Schavot - Interview
Dutch black metal entity Schavot recently released its second full-length album "Kronieken Uit De Nevel" via Void Wanderer Records (read reviews here). The man behind all this, Floris Velthuis, is a really busy person involved in so many other projects. So he talked about all these upcoming things and of course also about the new album with me via Skype, enjoy reading and be prepared for what is to come in the future!
Hi Floris, how are you doing?
Hi Michael, nice speaking with you again! At the moment it is a busy time for music. I am recording a few projects at the same time and the new Schavot album is out for a week now. There is a media-storm and I am blown away by the interview requests and positive reviews. So life is all about music at the moment.
You just released you second Schavot album "Kronieken Uit De Nevel" which was sold out within half a week. Are you a little bit floored about that?
Yes, I am very surprised and also delighted about it! It went so fast and I was floored about it because I had a few other projects in the past that didn't do anything. I think it depends on the fact that we're working on social media much more now, than we used to before.
How many copies of the first edition?
I think it was 200 copies of CDs and 50 tapes, co-released by two record labels. The tapes were sold out in just a few days and the CDs went very fast away after the album came out on YouTube via Black Metal Promotion. But they are only sold out at Void Wanderer in the Netherlands. At War Productions in Portugal a handful of copies is still available.
What makes the difference between "Galgenbrok" and "Kronieken Uit De Nevel"?
Well, that's a good question. I started with the new recording right away after Galgenbrok was finished. But I think I became more confident and found my own style. Galgenbrok was a bit on the conservative side in terms of melodies, keyboards and vocal effects. I wanted to keep the music a bit more basic on the debut. On the new album I let go of those limitations. I brought the new music more convincingly with more melodies, keys and pitch shifter vocals inspired by Bal Sagoth.
Who did the female vocals? I guess it wasn't you screaming like Ned Flanders, hehe!!
The Simpsons, hehe! Great series! But no, the female vocal lines come from a synthesizer. I bought some very good plug-ins that sound like real vocals. But I also did some real chords myself, inspired by the old Ulver albums. What I recorded sounds like a big group, but I recorded twelve vocal lines myself with three different melodies. Together it sounds huge!
In our last interview you stated that Scandinavian black metal from the 90s were your major influence. Is there something else that found its way into the compositions?
Schavot reflects the typical Scandinavian 2nd wave vibe. But you might hear some influences from German bands like Pest or Lunar Aurora. And UK's Bal Sagoth was an inspiration for the vocal part, the story-telling and pitch-shifter to be precise.
Most of the lyrics deal with some Dutch folklore. Can you go a little bit more into detail with that?
On the first album I used the most well-known Dutch folk tales. This time I had to dig a little bit deeper to find some different topics. Two tracks are about witch-hunts, things that happened in real life here in the Netherlands. One song 'Zwart Water' is about a haunted house. We have a lot of history about ships in the Netherlands. 'Hijs de Zeilen' is about a ghost ship named De Zeerob, while 'Niet Alleen de Avond Valt' is about a more known story: The Flying Dutchman. Last year during my holidays I found an old book with the story about the Flying Dutchman. It was written in old Dutch and I used a lot of phrases from that book. 'Onmens' is about an old woman who lived in the city of Leiden. She was one of the most-respected ladies in town. She helped a lot of people who were sick. But they all died. What happened was that she gave them arsenic and killed them to collect the money from their funeral. These are the kind of old stories that I really like.
The cover is pretty detailed and has some little Easter eggs. Who had the idea for it and who created it and maybe you can say what we can see there, too? Was it the same painter who did the artwork for "Galgenbrok"?
I haven't found the Easter eggs yet, tell me where? That reminds me of a graduation project at high-school, where we wrote hidden messages in our report that no one ever saw but ourselves, haha! Galgenbrok is a traditional oil painting while Kronieken is an illustration. It's a different style and another artist. His name is Bram Bruyneel and he is from Belgium. I got the idea because I like Anton Pieck who was an old Dutch illustrator. I like the kind of colors and the details he used. I always like artwork that strikes out from the rest because a lot of black metal artwork is all the same. If something looks different it will be noticed. So I asked Bram Bruyneel if he could do that and this was one of his very first colored artworks actually. He is more a black and white-style artist. But since this assignment, he got a taste for color. The fun thing is that he has a past as a history teacher and when I came up with the idea of doing something with witches and witch-hunt, he knew a lot of historic details and it really worked nice with him to complete the image. But there are also a lot of incorrect details just because I like it (laughs). The church in the background is the church from the city where I was born. Witches have never been burned there, they are still walking around. One of the spectators on the left side, that's me. These are just some little fun things in the artwork which make it more personal to me. Most people like art, but some don't. It's totally different from the classic style of black metal art and some say it doesn't fit the music. The same type of reaction I got about the art for Meslamtaea. It's different, a ‘love it or hate it' style. I think this is a good thing! If it provokes such reactions, at least it's not mediocre.
You were pretty busy in 2022 with the releases of Meslamtaea, Asgrauw and the production of Schavot. How do you get all the time for these projects?
Well, I don't have a lot of time, just because I have a regular job and a family that needs time. But I just work on music really efficiently. I think that makes a difference. I have the studio in my attic and it's always ready to go. When I have an idea in my mind or I have some time, I just go to the attic and just start recording right away. I don't play around but I just record stuff very focused. This is also the case with Asgrauw, we don't drink beer or make fun, we're just rehearsing and recording. But the epidemic saved me a lot of studio time. During that period we were often not allowed to leave the house and we had no social activities. That time was spent in the studio. Still I can work a lot at home and that saves me two hours of driving time per day. I try to work on music or related activities every day.
What can we expect from you in 2023? Will Schavot the only album you are going to release or will there follow some more? Maybe you are already writing stuff for a new Schavot album?
I'm working on several projects and a few of them will be released in 2023, maybe early 2024. There will be a project, I can't tell you about right now, featuring two bands from the Zwotte Kring collective. One of them might (or might not) be Schavot. Asgrauw is really active again. One new track is featured on a sampler CD by Void Wanderer Productions. Also we're working hard to finish the debut for The Color Of Rain. This project is really interesting and it got me far from my comfort zone. The guitarist is a virtuoso type of player, so expect a form of progressive black metal. I am also working on a new project named Stuporous. This is blackened doom with brass instruments, in the vein of Sear Bliss. Izzy from Meslamtaea is playing the horn on it. And we are working for some new Meslamtaea stuff again. So it is really busy at the moment.
I mentioned in the beginning of our interview that the album will be sold out soon – will there be a repressing soon?
I hope so, also Galgenbrok was re-released since the 1st press is sold out. But there are a few copies of Kronieken left in Portugal. We have to wait till everything is sold out. Good news is that the album also will be released as a vinyl edition by the label Zwaertgevegt. I hope it will be finished by the end of the year and I can't wait to see the artwork in 12 inch format.
Last time I asked you about the latest albums you purchased; now I want to know what are your top five albums of all time?
Ulver – "Bergtatt", because that type of black metal is exactly what I like. It is really harsh and fast, but also it has that sound of nature and folklore.
Fleurety – "Min Tid Skal Komme", which is more the Meslamtaea side of black metal which is really different and unique.
Cynic – "Focus", because it's so different from the rest that came out in that era. This is a huge inspiration for our TCOR project so I listen to Cynic a lot lately.
Dimmu Borgir – "Stormblast". Of course the first recording and not the shitty new one.
Bal-Sagoth – "Starfire Burning". The most epic record ever.
But if you ask me next time I may name five totally different records but this is what comes to my mind right now.
Dank je wel voor het interview!
Graag gedaan! En de groeten van Joep.
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