Evolving all the Time
Interview with Łysa Góra
In a distant Slavic land, a fire can be seen high upon the mountain. As one draws closer, the melody of a female angelic voice, a violin and tambourine can be heard faintly in the distance. You move closer to the sound, it intrigues you, stirs thoughts and emotions within your mind and soul. As you approach, the band Lysa Gora enchants you with their music and stories. You sit and talk about their music and other things….
Thank you for taking time to do this interview with Folk-Metal.nl. We are excited to hear more about the band, your origins, and future plans for your music.
Early beginnings with Chopin that transformed into Metal
What made you want to become a musician(s) was it a record you heard, a performance you saw or some other event that made you say, this is what I want to do?
“Well, I was signed up by my parents for piano lessons one day when I was a kid because I was very keen on trying to play this instrument every time my family visited my uncle, who had a piano in his bedroom. I fell in love with music when I started to play. At first it was Chopin, and then it changed into rock and metal when I was teenager and took up playing the guitar and then drums in music school. I’m still keen on listening to classical music also :)”
How did you all meet and begin collaborating?
“We met together one winter on New Year’s Eve. I mean me, my wife and Dorota. They were into folk music and I also had discovered it not long before that time. We started to sing at the bonfire and I thought that those strong folk “white voices” would match perfectly heavy sound of metal and then we started the band. The beginnings were tough because we didn’t have a rehearsal room or proper instruments but determination was strong enough :)”
How did you come up with the name Lysa Gora (Bald Mountain) for the band, was there a previous name and if so what was it?
“Łysa Góra was a sacred mountain for the Slavs, their traditional celebrations, rituals and culture. As we have been playing mainly music based on Slavic roots we thought that would be a perfect name. There is a legend that on Bald Mountain there used to be witches’ gatherings so it inspired us even more as the female members of our band consider themselves as contemporary witches sometimes 😉 What is more, I come from this region of Poland so the name seemed just right :)”
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
“Our music has been evolving all the time. Talking about our electric project, we used to call it heavy folk because it was for us just a folk music arranged into a heavy metal style with solid guitar, double bass but still with some elements of pure folk represented by violin or white traditional folk voices. However, it has changed with time and now we can add to it quite a few progressive elements together with even heavier sound. The majority of our last album contains of our authorial compositions so we could feel even more free to arrange them our way. Well, now we can be called progressive heavy folk band 😂”
What band or type of music are you currently listening to?
“I listen to different kinds of music but mostly it is metal, Slavic and Scandinavian folk. I love Wardruna’s sound but I still love those old metal bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Pantera, Metallica, Behemoth, Opeth, Type o Negative, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Septicflesh (I love their music incorporating symphonic sounds to death metal) and many more. I appreciate new progressive approaches towards the metal genre so I’m always glad to listen to for example Gojira, Leprous (I really fell in love with their music), Soen, The Ocean and some post metal groups like Cult of Luna or Harakiri for the Sky. I’m not a big fan of the traditional folk metal genre though :)”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music? And as a follow up how do spend time when not creating or performing?
“I don’t have much time for other hobbies outside music. Most of my time is occupied by family, music, composing, playing drums and work (mainly teaching music). However, I can’t imagine living without sport. Running, riding a bike, weight lifting, boxing and… playing drums. I also like watching good thought provoking films and reading books.”
Creating music together during the past 11 years
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
“Well, we also start from creating a riff, a melody and chords on the piano or sometimes even grove on the drums as it was in case “W Ogniu Świat” – our single from the upcoming album. When somebody makes this element up, we try to work on it in rehearsals or individually at home. Then we try to record a sketch and check if it is good enough and we wouldn’t be ashamed of it if we were to present it to the public 😉 If it is still bad, we change it or just throw it away. We used to arrange traditional folk songs in the past but now it has changed and we compose our songs still with their folkish character.”
Do you approach the song writing process with a defined style in mind, adding elements of folk, black or death metal or do you just compose based on your frame of mind at the time?
“I think it comes naturally because we’ve been creating together for more than 11 years and we are soaked with our style. We don’t think about it while we are creating. However, if a song goes too far away from what defines us we try to make it more Baldmountainish 😉 I want to also underline that we are trying to evolve all the time to avoid eating our own tail. We are not satisfied when something sounds like a song from a previous album 🙂 Peter – our new guitarist brought with him lots of progressive and even heavier elements and that suits me very much :)”
The flow of energy between concerts and us is the drug that is very addictive.”
Is anyone in the band classically trained?
“Yes. Most of us are classically trained. I graduated from music school as well as Peter – the guitarist. Sylwia and Paweł are graduates of Music Academies. Dorota is not a musician by profession but she is also an educated artist :)”
What made you decide to include instruments such as violin and flute into your music?
“As I mentioned above, we have always tried to include less or more folk elements to our music and these instruments seemed to be perfect tools to do that besides of course “white singing” , lyrics and character of the songs itself.”
Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?
“Although I like playing both the piano and the guitar, I’m basically a drummer so I am inspired by artists who can play this instrument skillfully and creatively. My main inspirations recently are Matt Garstka from Animals as Leaders (he is an unbeatable monster), Baard Kolstad from Leprous. Mario Duplantier from Gojira, Casagrande from Sepultura, Kirmh currently playing in Septicflesh but also well known masters from the drummer world like Gene Hoglan, Dave Lombardo or Portnoy.”
How do you feel about the recording process, do you find it exciting or burdensome?
“I have always been excited with recording any material we have conceived in the process of creation. This is like a child being born. We don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like but we can be sure that it’s gonna have our genes and character. After the first sketches we listen to the material and discuss the things we need to change and when it finally meets our expectations it is a very rewarding feeling 🙂 It is sometimes a painful experience but you know “no pain, no gain” ;)”
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of your latest release?
“Yes, I am pleased. That’s less or more we have imagined to achieve. Of course in the meantime we shaped it many times and changed some details to get a satisfactory outcome. It sounds good and has the dose of energy and power we expected it to have.”
The Voodoo Club and other places to perform
Do you have a favorite venue for performing?
“Our sound engineer and a friend laughs that every time you open a fridge in Voodoo Club in Warsaw you will find Łysa Góra there. That’s the place we like to come back and play 🙂 We like to perform anywhere, where there is enough place for us and the audience. I personally love playing on big stages to big audiences. The more people, the better because it produces more energy and excitement :)”
Since 2013 the band has played live, in several different venues. Do you consider yourselves more of a live band over a studio band who just records?
“Definitely we consider ourselves a live band. Concerts are our element! The flow of energy between concerts and us is the drug that is very addictive.”
In 2017 the band played their first concert at the Viking Festival in Norway. How was the band received by the crowd? What was that experience like?
“That was a fantastic experience. First of all, I could see Norway for the first time and secondly play our Slavic music for Vikings. We played totally unplugged so we had to do our best to produce good sound and energy. I remember that our bass player had blisters on his fingers after these few performances there. We were received very well and we also met some our country mates of course 🙂”
In 2020, the band has also played at the Female Metal Voices Festival which has some big names on the roster, were you nervous playing before or after any of these bands? Did any give you any advice?
“We are not afraid to play before any big-named band. We always consider the audience to be a better judge of our live performance. We always try to do our best and I think the better feedback from the people in front of a stage the better review we can expect from any important and famous headliner. I don’t remember getting any advice from bands we have played with ;)”
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
“As far as I am concerned I would love to open the show of Wardruna not mentioning artists who have always been my inspiration but whose music wouldn’t match with our sounds. I can’t imagine Łysa Góra to be a support of Septicflesh or Gojira for example.”
What is your favorite song to perform?
“I personally like to perform “W Ogniu Świat” – our newest single. It has got a specific mood, characteristic riff and energy which makes me often have shivers down my spine while performing ;)”
2023 and Going forward
Do you feel you have a growing fan base?
“I hope that we are getting new fans together with developing our style and adding some more layers to our music. We are not the same band as at the beginning. We have changed and we are planning to evolve all the time. I hope that we are not going to lose fans supporting Łysa Góra’s face as represented on the first album for example :)”
What is one message you would give to your fans?
“Thank you for your all your support and energy! You are the drive that keeps us creating and moving forward!”
What’s next for the band?
“We hope to play some good gigs promoting our news album “W Ogniu Świat” and prove that it’s worth giving a chance. I hope that we’ll get some positive feedback from both critics and fans. After that we are going to focus on creating material for the next album of our acoustic project and search for the feeling of stepping forward.”