1. Can you tell us a little bit about the project, you have been around since 1995 but have remained underground so there is a lot of people that have never heard of you before?
First of all thanks for this interview and your interest in our music, and sorry for my english. As you say, the band ILBELTZ was born in 1995, in the Basque Country, and in the beginning we played heavy metal most of all, even though we also used some classical and clean guitars sometimes. At that time we used to play concerts, and the band was formed of four members: drum, bass, guitar, and guitar-vocals.
In 1999, some of the members where more interested in other things than playing music, and that’s when the band suffered a change, according to the members and also to music, in some ways.
That year we began recording two songs and an intro for an album shared with other two bands, and that’s when our music opened to black metal and traditional music, in a humble way. The album was “Iluntasunaren Itzulera” (The return of darkness, in Basque language), even though it was translated into english as “Triarchy of Vasconia”.
The other two bands were ADHUR and AIUMEEN BASOA.
After that until 2010, I’ve been conposing songs, and finally I decided to record some of these songs in this album called “Auskan Gabiltz Olatun Gainian” (We’re struggling on the waves).
2.You have alot of different styles and musical instruments on the new album, what was the sound that you wanted for this new release and how do you feel that you have achieved it?
I’m very happy with the result, because in the begging I found a lot of obstacles. I had very little money, and I recorded most of the things in my little digital homestudio: classical and clean guitars, vocals, violins, flutes, oboe, accordions, bass... and then I had to go to a studio for the drum programming, the distorsioned guitars... mix and mastering.
The most important thing for me has been the feeling. I needed to combine the humble recording equipment's that I did have, with the most feeling I was able to.
I also wanted an equilibrium between the different styles. Black and heavy metal parts had to be strong and rough enough, as well as the traditional parts, while the renaissance parts had to be sweet and bright enough. So, this recording has been an adventure for me.
3.You have some interesting lyrics, what was the main inspiration behind your songwriting?
Thanks. The lyrics tell a story that happens in the XVI th century. The story is about a Basque fisherman who escaped from war, and became pirate. It is based in a novel I’ve written these years.
I live closed to the sea, and probably the sea is my main inspiration behind this album, as well as our Basque language (which we call “euskara”), and history. Usually, the history that they teach us, is taught by the point of view of the ones who won the wars, and had the power, and I think the other points of view must also be told. For example the point of view of this fisherman.
4.What is the meaning or inspiration behind the name Ilbeltz?
“Ilbeltz” is an ancient and nowadays little used word of our language that just means “january”. Its literal translation would be “black month”. This word reminds me those days that pagan believing were alive, those days before the arrival of Christianity.
5.Have you ever used any outside musicians to do some live shows?
No, I haven’t. Around 1999 some friends helped us playing a concert that we had taken before, but apart of that, we haven’t played since then. I must say that since around 2000-01 I have also been playing in other bands, like for example “AIUMEEN BASOA”, with which we’ve also edited an album this year.
I often think about playing concerts with ILBELTZ, but this would be such a hard work, I would have to join a lot of people, and I don’t feel strong enough to do something like this nowadays.
6.Currently, you are unsigned, are you looking for a label, if so what kind of label do you feel would be a perfect fit for your music?
Well, I really don’t know. I’m not sure if I want a label or not. I think that nowadays labels don’t offer interesting contracts to little bands like us. Perhaps I would be interested in a label if they would pay the studio costs, as well as the CD costs of the factory, but these doesn’t happen nowadays, at least where I live.
And I also think that the percentages that musicians earn are ridiculous.
For me it’s also important to have complete control about the music that will appear in the album. These are basic things for me.
7.Your last release was in 2001 and it took 9 years for the new album, what where you doing in between those years?
The shared release that you’re talking about was in 2000, and in english was known as “Triarchy of Vasconia”. After that I’ve been composing songs, trying to find and realize what I had in mind, and this have been a long and hard journey, because I didn’t know well enough the renaissance music for example, and the story I had in mind happened in the renaissance era.
At the same time I’ve been writing the novel of 1049 pages, and playing music in other bands, from rock to classical music. But I wasn’t able to earn any money with this, so I also have been working in a pub, for example. Nowadays, apart of other things, I’m composing classical music, a concert for soloist and orchestra. This was new for me.
8.How has the support been to your music worldwide from black/pagan/folk metal fans worldwide?
Great. It’s difficult for me to promote and let people know that I’ve recorded this album, but a lot of the ones that have listened to it usually tell me very good things. I mean, the ones that have writen to me by internet were very happy with the album, so I’m so glad about it.
9.What direction would you like to take your music into on future releases?
Well, I really will not know the direction that it will take until I begin recording, but I’ve got songs for a couple of albums more or less. And it seems that black and heavy metal will be more present. Maybe, a little more kind of blues too, we’ll see.
10.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music, and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I think all music styles have interesting things, and I listen to a lot of kinds of music, and if I should say what bands have influenced ILBELTZ’s music, I would have to write a very very long list. For example concerning to metal and rock; Naglfar (Vitra), Ananimated, Amorphis, Dissection, Emperor, Bathory, Cathedral, Death... Running Wild, Iron Maiden, Riot, Blind Guardian, King Diamond, Judas Priest, Deep purple, Dire Strites...
This 10 years, what I’ve most listened to is renaissance and medieval music, and this includes traditional music from any country.
But as I said before, I also listen to classical music of any period, jazz...
I’d like to mention some black metal bands from the Basque Country; AIUMEEN BASOA, NAKKIGA, DENIAL, NUMEN, SENTIMEN BELTZA, ADHUR... there are a lot more.
11.What are some forms of paganism or occultism that you have the most interest in and what role does it play in your music?
For me, paganism is the point of view, the relation with nature, and the way of understanding life and death, that had got people, before the arrival of religions.
In my case, I am from the Basque Country, and they say that Christianity began arriving to the Basque Country between the years 800-1000 more or less (At that time Basque Country was first known as Vasconia, and afterwards as Navarra). Christianity tried to erase this pagan way of thinking, and I’m very interested in recovering it.
Our language and traditional music are part of this pagan way of thinking.
12.Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
I like reading and writing, and I’m writing some novels. I like films, and I’m writing a script. I also like painting, learning languages, drinking rum, beer... I’d like to sail in an ancient ship...
13.Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
I’d like to thank you again for your review and this interview. And also I’ll write here our address on “myspace”, in case someone would like to listen to some of our songs: HYPERLINK "http://www.myspace.com/ilbeltzofficial" www.myspace.com/ilbeltzofficial . And if someone wants to bye the album, can write to HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks and best wishes!