Оскрнавитељ (Oskrnavitelj) - Interview
Over the last few years, new faces of the black metal movement have emerged in Serbia, and some old names have resurfaced after being inactive for a while. Among these new additions is the band Oskrnavitelj from Belgrade, which recently released their debut album in June and are currently one of the trending bands in the Serbian Metal Scene. For this occasion, I've spoken with the band's founder and front-woman Ivana Savić, where we've talked about the band's brief history, the making of their debut album "Pradavni", as well as other things along the way.
Greetings Ivana! I'd like to wish you welcome on behalf of the MetalBite crew.
Hello Vladimir and greetings to the MetalBite crew! It's an honor to answer your questions.
First and foremost, I think it would be wise to start things off with the band's history. Tell us a bit about how did it all start, whose idea was it to form the band and also tell us a bit about the writing and recording of your debut album "Pradavni".
As the visionary behind the project and the frontwoman, I founded the band Oskrnavitelj, specifically during the pandemic when I was looking for members. In 2021, we started working and creating with a full lineup. The album Pradavni was recorded in collaboration with the renowned musician and producer Srđan Branković at the "Paradox" studio in Smederevo. The vision was clear – to obtain the partly raw and somewhat primitive sound of the album, leaving no room for modern-day frills or too polished sound, evoking the 90s black metal atmosphere through emphasized blast beats, drum rhythms, and darker melodies. I wanted the vocals to be raw without many effects, except for a pronounced reverb in certain parts. Black metal has a timeless place in history, continually inspiring people. Moreover, it is my life, and as it drives me to create dark and introspective lyrics it has certainly led to our debut album Pradavni - a tale of wisdom, maturity, and authority, a saga meant to inspire and enthrall.
Since you recently released the debut album "Pradavni", you have been surrounded by numerous articles and reviews from all sides. So far, how do you think this year will serve the band? Do you think that Oskrnavitelj is one of this year's standout bands within the Serbian metal scene and in general?
Well, the buzz around our debut album has been quite a ride! It seems like the metal world can't resist the dark allure of Oskrnavitelj, hahaha. So, joke aside - yes, we had quite a few good reviews, and honestly, one or two haters too, but we don't let that bother us – there's just no time or sense worrying ‘bout other people's business when you're all dedicated to your own thing and progress. As for this year, we're setting our sights high, for Oskrnavitelj has just begun to unleash its full potential. It already started in our favor, considering that BM promotions featured us on their YouTube channel, and we gained exposure on Metal Tracker, Bandcamp, and more. Such recognition motivates and drives us to pursue our goals in these and upcoming years. Of course, it also depends on various factors, such as marketing and promotion. This year for sure holds great promise, and we're ready to conquer new realms in the Serbian metal scene and beyond. You might want to keep an eye on us!
One thing that really fascinated me is that the band went through various lineup changes in just 2 years since its foundation in 2021. How come you're changing band members so frequently and what is the reason behind it?
To be honest, I don't see what's so unusual about it. As a musician yourself, I'm sure you know that most bands experience member changes for various reasons, and it's not surprising that Oskrnavitelj went through some adjustments too. Factors like time commitment to the band, differing visions, creative misunderstandings, levels of professionalism, different goals, and more can contribute to such changes in almost every band. However, as much as it is a challenge it is an opportunity as well. We believe that evolution is the key to greatness, as new members can bring fresh ideas and rejuvenate the band, ultimately leading to even greater success. In our case, every past member has left a positive impact on the band. At last, our band's journey is one of self-discovery and growth, and sometimes, it leads us to new paths and faces. We embrace transformations, for they shape the essence of Oskrnavitelj. After all, isn't life an ever-evolving symphony?
I'd like to know a bit more about the name you have chosen for the band, which means "desecrator" in Serbian. Who suggested the band name? Also, how come you chose to name the band "Oskrnavitelj", instead of "Skrnavitelj" which is the grammatically correct term?
Vladimir, my dear, you're quite a grammar expert, aren't you? :) Luckily for me —Oskrnavitelj and Skrnavitelj, both are grammatically correct and potent words that intrigue and resonate with our essence. But I personally came up with Oskrnavitelj for a simple reason—it sounds much more powerful, don't you think? Grammar may ponder its rules, but we wander the realms of artistic expression, where perfection takes on all forms. As for the story behind it - the word "Oskrnavitelj'' signifies vandalism and disruption and has its roots in the ancient Slavic era, associated with warrior tribes inhabiting various regions. These are ancient languages of different Slavic tribes, their ancient customs. Even among the Vikings and their practices, this word is present, and prior to them, there were the tribes of old Slavs in those regions. The band's name connects to these themes and is reflected in the frequent subjects of our lyrics.
Although the band is new and fresh, its members are "veterans" of the Serbian metal scene who played in numerous bands before and have also faced numerous challenges in the past. What is your general opinion on the local metal scene nowadays? What do you think about this frequent elitism and egoism in the scene where so many bands tend to compare each other and also strongly believe they're better than others?
Ah, the eternal struggle of the ego, my friend. My response to such behavior would be, as Shakespeare said, " Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" – fearing those better than him, fearing potential rivals. We've seen it all before—the melodrama, the comparisons, the self-proclaimed superiority, haters who hide behind fake names or are planted by other bands to undermine rivals, driven by fear of competition… While a certain level of egoism can be beneficial for investing in one's own goals and self-confidence, unhealthy egoism that harms others is disruptive and breeds bad relationships. That's why various "clans" are formed. In this vast sea of metal, we choose not to drown in those turbulent waves. As much as this child's play is becoming almost endearing to me, we don't waste time measuring ourselves against others - we respect our fellow colleagues, but our focus lies in crafting our unique sound and expression. Our music speaks for itself, and our dedication to art propels us forward. So, we shall remain humble, yet unyielding, and let the music do the talking.
I would like to know what is your general opinion on how bands promote themselves today, because I remember when Oskrnavitelj started selling its first batch of band shirts two years ago, before you even made any gigs or released any material, which doesn't really seem like a common practice. Is this unconventional method meant to represent a different approach to band promotion?
We don't always have to conform to standard practices, do we? I'm certainly not a frog stuck in a well, haha. Then why should I fit into the norm? I believe that sometimes unconventional methods can be used to stand out, promote, and attract attention. Traditional promotion is essential, but there are alternative approaches that can be utilized to get the band's name out there. I never think within the boundaries of established norms. Being creative and thinking outside the box is vital, combining the unconventional with the traditional. In our case, it proved to be a positive step. And even if it turned out that it wasn't, that would still be fine, because at least we followed the beat of our own drum. So, does it truly matter how a band promotes itself as long as it's authentic, fair, and fulfills its purpose? :)
I am sure you are well aware that local metal scenes in Serbia vary a lot when it comes to bands, sub genres and even the overall popularity. If you had to choose a certain city in Serbia for the strongest or most dedicated metal scene, which one would you go with?
Larger cities certainly boast more institutions, media, and journalists supporting musical events, which is essential for promotion. They also attract more musicians, people who network and form a community of colleagues and this collaboration is truly beneficial. Yet, smaller cities hold their allure—a more intimate atmosphere, greater support, and less cutthroat competition. However, a successful band doesn't solely depend on the scene's size but on talent, dedication, and opportunities that arise at any given moment. In Serbia, Belgrade and Novi Sad have the most active and well-attended metal scenes. Many renowned bands have visited these cities during their tours. Moreover, there are networks of promoters and fans that support and promote these events. However, we should never forget that a successful band doesn't solely depend on the scene's size but on talent, dedication, and opportunities that arise at any given moment and bloom in any corner of our beautiful country.
I am sure you are aware of this but for so many years, The Stone has been the most popular and accessible Serbian black metal band, and probably the only one which reached international success. Do you also wish to reach that level or do you want to go even higher than that?
I am aware of The Stone's success, and it's fantastic! As for us, we have our plans, but the future remains shrouded in mystery, of course. ;) Naturally, everyone aims for success and their goals, but we can never predict what the runes hold until we unveil them. In the meantime, we enjoy the process, navigate through the world of music, and strive for progress.
Oskrnavitelj deals with so many lyrical subjects on the debut album, some of frequent themes being Darkness, Evil, Blasphemy, Death, Misanthropy, Nature, Pagan ancestry. How do you manage to catch up with all these subjects at once? Are there any inspirations for your themes that are worthy of mention?
Indeed, these subjects are recurrent in my lyrics. Inspiration comes from within my heart and soul. Certain spiritual events and occurrences sometimes spark ideas for thematic lyrics. Spiritual aspects have certainly influenced Oskrnavitelj's lyrics, as seen in 'Okovan' and 'Prognanik' but they are also present in various ways throughout all my lyrics. Each song is a portal to our depths, where the mysteries of life and death intertwine, enthralling those who dare to explore. Another inexhaustible source of inspiration for me is our rich history. We can and should be very proud of our ancestors and history, which is something I enjoy writing about in my lyrics.
I know you've had trouble finding a label that would release the album before you decided to put it out yourselves on Bandcamp. Have things changed for the better since the album's release? Also, can we expect any physical releases of "Pradavni" in the near future?
We haven't had bad experiences with record labels; we were just contemplating which one to choose. In today's music world, it's crucial to first release an album in digital format. As a first step, we released the album on Bandcamp, and in the meantime, BM promotions featured us on their YouTube channel, along with Metal Tracker. We will soon release a physical edition of the album, accompanied by merchandise. We are also signing with one of the record labels that reached out to us - more details will be announced soon.
So far, what are the current plans for the future of Oskrnavitelj? Will you be doing any gigs or festivals here and possibly abroad?
As I mentioned before, the future is uncertain but truth be told, we've only just begun to unveil the depths of Oskrnavitelj's artistry so let's see where the path will take us from here. We definitely aim for live performances, creating music, and taking greater steps towards success, or at least to what we consider that to be.
Thank you for doing this interview, Ivana! Are there any final words you'd like to leave to your fans?
Thank you, Vladimir, for the questions, and thanks to MetalBite. I express my gratitude to all the people, fans, for their support and urge everyone who walks the path of metal, the path of warriors, to come together at concerts and enjoy. Stay strong and true to yourselves!
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