your music? How long would you say you have worked on the songs for this album and have you always liked using textures in your music?
Bran: Yes, it was acoustic guitars. After demo recording I realised that I want something more completed. Very slow, without rush I made an arrangemens and lyrics, so in one and a half years this album was recorded. Recording and mixing of the drums lasted about 6 months, and at the end I was forced to include some samples, 'cause unfortunately I'm a bad drummer...
Ian: Compared to the artists I've heard from your area, your debut record is very well recorded and has a much higher production sound. How do you view production, both on your own music and on other artists?
Bran: Thanx, I tried hard. Maybe 90% of bands from "post Soviet Union" sounds like shit and I don't understand why.There's a lot of great studios, sound engeneeres, bands... but it sounds horrible when they're combine. Possibly most of them don't realize what they want and in the dispute not a truth but problem is born.
Also I know that the sound of forthcoming album will be as I want it to be.
Ian: Seeing as your album was released back in July, are you already working on new material?
Bran: Yes, and I already looking forward. Material is done and I'm working on arrangements and lyrics. Now I can say that it will be a bit more Black metal, Rock and Avantgarde than first album. Possibly great session drummer will help me to record all drum parts.
Maybe before an album there will be a split.
Ian: Do you have any plans to turn Hexenmeister into a full band? Do you have any plans to play live with this band?
Bran: Nowadays - no.
There's a lack of musicians, as I said and there's no listeners. I'll record albums, spread an art and when I'll see that someone needs it live - there will be no problems with live members.
I know people who ready to play it live, I see no people who need to listen it live.
Ian: That's all the questions I have, thank you for the interview and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Any last words?
Bran: Thanx Ian.
Stay (or become) open minded, and think for yourself.
Black Metal it's not what it seems. It's much more.
I'd like to thank Bran for answering my questions and being so honest about his views and perspective of black metal. I'd love for more people to check out Hexenmeister, cause the debut album is really good. Check it out if you haven't already.