Reino Ermitano – We Are Witch Doom …   Leave a comment

Doommantia and Aleks is proud to present to you this interview with Tania and Marcos of Reino Ermitano, one of the most mesmerizing bands on the planet and one of my favorite bands of all time. Reino Ermitaño was formed in Lima, Peru, in late 2001, by ex-members of Melquiades and Darken, looking for a thick and heavy sound, mainly influenced by rock bands from the 70’s and classic metal, and incorporating doomy elements of their own leading to find a convincing melee of darkness, melody, rock n’ roll and epic sounds. They are one of the most unique bands in the doom scene which comes from their eclectic influences and the unique vocals from Tania Duarte. Hope you enjoy this interview.

Q: Salute to Reino Ermitano! Who is on line today?

-Marcos and Tania are here to respond!

Q: What is the current band’s state? I guess it would be fine to hear something like “we’re working over new material right now!” Bring it on!

Tania: Yes, that´s exactly what we are on now. Just about to record our fourth record for which we already have material and which will be called Veneration of Fire or something like that.

Q: Will a new CD include so many songs as earlier ones? You record albums with at least dozen or more songs, and it’s a quiet big number, do you care about quality-quantity ratio?

Tania: It´s all related to the number of songs we all compose and bring to the band. But mostly we care about digging (liking and also the quality) the songs and their forming part of the concept of the record. No filler songs you know. And yes, this album will have many songs too. But also wanting to edit in vinyl, we have to take care of the timing.

Q: What will the new album be about? Which lyrical themes can we expect from it? Do you feel a responsibility for your listeners and yourself composing music and songs’ lyrics?

Tania: The new album has lyrics related to misanthropy, rescuing the wisdom of ancient indian culture, usual questioning of society issues, the eternal search for the dark unreal in a philosophical quest, etc.

It´s not exactly a responsibility, it´s more about saying the things we need to say, the responsibility in my case is more about composing the music of the song, finding the time for quiet composition, cause the lyrics, the poetry are always there.

It´s more an expression, a demand, our personal ideology and life experience wisdom, a small grain of energy to support awareness and conscience for inner transformation, which is the only real change. The responsibility relies on being true to who we are in our music and about saying what is truly in our minds and hearts at the moment, as well as what we feel about certain things happening out there, society, absurd, etc through metaphors like nature and dark fantastic creatures for example.

Marcos: On the next album there’s also some lyrics about falling out of touch with that which used to define you, with your essence and your dreams or what they used to be and the search for redemption with oneself at the end when you find yourself spent, alone and headed for oblivion, with no responsibility to remain true to anyone but yourself. Another song deals with the illusion of finding beauty and magic in the midst of this grey reality and being able to attain the rapture that makes life intense and meaningful (in our own ways)… a bunch of praying to our inner gods, and the totems that make us draw strength from them, which can be dream, death and darkness at so many highlights of our lives.

Personally the only responsibility I feel regarding any listeners we may have is to remain true, honest and strong about the art we make. No compromises, no intention to please, no moral high ground. People may draw what they will from what we do. Just the fact that anyone can connect with our music, emotions and energies is enough of a privilege, and anyone can use this relationship as they would… I know music from other people have helped me alter different moments in my life to my advantage, be that to get through a dark period or just to enjoy another or to draw inspiration from it. I think once you establish a relationship with a band’s music it’s no longer theirs but yours, to use as you will.

Q: I’ve read that you wanted to raise the theme of “experiences in ayahuasca, a sacred spiritual therapy hallucinogen” that you did on your last album “Rituales Interiores”, it’s an interesting theme and unknown for most of our readers so I would like to ask you to comment it.

Tania: This is ancient chamanic indian knowledge from the amazonian jungle where the vine is found. The potion obtained from this plant previously boiled with another one (chacruna) acting as a catalyzer, leads you to body, mind and spiritual healing, answers, creativity and magic. Hallucinations of color and geometry accompany the process of inner and outer cleansing and change. It´s a trascendental experience for everyone and especially artists. Doors of perception are opened, demons are expelled, colors surround you. The whistling and chanting of sacred melodies by the chaman throughout the whole night ritual embrace you in a life changing experience. This is knowledge that has been despised by occidental culture, but in these so-called primitive rituals, lies an answer to internal and external harmony in my personal opinion.

Q: You released this CD two years ago – how do you see it now in retrospective? Did it teach you anything? Do you feel you grow with each release?

Tania: You learn about sound technology with each recording. You learn about yourself and how you felt and thought at that specific time. You see how the next recording can be improved. You get new ideas from the old ones. Every record is like giving birth to a new creation creature, so you grow as a band and individually too.

Marcos: I am very happy with the way Rituales turned out, I think our music has found it’s own path, I hope we can keep on expanding from there. I believe sound-wise every record has been an improvement in some ways and we hope to be happier still with the next one! Naturally there’s always some criticism about technical details in hindsight with every record, but I believe so far all of them have been loyal to their essence. About Rituales in particular, I think it possesses an atmospheric element that I dig a lot in particular. With time we’ve been able to take more care about the recording process and spend more time and resources in it, and trying to get as close as possible to the way we sound, and stay as organic and analog as possible. We’re definitely gonna’ be headed more and more in that direction sound-wise, so I’m expecting a very earthy sound on the next one.

Q; Why don’t you write one or two songs with English lyrics for Reino Ermitano albums? Do you feel that Spanish is more suitable for the sound of your songs and their lyrics?

Tania: We can do it. We are not radical and don´t have any limitations. We haven´t felt the need to do it as merely a catapult towards internationalization. It´s not the main objective. But we could sing in English or German or Quechua if it suited the phonetical aspect of the song or the message we would be trying to convey if it were the case. Spanish is our native tongue, although imposed centuries ago by the Spaniards, it´s the tongue we normally write our lyrics in because it´s the language we think in.

I think it´s great that writers, poets, composers, directors, etc manifest their thoughts in their own language, diversifying existing creations in the artists own personal form of expression, and using English as a tool for general understanding (translations for example) without giving up on personal essence.

Marcos: Although I don’t object to singing in English by any means, I concur that we don’t really see any need for it with Reino Ermitaño at the moment… this is the way this band was born and raised, and it allows us to express ourselves in our language. I don’t see it as a handicap – I’d rather see a German movie in German with subtitles rather than hearing it dubbed to Spanish, for sure… it’s just the way this band is and I think it allows for a more powerful expression of what we wanna’ say, without having to take concern about how it’s gonna’ be taken or what opinion it may raise… I’ve never had any problem listening to music in different languages, as I’ve quite enjoyed listening to music mostly sung in English all of my life. We do like to provide a translation with our records, though, for those interested in the words.

Q: Do you have songs about witches? Reino Ermitano is one of the few bands with a lady as vocalist, you have an atmosphere of witchery in your songs, there’re “women” in art-works of your albums and you play in an certain genre of music which presuppose a presence of “witch-themes” in your songs!

Tania: Yeah, this is witch doom, haha. With witches singing and mermaid enchantresses swimming in the ocean and magic all around. Unquestionably the feminine energy is an important element in the band and brings a new dimension. We all love dark magical themes and witches are of course the incarnation of these fantasies. Witches are creatures of beauty, evil, magic, healing, sexual freedom, solitude, nature and forest, medicinal herbs. Mermaids, fairies and all sorts of fantastic creatures like these are in the same spectrum and shadow of emancipated, free women. Women of real power, not at the mercy of men, or imposed roles by society. Complete humans with all the warrior female energy. Witches are the representation of all that, and all that is feared by cowards. Wickedness and outspokenness, silence and wisdom.

-Marcos is an author of Reino Ermitano art-works and I bet that he has more than this in his background. Therefore this question is for him: which feelings do you express usually through your works and how do you feel which ones is more suitable for the band?

Marcos: I am an oil painter on my time apart from the band… honestly, the covers I’ve painted for the band’s albums have always been about expressing the same sorts of feelings as I try to convey through the music or words. It inevitably always falls back to those dark, magical themes, but in my other work, while I remain usually within figurative painting I suppose I try to work just a bit more towards abstract distortion and expressionism, I suppose album covers always remain a bit between paintings and illustrations. I love doing that kind of work, to me it’s trying to put music and intention into images. Sometimes I’ve given some paintings to bands to be used as covers, but with Reino they’ve all been painted specifically for the records they were gonna’ be a cover for, so they were meant as a complimentary visual message to the music and vibe of each album.

Q: Women were always mentioned as a half of humanity which is closer to occult forces, which feels it deeper – can you say that it’s true considering your experience in Reino Ermitano? Can you imagine the band without it’s female energy?

Marcos: No! haha. The female energy part, I mean. It wouldn’t be the same band, man… I can see myself and the others playing doom and heavy stuff from here on till the end of days, but it certainly wouldn’t be Reino Ermitaño without Tania’s witchy vocals.

About the occult and dark forces, it’s been a topic that has always fascinated and attracted me as well, I think this happens because you’re drawn to something that you find resonates with what you have inside of you as well, and I’m sure that is true for so many people who find beauty in what’s usually considered odd places, as I suppose most folks who are into this sort of genre know all too well. I’m sure women have an innate sensibility and receptivity towards some subtle energies out there but also, the fact that women have been associated with witchery in occidental history has a lot to do with the traditional role they and men occupied in it. In most South American indigenous societies the witches and shamans have traditionally been men, but that doesn’t mean a disadvantage concerning women either, I think it mostly comes from the social role that both sexes played in these societies also. We’re both made of the same stuff in the end.

Q: Does the word “doom” have any meaning to you nowadays? Sometimes bands that play in vein of the Elder Ones say that their music is not metal at all, so how do you see a soul of Reino Ermitano?

Tania: Doom is just a tag. We do what we like but the metal element is there too since it´s a sound we enjoy. As well as the heaviness, progressiveness, aggressiveness that we have been influenced by in the music we hear, that match the ideas and emotions we wish to portray.

I think we cultivate our own thing but you can hear all our influences there.

Marcos: Yeah, we play trad doom metal, we play heavy rock, just plain doom… call it what you will. I appreciate the conservative stance many have taken towards doom as a means to separate the more traditional approach from the weepy, gothy, synth-ridden crap that isn’t heavy and is sometimes referred to as doom in some circles which are not our own ha-ha but we’re not married to a name, just to heaviness and intensity, and when the mind allows, creativity! Not that we think we’ve invented the wheel or anything, we just really take seriously to play exactly what we want to hear and not an ounce more. If that takes us occasionally through a non-traditional path, that’s quite fine, too. I don’t have any problem with keeping an open mind and there’s all sorts of bands and music that I listen to and enjoy that are not within the confines of strict doom.

Q: You have been playing since 2001 and you released the first album “Reino Ermitano” in 2003, what was a birth of the band for you?

Tania: The band was born since we got together and has reborn many times with every album release, every good concert and the tours we´ve made.

Marcos: I suppose we’ve also had some sort of new re-birth a couple of years ago when there was a change within our ranks. Our former guitarist Henry Guevara departed from the band after Rituales and we’ve been playing for some time now with Eloy at the guitar which has definitely infused some new elements into our sound, very much in a good way, as he’s a great musician and a kin soul. Hopefully you’ll be able to appreciate his input soon in our next release.

Q: Doom-bands often have a bunch of records besides their full-length albums – singles, EPs, split-albums, but you have only full-length ones, can we say what it is one of differences between bands of South America and European bands for example? Can you say you have your own way of producing, playing and spreading your music?

Marcos: I guess for us it’s always been about gathering all the songs we have at a given period of time and have them all represent that era, so we always plan for full-length and choose our songs and put them together with that in mind. We’re picky so the ones that don’t make it, just don’t get there. We have our own way for sure, although I don’t think it’s rocket science or extremely original or anything like that, just what we’re comfortable with… we’re not in a race by any means, we take our things in our own pace and as reality allows. We’re not set to produce something every year or every few months just “to be out there” you know? We’ve no problem with doing a split or an EP if the opportunity comes, it’s just that so far, we’ve only committed the time and energy to doing things this way, ‘cause recording isn’t that easy and when the time comes we totally try to give it our best effort and make an album of it. This time around we have a lot of tunes that are important to us in the works, though, so we’re not ruling out recording a further session relatively shortly after the next album, and see what we make of that.

Q: Marcos said in an interview for one web-zine that Peruvian metal scene “is very rooted in 80’s thrash metal” – how do you think why did it happen?

Marcos: I have no idea man, it’s strange to me. It’s not just the metal scene, it’s a lot of the music in general, even radio stuff. I love eighties metal, so I have no problem about it, but I guess most of the 30++ metal generation here isn’t all that much into new stuff, what can I say. It’s not a bad things, metal bars here will play thrash through most of the night which is quite suitable for drinking, I think!

Q: How do you promote your music in Peru and in other parts of world?

Marcos: Our last record was published, promoted and distributed by Sweden’s I HATE, and the one before that by PsycheDOOMelic from Austria, so they took care of that end. Over here we print a limited amount of copies through our label Ogro Records for the local folk. We don’t promote much around here, just through gigs, fanzines and the web.

Q: It was the last questions for this time. Thank you very much for your patience and answers! Good luck!

Tania: Thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed your questions. Cheers to those who like our music and support us and to brother bands like ours. Thanks for reaching further and finding something that resonates with you in underground art and also what we do, going beyond the craziness and absurd of today´s world. Maintain the savage spirit, continue dancing in the forests, climbing mountains, seeking the spectral aura that lies within but mostly, dooming what thou wilt.

Marcos: Much thanks for the cool interview, hope we can start crossing the borders and play abroad soon. Much thanks to all the people from outside who listen to and care about our music, it truly is more than I had ever expected when we started this band. Do what you want and stay true to the heavy shit within. DOOM ON
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov

Reino Ermitano @ Myspace

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Posted January 22, 2011 by doommantia in Uncategorized

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