Witcher Interview

I take the road leading to the forest in the twilight. The fog descends, everything becomes increasingly invisible as we enter the nature. It feels like fear starts overwhelming me. Cold feels perhaps even colder, the wind blows even stronger – and then comes Witcher, as if a carpet rolls down before us. The path begins to rise, the twilight starts to become more shimmering and beautiful. I feel like now I am at a place, where I don’t always manage to get to. The melodies by Witcher pull me, drag me – sometimes I cry, sometimes I shake and sometimes I gasp, but Witcher helps us. Each and every moment of this music presents that cursed beauty and witchy romanticism that so many have come to love – and it’s an extremely good thread: something that we like to cling to. Many have caught that thread over the years. I think you are better known abroad than here, at home. Am I right? What would you call the strength of Witcher?

First, I would like to thank you for this non-ordinary introduction. It is always a pleasure to us to touch someone’s soul with our music, because on one hand we also play music in order to manifest our built-up feelings inside.

Are we more famous abroad? I think WitcheR was always an outsider in Hungary. We have been playing music over 12 years and we strictly stick to our principles and to our music style, meanwhile 90% of the scene changed around us. Even in the black metal genre we play special music, so still many people do not understand here what is our goal with this. Luckily, we have loyal fans – more and more – even in Hungary, but you are right, on abroad – mainly in Germany and in the northern countries – for some reason we have more followers, if we look at the numbers of orders.

What is WitcheR’s strength? On one hand, our stubbornness not to follow any trend, we do not want to be another Mgla or Batushka copy, because that is the actual trend, we always followed our principles without any hesitations. On the other hand, Karola’s classical music past and my orthodox black metal roots came together in our music, which is not typical or ordinary, because our created atmosphere goes hand in hand with accommodating melodies.

I myself do like this particular style within black metal. I would also add that nowadays this kind of tardy, rather epic, mystical, mysterious, soul-hacking music is hot and loved by many. Obviously, it takes a lot of talent and taste to create such songs. How does it feel when a song receives its final form? Do you feel that meaningful power while listening to it?

We have very strict rules when it comes to create music. It all starts with the melodies. If a melody is not strong enough, we do not have that special WitcheR feeling about it, then we simply put it aside. A simply melody goes through many changes until we finish a song; meanwhile this is a big journey to us. When it is all done, even the last vocal piece falls into place, that is a real cathartic feeling. When even we listen to it with pleasure, sure others can enjoy it, as well. This is so simple.

Nowadays many people behave in a rather self-destructive manner. Do you think it will ever change? Do you think people who are thought to be destructive because of their “horrible and unholy music” – the listeners of this particular kind of music – think differently and try to live in a positive and more meaningful way? Is it possible to influence people’s thinking through music?

Destruction is there in the very human nature against themselves and against nature, which comes from this modern world, product of the filthy value system. If I look at the majority, I do not think there will be any changes, but I do not really care about them. Everybody has to find those small communities, where not destruction, but construction is the goal. That can be living in harmony with nature or denying the ideas of the modern world.

As music influenced my thoughts – together with many writers, thinkers or philosophers – , I think we can affect people’s thinking with music. Those, at least, who are not blinded by this crazy theatre what is happening nowadays in the world.

Does someone think other way, who listens to such music? Definitely. However, I do not see that all of them try living differently or try breaking out of hedonism. As I am getting older, I see/feel more and more that we do not really need a common taste in music for that, but it is a fact that people into metal are more responsive, since they already rejected the common taste, trends, which is the first step towards the right path.

Witcher is a two-piece band that has been operating since 2010. Karola brings up most of the topics. First a demo was released, which was followed by another, an Ep, 2 splits, 2 full-length albums and another EP in 2021. I think this is a fairly rich discography – especially if we consider the quality of the material! Did Witcher become a surprise? Could you ever imagine that so many people would understand and like your music?

The biggest surprise was the ’A gyertyák csonkig égnek’ album. We felt first time that something changed, we had at that time incredible amount of orders, support, interviews and previews, which we did not except for. I never forget the release day, when the album went live on Bandcamp and the orders came from abroad as there would be no tomorrow. That gave us a pig push for the continuation. Before I never thought that so many people could have interest in our music and it seems like that we step forward again with the new album.

…and now comes the release of the new album called “Lélekharang” in October. I think it hardly needs any introduction, as it is already so popular among the lovers of underground music that one cannot even ask for more – thanks to the previously published video clip! Nevertheless, please tell us about this magnificent piece of art – many people might be curious about it!

Many did not believe me, but this music video was made on our own, every stuff, equipment and knowledge connected to this was gathered and learned to use in the last couple of months. We said ‘it is, what it is’, but luckily the result is satisfying, the picture turned out exactly how I imagined, so depressive, so dark and mystical. I did not want a big fuss or a huge story, only give a little atmosphere to the song, with a way-searching witch in the main role and a hint of folklore. By the way, it is a secret, but there is a second music video, which is darker and scarier, basically the sequel of ‘Lélekharang’, but the premier will be later on…

I’ve already checked the photos for the album’s audio and merch stuff. I think everything is so tastefully and stylishly presented that one immediately wants to go to find a Witcher streaming option to listen to the music. Do you meticulously plan the photography and all the design details? Do you usually put a lot of thoughts into it? Am I right that you know exactly, how to impress more and more people by finding a particularly good design that a current Witcher release requires?

You are right and I am glad that we managed to generate that feeling; we got many positive feedbacks upon this. Basically yes, at this album we had a lot of thoughts about how we could make a common image what sticks in your mind, we spent a lot of money on clothes, accessories and we made great efforts to appear on social media sites with more and more ambitious photos. We are not big fans of these platforms, but without gigs we can reach people only like this, we have to accept that and bending so much that it is still acceptable in our strict value system. For example, we do not post about our private life; we do not want to reach people with unacceptable streams or posts, which are not connected to us at all. This is not the way for us.

Your video “Witcher – Lélekharang (Official Music Video)” reached 10 000 streams in one day. That’s awesome! Maybe I don’t follow each and every band, but this is certainly close to a record for this genre in Hungary: it’s a very high number even compared to foreign bands. What do you think about it? Are these very high numbers as “indicators” or feedbacks really so important and necessary for musicians in this genre?

Yes, the music video had an incredible pace, at this moment has over 45K views and we are really proud of the fact that these are not paid views, as – unfortunately – we can see it at more and more bands nowadays. I do not know it is a big number or not, but we are satisfied with it, we did not expect for such a big interest. Basically, we were happy about every positive reaction, that so many people liked the result, but the most important thing was that we reached a huge amount of people.

If we look at all the stuff coming with the “Lélekharang” release (CD, cassette (only in 100 copies), Limited Edition (in 40 copies), T-shirt (with two different designs)), I think that any fan can feel satisfied to the maximum. Obviously, those who miss the limited edition won’t be satisfied, but limitations are necessary for the desired impact. Again, I can just praise you for being so discerning about these perfect gems that are so appropriate in their quality and quantity. How do you evaluate the necessary formats and quantities? Have you done preliminary surveys?

As we manage the production all of our merchandise, apart from the vinyl, it gives us a lot of stress in every case, but I am a maximalist, I only release the best stuff possible. At this time we also reached unseen territories, as keychains, lanyards, even square-shaped pins in the style of the 80’s were made, what was really important to me, but hopefully at around the album release time our first wool caps will be also available.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to guess the demands, because we concentrate not only on the Hungarian scene. For example, in Germany with every release, we sell three times more T-shirts then here, and these are huge numbers, great expenses, so there is always a certain amount of uncertainty in us. On the other hand, we never managed to produce too many shirts; luckily, every shirt has its buyer, so far.

We make preliminary survey or pre-order only when a more expensive stuff arrives, for example, last time all of our hoodies had their buyers before production.

I suppose you are happy with the pre-order numbers. The release will be on the 8th of October. How does such a day feel like – how different does it feel compared to any other days?

More than satisfied. We already have three times more pre-order than at the previous album, the limited editions literally were gone in a second, so I could not be more satisfied.

The release day is 8th October, but the big rush is expected when Black Metal Promotion will present the album. On the day of the release, normally I am already exhausted, because by that day I am over packing dozens of albums and T-shirts, so that day is very tiring and so are the previous and following couple of days. Many times I just wonder then, that apart from our die-hard fans, how many new places get our CDs or T-shirts to. Every package is kind of euphoric, a small treat, so at the end it does not matter how tiring it is, it gives me pleasure.

Your other video clip turned out to be a huge explosion and surprise, too: we could get to know a cover of Moonlight Sonata (Ludwig van Beethoven) by Witcher. I said to myself: oh my God! This must be a hit for you! Why was it necessary? Why did you want to cover it? What is it about Beethoven’s great piece of art that moved you?

I would not call that a music video, that is just another snip from the album and Grafit & Hamu created such a genial and atmospheric graphic to that, it puts the song even on another level, giving an extra feeling to it. By the way, Balázs put an incredible amount of work in the graphic outlook of our album, for that we cannot be thankful enough. Thanks to him again.

Karola is responsible for classical music, so the idea came from her. Of course, I was also familiar with this piece of music, but as I remember, she was the one who said it would be perfect for our style. We tried and she was right, the result was much better, then what we previously had in mind, it sounded like an outro made for directly for this album. Apart from its atmosphere, we saw a huge challenge in it with Karola, and as we pushed our limits in every case, we could not pick a better song then this.

Lyrics also play an important role in black metal albums. On what basis, in which way, and how differently compared to the previous releases was “Lélekharang” developed?

It was not different at all. What is important to us, I only start writing the lyrics, when at least the synths and guitars recordings are done, so we have the final structure of a song. If it is done, in couple of months I finish the lyrics and for that I really have to dive deep in me. I think on the new album I was hugely successful with that, we kept distance from the usual black metal clichés, which is very important to us.

Since you are involved in several bands, I would like to ask you, whether you really need so many bands at the same time to fulfil all your desires and ideas, so that nothing important goes to waste? Why are they so important and how do they differ from each other?

You see it right, I need these three bands in order to get rid of my creative energies, to release completely my dark self.

Basically, the only band what is completely mine, is Vrag. I realize most of my guitar themes and personal ideas here, this is the band where I can create without any boundaries and I can fully express myself, where nobody tells me anything. This is music straight from my heart, there is no brainstorming or overthinking.

If a harmony is too melodic or does not fit to Vrag, then we use it in WitcheR, but Karola brings most of the themes there, usually I just complete or colour them. There is a lot of brainstorming, producer work, the songwriting and the playing is more conscious, the goal is not to be spontaneous, but to create a concrete up-lifting atmosphere.

Moreover, there is Frozen Wreath, where I have nothing to do with the music, I just bring the lyrics and the vocal parts, I play part making the concept. Musically that is Szele Zoltán’s project, who, by the way, helps a lot to Filosofem Records and also to my other bands, mainly with English translations and creative control, but he also stands by me as a friend. Hence, I have more thoughts then what I can write out in Vrag and WitcheR, I can clean out my deepest parts of my soul here.

Given that you play a lot of music, you must have a lot of plans. What can we know about it? How much time do you need to move on from a particular creation after the expected success, and create again?

These are very difficult questions. I often use this term: pure man is that, who not even dare to dream. If I only consider the bands, I have many plans for the future. For example, I can already see where to and in which direction we can go with the next WitcheR album – which we have started writing already – , but at the time being I do not want to talk about it. We live in an uncertain world and I do not want to make a promise I cannot keep. What is for sure, the next project will be the second Frozen Wreath album, which is almost done and entitled ‘Mea Culpa’. Then comes the next Vrag album, where the musical parts are already complete.

According to your last question, I create continuously, so there is no moving forward from one project to another, the works just keep being completed. I must always do something, boredom leads me to awful things, so I try to get as little sleep as possible and keep working continuously.

What can we know about you? How do you live compared to ordinary people? What are the most visited places for you? What are the most important aspects of your life?

We are ordinary people, just like anybody else, but having thoughts on our own and we like to make use of our creative side. Compared to ordinary people, we obviously live completely differently – I especially, since I work from home, I do not meet other people very often. We are outsiders compared to today’s average expectations, but this is natural for us, we would not have it any other way.

The most visited place? Definitely the mountains around our residence, rich in beech and pine forests. We love being in nature. The most important aspects in life? It would be too many to list.

May the glorious rising sun always be with you! Come up with a new creation for the next bright Sun! Thank you for your answers!

We thank you for the good wishes, the continuous support and the interesting questions; it was a pleasure to answer them.

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