Nytt Land recently released a new album,’Ritual’ via Napalm Records which has been receiving high praise from fans. I caught up with singer and multi-instrumentalist Anatoly to talk about their Siberian and Scandinavian influences for their ambient dark folk sound. We also spoke about the crafting that goes into not only their music but the creation of their musical instruments as well. This fall, the band will also be heading out on tour alongside Korpiklaani.
Thanks for speaking with me Anatoly, how are you and Natasha doing?
We are well. Today is our album release, and This is a very important day for us and; we are working from morning to evening in the studio and our workshop, and it’s a very positive day. Yeah. Interesting.
Is it always a hectic day whenever an album launches?
Yes, it is.
You guys have been getting a very positive response from the singles, and now the album as well. How you feel about all the positive responses that you’ve received thus far?
Yes. Our creative work comes from the soul, and from the very heart. This is our life experience. And the failing of the world around us is expressed in the form of music. A positive reaction has a deep meaning for us, and it charges us with new energy and raw emotions. But on the other hand, of course, we understand that is not the moment when we can just relax and be content with the results.
It makes you want to work for something bigger?
This is your debut release with Napalm, but you’ve released other albums in the past, and even before been in a folk rock band before forming Nytt Land. Can you tell us a bit about the band’s history?
At first, Nytt Land was just like a side project. In 2009, Natasha and I, created our first folk rock band. It was something close to Irish and medieval and country folk music, but with the rock sound. And we recorded three albums with this band. You can still find them our webstores and track our creative evolution towards Nytt Land.
And in 2013, our son was born, and for some time, we had to reduce our musical activity. But also, by that time, we were close to the fact that our music had changed dramatically. It was actually in 2011 when we started to move towards a more epic and Nordic shamanistic sound. It was a search for a new form of sound and the development of new musical instruments. This is ultimately what led us to the creation of Nytt Land. In the fall of 2013, the first musical composition was created, and the first basis of the first Nytt Land album.
You mentioned that in your previous ban you and played some form of country music as well, did you look to Western influences such as Johnny Cash for this type of sound that you are creating?
Yes. We did, and we’re still big fans of Johnny Cash!
Did you ever listen to traditional folk music growing up, from Scandinavia or your home of Siberia, or is this type of music something you came to appreciate more as you got older?
Living in such a small area in Providence in Siberia, we always touched on topics of folklore and different traditional cultures. I think you might understand because it’s similar for those people that live far from big cities, and for those that live in small settlements, they live more closely to roots and traditions. I would remember lullabies that my grandmother and grandfather would sing, and my parents were born before the second world war and the people of the older generation were deeply connected to traditions.
My mother stories about how our ancestors lived on this land, and hearing traditional songs that were sung on the holidays, and this had a great influence on the formation of our worldview.
I can relate to that because I live in an area that’s very small, And I was influenced by the folk music that we listened to when I was growing up. So I have a similar back story.
Oh yes. And I read books about North America and, the US and Canada and there are many similar things with the people that are living in small settlements and towns. Just like here in Siberia.
Your music is based on ancient roots and traditions with Siberian and some Scandinavian influences. Have there been any other influences that you’ve used or traditions that you’ve used in your music?
We never really thought about it; we just make music the way we feel And our emotions. There are certain cultural backgrounds at the heart of every song, and it could be Scandinavian or a ritual song of the tribes of Siberia. It’s something I can’t define, but they’re very similar from our point of view. I think one of the most important sources of inspiration for us, is nature.
Being a historian, I’m assuming it’s straightforward for you to research the topics you want to sing about. But where do you get lyrical inspiration for your songwriting?
Academic knowledge is definitely a useful skill for our inspiration and creativity. Such as ancient languages. On the academic side, and our scientific research and history is responsible for some of our inspiration. Research is a very important part of our music.
As you mentioned, you used everything from sounds of the forest, such as raven calls in your arrangements, to traditional instruments that you craft yourselves. Some of them look very simple, while others looked quite complex. Is it difficult to find material to make these instruments?
Yes (laughing) it can be. And today I’m actually in the shop working on new musical instruments; it’s almost ready for the final assembly. I’m just letting it dry out for a few days to let the coating and the glue dry out completely for the best results. But ultimately,, if you’re talking about the assembly technique, it isn’t too difficult; you just need good material. Each instrument has its own regional sound and “voice,” as I call it. It just depends on the word and its quality.
Good material is hard-to-find, otherwise I could easily have it in production quite quickly. I consider cedar to be one of the best types of wood for making musical instruments. But the instrument that I’ve been playing for the last several albums and throughout the years, is made from a piece of pine, which has been dried for over 50 years.
That’s pretty incredible. For the vocals, you use many different styles, including traditional throat singing. Can you tell us a little bit about some of these styles and the traditions behind them?
Throat singing is, of course, one of the main elements of our music. We sing in the lower style of throat singing, which is common in the traditions of Siberia and Mongolia. Not only is it a singing style, but it’s some kind of sound meditation. In order to start singing in this style, you need to find your own tone. It just so happens that Natasha and I have the same tone, with a different octave.
That something that’s really cool, and on the new album we often sing together. And of course this is something that takes daily practice. Natasha also does the styling that is used in Scandinavia and the indigenous people in Canada. It’s a very melodic technique, and you can hear this used in the popular song “Zombie” by The Cranberries. It’s very beautiful, and very melodic.
Your music videos are very story-driven and are beautifully shot, and you also released a new animated style video. Do you guys film the videos yourselves?
Yes. And this week and next week we have something planned because of summer, due to winter being very cold here. We shot all the clips for the ritual album ourselves. Apart from the animation for our last song we did a video for. That was done by our good friends who are professionally engaged in art design.
But when talking about our video work, I can say that Natasha is responsible for the creation process, and I’m engaged in the technical side of things. Natasha is very creative and her ideas are always amazing as she writes out what’s going to happen in the clips such as storyboards. She then consults with me on the technical possibilities, and it’s great that we can do it ourselves as we can bring our creative ideas to life that is done through our music.
We shoot our videos as we see our songs. But we are constantly learning from the professionals. But visualizations of our own creation of our music is something that we dreamed of doing for a long time. We were finally able to do this for our new album. But shooting in the winter at -30°C, is not the most comfortable pastime. (Laughing)
You guys are also going to be going on tour soon, joining Korpiklaani. Are you excited to finally be able to get back out there to perform?
Yes, we are going on tour them this fall, and we are very much looking forward to returning to the stage. We really have missed the touring life it’s been very difficult for the past year and a half.
Your live shows are not done in a conventional style, and you describe them as a ritual. Can you tell us what that is like and what the difference is?
We call our live shows rituals, and that’s because not only is it music, but they are actual shamanistic rituals. The mind and body enters a particular state to the sounds of the drums and the rhythm and movements. Our costumes also help us in this. Our songs are based on traditional ritualistic folklore, so it contains that. Our live rituals are truly special.
They truly sound amazing and we can’t wait to see them when you come back to the states. Thank you again so much for taking the time to speak with me, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Were very happy for all the positive responses and feedback of our album. And we are very thankful for that. And we too can’t wait to get back to the states Whenever the world returns to normal. We will definitely come to North and South America. We know people over there have been looking forward to seeing us, and we can’t wait to come there.