Genre: progressive folk / black metal
Hello, Zagreus! I would like to start the interview with some general facts about the band and about your music. The very first question won’t be much complicated – what does the name of the band, Jarun, actually mean? I couldn’t find its meaning anywhere…
Hello! There’s nothing special about this name. Nothing special is hiding behind it anyway. It’s just a name taken from ancient Slavic mythology. Jarun was poorly known, local deity of vegetation, spring and fertility, known mainly among the eastern Slavs. Little is actually known about him and he’s quite a mysterious figure. But the fact that I took the name from Slavic mythology doesn’t mean that we are actually a “pagan” band although of course we draw inspiration from folklore and tradition. It’s just a strong, good, well sounding name for a band. Short and concise, easy to remember. I’m sorry if anyone was disappointed by this answer ;)
The band was founded in 2010 as an one-man project led by you. Why Jarun didn’t start as a regular band? Did you have problems with finding another musicians? Or did you wanted to express everything only by yourself and just changed your mind with time?
It actually started a little bit earlier. Somewhere around 2008 if I remember correctly. Then after some time I went abroad and the project was suspended till the autumn of 2010. Only then it returned as a full-sized band. Jarun in the beginning was rather a hobby not a serious project. A break from serious music activities. I was just a little bit tired back then. I played in several different bands before, from raw black to technical death metal but unfortunately, all of these bands for many reasons, just fall apart and after each such collapse I had less and less desire to start it from scratch. I guess I just needed a break, but because I still I wanted to play and create, so the idea of a solo project.
As we said, Jarun was founded in 2010, but your first album was released two years later. I couldn’t find any information about possible demos. Did Jarun make any recordings before “Wziemiozstąpienie”, or the album is really your very first official release? If the second option is right, why did it take two years to release it?
Well… you couldn’t find any information about demos because there wasn’t any ;) “Wziemiozstąpienie” is our first recording ever. We didn’t want to waste our time on demos, EP’s etc. but rather to strike immediately at full power with full length album. It took us two years for many reasons. Among other things we just wanted to rehearse it first as thoroughly as possible before we could enter the studio. Then when we actually started recording process it didn’t go as smoothly as we wanted. There were long breaks between recordings of individual instruments etc. At that time we also had no permanent bassist, so we had to ask our friend Mateusz “Mateo” Kotkowski, from the rock band Emergency Pilots for help in recording the parts of that instrument. Also, the production of physical copies of the album itself was somewhat extended. So only in the autumn of 2012 our work on the album has finally come to an end. It took us a long time but it was worth it.
When you first contacted us, you wrote that you try to come up with something new in the genre. I have to confess that I didn’t believe it so much in the beginning because almost everybody claims something similar, however Jarun’s mixture of folk/black metal with prog-rock elements is truly unusual, which is of course great. I’d like to ask how it happened that you started playing such a combination? I guess it might because of an interest both in folk/black and progressive music, is that right?
Partially yes, but this is not the whole truth. My musical interests are very wide and include many widely differing genres. In the case of Jarun I just wanted to try something different, something I have not tried yet. I played in various bands before. Some were better, some worse, but I always tried to find something different in them, mix the brutality with climate, melody with heaviness, simplicity with sophistication. I hope that in the end I have succeeded with Jarun. Black metal is probably the closest genre for me, thing I have always liked and played. As for folk I was born and raised in the mountains and as a result this type of sound has always been close to me ;) Also, progressive influences are not strange to me. I always liked bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson etc. I’m not saying that Jarun has something to do with them but some openness to a variety of sounds is for us quite common as I believe.
It is also interesting that – as it is written in Jarun’s biography – the project started with rather folk music using traditional instruments. Does it mean that Jarun was purely folk project in the beginning? If so why did you decide to expand the music also with metal. Are there any recordings from this period of the band?
Not really. There was a lot of metal, or more specifically black metal elements in Jarun’s music from the very beginning. But on the other hand, folk influences were much better heard. I used a bunch of traditional folk instruments, traditional melodies and compositional solutions. In fact, these were mostly sound experiments. I recorded parts of flutes, pipes, mouth harp etc. mostly just for fun of doing so. I recorded almost all the material in such form besides bass parts and vocal lines. I put a few songs from that material on our Myspace profile then but now they are no longer available. I still have them on my computer’s hard disk, but rather I’m not going to brag about them. Sound quality is just too low ;)
When we are talking about genres… Encyclopaedia Metallum says that you used to play in a death metal band called Archanger, is that right? I would say that there is a quite apparent difference between death metal and the music you play with Jarun nowadays, isn’t it? What do you think was the cause of such a change? Anyway, why did Archanger split up? And how do you see Archanger’s music from your today’s point of view? I’ve tried to find some previews of the band’s music but didn’t succeed…
Yes. That’s correct again. Archanger was my first “serious” band and it was indeed death metal. But it wasn’t typical, brutal and harsh sounds usually identified with this genre. We tried to combine it with other influences. Music itself was quite melodious and we also tried to connect our approach to death metal with some doom and thrash metal patterns. In fact, there is no huge gap between music of Jarun and Archanger. Of course, not counting the folk part ;) Archanger broke up of very trivial reasons. I think a lot of bands end up in this way. We started to have problems with the equipment, with place for rehearsals and eventually our guitarist moved to another city and band died of natural causes. Typical story. Before it happened we were able to record two demos – “Apostasy” and “Empire”, play some (mostly local) gigs and have a lot of fun ;) We were then young, inexperienced, but full of enthusiasm just the same as our music was. Some things I’m still proud of, other make me laugh a little, but it was an important part of my life and my musical education which taught me a lot. Interestingly, our current singer Meph also appears in the other, death metal band called Formosus, whose guitarist is Gambit, my old friend and former guitarist and co-founder of Archanger. Small world ;)
Back to Jarun… you use your native language in the music. I know it’s a little bit cliché question but why did you decide to use Polish not “regular” English? I of course appreciate it because I like when singer sings in his own language, I’m just asking…
I have to admit that it was a difficult decision. Paradoxically, it is easier to write lyrics in a foreign language. You can hide yourself, your thoughts and feelings behind a cloak of foreign words. In addition people do not pay close attention to it as you sing it then and it is easier to focus on the music. On the other hand, it somewhat limits the range of potential public and this is not a good thing if you have something important to say. So I had to choose carefully… Eventually I decided to choose Polish lyrics. It seems to me that they are better suited to the character of the music. Besides, it allows me to reach “deeper”, to write lyrics simply better because, of course I use my mother tongue much better than any foreign one. It turned out that it was a good decision. I met with many opinions about our lyrics and they are all very enthusiastic. Our lyrics are indicated as a very strong element of our album.
Well, let’s talk about “Wziemiozstąpienie” now… There is a symbol in the down right corner of the album’s artwork. I noticed you use this symbol also on some other places (like profile picture on Jarun’s Facebook). Does this symbol have any particular meaning? If so, could you explain it to us? The same question gets also to the mask which is on the left side of the cover…
Very good question. But again, my answer may be a bit disappointing for some. Nothing special hides behind this symbol. It’s only connected to each other, three stylized letter “J” in a circle taken from our logo ;) Something like our graphic symbol. The seal of Jarun ;) I wanted to create a graphic element that immediately will be associated with us. Like Emperor’s “icon E” or Metallica’s “M’s”. That’s all. As for the mask, it was created by our bassist – Radogost. He carved it out of wood, photographed it and then put on the cover. And again, nothing special hides behind it. We were just looking for the interesting theme for the cover, something that would attract attention and at the same time fit into the character of the music and lyrics. I think that we succeeded.
We have already talked about the language. I unfortunately don’t understand Polish so I have absolutely no idea what are your lyrics about, and I also dare to say that most of our readers have the same problem. I can guess some titles’ meaning because Czech and Polish are a little bit similar but it doesn’t reveal much. Could you somehow describe us the basic ideas behind Jarun’s lyrics?
I will do my best, but it will be quite a difficult task. From the beginning, I tried to avoid the typical black metal or pagan themes. I wasn’t going to write about Satan or pagan deities because I’m not a follower of any of them (actually I “follow” myself exclusively ;)) These lyrics are sometimes very personal. Although I use quite often metaphors referring to nature, what some perceive as “pagan”, these lyrics are far from being like that. I am trying to write about important things. Life, death, loneliness, sadness, even of love. I do not want to impose to anyone one specific interpretation of these texts. I would like everyone to understand them in their own way. I understand that this is not easy if you do not know the language, so I’m thinking about translating of all the lyrics into English and placing them somewhere where everyone can read them.
“Wziemiozstąpienie” was self-released. I think it is quite common nowadays when a band releases its albums itself but the reasons for this may differ. Some bands just fail in finding a label, other bands do it purposely because they want to. What were Jarun’s reasons for releasing album themselves? And why did you decided digipack format?
We didn’t even look for any label. From the very beginning we decided to release this album at our own expense. There were many reasons for this. First of all, we did not want lose time. We could record a demo first, send it to a publishers and wait for a response, but it could take a lot of time and probably would have cost us more than self-realising. We believed in our material, we knew that it was good, good enough to put it on the full album straight away. And so we did. I think it was a good decision. In addition, it allowed us to remain independent. We can do everything in our own pace, no one hurries us , no one’s making any demands. For the musician it is an ideal situation. We can concentrate on creating, composing, on our own ideas. As for digipack … Well, I simply like them ;) It’s very comfortable and at the same time, very aesthetic format. Our next release will also probably come in this form. Maybe a little richer, with a booklet, etc.
The album is out for about six months and as far as I noticed, the responses were very positive. I’ve got two questions – first one, are you satisfied with the responses? Second one, did it provoke any label to contact Jarun with a contract? Do you think that the next album could be released with help of a label, or do you plan to continue with releasing Jarun’s music on your own?
You ask if I am satisfied with the response… If I have to be completely honest with you, I’m shocked;) We knew that we were able to make quite nice, decent album but the response to it exceeded our wildest expectations. Great reviews, fan base growing from day to day, concerts where people chant our name and sing our songs – this is all very surprising to us. We did not expect all of this. So yes, I am satisfied completely. As for your second question, we haven’t got any serious proposals so far. But this is not a problem. We don’t really look for any label. We are sending out promo materials almost exclusively to various zines and websites and we are promoting ourselves on our own. With pretty good results so far. Our next album will almost certainly be released by ourselves again.
Another quotation from Jarun’s biography… it is written there that your already started working on a new material. Could you reveal some exclusive information (laughs)? How far are you with the writing? Should we expect any changes compared to “Wziemiozstąpienie”? When do you think the new album could be released?
The material for the new album is almost ready. We still have to fine-tune a few things and rehearse it a little bit more but basically we’re almost ready. We do not know how long the recording process will take, when and where we will be recording it so I can’t tell when the album will really be ready but the compositions are already actually finished. It will be a lot of changes as compared to “Wziemiozstapienie”. The new material is likely to be less folk, but more progressive and alternative and probably a little stronger and heavier at the same time. It’s difficult to say anything for sure. Until we’ll finish recording and mixing this material even for us it will be a mystery. We would like to release it later this year, but it may be difficult to achieve.
You were supposed to play in Havířov in our country recently but you cancelled your show. Why did you drop out the event?
We really wanted to play in Havířov. We were invited by the guys from the Havířov – based band Radgorath to play at Evil Melodic Metal Fest in this town. Initially, it seemed that we will play without problems but then it turned out that our drummer will not be able to appear and we were forced to cancel our show. We very much regret it and we hope that in the future we will be able to play in front of Czech audience. We are open to any proposals ;)
Well, we are slowly getting nearer to the end so let’s change the topic a little bit. In past years, many controversial bands which combine black/folk metal with extreme right-winged philosophy appeared in the scene, especially in Eastern Europe and many of them also in your country. It’s clear that Jarun have nothing to do with anything like that but I would like to ask you about what do you think about combining metal music with political issues? Would you prefer a band with controversial opinions (which you don’t have to agree with) or a band whose lyrics are empty and with no soul?
As you rightly noticed, Jarun has nothing to do with any ideology, no matter whether political or religious. And certainly not with the right-wing extremism. We try to keep as far away as possible from such matters and in our music and lyrics deal with a more versatile and universal issues. But that does not mean that we therefore reject completely artists involved in such attitudes. Unless this becomes fanaticism, violence and extremes, so far we accept and respect the views of other artists. Regardless of which side they are. It does not matter whether the left or right, as long as they are sincere in what they do we have respect for them. And yes, I would prefer a band with controversial opinions (even if I don’t agree with them), over a band whose lyrics are, as you put it, “empty and with no soul”. >Metal and rock in general has always been about something important, always had something to say. I think this is exactly what clearly separates good music from the poor one.
Since our countries are bordering I just have to ask if you know and like some Czech bands? And if so, we of course would like to hear which ones (laughs). I guess at least Root and Inferno should be familiar because they belong under one of the finest metal labels in Poland, Agonia Records…
To be honest I love the whole Czech culture ;) Whether we’re talking about art, music, film, or literature, in the works of Czech artists is something that I really like and admire. The specific atmosphere, sensitivity, sense of humor and distance to themselves and their works makes Czechs works absolutely unique and exceptional. I love writers like Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera or Jaroslav Hašek (“Good Soldier Švejk” is one of my favorite books ever ;)), filmmakers like Jiří Menzel, David Ondříček, Petr Zelenka or Jan Švankmajer and of course many musicians. Not only those associated with the metal music. For example, I love the works of Jaromír Nohavica, Čechomor, Lenka Dusilová etc. When it comes to metal, one of my absolute favorite bands is Silent Stream of Godless Elegy. Absolutely fantastic band! In general, in the Czech Republic is a great folk/pagan metal scene with bands like Vesna (Adultery), Trollech, Žrec and many, many more. I have also a few favorites among the veterans of the scene especially Krabathor and Forgotten Silence. We have too little space in this interview to mention them all ;)
Let’s do the last question. How do you see Jarun’s future? I honestly believe that your music has a lot of potential so it could be interesting to hear where you would like to get with Jarun. I guess that becoming a fully professional band is a little bit unlikely but still – what are your ambitions with Jarun for the future? Thank you very much for the interview, we will be looking forward to the new album!
As you said, in this type of music it is difficult to achieve measurable success, earn some money, support yourself from playing. So we rather not planning to become international rock stars ;) But we want to play for as long as possible and make the best music we can just for pure joy of doing so. We want to play shows, record some great albums, meet interesting people and see interesting places. That’s all. We have specific plans only for the next two albums. The first will be, as I said, a bit more metal and progressive at the same time, but the second one, will be rather acoustic with a lot of something that we call alternative neofolk. Only time will tell if we can achieve these plans…
Thank you for the interview and for the interesting questions! Thank you also for your support and kind words about our music. We appreciate it very much. Greetings also for all of your readers and all the Czech fans of good music ;) I hope to see you on concerts in your beautiful country ;)