Grai, Russian folk at its best

By: Michel

Recently Grai signed a deal with Vic records enabling them to spread their latest album worldwide. This wasn’t only a good opportunity for Folk-metal.nl to do a review on this album, but also a very good reason to interview this interesting band from Russia.

Grai is a six-piece band form from Russia with a great love for their native land. The band tries to work out themes about Russia into music and vice versa. Their idea is you can listen to the  songs, frisk and have a rest. That’s the way one can comprehend the spirit of the music.
Their music is about enjoying the good old Russian way of living in harmony with nature, which brings you joy.
The whole world can listen to Grai now they have signed a deal with Vic Records. And their latest album is a real joy to listen to, although it’s an album released in Russia in 2011 and with some bonuses now available worldwide. But the great news is we can expect a new album in 2013.

The band is heading back for the studio next year and the material for the next album is almost ready. The work is going to be in full swing. They have to overcome all the difficulties of the studio work again! But they feel the result – the release is always a great reward!
The sound of Grai is so full of folk it’s almost it almost sounds if it are old Russian folk-songs with a metal-coating. ‘Our music expresses dances, revels coming together.’ But they’re original songs written by the band band themselves. Grai stands ground and holds their way, relying on what’s inside them. The whole writing process depends on their own ideas. ‘There are only 7 notes and one can’t avoid some similarities.’

The difficulty of writing songs which sound like ancient Russian folk-songs in a metal-coating is harder on some days then it is on others, of course. If one plays rock or metal dubbing in folk tunes one can’t get that result. Everything’s important – the conception, the structure, the idea, and the portrayal – all the details. Nothing can happen by itself. ‘That’s why we try to get filled with inspiration and, of course, to get some ideas before the rehearsal.’

A very nice part of the Grai songs are the vocals and the flutes, they give this special Russian taste to their music, filling it with a lot of authentic feelings. The flute and all the wind instruments are very important for the process of composing the songs. There must be given a lot of thought on pauses and the polyphony. For example, the guitars giving way to the flutes and then to the vocals. In future we’re going to apply more interesting devices.

This ‘Russian’ sound is something I love personally, you can hear it in a lot of Arkona songs, but Grai takes this a step further. It’s a very distinctive sound full of compassion. It sounds very proud, probably because the ancient Slavic people where very proud. It probably appeals to the Russians, and hopefully the rest of the world will like it as well.

According to Grai there are a lot of people in Russia who know them and listen to their music. And the band is very grateful for that. They don’t know of they have a lot of die-hard fans, ‘some people just thank us, some bring us drinks on a tray. ;))’

Folk-metal is becoming quite popular for a metalgenre throughout the whole world and there are quite a number of folk-metalbands in Russia, so we like to know how the scene is in Russia. We learn from Grai folk music becomes more popular nowadays in Russia. The reason is the Russians also get back to their roots, they appeal to their ancestors! And that’s great because folk that has no past, and it has no future.

From the bands point of view the folk-scene in Russia becomes more rich, varied and it’s going to develop even more. They single out Anabioz, Leshak, Svarga, Drygva, Kalevala, Serdze-Kamen’, Troll bends Fir and of course Arkona! There are a lot of gigs in Russia, but they’re all of a local importance – they gather not more than 150-200 people. That’s quite normal for a small town, but as a whole in the scale of the country this index is not too high. There are no festivals that can compete with Wacken or Brutal Assault, for example, or other large festivals held in Europe. But hopefully that’s going to be improved soon and such festivals will be held in Russia as well.

With such nice names in the Russian scene with Arkona as a rising star, and already a big name all over the world in folk-metal, this must affect the Russian scene and bands. How does this affect Grai?

We’re glad that the band from Russia could reach this level. Grai is acquainted with Arkona and has been sharing the scene more than once since 2006. Maybe partially thanks to arkona, Grai has also reached new frontiers. Or maybe owing to a great luck or something else. But Arkona should be an example for everyone.

Is there anything else you like to say to the readers of Folk-metal.nl?

That’s great that we have so many listeners from all over the world. Love and respect your Native Land and never forget your ancestors.