Friday, December 1, 2017

YYLVA Interview

RavenzCraft Arts Interview with 


-YYLVA, meaning ‘she-wolf’, is an Atmospheric Black Metal venture created by British artist and songwriter, Clare Webster. 
In a world where traditional heathen and ancestral values are rapidly being lost , YYLVA’s etheric, harp-laden lullabies serve to reconnect us with our fading heritage.

Hello YYLVA it is awesome to finally to talk with you,, 

1. So the first question we have for you is: what brought you into creating music? 
I have done a bit of research and it seems you have taken quite a bit of time and effort put into all this, you already have created something amazing. Was there anyone that you looked up to or encouraged you to pursue a musical career?

Unfortunately, it's very hard for me to pinpoint when I decided I wanted to become a musician. I was brought up in a family that, although were not musicians themselves, had a strong passion for music and when I started to demonstrate the ability to sing and play the piano as a child, I was always encouraged. It wasn't until the age of around 11 that I started to listen to rock and metal music that I suddenly decided to develop more of an interest in it in general. By the age of 13, I had discovered how music could really touch the depths of your soul with it's raw emotion in acts such as Nirvana, which was what inspired me to start to learn to play the guitar, write my own music and perform in bands from the age of 14. Since then, although my music tastes have changed somewhat and continue to do so, the sentiment that music is the perfect form of expression; which can be overwhelmingly haunting and beautiful, has
always been at the core of everything I create.

2. So, we know that you have worked with Edenfall, another great band out
there, can you tell us a bit about YYLVA: who is involved and what it is
about? For example, YYLVA is meant to mean "she-wolf", correct? What is
the story or expression YYLVA is bringing?

YYLVA is currently a solo project; I have written all of the music and the lyrics for my debut album 'The Wood Beyond the World', although the release does feature guest musicians: Rob George (guitar) and Sean Brazil (bass guitar and violin) who are both members of my other project, Edenfall. I intend to keep it a
solo project for the time being, although I am currently working on a live line-up as I am looking to start gigging once the debut album is released, so who knows what the future holds! 

Yes, you are correct: YYLVA is a play on an old Swedish name meaning 'she-wolf' or 'female wolf'. Like many other magically minded folk, I have a deep fascination with wolves; they are very misunderstood creatures an in spite of it's fierce reputation, it is a shy, intelligent and elusive creature. I feel that, like wolves,
being misunderstood is a hardship that many cunning folk endure. I recently read an extract from 'A Sand County Almanac', a book written by 20th Century American ecologist, forester and environmentalist Aldo Leopold where he wrote
an evocative account of an encounter with a wolf he shot:

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die,I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."

Lyrically, this project covers many themes including heritage, history, mythology and folklore but instead of trying to analyze all of the concepts I cover, I prefer to leave it to the listener to take what they will. However, one thing I will say is that everything I write about leads back to my undying love for nature and the overwhelming sense of awe I feel every time I immerse myself within it; it is a sense of being that I am unable to formulate into words.

3. I know from personal experience that in this industry everyone in some way or the other has encountered criticism and hardship. Can you describe a time when your work was criticized and how did you handle it? Any advice for others on how to handle this?

I have received some criticism for music projects that I have been involved with before, but to be truthful, I think it is something that every musician faces; at the end of the day, it's impossible to please anyone and there is always going to be someone that isn't all that enthralled by your music. Critique can be good and
can help you to grow as a musician in some areas, in which case it is welcome more often than not. Luckily, I've never received any truly horrible or nasty comments and my music has always been more or less favored by the public.

A common remark that I have heard quite often with performing with Edenfall, especially whilst performing live, is that I don't interact with or warm the audience up enough. I can certainly understand why this point has been made a few times as we are quite often placed on gig line-ups with other very energetic
female-fronted metal bands and to some extent, this is what people come to expect, even if you are a miserable gothic doom metal band! However, we always try to be a little bit different and we tend to find that we always seem to stand out a little differently, genre wise, no matter what kind of gig we play (whether it be symphonic metal or extreme metal) and this seems to split opinions quite

With YYLVA, people have been very receptive and positive towards my music so
far, although I did receive quite a long comment picking holes in my approach to
black metal from an elitist in a Facebook group recently. I am very intrigued to see when the album is released what sort of comments I am likely to receive, especially after the stir that Myrkur has caused in the black metal community in recent years. We shall certainly see what the future holds, but whatever comes forward will be taken lightly; at the end of the day you just have to remember that you can't please everyone and sometimes, unfortunately, you do come across the odd arsehole!

4. I see some very good potential and originality with you. What do you believe sets you apart from other artists? What do you want people to think about when they hear your music?

I think I'm going to find it very hard to answer this question fully as I write from a place so deep, that trying to explain what my music is all about is extremely hard to put into words and to explain. However, I will begin by introducing you to the following Welsh term that you may have already seen used by me fairly regularly: Hiraeth: a homesickness for a place you can never return to, a place which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.

Other similar words include the Portugese 'saudade' and the Romanian 'dor' which all carry more or less the same, almost inexplicable meaning. I share a lot of the same views as the Romantics and a a result of this, the work of writers such as Byron, W.B Yeats and Wilde greatly inspire me as does the visual work of the Pre-Raphaelites. I abhor the structure of the modern world and modern thinking; particularly our disregard for the natural world, it often fills me with an overwhelming sense of sadness and melancholy. Too many people don't seem to take the time to really appreciate the beauty and power of nature, it is too easily bypassed in our materialistic, consumerist society. I guess, to summarize, I use my music to communicate my love for nature and I hope that people will connect with this sentiment and hopefully, in someway, awaken their consciousness whilst listening. As John Ruskin put it so aptly:
"Go to nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thought but how best to penetrate her meaning; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing."

Although I understand that my influences and subject matter is quite a common theme to explore in Atmospheric Black Metal, I think what undoubtedly sets me apart from other bands within this genre is my inclusion of the harp. I have noticed the instrument used very sparingly in a few projects, such as Wolves in the Throne Room's recent release, 'Thrice Woven', but as far as I am aware, I am the first artist in this scene to use it as a primary instrument. However, I do think that it's enchanting sound is perfectly suited for this genre of music; it's tone and resonance has an ethereal quality that purges the soul like no other instrument.

5. I always have seen music as a major form of magic, and an art of passion within the soul. Do you think being an artist/musician changed your life for
the better? How has it brought you from a regular person into the great musician you are today?

I have always connected with music on a much deeper level than any other art form; it's the most beautiful and expressive form of creativity. All of my favorite artist's have had some profound effect on me, but I have also found that writing your own music can completely awash you with healing and clarity, particularly
over recent months. In all honesty, it's ridiculously hard for me to try and explain what I mean by this without bursting into tears; just over six months ago I was involved in a fatal car collision and the past few months have been absolute hell,
to put it bluntly. Perhaps I will go into the details of exactly what happened at some point in the future, but the trauma is still very raw and it still hurts too much to try and tell my story. However, this experience has changed me; I'm much more aware of the fragility of life, I've experienced emotions that I didn't
even know existed, but most of all, I am more aware; I feel everything much more deeply, especially love. 

I often find myself lost in moments now, where I'm in complete awe at the beauty all around me but it's such a bittersweet feeling; everything is touched with melancholy, for some benign reason. As the accident happened half way through writing 'The Wood Beyond the World', I completely threw myself into it's creation and hurled these new-found emotions into it and as a result, I feel I have written like never before. At times, it often feels like I'm experiencing an epiphany whilst I'm writing; I'll be composing something on the harp or I'll be writing out some lyrics and after being so completely and utterly immersed in it, I'll feel a release. I strongly believe that dedicating all of this time
to writing is healing me more than anything else: yes, it's difficult; it can be emotionally unbearable at times. But it's so worth it; it's so, so worth it!

6. So, just curious, do you have a certain spiritual following? 
Can you share with us what path you connect with? And, do you have any interest in magic and or witchcraft? If so, I know a few people you may be interested in....

Spirituality has a big role to play in my music, as well as my personal life. I personally practice elements of Traditional Witchcraft and Shamanism;
everything that is incorporated in my weaving is solely nature based hedge-witchery. For those unfamiliar with the term, a hedge witch derives from the Anglo-Saxon term 'haegtessa' which means hedge-rider; traditionally wise women or healers used to live within or on the edge of a forest which used to be
seen as very mysterious, full of magic and wonder. Essentially, the term refers to someone who lives on the edge between the two worlds; this physical plane and the spirit world beyond it. 

Although I do some healing and divination work, the
majority of my recent work revolves around working with spirit; I spend a lot of time astral travelling during meditations and also work a lot with elemental energies, or nature spirits. My family roots can be traced back to the 13th century in Northern England and with a strong Anglo-Saxon and Danish heritage,
this greatly influences the type of work I practice and what I follow; after all, it's what flows through my veins.

7. So, we want to know about what you like? What music do you listen to today? And, if you are comfortable, what music did you listen to as a child?

Musically, I am influenced by a variety of different acts and musicians but these days I listen to an awful lot of black and doom metal as well as a wealth of neo/dark folk, ambient and traditional / medieval music. There have been a few albums that I listened to an awful lot whilst writing music for 'The Wood Beyond the World' which have given me an ocean of inspiration:
Empyrium - 
Songs of Moors and Misty Fields
Agalloch - Pale Folklore
Elderwind - The Magic of Nature
Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Alcest - Souvenirs d'une Autre Monde

I'm afraid to say that my musical taste as a child was quite embarrassing! The first CD I ever purchased was the Michael Jackson's single 'Earth Song' though; I find that to be quite profound as the sentiment behind that particular song still resonates a lot with me 20 years later.

8. So, my goal with RavenzCraft Arts is to help upcoming artists like yourself gain awareness and connect with fans and other artists that may be looking to collaborate or create future projects. Would you be interested in doing any future projects with other artists or video series creations? If possible, which artists would you dream of collaborating with?

As I’ve already mentioned in my previous question, there are quite a few artists that have inspired me along the way and there is probably too many to even mention that I’d love to collaborate with! However, one musician who I’ve been following for over ten years now Schwadorf (Markus Stock) of Empyrium, The
Vision Bleak and Sun of the Sleepless. After reading a lot of his lyrics, we seem to have a very similar, if morbidly poetic, outlook on the world and I’d be very intrigued to see what magic could be created!

Another artist who blows me away every time I’ve witnessed a live performance by him is Einar Selvik of Wardruna. He put’s so much energy and fire into his music; he’s another one it would be a dream to collaborate with. Thinking more realistically, there are a couple of bands and musicians here in the UK that I know personally and whom I’d love to work with in some way or
another including Old Corpse Road, Aklash, Winterfylleth and Wolcensmen.

9.So Do you have a bucket list? What are the things you want to experience and do in your life?

If I’m honest, the majority of the things that I want to do, see and experience before I die are music related and along with the stereotypical things such as
touring the globe, playing at festivals and having the opportunity to support and meet some of my idols, there are also a few other specific things; some of which I’ve already started working towards.

For a while now, I’ve been longing for atmospheric events such as Prophecy Fest in Balve Cave, Germany and Dark Bombastic Evening at a fortress in Romania to happen over here in the UK. I think there would be something mightily special
about having some incredibly deep and spiritual music performed live in atmospheric or historic venues such as churches, caves, crypts etc. I’m currently in the early stages of planning an event or two along these lines in the UK for the end of next year hopefully, so stay tuned! After playing the harp for the past four years.

 I also recently decided it’s time to start learning a new instrument and after purchasing a cello, aptly named ‘Black Phillip’ after the demonic goat in the film The VVitch, I’ve decided to finally start
to learn this instrument. Also, even though I’m still adding the finishing touches to my debut album, I’ve already started to gather ideas for my next release and I’m currently looking into an artist residency in the heart of the Gloucestershire
countryside for next Spring so I can make some headway on song writing in beautiful surroundings and away from the dirge of civilization...

10. I noticed with your new upcoming album "The Wood Beyond The World" you are recording and filming in a few very cool looking places: Can you tell us a bit about the places you are visiting and possibly leak a little more info about this project?

As a lot of my inspiration comes from the landscape, nature and history that I dwell in on a day-to-day basis, I have really wanted to include some of these beautiful spots within my work. As I believe I stated in one of my earlier questions, I have a great connection towards the land and to the spirits that
dwell herein so I only felt it right to showcase some of these magical places. 

I’ve noticed that within the black metal scene and in a lot of today’s dark / pagan folk music, there is especially an awful lot of focus on Scandinavian and Norse landscapes and heritage etc; whilst I find it beautiful, I personally wanted to promote some of the rich history that we have over in the UK that I think to some
extent, is sometimes forgotten about.

One particular place that has already been quite heavily featured in my work; both in promotional images and which will also be featured in an upcoming music video for ‘A Sidhe in Throes’, is the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, England. I think I can safely say that this is my most favorite place in this world; I dreamt of this place before I even knew of it’s existence. Words cannot even
describe the sense of ‘home’ I feel within the circle, I feel as though I am part of the landscape; at one in the sacred grove. The Rollrights are a Neolithic site, consisting of a stone circle called The Kings Men, a dolmen named the Whispering Knights and The King Stone; a single standing stone and has been
used as a magical site over it’s 3000+ year existence. 
I could be here all day speaking of them, but more information can be found about it here:

I have also been very lucky to film a live recording of one of my songs at Guy’s Cliffe in Warwickshire, UK; a stunning ruin set along the banks of the River Avon with a hermit’s cave, hidden lore, ancient springs and forgotten rites. 
There are many other places that I am currently looking into working with, perhaps a year from now you can expect some atmospheric performances in a crypt or two...

11.So the last question is open for you: Is there anything you want to mention or say? Any advice or words of wisdom for the other upcoming artists and creators out there?

Have I not already said enough?!
No, I would really like to thank you Tim of RavenzCraft Arts for giving me the opportunity to vent and pour my feelings out into this interview, the support is very much appreciated!
Please do check out my website at if you would like to find out more and please don’t forget to check out some of the other very talented musicians mentioned above!

Well I have to say that this was a very good interview, I thank you for being so open and letting us get to know you, I actually really enjoyed reading your answers and its funny you mention you were inspired by Aldo Leopold because I actually live very close to his settlement on the Wisconsin river and have visited his shack and land before..funny how all these little things can inspire and connect us, while we are still so physically far away from each other..
Thank you so much 

-Tim RavenRotar

Follow and Support YYLVA at these links below!

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