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Interview with Stefan Hertrich (SpiRitual)

Interview with Stefan Hertrich (SpiRitual)
BANDS : SpiRitual

Metalfan: Hi Stefan and welcome into Metalfan pages. How are you these days, are you enjoying the first touches of spring?
Hey Dragos, and hello to Romania! Thanks I am fine, I am indeed enjoying spring (we have very hard winters here in the south of Germany, this year it REALLY sucked, we even had snow in late April), and it´s always a period of the year where I set much energy free for songwriting. The first sunbeams always let my creativity flow 

Metalfan:  Not long ago you have released Pulse, the first musical incarnation of your brand new project, called SpiRitual. Tell me first why did you choose to name you project SpiRitual, is this because the music is related to spirit and has a ritualistic dimension?
I wanted a name that is easy to remember, and SpiRitual indeed is easy to remember  There´s no special meaning behind it, it just reveals that I am a person being interested in spiritual topics, and so are many of my friends and musicians who take part in this project. The word game with the big “r” creating the word Ritual is just a word game, and has absolutely no meaning to me. It´s more the opposite: being spiritual means NOT needing rituals or churches for being religious.


Stefan Hertrich

Metalfan: Pulse shares many musical similarities with Betray My Secrets. What was the main reason you decided to give birth to SpiRitual instead of making Pulse the second release of Betray My Secrets project?
Yes, you are right, Dragos, it sounds much like Betray My Secrets, which was a project of mine in 1999 and with that the first metal CD ever that mixed Ethnic music with hard metal stuff. I just did one album, in cooperation with my good friend Christian Bystron of the German band Megaherz, but due to the fact that Christian was very busy with Megaherz during the last years (they are very famous in Germany and it was impossible for him to concentrate on a second band too), we never made a second album. But in 2005 I simply had the will to continue this mixture of metal/ethno, and so SpiRitual was born. I have chosen a new name, because Betray My Secrets without Christian wouldn´t be Betray My Secrets. This project was a perfect creative cooperation between two musicians, and that´s why Betray My Secrets as solo project simply wouldn´t be good. In the end, Christian anyway took part in SpiRitual, haha! (because he liked the songs so much that he wanted to play some guitar solos).

Metalfan: SpiRitual plays an intriguing combination of metal and ethnic music, a genre pretty hard to classify. How could we label your music?
I´d simply call it Ethnometal or New Age Metal  I have no problem if people put my music in a special genre. I never understand why some bands hate that 

Metalfan: The Pulse CD has not only the musical component, it has also a text material rich in ideas and visual components, making it a complex and fascinating release. Do you think that the multimedia section offers the listener a better immersion in the SpiRitual universe?
Thanks  Yes, definitely! “Pulse” is one of the very few CDs on the music market that doesn´t just offer a musical or lyrical concept, but also strengthens this concept by “philosophical” or “esoteric” text material written by me and another friend of mine, the famous German book author Dr. phil. Christian Rätsch. And apart from that, the CD also offers a video clip, made by the Russian video team Deviant Creations, also quite spiritual persons!

Metalfan: Is Pulse a conceptual album? Which is the main theme that connects the songs?
”Pulse” doesn´t have a sort of “main theme”, like a special belief or religion, it´s more an album that wants to deliver a certain mood, “think and live positive, even if you are gothic or metalhead!”. Both things do not exclude eachother. Being a positive gothic/metalhead can be a very constructive personality feature! This is what the album is about. Think positive when you have defeats, they are your friends who bring you on the right way. See difficult situations as challenge, and not as frightening thing etc.



Metalfan: I noticed, both in the musical and lyrical levels of Pulse, the idea of dualism. Are the contrasts important to you? Do you only think in these opposite terms like good-evil, positive-negative, etc.? Don’t you think that sometimes you have to choose a ‘middle way”? 
Well, those contrasts are the things that make us go through life, but a mature person/experienced person usually is satisfied exactly in the middle. But to appreciate this “boring middle” high enough, you first have to experience the both extremes, I think: the euphoric things, but also the direct opposite – as long as you get sick of them and notice that they don´t bring you peace, and bring you nowhere in life but make you rotate at the same level all the time. So  indeed, to choose the middle way should be the final goal, that´s what I think. The younger we are, the more we are emotionally affected by those extremes. The older you get, the more “relaxed” do you see them.

Metalfan:  Why did you record just a 6 song EP? This is in fact my only complain about Pulse, it is too short!
Hehe, nice that it´s your only complain. Well, it´s an EP, and for that it is pretty long I think with its 35 minutes. And I must say that is was REALLY hard to even do this 35 minutes. Full album wasn´t possible, I was completely exhausted after “Pulse” was done. But more to come soon!
It´s indeed a stupid length, too long for EP, to short for full album. The last song, Nowhereness, was written when I already was in the final recording stages. I suddenly got a big creative blast and simply had to write his 6th track. It´s the first time that this happened, usually I am happy when the nightmare is over and don´t write new material while being in studio.

Metalfan: You think that human’s worst enemies are doubts and fears. How would you explain this? Do you think we could find in Pulse a way to deal with these fears?
Well, I wouldn´t say “Pulse” changes a human, but “Pulse” at least can tell the listener “hey, there is a metal musician who says that seeing things positive makes our life more positive, he for sure has a reason to say this , cause he is an old man” haha. And if the listener understands that, he maybe gets interested in this subject and tries to find out more about it.
Doubts and fears indeed are things that block us too much. Getting a defeat is just a life experience, so it´s not a defeat but a good thing! It´s not just me saying this, read books of psychologists, religious people or motivation trainers and they ALL say the same. I think it´s the essence of life to always walk through the day with this knowledge! Imagine two ways. You don´t know which way to go, because you don´t know which one is the right one. Most people are afraid and remain on the same position, without choosing a way. Sure, they avoid a defeat, but they DO NOT GO FORWARD IN LIFE!  Many authors advice, to simply chose a way, and go it. And if this way sucked, and was obviously wrong, you know what the right one is. And the next time where you get the possibility to choose, you will take the right one!

Metalfan: The video for the song “Pulse”, included in the multimedia section, is a really interesting visual experience. Give us please more details about it:  script, the team, the place where the shooting took place.
Thanks! The video was done with very small budget, but with a very big heart. The whole team was very enthusiastic about my new project and immediately agreed to make this video. It was no typical “musician wants a video and hires a company” thing. They told me “send us the songs, we´ll decide what song touches us most, and then will make the video.” Without me giving any instructions etc. So they created the video by the energy the song itself gave them, and I think this can be seen. It´s not just a music video but it´s real arts, done by my great Russian friends of Deviant Creations. The video was shot in Russia, by the way, and it was VERY cold! Thanks again to Dasha for the hard days she had during the shooting!


Yana Veva - voce

Metalfan: I think Pulse is a multicultural release, because a lot of international musicians were involved in the creative process of this record. Please describe each person and tell us how you managed to convince them to work at this album, knowing that they live in different parts of the world.
First, there was my friend Dr. phil. Christian Raetsch, a well-known German book author (spirituality, shamanism, plants etc.), who is a Betray My Secrets fan since many years. We already worked together for an ethnic album (Shiva In Exile) in 2004, and now it was time to also work together on a metal CD. He provided ethnic sound material (for example recorded flutes of the Columbian Shaman Kajuyali Tsamani and rain forest sounds) and wrote a text for the multimedia section.
The drums were done by Maurizio Guolo who is an excellent drummer from my city Munich and also plays with me at Darkseed.
The CD was recorded and mixed in Tommy Herrmann’s Helion Studios (Darkseed guitarist), and the female vocals were done by Gaby Koss (former Haggard, Germany) and Yana Veva (Theodor Bastard, Russia). While I recorded the vocals with Gaby directly in Helion Studios/Munich, Yana recorded her vocals in Russia and we communicated over internet.
The German guitarists Rene Berthiaume (Equilibrium), Markus Glanz (Koyaanisqatsy) and Christian Bystron (Megaherz, former Betray My Secrets) played the guitar solos, in their own home studios, and we also mostly communicated over internet (however, I often see Christian cause we just live 10 minutes away from each other, hehe). Also Konstantin Viktorov must be mentioned, a Russian graphics designer, who cared about the fantastic website and the booklet design, and often gave me helpful hints during songwriting.
The reason why ALL of them supported SpiRitual was the love for music. Unfortunately this love usually stops when it´s about the business side of the medal (distributors, labels etc., that’s why I decided to only sell the CD over my website and nowhere else – but I guess I found a label with ideals, so an official release will be announced soon).


Gaby Koss - voce


Metalfan: Is it hard to write this kind of music? I mean how difficult is it to find the ideal equilibrium between the furious metal parts and the softer vibe of ethnic music?
It was in fact very easy, because I knew how it has to sound, before I wrote one single note. And of course I collected much songwriting experience when I did Betray My Secrets and my ethnic project Shiva In Exile. It´s simply “my corner”, doing this ethno/metal mix, I simply love doing it  The reason why it all was so exhausting was the fact that I had to handle everything by myself (right now SpiRitual is just released unofficially by my own little label, so I had to care about every single % of the production: songwriting, recording, organization of website, cover design, musicians, pressing etc.). It was a vision, and I realized it 100%, and this makes me VERY happy. Now I just hope that the album will be more successful once it´s officially released around August (label will be announced soon). Oh, I think we still don´t have a Romanian license partner, so if there´s any Romanian label wanting to release something really crazy, drop me some lines, haha:


Stefan Hertrich si Christian Rätsch


Metalfan: Where did you meet Dr Christian Rätsch? What was his contribution to the Pulse album?
The first time he contacted me was in the year 2000 I think, by letter. He said he loves Betray My Secrets and wants to write about it in one of his books. Some months later we met personally and we became very good friends, even if we don´t phone often/ see us often. We both respect eachother very much, but mainly it´s me who admires him of course. He wrote so many books and is so damn smart, but still so full of emotions!!!
He travels a lot, and sometimes records shamans or nature sounds, and then I get them for my music. I now have shamanic recordings being perfect for a trance CD, but well, I don´t know wether I shall do that (metalheads would kill me, haha).

Metalfan: You are also involved in another ethnic project, called Shiva in Exile. Which are the main differences between this band and SpiRitual?
Shiva In Exile is musically in a similar direction as SpiRitual, but without guitars and metal vocals. You could call it a mix of The Crow soundtrack and Dead Can Dance + my typical harmonies/moods. It won the Just Plain Folks Music Award “Best new age/world album 2004” in California, and I was very proud of that, because this album was just an underground release with VERY small budget. It shows that there are still moments, where the MUSIC counts, and not just money/connections.

Metalfan: You are involved in various musical projects. Where did the need to be a part of so many bands come from? Do you think you could not express your creativity, let’s say, only in Darkseed?
There are so many different musical aspects, that deliver a very menlancholic mood, that´s why my challenge these years is to find this aspects, and add them to my music. Most of them are ethnic elements, and they wouldn´t fit to Darkseed, because Darkseed shall be a typical, ordinary gothic metal band. Which isn´t a negative thing at all! Many people like this kind of music, and it helps them through life etc., but I personally simply need other “musical colors” too. There are phases in every year, where I simply have the desire to make ethnic/metal music, but also phases where I don´t wanna make metal at all, but then I again simply MUST make a Darkseed CD cause I feel that it´s good to do so.

Metalfan: Darkseed’s Astral Adventures and Ultimate Darkness were  very good releases, and you have received positive feedback, both from press and fans. In fact, Ultimate Darkness  was included in our Metalfan top 20 of 2005 too. But were the sales as good as the feedback? 
Wow this surprises me, because I consider Astral Adventures as one of the not so good Darkseed CDs, haha. I personally prefer Ultimate Darkness, the latest CD, most. But still, I am very happy about the lyrics I wrote for Astral Adventures, they touched many people and that´s a great thing! The sales were okay. Not good, not bad. In our days, it´s a big success if you sell some thousand CDs (a fan who thinks that most bands make money with their band, are completely wrong, it´s just a hobby, for most bands!!!). So thanks for this great feedback about Astral Adventures. For the case we´ll play in Romania one day, we´ll think about adding some songs from that album to the live set (we intend to do an Eastern European tour for spring 2007, but it´s far from being confirmed yet).

Metalfan: How does the future of Darkseed look to you? Is this band on the top of priorities for 2006? In other words, which are the projects you will focus on this year?
During the first half of 2006 I didn´t do much songwriting, just some experiments, but in June/July I definitely will start with intense songwriting again. My Darkseed comrades already started with collecting some rough ideas for the next Darkseed album, the lyrical/graphical concept is also in my head already. Apart from that I maybe will do another Shiva In Exile album (will be more gothic than the previous one), but not sure yet. But the Darkseed songwriting definitely will be done in 2006!

Metalfan: We leave in a real download era. Do you think the piracy could be the doom of many bands? In other words, what do you think of creating music in nowadays? Do you perceive music like a form of art, a way to give people a message, or a way to raise your income, or maybe something in between?
I think as soon as CDs disappear and music is only consumed by digital forms, I will stop to do it. I see no point in creating a mass of digital data. For a musician it´s simply great to hold your own CD in your hand. And for me it´s always a big motivation to think about the moment to hold the next album in my hands. Downloading, well, it sounds pathetic, but it indeed ruins the music business and already did. Hardly any musician can live by making music, they all have jobs, and sooner or later this double-activity (job+ music) becomes too exhausting and the bands split. That´s how music works in our days. I just can do it because I have so many different projects and don´t focus on playing live that much (which costs much time), and because we have our own studio. But well, it´s something we must live with, it won´t change to the better.
Reasons for making music: the ideal thing would be all three: arts, message, income. The first two things are given already, hehe. Indeed the message is VERY important for me, and nothing is cooler than getting emails of young people saying “damn your CDs helped me so much during my difficult times”. It´s something that makes all the download problems we discussed before forgotten.

Metalfan: I think you noticed that in the last time, Scandinavian mythology is a major source of inspiration in all kind of cultural manifestations-from music to movies and computer games. Why do you think people are attracted by the northern archaic culture?
Hm, that´s a good question. I guess because this world offers us something we do not have anymore. A world that simply is “alright”, with all the intact nature, all the original and clean things, a world that isn´t fake and made of plastic things and plastic thoughts/feelings. I think the more technical and complicated our world becomes, the more we long for simple things. (New age/ethno movement is the same! Longing for simple cultures, which are so rich, BECAUSE they are so simple!).

Metalfan: Speaking of influences, it seems that Oriental culture has a major role in Pulse musical universe.  Why are you so attracted by Near/Middle East culture?
Some oriental instruments simply sound so damn gothic! The Armenian duduk flute for instance is an instrument that speaks so much sadness. Much more than a violin or guitar. Just the sound, and the way it is played (oriental style) is full of gothic! The beginning of Nahash for example is played with this flute. It sounds dirty to some extend, but still is full of grace etc, oh well, it´s very difficult to describe.


Stefan Hertrich

Metalfan: Do you really believe that music can change a person’s way of living?
I think it can, but it doesn´t happen often. Usually music is like a friend, taking the listener by the hand and following him through the bad and good moments of life. In our days, we are not very open anymore to our environment, we usually hide our feelings and wear a mask, but even the most “closed” humans open their heart towards the CD they currently listen to!

Metalfan: Do you consider yourself a spiritual being? What means spirituality to you?
Since I more and more try to listen to my inner voice, my intuition, and my heart, I would call myself a spiritual person, yes. But it would take too long to describe this in detail now. I didn´t reach the point yet where I could say that I found my 100% point of view about the world (especially my own inner world), and as long as I am “ traveling” it´s too early for writing down results 

Metalfan: What about religion, are you religious in any way?
The difference between being religious and spiritual is, that religion needs a concrete form to express the belief (a church, an organization, maybe a leader) while spirituality is a way of feeling things that come from the inside. You can for example read the bible to learn something about how the world works, or you can walk in a forest for 100s of hours and learn the same by doing nothing but just being in silence. None of both ways is the ultimate, common way, everybody should try to find out what suits him best. Jesus was a spiritual/gnostic person, but still many people like what he did and said, by reading the bible and being in a certain, defined religion, that´s okay too! This is a point where religion and spiritual become one. Jesus for instance, by having been spiritual, and his thoughts being written down by a book and spread, which can be defined as religion (however Christianity doesn´t represent Jesus perfectly in the way he should be represented, that´s my personal opinion).

Metalfan: What kind of music is Stefan Hertrich listening in 2006? Are there some metal albums that impressed you lately?
I am usually impressed by single songs, not by whole albums. Hm… these days I listen to some songs of Hocico, VNV Nation, still SpiRitual (lol), Schiller/Heppner, Charon, Black Hawk Down soundtrack, but also a Slipknot song 

Metalfan: Thank you very much for your time. The final words belong to you…
Thanks for the interview, it´s the first SpiRitual interview I´ve done to Romania and I hope it won´t be the last!!! Hopefully see you live soon, maybe with Darkseed in 2007.

Autor: Dragos P.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: SpiRitual

   June 06, 2006  | 2 Comments  | 13320 Views « BACK

Comment on: Interview with Stefan Hertrich (SpiRitual)

  • Am si eu o intrebare asa mai pe scurt... ce e de ras cand pronuntati Slipknot? :-? totusi corey talor este mult peste voi ... ( nu ma refer la MetalFan ci la trupa spiritual)

    1. Posted by octav | 12 Iulie 2007 19:02

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