Hello Nokt, greetings from Romania and thanks a lot for accepting this discussion. Although I know a few things this about Dymna Lotva, can you please give our readers more information about its history, how everything started and some words about the band members?
Hi, thanks for your suggestion! Dymna Lotva started as a studio project. At first, Jauhien invited me to record vocals for two of his tracks, and that evening concept, lyrics and vocals parties for our first single “A Solitary Human Voice” were ready. While recording and mixing of this track was going on, Jauhien simultaneously composed other tracks, to which I immediately had ideas about vocals. All this resulted to our debut album. We were not going to perform live, but before the album was released we were offered a concert from which we could not refuse (DSBM gig in Minsk with Psychonaut 4 and Vanhelga). Then we started looking for the concert line-up. Soon I invited my friend Forladt to play the guitar, then he invited the drummer Shen (they are best friends). This is Lotva up to the present day. We had never have the second guitarist in the permanent lineup, at concerts we are usually seasonally supported by one of our friends (Ilya Genchik from Apologeth, Konstantin Stasevich from Dracula, and now – Anton Levkovich from Beyond the Darkness). I hope someday there will be a person who will become the fifth part of Lotva. This is a complex search – after all, we need not just a musician, but a person who will enter our family. We are really very close.
I know from previous interviews that Dymna Lotva is translated into “smoky wetlands”. Can you please be more precise regarding this translation? What does this represent for you and how do you explain this association with your band?
Yes, “smoky wetlands” is correct. The band name is dedicated to our country nature and history. Firstly, Belarus is often called ‘the land of lakes and wetlands’. Secondly, this land has experienced a number of wars, during which many villages were burnt together with the inhabitants. Belorussian past is depressive and full of grief, like the music of Dymna Lotva.
Can you please tell us what are the roots of the lyrics, what are your songs based on?
Our lyrics are based on true stories. Some of them are from my life (like ‘Ravens are also mortal’ and most of our debut album lyrics). Others are based on the real grief of other people (like the EP lyrics, based on the stories of Chernobyl victims).
I saw that your grandmother became the model of your first album cover. (By the way, I personally find this a genius idea.) How can you describe the comparison between this image and the creative process of this record?
The cover shows an old woman, dressed in Slavic garb of young girl. It embodies both life and death, youth and old age. This character is also associated with Belarus, a young country with an ancient and sad history. Thus, the cover conveys the concept of the album.
How does the metal scene look in Belorussia and how do you collaborate with fellow musicians
There is strong folk and black metal scene in Belarus. Most of the bands and festivals are related to these genres. However, it seems to me that recently there is more variety.
Unfortunately, Belarusian metal bands are little known abroad. This is largely due to the conditions of our country. It’s a pity! There are real nuggets (I can’t help mentioning Pragnavit and Nebulae Come Sweet, whose shows simply can’t get out of my head).
Of course, cooperation takes place. For example, we are friends with Belarusian death/groove metal band Apologeth. I sang in one track of their album, then their vocalist Andrew sang in one of our tracks. Their guitarist Ilya mixed and mastered our first album and played as a session guitarist at our first concert. And they’re just great guys with whom it’s nice to deal with.
It was also very nice that Graf from Psychonaut 4 agreed to be guest vocalist on our EP. I could not imagine the voice of someone else in this song. Delightful cooperation!
As for me as a guest / session vocalist for other projects, anything can happen. I periodically receive various proposals. For example, in the autumn I sang a couple of concerts as a session backing vocalist of the death/black metal band Dwellstorm Borned. It was an interesting experience, and we became friends. Also during the year there will be several releases, where I took a small guest participation. However, cooperation is not always easy, especially if you are in different countries. Someone changes plans without warning you, others may change their mind at a time when you have already completed your part of the work. The most epic fail in my practice was when, in response to my message with tracks of recorded at studio vocal for his track, a dude answered me with a penis photo and then add to ignore list))).
You released last year in August an EP entitled “Wormwood”, how do you describe this record and how was it welcomed by the metal underground scene?
There were not very much mentions in foreign media. But in the ex-USSR the EP was accepted by the public very warmly, we did not even expect it. For the whole month it was in the top 10 albums of the month of the Russian metal portal Dark World. All Belorussian metal media wrote detailed reviews. There were many reviews and thanks from those who are interested in the history of the Chernobyl disaster and like to travel to the Chernobyl Zone. Thanks to this new interesting acquaintances have appeared. We even received gifts from the Chernobyl Zone! And also atmospheric video fragments were shot in the Zone especially for us (unfortunately, we do not have time for editing yet, but everything will be used).
In addition, we had really great EP live presentation. It was at the club black metal festival ‘Voseni Ratauniki II’. Gig was simply magnificent, the organizers even invited Graf to Minsk as guest vocalist for our performance. In one of the biggest clubs in Minsk the whole evening smelled of wormwood.
What is your opinion about playing live? Do you enjoy this? What about playing and promoting your music also outside Belorussia?
I like to perform live, but I do not want to do it with Dymna Lotva too often. I’m very emotional on stage, so after the show I’m usually pretty weak for a couple of weeks. Last November we had a mini-tour in Belarus and the presentation of new EP – a total of 4 concerts a month. An interesting experience, but tiring. This fatigue is not related to the vocals – with other projects I am ready to perform almost every day. This band is simply too important for me.
Dymna Lotva’s music is very emotional, and most of the songs mean a lot to me personally. In addition, we strive to make each of our shows unique. When last November we performed in Minsk 2 times a month, they were two completely different programs, the only thing in common was one song. And I also sewed 2 different sets of concert clothes for the whole band. So we try to translate quantity into quality. In any case, so far we have such an opportunity.
As for the promotion abroad – we are working on this. For example, this summer we will perform on the Black Sea Storm fest in Ukraine. We have proposals about performances in other countries, now we are negotiating about this autumn, but the exact dates of the concerts are not yet appointed. Belarus is not a member of the European Union, so concerts of the Belarusian bands in Europe are associated with some additional difficulties.
We have a project within our magazine about female musicians in the underground metal scene. How do you feel within the metal scene? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages when it comes to female fronted metal bands?
All my life it was much easier for me to be friends and work with men. So I do not feel uncomfortable on the metal scene. Moreover, it’s now 2018, and a girl in a metal band will not surprise anyone.
Of course, female fronted bands still attract attention (if it’s not symphonic or gothic metal). And this is where the pluses and minuses lie: on the one hand, extra attention to the project. On the other hand, female musicians are usually primarily evaluated in appearance. How much is this a problem? It does not really bother me personally, I just state the fact.
In general, I believe that the concept “metal music for men” has long been obsolete and is nothing more than a stereotype.
Because I’ve read that your lyrics also deal with the Chernobyl disaster, I want to ask you something a bit off topic. I have recently finished reading a very interesting book “Chernobyl Prayer / Voices from Chernobyl” written by Svetlana Aleksievich who was awarded in 2015 the Nobel Prize in Literature. What is your personal opinion about this subject? How does the youth in Belorussia see this tragedy nowadays? Can you give me a short feedback about this book, because I personally found it very touching?
My feedback for this book is our last EP ‘Wormwood’ (by the way, all the lyrics and its translation into English can be found on our Bandcamp, YouTube channel or in the CD booklet).
It was the “Chernobyl Prayer” that inspired the creation of this mini-album (later, when working on the lyrics, I also read other materials about the Chernobyl disaster, interviewed older relatives, but Alexievich’s book remained the foundation). By the way, the structure of the EP repeats the structure of the book. The first and last songs (A Solitary Human Voice I and II) tells the stories of two Chernobyl widows which open and close the book of Svetlana Aleksievich. The lyrics in these songs are the quotes from their monologues.
By the way, right now I’m reading the book of Svetlana Alexievich’s teacher Ales Adamovich “I’m from a fiery village”. It is written in the same genre of eyewitness stories. Only in this case are collected stories of survivors from the villages burnt in the Second World War. These are very scary stories penetrating to the depths of the soul. I believe that preserving such memory is very important, although hard work.
I think it’s easy to guess that I’m also reading this book for a reason…
Thank you very much for your time and hope to see your band live sometime in the near future. The last words belong to you.
We have already discussed the possibility of a tour with a trip to Romania last year. Then the plans were not destined to come true, but… I believe that we will definitely visit your country in the near future. Thank you for the conversation. Stay metal \m/
Find Dymna Lotva on Bandcamp.