Your name, Henryk, sounds Polish. Do you really have some Slavic roots? Please tell a little about yourself...

It's true, Henryk is certainly one of the most common Polish names but has a very rare spelling for Germany. My origin is German. I guess my father, driven out from Silesia after WWII, has brought this name from the Eastern parts of Europe.

Also, the second member of DARKWOOD has a quite Russian name - Nadja. Would you be so kind as to introduce her too?

For Nadja, it's true. She has Ukranian ancestors and speaks Russian and German. I have to mention that she is not really a member since DARKWOOD is rather a project than a band. Apart from that, I very much appreciate her work and help since the beginning. For the recordings, she helps me out with Cello. For the live performances, she is absolutely essential. In the future, there will be more people contributing since I stopped moving from town to town all the time and have basically concentrated my work in Dresden.

Is Dresden your home town or you settled there under another circumstances?

I originally come from Finsterwalde. I have been living in Leipzig for quite a few years and was thinking about returning there. But all my friends had spread all over the country already. For personal reasons I chose Dresden then.

Transformation from ordinary listener to performer is very interesting phase in a musician's coming into being. How could it happen with you personally? When did you feel it's the time? Which motives and emotions had driven you?

I think I started making music and practicing drums and guitar when being in the army - somehow inspired by the atmosphere of foggy night watches, pine woods and the experience of comradeship. In those times, I was still used to listen to the music of the Eighties which basically means listening to electronic music or this post-punk kind of stuff. I was then playing in several projects and bands with a style I would simply refer to as 'Independent music'. I later realized that there are some groups which developed a style playing exactly the kind of music we were used to listen to in 'working and holiday camps' of the former system. As everybody knows, the influence came from England which is rather amazing. Later I started recording my own songs which somehow naturally turned out to be Neofolk or Neue Volksmusik with all the influences described later in this interview. But I also never denied my fascination for electronic sounds or soundscapes.

As it seems, in Stigmata we never appealed to the theme of military service, so if you do not mind I would like to ask some additional questions regarding this topic. Is there universal military obligation in Bundesrepublik? Which troops you were in? How long? What do you think about that time in general? Had you collided there with the phenomenon we call "dedovshchina"? It can too much words to describe this in English, but it's basic manifestation is the humiliation of "old" (i.e. more than 1 year in army) soldiers against younger recruits.

There is a universal military obligation, although you can refuse and join an alternative civil service which is quite common. That's all I can tell.
I did serve in the NVA (Nationalnaja Narodnaja Armija) in the former DDR. I was in the air force for about one and a half year leading the MIG 21 by radar from the ground. As I said before, I basically remember the positive things like comradeship, physical training or military techniques. For the 'dedovshchina', I have heard many stories. Fortunately, I did not experience it. We have celebrated some ceremonies where nobody got hurt when entering the next 'half-year level'. Only when joining those rituals you could expect an honourable treatment. But I am sure that also some really serious things happened and soldiers were pushed into suicide. Especially the harsh reality of the soldiers of the Russian army here was notorious.

By the way, is suicide a solution? Talking not about particular situation, but in general?

I do not consider suicide as a solution. Some people commit suicide for honour. With my Prussian soul I can understand that. But to solve a particular problem in your life, you have to struggle - as it reads in "Ferocity" (on "Talons"): "Still alive - and life is a weapon".

Have you any "secular" professions or DARKWOOD is your main devotion, job and source of means?

I have a 'secular' profession in the field of Chemistry which is very interesting. Although my main devotion and purpose in life is music.

Many, maybe most of the new names in the German neo-folk scene originate from Eastern Germany. We already touched this theme with Stephan of Eis&Licht, and now I would like to know your opinion about such thing - why in former DDR lands are those bands born mostly? Folk is a very "social" music, maybe for Eastern Germans it's a way to express their nostalgia for social fundamentals of state and life itself?

I agree that folk is a very social music. I am not sure whether the bands or musicians want to express their nostalgia for social fundamentals but I am sure that we subconsciously reflect the social structures we grew up with. Inner values, ideas and attitudes in general have been very important. Life was defined as a fight for ideals. Also symbols played a very important role. The current system with its emptiness which only leaves greed for money or suppression and diversion by taking drugs or 'having fun' strikes people with dissatisfaction. The new icon America turned out to be a chaotic and misanthropic economical structure which leaves the individualism behind although it propagates individualism. The American dream does not exist. And I warn all people who might have a glance to the other side of the ocean - forget about it and rely on your social relationships, your experiences, personal attitudes and culture.
Additionally we grew up in a state with dictated Atheism far off Christianity. So, the way was open to rediscover paganism or Northern mythology.
And of course it is said that all Eastern European folks especially like and are good in playing beautiful melancholic but passionate music.

How much effect this stylish enthusiasm in Northern mythology has on DARKWOOD? And what is the very special, distinguishing feature of DARKWOOD against a background of other bands?

The influence of Northern mythology on particular songs is not too strong. I have a general interest in mythology. Paganism is like a basis, since paganism to me is a tolerant philosophy of life which stands for the keeping of old values, a sound relation to nature, a strong conscience rather than moaning and waiting for deliverance. To me, the Gods stand for archetypes of personal traits. In life, one has to strive for his own rising above himself (not necessarily above others!).
For the second part of the question, this is hard to say for myself. Maybe it is the use of several languages and several styles of music to promote ideas and ideals to people across borders rather than to make purely traditional music in my native language only.

If I ask you to put in a scale of ranks the most important values, which you do recognize - how would this hierarchy look?

Creation - Sincerity - Comradeship - Tradition - Tolerance. Do not take the ranking to serious. Important is a sound mixture of all of them.

In general, which components of the German neo-folk success could you mark out? And maybe it is a bit premature to speak about the success? I have just remembered the pretty limited editions of the most known bands releases

Unfortunately, you are right. But who knows whether it would be suitable to involve as many people as possible. So it stays a platform for people who decided to go a different way and live an 'unconventional' life. We recognize each other, we meet each other, exchange knowledge and we improve. Apart from that, the 'scenes' in Germany are mixed to a certain degree so that you also reach a lot of people who are usually listening to Goth music, Industrial or Independent.

There are also a number of labels and bands showing primary intention rather to produce collection items than to concentrate efforts in popularization of their music. And it does work very well for some of them. But at the same time it becomes hard to make out what does overwhelming the scene, musicians and especially listeners - real idealism or fetishism

At the beginning, the limitations were certainly meant to establish a separation and also to provide little handsome works of art for collectors and music lovers. Fetishism is no problem as longs as there is some idealism left and some attention was paid to the music and the message. After that it becomes 'pop art'. And once something became fashy, all the fashy people gather. But what really pisses me off is that also the greedy people gather and start their usury, see e-bay.

By which criteria would you appreciate the DARKWOOD's progress?

Apart from the positive effects mentioned before, I will try to increase the number of live appearances in foreign countries above zero. It is hard to reach many foreign people through mailorders due to the prices and post services...

Maybe you have a statistic where in your country such kind of music has more success? As you have an own label, you should know...

We do have our own label Heidenvolk for our releases but I cannot give you a statistic about the destination of our albums. The CDs are going trough distributors. But when being at concerts or according to the reactions from people I have the impression that there is no difference between East and West Germany.


Your first albums were distributed by WSD, but now your main distributor seems to be TESCO. Are DARKWOOD a part of this mysterious conspiracy forcing artists to run away from WSD?...

I could speculate about a couple of reasons which - I am sure - are different for different bands and I think enough has been said already. I can only tell my reasons: I find it much more convenient to work with a mailorder within Germany, then they have the same feeling for punctuality, and finally I became more interested in the projects and styles around TESCO than around WSD.

Before talking about the main releases of DARKWOOD, I would like to remember the extremely limited 7" vinyl "Talons" with a song in Russian. For me, this track sounds as some old romance between XIX and XX century, but it lasts longer than a romance may last and also has more modern words/themes. Though I must admit that accent does not allow to understand all the words clearly. So please explain which literary source(s) you had used? And how did the idea itself come to your mind?

As mentioned before I like the way Eastern folks perform and enjoy music. I always liked those typical fast Russian songs with accordion and a chorus. Well, the song is slow and has no accordion in it, but somehow I had this Russian-like melody in my head and wrote some lyrics in German. They did not really fit and I asked Nadja to translate them into Russian. I don't know how it sounds to a native Russian speaker but to me it was simply touching so that I also did contribute some backing vocals. There was no other source for the lyrics but a short romance in my life as an inspiration.

Ah, my Slavic mentality was absolutely convinced everything happens here, especially after the words " all (thoughts?) are drunken around" And, by the way, last year there was a rumour about your possible live performance in Russia. If something of that kind was discussed indeed, what did prevent you from this step?

After several people have found out that the West is dead quite some years ago, we necessarily have to turn our faces to the East. Its cultural values and ways of living will prove to be superior. I am not talking about political situations, they are far off from being optimal. It is the way people spend their live and how they value personal believe, culture and family what impresses me and has caught me.
The rumour is true. The concert was planned in a collaboration with bands of the Stateart label. Marco is a friend of mine and we were crazy about playing in Russia one day. The general idea was to perform the more industrial-like DARKWOOD songs with a lot of drums. For some reasons, his life became very busy and/or problematic in the last couple of months. The matter is postponed - not dropped.

Have you any peculiar interest in things around Russia we could give some additional attention to?

I would actually be interested in what you think - coming from Belorussia - about the previous period of being one huge political state of many different cultures. How did it affect the everyday life and what is different now that you are independent? Would I - not being able to distinguish the different accents - see huge differences when crossing borders?

For me, independence is a very loose philosophical concept. If to apply it exclusively to the creation of relatively sovereign Belorussian state out of the Soviet Empire, I hardly can say which principal things had been changed in our lives because of the "independence" and not because of more material economical, financial and political re-organisations. Though well, now we got own "national" political and business "elite", as vain, greedy and dull as elsewhere, and our country may forward it's sportsmen to Olympic games and international championships with own flag and hymn. Surely, there are more possibilities for people to be noticed and highly promoted in such not a great state as ours is...
In a very popular 80ies song they sung: "My address is not a home and a street, my address is the Soviet Union". The common language, culture, organisational principles, institutions, money, etc. covered all the Empire, so you really could feel yourself at home in every its part and place - the feeling, the spirit which is gone forever, squeezed out by national arrogance and intolerance. The miraculous myth of the brotherhood of nations was turned inside out: in former outlining districts of the USSR now it's more fashionable and profitable to propagate the conception of the eternal oppression of nations in Russian Empire. That's sad enough.
Obviously, you'll notice certain differences from state to state, not huge but nevertheless - emblems, flags colourings, signs and inscriptions alphabets, cops' uniforms, local currencies exchange values and so on - but the language problem is not too actual, anywhere you'll find a lot of people speaking Russian or understanding it at least. The problem are the borders themselves. If your family roots and branches reach different nooks of ex-USSR - now to visit them is not as easy and free as it was just 10 years ago. The only thing which can patch up everything is, of course, the money, this universal criteria of individual freedom. During Soviet time we had this truth slightly forgotten
Well, I become too sentimental, when start to remember (and maybe to idealize) the epoch of my happy childhood. Let's return to DARKWOOD. All your 3 CD are parts of a Triptychon work. As every trilogy, they should have some common personages, plot lines, idea, etc. Could you describe this work in such light?

The three CDs turned out to be a trilogy, both in a musical and topical sense. I called it Triptychon since the three CDs taken together somehow reminded me of a particular painting by Otto Dix called "Der Krieg". Originally, a Triptychon is a religious painting adding three pictures, sometimes in a different time scale, to an altar. The first CD "In the Fields" deals with the pain of war on all sides in a very direct way but in a very melancholic, quiet, and desperate vein. Whilst recording the second CD "Heimat & Jugend" I have been living in Belgium and the United States for a while - always being confronted with all the prejudices and memories about Germans you could be confronted with in one nation that suffered so much, and in the other which 'conquered' nearly without paying blood and arising from the battlefields being the leading ideological and economical force after WWII. Taken the United States, it was necessary to deal with their role after the war a bit more, especially mentioning their major influence on the European and German self-confidence. "Morgenthau" and "In Ruinen" are two examples. Especially in Germany it is nearly impossible to feel proud of our culture or history. So the CD entitled "Flammende Welt" - which means 'World in Flames' and 'The Inner Enthusiastic World' at the same time - shall invoke a strong feeling for our cultural and historical heritage regardless of any anti-German propaganda. By chance, the CD after releasing reached first people on 11th September, a new starting point of devotion and submission to the American omnipotence and infallibility. Now, everybody seems to be backing up America in a war against Afghanistan although they cannot even give a single reliable proof for the guilty parts. It is another strategic war for economical reasons after the one in Yugoslavia.

As the result, it seems there will only a few countries remain soon free from the presence of American army or their barefaced military advisers. The recent "victims" behave as off-handed conquers now. Personally, I was always sure the awful spectacle presented on 11th September has the same value and meaning as the provocation which started the WWII in 1939...

Actually, this is a really good comparison. There is no excuse for the American aggression politics. I wouldn't call it war against terror, I would call it terror.
I am curious about the development of Russia. Will they remain one of the last islands or will they sooner or later fully join the American way and obey the American domination for economical reasons.

After the Tryptichon, what do you await to be accomplished?

After analyzing or describing cause and result of the events of the 19th century I will now rather go into a direction of giving new strength to the listeners by showing different paths. Let's call it motivation. Musically, I like to experiment but I will certainly stick to the acoustic minimal or orchestral sound. There are no particular publications planned, though I have a couple of things in mind. Time will tell...

At this point I want to thank Vladimir Sivchik for this interview, for giving me the opportunity to reach some people in Belorussia and other Russian speaking countries, and for the work he spent on the translation.

Thanks. It was the pleasure to talk with you. Hear you


PF 200211
01192 Dresden

PF 410118
68275 Mannheim

"In the Fields", CD
"Heimat & Jugend", CD
"Flammende Welt", CD
"Talons", 7"
"MM", World Serpent Compilation
"Immortal Legends", BLACK Compilation
"Fidelis Legio", NEK/OKTAGON Compilation

Originally the interview was published in Russian in Stigmata magazine #3.
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