„Mít rád lidi a milovat lidi to je celé tajemství a snad jediný recept na štěstí.“ Jan Werich
CHEVALIER from Finland has not yet been able to make a lot of recordings, so if I count it today, they have only two EPs. "A Call To Arms" '17 and the latest "Chaptire II" '18, but also a split with their Legionnaire brothers in Metal where every band contributed by one song. However, these materials are so admirable and of good quality that an interesting verdict can be discarded now. If all goes so far or they add something more, this band will become a cult. It can be said that for many fans they just became. Still more and more people notice them and their popularity is growing every day. I do not mean to say they would produce some commercial music, just on the contrary, their music is a beautiful reference to the 80s of classic Heavy and Speed Metal. However, they do not attempt to pathetically copy the Metal masters, they are take some inspiration, but at the same time they add their own value, originality and especially talent. Their sound is also something you'll immediately notice and mark it as their strong recognition sign. It is great honor to present you an interview with CHEVALIER on the pages of Necrosphere! The questions were answered by Tommi (guit, back vox) and Emma (vox).
Greetings to Chevalier band. You are still one of the less known bands with great potential and talent. Do you notice some growing uproar around you over the earliest days of the first "A Call To Arms" EP?
According to the demand for our releases and invites to play at festivals already abroad too when we released our debut recording last year tell me there's some (growing) interest, even though I'm quite sure we don't really draw attention from the "big audience" in the metal world who look for something else in music than what Chevalier offers. Quite likely our future material will keep it that way since the style of music and songwriting has gone even further away from the basic retro sound that everyone's so much into nowadays.
Most bands will become more famous and respected till after their debut. Various demos, EPs, or splits in the beginnings are noticed only by some, although we can say more fanatic part of the fans. Are you ready for your future, where you can possibly get under the bigger label and you will be invited to bigger festivals and tours?
A bigger label, bigger festivals and long tours isn't exactly what at least I'm looking for, I'm happy with the current situation of having a fantastic, down-to-earth label and getting to play at some festivals I either have visited or would visit just as a fan, and share the stage with bands I listen to and appreciate myself. And as mentioned earlier, our debut release 'A Call to Arms' is the more straight-forward one, which is why it already got us some attention and is more easily accessible for more people.
It is quite well known you are influenced by the French Heavy Metal scene, so you have also adjusted name of the band according to this language. What fascinates you on their scene, do you think they have a more specific harmonies or atmosphere? Which bands would you recommend from this country?
Most of the French bands of the 80's had a specific touch, strong ties to history and legends combined with a unique sense of melodies as well as the French language at least to me makes a lot of those bands sound medieval and mystical, and because of the language barrier I think they might've worked even harder to make their music do the talking outside of France too (which it sadly didn't that much). Many of the bands also had a very dark and often decadent and sinister approach, just look into the lyrics even with google translate and you'll notice that they were blaspheming already in the early 80's in quite remarkable ways. If you're already familiar with the better known names like Sortilege, Blaspheme, H-Bomb or ADX, there's a lot of less-known gems to discover, like Killers or Titan for a more speed-oriented touch, first Demon Eyes album and High Power for a darker approach sometimes even close to Mercyful Fate, and an endless amount of other great acts. Special medieval atmosphere mention goes to the 7" singles of H and H and Legend!
Your music is sophisticated on all sides with the layering of guitar lines, it all sounds dense, dynamic with fast rhythms and great vocals. Tracks are consistent and compositionally brilliantly mastered at the same time with drive to the power of the tracks, a recipe that can many young bands envy. Do you have some sophisticated system how to compose it all? By logical mind or emotionally?
Sometimes I try to work with some kind of logic, thinking how a song should shape up and working on that idea, but most often it just flows naturally when I start writing. One new riff expands into a whole song with different sections in a few hours when the inspiration strikes, and I usually can't stop before it's finished.
Your music has an expressive atmosphere, as well as the typical 80s approach, but I would not mention retro term because you sound fresh and original. How deep is the well of your inspiration? Would you say your music is a tribute to old Heavy / Speed Metal?
I can't deny paying a lot of homage to several old heavy and speed metal bands with Chevalier, and that's where the sound is based on, but I'm trying to expand that and do something original out of it rather than trying to completely copy it. All those old bands considered legendary today were at the time pushing the boundaries, trying to outdo the others and create something unique, so just copying them today would be the worst kind of tribute to them and completely against that which they were about in the first place!
Are inspirations for your work coming from non-musical spheres as well? Could you be affected by, for example, alcohol, drugs, paranormal experiences, history, magic, dreams, movies, art?
Probably in more unconscious ways, I don't think I've written any riff consciously influenced by other things than music, with lyrics there's a wider variety of sources for inspiration including several of the examples you gave, like the last song on our debut MLP called 'Defenestration' was of course influenced by such acts that took place in Prague in the past, and latest lyrics I wrote in the aftermath of an acid trip. I can't even start writing lyrics if I don't come up with a clear idea or vision first, so I have to wait for that to happen instead of trying to force something out. Emma is writing a lot of lyrics too nowadays and I don't mind at all not having to them by myself, unless I do have the inspiration for them.
Emma: Everything of the above.
When I've already mentioned dreams ... sleep, its disorders, nightmares, insomnia, sleepwalking. Do you have some experiences with something similar? Many people have smooth sleeping remembering a few dreams only, others literally live in dreams, look for inspiration, messages. How do you feel about it?
I've had the "joy" of experiencing sleep paralysis more than a few times throughout the years, although quite rarely fortunately. When there's a longer period of not having one, the idea becomes more fascinating and I almost wish for it to happen again to study it more, and when it does I hope it'll never happen again... The first one seemed like a message and almost turned into a terrifying religious experience, until I found out about the phenomenon and it kept occurring, making me realize what kind of powers one's own mind can demonstrate in this absurd state. I think neither sleep paralysis or dreams should be taken as some kind of messages from the outside, but if you just keep in mind that they're all creations of your own, you can learn a lot from them. Same goes for hallucinations and thoughts under the influence of psychedelics, why fear that which your own mind creates?
Emma: I enjoy dreaming, it is exciting and fascinating. It’s like an highway to the subconscious that opens only for a brief moment. You look in, see strange things and unexplainable cascades. The door closes and you are left with a groggy memory of the previous. I try to recall my dreams and understand them. They usually make sense in the end. I believe it’s very valuable. After an intensive dream the worlds seems a better place for a moment. Some people say they are able to control their dreams. I have never been able to do that. I never realized within a dream that I’m dreaming. Once I have experienced sleep paralysis after being awake for two days in a row. I was lying in my bed and heard a church bell toll first on my right and then on my left, kind of swinging over me from side to side. I could not move a finger. It was eerie! I was a bit scared to go to bed the next night.
Have you heard about a wolf hour? Ingmar Bergman once made Wolf Hour movie, where it is said the wolf's hour is the time between midnight and dawn when the most sick people die and the most children are born. It is a time when people in deep sleep endure their most disturbing fears and nightmares. Spirits and demons come to life at this time. What do you think of that? Have you seen this film and what were your impressions?
The film in question I haven't seen, sounds like a fascinating legend/folklore but I believe all such stories spawn from some remains of purely biological instincts, and most disturbing nightmares and the aforementioned sleep paralysis I myself have experienced more often during daytime naps... Nightmares and such have of course been most often occurring during the night when people sleep and are vulnerable, but aren't necessarily tied to the night time itself.
Emma: I am a great admirer of Bergman! He is absolutely brilliant! I grew up watching his films. It’s a shame to admit that The Wolfs Hour is on of the few of his films that I have not seen. He has made over 60 films! Many of them converse on the subject of inner demons and struggles. One of my favorites is Wild Strawberries. There is a scene in the beginning where the main character has a nightmare were he meets his own death. It is one of the most haunting scenes in film that I have seen. I have many times wanted to write lyrics based on that, but I fail to do justice for the original, so I bury that idea. At night time it is certainly easy to get trapped with evil and disturbing thoughts, but the bright noon light is just as oppressive! It’s easiest to stay sane on a nice cloudy day.
On the cover of your latest "Chapitre II" recording you used a photo of Cachtice castle, which is literally built only a few kilometers from us. Why did you choose this castle as a subject for cover art? Does the life and deeds of Elizabeth Bathory fascinate you? Have you ever been to see in Cachtice? (Incidentally, today a new attraction is open in this village, the underground catacombs where Alizabeth allegedly tortured her victims). Do you believe all the murders that have been proved to her are real?
The photo was taken by Emma herself when she was traveling around those parts of Europe some years ago, and when she showed me her edited version of the photo I wanted to use it. The photo fits the music perfectly as it portrays an old castle but with an abstract touch, the fact that it's the castle of Bathory wasn't really an important matter though since our music and lyrics have little to do with her in particular. What I do believe is that we will never discover any ultimate truth of what happened there and then and what didn't, and in my opinion we don't need to, long live the legends. But it's always nice to hear when someone recognizes which castle it is since we didn't mention it on the release!
Emma: I took the photo in 2009. I stayed at the castle overnight in a cavelike chamber, listening to music and drinking with a friend of mine. The place was magical! We had a thunder storm and a rainbow, in the night there was a full moon and fog gathered around the castle. It was almost like time travel. It certainly felt like all the murders and tortures had taken place there. In the morning when I stuck my head out of the chamber there was a kindergarten group staring at me. They wanted to take a picture together! Ha ha ha haa!
It is said about Finland to be a landscape of thousands lakes, your nature is known, but also more gloomy weather or known spirits. Do you walk together as a band into nature? What would you highlight most in Finland? Do you think this country is one of the best countries for life?
For me the highlight of Finland is the isolation of both language and mentality from all the other Nordic countries as well as Russia, a thing I learned to appreciate only later in life. I was born and grew up in the countryside way up North, which meant spending most of my childhood and early teenage years surrounded by that known nature of ours, and also isolated from everything, which surely affects the mind and personality, as well as your relation to nature. Now that I live in our capital city I'm not at least yet craving back to the countryside and vast forests even if I appreciate their existence and influence on me, and I find it funny how city people around here find those surroundings so exotic and exciting without actually having any idea how it actually is - going to a forest to post a few photos on instagram before taking the bus back home doesn't really give you the same insight as roaming around that said forest each day for several years... Altogether as a country to live in, I would say Finland is ok, but I don't have any special ties that would prevent me from living somewhere else in the future either.
The new album is about to release. Your previous recordings sounded pretty underground with obscure sound, nothing clean or loud. Can we expect you to come to production at the debut equally, or you will try to achieve a more professional and smooth sound?
Chapitre II is a rehearsal room recording as is A Call to Arms, however our first full-length we will record in a studio later this year but definitely not for a polished and professional sound! I've mentioned quite a few times in interviews how fascinated I am by the production of Brocas Helm's Black Death, which most people were calling terrible for decades - what sounds like a messy wall of obscure noise at first starts to reveal more and more details the more times you listen to it and I think that's amazing, forcing the listener to invest more time and effort into unveiling the fantastic piece of art!
Probably you are familiar with the Czech Master's Hammer band, but also with the Slovak Malokarpatan, and maybe you also know many other bands from Czech and Slovakia. Do you have any special relationship with Eastern Europe?
I indeed do have a special relationship to Czech Republic, having studied the language for 3 years in the university and been in the country 20 times now, also a couple of times in Slovakia mostly to drink with the guys of Malokarpatan. So I've come to know quite a few bands from both countries, and Master's Hammer was the reason why this fascination started! They sounded so eccentric and weird, especially because of the language, that I wanted to see what kind of country they came from, knowing pretty much nothing about Czechoslovakia or Czech Republic at the time. Needless to say it was worth going to take a look... There's a specific charm in those parts of the world that I am addicted to, not because of it feeling exotic to me but almost more like home instead. I find the early Czech black metal scene extremely fascinating too and I think that the conditions in the times before the revolution in 1989 made only the most dedicated people to do black metal there and then, so there weren't much uninspired consensus bands around, only the real deal.
Emma: I visited Prague for the first time when I was traveling in the East Europe and Germany in 2008. I went there to meet a friend and at the same time I wanted to see the roots of Master’s Hammer and of my favorite photographer Josef Sudek. There was something absorbing in the atmosphere and it has kept me coming back since. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s almost as if something stands still… in a good way. The language is also beautiful! I never learned it just a few profanities. Not to mention that I like beer, and you have the best.
Ok, that is all from my side, thank you for the interview for our Necrosphere printed and webzine. We personally look forward to your other works. Wish you a lot of inspiration and creativity for the future....
Thanks for the interview, for once with some more in depth questions!
Tommi, Emma 18. 9. 2018 Mortuary
The Curse of the Dead Star