The instincts of Folkstone

By: Michel
Photograhy: Valentina Paredi Photos

folkstone interview2Folkstone released two very nice items last year. Whatching their DVD we see a very nice, skilled and popular band at work playing medieval folk rock and metal. It’s about time has a chat with these Italian folk.

Folkstone is not well known in all corners of the world, can you tell us a bit about the band?
Our crazy project was born at the end of 2004. The spark that made the project start was the discovery of a German group called “In Extremo”, which blends bagpipes, harp and other instruments with rock… in a very original way. We knew that in our Valleys existed a medieval bagpipe called “baghèt”, so we naturally approached ourselves to this bagpipe and we connected it to our musical background (rock/metal). We followed our instinct and tried to find our personal sound. We naturally sang only in Italian and we’re still doint this, because our songs tell about our personal experiences and the way we see the world around us. We still narrate tales from the past and themes of the present and we think the best way to do it is in Italian, because is the language that we know with its hints and “spirit”. We started as a group of friends, who shared music passion, drinking and the same thinking. We grew up together and the commitment became more heavier so somebody decided to stop, leaving the place to other musicians… with whom we always share music passion, drinking and thinking, too. The aspect that better represent ourselves is live activity, because during the gigs we are full of energy and we usually create a great connection with audience.

2012 was a great year for Folkstone with two beautiful releases, in my opinion a huge step forward, what has changed in the band, so this could happen.
We didn’t change anything. Simply we constantly try to follow our way, making everything with passion and energy. We left our labor, so in this way now we can do what we want with our works and this is very important for us. We do what we feel and think at the moment, we’re very instinctive… so we never know if we’re doing the right thing in the right time and in the right way. We throw ourselves into new ideas and projects and we see what happens! Finally we try to be almost always ready to the strange destiny reactions.

folkstone interview 1The sound has improved a lot on the last two album, it’s more massive. Was the making of an acoustic album of any influence in this change?
No, we don’t think so. The acoustic album represents a sort of parenthesis. We made it because we make an acoustic show, too. We perform at medieval festivals and in the counties squares, so it’s a “street show”. Often there are old people who like our music, so they ask our cd so they can listen it at home. In the beginning we gave them “Folkstone” or “Damnati ad Metalla” because we had only those… but we put ourselves in their point of view and thought about what would happen when they put the cd into the player… a heart attack!! So we decided to record an acoustic collection, to preserve old people!:) So we think that the sound seems to be more massive for our natural growing, not for other influences or particular researches.

I guess folkstone is very popular in Italy, are there other countries where folkstone is quite popular, or is this restricted to Italy?
In Italy we have a great group of fans who support us in an incredible way, so we’re very satisfied. Over the years we played in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and other countries. In every country we found people who liked our music. They didn’t know us but they listened to our concert and they tried to sing in a mix of languages and tried to do a fine mess with us! We also send our cds to lots of lands so we can say that we’re very satisfied about the interest form other countries, too.

Nice to hear that works out, what do you think is the most nasty obstacle if you want to cross the border with your music?
We don’t sing in English, that could be an obstacle for abroad concerts. But we don’t care about it, because we have lots of people that follow us from other lands as we said before. The fact that we can’t play abroad so much it’s a shame, but we don’t give up! Certainly we hope to play more in foreign lands in the years to come!
And I totally agree, you shouldn’t give up singing in Italian, I can’t understand it either but it’s part of your sound.

It seems to us folk-rock and folk-metal are quite popular in Italy, a bit like in Germany, how do you feel about this?
With the passing of time this genre has reached more popularity. This is also due to the increase in festivals and events dedicated to this particular music, like “Fosch Fest Festival” for example. Some years ago we had the idea of organising this totally free festival in our city with groups that could be gathered in folk metal/rock genre (We don’t like to speak of “genre”, because we don’t like to tag with specific names. But in this case it can be useful), such as Eluveitie, Arkona, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani combined with less famous groups from Italy. It has been a great success, with good music, good groups and good people!

folkstone inteviewApart from this, we don’t think that this genre is as popular as in Germany. In Germany it’s even better, because they’re opener than us in giving possibilities to new way of music and underground groups.

Let’s talk about how you make music a bit. Folkstone is quite a large band, is it difficult to keep everyone heading in the same direction?
It seems, but it’s not difficult. Everyone has her/his own opinion, but we found a good feeling together so we’re trying to go in the same direction. We share the same way of approaching ourselves to the project, that is with passion, pleasure and professionalism at the same time. So the result is decisively good!

How does this influence the writing of the songs. It seems difficult to me, to involve everyone in the writing?
There are only 3 or 4 of us who has written Folkstone songs ’till now. Lore (voice), Yonatan (our sound engineer and artist producer) and Maurizio (bagpipe, flutes and cittern) have worked on music parts and Lore and Roby (bagpipe, Rauschpfeife) have worked on texts. As soon as a piece is ready, we listen to the opinion of the other musician in order to understand if they could improve some particular pieces of their instrument-parts. So everyone is involved but in different ways.

Isn’t it terribly difficult to write these songs for so many instruments?
It’s difficult but not that much! We start with the premise that guitar, bass and drum have to built a solid basis then we add other instruments to adorn the groove. This is the general concept that we follow when we write. Then we try not to overlap all the acoustic instruments in the same time, because otherwise the song become a mess! It’s true that sometimes the interlocking of the instruments drive us crazy… but it’s normal, not everything can be easy!

folkstone robyDo you know immediately which instruments are going to be used when a song is written, or is this a choice which is made later on in the process.
Our songs arise in different ways. There’s the one that starts with a bagpipe melody, or another with guitar, another with harp… so there isn’t a particular strategy that we follow to understand which instruments we have to insert in a track. We follow our taste and we add instinctively the instruments we think could fit perfect with the melody. It’s not always an instant success, sometimes our instinct makes big mistakes and the result is a complete disaster. It’s terrible, but the only solution is to start from the beginning again. “Grige mare” has been changed 13 times for example!!! It’s always a good challenge!

The members are very skilled musicians, where did they learn to play all these nice instruments?
Some of us began as self-taught and then have improved with courses. Someone else studied at conservatory, others studied at other study music centers. We have nine different educational paths and different live experiences in music. So also in this case we’re a good mix of people!

The albums are released by Folkstone records is this by choice and if so why not with a big label.
We have worked for years with a label but with the new album “Il Confine” in 2012 we decided to leave it. We basically want to do what we want with our music and we want to feel free to decide the best way to go on with it. We want to share successes or failures only with ourselves and with our thinking, not with other people who essentially doesn’t care about it.

Last year Folkstone made this very nice DVD, what made you decide to make one?
We respect the people who support us highly, because without them we don’t exist. Simply. So last year fans began to ask us to make a DVD. So we seriously start thinking about it.
Second reason is that we would make a sort of synthesis of the years we spent on stages all around countries, everywhere, in all kinds of conditions! So we thought that it would be nice to record a concert with most of our songs and to share it with people who have always followed us. Finally we thought that a DVD could be a sort of “business card” for people who don’t know us!

And it has come out perfectly. With such an artistic successful year as 2012, can you feel any changes in the air for Folkstone?
The future is always a gamble, so we sincerely feel always insecure about it. We have had lots of little and big changes during the years, so we think that something will change this time, too! We’ll wait and see what it’s going to happened!

Is there something more you like to say to our readers?
We hope to come to your land one day, to make a gig and to make a bloody mess together!