Za Frûmi is one of my favorite bands for the moment. They are one of the few bands that are part of the avant-garde. They always push the limits of their genre and create wonderful tales. The band doesn’t need an introduction so I tried to ask them some personal questions. Here are some of the answers they gave me. Other answers I have incorporated in my article series about the dark ambient scene in Europe.
Za Frûmi on Radio Rivendell
(This is an old republished interview)
Interview by David Purdie
David: First of all thank you for all the wonderful music you create! In one branch of Za Frûmi we follow a group of orcs on their journeys. You act out the orcs and other characters with the help of spoken dialogue. Please tell me about it.
Simon Kölle (Za Frûmi): Thank you very much! We both feel that "acting" in that sense that we use spoken phrases and portray the characters in the songs is a more sufficient and atmospheric way of doing it than to sing it. Let me make a reference to movies. Za Frûmi is a film most certain. If we would have sung it would have been a musical! We don’t like Musicals! No, but seriously we got a choir that actually do sing some parts and I am doing some Tibetan Throat-singing on Tach.
On Legends act 1 (The first instrumental one) we could have been singing more maybe?
On the second act in the Za Frûmi legends we had women singing some parts.
We also have plans to work with one woman on Chapter 3 which then will sing in the orc language. Maybe try to scare the orcs or something like that. Some people like the dialogue very much and other people hate it. That’s how it is. I prefer that before being in the middle.
David: What is ART for you?
Simon Kölle: ART is a three letter word.
David: I like the story in your music. Can you tell us about the story? Will the story come to an end in the third album? Making it a trilogy.
Simon Kölle: The story will live on. Many things will happen in the third chapter that might change the course of the story a lot. I cannot tell you much about the story. It would be spoilers! Tach - chapter 2 ended abrupt with the Shaman (Dushatar) tricking Uglakh and his companions. The third chapter will start where the second ended but the only thing I can say is that the orcs will be in a hellish place. The third chapter will include many characters and will be very dark. Both Simon Heath and I have done a lot since we created Tach - chapter 2 and you will hear that for sure.
It will sound more like Legends act 2 than Tach.
David: What do you think of the future of your musical invention?
Simon Kölle: I don’t even know if it’s really our invention, but I think "Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh" is unique. We made it almost in a naive way. We had no idea it would sound so good. I think our idea with dialogue used in the way we use it will grow. Maybe not the way we do it but bands may get inspired by our music. It’s already starting to happen.
David: In my mind Za Frûmi is Avant-garde and before it’s time. Would you call the first two Za Frûmi CDs: Instrumental Theatre?
Simon Kölle: Ah, that’s a nice term. We do concept albums. The Za Frûmi saga could be called instrumental theatre. Remember though that Za Frûmi is "The Za Frûmi Saga" and "The Za Frûmi Legends". In The Za Frûmi Legends we don’t use spoken words and don’t concentrate on orcs. It’s instrumental fantasy music. If we are Avant-garde or not is for others to say. We do our thing and will keep on doing it. Many love it and a few people hate it. Let me quote one of my heroes William S. Burroughs:
That's the way the stomach rumbles
That's the way the bee bumbles
That's the way the needle pricks
That's the way the glue sticks
That's the way the potato mashes
That's the way the pan flashes
That's the way the market crashes
That's the way the whip lashes
That's the way the teeth gnashes
That's the way the gravy stains
That's the way the moon wanes
David: I wrote in my review of Legends act 1 that The Olog forest is a masterpiece. Your melodies are great! How do you compose them and are they inspired be Swedish folk music?
Simon Kölle: Thank you. We both create melodies but often in two different ways. Simon Heath is very good when it comes to improvise. He creates many melodies just like that. I can also improvise but some of the best melodies I’ve done have been created in my head when inspired. I often carry a pocket-recorder and when I get ideas I record them (singing). Some are crap but some are great!
Za Frûmi is very inspired be medieval music, but we don’t want to limit us to that. We are inspired by different musical stiles from the entire world. We try to mix those stiles and create an own sound. We don’t want to sound artificial like for an example Enya.
Swedish folk music is often based on the fiddle and the nyckelharpa which is a traditional Swedish instrument that has been played, in one form or another as it evolved, for more than 600 years. At least four different versions of the nyckelharpa are still played today, an uncommon situation for most folk instruments. In Swedish, "nyckel" means key, and "harpa", well; it’s a bit harder to translate. Sometimes people call it the Swedish key-fiddle. Za Frûmi use fiddles but no Key-fiddle. One day we might find someone that play some key-fiddle and use it on a Za Frûmi CD? It would be great. We also like drums a lot which not are inspired be Swedish folk music. We have drums from every continent in the world.
David: A well known jazz musician once said that "improvisation makes its own form". I suppose it depends what you are doing, but as improviserers it must be difficult sometimes to be totally free, without any structure. So I was wondering if you ever prepare a structure or some technique to use at some point, or if you just go for it, completely free.
Simon Kölle: I think it’s constantly changing for us. Our early improvisation attempts were more concerned with the actual sounds, in a sort of microscopic way, and then the structure came from that. We generally did not predetermine a structure.
But as we have evolved we now think of climaxes, obvious starts and stops etc.
As I mentioned before improvisation is only a part of our way of composing. A tool.
David: Now some personal questions: Have you ever found yourself in any nightmare situations?
Simon Kölle: Yes of course! Both me and Simon Heath. It’s funny you call it "nightmare situations" because in a way I like nightmares. They can be very inspiring.
One nightmare situation I can think of was when I got looked in some days in a French Church! I had to steal food and almost everybody in the church where absurd figures and could have been taken from "Delicatessen" or some of Federico Fellini´s films.
When it comes to music we almost newer get stuck. It happened when we did Tach. We got stuck with the song "Bug Selrath" though. We don’t do as many bands and create 100 songs which we later on choose from. No, every song we create we try to do as good as we can.
David: What do you think of film music composers?
Simon Kölle: Both me and Simon Heath like some of the stuff that Hans Zimmer creates. I love soundtracks and I have listened to film music all my life. I think Za Frûmi could make wonderful music for a film. In an American review of Legends they wrote:
"When you think Ring Wraiths and Golem and all that, do you think?
'this would go great with some new age music'? Neither do we. So come
on Peter Jackson, here's your chance to add some credibility to the LOTR
soundtrack/score for part three!! COME ON!!!"
I am actually taking a course right now in film music here in Stockholm.
David: I read that you where three members in Za Frûmi in the beginning. What happened?
Simon Kölle: That’s true. Donald Persson was a member. You know, everybody is not as fanatic and hard working as me and Simon Heath. Donald is a great friend of ours and when we kicked him it was done with a lot of respect.
David: If there's one track on all four Za Frûmi albums that you feel is representative of the band, which is it?
Simon Kölle: Not an easy question! In the Za Frûmi saga I would have to say "Vrapogat". In Za Frûmi Legends I think "Dwarven wars" or "Through Jakesh eyes" sounds representative.
David: What about the third chapter in the saga? When will it be released and can you tell us something about it?
Simon Kölle: Oh I cannot speak too much about the CD at this point. The CD will be part of the 2006 releases but heard Jens (Waerloga Records) talk about the 12th of January 2007. I think that sounds like a possible release date. The third chapter will be titled: "Shrak ishi Za migul" which means "Gathering in the mist". Our goal with it is to go all the way in the genre! We always want to go beyond normal music.