Neofolk has a symbiotic relationship with black and folk metal, intermingling folk traditions and orchestral sounds. This is the murky world of musical crossover that antifascist neofolk exists in. We are big fans of the folk metal band As Light Dies, which has been added to the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify, but we discovered that the folks behind ALD are also the musicians in the amazing antifascist neofolk project Aegri Somnia.
We talked with Oscar Martin about both As Light Dies and Aegri Somnia about intermixing music, the inspiration they get from heathenry and the Spanish Revolution, and why fascism is not negotiable.
How did ALD come together, and how do you define the sound?
My perception of As Light Dies sound is very huge. It could be some kind of Dark rock metal band, with many influences from folk music. I think that is more important that each listener have the experience to define the sound by themselves.
Was this your first metal band?
No, it wasn’t, but it was the first band I took seriously.
What are some of the lyrical themes that drive the music?
We use to speak about many things, science, depression, Lovecraft, suicide, history, philosophy, maths…
Why do you think it is important to be a publicly antifascist metal band?
I think that everything cultural is always contrary to fascism. A fascist music band is something contradictory.
What is coming next for ALD?
We are working slowly to reissue our demos, and afterwards we will release Love album vol 2.
What black metal bands would you recommend for antifascists, and what bands have influenced you?
I don’t know which bands can I recommend since I don’t know the political views of others, and I don’t know any black metal band which proclaims themselves to be antifascists.
How did you first bring together Aegri Somnia, what was its history and is it primarily your solo work?
It is a work of two persons, Cristina and me.
There is a subtlety to the music, bordering on soundscapes. How did you come up with this particular sound, and how do you define it?
It is Spanish traditional music with influences of dark music. It sounds particular because traditional music in Spain is not really known. So the mixture of traditional music, and traditional instruments with dissonances, gothic rock and distorted guitars makes it even more particular.
What is your creative process like when putting together Aegri Somnia tracks?
We select traditional songs, which use to be just voice and percussion and the we try to build a very different musical framework.
How does paganism and spirituality play into your work?
I’m not too much into paganism or spirituality as I am a science man and I dislike any kind of religion. We are interested in fantasy, magic, ghost histories and these kind of things, but just cultural interest as part of folk.
Neofolk is often known for having a problem with fascist bands and fans, have you experienced any of that influence in the scene?
We don’t consider Aegri Somnia a neofolk band, we are more a folk band in spite our disguise. Folk music in Spain doesn’t have problems of this kind. It is truth that in neofolk movement there’s some kind of attraction to some symbols, and war, and also exists negationism about the crimes of fascism, specially here in Spain were we are the second top country in the world in disappeared people, a place where 300,000 babies were theft in our hospitals with the help of the church, and that happened after our civil war. It is a shame that now the post truth guides the nowadays way of thinking. Truth is not about personal preferences. The truth is the truth.
Why is antifascism so important to you?
In Spain we have a serious problem of historical memory that most people prefer to leave as is because the big companies in this country have profited from the blood of repression and have benefited from the slavery of political prisoners.
I also want to remind everyone who believes that Franco was a patriot who does not forget that he asked for help from Hitler to bomb Guernica and his civilian population, which was the condor legion, led by Commander Wolfram von Richthofen who bombarded a Spanish city and his countrymen, including innocent people, women and children. Keep it in mind when you hang the flag on the balcony, and stop looking at the other side.
Fascism comes to smash, not convince, what is out of their straight way of thiking, which they imposes it by force. They always hold hands with the powerful families. They come to establish hierarchies and repress the people.
The Spanish Revolution (Spanish Civil War) plays a heavy theme in your work, including the revival of those folk songs. Why is that period so influential to you? Why does it hold so much relevance now?
The Spanish revolution and the Spanish civil war are different things that should not be confused.
It is true that there were some populations that made the revolution, but in the best case it lasted only a few months and it was due to the lack of order, since the army and the police had joined the fascists.
What we wrongly call the Spanish revolution was when the Spanish people rose to the invasion of France during the Napoleon Empire. Everything to give the crown to the most despotic Spanish monarch in our history.
If you are Spanish, your family has been affected by civil war. The Spain who lost the war was exiled, killed, imprisoned or repressed. The part who won the civil war was the rich, the military oligarchies, Catholic church, bankers, fascists and devotes. It is impossible to understand the nowadays politics without the fact of civil war.
Part of the country’s false modernization was the rural exodus to cities. So repeated and vaunted has been the myth of the rapid modernization of Spain, but cities have been the only thing that was modernized, and outside the large nuclei everything was abandoned. Everyone was going to look for work in the cities, and the towns and their people were gradually aging until they died. Spain is a country full of ghost towns and abandoned villages. That is one of the reasons our music and our traditions are in danger. Our cities are globalized, and mediatized and we consume external culture. As I answered in the previous question, it seems that part of that neofolk prefers to import more known cultures such as German, Norwegian or North American, while ignoring what we have here. That is why we who dedicate ourselves to folk music and have a responsibility to rescue and spread these old songs before they die, and the only way is to go to these villages where there are few inhabitants left and talk to the elderly. We have to know the variations of the traditional songs that they sang in their town.
Do you think that there is a growing scene of antifascist and left/revolutionary neofolk bands? How do you think that is changing the genre?
I don’t really know the scene in neofolk, as I said before, we are more into folk music, and folk music always tends to be leftist.
What is coming next for Aegri Somnia?
We are preparing music for new shows and we are preparing our second album.
What bands have influenced you, and what bands do you think antifascist neofolk fans should check out?
If we have to speak about influences in folk we always speak about the work of those who compiled old songs as Joaquin Díaz, Manuel García Matos, folk musicians as Carlos Porro, Eliseo Parra or Xabier Diaz, and bands as Vihuela and many others.
If we speak about the dark side we always have in mind Dead Can Dance, Ved Buens Ende and the 3rd & the mortal.
We have added one track from As the Light Dies and three tracks from Aegri Somnia to the . Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify. You can check out tracks from both band’s Bandcamp below.
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