Mit OSTARA im schwarzen Turm - Interview
When I first listened to the beginning of „Devil In Detroit“ I heard wrongly “SHARON TATE” instead of “Charon take”. Associated with possible interpretations of the song a notable mishearing, I think. The end of another dream?
It reminds me of when THURSTON MOORE of SONIC YOUTH said that the king of the hippies was SHARON TATE’s unborn baby. Of course, I was referring to the boatman of the river Styx and extrapolating that to modern Detroit, which was once called the Paris of the West. I visited there in 2010 and it was worse than I had imagined but there were some oddly inspiring moments, one of which was seeing the Norwegian folk singer, THOMAS DYBDAHL, play to an audience of only six people. We met him afterwards and he was completely miserable so we drank a few pints of German beer together to commiserate.
A couple of other anecdotes are worth mentioning. I met an elderly African American who owned a Parisian style bar opposite a strip club. He offered me a drink and I ended up having schnapps at 11 in the morning after he told me, “I don’t sell no soft drinks.” While we were talking, he informed me that he was Jewish and when I replied that I was too, he shook my hand and said he’d take me to the synagogue, which was in an old warehouse not far from the bar. I would never have known about it otherwise. We also talked about BILLIE HOLIDAY and her song, "Strange Fruit". He told me that the lyrics were by a Polish Jew, ABEL MEERPOL, something I didn’t know. We definitely had a weird connection, given that I was born in South Africa where apartheid was very similar to segregation in the US.
The second incident was very different. I was driving past the Grand Central Station, which has been a disused ruin since the days of HENRY FORD. I saw a white girl sitting on a concrete ledge by the roadside smoking a cigarette. I then noticed that she had her skirt pulled right up to her crotch. She was stunningly beautiful and I couldn't help staring from the car window. She caught my eye and stared back with a sardonic look, as if to say, “this is the closest you’ll ever get to me, baby.” Anyhow, she made it into the song as the “semi-naked bombshell with the death’s head in her eye”, so I feel partially rewarded for my suffering!
Some songs were recorded as usual in Australia, but some were recorded in America. What is the story behind it?
Yes, I have been interested in seeing more of America and have become quite fond of Los Angeles, a city I used to loathe. Having played a few shows there, including with DEATH IN JUNE and BOYD RICE, it’s a place I have since grown to love. I decided to do some recording there and met with veteran producer, TOM WEIR, who has been recording since the 1970s. He has a good ear for balancing the production techniques of the past with new technology and I was really pleased with what he came up with. While I was at the studio, there was a group of Cistercian nuns who were recording an album of devotional songs. I got talking to one of them about neofolk music, faith, suffering, redemption and St John of the Cross. It was surreal. We have since swapped CDs. I then resumed recording in Adelaide, Australia. The three songs done in LA set the standard for the rest, so it worked out rather nicely.
The title-song “Napoleonic Blues” is marked with the addition “Europa”. What is this Europa – a defeated empire, a defeated culture, a defeated idea? Has it to do with the old neofolk-term of “the death of the west”?
Napoleon stood at the crossroads between the old Europe and the new, the ancient regime based on the medieval world and the revolutionary radicalism of the modern. He was arguably the first neo-conservative who revived the traditional character of France in a new authoritarian, Pan-European form. All revolutions ultimately work that way because there is no complete escape from the past. Napoleon self-consciously personified the ethos of Charlemagne, Caesar and Alexander but also represented the nemesis and nadir of that ancient spirit of imperium that Europe was clinging to, his defeat by the forces of reaction culminating in the birth of a new age of social upheaval that led to new dreams of empire. DONALD TRUMP is a latter day caricature of Napoleon, a narcissist for the twilight of the American Dream and the century of the Self that began with the great Corsican.
I don't believe the West is dead or dying. It is being constantly challenged from within, since most nations have been westernized. The West has been at war with itself for centuries and that’s what makes it such a fascinating civilization. It has evolved comparatively quickly where other cultures were more insulated and traditional. It rose to take on the world and in so doing became a global colossus, its power determined by material wealth, science and technology but also by conflicting ideas that have shaped its course. To revolt against it is still to be part of it and even traditionalists like EVOLA and conservatives like SPENGLER realized this, which is why they longed for some kind of renewal in the midst of the ruins.
Today the ruins are more symbolic or spiritual since it was post-war prosperity that that made us complacent, apathetic, narcissistic and atomized. Yet, out of this chaos and confusion, something significant may come, perhaps culturally if not politically. It may be better or worse or a combination of the two. Globalization is essentially Westernisation and anti-globalism is just the reaction to its negative effects. We may not all be European but we are all, at least partly, Westerners.
You use additions to the song-titles like “America” or “Roma” and “Iraq” or “Iran”. Do you want to focus on an actual polarity of the world or is there something hidden behind these terms?
Since 9-11, it has been difficult to avoid the political and historical events that have shaped the new millennium. In 2000, people were still talking about the end of history and the triumph of the western liberal model, which was set to be the global standard of prosperity, tolerance and hedonism. 9-11 destroyed that dream, at least symbolically. The Americans and the British completed the demolition by entering into a disastrous imperialist war with Iraq that spawned the monstrosities we see today. DONALD TRUMP is the direct consequence of the last two decades and while we in the West still enjoy our high living standards and our relative liberty, other powers that are not so liberal or tolerant are on the rise, watching the uncertainty very opportunistically. Iran is one of them. China and Russia are the others. The global system is fracturing and there is a polarization at the heart of it that influenced the references in the album. I felt that giving them those geopolitical and historical tags made sense in relation to the Napoleonic legacy. He is in some respects the great grandfather of all of this.
The last track is a short reprise of “Proud Black Templar”. The original version appeared on the “Ultima Thule” Album. Now we have a shorter, more minimalistic version of it, called “Black Templar”.
I prefer the new version and wanted it to be distinct from the original as I feel it captures the mood and content of the song more effectively. It is one voice rather than a choir of voices, alone as if in an abandoned cathedral. It reminds me of the famous poem by WB YEATS, "The Black Tower", where the sentinel is standing guarding the ruins, waiting for a lord that will never return.
The new album reminds me pretty much of “Secret Homeland” and “Kingdom Gone” - substantially and also regarding the music. Would you agree?
I agree. It reaches back to the past while making some adjustments and improvements in terms of production and delivery. OSTARA has always been a kind of Neofolk-pop hybrid, so there is continuity here and maybe a return to roots.
The album was initially planned as a vinyl/download-release. Are you personally interested in vinyl-records and in releasing them? And what do you think about the short life of downloads displaced by streaming?
I love vinyl and was really pleased to get a chance to release a new record after almost 15 years since the Whispers to the Soul 10”. I am glad vinyl has had a revival but trends are very unpredictable now. CD seems to be back in vogue. For a while cassettes made a comeback. I guess some people want something they can own rather than their music living on a computer or in the cloud, which is not really personal since the Cloud is built for everyone but owned by someone else. I respect that sense of nostalgia and have kept most of my old vinyl and cassettes while still collecting music online. There is room for a balance between the purely virtual and the tangible. Whether it will help artists to survive in the age of streaming is another question. It’s definitely harder now but I am pleased to have survived the massacre! I have nothing against music being shared on social media as it is a way to be discovered but it would be good to have a revenue model that worked more fairly. I remember getting a royalty payment from MP3.com before it went bust. Apart from YouTube, which isn’t specifically designed for music, streaming is very unreliable. Sites like BandCamp may change that by giving more control to the artist or to independent labels. You can find me there at Ostara.bandcamp.com.
About a year ago JOHN MURPHY died. Is something like that a kind of break for oneself, a moment to look inward?
2016 was a Triumph of Death. A lot of the 20th Century icons were old enough to die so it was not so surprising but when so many perish in a short span of time, it makes you think of your own mortality and how you will be remembered.
I can never forget JOHN. He was a character, strange and rare, odd but also very reflective and even sensitive in some ways. He appreciated good music and performance and while he was a man of few words, his attitude was honest and very unpretentious. You could read a lot in what he didn’t say but when he spoke, it was usually very interesting, except when he was grumpy and then it was just funny because his grumpiness was never offensive. I have certainly learnt to appreciate the artistic merits of percussion, something that I have continued to pursue. JOHN had a lot to do with that. Therein lies his immortality for so many of us.
Are there specific further plans with OSTARA at the moment or other projects and collaborations?
I am recording new material for an Australian project that will be completed by the end of the year. I will have more information on this at a later stage. I definitely plan to return to Europe for shows in the autumn or in winter.
Tony F. für nonpop.de
Verweise zum Artikel:
» OSTARA @ Facebook
» OSTARA @ Bandcamp
» OSTARA: Napoleonic Blues
» Der Traum vom Paradies: OSTARA-Interview
» OSTARA: Paradise Down South
» OSTARA: The Only Solace
» Ostara - Immaculate Destruction
» Ostara und Lux Interna im Alten Gut in Jena-Burgau
» Flammenzauber 4 - Der zweite Tag
» OSTARA mit neuem Album
» Ostara sagen Schweiz- Konzert ab
» Kostenloses Video von Ostara
» Ostara - Immaculate Destruction
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