GRENDEL’S SYTER (EN)

– Hello, thanks for taking your time, hope you are all healthy over there. How are you doing? Has the whole pandemic situation affected the band’s activity in any way?

Yes, thank you, I hope that this is true for you, too. What happened here was that we had to stop recording because the studio had to close. Still, Till and I managed to exchange some rough sketches for a couple of completely new songs online. It was all ‘inconvenient, but acceptable’ (Spock) for us, considering the circumstances. I also found the time to read a couple of cool books which really fanned my imagination. As long as our families and we are healthy, I don’t see how we could start complaining. My best wishes go to all the people who have lost loved ones or are in serious trouble now because of the pandemic.

– To begin with, who’s Grendel’s sister and what significance does the band name hold? Grendel was the beast devourer of men in the “Beowulf”, so I guess it has something to do with a strong feminine character.

Grendel’s sister might be an unsung monstrous heroine, who deserves own epic poem. She might also be the neglected female aspect of Grendel’s psyche. Or is she the earthly emanation of a supramundane being? There’s no doubt, however, that she’s powerful and mysterious . In some sense, the name is a link between old epic poems like ‘Beowulf’ and Jung’s ideas about the human psyche. 

– I suppose it may be like a female scission of Grendel, am I right? Which reminds me to the Jungian concept of the anima. Is there a little bit of Jung here?

You’re right. We’re certainly not orthodox ‘Jungians’, but speaking for myself, I find his work endlessly fascinating. It’s certainly an important influence for the band. And yes, the idea of the ‘anima’ is definitely part of that. 

– And could you say we can almost give this idea an almost social twist in our current climate?

I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘social twist’ and ‘current climate’? All I can say is that we usually don’t specifically aim at commenting current events or trends. 

– Is the sister an entity or an emobidment? Is it/she represented in the album in any way beyond the lyrics (ambience, sound…)?

I think if you asked her directly, you’d instantly regret it.

She doesn’t have a lot of patience with the affairs of mortal beings 😉 I think she’s mainly present through the vocals. She’s also visible on the cover of both our first Single and the Orphic Gold Leaves EP. I would not go as far as to say she’s our Eddie, but there, I’ve said it.

– Cruz del Sur is now reissuing the “Myrtle Wreath/Myrtenkranz” EP. How did everything arise?

Enrico simply contacted me. He seems to like our music. We’re pretty star-struck by the bands on his label. Where’s the candid camera? 

– All songs are both in English and German. Why? What are the pros and cons of singing/writing in each language?

After our first Single, we started recording every song in German and English. I think there’s a certain gap in Heavy Metal when it comes to the atmosphere of epic poetry in our own mother tongue. So we wanted to give it a shot, and we enjoyed it. I also like traditional German folk ballads quite a bit, so it wasn’t completely new ground for me when I wrote the lyrics. Still, the German lyrics represent more of an ‘adventure’, whereas the English lyrics feel more like paying homage to our favorite bands.  

– What are some of the main ideas on the album? You lean towards the ancestral,the mythological, all shrouded in that sort of fairy-tale vibe.

Roughly speaking, the lyrics deal with mythology, philosophy and history, often viewed through the lens of Jungian psychology. I admire ancient texts like the Upanishads, love visiting archeological sites and the like. Of course, my thoughts and visions about these things are reflected in the lyrics. In a way, they’re pretty personal and not merely escapist or descriptive. To give some examples, ‘Winnowing..’ deals with tenets of the Indo-European warrior-ideal and its limitations, ‘Entoptic…’ is about life and spirituality in the Stone Age, ‘Vishnu’s…’ is about the Vedantic consciousness, cloaked in the imagery of plants and animals. I’ve always loved lyrics with a little depth, like hidden gems from a bygone age. So I try to follow this path myself. 

– So there’s room for myths. How do you use them? Are they an aesthetic resource, a way of reflecting on existential subjects…?

For me, myths contain elementary truths about our nature as human beings. Of course, they’re wrapped in metaphors and narratives. We’re not really used to this style of thinking anymore and easily misinterpret it: either as direct instructions for how to live one’s life or as superstitions people chose to believe because they did not know any better. That, I believe, is a mistake and happens at our own loss. 

– And what do you use your music for or what purpose does it fulfill to you? Is it a way to explore or rather channel something? It seems to hold a lot of symbolism.

Most of all, myths are a gateway to perceiving the world in a transrational (not irrational) way. Overcoming some of our modern entanglements for a moment or two. Getting access to some timeless truths about our nature. Sharing our deepest common sources instead of shouting at each other because we believe we know the path to salvation. 

– It also has a lot of heoricism in its sound, it delivers that vibe of victory, of overcoming fears. Musically you touch emotions that resonate a lot in our current times. Is portraying certain emotions with your music a conscious or an unconscious effort?

I guess making music feels very natural to us? It’s definitely more than a means to an end. It gives me great pleasure to finally hear these songs in their recorded version and not just in my head. These songs are, in some way, the essence of my lifelong musings about both Heavy Metal and Literature. I think they are meant to be, just like a fragrant flower or the singing of a bird. Additionally, it is very satisfying to be part of a long-standing tradition of songwriters and lyricists.  

– Your cover also has that mythical, historical vibe. What could you comment on it? How does it fit with the album as a whole?

There’s a strong unpredictable element to the whole process of creating music. I cannot consciously ‘control’ my imagination or how my bandmates realise my ideas, for example. Then again, I know which kind of music I would like to hear or which bands I like for a certain reason. As for the heroicism, it’s nice to connect to something uplifting and sublime from time to time. It’s also a necessary counterweight to my melancholic side. Caro, Till and I simply don’t believe in nihilism or cynicism, neither on an individual nor on a collective level.  

– It’s “The Roses of Heliogabalus” painting and reflects a situation where the Roman emperor Elegabalus buries his guests in rose petals. It is poetical and beautiful as it is tough, and kind of Meta tool. Would these adjectives also apply to what you are doing with the band?

Of course, the painting by Alma-Tadema is simply stunning and Elagabal is a fascinating character. What also struck me is the timeless symbolism of being smothered by flowers: killed by the one thing that was intended to give the the party guests a pleasant surprise. There’s some dark irony and truth to that. Above all, I just had the intuition that this painting had to be part of the world of Heavy Metal.

Yep, poetical, beautiful, tough and Metal captures it quite well for me – thank you. 

– You draw from Folklore in both lyrics and sound (that 70’s Folk/Acid Rock I’d say). Are there any specifical artistic movement, poems, personalities, etc. That inspire you?

I generally like folk or folk rock bands from the 70s. A couple of names: Zupfgeigenhansel (Germany), Kebnekajse (Sweden), Planxty (Ireland), The Watersons (England). When it comes to contemporary folk music, I love Triakel and Svanevit. As for myself, I’ve played at folk events (pub sessions, Bal Folk) for quite a while; that was on the mandolin, though. There’s also something special about playing and sharing songs and tunes around the campfire. I guess I was inspired by some of the characters who showed up at such events. They keep these old songs alive and let their healing magic unfold.  

– As you draw from folklore, is your home country an inspiration to you to any extent?

Yes, it’s an influence. This is also why there are two traditional German folk songs on the EP.  

– All this about your EP being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?

Epic, ecclectic & elevating. 

– And finally; what’s next for GRENDEL’S SYSTER? How are you going to promote the album in these uncertain times?

To be honest, there’s no masterplan from our side. We said what had to be said. We have to take it easy, anyway, because of work and family.  

– That’s all from our side, thank you once more for answering our interview. If you’d like to add some final words; feel free to do it.

Support random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. And thanks for the entertaining questions.

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

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