Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Erntegang Interview

1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

After activity in underground music since the early 1990s I have formed Erntegang in 2007 as an experimental two-member music group, consisting of myself (S. Manteuffel) as the main man behind the band and M. Loerwig as additional female vocalist. In 2012 M. Loerwig left the band, so Erntegang is maintained as a solo project since then.

Since its foundation Erntegang has always been an entity serving to express my personal interests, desires, and visions exclusively, the focal point of Erntegang’s imagery and lyrics being – though not restricted to – spiritual/esoteric themes. These are topics of a transpersonal and persistent nature – rooted in the (often distant) past with significance for present-day and future. The intention of applying such subjects to the present (instead of nostalgic backward yearning) is crucial for the concept of Erntegang.

Musically, the style of Erntegang may roughly be considered as Industrial and Neo-Folk, although the musical style is not limited to sounds associated with such descriptions – other musical styles may be incorporated as well where deemed necessary or suitable.

In its musical career Erntegang has released following recordings so far:

"Die drei Aettir" (released in August 2008):
The single track "Die drei Aettir" is a runic invocation. This single was released in enhanced CD format: It contains also a video track for visualization of the three Aettir.

"Les danses macabres" (released in February 2009):
"Les danses macabres" is Erntegang's first full-length album. As the title indicates, the songs on this album represent a trip through the nightside of life.

"Der Waldgang" (released in August 2009)
"Der Waldgang" (i.e. retreat into the forest) is a mini-album (EP) that contains five different conceptions of the "Waldgang" theme. The tracks on this compilation are arranged in a ritualistic/contemplative style. In addition to the audio CD, a video DVD containing visual support for the meditations is included.

"Der Wanderer. Ein Kunstmärchen." (released in December 2009)
This spoken word album (or audio book) was released under the authors’ names M. Loerwig and S. Manteuffel instead of Erntegang. The recording presents a literary fairy tale, disguising esoteric lore. The tale is told in German language accompanied by background sounds.

"Der Wanderer" (released in December 2009)
"Der Wanderer" is a concept album about the spiritual journey towards the self. This album utilizes dark ambient music in order to create soundscapes representing the atmosphere of each stage.

"Words Of Love And Hate" (released in May 2011)
In contrast to previous Erntegang recordings, this album is focused on rather personal issues, thus invoking a more intimate atmosphere. "Words of Love and Hate" is an emotional rollercoaster ride.

"Raubzug" (released in August 2011)
The compilation "Raubzug" contains new versions of sampler contributions and collaborations, and previously unreleased tracks. A further aspect of the compilation’s title "Raubzug" (translated: raid): None of the texts/vocals presented on this album were written by Erntegang (they were mainly taken from literature sources such as the Edda, Wilhelm Schäfer, Ragnar Redbeard, Ernst Jünger, Savitri Devi).

"Zwielicht" (released in January 2012)
With "Zwielicht" Erntegang has returned to the roots of their debut album. The linkage between tradition and present-day is taken to a further extent (concerning both song selection and instrumentation). The musical style has expanded to a wider range, including folk songs, hymns, chamber music, invocations and shaman/tribal sounds.
"Zwielicht" is the last recording of the original two-member line-up with the female vocalist.

"Anthology: The Meager Years (2007 – 2014)" (released in November 2014)
In the 7th anniversary of Erntegang's musical career an anthology of selected songs from 2007 to 2014 was released. All songs have been re-recorded in a stripped-down and minimalistic manner by instrumentation of mainly guitar and voice, gently accompanied by some percussion.

"Hvel" (released in March 2015)
The mini album "Hvel" contains re-recordings of early Erntegang songs that have been released in their former arrangements on the debut album. With "Hvel", the first phase of Erntegang's existence finally closes.

All along the way, Erntegang has contributed songs to various compilations. These compilations are, in chronological order: "Military : Fetish : Muzak" (released  November 2007, by Heiliges Licht, Kaos ex Machina), "5th Anniversary - 5 Jahre SkullLine" (released  2010, by SkullLine), "The Seven Deadly Sins I: Ira" (released October 2010, compiled by Sven Phalanx and Neofolk Forum Franken), "The Seven Deadly Sins III: Superbia" (released  March 2011), "Ragnarök" (released  April 2014, by Radio Body Music), "Sturmreif II - The New Age Of Martial Industrial" (released  December 2014, by Castellum Stoufenburc).

Since the first seven-year cycle of Erntegang’s existence is closed, work on new material will not be done before 2016.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the newer material and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

Altogether the musical sound of Erntegang is characterized by being plain, simple, even minimalist, and the emphasis lies on atmosphere rather than technical skills. This vague evaluation is valid for all Erntegang recordings so far – although also generally correct would be the assertion that the sound in terms of both style/composition/arrangement and recording/production/mixing has continuously been improved, due to improved musical skills, deepened knowledge of music theory, and better equipment and recording facilities.

Further, in very general terms, the linkage between tradition and present-day, a certain balance between old and modern, is crucial for Erntegang. This has an immense impact on the overall musical sound of Erntegang releases – even if this principle is always interpreted anew with each release.

Going more into detail – the most obvious difference between newer and older Erntegang recordings is that until 2012 almost every song featured female vocals (mainly accompanied to my vocals, sometimes even solo female vocals) which is not the case any more. Apart from that, there is no apparent difference in principal traceable in the musical sound of newer and older Erntegang material.

As adumbrated in the previous answer, Erntegang releases are usually centered around a core theme, and the musical sound is created according to this. Thus, the sound slightly differs on each release:

"Die drei Aettir" (2008) which is a ritualistic invocation of the runes, features a sound that is rooted in shamanic and meditative tones, though carrying distinct "electronic"/"Industrial" traits due to the intention of manifesting the ancient lore in the present-day "modern" world.

"Les danses macabres" (2009) (which is a late-medieval allegory about the universality of death) comes up with a sound that is more inspired by "medieval folk music" (that kind of music which is usually performed at medieval markets/reenactment festivals which I enjoyed attending quite often that time).

The sound of "Der Waldgang" (2009) is characterized by a more tribal approach (drums, rattles, voices, flutes, humming etc.) which is mostly devoid of apparent "electronic" and "Industrial" traits.

The sound of "Der Wanderer" (2009) is very different from any other Erntegang release so far, because this album features ambient music (purely instrumental, completely without vocals). Large parts of this album may not be considered as music at all according to conventional listening habits, as it contains many of that which often referred to as soundscapes.

"Words Of Love And Hate" (2011) is made up of a sound that is not unusual for what is considered as Neo-Folk. The sound is determined by the use of traditional/acoustic instrumentation, temporarily attended by electronic sound devices, and mainly spoken vocals.

The sound of "Raubzug" (2011) is characterized by a greater variety between the songs, as this album is a collection of songs from different backgrounds (mainly single songs that where contributed to various compilations). The sound here is mainly influenced by electronic instrumentation/sound loops and spoken vocals, thus invoking a more "Industrial" feeling.

"Zwielicht" (2012) delivers a sound that is made up by traditional/acoustic instrumentation, often combined with or interfered by electronic sound devices, and mainly sung vocals.

The sound of the anthology "The Meager Years" (2014) – the first of the releases I would refer to as "newer material", and the first one without female vocals – owes its characteristics to the concept of this recording: The album consists of re-recordings of selected songs from all along the musical career of Erntegang. The new renditions of these songs are presented in a stripped-down style, the predominant instrumentation being the acoustic guitar. All songs had to conform to this homogeneous sound dictate; some of the songs have been modified quite a lot compared to their original versions, while others have remained basically the same. The sound of this album is subtly cold, sterile, inhuman, and creepy – the clear, sharp-cut and dry guitar in contrasting juxtaposition to foggy, blurred and multi-layered vocals. The "Industrial" tag that might be applied to this album does not so much hint at electronic musical instruments or noisy sound effects, rather, it relates to the mechanic and sterile atmosphere which was mainly created by the procedure that the guitar tracks were actually looped rather than conventionally played.

As a spin-off from this recording session, the material on "Hvel" (2015) has been created. In contrast to the previous release, the sound here is more multifaceted: The instrumentation is more variegated – traditional acoustic instruments complemented with electronic devices, and the composition features catchy, melodic parts, and noisy or ambient parts alike.

3. Some of your lyrics cover Germanic Paganism, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic?

The concept of Erntegang is to cover my personal interests, pursuit, perceptions, sentiments etc., according to my world-view. In Erntegang, there is indeed a focus on the esoteric, thus Erntegang’s lyrics often deal with topics inherent to my spirituality. 

Spirituality and religion have to be rooted in one’s blood to unfold to full potential, as Stephen McNallen (founder and leader of Asatru Folk Assembly) pointed out clearly in his tract "Metagenetics" (circa 1985). Thus, essential contents of my spirituality are derived from Germanic mystery tradition (Paganism). Though, I am not restricted to this solely, I may and do apply elements or systems from other traditions too, if need or desire to do so arises. But my experience has proven that the Western tradition in general – and the Germanic tradition in particular – suits me best.

My personal spirituality is basically a path of self-initiation and self-evolution. Such practice implies e.g. Rune-work and other magickal procedures. A crucial point is to restore the equilibrium between the dark and the light. One core of my spirituality is a concept I call the Tree of Life. This concept was inspired by the Tree of Wyrd by the Order of Nine Angles, and by Edred Thorsson/The Rune Gild, among others. This structure serves as a road map toward the Self. The Tree provides me with both spiritual tasks (esoteric) and ethos (exoteric). Another focal point of my spiritual life is Rune-work. For me, the Runic row is far more than a mere writing system, and also more than a divinatory system; it is nothing less than a representation of the principles of the cosmos. Thus, it serves as an initiatory system, and it offers insight and even ethic guidance.

As this approach implies, I am not so much interested in precise re-enactment of the religious world of a specific tribe in the Viking era for instance – rather, I focus on the application of "timeless" spiritual principles to today, and on their significance and validity for the future.

Inasmuch the term "Pagan" is usually a pejorative word used by Christians to denote people not belonging to their faith, and moreover to emphasize a distinct antagonism, I shall state a few words on Christianity: I reject Christianity as inappropriate to Europeans. Christianity represents an aeonic distortion of the West. On an esoteric level, Christianity provides a spirituality that is incompatible to the Western (Faustian) soul. On an exoteric level, Christianity imposes ethics that are unnatural (and sometimes even harmful) to the West.
To me, a Pagan-derived spirituality is superior to the Abrahamic/Mosaic religions in terms of both esoteric accuracy and value, and – equally important – ethos. For the new aeon we – as Westeners – shall usher in a new spirituality, devoid of the distortion by Christianity, and based on the ethnic pre-Christian religion of our ancestors (Paganism), in order to nurture the resurgence of the West.

In order to improve reaching out to like-minded individuals, and to contribute to fostering a spirituality based on the Western tradition (Paganism), Erntegang has recently joined the Heathen Circle (http://heathen-circle.org).

4. What are also some of the other lyrical topics and subjects that you have explored with your music?

Even if esoteric/spiritual topics take large space in the imagery and lyrics of Erntegang, this music project is not intended to be a Pagan propaganda unit. Thus the lyrics may not necessarily be clear-cut or seductive. Further, the lyrics often deal with many themes that have no obvious connection to Paganism.

Conceptually, there is no restriction or commandment for Erntegang to stipulate which topics are potentially worthy to be explored lyrically. 

Apart from overtly "Pagan" themes, I have lyrically covered topics and subjects such as philosophical and metaphysical themes in general (existence, death, desire, cyclicity, equilibrium, ...), eschatological and apocalyptic topics, culture/civilization and cultural pessimism (the Western soul, Europa, aeonics, …), blood mysticism, weltanschauung and ethics (revenge, social Darwinism, left hand path approach, Faustian spirit, ...), war (also historical related), sexuality – including tantra, and SM (this form of ritualized violence I consider to also have a philosophical and esoteric dimension), strife and individualism (related to my own person, not in the sense of advocacy of "hippie ethics" liberalism), nature mysticism and romanticism, further, emotions like anger, hatred etc.

Anyhow, most of the lyrics do (and will) carry some kind of "Pagan undertones", even if not visible at first sight, because my spiritual mindset permeates the entire manifestation of Erntegang.

In my lyrics, there are often several levels for interpretation offered and many symbolic meanings included. Not seldom, the lyrics are drenched with cynicism, scorn, criticism, and passion. Usually, the lyrics emphasize the sinister aspects of the subject explored.

5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Erntegang'?

"Erntegang" (German) can roughly be translated as "harvesting procedure". This slightly old-fashioned expression refers to the work step of harvesting, and usually denotes a complete unit (or round) of reaping to bring in the harvest.

This term, which bears a strong connotation of cyclicity, is associated with a rural, traditional way of life, pointing at the chief task essential to life – that is: to take. Thus, it includes the "beast of prey" nature within us, but it is far more. Being rooted in the realm of agriculture, this term also implies a task that is likewise important and has to be accomplished beforehand – that is: to sow.

So, the term "Erntegang" is a beautiful metaphor for a spiritual concept that is important to my weltanschauung. Based on the finding that life is, in essence, energy transfer, the concept of reaping is fundamental to my spirituality, with all its esoteric and exoteric implications.
This principle is also expressed in the well-known saying "We reap what we sow" (and vice versa!). Everyone reaps a harvest, regardless whether he does or does not know what he has sown. And afterwards he has to make do with the yield of his harvest, however small or bad it may be. This imposes the important task of preparation upon us – to sow – which has to be undertaken wisely and skillfully, so that the invested effort may cause growth and bring forth the desired earnings.

In essence, the esoteric purport of the band name "Erntegang" bears resemblance to the principle which is called "Karma" in Indo-Aryan tradition, while the term "Erntegang" emphasizes the effort of actively taking of the earnings.

A further idea implied by the term "Erntegang" is the Grim Reaper as the paramount harvester who ends the life of everyone and everything. Within my concept, this allegory serves as a memento mori, and – even more – as a role-model, an identification figure. This shall propel us to always head for a plentiful harvest, to become the Reaper ourselves.

Concerning the music of Erntegang – since I acknowledge the principle of harvesting as paramount (in and above all), there is a link to the band name in actually every song.

6. With this musical project you record everything by yourself are you open to bringing other musicians into this project or do you prefer to remain solo?

In the past, Erntegang featured two members, myself and a female vocalist. Nevertheless Erntegang has always been – even back then – solely an expression of my visions and ideas alone (with a very few exceptions, the vocalist was not involved in the songwriting at all). I integrated the female voice into Erntegang for two reasons: Firstly – and very banal, according to my taste, a female voice singing sounds very pleasant. Secondly, as the subject of equilibrium is a very important topic for Erntegang, man and woman singing together is a beautiful representation of this.

So, as long as the cooperation with another musician is fruitful and as smooth as it has been in the past, I am open to bringing in other people as well, again. Further, in my wildest dreams, I can imagine Erntegang performing live before an audience; this would require assistance of other musicians, anyway.

But even if cooperation with other musicians may happen in the future, Erntegang will always remain some kind of solo project in essence, meaning that additional session musicians will temporarily take over a clearly restricted and subordinated role. Expansion of Erntegang into a band with constant, equally involved full-members is not intended.

7. On your website you played tribute to Anton LaVey a few years back, do you also have an interest in Satanism?

The great theme of Satanism is largely disputed due to matters of its sheer definition. And since Satanism has often been defined by those who wish to destroy it, this has additionally fueled the debate. But even among Satanists, there is much debate over the definition of what real Satanism is. The result is that we have different currents of Satanism, each of them accusing the other of being not genuine Satanic. (According to the proposed heretical nature of Satanism this may be little wonder.)

In the early 1990s, when the basics of my weltanschauung were formed, different schools of Satanism provided a huge source of inspiration. To note the most important ones: I was very much inspired by what is sometimes considered as Neo-Satanism, namely by the teachings of Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan (offering Satanism as a mundane philosophy easy to identify with), by the Temple of Set (taking esoteric and intellectual matters to further extent), and by the Temple of the Vampire (offering a vampire religion form of Satanism). Further I got considerable inspiration by what is called Traditional Satanism by the respective organizations representing this branch of Satanism, namely the Order of Nine Angles (introducing the concept of the Sinister Tradition), and Ordo Sinistra Vivendi, formerly Order of the Left Hand Path (more accessible than ONA albeit increasingly influenced by ONA concepts). Unlike the Neo-Satanic concepts, the Sinister Tradition emphasizes adherence to purely Western esoteric tradition and the significance of aeonics with all its complex implications. Additionally, the Order of the Jarls of Baelder has had a certain impact on my spiritual world-view. Although a declared Paganist organization – instead of Satanist as the previously mentioned ones – this order was affiliated with other organizations drawing on the Sinister Tradition, including ONA, and pursued similar goals. Further I got inspired, of course, by various Satanic writers either linked to one of the mentioned organizations, or linked to other organizations, or linked to none of them, or predating them (such as Aleister Crowley).

Teachings from all those sources have contributed to the formation of my weltanschauung. Therefore, I may honor the one or another if occasion arises, although I am totally aware of the fact that these different concepts of Satanism antagonize if respectively considered as a whole. Thus, I may not endorse their distinct ideologies as a whole, but I appreciate that they contain something (and be it only a small part of their teachings) which inspired me and became important for myself. Therefore, I shall not be mistaken: By honoring a certain source, I pay homage to the inspiration and insight in certain issues it has offered to me – I do not promote a specific organization or its teachings in its entirety, by doing so.

I’d also like to comment on some frequently uttered criticism: Organizations like the Church of Satan and the Temple of the Vampire are largely criticized for their business company behavior (rather than acting as orders which serve as forges for a higher type of man). As appropriate and comprehensible this criticism may be, this detracts only little from the magickal value of their teachings.

The majority of Satanist organizations and Satanic writers (even scholars) represent Satanism as a healthy and rational life-affirming philosophy – given such definitions, I can truly endorse that; I even identify with it to a large degree. But in the musical scenes, such as Black Metal, sometimes formations of Satanism appear that are rather insane or stupid (mostly immature teenage rebellion) – such misconceptions of Satanism I definitely reject.

Nevertheless I refuse to label myself. (Although I acknowledge the usefulness of labels such as "Satanist" for vague orientation. If someone finds this term to be not correct in my case, and he has good reasons for it or no reasons at all, then so shall it be, I don’t care.) I am not interested in labels, I am interested in contents, instead. So I leave further categorization open, may other people quarrel about if my use of the Runes is Pagan or Satanic practice, if my embrace of the inner beast is of a Gnostic or atheistic nature, or if my exploration of the Self is an occult or psychological procedure. (Note that these assignments are interchangeable and still make sense.) Magick may be an appropriate term, due to its sheer (almost) universality.

In regard to question #3 about being interested in Paganism and this question about being interested in Satanism, I’d like to state a further commentary:

I am not only interested in Paganism and Satanism as isolated ideas or concepts, I am also interested in the whole context of these concepts; moreover, I am interested in spirituality and religions in general. I shall present a list with religious/spiritual concepts that I find interesting, categorized by origin and roughly in chronological order of appearance:

My focus is set on Western esotericism. This includes Germanic polytheism (since 1700 BC), Greek polytheism (since 2000 BC), Greco-Roman mystery cults (since 750 BC), Hellenism (since 300 BC), Hermeticism (since 100 CE), Celtic polytheism (since 500 BC), Norse polytheism (since 200 CE). Further interesting newer developments from the last two centuries are Asatru, Neo-Druidism, Wicca, Rodnovery (Slavic Neo-Paganism), Golden Dawn, Thelema, Anthroposophy (the latter three containing also non-Western lore as well), and of course some branches considered especially heretical, such as Chaos Magic, further Zos Kia Cultus, Armanism/Ariosophy, and – very important – Odianism (which can simplified be considered as some kind of occult and Left Hand Path approach to Odinism).

Further I am interested in Middle East traditions. This includes Sumerian polytheism (since 4000 BC), Babylonian polytheism (since 2000 BC), Egyptian polytheism (since 3000 BC) , Judaism (since 950 BC), Hellenistic Judaism (since 300 BC), Mithraism (since 70 BC), Christianity (since 33 CE), Gnosticism (since 200 CE), Islam (since 620 CE,) Sufism (since 850 CE), Catharism (since 1150 CE), Kabbalah (since 1270, especially the often despised Qlippoth concept is interesting), Freemasonry (since 1500 CE). A focal point of my interest is how these – especially the Abrahamic/Mosaic religions – have influenced the West.

Also interesting is the Indo-Aryan (Central Asian) tradition. This includes Vedic (early Hindu) polytheism (since 1700 BC), Hinduism (since 1000 BC), and Tantra (since 800 CE).

These spiritual/religious concepts are often very antagonistic, of course, so it should be clear that I do not relate to all of them in equal measure. Nevertheless, it is valuable to deal with these various concepts, however alien they might appear. This opens the mind and sharpens the intellect to establish one’s own preferences.

8. The last recording was self released, are you open to working with another label again in the future?

Actually all of my releases were self-released, both as physical album copies and as digital downloads.

Additionally (!) to my own release/distribution efforts, some of the Erntegang albums – namely "Les danses macabres" (2009), "Words Of Love And Hate" (2011), "Raubzug" (2011),  "Zwielicht" (2012), and "The Meager Years" (2014) – have also been released in special versions as limited editions by SkullLine (label & mailorder) from Germany. My main motivation for this cooperation was to get some of the distribution work done by someone else. As intended and expected, the SkullLine versions have caused more attention than my self-released versions.

Yes, of course, I am open to working with a record label, I would welcome such procedure. My only requirement is just treatment/reasonable conditions.

Besides CD format releases, I’d also wish to get 7'' or 10'' vinyl releases done, unfortunately this did not happen yet.

9. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of industrial and folk?

Generally, the feedback to Erntegang’s music has been rather little, so far. I guess Erntegang is the most ignored and most underrated music project in the world (just kidding).

Erntegang releases have been reviewed in some online magazines (e.g. Heathen Harvest, Mithra! Zine, NecroWeb, Amboss Mag, ...). All of these reviews judged the respective albums as good or at least average – with the exception of the debut album, which received harsh criticism. Personal feedback has also been rare, but most of the people who replied to me personally seem to like Erntegang.

As for the zines and the individuals who have stated some sort of feedback, the majority seems to come from a "crossover" background, meaning that they are open to different styles of music, including e.g. Metal, Goth, Folk etc. Feedback from people or magazines explicitly rooted in the Industrial and Neo-Folk music scene has been very rare. The Goth scene seems to be even less interested in my music.

Ironic as it may be, I get the impression that Erntegang is more appreciated among Black Metal fans than among Neo-Folk fans.

10. Are you also involved with any other musical projects?

I have been involved in several musical projects in the past, the most noteworthy being a Black Metal band for about one and a half decade in the time before I started Erntegang. Apart from that I have always worked on some experimental, mostly short-lived, solo projects, which never got any far.

Since 2007 I have concentrated on Erntegang and an Industrial music project, increasingly abandoning all other musical activities. After the Black Metal band finally split (unfortunately), I wanted to run only Erntegang and my Industrial project as its "evil twin". After two releases I changed my mind, so that I quit my Industrial project to let all my energy be absorbed by Erntegang. Also I was afraid that the two projects would converge more and more if I continued with both endeavors. It doesn’t make sense any more when they tend to become indistinguishable from another. I perceived this development with the well-known acts Haus Arafna and November Növelet which served as a warning for my own musical efforts.

So, I am only involved with Erntegang now. And on my own behalf, I will not found some side projects any more.
Maybe I would help out in other bands when need or desires arises, but only to a smaller extend and with lower priority compared to Erntegang.

11. When can we expect another full length album and also where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?

As I already stated before, the first seven year phase of Erntegang’s existence has come to an end. Erntegang is paused in the interim time before its resurgence. The latest two releases, "The Meager Years" (full-length album, 2014), and "Hvel" (mini album, 2015), which contain re-recordings of old tracks, mark the end of the first phase of Erntegang’s manifestation and shall serve as a link between the "old" Erntegang as founded in 2007 and the "new" Erntegang to re-appear in the future. As new material will not be worked on before 2016, I guess there will be no new release before 2017.

Concerning the new material to be released in the future, nothing specific can be said yet – only, that I intend to emancipate Erntegang further from its sources of musical inspiration. 
As also already mentioned, Erntegang is not restricted to a certain musical style or genre, therefore all or none of the styles like Ambient, Metal, Electro, Classical or Industrial may be incorporated into new Erntegang releases – but most likely it will never be Jazz, Hip Hop, Funk, Grunge, or Gospel (I might eventually integrate Gregorian singing but never Gospel).

Fortunately, I am a "hobbyist" musician (presuming that a hobby must be something to have fun with, this term seems to be slightly inappropriate when applied to Erntegang, to me Erntegang is anything but fun – it is rather a daimonic entity, an epiphany, a beast seeking to be fed) and will remain so. Therefore I am not forced to bother with business issues, I am not confined to deadlines, and I am not under pressure to compromise to commercial or economic considerations – I am free to do or refrain from doing as I please. So, in the moment there are no fixed plans for upcoming releases yet. However, I cannot imagine to ever quit Erntegang, not even in the long term.

12. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

I am afraid it is rather obvious which bands have inspired me for Erntegang’s musical style. Nevertheless I name here the most important ones: Death In June – with their simple-structured but very beautifully rendered songs (which are widely acknowledged as a role model for the neo-folk genre) containing poetically crafted hints of pagan spirituality and passion –; and Blood Axis – with their variable, often solemn style, sophistically exploring subjects of the spiritual underground of the West.
Further I should mention Allerseelen. This band may not have inspired the specific sound or way of instrumentation of Erntegang so much, but the overall concept of Allerseelen (including its "otherness"), which can not be separated from Gerhard’s Aorta/Ahnstern writings, has inspired me definitely.

On a more subtle level many other bands considered to roughly belong to the neo-folk genre have surely influenced me, of course, and be it just for the reason that I enjoyed (and still do) their music, e.g. other "older" bands like Changes and Fire & Ice (Ian Read), and "newer" bands such as Luftwaffe, Of The Wand And The Moon, Forseti, etc. Certainly – and maybe more unexpected – also the noise/industrial pioneering act NON (Boyd Rice) had an impact on my own musical creations.

Concerning the popular representatives of contemporary folk music, I can state that they have definitely not inspired Erntegang’s music, especially not Bob Dylan and the likes.
Instead, I prefer popular contemporary musicians who draw on traditional folk music such as Loreena McKennitt, whose work I highly appreciate (safe for the Christmas songs). Another bright example of drawing on traditional music is the ensemble Sequentia who focus on the reconstruction of medieval music by a very sophisticated and scholar approach.

Although also classical music has been incorporated into a few Erntegang songs (melodies by Mussorgsky and a song by Schubert, and also some neo-classical orchestration e.g. on "Words of ...", "Raubzug", and "Zwielicht" albums), I think that classical music – which I regard as the highest art of music ever crafted – has influenced me only a little. The very simple and minimalist music of Erntegang is too far away from elaborate compositions by geniuses such as M. P. Mussorgsky, R. Wagner, E. Grieg, R. Strauss, J. S. Bach, J. Sibelius, G. Mahler... (to name some of my favorites) and I am too respectful to seriously claim a significant influence, let alone a similarity.

Further, Black Metal in general (as played in the 1990s) has influenced my music – not so much the sophisticated, symphonic style of Black Metal, but rather the crude and simple style. After having played in a black metal band from 1994 until 2009 (bass & vocals), this part of my musical past can not be completely denied to have a certain influence – however maybe little – on my work with Erntegang. In essence, I think, my music is actually not that far away from Black Metal – only, the arrangements are much more simplified, the lyrical concept is wider, and the overall sound is more applicable to the mainstream.

Additional to the musical inspiration as described above, I’d like to mention an important non-musical source of inspiration for the concept of Erntegang: The ancient Hellenic theater, especially the Greek tragedy (no, not the current financial disaster ;-) ). This form of art was quite different from that kind of theater we know today. The Greek tragedy was originally linked to the god Dionysos. It used to present mythological themes in order to focus on spiritual (religious, philosophical and existential) questions concerning existence, the individual and the world, the gods, ethics, and fate ("wyrd"). The performances were highly stylized, involving distinctive costumes and masks, to evoke massive drama. The intention was to achieve a catharsis for the audience. Thus, a performance of the ancient Greek theater was some kind of religious ceremonial.
Even if unnoticed by most Erntegang listeners, this art form has a considerable impact on the formation of the band and its presentation to the audience. Certain characteristics of Erntegang's appearance and imagery – though altered and adapted to my needs of more "Germanic" aesthetics and present-day relevance – are actually inspired by principles of the Greek tragedy, such as the overall spiritual dimension, the separateness from the everyday world, the solemnity, the emphasis on drama, the use of masks, the utilization of mythological stuff etc.

Last but not least, when talking about "inspiration", I’d like to add: The term "inspiration" is – to a considerable extent – quite a fitting concept for describing the reception of ideas that will be worked out as songs for Erntegang. Rather than actively constructing or inventing the initial idea for a song, I experience myself as a mere vessel receiving vision or even mandate from beyond. These ideas I am haunted by (e.g. in my dreams) have to be crafted into songs. (This indicates clearly the transpersonal dimension of Erntegang.)
This phase of finding many of my musical ideas may vaguely be illustrated by a woodcut from the 16th century which depicts the devil playing bagpipe on Luther.

To come to the second part of your question: My habits of listening to music are crucially dependent on the circumstances and the intention thereof. Further, my musical taste covers a wide-spread range. Thus, my music collection contains both experimental and conventional music, both cacophonous and accessible music, both underground and more mainstream music, both artistically fastidious music and primitive music, both music for the ritual chamber and music for parties... Stylistically, my music collection covers various genres e.g. classical music, Black Metal, Industrial, Gothic, Rock Music, EBM, Neo-Folk, Heavy Metal, March Music, Film Scores, Ritual Music, Power Electronics, Folk Music, Psychobilly, Death Metal etc.
Nevertheless, I am not the one to constantly buy all the new records, therefore I am not always "up to date" and do often listen to albums that are somewhat old.
The music I listen to is usually carefully chosen, I strictly avoid being irrigated all along the way by music from popular radio stations or TV programs.
To those who wish to read some names here: Two newer records I recently got, which I appreciate, are Dark Awake "Anunnaki" and Marduk "Frontschwein".

13. What are some of your non musical interests?

Some of my non-musical interests have already been mentioned before, as within my answers regarding Paganism (#3), lyrical subjects (#4), and Satanism (#7).

As my interest in esoteric subjects indicates, I am interested in the study of religions (from an academic point of view). Moreover, I am interested in cultural history in general; this includes interest in related topics such as archeology. Further I am interested in the fine arts and art history (e.g. ancient Egyptian art, Classical sculptures, Baroque, Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Surrealism, Psychedelic art), and architecture (e.g. ancient Mesopotamian, ancient Egyptian, classic Hellenic and Roman, medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals, Third Reich architecture, bunkers), including subterranean sites (caves, crypts, tunnels, ritual sites, etc.). Apart from that, I am also interested in psychology and philosophy – both subjects not far away from spirituality. In addition, I am interested in societal topics; this includes being interested in zeitgeist, and its underground currents (such as sub-cultures, heretical movements, counter-cultures, etc.). Of course, I am also interested in military history, war technology, and weapons. Although I am very skeptical, I sometimes enjoy dealing with eccentric topics such as psychic phenomena/parapsychology and conspiracy theories.

I often tend to spotlight the dark side of my interests. I am fascinated by the grotesque, the uncanny, the hidden, the grim, the sinister, the acherontic, the gloomy, the macabre. Many of my interests may be reflected in my musical project Erntegang.

I always try to maintain a certain balance between intellectual and carnal experiences. But I desist from listing my interests here in which I indulge on the more hedonistic side of life.

14. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

Thank you for being interested in Erntegang and doing this interview!

Information on Erntegang (including music examples) can be found in the internet: http://erntegang.lima-city.de, www.facebook.com/erntegang, http://erntegang.bandcamp.com

Hail to all friends, comrades, and supporters!

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