Dordeduh are a relatively new band but the players within its ranks certainly are not. Following a split down the middle with Hupogrammos and Sol Faur somewhat unceremoniously leaving Negura Bunget this new division from Romania were formed. With both bands going their own separate ways it took a while but we have recently seen debut album ‘Dar de Duh’ being released along with some powerful live performances as the band toured with Bethlehem and Secrets Of The Moon. Hupogrammos kindly sat down and answered our questions on these things as well as filling us in on his always fascinating vision and the bands context within both traditional Romanian music and their more blackened mindset.
AN: Firstly and I can appreciate that you do not want to go on digging up old ground regarding what happened with the split but on leaving Negura Bunget did you have a clear vision of what you wanted to do and did you have even a name for the band and ideas for songs partly written?
Hello everyone! No, not at all. Sol and I even discussed about quitting playing music for good because we felt pretty much accomplished with what we did during all those years with Negura Bunget. The music and the name of the new band came after we decided that we’d continue playing music.
AN: Om was such a fantastic album, for me it was immense and transcendental and an album that helped me get through a particularly bad patch. Was it a daunting album to contemplate following up, especially when considering that the people who created it had effectively split straight down the middle?
Well, Negru’s musical contribution was not something that I missed, honestly. There was a high expectation regarding the album of Dordeduh and it would be a lie to say that Sol and I didn’t feel that pressure; but overall we did what we had to do, paid attention to as many details as possible and composed a good album. Anything other than that was just a matter of time and practice.
AN: You and Sol Faur obviously had to find other musicians for the band, were choices obvious? I believe there are different people involved live and on album, where did you gather this tribe from? Live you have strong ties with Secrets Of The Moon.
I think that nowadays it’s pretty hard to find musicians that are dedicated to a musical project, mostly because it’s very hard to get a living out of playing music. Due to this reason very few people go professional in this field. From these few people that were available we tried to find the best of them and, the utmost important thing for us, they had to be in tune with the band, musically but also empathically.
The first person I contacted was Sergio Ponti for the drumming and percussion parts. We knew that he’s an amazing drummer as we toured together while he was still playing in Ephel Duath. Unfortunately for us, his drum teaching job takes a lot of his time and time wise he’s not as flexible as it is required in Dordeduh. He recorded on drums and percussion our first EP, “Valea Omului” and he does percussions for our special live shows. He’s a full member though in our second project called Sunset in the 12th House.
Then AR and Thelemnar from SOTM helped us out for a couple of shows for a short period of time, meanwhile we already found Flavius Misaras on the bass and Ovidiu Jurca Mihaita on drums. They are coming from the local “stock” of musicians and we knew them for long time.
Flavius is one of the most professional bass payers one can find in Romania, he played with many local bands and we even played a couple of rehearsals together in the past while i was still in Makrothumia. It was a very courageous initiative to play with two bass players in the band, one slapping the bass and one on fretless bass.
Ovidiu had played with Sol back in 96-97 in a black metal project called Vast. Since then he turned more to acting and nowadays he runs an independent theatre called Aoleu. He played many diverse styles all these years starting with music for theatre and ending with playing in death-black metal bands.
Gallalin is our last member that we incorporated and she never played any instrument before. She was close to Sol and I for many years and knowing that her dream was always to play in a band, we gave her this opportunity, which she handled well so far.
AN: For those wondering and I am sure I am not alone Dordeduh and ‘Dar de Duh’ names that roll off the tongue and thankfully names I have finally managed to spell after copying and pasting for so long. Can you give us some insight into the meaning behind them?
In Romanian, “dor” means longing, missing, yearning for something. The word “duh” means spirit, or an airy immaterial state. We wanted to put together something that joins the soul and the spirit as representative characteristics for the human being but also to encapsulate the feeling of missing something very deeply rooted, something that once was and now is long forgotten. It’s actually a way to express and to suggest that there’s something in our nature that is linked with a higher self and a straight path of direct elevation.
“Dar” means gift, offering. The album is our gift from the spirit. But it’s also a suggestion that people pretty much forgot to offer and to keep the balance with the universe and nature; they offer life and support unconditionally.
AN: Firstly you released ‘Valea Omului’ two tracks in 2010, which later were to appear on the album. Looking at things these were shorter versions of the songs on the album, was this a case of finding your feet and letting people know you were out there while you developed these ideas?
It was first of all a discographic gesture. Bands start to exist when they start to release something. At the time we came out with “Valea Omului”, we already had a lot of material composed for the album. Actually nearly the entire album was already schemed out. When we decided to release the 7” EP we said that it would be great to offer the audience a different version of two songs that will actually feature on the album. And after all it was not a bad idea.
AN: You were quickly involved with Lupus Lounge / Prophecy, were they the obvious choice, were any other labels seriously considered?
There were other offers that even equaled Prophecy’s offer; but they were the first that offered us a contract as we’ve been in contact directly with them after quitting with Negura Bunget. The biggest disadvantage was that we are at the same label with our previous band and there are actually two very similar bands on the same slot, but on the other hand we had the chance to shape things as we wanted with Prophecy and hopefully it will turn out that it was a good choice in the end.
AN: My first encounter with the album was with the video clip for Dojană, it really blew me away and was pretty much an unforgettable call to arms. One thing that really puzzled was the fact it is the last track on the album when it struck that it would be a perfect opener. Obviously there must be some form of strong narrative running through the album explaining its placement. Can you give us some information about this?
Well, you are not away from the truth at all. The last song could be indeed the first one. The first and the last song are attributed to Saturn, which is the planetary symbol behind Saturday, the day that opens every week in most of the traditional cultures. The last song is also a song dedicated to Saturn and it closes the circle of the seven days, being at the same time the opener of the new circle of seven… so your guess was there!
As one can see, the album is centered around the symbol of the number seven and we chose to operate with a wide and general symbolism as it is in the traditional astrology. This is represented in most traditional cultures as each day of the week have certain specific personifications, but also as common general ruler if we denominate the planets used in the traditional astrology. For Saturday we have Saturn, for Sunday we have the Sun, for Monday we have the Moon, for Tuesday we have Mars, for Wednesday Mercury, for Thursday Jupiter and for Friday Venus.
Besides these general influences that can be applied to the principle of the number seven, we selected different attributes and characteristics of personifications that we found for these numbers in different traditional cultures, including of course the main influence of our Romanian traditional culture.
The narrative story is actually seen from the perspective of a spiritual hierarchy where the entire universe contributes to the elevation of the virgin souls that have to go through different states of development.
AN: Jind de tronuri is an epic number starting the album with a 16 minute track shows that your music is only really for those with long concentration spans and those who want to be immersed in your world. It must be a huge amount of work structuring songs let alone a whole album like this. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process and how long it took to get all your ideas into such a cohesive musical form?
Our music is very much related to the conceptual aspect. Soon as I finished the conceptual background we started to select all the material we gathered to fit with the concept and we further constructed new lines to fill up all that was about to become an album. We are a band that works extensively on an album. For this album we worked for about 3 years, including the recording and mixing process, which was done also by our hands.
AN: The album works very much as a whole, there is no way that it should be listened to in small parts and it should not be listened to unless you have the time to take it all in without interruption, would you agree with this?
I agree with that. There are songs that can be extracted from the context like stand alone songs, but it’s definitely better to listen them as a whole, because the album was conceived as a whole.
AN: Can you tell us a bit about the traditional Romanian themes and how they fit in with the concept of the music?
Well, perhaps people should know that these themes are something more like a personal interpretation of what could be called “traditional Romanian folklore”, rather than some authentic folklore. What we composed is not inspired by any folkloric piece of music. It looks like we had that approach in mind but if one takes a look in the depths of our music one will be able to see that we mixed oriental scales with the scales that Romanian traditional music uses. So in the end it’s not something that is specific for our folklore. It’s more something particular that we created for this album.
AN: There are many instruments that you use that people will probably not identify as easily as the more obvious guitar, drums and bass. Can you give us a bit of a crash course in some of those that you use and describe them to us, for instance the Toacă, Tulnic etc? Are these are all instruments that you have learned to play yourself?
I my case, I never took any class of musical education. For all the music I write and play I use my ears. In other words yes, I learned to play all the instruments by myself and it’s the same in Sol’s case. But some instruments we can’t really pretend that we know how to play; it’s more like we experiment a lot, improvise and then we give to the part a finalized structure, that’s all.
Tulnic is a long pipe originating from Apuseni Mountains. The instrument was used mainly for communicating information between the villages from one side of the hill to the other side. It’s a very old instrument. Similar woodwinds instruments have other use in different cultures though. Long pipe instruments are used in purifying rituals to extract the energy through the earth, to circulate it through all the energetic centers of the body with the help of respiration and then expel it out in the air.
We don’t have any information that this instrument was used in similar rituals, but we use it.
There’s also this “hammered wood” called “toaca” which is also very old instrument used in ritualistic contexts. It’s a percussive instrument that gives the bit and induces a rhythm in a ceremony. The instrument was later on adopted by Orthodox Church in our country, being used mostly in ceremonies that have a pre-Christian heritage.
We also use on this album hammered dulcimer, different types of shepherd flutes and caval, which is a type of flute that you find it in Balkans, mandola, which is a longer scaled mandolin, panpipe and different handmade percussion instruments.
AN: That word transcendental keeps coming to mind whilst listening to your music; it is an incredibly spiritual trip. What ideally would you like a listener to take away from the experience of listening to your music?
Even though we have a concrete message behind our music, we don’t necessarily want to impose it. I think the best is to give free space to the listener to identify and take everything that fits with one’s resonance. People react in many ways to a certain influence; some may resonate, some not. The audience does that anyway and many times any kind of explanation is futile because the first impression is always stronger than anything one would try to induce later on.
AN: Apart from natural surroundings, tradition and spirituality (which I assume are all integral) where else do you take any influences from; anything in the way of the arts, film, literature and other music? Dare I also ask if anything with hallucinogenic qualities ever helped evolve your overall sound?
For this album, as it was in the past regarding all the albums I ever wrote, the main influence was esotericism and especially numerology. “Dar de Duh” benefitted from extensive and wide studies regarding the manifestation of the number 7 in specific cultural and esoteric cultures. I followed specific ideas for this album and we picked up only the specific parts that were fitting with the concept of the album.
On the other hand Universe and Nature are always something that inspire, mainly because it’s the natural way for all beings. If one searches for balance these are the first places one should look to.
Having an anthropological background I’m familiar with the use of psychedelic plants in ceremonies. But to answer directly to your question, we never used any hallucinogenic stimulants while we were writing music, not even alcohol. But on the other hand I would recommend that everyone should try once in life a psychedelic mushrooms experience out in the nature, without people around, maybe only with a few very close and trusted friends. It’s a life changing experience, where beside the personal inner experience that one attracts in that specific moment and that has a personal message for the one experiencing, mushrooms will always manifest the tendency to “teach” us things regarding the energetic world which we very rarely encounter in our usual state of mind. But as it is with all the things in universe, never look for fireworks and extraordinary events; don’t look for self pleasuring experience. Touch the realm of the energy with modesty and never abuse.
AN: I am quite intrigued at what sort of music the band members might choose to listen to at home or perhaps on the tour bus, I am sure there are some interesting choices coming up. Care to enlighten us?
To give you an inside view I’ll tell you a funny story that happened in the tour bus that we travelled with in the tour with Bethlehem and Secrets of the Moon. In the bus there was a dvd player and Frank, the sound guy of the tour found out that that there’s a dvd with the making of for the last tour of Michael Jackson. I personally never had the chance to watch anything about him. Sol and I are sound engineers in our daily life, Frank worked as well with many, many musicians all over the years, the rest of the guys are professional and have been for many years in the “musical business” already; so it was amazing to see what high end musicians participated around Michael Jackson and how detailed was the production. Even though the music of Michael Jackson will never really represent an option that any of us would choose to listen to at home, we appreciated the level of professionalism that was behind the music. Then we looked at our tour, compared it with what we saw in that dvd and it was really obvious where we were situated in terms of musical professionalism and business. Or course, this is one side of the coin and it’s not everything about music… but still…
The funny part was that we’ve been at that moment in Bruges and many aggressive bands played in that night at that show and some random people came to visit us in the tour bus. You should have seen their “WTF?” faces when they saw what we were watching… hahahahahaha…
So to reply to your question we listen to various music, but in general lines we appreciate when something is done with a lot of dedication and professionalism, regardless of the musical genre.
AN: How has the tour been going, you have been first on the bill I believe? Are you finding that the audience is turning up to see you? Any high / low points at all you can share with us?
I just shared you a “high” moment… hahahaha. It was a very nice and successful tour I would say. I’ve been positively surprised to see that people came to see us and to buy our merch. The audience had a great response on what we performed and it was a very nice and comfortable atmosphere in the tour bus; no big egos, no self importance, everybody was helpful and contributed equally. We played as headliners in the Trier show but for the other shows we were the opening act. Bethlehem and Secrets of the Moon changed slots many times. So it was not really a “headlining” tour for anyone… and that was good.
AN: Again you have set yourself up with a fantastic album, one I think the reviews speak for themselves. The question is where do you go from here, the competition is mighty!
Many thanks for your words of appreciation.
We did not prepare any strategy for the future. I guess we’ll keep on working, trying to get as professional as we can get and play as much as possible live. For the next year we intend to prepare another European tour and we’ll probably start to record the first ideas for the next album. That’s pretty much it…
AN: Anything you would like to add for our readers?
Just that I would like to thank you for your support and interest. Best regards to everyone!
Thanks a lot for taking time to answer the questions
Interviewed by Pete Woods