RavenzCraft Arts presents Interview Dan Capp of Wolcensmen
Wolcensmen is a solo "Heathen Folk" musical project from England created by Dan Capp a very talented musician and creator, It is an honor to get to talk with him about how he got started and his experiences in his career so far..
So first off id like to thank and welcome you to
RavenzCraft Arts, it is an honor and very cool to talk with you,
Likewise Tim. I admire your 'quality over quantity' approach to journalism.
1. We noticed you have done quite a few interviews in the past so we will try to be a bit more original with the questions here,,
For those of us who dont already know, I want to go back and ask about where you were born and grew up? Can you tell us if you were involved in music during your early middle or high school years?
Sure. I was born and grew up in the south-east of England. I took my first guitar lessons at age eleven, having been introduced to seventies and eighties rock music by my father. I began jamming Black Metal and dark acoustic music during my 'high school' years (we call it 'secondary school' here) and formed my first band round about the age of fifteen. I've played in a variety of bands during the last eighteen years, but there was a huge gap between my first acoustic explorations and the advent of Wolcensmen.
2. I find that many artists are successful and prosper in different ways then most,
If you dont mind us asking what kind of "kid" were you in school, popular, social, or somewhat quiet and withdrawn?
I myself always felt like an outcast or the underdog struggling to keep up good grades and attendance, but excelled in other subjects like art and literature with ease, Can you share with us your experiences in this time of your life?
I was definitely an outcast, like yourself. My formative years were during a time in England when guitar-based music was incredibly unpopular. Dance music like Ministry of Sound was big during my teenage years and I was about the only alternative kid in my year at school – teased for my punk haircut and general reluctance to be like everyone else. Despite that, I was somewhat popular, because I was pretty good at sports and willing to try and find common ground with anyone, whatever their interests.
I was generally a 'good' student, with excellent grades and prospects. But even back then I sensed the futility of it all and valued genuine experience and adventurousness over academic ambition. I qualified for the highest levels of education but instead chose to follow a more, I suppose, grounded and artistic path. I always wanted to do things my way, and I always questioned authority.
3.So how did you start? was there any specific person or event that inspired your passion for music and the decision to become a musical artist yourself?
Is their a specific artist that you listened to as a kid that sparked your interest?
I'll try and keep this as brief as I can, although it does warrant a long answer; reason being that Wolcensmen is about the seventh band/project I've been involved in. I was introduced to Punk Rock and Black Metal around the same time – mid nineties. Unusually, I never felt like I had to pick one genre over the other, so I had friends from different 'scenes'. It might amuse some of your readers to know that the singular thing which made me want to play guitar was actually watching Bon Jovi's video for Bed of Roses, where the guitarist Richie Sambora is wailing on top of a mountain.
I became more spiritually invested in music later, when I was shown the majesty of Norwegian Black Metal in the nineties. I realised then that riffs and melodies can truly carry the listener away to another place and time, and my guitar suddenly looked to me like some kind of magical tool for achieving that. Inspired by early Opeth, and the acoustic and synth-based excursions of Ulver, Wongraven, Empyrium and Burzum, I started to compose short, dark acoustic guitar passages. Despite good feedback from friends I dropped all of that in favour of writing dumber, distorted music with friends.
I think the idea for Wolcensmen was conceived in about 2009 when I found myself in Dublin, Ireland, watching to an Irish Folk band in a pub. Over previous years I'd connected with my English heritage and decided that I wanted to contribute something to the Folk musical heritage of my own land.
Wolcensmen was born and over the next few years I wrote new acoustic ideas and even resurrected some quite old ones. By 2013 I was ready to self-record a demo; I hadn't found a singer, so just did what I could manage as a beginner. The demo turned out well enough to propel Wolcensmen forward.
Honestly, my musical influence comes from a lot of different places (people would be surprised). But the most important influence has been this concept of escapism. The music which inspired me to found Wolcensmen was always able to take the listener on a journey to far-flung landscapes and into the distant past; compositions which ignited a flame of mysticism and timelessness within the modern mind.
4. What things inspire you to write music? Do you take hikes or do anything special to spark ideas or projects?
With Wolcensmen, musical ideas come quite frequently and they don't tend to depend on a certain time or place. Nowadays I have a lot of responsibilities in life, so opportunities for solitary wilderness walks are rare. A melody or rhythm will often come to me on the morning dog walk, whilst reading, or whilst playing guitar. I have a folder on my computer with hundreds of rough ideas that I've hummed or played into my mp3 player.
The important part comes next – where I sort through them and hold onto the 10% that are best and most fitting to the wild, dark, romantic, heroic atmospheres I insist upon presenting to the World. I'll then mold those basic ideas into complete ones, and start imagining harmonies, accompaniments and song structures. I'm inspired by a general feeling and vision which is, to be honest, with me at every waking moment.
5. Can you share with us your process of creation,? from writing the music to putting it out publicly, do you record personally at home or do you have a studio or special places you record?
I guess I started to describe this in my last answer, but to expand... I'll sort through my collection of rough musical ideas to find the best ones, and I'll develop those into songs (usually one solid idea leads to a whole song, because the way a song flows and develops is extremely important to me. Forcing separate ideas to work together is usually, but not always, counter-productive). Once the song structure is there I'll dwell upon lyrical themes, unless it's one of my more instrumental compositions; this is the hardest part for me, because my lyrical perfectionism demands a lot more conscious effort than my musical instincts do.
Once I have enough songs for the release I'm working towards, I'll start demo'ing them onto my home-recording computer. I'll keep lots of the instruments as Midi, for as long as I can, because it's easier to change structures and tempos before real instruments and vocals are tracked. With Songs from the Fyrgen, and all other recordings to date, I self-recorded and mixed everything. This is out of necessity, for I'm not a particularly knowledgable or passionate recording or mixing engineer, so I hope to work differently in future.
6.What platforms did you use in the past to upload and share your music to the public? For some advice for other artists out there, which platforms or ways were the best for you to get your music out there and be heard?
This is a good question, which I don't think I've been asked before. Undoubtedly, bandcamp has been key to Wolcensmen's success. It's where I was first able to showcase my music (and aesthetics), and through seeking and collecting music there myself, I forged relationships with other musicians which became mutually beneficial. Soundcloud and youtube were also good, to a lesser extent.
If I can I'd like to elaborate on your question. Bands and musicians first and foremost need to offer something - musically or lyrically - which people cannot find elsewhere; whether that's a new sound, a new theme, or an old sound adapted for modern times. Don't spend time marketing yourself, just focus on creating sincere, impressive music and fitting visuals. People will discover you if what you do is good, and if they don't, no amount of salesmanship can change that.
7.I have to say your music is very relaxing and unique, and expresses emotions of being influenced by nature and your enviornment, Now I know wolcensmen has a special meaning, can you share with us what it is and what you want to express with your music?
Certainly. The name 'Wolcensmen' began as 'Welkinsmen' – a binding of the words 'Welkin' (Middle English for 'the heavens' or 'sky') and 'Kinsmen'. I originally planned for Wolcensmen to become a band of multiple members, hence the plural 'men'. It kind of has and hasn't worked out to be that way. I soon changed 'Welkin' to its Old English equivalent 'Wolcen' because I knew that the themes were going to be more past and pagan. Though this ruined the 'Kinsmen' part of the name, it added 'Cen', a rune of guidance and community.
The Wolcensmen bindrune combines Tiw (heavens), Mæg (men), and Cen (guidance and kinship). The overall message is 'Men of the Heavens', and what I always wanted to portray and inspire are the principles of nobility, wisdom, growth and solace – a collective experience for those people disillusioned with modern, materialist existence, who seek something more eternal and mystical.
8.I notice you have a few possible new projects or collaborations coming up, can you share with us any news or updates of possible new suprise projects that may be in the future?
I have no studio collaborations coming up, other than the set of musicians I'll enlist to perform on the next Wolcensmen album (these aren't final enough for me to report on). But my other band Winterfylleth are soon to release a new, acoustic album. For those who don't know, our usual sound is a sort of expansive, non-satanic form of Black Metal. By sheer chance, about the time I joined Winterfylleth the band had decided to write an acoustic album and I became a part of that creative process. As such, those who like Wolcensmen will be met with an album of similar, related material this April. I'm very excited about this release, as it was a huge, collaborative project with much better funding than the first Wolcensmen album. It has a less pagan, perhaps less mystical atmosphere. But is a little more refined, traditional and hopeful.
9.Can you tell us about any of your current interests? tv shows, music or anything you are reading or following currently that you are a fan of?
I don't have a TV aerial, but I do watch the occasional film or TV show with my wife, if it's particularly good. We recently enjoyed the German series 'Dark' immensely. I observed that it ties into the Heathen concept of Wyrd and had a uniquely, wonderfully German character. I'm currently reading Tolkien's translation of Sigurd and Gudrun, which is good. I'd say that the most 'media' I consume tends to be philosophical podcasts or youtube videos whilst working my dayjob. Music-wise I've been particularly enjoying the latest Evilfeast and Argus albums, as well as a fair bit of synth-based music.
10.I see you have alot of cool merchandise and vinyls to go along with your albums, do you have help with creating all of this? can you mention any companies or people that have helped you produce and get your merchandise created and out to the world?
I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I design all Wolcensmen products. This gives me an advantage in that I know good screenprinters for merchandise, and how to have things produced well. At this point, almost all proceeds have gone back into funding Wolcensmen, because I believe musicians should invest in their own future – whether it be adding to recording and artwork budgets, or improving their performance and stage show somehow. Gone are the days when a label takes care of everything for the band.
I will of course give full credit to Deivlforst Records, who have played a big role in supporting the early growth of Wolcensmen. Heidens Hart Records also helped to make the vinyl release a reality and these are two labels I'll always appreciate.
11.So lets talk about instruments and production, what brands or products do you prefer to use to create music? any favorite brands for guitars/instruments or recording sound editing programs you can mention that you use that has helped make creating easier for you?
I'm not much of a gear fanatic to be honest. I have a selection of nice guitars which allow me to achieve everything I need – two acoustics, three electrics and a bass. The acoustics I use for Wolcensmen are decent but nothing to rave about; moderately priced, good sounding instruments. The steel-string I use is a Fender which I've had since I was eleven years old, so twenty-three years – it was my first guitar.
In terms of software I can be more informative, as I had to be quite discerning when preparing to record and mix Songs from the Fyrgen, so did quite a lot of research: I did everything using Reaper, which is the best DAW I've ever used. I used a selection of mostly free VST plugins such as Sanford Reverb, and the Reaplugin suite. For Midi instruments I used the Korg M1 soft-synth, UVI Digital Synsations and Kontakt Player. When recording the live instruments I borrowed some good quality microphones from my brother, who is a sound engineer, and just learnt by trial and error. That's the long and the short of it really – hopefully it might be of use to others.
12.So can you share with us anything interesting we may not know that you are involved in besides music? anything you like to do for fun?
I have young children, which are an enormously rewarding part of my life; and an old house which I try to keep in order. I'm committed to a healthy lifestyle and try to eat whole, organic foods, as well as exercising plenty. I try to keep up with spiritual practices and offerings when I find time to, and to study as much as I can about the World's mysteries.
Occassionally I write reviews or conduct interviews for Heathen Harvest Periodical – an online zine dealing predominantly in dark, underground music of all types. I have plans to take up archery sometime, but that's probably one of those ambitions which will fall by the wayside; my spare time, beyond family time, is swallowed up by Wolcensmen and Winterfylleth activities.
13.With your career so far, Im sure you have you had the chance to meet or work with some amazing people, if so was there anyone you were honored or excited about?
Anyone you would like to meet or see perform in the future that you have not had the chance to yet?
I have, yes! I've done design and artwork for a number of bands I grew up as a fan of - Burzum, Emperor, Limbonic Art, among others. I've performed an Iron Maiden cover in front of Adrian Smith, an AC/DC cover in front of Malcolm Young, and had Nemtheanga from Primordial perform onstage with Winterfylleth. And, particularly with Winterfylleth, we've shared the stage with a long list of bands I admire. Quite a few surreal moments.
I've still not had a chance to catch Empyrium live since they started doing shows in recent years, which I'm desperate to do, and there are a number of other bands I'm waiting to catch, which I can't think to list right now.
In terms of meeting idols, it doesn't really appeal to me anymore. I know, through experience, that musicians – no matter how legendary – are as flawed as the rest of us, and that there is generally a separation between their creative persona and their everyday personality. I've met some musicians I admired who were great to talk to (Andy Craighan from My Dying Bride and Mark Shelton from Manilla Road being notable examples), and some who weren't. What I really crave are good conversations with likeminded people, whether they're famous or not. I don't need to know an artist to appreciate their work.
14.Our goal with RavenzCraft Arts is to help bring awareness to artists and connect fans and fellow creators to inspire possible collaboration and bring exposure to the unseen underrated artists out there,,Im honored to have you take part in this project, i feel it inspires others to push forward as well if they can connect with others on the same levels..anything you want to bring up or say to us, or the other fellow creators and followers out there?
It's a noble undertaking Tim and I tip my hat to you. Thank you for showing an interest in what I'm doing. There are numerous people I'd love to make music with out there, but my time and resources are so limited that I have to be really selective. What I really hope is that Wolcensmen will grow to a point where these kinds of opportunities open up, and where I can collaborate more.
To those musicians of similar mind and determination, I'll just say this: We must propel ourselves forward. The music industry can be quite stagnant and usually possesses less imagination than does the artist. Music fans are hungry for something new, unique and genuine, and if what we create is worthy and genuine, music-lovers will find it, and they will support it.
I just want to give a special Thank you to Dan Capp for taking the time to do this interview, we look forward to hearing more of your work.
-Tim Raven Rotar
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