Interview by Mass
Hailing from the frigid taigas of Siberia, Nytt Land is a Nordic folk duo that incorporates ritualistic elements into their music to a mesmerizing extent. They have been involved with such endeavors for 7 years now and have released a multitude of enchanting albums, each forming a stepping stone for the band to take them as high as they are now. In an interview with NoobHeavy, the couple Anatoly “Nordman” Pakhalenko and Natasha “Krauka” Pakhalenko have talked about their music, their personal interests and of course the COVID-stricken world of today.
It wouldn’t be far from reality to say that Nordic folk music is not a very popular genre on a global scale. Why did you choose this particular medium for presenting yourself?
Well, when we started playing this music this genre was not yet so popular. The wave of interest went after the start of the fantasy series “Vikings”, and it was precisely on the wave of the popularity of this series that there was a surge in the popularization of the Nordic-folk music genre that we can see now. As far as I remember, we were one of the first who began to perform the Old Norse epic in a similar musical accompaniment. Immediately after Wardruna.
I have been making music for twenty years. And so are Natasha and I historians. For us, this genre of music has never been anything fashionable, as each song has a lot of work to do. We study languages, epics, legends – every song, this is a great experience accumulated by us. We live in a village in western Siberia, surrounded by nature and this also inspires us very much, the experience of communicating with nature, the slowed-down pace of life, unlike large megacities, allows us to see and feel the world differently, thereby expressing this in our work.
Your music is as contemporary and accessible to modern listeners as it is traditional and old. Was it intentional? How did you arrive at this fine balance?
It is unlikely that this happens intentionally. We just do as we feel. Despite the fact that we live far from civilization, it is worthwhile to understand that we live in the modern world, and even more so in the era of the Internet and the availability of any information, we also watch modern films, listen to modern music. All this to one degree or another is reflected in our work.
As far as I know, throat singing is quite common among North Asian peoples, and it is frequently used in your brand of Nordic folk. What is the reason?
The reason is that we live in North Asia, you can notice this if you carefully look at the map. Throat singing is traditional for the inhabitants of the Asian steppes and Altai, including our region, so I think it is quite logical for us to use the traditional art of our land in our work.
The fact is that throat singing is not just a growl, as we constantly hear in the performance of almost all of the recently emerging Nordic folk bands. This is an ancient tradition, it is more than singing, and not just sound performing. This is very important for understanding. And using throat singing and traditional instruments of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, we pay tribute to the traditional culture of our homeland, thereby expressing our Siberian identity.
You are not a new band in the genre and you have collaborated with some other musicians on your previous albums. How is your relationship with other bands and musicians that work in this domain, either in Russia or other countries?
We have friends among musicians. Sometimes we record something together, playing concerts and this is a cool experience. But first of all, it is human relations that are important for us, and already in the second, professional ones. Because it’s very comfortable to do something with a person when you are on the same wavelength and it’s unlikely that you will get something good if your partner is an asshole
In your kind of music, image and representation are as important as the music itself. And I can testify that in this regard, you are one of the most intriguing bands. What importance would you attach to your image and how do you try to enhance your (re)presentation in the media and on the net?
Well, the quality of our band’s representation on the network leaves much to be desired, I’m just learning how to do it and so far not everything is working out.
Each ritual requires appropriate preparation. We cannot just step onto the stage in our everyday looks. And our masks and costumes help us reincarnate, free our spirits for the creation of the Ritual. This is mysticism, that is, from the most ancient times, it is on the verge of reality and it is difficult to explain in words. My mask is different each time, depending on how I feel the place and its energy, it reflects the chaos that is released during the ritual.
You released CVLT on March 24th, but had to cancel your supporting tour as the result of all this COVID-19 pandemic. How are you dealing with this issue? And what are you going to do instead?
Yes, this situation was a major blow to the entire music industry. At first there was a little shock, precisely from how quickly everything happened. Concerts and tours were canceled just instantly and no one could do anything about it. Of course, everyone came to terms with the situation, we are glad that we managed to release some CVLT videos. Some festivals have been rescheduled. Now work is underway to build a tour schedule for next year, but perhaps some performances will take place this year as well. On the other hand, we now have more time that we are happy to devote to our son. It is important.
We work in our home studio, there are many ideas that are waiting to be implemented, perhaps some of them will be able to see the light now.
Let’s get a little personal. What are your favorite musical instruments, Anatoly and Natasha?
Anatoly: my favorite instruments are drums and bowed instruments. Crazy, wild energy, I like it.
Natasha: favorite is kravik lyre, piano, guitars. Guitar is my first instrument and probably remains one of the main so far.
Who would you say your strongest influences were, in music or in life in general?
If we talk about music and musicians who have had a great influence on us, then this list will be very large. We love music and in our playlists you can find a lot of different styles. It is Queen and Marilyn Manson, Nirvana and Rammstein, Bon Jovi and Mobi – lot of music. About life – of course it is our family, our parents. Now our main inspiration in life is our son. We learn a lot from him, look at the world differently, hear and listen. This is a very important experience.
It is very easy to be stuck in a rut and keep repeating yourself when it comes to music. How do you try to keep this monotony at bay and how do you try to generate new ideas for your music?
As I said in a recent film about NYTT LAND, we do not set any limits for ourselves. It’s simple – you don’t force yourself to be someone – you just remain yourself and do what you like. I don’t know whether this is right or not, I’m not even going to think about it – we just like to do what we are doing and it’s very important for us that we get the buzz from what we do and from the result.
You have also covered Ballada Jaskra song from The Witcher. Why was that? Was it just for fun or does it mean something special to you?
Natasha has Polish roots, and in general we really love Poland. And also, once upon a time I saw the Polish film The Witcher and I really liked it, first of all the soundtrack – that’s how the stars came together in the end. We have long wanted to record this song in our performance and we did it. You must agree that Slavic music has a very deep soul and this song, one of the few that perfectly expresses this.
If there is anything else you would like to add at the end of this interview, please feel free to do so.
Take care of your loved ones, in this difficult time it is more important than ever to support each other.