VOIDHAVEN are to me but I was taken by their EP, so much that I wanted to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
You have one of these names that do not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
Simon: In general, it is pretty hard to come up with good new band-names today, since so many are already taken. However, in our special case it was not that tough since the name Voidhaven was already discussed for our former band Crimson Swan. To be honest, I always liked it better, so it was a natural choice to bring it up again. This time the majority voted for it, because it was a good description for the atmosphere which we want to achieve with our music and lyrics.
How do you introduce the band to people that are new to your music? *
Phil: It is always difficult to describe your own sound, but I would try it this way: Look at our name, look at our song-titles and at the artwork. Now try to imagine what this might sound like when transferred into music. In my opinion, this gets pretty close to it. Of course, you could also just simply say Goth / Death Doom, but I think such labels put a plain stamp on you before people even listen to it and we try to avoid this.
We all carry baggage with us that affects us in one way or another but what would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
Martin: I don’t think there is one single greatest influence on our sound. We come from many different musical backgrounds and the main work in writing songs is bringing all these diversified experiences together and uniting them in one coherent musical vision.
Simon: I agree, we all have been listening to so much music in our lives, that it is impossible to outline a “single biggest influence”. There are surely bands sounding similar to us in our genre and many of them have probably had more or less influence on us. But that happens unconsciously. But to drop a name for a single aspect at last: I think, that without purposely trying to sound like him or studying his licks and solos, my lead guitar playing was influenced by Paradise Lost’s Greg Mackintosh a great deal.
What is the scene like in your area? Is it important that there is some sort of local scene for a band to develop or can a band still exist in a vacuum of no scene/no bands?
Simon: Maybe our guitarist Phil would disagree a little, but in my eyes there is (at least nowadays) a small but solid Doom scene in and around Hamburg. It surely helps with organizing local gigs or being able to offer a package of more than one band to external promoters. For other Metal-subgenres the situation is even better. There are locations for all sizes, from underground-club to arena. Nevertheless, for a new band, it can be tough to get gigs, because there are so many concerts of “big” bands that the clubs are booked and the audience sometimes is a bit overfed. Anyway, even without a scene, it is possible for a band to develop, as the example of Ophis proves. When they started, there was nearly no Doom-Death scene at all in all of Germany. Phil: I would not disagree.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
Martin: I wouldn’t call it a movement, that seems a little far fetched. To me it feels great to work together with likeminded musicians on something that at the end gets published and listened to by dozens, hundreds or even more people. It also feels great to present these works live on stage in front of people who enjoy what you painstakingly worked on for months.
When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
Simon: Well, you can have birds and bees, but they need to look gloomy and bleak, haha. But seriously, I cannot give you specific elements that need to be included to make a cover “great”. It depends too much on personal taste. In general, as far as I’m concerned, a good album cover enhances the atmosphere and mood of the music and lyrics. That’s why a fitting artwork is important, at least to me. Martin: Now I want a birds-and-bees cover for the next release.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
Martin: I’m kinda split. Digital is great for flexibility. Wherever I am I can listen to my favorite music without carrying CDs around, no matter if I’m at work, shopping or traveling, it’s there. On the other hand I love having a physical release, opening it, looking at the artwork, reading the booklet. Touching the merchandise makes a release much more tangible for me and adds to the experiencing of the songs.
Phil: Killing music would be too harsh, maybe, but it IS proven that it changes music – and in my opinion, not for the better. Just watch the commercials: “Alexa, play happy music”. There is no need to buy records on your own anymore, there is even no need to look for artists that you like anymore. In the past, me and my friends used to trade tapes and we met to listen to each others records in order to find new stuff. Today, some AI does that for you. I met lots of kids who own huge collections of mp3 but don’t even know the names of the band they are currently listening to. The result is, that music becomes even more an accessory instead of an art form. Appreciation decreases. I can remember how I searched for 6 years until I finally found a copy of Nonoyesno’s “Deepshit Arkansas” album. It was a very rewarding feeling. Today I could just switch on the AI and here I go. No effort. No reward. Martin: I agree with Phil, but there is another thing where digital shows its usefulness: It makes the works of lesser-known artists far more accessible. I was never into tape-trading, and I just love digging around in various “Hey guys, check out my new band” posts on social networks.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
Phil: A very small one. Doom was never very popular, even though there was a small “boom” some years ago. But it is declining at the moment, and while established bands can still play, new bands have it tough. Fortunately, I see that as a motivation.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
Simon: Neither. We are glad when we can send the audience home satisfied and perhaps even happy. But of course our music is not made for a party. We aim for a solemn and melancholic, but not deadly serious mood. Thus we are not stylizing our concerts as happenings, masses or ceremonies. It would be unfitting and over the top.
What would you like to see the future bring?
Martin: For Voidhaven, I’d say it’s playing some gigs, recording an album that people like, writing more songs and such. For me, I hope the world gets a little less idiotic and a little more rational in the future. As for the idiots I’d like them to hate others less and hate themselves more.