The Warriors Of Light
Story online since: 17.06.2010 / 17:08:48
Long and stoney is the path for those who wish to give their ears and souls a treat by listening to the multi layered, complex and ultimately beautiful sounds of Orphaned Land. The patience with which they produce a new album, and the patience a fan requires can be easily seen as a meditative exercise in itself. But they never disappoint! After seeing the bonus DVD all "worldly" aspects of the making of "The Nevereding Way Of ORwarrioR" were covered but I sensed aspects to be explored in the band's message. My questions met fertile ground in guitarero Matti Svatizky whose answers I now present to you for reading pleasure and maybe a bit of soulsearch...
In the making of DVD of the new album, you speak of the light. How would you, if possible, describe it? Is it something one must be in a miserable state for in order to be capable to experience it?
There is a cliché which says that you wouldn’t be able to know the meaning of good if you havn’t experienced the bad. I think that this cliché, like many others, has a strong grip in reality. Many people just live their lives, without asking any questions or taking interest in issues like why do we live on this planet, and these people are not stupid, they may even be smarter by not asking questions which they don’t have the chance to get certain answers for. There is a lot going on around the subject of good and bad, Shakespeare said that "nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”, and religious people say that god gave specific instruction to man saying what is good and what is bad. But to your question, I think that people in miserable states can sometimes see the more important things in life, and you can call these things "good”, or "the light” or whatever.
Have you read spiritual literature from specific spiritual traditions such as hinduism, taoism or buddhism to deepen your understanding of the "light"?
I have read some of the bible (they teach it here in school, "the old bible”), and I have read some of the New Testament just for my personal knowledge. I know some of the Hindu mythology, stories about their gods Parvati and Ganesh, and I have also read books concerning Zen and other Eastern wisdoms. I think that there are many ideas in all approaches which are similar, but there are also lots of differences which come from different cultural backgrounds and different moral values. One approach can see light and justice in an action which another approach may consider as morally wrong. I think that light is an allegory in many cultures for hope, and I think that this is the strongest context it has in our lives.
Is it a state? Do you maintain it through your musical expression (recording/playing) or do you practice any specific meditative exercises?
I used to meditate in the past, but I don’t do it anymore. I have found some balance in my life in which I don’t need to sink down further into self-search. I have everything that I need, and if I’m not satisfied with something in my life I can always go on and do my best to change it. The musical process with Orphaned Land can be considered spiritual, because our spirits and souls are always 100% into it, but they don’t have anything to do with religious experiences. It’s just music, notes and chords and dunes and lots of distortion, nothing more.
You speak of the "Warrior of Light". Why "warrior"?
The idea for the phrase "Warrior of light” is taken from Paulo Coelho’s book "The manual of the warrior of light”. Most people know Paulo Coelho for his book "The alchemist”. Paulo Coelho’s books are all about self-searching and spiritual experiences. The hero always goes through experiences which help him know himself better and deal with life in a better way. A warrior of light is someone who searches for the light with all of his might, and dedicates himself completely to the cause, fighting the darkness which stands in his way.
You believe the average human being to be unaware of their spiritual power. What power you think would be graced to those who started becoming more aware, and maintain that awareness?
I think that awareness is a strong weapon. When someone acknowledges the truth about something, he can understand better the essence of that thing and therefore enjoy it more, or use it for his own purposes. Just for example, a few hundred years ago people didn’t grasp the concept of gravity. Than Newton discovered some equations related to it, and afterwards this concept started to become clearer, so now people can build airplanes and space shuttles and so on and make them better all the time due to those discoveries. Same discoveries are made regarding the human nature and human essence in life, and man, by using those discoveries, can help himself by healing himself if he needs to, or build himself as a stronger being.
During recording, you describe your lifestyle as that of a monk. Aside from holding a new album in your hands, what new insights do you gain from such a contemplative "retreat" period?
Life in studio is not easy. Every artist wants his work to sound perfect and to succeed. We have spent many long hours at the studio, and we usually record at night (cheaper haha J). So we sometime enter the studio at 5 pm, and get out of there at 5 am, after working so that every detail will sound perfect. My personal insight of these sessions is, basically, that things can be achieved after putting hard work in. If we wouldn’t just sit and do things until we thought they were perfect, they would just not sound as good as they sound now. One more deep insight I have gained from these session is: sleep is an important thing! You should get as much of it possible J.
Kobi doesn't just appear as a monk during recording, but even as the abbot of "Orphaned Land Monastery". In one scene, he asks Uri to not talk about unrelated topics. You are really on a mission it seems! In which ways do you think does such a focus benefit the end result (albumwise)?
I guess that Kobi did that. Well, we consider Kobi as an advisor in many areas. Running a band is not an easy task, and you will be surprised or not, but there is a lot which is going on apart from the music which the band depends on in order to succeed. A band is a business like any other. This is just a fact of life, in contrary to what some people may think. So in a business there are things you have to do, strategies you have to take, decisions you have to make, and Kobi is a great advisor in this area. He also used to run a records label in Israel, and succeeding with the band is very important to him. You know how things are in a band, we like to talk nonsense sometimes and use sense of humor, and sometimes things just go out of context, so we get each other back on the track when it is a place to get more serious.
You say that everything you record, you listen to it again and again and examine it as under a microscope. How do you avoid the inherent risk of sounding too clinical?
I think that for sounding clinical, you have to record things in a clinical way in the first place. Our style of playing is not clinical. We try to be precise and clean when we play, but when we do it, even in shows, it doesn’t sound clinical because that’s just not our style. There is also a difference between "tight” and "clinical”. Tight means that everything sits together good, that the bass drum and the bass fall on the same spot, that the guitars are on the bit, etc. Clinical gives me the association of a hospital with white walls and bright lights, and our music is not like this in the first place. It is very colorful with various unique instruments, so you don’t get the clinical feel to it.
Yossi says that recording albums is like putting off shells of immaturity. What exactly is he speaking off? Are we talking about layers of conceptual thinking and approach to music or even life? Recording music as a path to transcendance of concepts and attainment of enlightenment?
I think that one thing that gets stronger chronologically through all of our albums is the maturity issue. It is something that we strongly feel, and that people tell us all the time, is that every album that we release is more mature than the former. I think that maturity is a natural process (well, people do get older), and I think that it is also derives from our desire to get better in what we do. After every album we learn from the albums better and worse sides, and try to implement our conclusion in the next material we compose. That is what maturity is about, learning from your own experience in order to better yourself.
Would you be so kind and suggest some artists who record purely ambient folkloric middle eastern music? Because as nice as they are on your albums, I am sure some of our readers would appreciate some suggestions to bridge the time better between your releases ;-)
Personally I like very much the Israeli group "Bustan Abraham”. They play a mixture of music from our area, and are formed of Jews and Arab musicians. Then there is the Turkish artist Rabih Abu-Khalil, which also plays very good Middle Eastern music. Last but not least which I will recommend will be the amazing Dead Can Dance. They play world music, and they are one of my favorite bands of all times. We also use one of their songs as an intro to our shows.
You observed at your concerts how Arabian fans sing Hebrew poems and how your jewish fans sing along to arabic prayers and see how supposedly rival cultures melt at that point. How can you tell whether it is not only them singing along to the lyrics and that there is a genuine transcendance of prejudices happening here?
We all know that there is a big conflict between Jews and Arabs. This conflict is mainly territorial, and I think that its solution is also territorial, but apart from the territorial differences, there are also other differences which enlarge the conflict and turn the differences to hatred. There is a place to remind people that we all come from the same origin, that we are all nice people in the bottom line and that we have much in common. Music is a common ground for all of us, and through it we can unite and think as one. After achieving a basic level of communication, through music or art or any other means, we can try to solve our hard problems with each other in a softer way, because we would understand the real needs of the other because he told them to us, and we didn’t just hear on TV what it is they want us to hear.
Matti, thank you very much for your time and answers!