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Florian Toyka (VALBORG): Expectations are dangerous

 Florian Toyka (VALBORG): Expectations are dangerous
BANDS : Valborg

 The German trio, Valborg and its most powerful references are linked to a character whose image means an iconic attribute for the dark metal world. We are talking about the one who animated the Celtic Frost and the Hellhammer legends, or Triptykon if we have to reach the present moment. Tom Warrior was well-pleased with what he heard from Valborg so he repeatedly talked about this band by describing its genuineness in his own manner. Therefore, Valborg got its special place in the underground. It is easy to understand why Thomas Gabriel Fisher was so fascinated about this German group, considering that the influences coming from the afore-mentioned legends were transformed by Valborg into a particular manifestation which has no similitude among today’s musical entries. The details found in Warrior’s music arrived at an abstract and profound dimension within Valborg’s approaches, and this fact resulted in a progressive death style and something else that can hardly have a name. The most interesting thing comes when a piece of art cannot be named by a certain style. Recently, Valborg showed a new face since they released the new album, „Romantik”. The music became more sinister, settling into a kind of melodic doom with a goth emphasis shape and keeping the same touch that singularized Valborg all the way: the experimentalism. Valborg will play in some places from Romania this autumn, by touring with Bloodway and Perihelion (here are the details), and so I thought about having some words from the band’s drummer, Florian Toyka who happen to be so passionate about this country. In the following lines, Florian talks about Valborg’s music, about what is important or not in his musical vision, about the reasons that brought them the idea to come and play here and other pithy things. 
Metalfan: Hello, Mister Florian and welcome to Metalfan! What was your state of mind before you decided to complete this interview and how did this decision influence it?  
Florian Toyka: Well, I figured since I'm the Romania enthusiast in Valborg it made sense that I would be the one to do it, although normally I'm not a big fan of answering interviews. But I'm well-rested today and looking forward to your questions!
Metalfan: All right then, let’s get straight to core and talk about Valborg. What does „Valborg” mean? Are there any connections with the Viking celebration called Walpurgis Night or Valborg? How would you link the expression of Valborg’s music with a moment that symbolizes the arrival of spring? Of course, I am asking this while thinking of the song from „Nekrodepression” album, Springtime Woman. 
Florian Toyka: Hah, interesting connection, never thought about that! But for me it is just the title of what we've been doing for quite some time now. It means a lot to me personally, not only music and being in a band, but being with people I'm close friends with and care about. I haven't been around when the band initially gave itself this name, and to be honest I don't care much about a deeper concept or its meaning. To me it is just a name that sounds well and symbolizes what we all three have been doing and experiencing together for seven years now.

Metalfan: Back in 2010, when Tom Warrior was the curator of one of the most interesting European music festivals, that is Roadburn Festival, Valborg was one of the choices to play at the special event hosted by him, obviously called „Only Death is Real”. What was your first reaction when you learned about this and what are your first memories regarding the show in question?  
Florian Toyka: Tom told us about that after seeing us perform in Zürich, and of course we felt deeply honored by his invitation. Not only the possibility to play there but being recognized and personally appreciated by this legend in dark metal was a very special experience for us. Roadburn Festival was also very memorable, since Walter (the organizer) is such a nice and friendly guy, even caring personally about small acts like us, and I felt his personality had a huge impact on the overall atmosphere there. Everybody was totally professional but also really friendly, so we felt very welcome and well taken care of there. The show itself was also great, but looking back to it I think we're a much stronger live act now than we have been in 2010. Hope we get the chance to prove that at Roadburn Festival again sometime! 

Metalfan: Why is your latest release, „Romantik” so romantic? There is much more melody comparing with the coldness from the previous albums. What changed in your musical and individual perspective?  
Florian Toyka: That came as a coincidence. In fact we were about to record our next album, which would have sounded more like the regular Valborg stuff. But somehow we lost our enthusiasm about doing it, those songs had been too close to what we had been doing the last couple of years with the band. Then Jan [Ed. Note. vocals, bass - Valborg] showed us a couple of synthesizer tracks he had just arranged, and we had the idea to use them for Valborg. This changed a lot, regarding our sound and how we approached the new record. Gave us a really fresh start, new inspiration and motivation, so we just did it!

Metalfan: In times gone by, Valborg was singing about black thoughts, hard feelings, apocalyptic visions, dark universes, astral worlds, or at least this is what I got from the earlier albums. Now, what is all about when it comes to „Romantik”? Of course, I don’t ask you to explain in a concrete way the lyrical themes of this album, but I just want you to talk about what you love most in regard with the views stated by the medium of the newest release.  
Florian Toyka: Well at first let me tell you, our lyrics have never been darker. So me personally, what I love most is the sharp contrast between the very melodic approach and those dark, sometimes disgusting lyrics. I feel this mixture creates a very oppressive mood, and I have to say it fits well with my recent experience regarding "Romantik" – beauty and fucked-up total darkness. But this is just a coincidence again, and I'm sure even in the band everybody has his own viewpoint concerning the record. Anyway, Valborg is not about obvious concepts, you just have to deal with this record in your own personal way and see what it means to you, what pictures and interpretations come to your mind. 'Cause this is the only thing that matters: what it means to you, not to others!
Metalfan: I read about the fact that the previous discs were all recorded live, but what about „Romantik”? All I know is that it was produced, recorded and mixed at Stonehenge Studios and mastered at Monoposto Mastering and I would like you to tell me more about all these recording procedures. 
Florian Toyka: Playing and recording live has always been important to us, but in this case it wouldn’t have made much sense. The main advantage of recording live is that you have a 100% authentic account of how the band sounds at the time, even at that exact day you're in the studio doing it. All the dynamics (including faults and fuck-ups) remain audible, which is unfortunately not very common nowadays. Everything is about perfection and being flawless and that is just fucking boring! But since we played along to pre-arranged synthesizers with a click track, we sounded pretty much the same each and every time we played the new material, so we passed on recording live for the purpose of much easier handling of the overall production. About mix and mastering I can't tell you much since I wasn't present, just that they did a good job in both studios! 
Metalfan: „Romantik” was released on the Temple Of Torturous record label and not on Zeitgeister, as expected. Why is that?
Florian Toyka: It's simple: Zeitgeister Music, our own label, has very limited resources. Also recording a whole album is already lots of work, and afterward there's not much left, be it motivation, energy, or simply time and money. So we're very glad that a highly enthusiastic label stepped in this time to take care of all the important stuff which happens after the production. After all we're musicians and this way we can focus more on where our strength and talent lies. So far it has worked out pretty well!
Metalfan: What will happen next with this label of yours, Zeitgeister Music? 
Florian Toyka: Our next release will be the new Owl EP on October 8th, titled "Aeon Cult". I have already listened to the songs and have never heard something as heavy and skull-crushing before, Christian [Ed. Note. guitar, bass, vocals, synths - Owl; vocals, guitar - Valborg] has outdone himself again! I keep being impressed by his talent and his gift as a musician and I'm very happy and grateful that we've been making music together for so many years now!
Metalfan: This autumn you will tour in our country, Romania, together with the Bucharest-based group Bloodway and Perihelion from Hungary. What were the reasons for this idea of having a few dates in this place?  
Florian Toyka: Another coincidence, or maybe that's just life... Last summer I visited your country the first time and I fell in love instantly. Since then I've been there again two times, and since both traveling and being in Valborg are very important parts of my life I thought it would be nice to bring those two together. So I remembered how we had worked with Costin for both Valborg and another band of mine some time ago and just asked him about information regarding shows in Romania. What I got from him was not information but an invitation to tour with his band this fall – unbelievable!
Metalfan: So, you say that you like to visit Romania once in a while. What do you like here most?
Florian Toyka: I really like how friendly and hospitable people are. Also everything is not so uptight as in Germany, where there are rules for almost everything, and plenty of people who make it their mission to follow them – and make life miserable for those who don't. But I have only been there three times, so this is just a first impression. Ah and of course I like the food, mujdei and slănină are appreciated, [Ed. Note. laughs]! Also the country is just beautiful, Ardeal I like a lot but also Maramureş... Almost everything I have seen so far. But yes, in the end it's the warm and friendly people!
Metalfan: Have you ever been to a concert when you were in Romania? If yes, did you notice some differences comparing to other concerts that you attended in other countries, including Germany? 
Florian Toyka: No, I haven't done this yet, but I will soon, [Ed. Note. laughs]!
Metalfan: What do you remember about the time when Valborg toured with Ahab and Omega Massif? What were the best moments and performances in that tour in your opinion?
Florian Toyka: Oh, there are plenty of special moments if you do something like this. Of course it was crazy for us to be in such a huge nightliner bus, with your own bed and space to hang out while being on the road. This is the best, you're just there for the show, and whenever you like you can retreat to the bus and lie down or hang out in peace. Or go to sleep, while the drivers take you to the next city. I remember that just after we started I was sitting down having a beer with one of the Ahab guys and looking out of the window on the beautiful colored vineyards in the Neckar valley (it was in autumn) and thought: “it is good to be alive”! Oh, also notable, I broke my toe a couple of days before the tour, [Ed. Note. laughs]. Fortunately I was able to play somehow... Best performance was in Lünen, I think. Great venue, great people, great show!
Metalfan: Definitely, Valborg makes a special music that awakens the introspective mood of the listener. If you ask me, this is one of the things that the world of today needs most, but what do you think about the general conditions? It seems that more and more listeners focus only on entertainment or canonical formulas and there are various reasons for this. Do you care about this tendency of people? How can your music pierce through this solid layer of conceptions that many listeners have put above their perceptivity? 
Florian Toyka: Well honestly... Even though I know what you're talking about and it is to be seen very critical how things develop, I have to say I don't care anymore. I am a musician and I love to play with the Valborg guys on a regular basis. From time to time we make new songs and release a new album. But this is all for our own sake. I am not on a mission to change other people... I just want to do my thing, make music, play a couple of cool shows, meet and connect with nice and like-minded people, and that's that. If 99% of all people only want their shitty entertainment music, I say let them have it! Not my problem! I think we offer something very special with our music in nowadays metal scene, and people can take it or leave it. Simple as that.
Metalfan: Do you have any expectations regarding the Romanian tour in September?
Florian Toyka: Expectations are dangerous, because it's always different than you imagine. Anyhow, what I'm looking forward to is meeting Costin and the other guys, seeing new places, being on the road together, playing a couple of killer shows, and hopefully an appreciating audience, [Ed. Note. laughs]! This is a very special tour for us and we'll do our best to also make it worthwhile for the people who come out to see us. Also, I'm happy to be in Cluj again, and I'm curious about Constanţa. But again, most of all it's the people. Apart from Cluj I don't know any of the cities, so I'm also very curious about them. I'm sure it will be great, can't wait!
Metalfan: That’s it for now. We are yearning to see you play in our places this autumn and, until then, if you want to say something to the Romanian fans, here is the place to do it, no matter the way you like to put it. Thank you for your music and time. Best wishes!
Florian Toyka: Well let me just thank you, Gina for your interest and your support. Toate cele bune, ne vedem!
Photo Credit: Thomas Lang
Autor: Gina S.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Valborg

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