Shortly before the sixth Holy Death Over Kyiv festival I had an opportunity to talk to the festival’s promoter, who also happens to be the leader of the band Kaosophia. We had a couple of hours to talk and it took me ways longer to bring this conversation into order. The results you can see below.
Hi there! The next Holy Death over Kyiv is already in a couple of weeks. Tell me – where does the idea of this festival come from? How did the first of them work out?
Hi there! I was not the only one to come up with this idea – in fact, we were a group of people and our former drummer Zakhar also took part in the whole thing. The main idea was to make black metal events of the sort, that nobody else here makes. I knew and visited some festivals abroad, saw their lineups and I wanted the bands that other promoters never wanted or couldn’t – well, it’s hard to tell why – bring here, to play in Kyiv as well. So my wish was to fill in this gap and promote black metal as it is. All this was still in 2010 and I was thinking of making this an all-night event.
When did the first Holy Death over Kyiv took place?
The first festival took place in 2012. Well, “festival” is probably not really the best-fitting word to describe this event, but still. We invited Pseudogod and Teitanfyre – this was our start.
Tell me shortly: what was memorable about every HDOK?
The second festival was unfortunately not that good due to our lack of experience. Yet after every festival there was some sort of victory aftertaste – something, that’s difficult to express in words.
The third festival was followed by a trip to Chernobyl – we made it together with other festival bands – Cult of Fire, Kladovest… This trip and everything that took place there is the most memorable part of the third HDOK.
The fourth festival was unfortunately not that well attended.
My personal highlight of the fifth festival was the band Burshtyn. I sort of re-opened the music of this band for myself already during the festival. They ran into all sorts of troubles and difficulties before the show, but still managed to do it on the highest level. I would define them as a fresh blood of Ukrainian black metal scene.
What was more difficult: to make the first festival without any experience or get to today’s level, when you can already invite bigger names?
There are always difficulties. When one has no experience, he or she will always make mistakes, run into walls – and gain experience this way. In several years, once you get to a new level, you still continue to develop and get new experience, and run into new walls. It’s hard to tell when it was easier – it’s always difficult in a different way. Plus – this is not my main activity. It’s great that there is a team and there are people, who are ready to help.
Grave Circles, Goatflesh, now Morok – inviting bands to make their debut show at HDOK: is it already a part of the festival’s concept or just a mere coincidence?
That’s a good question. It’s both of what you’ve mentioned. I always wanted to help interesting bands to get a chance to play – especially in case if they haven’t ever played live before. Sharing stage with bigger names, which attract more people, is a good stimulus to work harder. So – getting back to the beginning of this interview: I’ve always wanted to do something that other promoters don’t do. When I first heard Grave Circles I really liked the music and couldn’t understand – why aren’t they playing anywhere, why doesn’t somebody invite them to play? So it is a concept and it is a coincidence as well.
Quite unexpectedly right after the dates and lineup of Holy Death over Kyiv were announced, there appeared another gig – for the same date and for the same sort of event. This was the gig of Dark Funeral. So the majority of the fans had a very difficult choice to make – which gig should they attend? One could see on the Internet numerous times (as well as hear offline) the question: why wouldn’t promoters unite those events? Let’s put the relationships between the promoters aside and talk only about the festival concept – would Dark Funeral suit your idea of event or they are too mainstream?
For this very festival the answer would be definitely “no”. For the next one – maybe. We take great care choosing festival lineup – every band has a definite slot and it’s also a part of the event’s concept. So this time it would have been absolutely impossible.
Let’s go on with “what if…?”. Just imagine that you could get any of the live bands to play at your festival – like literally any. Which one would you choose as a headliner?
Let me think…From those who’re alive and currently playing live…Let it be Mayhem.
Ok. Let’s leave the festival topic aside for now – you’re not only a promoter, but also a musician, who‘s taking part in several projects. Tell me – which of the projects are still active and what roles do you have there?
For the time being Kaosophia is my main project. I also play as a session musician in Bergrizen.
Wait, what about Do Skonu?
I don’t play there now.
So you’re not going to join them on stage for this festival and the band will appear in the new lineup?
Exactly. Do Skonu will introduce their new lineup – I’m really interested in seeing that. It’s going to be a big surprise.
For those who saw Kaosophia’s previous gig this won’t be news anymore, but I guess there were not many Ukrainian visitors (the gig was outside Ukraine): you’re singing in Kaosophia now and put the guitar aside. How did this happen? Was it your sole decision, band’s decision or Morthvarg’s, or some coincidence?
Morthvarg decided to leave. And the rest of the band decided it would be easier to have an author of the band’s concept (me) as a singer and find a new musician to play guitar, than look for a new voice of the band.
Who are the major people in the band?
It’s now the same as previously – me and our bass-guitar man Konstantin.
Who’s writing music and the lyrics? Is it you only or is it all the result of the collective creative work?
It’s not only me – I sort of consolidate everything and push our work forward. I never wanted this to be a one-man project, where I would write everything, then find session musicians and let them play.
For example our second album – Serpenti Vortex – includes a lot of material, that was written by our second guitarist Dmitry (not the band member anymore) as well as material composed by our bass-guitarist Konstantin. My part was in uniting all this by aligning every part along with the general concept. We’re working on our new songs now and I have composed many of them, including lyrics. But Kaosophia has always been a band, not a one man project.
In the recent years Kaosophia played more often abroad (Hungary, Estonia, Belarus) than in Ukraine. Why?
I’m not for playing often the same material for the same audience. A good reason to play is when one has something new to show and say. Also there are not that many interesting offers and we’re not going to impose ourselves.
What about new songs? Are we going to hear them at the festival?
We’re working on that, there is a chance we will manage it in time. But we’re also working hard on a new album and it’s still too early to reveal any particular dates.
Why in your opinion our bands are rarely represented abroad, especially at the big festivals?
Why rarely? Kroda is playing at SteelFest this year, followed by a very interesting festival in Scotland – Guides Us Fest. There are no barriers – just those which we ourselves put in front of us.
You’ve been at numerous festivals as a musicians as well as a visitor. What impressed you? What are the similarities and differences in organization of such events in Ukraine and abroad? Please, share your thoughts on this.
Well, in case we’re talking about visitors – the locals make up about one third of the total amount in other countries. The rest are coming from abroad. For example – there are a lot of visitors from Finland, coming for the festivals in Estonia. You can rarely see this in Ukraine.
As for the organization – I wouldn’t say that our festivals are worse. Some of our events are even better than those abroad.
But some things are definitely easier for our colleagues in the other countries. For example, they can invite a lot of bands who are not that big and still make a good event. Our promoters usually hunt for bigger names, and thus the bands who are on their way there, are not getting through. And people are also buying tickets only when they see bigger names – although festival can and should be interesting due to the option of discovering there some new and interesting music.
Hmmm…not worse you say? Could it happen that a band like Marduk would be ditched right after the festival and have to get to the airport at their own costs?
No, right you are – such thing wouldn’t happen abroad.
Could in your opinion the branches of black metal -– pagan BM, DSBM, atmospheric BM and others be defined as true black metal or is this one represented only by good old satanic BM?
Black metal is about death and discrimination so I would definitely put those genres together.
Mayhem or Burzum?
Nokturnal Mortum or Drudkh?
Behemoth or Satyricon?
Hard to tell.
What do you think of Nergal’s activities on social media? Is it ok for Black Metal – normal, part of the modern culture that one should accept or is it just showing off, mainstream and is unacceptable for Black Metal?
As for me Behemoth is now exactly there, where Satyricon always has been struggling to get to, in every aspect. Acceptable or not? Why not? There are no boundaries for the Devil and every sort of propaganda is important and necessary. Btw, getting back to your previous question – Behemoth.
What would you choose for yourself and your band now: play at a big festival for the audience of several thousands people, who are not acquainted with your music – or to play in a small club, where people would buy tickets because of your band?
That would depend on the point of the band’s development. For the time being I would prefer the second option.
Let’s go on with “…or …” game. Howard Lovecraft or Stephen King?
It’s definitely Lovecraft.
“Shining” or “It”, in case we talk about King?
Where do you get the ideas for lyrics of Kaosophia from? Do they come from literature or other kinds of art also inspire you?
Mostly from the world around me. In fact, the things that could be inspirational are happening in our world every second. Any event could work as a trigger.
But Black Metal doesn’t concentrate on social topics and the images, that often appear in BM are not that easily projected on daily routine…
Well, that’s why I define them as triggers of inspiration, but not as a source of it. The inspiration comes – the portal opens. As an example I can tell you the story connected to the sect of “Branch Davidians”. They had a lot of followers and they were also controlling quite significant flows of weapon and drugs. This ended with the shooting and siege of their mansion. According to one version of the grand finale 80 of them committed suicide, according to another version – they were exterminated by governmental forces. After I had studied this story in detail I wrote a song about catharsis and religious fanaticism. This composition will be a part of the new album.
Did it ever happen that after finishing the song you would understand that the result sounds rather plagiary?
In this case I would get rid of it. Art interprets or partly copies something that was there earlier. But in case the similarities are obvious or I would see it as that – this wouldn’t ever make to the final version of the song.
Which band had the most influence on you?
Wow, that’s unexpected.
Indeed. But that’s my favorite band of all times.
What would you like to tell the readers of this interview?
Visit local concerts, buy tickets, support underground – in case this is not done, don’t be surprised that promoters bring the same bands all over again and new and interesting projects never get to play in your city.