ANCESTRAL LORE – interview
TALES AND SHADOWS OF OLD – AN INTERVIEW WITH ANCESTRAL LORE
Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing a self-released album entitled "Behind the Night Horizon" by the French one-man project named Ancestral Lore, and I was captivated by its medieval atmosphere and the Tolkien-esque moods that coursed through its seven compositions. The music that mastermind Christoph Florian has conjured up is deeply rooted in pagan metal, folk metal, and black metal, which is to say that there is a strong emphasis on melancholy and sweeping melodies as well as fantasy-inspired themes and symphonic flourishes. Listening to it is akin to embarking on an inner journey to long-forgotten realms and desolate spheres where cold winds envelop and caress you. Eternal Terror Live caught up with Mr. Florian to learn more about the entity and why mysticism, fantasy, and folklore play an important part in its musical creations.
Greetings Christophe, how are you doing today? Thanks for taking the time to reply to these question of mine – much appreciated. What is happening in the Ancestral Lore camp these days? Are you by any chance working on new compositions?
C: Hello Jens, all is fine, thanks! I took advantage of this time to specifically finish recording the second album of Ancestral Lore. I had a lot of titles finished with some of them dating back to four years ago whereas others are very recent, but the whole of it is from the same state of mind anyway.
Could you tell us a bit about how and why Ancestral Lore came to be and what inspired you to spawn the project in the first place? Was it your intention all along to create a one-man band where you could handle everything yourself and be in charge without having to compromise your musical visions?
C: This project was born a long time ago by the creation of the first album, which was more than ten years ago when I was really into a heroic fantasy universe in terms of what I was reading as well as the movies I watched and of course the video games that I played, so this universe has always been a part of me. I have not decided to make it a one-man band as such, but it is just that I do not need anyone else in order to realize my artistic vision, so why bother with the advice of someone other than yourself when it is your soul that speaks?! You do not have to wait for someone to tell you if it is good or not, or whether you are on the right track or not…each to his own.
As you know, I am quite fond of the "Behind the Night Horizon" album and there are plenty of great ideas and atmospheric songs to be discovered there. Apart from the digital version of the record that people can find on Bandcamp, there is the limited-edition CD that you released yourself. Are you still satisfied with the song material and what you achieved with said album? Were the tunes written and recorded within a short span of time or were they something that you had been working on for years?
C: Thank you. Indeed, it is very atmospheric in terms of its musical approach but that is quite necessary for the heroic fantasy and cultural themes, and you really need to be able to immerse yourself in it by closing your eyes. Of course, I am very satisfied with the physical version of the album. It is a digipak with a painting that has a theme to it in the sense that it represents night, space, and spirits, which corresponds perfectly with the title of the record. This illustration was done by my sister who does this type of painting in her spare time. To go back to the music, yes, I am satisfied with the songs and I like them as such, even if the sound quality could be better, but it corresponds to what I did at the time and it also brings a little touch of "rawness" to it that I want to keep. The album was recorded about ten years ago and then the vocals were done not that long before the album was released, which also goes for the introduction I made once I had the album cover, which possesses a mood similar to Summoning and Burzum, I think.
In terms of inspiration, I am curious as to what inspires you in terms of composing music of your own? The thing about your epic black metal pieces is that they lend themselves incredibly well to the imagination in the sense that listening to "Behind the Night Horizon" is akin to embarking on an inner musical journey to distant lands and long-forgotten eras. There is something quite romantic and beautifully escapist about that, I think. In some ways, your tracks recall such acts as (early) Borknagar, (early) Emperor, and Summoning without necessarily sounding like either one of them. I mean that as a compliment 🙂
C: I was totally immersed in this universe and I traveled a lot in parallel ones. When I was at home in Paris, I played a lot of video games such as "Drakan" or the first "The Witcher". In addition, I read a lot of heroic fantasy literature and the same kind of thing went for the movies that I watched such as "Lords of the Rings". Besides that I went to medieval festivals in France, and there are some very good ones taking place in castles, so I will leave it to you to imagine what mood that kind of thing leaves you in when you come home after something like that and you are a musician. On top of that, I was a session musician, and at that time, I was making my first trips to Finland and Sweden (twice to each country to play there in the same year). That influenced me a lot, because my main musical influences are Moonsorrow, Borknagar, Summoning, Enslaved, and Tyr, and then all the black metal stalwarts such as Emperor and Burzum, so quite Nordic influences, really. And thank you for the compliment!
The song titles (as well as the title of the album) are evocative and conjure up visions of medieval times, fantasy-like characters and entities, and a good deal of mysticism and folklore. Are you inspired by for example dark fantasy literature? What about history (as in real-life history) pertaining to the Middle Ages and the like? What about the visual arts such as paintings and pictures – do they serve as a source of inspiration to you?
C: In terms of the dark fantasy side, I was mainly inspired by French folklore. My family comes from the west coast and it is a very "Middle Ages"-state of mind there thanks to a lot of mystical place ala castles and old history surrounding it all. To be more specific, these are places where the Templars left a lot of traces as well as many heroes of medieval war, so inevitably, it has had an influence on me and I spent a lot of time there when I was younger; it imprisoned a part of my soul at that time. With respect to visual inspirations, I have nothing specific as such, but any illustrations of the Middle Ages or heroic fantasy can inspire me, and certainly also sculptures, I think. If you go to a church built in the Middle Ages in France, what you will find in it will be akin to a total immersion in a game of heroic fantasy…between the statues of knight and demons, the tombs, and the unexplained secrets, you are served, and you just have to channel all this energy into music.
What does the title of your record connote and mean to you? Is there a deeper meaning or significance, or is it merely a way of summing up the mood and aura of its compositions in one simple sentence? Either way, I like it very much.
C: To me that title means that there is always a part that we see and one that we do not see. You look at the sky, but you do not imagine all that there is behind it. We live in one dimension, but many others can open up to us. They exist despite the fact that you do not see them. A bit like a shaman who sees the invisible…it is also an invitation to the world of the imaginary where one is looking into the distance to the empty horizon behind the ocean…behind the night horizon…
Do you have a home studio of sorts where you can work on Ancestral Lore and record your ideas in solitude without any hassles, deadlines, or disturbances hovering over you?
C: I record everything at home where I have made my studio over the years. I just recorded the second album in peace. There is no one waiting for me and I am the freest in the world.
The most important part of an artistic vision is the total liberty to think, breathe, and believe. Solitude is good for inspiration.
Are you involved in other bands and if so, which ones? How would you compare working in other musical constellations to Ancestral Lore? Is it a case of getting the best of both worlds?
C: I have two other projects. The first one is called Vanguard X Mortem. That one is a rather dark, atmospheric, and symphonic metal project with a female singer and lyricist. We have released three albums and one EP. The second project is a blackened death metal band named Lords of the Cemetery that has already released two albums. I like having fairly homogeneous projects with defined musical universes. That is why I have several of them…well, that and the fact that I compose quite a lot really…
Musically and stylistically speaking, will your next release (be that an EP or a full-length album) be in the same vein as "Behind the Night Horizon"?
C: That I can tell you; yes, it will be. Even if certain musical types are more assertive, the mood remains the same regardless of the tempo or the style. This second album will have a very specific theme, which will be the universe of Tolkien, especially the first ages. Heroic fantasy to death!
Thanks once again for your time and best of luck with your future musical endeavors. Any closing comments or words to our readers?
C: Thank you for this interview, and don’t hesitate to listen to Ancestral Lore on our Bandcamp profile!