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Noctiferia - Interview

Interview with: Igor Nardin
Conducted by: T.V.

Almost twenty years of musical activity, three official studio albums, one demo album, many impressive tours and appearances on some of the biggest festivals aroud Europe are the things that brought to Noctifera worldwide recognition. With their last album Death Culture released in 2010 by noted label Listenable Records they even got deserved second position on one of the biggest metal websites on the world Metal Storm 2010 Awards in Industrial Metal section, right after legends Fear Factory. Their music is hard to describe, many call it industrial metal but there are too many elements from all kinds of extreme metal in it. They are certainly the leading force of Slovenian metal and are on the way to be became one of the major forces of European extreme metal. Their path was a stormy one, they endured many line-up changes in the past, but the recent formation which is stable since 2006 consists of founders Igor Nardin (guitar) and Uroš Lipovec (bass), plus Gianni Poposki (vocals) who joined the band in 2001, Matjaž Gergeta (drums) and Roman Fileš (guitar). You can believe me that the 2013 will be an outstanding year for Noctiferia, at least I can assure you that from what I heard so far. This "epic" interview was done with their guitarist and founder Igor Nardin in their own studio, where we talked about what they are doing right now, his point of view about todays society, who influenced him, about touring experiences and much more.

T.R.: More than two years have passed since your last album Death Culture and beside some really impressive tours with big names in metal scene there were not a lot of news from Noctiferia...
Igor: We are working on a new material since then. We have done the main riffs quite some time ago and now some songs are almost done, but because all of us have regular jobs and we are not living out of music, everything becomes delayed. Right now we are doing pre-productions in our own studio, testing different arrangements of drums and the first single for a new album is almost done. The song will be recorded in the studio Negligence and this is also the beginning of a new collaboration. The style of new songs is rather different from our previous albums and when we were thinking where to record the new song we chose before mentioned studio, mostly because they are supporters of analogue sounds. We didn't want to make, for example samples of drums, but rather leave its natural sound. All in all we are still testing those new sounds.
T.R.: And when do you expect that the single should be published?
Igor: We still have to make all necessary agreements with our label, but I believe that it'll see the light of the day in a couple of months. This song will be accompanied with video clip and we still have to choose how to pack everything together. We are in the phase of all necessary arrangements and making plans. There is no deadline when to release this thing and we have to make a realistic evaluation how much time we need and then we'll set a deadline which will certainly speed things up.
T.R.: How would you describe the change in style and sound regarding to your last album Death Culture?
Igor: Yeah, Death Culture was really crammed and complete album, probably also because the fact that Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) had some fingers around it. He wants to make everything so compressed and saturated. The change in our sound must be connected with our shift to eight string guitars and our new songs are mostly mid-tempo, there is not a lot of speeding and maybe we became overeaten with this saturation in sound. New songs have more emphasis on melody, there is more rhythm and groove. This are the things that we missed on our previous albums. We learned a lot of new things from the aspect of arrangements and song constructions. The new songs are easily accessible, not like it was Per Aspera from 2002 which contained in one song almost thirty riffs. Beside that we don't throw away those riffs that seems at the very first instance inconvenient, like we did before, but we leave them right there, because many times also some for example very long parts can develop in an interesting way. On one hand everything is more spontaneous, but on the other side the song structures are more mature than ever.
T.R.: Are you remaining on Listenable Records?
Igor: Yes! Like I said before we have to make final debate about the things like how to release, promote and when to publish our new single.
T.R.: Listenable Records is the first biggest label that you're signed to. Is there any pressure like when and how you must do things?
Igor: No, there is no special pressure. We had some kind of a deadline for our new record to make it finish this year, but the things didn't work out and they didn't make any complications about this. Neither there is any kind of pressure about how we should sound and in which direction we should carry our style.
T.R.: How much did the things changed with this major signing for Noctiferia?
Igor: I must say a lot. Per Aspera was released by Arctic Music and that was a big slip for us. Then with our next album we didn't get any special label to release it and we got drowned back, but everything worked out fine with Listenable Records and our last abum. It was lucky enough as we mantained our past fans and reached many new ones. The tour with In Flames across Europe was the ultimate thing that brought to us a lot of new fans and we gained a lot on recognizability. I believe that we are now somewhere in the middle what concerns our visibility on the musical market.
T.R.: Those tours with In Flames, Samael, Mayhem and others, were organized by your label?
Igor: No, everything was done by our management and for some time we had a tour agency, Samael and Mayhem are some of the bands on Massive Music agency. Tours with them were of course organized by them. Our tour, when we were supporting In Flames, was completely organized by Boštjan and Ana of Master Of Metal menagement and Roman Fileš our second guitarist.
T.R.: Regarding before mentioned tours with some impressive names, I wanted to ask you which one was the best for you and when did you had the best response from fans?
Igor: Each tour had that something special. Samael are one of my favourite bands and also one of the biggest influences. Touring with them was one really amazing experience, not to mention that we had a blast time together. They invited us into their studio in Switzerland, we were in Instambul Turkey and all around Europe together for fourteen days, really great time. But, the shows were not attended as those when we were touring with In Flames. Tour with In Flames was one of the most exhausting. On the other hand it was crazy playing in amazing places in front of 1500 to 3000 people, for example in Bucharest we played on amazing neoclassicistic stadium, in Spain it was also amazing, really crazy fans and we sold a lot of merchandise there. The tour with Mayhem was also a good experience. At first we looked at them from a certain distance, you know, they are Mayhem after all, but later on we came very well together when we got to know each other better. Each one of this tour was like I said before something special, we've known a lot of new people, visited new places and gained a lot of new fans. I can't say which one was the best.
T.R.: When I think about guys from Mayhem I imagine them being kind of dark, introspective and debauched persons...
Igor: No, not at all. The only one who is somehow a person that looks like the one who can't be fooled around is Necrobutcher, but even he, when he drinks more alcohol than he should is a totally nice person, we had a lot of fun together.
T.R.: Have you talked about the golden times of black metal in the early 90's. About Euronymous, Burzum, church burnings,...
Igor: Yes, we have, mostly with Hellhammer, but there is really nothing else to be said than the facts there were before mentioned in media. They are not burdened with those things, they talk normally about death of Euronymous and other things.
T.R.: Do you prefer to play in a club or on the big festival?
Igor: I like to play in front of a huge audience on festivals. There is usually better sound, better conditions. But again it depends on what kind of festival it is and what kind of club it is. For me it's better to play in front of twohoundred people in a club, where everybody knows your music and is having a good time than to play in front of thousands where nobody knows you. So, from this aspect it's difficult to say what I prefer more.
T.R.: It seemed unusual to me when you played at Wave Gothic Treffen in Leipzig...
Igor: Yes I know... The reason because we played there was that Slovenska Morbida (released in 2006) was co-released on German label Danse Macabre and we even had an agency there which name I forgot, but they made some things for us and one of those things was WGT festival. I remember that I liked very much that place where we had a show, it was a huge hall and a lot of echoing of sound in there. It was better than I expected and also that audience accepted us very well, although we are not gothic at all. That's what I remember from there and not much more.
T.R.: If we come back to your upcoming single and album, is there an album title already choosen?
Igor: It is, we also have lyrics for at least five songs that are almost done, but I can't reveal any titles until everything is finished like it should be. We don't have any cover designs and when we'll have that done we'll see how it works and only then it'll be revealed.
T.R.: Are you going to collaborate again with Peter Tägtgrenom and how it was working with him?
Igor: We collaborated with Peter twice, he was responsible for mixes of our last two albums. We were also invited in 2005 on their (Hypocrisy) UK tour. There we meet Nicholas Barker who was a drum technician on that tour and for those who don't know he is ex drummer of Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. We made contact with Peter on first edition of Metal Camp festival where he attended our live set and said that he would like to work with us. After that we went into his Abyss studio in Parlby (Sweden), small idilic town in the middle of the woods,... very beautiful. He needed one week for mix of our album. Peter is a typical scandinavian guy, calm, only when he gets drunk he becames kind of extremist. Anyway, doing those things with him was very instructive and we were honoured to have that chance, because he's a legend, not only as a producer, but also as a musician. Hypocrisy are also one of the bands that had a big impact on Noctiferia, especially with their album Abducted, Pain also, but not in such a big way and much later. As I said before we are now in the process of making and recording our next album and yes, we talked with Peter about working with him again but he's very occupied right now and I can't tell you for sure what's going to happen with this. Maybe this time the whole record will be done in our native country Slovenia in Studio Negligence, because the things are sounding really great so far.
T.R.: Your lyrics are quite criticical,... Will you continue this way?
Igor: Yes, but this time it won't be only naging and criticizing. Of course, there will still be lyrics in the style how crap everything is, but also in the sense that nature is salvation and this is a message of our upcoming album.
T.R.: The title of your second album Slovenska Morbida is quite strange and unusual...
Igor: This one come out of pure joke, but later it got sense. Just think in what kind of social environment we are living in this country, thinking style, work, entrapment in some patterns. And yes, when we thought about all this we found this title interesting and it got a lot of sense.
T.R.: I can see what are you thinking about our country...
Igor: I think it's terrible. Beautiful territory, but spineless people, sold out souls and similar things like thinkings of "small person" ruin everything. I can see a lot of scared people who just want to be recognized by European union. Slovenians are not proud to be who they are. We are always trying to get kind of approval either from Europe, USA or in the past from ex Yugoslavian countries.
T.R.: Consequently I must ask you how much do you follow politics?
Igor: Not that much lately. In the past I tended to follow everything, but I got sick and nervous. Now, not anymore, I don't vote and it really doesn't interest me anymore because I want to remain sane. Everything is nothing but a play, everything is determined from outside and our stupid politicians do tiny changes and just want to separate people between those who are for left-winged and those who are for right-winged partys. Again, just to make conflicts and gain some political points later. I don't want to think about this and certainly I don't want to be a part of this mess. If I could I would escape from this, I would like to be in nature, away from trends and clutter. I would like to be in peace within the nature. Everything that seems to be important today it's kind of fake. Movie "Samsara" shows in a great way  all this, how artificial we are and how much we fucked everything up. Terrible! I'm very pessimistic about everything that concerns the society. It feels like in the 30's of last century when there was a crisis and financial collapse. From crisis there were born psychopaths and people always need leaders. Just look at Greece today. Crisis like this produces extreme leaders, but this seems like a plan to destroy everything, just to build a new social order. People are kind of virus on this planet, but not in our basis, we became as one.
T.R.: So, this thoughts of yours must have an impact on music that you make?
Igor: Of course. Everything that I make is somehow connected with this. From what I compose, write, draw,... everything that I do is done with the same principle and yes, I believe that in our music there is present my view on the society of today.
T.R.: Let's go back to the music of yours. A lot of genre changes happened in your music since Noctiferia were formed...
Igor: I consider to be our first real beginning the demo Gods Of Pocka from 1996, everything done before that it's like it never existed, also no recordings were done before, although we play music since 1992. Music from that demo could be labeled as kind of very strange doom metal. Then Baptism At Savica Fall from 1998 is more black metal with death metal parts, some said it's pagan metal or so. Per Aspera (2002) is the first real record that has kind of massive dark sound and is done like we wanted to be. This dark feeling from this album is present on all our future albums although many listeners can't see this.
T.R.: But, the new single seems to be even darker than your last two albums, at least I got this feeling?
Igor: Maybe, I don't know how to label the new approach. It's death metal, doom? Certainly it's not black metal, I can say it's universal metal, but I believe that vocals will give it's final definition.
T.R.: And which band influenced you mostly since you've started making music?
Igor: There were periods. Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Samael and Metallica were those bands most important when we were evolving. Then I listened a lot to White Zombie, one of the biggest inspirations for me are Dead Can Dance and of course Emperor. I don't listen to black metal anymore, but if so then I listen to Emperor. Yngwie Malmsteen also influenced me in a great way as a guitarist, especially his first five albums. Juno Reactor is the thing that I listen a lot to last five years.
T.R.: As you mentioned Emperor, I must ask you what do you think about Ihsahns solo career?
Igor: In a way it's great, but I don't like the sound of his keyboards and some operatic vocals either. He felt into kind of strange gothic with too many synths and I don't like his clean vocals to. Yes, there are elements which are the best and those that I don't like that much.
T.R.: Some reviewers have found and made parallels between Noctiferia and Laibach...
Igor: I respect Laibach a lot, everything that is listenable from them is amazing. Also their aesthetics and those industrial parts amaze me in a big way.
T.R.: After quite a lot of line up changes in the past, it seems that Noctiferia has a stable line up right now.
Igor: We have become more serious, grown up and we know what we are doing. Since 2006 we have the same line up and we know each other very well. Everything seems to be fuctioning well for now and we know exactly what each one can do in a musical way.
T.R.: The sole music is done mostly by you, if I'm correct?
Igor: Riffs, synth parts, instrumental concept and majority of album concept is done by me. Gianni takes care of several beats besides Matjaž, because he plays drums extremely good and he's got really crazy ideas. Uroš takes care of texts and album thematics. Of course, then we sit together and discuss again about everything and make final touches.
T.R.: What's more important for you, for example, being featured on Slovenian national TV or to get second position on Metal Storm Awards?
Igor: Both things are important. Few years ago I would definitely say Metal storm, but I noticed that you must have a strong fan base in your own country. I don't know why, but you must give a certain weight on that. If you don't have some respect in your homeland than something must be wrong with the band. The second position on Metal Storm Awards in 2010 with our last album Death Culture was a huge success for Noctiferia. I don't find that important when we are featured on, for example 24ur web portal (most visited web-site in Slovenia), because Slovenia is a small country and they need news, so it's not that difficult to be featured in there. It's far more important to have a strong fan base here and fans that take us like we are theirs, than to appear in tabloids. I prefer to be present less, but on more deliberate places where people who know your music write about you.
T.R.: Noctiferia are one of few exceptions from Slovenia that succeded outside this country...
Igor: We were quite lucky when we signed to some labels that promoted us well and like we talked before had some great tours. We invested all our time and money in our music, but it took years to be worldwide recognized. I must mention also bands like Negligence who gained quite a lot of popularity with their debut album and of course Neurotech, who released an amazing album Antagonist, but they have a problem because they don't play live so often. I hope that Wulf from Neurotech will push his band into being a quality live act. Same stands for Dekadent, hope to see them on the road abroad some day.
T.R.: Are you prepairing some noticeable live appearances anytime soon?
Igor: Nothing special for now, because we are for now more concerned with our upcoming studio releases.
T.R.: With which band would you prefer to go on tour right now?
Igor: Korn? I like Korn very much! Great groove, amazing vocals,...
T.R.: How much do you follow what's going on with musical scene?
Igor: I research, but I don't follow that much what's going on. I check out things that got my interest with some titles, names or if somebody recommends something. I'm not that kind of person who should know what everything is going on within metal for example. I check out new bands and trends, sometimes I like what I hear but more often I don't. Ghost are one of the bands that I found out this way and are really cool.
T.R.: One personal question. Regarding that you have a family, two kids,... How do you manage everything?
Igor: I'm lucky enough. My girlfriend is very understanding and my family to, since I was a little kid they supported what I was doing. I have two daughters and of course much less time than before. But as I said they are very supportive and they define who I am in a big way. I don't identify myself with my regular job which I must do because of money, but with music that I leave behind and my girl understands this. Of course it's very energy consuming to have a family, regular job and a band, plus add that I'm not that organized person, but perfectionist and you can see a picture.
T.R.: When do you think it will come the time when you'll be able to live just out of music that you do?
Igor: I hope that with our next album,... that would be great.
T.R.: How many copies of your last album Death Culture were sold?
Igor: A couple of thousand. We have around houndred copies to sell it out completely.
T.R.: A lot of new bands release albums digitally in a manner "name your price". What do you think about that?
Igor: I have nothing against "name your price" manner, but I hate digital downloads. I like physical versions of albums, I like to have printed covers, disc, something to put on the shelf, to have a collection. I hate digital downloads, if your hard disc dies than the whole collection goes off. But of course, those who like it that way could find all of our albums on digital releases.
T.R.: You were making music also before internet era. How would you compare those times with today when we can't imagine our lives without it?
Igor: With internet everything is much easier. You can record, mix and produce albums at your home. We are also doing pre-production at home, electric drums for example sounds like professional one. A lot of informations how to do certain things are available on the net, but on the other hand the consequence is that there is a total surplus of bands out there. In the past everything was more calm and had a certain human note, but yes, it took a band much more time and effort to make an album like today. I prefered calmness of past times and I don't even have my own facebook profile.
T.R.: I remember some talks about projects that you were involved into. Lupus for example...
Igor: With Lupus we recorded something in 1999 at the place of our singer from then David "Varg Gorgoneion" Kiselič who later did a project Perun and left Noctiferia. There are some copies of that project on CD out there, but it was never officially released. The recordings are not that good, rhytm machine, mono guitar,... it was a project done by me and one guy called Occult Lord who I didn't see for years now and I don't know what's going on with him. Then we have another project called Smrt. Tony Laureano who played with Malevolent Creation, Dimmu Borgir, Nile, Brujeria to name a few recorded drums for this project, bass was handled by Steve DiGiorgio from Sadus, Soen, I took care of some rythms and all solos... and Boštjan Doblekar is responsible for most of the riffs and all vocals. I can say that Boštjan did 90% of music. One song was written by me. Yes, the album from Smrt is in its making for at least five years and now it's finally done and we are searching for a label.
T.R.: And how much contact do you have with your past members?
Igor: Not that much. I've seen David after a long time this summer on one festival here in Ljubljana. I meet Artur Felicijan here and there, he has a band Dekadent now. I wanted our former drummer Robert to play drums on before mentioned project Smrt, but somehow it didn't worked out.
T.R.: Which was the first album that you bought?
Igor: The very first was The Razor's Edge from AC/DC and Paradise Losts Shades Of God.
T.R.: And the last one?
Igor: The last one that I bought was Soen Cognitive.
T.R.: How much do you think that the recent financial crisis affects attendance on concerts?
Igor: A lot. I think that there are half less visitors on shows than before the crisis. I think that a band must choose wisely where to play. It's better to have a few less shows but those good.
T.R.: You made four video clips so far and one new is in the making. Any details...
Igor: Yes. We will make a video for our first single in collaboration with Marko who is a singer in Last Day Here. He's doing a video production, but the details will follow. For now I can tell you that we will be working on this video together and that the editing and post-production will be done by me. This video will be rather untypical for us. It will have more life and it will be less artistical.

T.R.: How much do you think that the video production is important for the promotion of band like Noctiferia?
Igor: Today everything is easier and technology is accessible to everybody and not only to big bands with huge reputation. In this recent times bands can do much more by themselves, not like it was in the golden times of Headbangers Ball in 80's and 90's. Bad side of this cheap production is lack in quality. Of course that the video production is very important for self promotion through the internet.
T.R.: Which song from your discography is the one that you like the most and which one was best received from fans?
Igor: I think that the essence of Noctiferia is in the song "Mara". This song is also closest to my heart, it's dark, mighty, not  only from musical aspect, but also from textual side. "Mara" is Noctiferia if you ask me. With fans is different. In Slovenia fans still mostly favourize our album Per Aspera and song "Fond Of Lies". In foreign countries I think that fans best welcome our songs from last album Death Culture, like "Demoncracy", "Monarch" and of course "Holymen" which became our "moshpit" song on live shows. In southern countries people like more mystical songs like "Forebang".
T.R.: I know that you said that you consider your real beginning in 1996 with demo Gods Of Pocka, but you formed this band in 1992, only that then it was called Emetica. What was the reason that you changed the bands name?
Igor: Those were our beginnings, we were enthusiastic and full of energy. We were investing everything into the band while our peers were drinking alchohol and catching girls. We changed our name because Emetica is rather unserious and comical. If I'm not mistaken Emetica is something that you eat only that you can vomit later. I think that it was a right thing that we changed our name just before we went into publicity. Demo Gods Of Pocka features songs from that era.
T.R.: I've never heard that you've done any cover songs. Are you planning something?
Igor: I want to make a cover of Laibach's "Smrt Za Smrt" for a very long time. I believe that now is the right time because this song fits so well on our upcoming album from conceptual and lyrical side. More than making a cover out of it, I would like to make a re-make. We played live some covers, like Samael's "Baphomet's Throne" and Juno Reactor's "Navras". We even made a re-make of "Baphomet's Throne" for our album Slovenska Morbida, but it never got published. Maybe it's still waiting for that...
T.R.: Reality shows...
Igor: I fucking hate those. The next thing that they would do will be to give them a gun and let's see who survives. I find reality shows as a total degradation and stupidity. I didn't watched any of many Slovenian reality shows.
T.R.: And what would be your words at the end of this interview?
Igor: I would really like to give a big thank you to all our fans and to all those who instead of this crisis are still buying our CDs and visit our shows, that's very important for us, it gives us a lot of energy. People should be able to distinguish good stuff from mediocre and bad things and follow that.

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