Saturday, February 10, 2018

RavenzCraft Arts -OLS Interview

RavenzCraft Arts Interview with 


Ols is a one-woman project, entirely created by herself , She composes, writes lyrics, sings and plays her own instruments. Ols' beautiful music and style could be described as neofolk, based on multi-part vocal harmonies of ritual and hypnotic atmospheres. 

1.Well first off we want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us, it is always amazing to speak with creative artists like yourself.
So for those of us who dont already know, can you share with us where you are from, and a bit about what is behind the name and inspirations of your musical project "Ols"

Hi. The pleasure is all mine ;) Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak out.
I am from Poland, from its western part, close to the German border. I was born in a small village surrounded by wetlands and marshes, and I think it is the clue to understanding what I try to express with my music. Even the name of the project refers to the nature of the place of my origin, as “Ols” is a Polish word for an alder forest growing on swamps and marshes.
In my music, I try to capture the atmosphere of those misty forests and the specific melancholy you can feel only in such environments.

2. Can you tell us about when you first started becoming interested in creating your own music? Was there anyone in particular, a musician or artist, that you listened to or were inspired by as a young child?

  The Ols project was born as a response to my everlasting longing for creation. I'd already tried my luck in other areas of art, and this time it happened to be music. The idea of Ols first appeared in my mind about 2 years ago, but music has always been present in my life. 

  It’s not easy to point out one certain artist who inspired me. I can’t recall any musician I were particularly inspired by as a child. I think that as a kid I was just joyfully absorbing every sound I heard. A deeper, aware perception of music came only when I was a teenager.

  In fact, what I've been creating in Ols is completely unlike music I listen to. I’m into melancholic, heavy sounds, I love atmospheric black metal. If I had to choose one band that has had the greatest influence on me, it would be Agalloch. Aside from black metal and related music, I’m amazed by Eastern sacred music of Orthodox choirs. 

   I’m deeply in love with polyphony, which can easily be perceived from my own compositions. However, as with most of the references in Ols, the references to Orthodox music are not obvious. Sometimes I incorporate into my arrangements obscure harmonic tunes, which give the music a mysterious hint. But just like with any other inspiration in my music - it's very difficult to trace them, as none of them is overly visible, or to be more precise - audible. I just play and sing what I feel and there are no direct references to anything. At least no intentional ones.  

3.So a lot of people don’t understand how hard it really is to be an artist, Did you have any struggles or hard times trying to get your career started and established that you could share with us? 

Did I have struggles? Yes, tons of them ;)
The first big challenge is the very fact that Ols is a one-woman project, in the full sense of the word. I do everything myself – writing, composing, singing, playing, arranging, recording... It is hard work if you are alone in such a venture. In the early days of my project, I had many doubts regarding this topic. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to manage it all myself.

  The beginning of one's career is always difficult. Despite the fact that the Internet creates new opportunities to reach your potential listeners, you still have to struggle to find the accurate ways to get to them. As a beginner, I made many mistakes. I had no clue where to go with my music and how to reach the right people. Honestly, I’m still in the process of exploring all possible opportunities. The Internet also brings the danger of becoming a victim of haters. There are a lot of people who find pleasure in being mean to others. Every young artist needs to learn how to deal with nasty comments. They are, unfortunately, inevitable.

  Now I’m in the process of mixing the tracks for a new album and the new doubt starts to appear: will my new material live up to the audience's expectations? In my opinion, this is yet another problem shared by all artists at the beginning of their careers – how to please our listeners and at the same time not to resign from our own visions...

  All of it seems to be a drama, but in the end, all the struggling is forgotten and all your doubts taken away when you hear some words of appreciation about your work. It’s a reward worth all the effort. I love to discover that people from the most distant corners of the world like my music. Knowing that someone in a far-away country I’ve never been to relaxes listening to my music is wonderful and gives me strength to continue my work against the odds.

4.Do you have a certain faith or belief? Can you tell us about your traditional following? any interesting spiritual practice or following you have interest in?

 Well, people perceive my music as pagan, and generally I have nothing against it, but I think that my definition of "paganism" might not be typical and needs clarification. As I once explained on my fanpage, in my understanding a "pagan" view of the world is a natural attitude of a sensitive individual who sees an ideal perfection in nature itself. 

 To me, the respect and worship for natural phenomena are not related to any particular faith. If paganism is perceived as the belief that the powers of nature are worthy of all admiration and that observing natural transitions is the basis of any spiritual experiences of man, I can say that I am pagan. On the other hand, if paganism is identified with belief in particular deities and participation in a certain religious group – then it’s no longer a proper term to describe my approach to spirituality. I can’t identify with embodying the forces of nature in the form of anthropomorphic deities, as in my opinion, nature itself is perfectly adequate; it surpasses everything that a human can ever invent. That's why in Ols’ lyrics you won’t find any direct references to any religion. No name of any deity or demon is ever mentioned. And will never be, as Ols’ art is about the nature that was, is and will be as true and present today as centuries ago; unlike cults, religions, gods and customs. 

  It's simply spiritual. Of course, I do not deny that I am interested in ancient beliefs and rituals. I respect them and admire them because they are full of truth and they focus on the sense of intimacy between man and nature, which is so important to me. Old symbols and traditional folk magic really speak to me. I can even say that I know pretty much about traditional European religions, particularly – about old Slavic spirituality. I find Slavic beliefs absolutely stunning. 

 They are especially familiar to me because the echoes of them are present in every fairy tale I read as a child, therefore they are the integral part of what created my own personality. Vestiges of traditional, Pre-Christian faith are present in customs and legends which are still perfectly alive today. I like searching for them and discovering how ubiquitous they are.

5.So What types of music do you listen to today? I listen to a wide variety, can you list any current artists you are a follower or fan of?

I’ve already touched this topic talking about my inspirations. I’m a fan of heavy music, but I always look for atmosphere rather than pure heaviness. My all-time favorite is Agalloch. I’m still mourning after their split-up.
In terms of more folk-like music, I was astonished by the releases of Wardruna . 

Nevertheless, I prefer their first two albums, probably because they sound darker (I’m sure that the presence of Gaahl had a lot to do with their murkier atmosphere). I also follow the solo career of Einar Selvik and his project with Ivar Bjørnson from Enslaved… Well, it seems that almost everything I like in music eventually touches metal-related sphere…

  I also really appreciate the underground scene of eastern Europe with bands like, for example, Drudkh, who have an ability to create a unique and unparalleled atmosphere you cannot find anywhere else. The Polish scene is also very interesting – bands like Furia, Jarun, Mgła, Outre… The eastern European underground is growing in strength. Of course, there are always black metal classics from Scandinavia - I often come back to them.

  Obviously, my musical taste is not limited to black metal, but recently I've felt a greater need for this particular kind of music. In wintertime my playlist gets more melancholic, so apart from metal music, now I have there some Dead Can Dance, Tenhi, Nest, Sol Invictus, Of the Wand and the Moon, and others.  There are also some rock, gothic and even pop-rock standards from my teenage times. Probably they are something to be ashamed of, but I’m too sentimental to care.

  Generally speaking: I listen to the whole range of music – from ethereal ambient to the most obscure metal. The only common feature of all the tracks on my playlists is the special atmosphere which can be found in good music, despite the genre it belongs to.

Currently, I also intensively listen to myself ;) But believe me - it has nothing to do with narcissism or self-admiration. I’ve just finished a new version of mixes for my new album and I need to check them in every detail to be absolutely sure that it deserves to be the final sound.

6.I know you mention that nature is a big inspiration to your music, can you tell us about some of your favorite places you have traveled or been to? Any destinations you want to visit in the future?

My music is inspired mostly by the nature of the place where I grew up. It might not be the most beautiful location in the world, but it created me as a person and I truly love it for that. My area, full of wetlands, marshes, streams, ponds and bogs, is an ideal place for a melancholic soul. Everlasting fog, mysterious alders, yellow irises glistening on wetlands, autumn songs of cranes – they all are still shaping my music and my perception of the reality, even if I’m far away from them.

  Now I live I southeast Poland, closer to the Carpathian Mountains. Here I’ve found the places I would probably like to settle in for good. In many parts of Carpathians, true wilderness managed to survive. There are regions where you can wander for several days, meeting only wild animals on your path and never seeing even a trace of a human. 

  Being lost in the silence of untouched nature is the most sacred experience you can imagine. There is one area in particular that I place over others – it is the magical region of Lemkos, the ethnical group of Ruthenian origins. Soon after the Second World War, many of them were evicted from their homes and all their villages were left deserted. Then they were destroyed and demolished until the only trace left after the human presence were the field margins, still visible today in the silent emptiness of long-gone settlements, where nature reclaimed abandoned places. There is no such atmosphere anywhere else. 

 There, the dramatic fate of the people mixes with the calmness of nature and creates a deeply moving combination of intensive thoughts and feelings. I feel a strong bond with the nature of my country, but of course, I appreciate the beauty of other places as well. The country which so far impressed me the most was Norway – not only its famous fjords, but also its mountains. I spent some time in Jotunheimen National Park and I was astounded by its magnificence.

 In the future I would like to finally stick out of Europe and visit some other continents. I prefer colder climate, so maybe Canada or the northern part of the USA?.. I also have Siberia on my wish-list. But actually I would enthusiastically go anywhere unspoiled nature is to be found. It could even be the tropics, despite my aversion towards high temperatures. 

 7.So part of what we do is try to encourage artists to collaborate and create new amazing content, I see you have done so before with a few other artists ,would you be open to collaborating or creating a musical project with another upcoming artist in the future?

  As for now, within Ols I’ve only collaborated with one artist – Zagreus, the guitarist of Polish black metal Jarun. I’m a highly independent person, which I wanted to emphasize on my debut album. Now, as I proved to myself and others that I can make decent music on my own, I’m totally open to collaboration with other musicians. I’m sure that working together with another artist could produce very interesting results.

 Thanks to you, I even started talking about joining forces with one of the musicians you promote. I would rather not talk about details before we actually start working, but you will be the first to hear when we have something to share.

8.Can you tell us a bit about why you personally create music? does it help you through hard times or issues? how do you "use" your music?

Every contact with music has a therapeutic value – no matter if you create the music or just listen to it. It helps you to calm down, to relax, it can take you out of everyday reality and give you a completely different perspective. 

  I literally cannot imagine life without music. Music of others is my therapy (in this context I owe a lot to Jonas Renkse of Katatonia, whose voice is my best tranquilizer), while my own music gives me one more important goal in my life. I feel frightened looking at people who just go to work, come back from work, watch TV and go to sleep, repeating this bare cycle over and over again… For me, becoming one of them would be the worst nightmare. Thanks to the creation of music, I have something different, something special. 

   I’ve always felt that my daily jobs and usual activities can’t fully define me. I needed something to reply to newly met people when asked the standard questions: “What do you do? Who are you? ” It’s always better to reply: “I have a music project” than talk about your boring job in a big company ;)

  Another important function of creating music is expression of feelings. I always write about my personal feelings and experiences. I’m a very sensitive person and forging my thoughts into the forms of notes and lyrics gives me an opportunity to sort them out, find the way through the maze of complicated emotions and feel that huge relief when I let them out.

  Now, as the project grows, my music starts to draw new people towards me. It’s amazing that thanks to music I can get in touch with people of similar views. Discovering that all over the world there are many people who could somehow understand you is very comforting…
Music is definitely one of the most powerful tools that can shape one’s reality.  

9.Do you have any other hobbies or interest? Any topics you like to research? authors or magic practitioners or folklore you like to follow or read about?

Probably the most important is hiking. I spend every available moment wandering in the mountains. And if there are no mountains around – in any forest I can find nearby. I also like to know something about the region I’m exploring, so I read a lot about the nature and history of the places I visit.

  I’m also very active in terms of artistic creations. For me, every attempt to create something implicates a change in the way I perceive the reality. Sometimes creation can, in a sense, substitute contact with nature, because it brings you closer to what’s natural and authentic, just like nature does. I also think that our capabilities and talents are of no particular importance. 

 I myself enjoy dealing with all sorts of artistic activities, also in areas where I am absolutely deprived of talent, because it just makes me happy. I like drawing, painting and decorating everyday objects. Usually, after my attempts to improve them, they look worse than before, but at least they gain individual character ;)

In terms of folklore I like to read about – there won’t be any surprise: I’m deeply into our indigenous Slavic folklore. It’s really interesting how much of it is still alive in modern Slavic culture. Our customs regarding mystical life, contacting spirits of our ancestors and celebrating holidays have hardly changed since pre-Christian times. We still have very similar ceremonies, special dishes made of ingredients favor by the spirits of ancestors etc. It is especially visible around Christmas, as all the traditions cultivated in our homes during this time are totally pagan and have survived through the centuries in a basically unchanged form. Fairy tales and legends of Slavic nations are also within the area of my interest. They are full of ancient wisdom, if you know how to read them. 

 The world of mystical creatures present in these tales is something worth discovering. We have the whole variety of demons, beasts, fiends and magical beings; Baba Yaga, Koschei the Deathless, Leshyi, Vodnik, Mamuna, Alkonost – it is just the beginning of the long list. I highly recommend Slavic fairy tales. The easiest to find will be Russian tales with extraordinary Ivan Bilibin’s illustrations. That’s what I was brought up on ;)

 For information about Slavic folklore in all of its aspects, from religion, music and art to hunting, farming and everyday activities I usually go to the magnificent works of Kazimierz Moszyński – there you can find also a lot about magic, as magic is the integral part of the traditional way of living at all times.
In the topics of magic and religion, I always choose proper historical sources and scientific studies, not fiction or self-improvement guides. I think that real practitioners of the craft were just practicing instead of writing books, so the only way to get closer to their knowledge is to read the relations of the researchers who observed or studied their performances.
It sometimes means wading through tons of information you need to sort and verify yourself, but still it is a better way than to blindly follow guidebook-writing “gurus”. 

10. Do you have any special events or projects you have done or have attended in the past ? Concerts, Tours, what about Midgardsblot would you ever consider going or have you been to it?

Here comes the consequence of one-man activities. One of its main disadvantages is the issue with playing live. With my music based on polyphonies, I have no chance to perform it solo, and leaving only one melodic line is not an option. The majority of instrumental parts would also be out of play, because the main role in Ols belongs to wind instruments, and it is rather hard to play them and sing at the same time ;) Unfortunately, the only possibility to play a concert would be to recruit people to help me, and I don’t feel ready for that yet. 

It negates the very idea of ​​Ols, which was intended to be a one-woman project. Sometimes I think about running a casting and recruiting a choir, but for the time being, it is in the sphere of abstraction. I don’t know, however, what the future may bring. Maybe I'll eventually hire a choir, maybe I'll re-arrange everything and I'll sing acapella, or maybe someday I'll invest in equipment to be able to show live how the layers of my works come together. I have no idea. Since the launch of this project, there have been many unexpected turnarounds, so any predictions seem pointless. At the moment, though, it is more important for me to create new material than to think about concerts.

11.So I give you credit for running a" one woman show" it is really hard work, and time consuming to "create", I can relate as I mostly do all of the RavenzCraft Arts projects as well as a few others along with a regular job and real life issues, Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for all the readers and followers out there looking to start a career in music or the arts?

 One of the more important reasons why I decided to create a one-woman project is the fact that it’s highly unlikely to find someone who shares my artistic vision entirely. Working alone guarantees avoiding compromises and half measures. Nevertheless, it creates many limitations as well. If you decide to choose a lone path, you need to be prepared for long-lasting hard labor, full of frustration and moments of doubt.

 The only advice I have is to always focus on positive aspects and to visualize how proud you will be when you finally achieve your goal and admit in public that each and every element of what you’ve created is the result of your own hard work ;) 

 People value lone wolves’ art, as it usually seems to be more personal and genuine, and gives them something to identify with. The best reward you can ever get is people’s appreciation. That’s what you will achieve if you are strong and determined enough not to give up.

12.Well this concludes the Interview,  if there is anything you would like to say or mention to us all here feel free to do so , otherwise we thank you again and this was a very good talk and interview, we appreciate you sharing your experiences with us all
and look forward to seeing and hearing more of your amazing music and work! 

  I want to thank you for finding my music in the vastness of the Internet ;) I hope that your readers could enjoy it. I would also like to thank all the people who support my project and constantly give me reasons to continue my work. 

  In the nearest future, you may expect completely new material, better than the debut, I think. I’m preparing videos to my new songs as well, so there will also be something to look at. 
It was a great pleasure to answer your questions. Thank you once again. I hope that it is not the last time we talk ;)

Follow, Support and listen to Ols here at these links below:

Also check out this short music video introduction we put together with some of Ols amazing music, click here to view 

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Special Thank you to Ols 
and all the fans and followers out there!

-Tim Raven Rotar

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