Za Frûmi (2012)
We've yet again interviewed "the orcs" in the band Za Frûmi!
Radio Rivendell (RR): What initially gave you the idea to form Za Frûmi? The concept certainly is very unique, with the mix you threw together never being used before.
Simon Kölle (Za Frûmi): First of all thank you for this interview. Za Frûmi came about as an experiment really.
I created music as a teen but later on moved more towards theatre and was all along doing martial arts and played soccer. I got kind of fed up with the Swedish theatre scene and found myself going more and more back to composing music but with almost no knowledge of computers.
Via Donald Person I met Simon Heath. Simon had produced music during the 90s a lot. Maybe 200 songs in various genres and with different results and I saw something in him. For me it was obvious Simon lacked something and that was a drive to put a whole album together. On a roleplaying session I heard a song he made were the word "Uruk" was repeated over and over again. We got together and started to make something that we thought would be interesting. We had no real plan at first to make an album but I was used to see things through so I pushed for us to do one. Simon Heath and Donald were game and for us it came natural to make something we never had heard before.
We had listened to Mortis, black metal, soundtracks and all that but we wanted to add something and that mixed music, sound and dialogue. Both me and Simon Heath love when we could hear beautiful sounds in a song. I had listened to Musique Concrète (Concrete Music) and also really enjoyed listening to films (with both music and sound).
For me it came natural to write a script so I tried to write a "song" in the black tongue. Our first song we made was Za Shulg (The Forrest) and we used minimalistic music, lots of sound, strange melodies and dialogue spoken by a bunch of Uruk's and goblin like creatures that had orders to build a watch tower in the woods but two of them take a liking for some toadstools.
We created the whole first album and had a blast really. Of course we had plans to do something with the album but nothing that big. When we were done we knew we had made history. We knew right away that some people will love it and others hate it.
According to Wired magazine our debut is one of the 9 milestones in the history of the Orc. That's an acknowledgement we could not even dream about back when we created the album and started the project in 2000.
RR: Can you give the listeners a quick breakdown of the story told in the 3 CDs known as the Za Frûmi Saga?
SK: You get to know Orcs, similar creatures and dark elves as other than only evil and killing machines. At first we get to know the gang (party) as they do mundane things as building, wandering around in the woods, attack a village, get amazed by the shaman, happen upon elves and in the end they try to sneak inside a dark keep were the mighty vampire Ismael reign. The gang is defeated and one of them dies.
In the second chapter (Tach), the story is more in depth as they embark upon a journey trying to get hold of three sacred bones ("Tach" means bone). They are tricked by the shaman (Dushatar), who is in league with Ismael, to search the bones for them. On the journey they enters an inventors strange cave (to get the first bone), travel in a troll forest, travel by boat on a river and much more. They travel to an ancient temple were they get a hold of one of the bones. They have to flee from a cult in the temple and when they escapes they meet up with Zigani (Gypsies) and later on travel to the north were they hear dwarfs. In a dungeon they get the third bone and get warned by the spirits but listen poorly. In the end of the second chapter they get tricked by the shaman. Basically you can call this and actually the third one to sort of a Road Movie.
In the third chapter the gang is trapped in a castle and the leader (Uglakh) gets injured. They manage to escape with the help of a group of Dark Elves and temporarily they join forces to survive against Ismael and the shaman's forces.
In the third chapter the dialogue is taken a bit further and the party escapes towards the place where the dark elves live. They happen upon an inn, people stupidly want to fight the party (once again we like to show that the Orcs and so called evil creatures don't only want to fight) who finally has to fight back. They slaughter the people in the inn and steal a wagon. The party then travel to the Dark Elves village which is in ruins. The vampire lord Ismael and his undead foes has been there and a great artist among the dark elves are found half dead. As he is dying he explains that Ismael had taken Immra, a sorcerer of some kind among the dark elves. As the whole party takes shelter from some bad weather a spirit of Immra appear and sings her story. She tells them she has been captured as her blood is holy and Ismael needs it to spill on the bone (now a bone staff) that once was in three parts. The dark elves in the party then tell the Orcs the real reason for them being in the dark keep were they met. They stole the bone staff. So Ismael got Immra and the party got the staff. The party needs troops to attack Ismael and so the Orcs travel to a "Gathering of Tribes" of Orcs from all over the world (the world of Za Frûmi). They get the tribes on their side and all follow Uglakh towards the dark keep. In the end of the third chapter the tribes and the party fight against undead forces and the dark elves drop the bone staff. They rescue Immra. And Ismael, to be able to escape, betray the shaman who's killed. Ismael escape and one of the creatures known as Vlodor had managed to get in hold of the bone staff.
In the Saga the spirits are always present and that's what Za Frûmi is all about.
RR: There are plenty of Tolkien inspired acts around that focus on the Free Peoples of Middle Earth, why did you choose Orcs and Goblins?
SK: We found them intriguing and portrayed way to one dimensional.
RR: You use Black Speech in the dialogue of your tracks. Was much of this randomly thrown together, or have you devised the bones of the language? Tolkien didn't give you much to get started with, huh.
SK: In the Saga we do. In our other branch (with four albums) we don't use dialogue. We first used what we knew ourselves from what Tolkien wrote and also what ambitious LARP-players had done. We though needed to add some words here and there. The third chapter is the album with most research when it comes to the language and to be as 100 % correct we could. In the first two albums the grammar is a bit off here and there but in the third chapter we worked with it more. The reason for the sometimes strange grammar in the first two has to do with the fact that we translated black Tongue to Swedish and then English. In some tracks of the second album and in all of the third we wrote the script in English and then translated it.
RR: What do you say to the "haters" who don't appreciate the Orcish mentality?
SK: Well what's to say? If you play metal you have people saying it's too loud and harsh. If you play the harp you have people say its cheesy or whatever. It is what it is. Doing something people are not used to creates some haters. Haters many times just don't get it and many are stuck with one way things "should" be. That some people hate Za Frûmi (most of all the saga) is only a good thing as many also loves Za Frûmi.
If haters don't get the orcish mentality they should seriously read and listen to our Saga as it portray the Orcs way more deep (not at first but later on) than other's done before us.
RR: Can you tell us what "Za Frûmi" literally means?
SK: It means The Spirits. It's the righteous spirits. The evil spirits are called Ari. Za is "The" in English and "i" in the end indicates it's more than one. So one spirit is "ash frûm". Ash means "one".
RR: Apart from the works of JRRT, have any other fantasy realms inspired you?
SK: None really. Of course we have read most of the known fantasy books and seen all films but we were more inspired by nature, roleplay games and mythology.
RR: Have you ever done any live performances?
SK: Nope. A rumor said we did a show but that's not true. If we would do a show it should be something really special maybe in a theatre. We have had a bunch of invites to festivals and different countries but turned them all down. Za Frûmi should be experienced like an inner film really.
A fan named Murray Resinsky climbed a mountain for five hours and this is what he wrote about it on the Za Frûmi Facebook-page:
"Made it to the top in 5 hours on Sunday night. Listened to Za Frûmi the whole way. Not sure what was on when I reached the top. Whatever it was, it was perfect as I wrapped myself in a blanket and slept in the high mountain air. Thanks!".
That's a great way to experience Za Frûmi for sure! His story is but one on how to experience Za Frûmi. A lady actually wanted to give birth listening to Za Frûmi. Haha. Others, like the author Scott Oden listen to Za Frûmi to get inspired. The song called "The inn" is actually recorded live with a bunch of friends by the way.
RR: You use many samples in your pieces, how did you go about collecting these?
SK: In the start we took some from here and there and recorded most of them. Later on we recorded 99% ourselves on great field trips. We have recorded for days in forests. I have been canoeing in the pitch darkness just to capture the right sound. We have also gathered a lot of people to record some stuff.
RR: You are based in Sweden. Has the landscape of this country inspired the atmosphere of your music?
SK: Of course. It plays in a lot. Nature is very important.
RR: I understand that one of the Simons has moved to the USA. Does this make the creative process more difficult?
SK: Simon Heath now lives in the US and creates music in other genres. He's a true artist and now a days he is one the best mixers around. He moved just as we started working on another album so we had to postpone it for a while. We don't know if we will do an album him living there and me here but we both have done that in other projects so we might.
RR: Have any other composers or bands inspired your work?
SK: When we started out we of course had a lot of bands we liked and listened to but I honestly cannot say any specific composer or band inspired us. A boring answer maybe but that's the truth.
RR: Za Frûmi also has a series of albums known as the Legends series. These are described as being Dark Ambient. What made you decide to venture away from the path to Mordor?
SK: Yes that's true. We have done four albums in that branch. Legends might be described by some as dark ambient. I would be surprise to see or hear me or Simon Heath call it that though. Its dark fantasy inspired music. Some have called it Fantasy Music. It sure got some elements from soundtracks, classical music, dark ambient, folk music and medieval. A couple of folk music libraries, around the world, label Za Frûmi as folk music. Hey! Orcs are people too I guess :)
RR: Can you give us a description of each of the Legends CDs?
SK: We wanted to do more than only the Saga after the second one. We still wanted to us sounds in the music but create tracks inspired by different things. The first Legends album is not so specific. It's legends from the World of Za Frûmi. In the second one we focus on two vampires, the third album on Cults and the forth on Orders.
When the first two albums in the saga were sold out we decided to make a Box in a limited amount. The Box features all Za Frûmi albums and a special CD with some unreleased tracks. A major orchestra (110 musicians) played the music of one of our early songs and that track is on the special CD among others. Check out the orchestra playing Za Frûmi here:
RR: Personally, I find your music is great to write or roleplay to. Did you have these activities in mind when making your music?
SK: Nice, me too. No we did not but of course we understood it could be used that way.
RR: Now it's crunch time. Which did you enjoy creating the most? The Saga or Legends?
SK: When you work on a project that's your baby so this question is the same as asking a father which of his kids he likes the most.
RR: I hear you are very busy with numerous side projects. How do you find the time to keep creating?
SK: Creating is our lives. I created music as a child and I still do. How do you find time to watch so many movies in your life? I am a composer, it's my work. The side projects are never rushed or (as we did with Abnocto) we do it in a specific time frame. I have a side project with Henrik Summanen called The Children are Watching (inspired by 1800-1900s occultism) and we have been working on it for a couple of years now. Just to mention one.
RR: Have you considered producing a fourth CD to the Za Frûmi saga? Or maybe even beginning a new one with different characters?
SK: Yes and no.
RR: Are there any new releases forthcoming from Za Frûmi?
SK: We will create more albums but right now we focus on other stuff for a while. We will not give up this wonderful project though. We love it.
RR: Any tips for prospective musicians out there?
SK: They are many. Sadly some of them try desperately to sound like epic Hollywood scores. In the dark ambient scene I would like to mention Vincent Andelmoth who's a young guy from Greece. I am producing music for a folk metal band here in Sweden called Tengil which has guys from Corvus Corax in it and the other guys are all young prospects. I am sure Tengil will be big in that scene.
But you guys should all check out Waerloga Records (www.waerloga.com) as there is some sick talent there. Aardia is a great band you should check them out. Lost Kingdom released a soundtrack which has some gems. You should also check Lord Elrond's project which was released by Waerloga Records on a double split CD (Henrik Summanen with one project on one and Anders "Lord Elrond" Dahlgren on the other). You can also find some very obscure and unique albums on waerloga.com.
RR: Do you have any unusual hobbies or pets? (Pocket Dragons don't count!)
SK: I am a fencing instructor in duel fencing and also Knife Fighting. I am also very much involved in the Mixed Martial Arts scene. I also like playing games and just finished my first book about MMA (in Swedish) called "MMA! - Myter, fakta, möten", it's taken me a year to write it. Simon Heath is a true designer and skilled working with clay. The former member Donald is also awesome in working with clay. But really it's music that's both me and Simon Heath's passion.
Other than that just normal hobbies such as hiking, reading, watching an insane amount of movies and series and stuff like that.
RR: Finally, the obligatory daft question. If you could live in any fantasy realm as any creature, what would it be, and why?
SK: Orcs in the World of Za Frûmi. Whaddya expect?
Thanks for the support. Radio Rivendell is a great haven really for all of us who loves fantasy inspired music.
Stay sharp, Stay True, Stay Orc!
Official site: www.waerloga.com/zafrumi