Folk from Armageddon: An Interview With DEAES

Covering the neofolk/post-folk/apocalyptic folk project DEAES was long overdue for us. Our friend Jay Nada of DEAES has also helped open the space for antifascist neofolk with their left/folk project, including the Instagram art project, the Facebook Group, and the fundraising neofolk compilations that we have also worked with them on. Make sure to check out their latest release, Arise.

DEAES makes up a piece of their own development, and created a unique spot that, while on hiatus at this point, continues to be incredibly influential among neofolk bands pushing the edges of genres like martial industrial.

What is your personal history as a musician? Was DEAES your first project?

I hardly consider myself a musician, I can only really play my own music as I don’t know how to read music or anything like that. I am self-trained, and in fact DEAES was the first time I ever picked up a regular guitar. I used to play bass in a punk band in high school and have a long history of producing music using software. I have had multiple projects in the past, ranging from perverted electronic dance music to experimental avant-garde pop music. DEAES was my first foray into doing something I had wanted to for a long time, folk music. My general attitude towards music and playing music is to just try it, regardless of your skill level. Something will come together.

How did DEAES come together and where did it’s style and themes come from?

DEAES started as a solo project, I acquired bandmates as time went on and I found a need to enhance the way the music sounded live. My early influences were varied and in many ways contradictory. I was really into all the most known neofolk bands like Current 93, but was also simultaneously really into political folk like Phil Ochs and Buffy St Marie. I musically took these influences and combined them with my interest in industrial and post-punk to give my first recordings a very experimental and almost pop vibe. Thematically, my music has always been driven by both personal experiences in sorrow and delirium as well as visions of a dying world.

How do you define the genre of DEAES? What influence does Apocalyptic Folk have on it (and what does that term mean to you)?

I refer to DEAES as hexfolk, it is neofolk music constructed with a particular spiritual and magickal intention. The music is meant as a spell of sorts, to detach the audience from reality and everything in this world. Other ways of looking at it could absolutely be apocalyptic folk, as I see it, music to listen to as the world is dying. Music that compounds and evokes these feelings of a certain kind of madness that propels all apocalypses forward. DEAES is in many ways music to bring the apocalypse to life, but it is mostly music to drift into the void to.

Do you define it as antifascist neofolk? I know you had a plurality of opinions inside the band.

Though we try not to attach any overtly political tone to the songs, many of our songs were written with political observations peppered throughout, as politics are unavoidable. The ability to avoid politics is a political act and a form of privilege, so we really can’t avoid them regardless. Our music has always dealt with a rejection of consensus reality, the world as it is, in striving for the possibility of a different world altogether. A dissolution of power structures, a neutering of ideological constructs, and an attack on presumed hierarchical structures. We will always be against kings, countries, authority, gods, time, all of it. Our music is void music. Though it may unfortunately leave space for some reactionary interpretations, I think it is instrumental for the project to focus itself on the spiritual anarchic components of our music in order to maximize the effect of our craft.

In short, however, I think it would be fair to consider our music as antifascist, as it is antifascist in spirit, and it is made by people who are against fascism, though we may not be a vehicle for specific political projects as our themes deal primarily with otherworldly concepts as opposed to the mundane.

What was the song writing process like?

My song writing process varies. I often tap into an inner narrative, detaching myself from conscious direction as much as possible (sometimes chemically, probably) in order to create concepts in as raw of a format as possible. Words spilling on the page, going with the flow, automatic. Some songs are a bit more structured, as they are descriptions of experiences I’ve had. I often write in an altered state, or at the very least a state of instability, whether it is my own mind pushing against me or something I put under my tongue. 

The lyrics have this ephemeral quality, sort of like a folk tradition of poetry. How did lyric writing come from and what were the dominant ideas you were trying to circle in with DEAES?

I have always had a creative streak, I am always interpreting and reinterpreting events and moments in my life, maybe out of mental instability or something else. I write from a place of heartbreak, depression, trauma, frustration. I gather these emotions and thoughts and compress them into stone which I whittle away until I’m left with a very sharp and dangerous object. For me, a lot of the things I reference in my songs put me in a dissociative state, they make me feel scattered and sometimes numb. I wanted to write lyrics that can feel very vague yet eerily specific at the same time. Relatable and unrelatable, contradictory and confusing, threatening. For my songs to possibly affect everyone in the same way, in some way, and bring folks into a state of timeless delirious emotional paralysis.

There is a sense of doom and apocalypse in the albums, what was driving that feeling in the band?

We are all very cynical people. We see a planet that is dying. We live in a sick society, that crawls and climbs over itself to maintain the wealth and power of a tiny handful of rich fucks who use their power to manipulate policies that affects all of us. Our comforts are perpetually the suffering of others, the exploitation of others. We, frankly, have always wanted to destroy it, burn it all down, these systems of oppression. Sometimes the world as it is, simply must collapse in order to build it back up. At times, we feel this will and must happen, whether we want it to or not. It is inevitable. We are simply observing. We are here to sing about the end, the end of what is kind of open to interpretation.

You had a multitude of albums at this point (is it three, or five full ones?), what was the concept behind each one?

We actually have more albums than that, they are just scattered across different platforms. Our first album on Bandcamp called “LoveSINGLES” is actually a collection of songs found within my first three releases which I refer to as the LOVELOVELOVE trilogy which dealt with different forms of love. Agape, Pragma, and Mania. They were an exploration of how these variations of love affected me at the time, and how they affect the trajectory of every individual life.

Following that were various small recordings which were explorations of magickal concepts, like Heretic Hymns and SAARL (Some And All Reality Lost) which dealt with rejecting consensus reality. Somber Sessions was made in a state of deep depression and loss, I wanted to bring a sense of urgency to the music so it was recorded in a way that sounds raw and almost like live music, but it is full of subtle background textures and atmosphere. CLOSE EYES OPEN was my first release with my violinist, June, and was a joint effort in bringing the void to the listener, and a culmination of everything her and I were working on up until that point.

Why did the band go on hiatus?

There are numerous factors. For some time, most of us lived in a single household or at least within walking distance of one another. As things go, we parted ways and moved to different locations for reasons unrelated to the band. I also I began developing carpal tunnel while working at my day job, which has made it increasingly difficult to play guitar. I can maybe play for a few minutes at a time before being lost to severe pain and numbness. So, we set our instruments aside in a formal sense. Though we still get together to practice or perform at very small private functions on rare occasion.

Ashera’s New EP “Antifascist Lullabies” is a Declaration of War

The Portland based neofolk duo Ashera evolved very consciously out of the explicitly antifascist neofolk trend that has been perc0lating (and we have been encouraging). There is an intentionality to this, to refuse nationalism a place in romantic post-punk and to allow for a romantic revolutionary music of our own. We interviewed them earlier when they released their first singles “1,000 Dead Fascists” and “Capitalism Must Burn,” but then dug in even deeper with them on this latest release. There are a lot of questions about how this thing known as antifasicst neofolk is going to develop, and they are trying to stand in front and draw a line between the complacency of the scene’s past.

 

Why is antifascism front and center in your music? Why is it not good enough to just be a non-fascist band?

We made a conscious decision to place antifascism at the center of our music because antifascism is where we are in life, it’s the social experience that we’re having and with which we’re engaging. It’s the story that we want to tell, the picture we want to paint, the song we want to sing. Antifascism is the values and legacy that we want to leave for our kids and for their children.

This moment that our society and our world is currently in is too important and too historic for us to be fence sitters and appeasers. The situation that has developed within the neofolk music scene is a microcosm of that. Fascists have taken over the scene. If the rest of us don’t speak up and act out to counter that—if we aren’t explicitly antifascist—then we are enabling fascism and conceding important ground in the struggle.

When the fascist creep is on the march and we can all see it gaining ground, then you are either explicitly anti-fascist or else at the very best you are actively choosing to enable the existence and the spread of fascism within this music scene and within our society. At some point someone must draw a line in the sand. That was done with the creation of antifascist neofolk.

 

What do you think radicals are missing by not engaging in art, spirituality, and romanticism?

As people who are skeptical of institutions of wealth, power, and religious doctrine, and as labor and social justice organizers in our communities we can understand the overwhelming sense of realism, mechanism, and historical materialism—the angst and anxiety of immediate economic necessity, social, and philosophical upheaval in which we can so easily get bogged down. But there is so much about the human experience that we miss out on when don’t take time to dream, when we don’t make room not just to appreciate but to engage with and actively cultivate art, spirituality, and romanticism in our lives and in our society.

We are both skeptical people, and Justin is an atheist. But when we see and hear our favorite music performed live, when we dance with hundreds or thousands of other people who are feeling the same ecstatic emotions created through a shared, live, interactive, tactile-audiovisual experience, we get a rush of adrenaline and emotion that is hard to describe as anything other than a spiritual experience. It’s an experience that fuels our own creative urges, our own music, our own will to dream.

On a personal level, we think radicals miss out on valuable experiences and lessons in this life when we don’t engage with art, poetry, and music. We miss out on feelings of insight and ecstasy when we don’t engage with and cultivate non-dogmatic spiritual experiences that aren’t rooted in hierarchical and patriarchal belief systems. We miss out on important moments with ourselves when we don’t take the time to lay in the grass, stare at the clouds, and dream.

On a societal level, when we don’t allow ourselves the room to play and have fun, to write stories, to romanticize and mythologize our histories and our lived experience—when we don’t create our own fables to tell our children with moral lessons in equity, anti-colonialism and anti-racism, in the ethics of radical cooperation, mutual aid, and antifascism, when we fail to engage in dreams of a better world and to create real or imagined utopias with beautifully diverse, just, and equitable communities—then the left and our movements are bound to lose. Then we are devoid of a very large and important part of the human experience, and we can be sure that the forces of fascism and other forms of reactionary authoritarianism will fill the void with songs and mythologies of national superiority, racial supremacy, and making America great again in the service of imperialism, wealth, and power.

 

How do folk traditions play into your music? Do they inform your politics in any way as well?

The whole bardic tradition and its modern singer-songwriter form has always inspired us. We love songs that aim to tell stories. Music is storytelling through melodic, harmonic, rhythmic sound. Music is poetry and auditory art that prompts us to feel, that explores the human condition and the whole range of possible emotions that we navigate in our late-stage capitalist society. Music is the expression of our dreams, our aspirations, our history. Music is the sharing of stories among people and across space and time, from one generation to the next. In that sense music is both folk tradition, and at the same time it is an expression and vital vehicle for the transmission of folk tradition.

As people who love storytelling, we both have a long fascination with folklore and mythology, from comic book superheroes to tales of ancient goddesses and gods. The cowboy consumerism and militantly blind patriotism of white-U.S. culture can be more than a bit vapid. So we binge watch TV shows about people with superpowers and we delve into ancient stories about magick and faery folk to try and connect with our past, with something larger than ourselves that is fantastic and inspiring. For both of us our first bands, and in some sense our lives as music artists began with pagan neofolk music that was rooted in a particular mythology, folklore, and spiritual tradition that we were both a part of, and which is where we actually first met. Through this new and modern incarnation of a presumably ancient spirituality, we hoped to find something in neopaganism that would help us connect with not just our cultural ancestry, but with the pagan ancestral roots shared in common by all cultures around the world, as well as provide us with a spiritual framework that—we hoped as pre-capitalist and pre-Christian—wouldn’t be as racist and patriarchal in nature as the religious tradition and culture we grew up with.

This tradition of covens that we were part of teaches that there are five magickal arts: agriculture, natural medicine, astrology, dancing, and music. So those of us who were musicians would get together and play folk music with guitars, flutes, mandolins, banjos, dulcimers, and bodhráns. We would provide music at seasonal rituals and other celebrations, and eventually we formed a band on the side called  Cloverfields that played at pagan festivals around Southern California and spawned other future bands that we were both a part of.

But in addition to music and storytelling, another important folk tradition that we learned in part through neopaganism, a tradition that is important to our music and very much informs our politics is the folk tradition of resistance. Communities of rural and working class people have always been at the heart of resistance against institutionalized wealth, power, inequity, and hierarchy. That tradition of folk resistance goes back thousands of years and beyond to the slave revolts of antiquity, to resistance by common, rural, and indigenous folk around the world against forced conversion to Christianity, and more. In communities that practice neopaganism, at least here in the U.S., there is a strong sense of shared resistance against the patriarchal Christian juggernaut that upended our ancestors’ old way of life, that replaced and destroyed so much of our cultural heritage, an institution that has so deeply shaped and distorted the modern world we live in today. We practice the folk tradition of resistance to fascism, racism, patriarchy, hierarchy, and authoritarianism in our churches and our spirituality, in our schools and in our sports stadiums, in our places of work and our governments, in our streets and through the folk tradition of telling stories with music.

 

Neofolk is heavily infiltrated by fascists, what can we do to change that dynamic and remove them for good?

We don’t know if we can remove fascists from neofolk anymore than we can remove them from society in general without becoming one of the things we most despise as antifascists, genocidal authoritarians. But what we can do is resist them, shut them out, make them irrelevant in the neofolk music scene. We can send them crawling back into their holes.

To do that we need to cultivate an “everyday antifascist” value and attitude within the neofolk scene. That means we need more neofolk bands and artists to make statements that are explicitly antifascist if not in the content of their music and art, then at least in its other aspects. Refuse to perform with them. Refuse to book them. Refuse to record with them. Refuse to give them your money and your time. We can take this genre back by boxing out bands and artists who use romanticism and the mythologizing of our past to fuel white supremacy, immigrant hysteria, and fascism.

But if we do want to have any hope of truly defeating fascism, then we can’t just be against fascism as a reactionary default. We need to purposefully carve out space to be romantic, empathetic, passionate and emotional in the expression of our everyday antifascism. We need to find and create our own cultural mythologies rooted in the values of antifascism. We need to have bold visions and share our dreams with each other by writing antifascist poetry, singing antifascist songs, and telling stories of utopias built in the empty pockets of violent empires. We’re beginning to create it here in Portland with a strong antifascist presence at protests and the cultivation of everyday antifascism in our organizing spaces throughout the city, with the amazing antifascist displays, banners, flags, group chants and renditions of “Bella Ciao” at Timbers soccer games. We are beginning to create that here with music too, with the cultivation of Pacific Northwest antifascist neofolk. We can take back neofolk and make this scene a space that is as much explicitly antifascist as it is romantic, artistic, passionate, and visionary.

 

We have added Ashera tracks to the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify, and are embedding their new album from Bandcamp below.

Members:

Justin Norton-Kertson – guitar, banjo, bass, midi/synth
Deborah Norton-Kertson – vocals
Reeve Bushman – guitar, drum machine, vocals
Ashera makes multi-genre music with a focus on neofolk, dark folk, and radical antifascist culture and politics. They are from Portland, Oregon,   
Album Links
Social Media Links

From Galicia With Love: An Interview With Sangre de Muérdago

The soul of antifascist neofolk came from bands who already were connected to the genre, but had a different starting point. For the people of the country, who were resisting encroaching empire or, later, fascist dictatorship, folk music was a type of cultural struggle that helped to remember who they were in the face of total erasure. In Galicia, the regional language and cultural practices, the strength of women and the diversity they respected, was crushed as Francisco Franco’s nationalist regime banned the language and expressions of tradition.

This is what has driven Galician neofolk giants Sangre de Muérdago to focus these folk traditions, handed down by families in their homes and pubs, alive in modern concert halls. A mix of romantic folk revival, traditionalist instrumentation, and a musical drive from the punk and metal world, Sangre de Muérdago has become one of the most defining crossover bands of the neofolk scene and have bucked the perception of the genre as solely owned by the far-right. Instead their anarchist inspired music has pushed back on bigotry and oppression, that was the role of the music from the start.

We interviewed Pablo C. Ursusso, who plays classical guitar and writes much of the music, about how they came together, what role Galician music has in fighting fascist oppression, and why they are taking a stand.

How did Sangre de Muérdago first come together?

Hard to describe, the winds brought us together, and then they separated us again, and then the long journey began… Sangre de Muérdago is an attempt to capture the essence of the wild spirits and translate them into our language through music, and I think this idea is what in first place brought us together.

The sound is firmly based in the Galician folk tradition, why do you focus on reviving Galician music?  Did this come from your own family traditions?

The sound is based in Galician tradition but also in many other fields. I think we are more focused on reviving the spirit I mentioned before, but we definitely have a compromise with Galician music and folklore.

I’ve grown up in a relatively undeveloped area and I still absorbed many old ways that were, and in some areas still are, alive.

What role did Galician music and culture play in resisting Franco?

The role it played during the war and the dictatorship was mostly to be in exile, hidden in the villages and the taverns, where people sang and played percussion with spoons and gardening tools.
Franco prohibited Galician language, and he was a Galician himself (only geographically speaking), so it is not only that it was forbidden to sing in Galician, but even to speak it.

Galician teachers were sent to the south of Spain, while southern teachers were sent to Galicia, in order to prevent the children to even learn the proper grammer, because at home, the Galician language was alive, but the blow that the language and culture suffered back then still has effects today.

Where do you find lyrical inspiration, and how does the writing process happen in the band?

I try to dig it up from my own most of the time, but of course I get a lot of collateral inspiration by countless sources. I don’t think I can name a specific tangible something from where I find most of my inspiration.

The writing process is on me, and often we do arrangements together. The process happens usually by surprise, but you know as Picasso said, “inspiration always catches me at work.” With this I mean that I play my instruments a lot, and when not, I sing to myself and my dog very much too, so I think that sentence applies very much to the creative process, and inspiration catches you often with the brush or the instrument or whatever is your tool, in hand.

You play in a huge range of venues, from opera hall to metal venues, why have you chosen to have such a diverse community?

That is something not chosen at all, it just happened and it is something I’m very glad about. A beautiful diversity of people in front of the stage feels very good.

I don’t really know, but after all, we are people that come from many little corners of the musical and cultural world, and some of us have been active for a long time.

I myself grew up with a lot of folk around me and at the same time deep into the anarcho/punk/diy community of music and counterculture, which in the 90s offered some of the most eclectic and interesting music that a scene had to offer, from metal to rock to experimental music. Georg comes from a more metal background, and Erik from a lot of rock and psychedelia, for example, just to mention some of us… and after all, we play folk music!

How do you see the band relating to the struggle for liberation and autonomy?  

I sing with all my heart for liberation and autonomy. And at a personal level, the band exists as a product of the struggle for liberation and autonomy.

Do you think it is important for bands to create an inclusive space and stand against bigotry?

Yes. Very much. Bands and everyone in general.

What’s coming next?  What tours, albums, collaborations or anything should people be looking out for?

Next is a good winter solstice ritual of magic and music.

We are as well working on our songs for our next album, which will be recorded in February 2020, then on tour through Europe in March, and hopefully for that time we will have in our hands our next release which is a Split Lp with Monarch. We have also some single shows popping up here and there… stay tuned.

***

We feature Sangre de Muerdago heavily on the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify, and will continue to add more tracks as they are released. Below are several albums from their Bandcamp, and stay tuned as we spotlight upcoming releases, tours, and collaborations!



A Story Echoed Through Time: An Interview With Forêt Endormie

Part of breaking out of the singular narratives that have been available around neofolk has been expanding what the genre can be, the branches it reaches out and touches a whole range of traditional music. Part of this is a turn towards neo-classical and chamber music, reviving these orchestral sounds, integrating a nature-focused romanticism, and combining it with the same post-industrial feel that gives neofolk its dark edge. 

Forêt Endormie came to us via Falls of Rauros, and shows the interesting crossover that black metal has. Jordan Guerette, who founded Forêt Endormie in 2016, was a classically trained guitar singer and did what neofolk does so effortlessly: bring the traditional music aesthetic into a modern pop cultural modality. 

We interviewed Jordan about the ideas underlying Forêt Endormie as a chamber music neofolk project, how the instrumentation and songwriting works, what it means to revive a style so often thought as antiquated, and what it means to have a revolutionary antifascist approach in such a seemingly uncommon space.

How did Forêt Endormie first come together? What was the founding ideas behind it?

Forêt Endormie first came together in late 2016. I was working toward a graduate degree in composition, and I put together a group to perform the “String and Hammer Quintet” suite at my final recital as a student. The initial lineup of Forêt Endormie consisted of these very same folks. Since 2010 or so, I had been toying with the idea of forming a group that could perform both in concert halls and venues that are intended for “bands.” Soundwise, I wanted the group to draw heavily from various “classical” traditions as well as neofolk and various American folk-inspired guitar styles. I am very interested in the music that emerges where “folk” and “classical” traditions come together.

What instruments are involved? How do you write your songs?

On both of our releases so far, 2017’s Étire dans le ciel vide and this year’s Split with Quercus Alba, the instrumentation is essentially the same. Most of the pieces are written for piano, violin, cello, vibraphone, electric guitar, and voices, and some of the pieces include unpitched percussion. Recently we have replaced cello with double bass, and I am loving the results. I think the extended range really complements the other instruments in the ensemble.

I write all of the music in my home studio, using notation software, a keyboard, and/or a guitar. I am primarily a guitarist, and though I often use guitar as an orchestral color, I am also really interested in using the instrument in an idiomatic way. When I am putting together pieces or sections of pieces that are anchored by a fingerpicking pattern, for example, I will write that on guitar first rather than in the notation program. The style that I’m drawing from tends to determine how I begin writing.

The music is really confrontational, it refuses to stick to a pace. What kind of emotions are you trying to convey here?

Confrontational is an interesting word to describe our music, I think I like it! Generally, I tend to ruminate on some of the contradictions that most of us encounter in this modern world – comfort and anxiety, freedom and rigidness, godlessness and spirituality. The average person in the United States is more physically comfortable than ever and it seems to me that this somehow leads to even more anxiety and depression.

I’ve written a lot of music that often has musicians working through musical ideas more or less on their own, with only fleeting moments of playing in unison or harmony with another part. This can maybe be heard as both hyper-organized and a bit wild and free – more contradictions to ponder.

We’re currently working on our second full-length and I’ve found myself really trying to conjure a sense of place with music and words. These places tend to be hostile to humans – dusty, neglected farmlands; gathering storm clouds; the open ocean with the sun blazing down. Maybe listeners will find themselves transported to these places as well, or maybe not.

Obviously this is a chamber project, which might feel antiquated to people. Why did you decide to look to an older ensemble style? 

I grew up playing in rock bands, so to me, having a more varied tonal palette to work from still feels novel. Many people do associate strings and piano with bygone eras. I’ve definitely tried to use this sense of another time and place to my advantage. The new music we’ve been working on has synthesizers and will incorporate more effects and layering. I’m curious to know if folks will continue to have the impression of looking backward in time when they hear our next album.

Where is your inspiration coming from? Who are you listening to as you are writing this?

The project was begun out of love for composers Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, and Olivier Messiaen as well as classically-influenced bands A Silver Mount Zion, Clogs, and Amber Asylum. I also was digging into Leoš Janáček’s string quartets, Rebecca Clarke’s

Piano Trio and Sonata for Viola and Piano and Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor.

My favorite composer is Joanna Newsom, and I continue to return to her music regularly for inspiration and guidance. We actually have been covering her 2006 song “Only Skin” at some of our shows, which has been really fun! Transcribing the arrangement for that was a total marathon and I learned a great deal from it.

For the new batch of music I’ve been working on, I’ve been listening to Toby Driver’s last two solo albums, James Blackshaw’s Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death, Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel…., Preterite’s From the Wells, Menace Ruine’s Venus Armata, N Nao’s À Jamais pour toujours, and Austin Wintory’s score for Banner Saga. I also always return to various Blut Aus Nord, Tenhi, Jason Molina, Mount Eerie, and Six Organs of Admittance records.

How do you define your music? Is there a community of musicians you feel centered in here?

Recently a local publication described us as Franco-gothic chamber-pop, which I actually really appreciate, though I’m confused by the “pop” qualifier. I have tried to come up with a snappy genre tag for our music: chamber folk? neoclassical folk? It’s tough for me to figure out what people are hearing.

I will say that my community has always been the metal community, the corner of which I occupy continues to be incredibly supportive and open-minded. Though Forêt Endormie has branched out and plays shows for other audiences at non-metal venues, the overwhelming majority of album sales and support has been from folks that I believe would identify as part of the metal community. Underground metal has proven to be special and unique in its support and close-knitted nature. Being a part of it and the friends it has introduced me to is perhaps the greatest gift that playing music has given me.

What are you singing about mostly?

I’ll focus on the Split with Quercus Alba here because it’s the It’s the first release with original lyrics in French, and it’s sung exclusively in French, which I intend to be the norm for future releases. I am interested in the tension between comfort and anxiety, the rigid organization of human society, and acknowledging the uncaring truth of the natural world. Societal contradictions and what we give up for comfort are subjects that are endlessly interesting to me. “Entouré” and “Une étincelle que je veux avaler” helped me process feelings of anxiety and isolation, while “Cette Lanterne” is about how throughout history, we have invented gods to bury those feelings. Lyrics for me are tougher to write than music, but I’m gradually becoming more comfortable with putting my thoughts out into the world.

The music feels operatic, almost like theater. Is there a staged, storytelling component to it? What are live shows like?

I’m glad that the music can bring images to mind, as I do intend to conjure visuals with what I write. Thus far, live shows have been relatively straightforward performances. We play from sheet music and I suppose it feels a bit like watching a more traditional chamber group in that way.

I’m absolutely open to working with artists from other disciplines and would especially love to have Forêt Endormie collaborate on new theater works. Music is perhaps the most abstract of all art forms and I really appreciate when it is used well to enhance film, theater, and video games. Hopefully that opportunity will present itself at some point for us, that would be great fun!

Why is antifascism important in these music scenes?

There is a serious lack of diversity in the voices that we hear from in black metal, neofolk, and related styles. This seems to be improving as time goes on, though simultaneously the far-right is getting louder and appears in the mainstream much more frequently than it seemed to 10 years ago. Given this increased visibility of right-wing fascism in the US and across the world, it is crucial that our humble music scene at the very least ensures that our community a hate-free place that embraces all folks regardless of where they were born or their genetic makeup. We also need to make sure that those who buy into far-right ideology know that they are not welcome and that they can fuck off.

Do you draw on any older folk traditions or spiritualities?

I can’t really say that I consciously draw on older folk traditions. I am interested in many styles of folk music, and I think that certain groups – the work of Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik comes to mind – do an amazing job of working with traditional folk styles and making folk music accessible to modern audiences. There are many music traditions that I love and am interested in – Gamelan being an example – but I don’t consciously pull them into my music for fear of treating the music too shallowly. Maybe I will feel differently in the future. As far as newer folk styles, I have been spending some time learning some of John Fahey’s music.

I am godless, so for me, spirituality comes in feeling connected while marveling at the cosmos or art, or in having a good conversation.

Have you experienced any far-right influence in the music scene?

I have been lucky enough in my tiny corner of music-making to experience almost no direct far-right influence. In my world, it seems to be a thing that exists only on the Internet. I’m grateful for this, as the far-right is having very real consequences for other folks in all sorts of communities across the globe.

What bands do you recommend for antifascist neofolk fans?

You’ve already interviewed so many wonderful artists. I’d like to recommend a few that I love, though some of them are not neofolk at all: Preterite, Menace Ruine, Nighttime, N Nao, Circuit des Yeux, Quercus Alba, and Falcon’s Eye.

What is coming next for you?

We’re finishing our second full-length with Colin Marston in the next few months, and hopefully following the release we’ll play some dates outside of our beautiful hometown to promote the record. Aside from that, I’m going to keep writing and playing music with these wonderful friends as long as I can.

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We have added Forêt Endormie to the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify and have two of of their tracks from Bandcamp below.