Eluveitie: Belonging to Mother Earth
Eluveitie – this Swiss Pagan / Folk Metal act has been a popular regular on European summer festival stages for many years. After their Tuska show (see photos here), our reporter Askar had the chance to chat with the band – here the result. Chrigel Glanzmann, who formed the band in 2002, and front lady Fabienne Erni give us in-depth insights about the essence of Eluveitie’s creative side….
For a third time, I have seen an Eluveitie gig here in Helsinki and your Tuska show was magnificent, with a lot of energy. Now you got a new single Aidus which just came out. I couldn’t really find the lyrics. (Note: the band deliberately kept those unpublished for a while, now they are available) So what is this new single about?
CG: I just wanted to say (points finger) it’s about you turning vegan. No, that would be the hardcore version. It’s kind of a prequel to the full album that’s to come. The whole album will be based on very ancient texts that are about several thousand years old. And it contains… I’ll try to find the short word. The ancient text contains something like a prophecy. The whole album is kind of based on that and ‘Aidus’ is like the first part of the whole cycle, it’s basically about the development of mankind and the development of the whole planet. How do you say? Do you know what eschatology means?
Yes, it’s a religious system of beliefs about the end of the world.
CG: It means it’s like the lore teaching about the end of the world. Most human cultures have something like that. And so did Celts obviously. So it’s basically about that and in the Celtic mythology, it’s not like an apocalypse or something like that, in the sense of an end to the world. It’s more like recurring, new beginnings. The Celtic druids taught about these recurring events when the Earth itself got cleansed by waters and fires and so it’s kind of apocalyptic. The Aidus’s first part is about that and it’s basically about walking towards the end. It’s about a new generation, a great awakening, so to speak. A generation not in the sense of people being born at some point, but a generation in the sense of a growing number of humans, no matter what age, no matter what culture, just rising up all around the globe to walk with Mother Earth instead of against her. That’s also what the chorus says. It’s Anu, a Celtic goddess, that represents Mother Earth. That’s basically what it all is about, to put Anu where she belongs, Mother Earth, where she belongs, Mother Nature where she belongs, which is on the throne above us all, instead of mankind’s dominion.
Fabienne, your character in the music video – is it like Mother Earth? I was watching the video and thought, okay, she’s like rising some people like that and what she should be…
(CG & FE laugh)
CG: She’s in the video (to FE) you’re basically leading the awakening…
FE: …but not as Mother Earth, but more about everybody should come together, humans come together…
CG: … mankind waking up, stopping human domination and putting dominion on nature.
Yeah, I must say it was a little bit tricky to prepare questions for you guys, because of your different roles, you CG compose a lot and you FE perform. You’re welcome to answer as you please to all my questions, because I do like to involve both of you as much as I can. Since you sing a lot about Celtic mythology, could you tell us, how spiritual are the people in Eluveitie, are you related to this culturally or are you more like Pagans?
FE: I think we’re very different characters. I mean, we’re nine people coming together from four different countries and (laughs) yeah…
CG: I mean it’s totally different, you know. (pauses to think) I think everybody has a certain affinity to the topic, but in private life, it’s different for everybody, you know.
Perhaps Eluveitie fans are inspired by Celtic mythology and music, but what inspires you guys? What kind of music and art?
FE: Nature. Stories. Pictures, I think. Yeah, everything combined is the best. Story with nature… makes sense to me (laughs).
Fabienne, I know you are a big fan of social media…
CG: (pretending to be surprised) Are you?
FE: (laughs) Maybe let’s say I’m active.
I saw you have Patreon, you seem to be quite engaged in socials. So what do you think, should music bands invest in social media, and to what extent?
FE: Well, a healthy amount is always good, to have a certain distance to it. But it’s also, it’s a tool to connect with people to spread your music, spread your art. I think these days it’s really hard to just skip it. It’s possible. But it’s, it’s also a nice chance [to spread the word]. On Patreon or Instagram you can really build a nice community and for example, the one we have now on Patreon, it’s super awesome. Because they are this kind of group now, this community that helps and support each other. They meet up at concerts because they got to know each other, actually, through Eluveitie and through Patreon, and this is very nice. You can also bring people together! You just need to approach it positively. And then I think it’s actually also a chance, but I think, you have to have a certain distance to it, because it’s not real life in social media.
CG: Honestly, I think it’s probably “an age thing” [to me]. Because you say it’s hard to skip it and you need to have a certain distance. For me, I was thinking about Patreon and Youtube, I had like a billion ideas for stuff to share, especially about paganism and all that kind of thing. I just don’t manage, I’m probably just too old. I don’t have a hard time keeping distance [from social media], I’m actually having a hard time putting it into my life, because I just don’t have the nerve to. Using Instagram I was like, no, let’s close it again, I’m too old. (Fabienne laughs) I don’t know actually, I think it would be nice…
FE: I actually really like your Instagram post when you do one, you really do a proper one …
CG: once a year!
FE: maybe once a year, but when you do one, you really are into it actually, maybe that’s too much, you know, just keep it lighter than you can do more!!
CG: (in hesitant voice) … maybe…
FE: and that’s totally fine, right?
For myself, I feel that it’s a lot of noise on social media…
CG: that’s the thing you say, you try to stay away and I actually tried to be on it and I just don’t manage (FE laughs). It’s crazy! Fuck it!
How was the pandemic time for you, and how do you feel this summer (2022), when gigs are finally back?
CG: Corona was – amazing. I am sorry.
FE: (explaining, to CG): You enjoyed your time at home, family time staying home. For me – I’m very excited to be back now with festivals and tours that are coming now, November, December, and so on. It was of course also nice to get a break. But yeah, it was not always very easy, because you have to find a different way, how to… what to do, right? So everything went a bit online, starting Patreon. We [thought of] how to engage with the people still, to keep connected, just finding different ways. But also, yeah, it definitely gave more time for other stuff, which was very nice as well. We HAD to rest a little bit, which maybe was good in the end. But I’m very happy to be back on stage.
In our highly technical commercial world, why play folk music or spiritual music, what can it bring to society, and what are its benefits? Is it escapism or is it some kind of healing to the minds?
FE: Maybe escape, but for me but also going back to the roots in a way like… “Awakening” is a little bit over the top, but…
CG: Well maybe always depends on “where” you are. I mean because… Now we’re getting pagan! (FE laughs) The world is going crazy, like, technically and everything and a lot of things are going away from where we, humans, actually are and where we are supposed to be, from what we are made for.
And we are made for what?
CG: Well. That. You know, natural things. This is flesh and bones and there’s green grass and trees and there’s a sky and there’s Earth. That’s what we are made for, it’s not 5G. It’s not internet, not electricity, that’s all that stuff that we made up. That’s all fine, but it’s not where we are rooted in. So I think folk and traditional folk has something archaic in it. Depending on what time you live – folk music is basically the oldest genre of music there is anyways, and it just doesn’t show the decency to fucking die at some point. It just keeps on existing. Maybe it’s also because of that because it’s so primal and archaic. And if it’s awakening or escaping or whatever the fuck it is, I don’t know, it depends on the person. But I think in this age we are living now where humanity tends to like go -wooow- into strange places. It’s maybe just like a call like “hello, we are here, this is Mother Earth, this is mankind. So maybe you want to come back at some point?” – maybe it’s something like that. (FE nods in agreement)
Just a quick question about the stage outfits, Faibienne, I noticed that little bird skulls on your clothes, what does that mean?
FE: This one? It was actually present from Matteo [Matteo Sisti].
How do you find topics for your songs? Because I spoke to Heilung and Sabaton, they have a special guy who has his nose in the books, as they would say. So how do you arrive to what’s going to be in your next songs? Especially since you have like eight or nine albums already. So it’s a lot of Celtic mythology already talking about how do you manage to find new songs?
CG: The gods know. I am actually serious. The gods know, we don’t.
I happen to know just a small amount about Celtic mythology, and I know that they did not write anything and there are some gaps in our knowledge. How do you manage to take care of the gaps?
CG: (in a very serious voice) That’s a very bad question. Because the next journalist is already waiting. I mean, I could talk for like 60 minutes easily now.
FE: Oh, dangerous, haha!
CG: Actually it’s a very super interesting question. Especially in the last two years, I was dealing a lot with Celtic eschatology, which we do not know that much about. And what we know, we mostly rely on ancient literary testimonies from different cultures, mostly Greeks and Romans. In the last two years, I was actually able to fill some gaps there which led me to ancient Egypt and to the period of Hellenism in Egypt, and to the so-called Hermetica (Note: The Hermetica are texts attributed to the legendary Hellenistic figure Hermes Trismegistus, a syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth – wiki). I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. That’s also a part of what our next album will be based on. So yeah, there has been some filling the gaps and since we just have a few minutes left – let’s leave it for now because otherwise I’ll be talking for hours.
And the last question, is a new album planned soon?
CG: So the answer to that question would be “yes”. Now we’re currently working on some new music!
Text & photos: Askar Ibragimov