There’s a small chance you know Saor, formely known as Arsaidh. This Scottisch atmospheric black-metal band created, with ‘Roots’ from 2013, a remarkably great album, and also ‘Aura’, that’s going to be released in June, will be a small masterpiece. Reasons enough to ask founder and only bandmember Andy Marshall some questions.
Hey! Thanks for your time, could you tell us a little bit about Saor for the people who still don’t know your music?
‘Saor is a one man Atmospheric Celtic Metal band based in Glasgow, Scotland. The music is influenced by a variety of musical genres such as Scottish Folk, Atmospheric Black Metal and Post-Rock. Lyrically I focus on themes such as Scottish heritage & history, Highland nature, landscapes and sorrow.’
Last year, you changed your name from Arsaidh to Saor, why did you do that? And don’t you think it’ll be harder for people to find you because of the more generic name?
‘I had a few problems online and digitally with the accented “A” and I grew to dislike the name altogether. A lot of bands have changed their name early on, so I don’t really see a problem with it. I don’t think it will be harder for people to find my music because all they have to do is put “Saor Metal” or “Saor band” in an online search engine, plus I’m the only band in the world with this name as far as I know.’
Your debut album was, if I may say, a masterpiece. How did you write the music, and how went the recording process?
‘Thank you! I wrote the music after I came back from a trip to my home in the Isle of Skye if I remember correctly. I recorded a few demo’s and then I asked my friend Martyn to help me record the album a few weeks later. The recording process was fairly straight forward as I had already recorded demo’s.’
Before the second album was released, you signed with Northern Silence Productions. Did this change anything for the band, for example with the recording of the new album?
‘It didn’t change much to be honest, I had already recorded most of ‘Aura’ and I was searching for a label to release it. Northern Silence Productions then got back to me a few weeks later and we ended up agreeing a deal.’
Just after you released ‘Aura’, a remixed version was already published. What was the reason for this?
‘We had mixed the album as best we could and decided to let people hear it. It’s worth remembering this was a complete DIY job with a £0 budget. The feedback was mainly positive but there was a bit of criticism about the sound (especially the drums) and my friends who worked so hard on the album for months asked me if they could tweak a few things before the masters were sent away to the label. I was happy with the first mix but I couldn’t really say “no” to them after all the effort they had put into it. I’m glad they done it now as I think it has improved the overall sound of the album.’
‘Aura’ sounds like it has a much more direct approach, and seems to be a lot less atmospheric than ‘Roots’. What is your view on this, and was it on purpose?
‘I would completely disagree with that, I think ‘Aura’ is just as, if not more atmospheric than ‘Roots’. The sound on ‘Roots’ is a bit “stale” to me and I wanted ‘Aura’ to sound a bit more rough, lively and energetic. I definetly wrote the new album with more of a “rock” approach rather than a “metal” one. ‘Roots’ is definitely more “black metal” sounding than the new album but I wouldn’t say ‘Aura’ is less atmospheric.’
Also, what struck me was that the mix of the album was a lot less ‘clear’ than the first album. Why have you chosen for this particular sound, and not the clear, clean sound from the first record?
‘I don’t really know what you mean about less ‘clear’… but I wanted the new album to sound a bit rougher around the edges. I guess I don’t want all of my albums to sound the same, the next album will probably sound different to ‘Aura’ too.’
Do you think it’s easier, or harder, being just on your own when writing the music?
‘I find it much easier because I have all the creative freedom. Saor is very personal to me so I’m not sure that I would really like to have any other people involved in the song writing process apart from a few guest musicians.’
On your debut-album are 3 pretty long songs (at least 13 minutes), how do you make sure the music stays interesting?
‘I don’t really think about that kind of stuff when I’m writing the music to be honest. I just hit “record” and see where the music goes. I always end up having lots of different ideas, so that’s probably why my songs always end up being 8 minute+.’
What is your main source of inspiration when writing the music and the lyrics?
‘Scottish history and culture, heritage, Highland landscapes, nature, emotions.’
Your texts are dealing about the Scottish heritage, but what is, for you, so special about this country?
‘I think Scotland has a fascinating history and traditions and beautiful natural landscapes. I take a lot of inspiration from the past, traditions and the natural world. I have little interest in modern day Scotland and I don’t particularly like Glasgow or any of the other big cities.’
Is there ever a chance you’re going to perform live?
‘I want to play live but whether I can get a good live band together is a different question altogether.’
There aren’t so much musicians who make atmospheric metal like you do in Scotland (correct me if I’m wrong!), but do you think there’s a reason for that? And what was your reason to create this kind of music?
‘I don’t know many atmospheric metal bands from Scotland. A few black metal bands have appeared recently but I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the Scottish metal “scene”. I find it strange that in a country with such an interesting past and epic landscapes that there have been so few atmospheric metal/black metal bands. It’s hard to say why I started creating this kind of music. I guess I listen to a lot of atmospheric music, so the songwriting comes naturally. Creating music is a great escape from the modern world.’
Up until today, almost all the reviews of your music are positive. How do you deal with reviews and criticism, or don’t you deal with it at all? How important do you think a review is when it comes to the music of Saor?
‘It’s great when you receive positive reviews and I appreciate the fact that people have listened to my albums and have spent time writing about it. I don’t really care if people don’t like my music, why would I? It’s human nature… you like something or you don’t.’
What can we still expect from Saor in the future? What do you still want to achieve with this project?
‘I will continue making music and hopefully play a few live shows in the next year or so.’
The last words are for you! Is there still anything you’d like to say to your fans, or the readers of folk-metal.nl?
‘Thanks for the interview! “Aura” will be released on 6th June via Northern Silence Productions. You can keep up to date with Saor at the official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/saorofficial