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Il y a quelques temps, nous avions craqué notre slip pour l'histoire de marins que nous contait le projet basque Ilbeltz.
Après la sélection VS de l'album, voici maintenant l'interview du seul homme à bord du navire, le dénommé Ibai. Un matelot qui touche à tous les postes et assouvit sa soif de découvertes musicales en voguant vers de nombreux horizons.
Ilbeltz interview (july 2011)
English version below
Prince de Lu: Can you tell our readers the story of Ilbeltz? Is it a one-man project since the early years?
Ibai (everything): Hello, and thanks to you! No, we were four friends when we began with Ilbeltz, around 1995. At that time I was playing in another band, a kind of death metal. But I left that band. I had heavy metal in mind, my first songs. A sunny morning, a friend of mine and myself decided that we were able to form our own band, and already that day, we were four members. Those were good times. We used to play concerts wherever we could, until around 1999. Around that year, the band sufered a change acording to the members. After this changes, 1999 is also the year we recorded the songs for the split album “Iluntasunaren Itzulera” (“The return of darkness” in Basque language, that the label translated into English as “Triarchy of Vasconia”). This split album was shared with other two Basque bands, Aiumeen Basoa and Adhur.
The split album "Triarchy of Vasconia" in 2000, then your first album in 2010. How can you explain this delay of a decade? Was it difficult to elaborate the tracks of "Auskan..." or was the time gone by so fast?
Yes, that split was published in 2000, and it’s a long time since that. Around 2000 I already had some new songs, and I was thinking about recording them, but, I wasn’t happy enough with them. I realized that that was not what I was looking for.
I was trying to tell a story that happened in the XVI th century, but I didn’t know well enough the music of that period. So I began trying to “learn” about the traditional and renaissance music of the diferent countries and courts of Europe.
So I did a long way until I finally decided to record this songs. But I must say, that at the same time, I began writing a book, a novel of 1000 pages about the same story. So music was not the only thing that I had to learn about…
I’ve also been playing in other bands, from rock to classical music, and of course, apart of this, I had to work somewhere, because I need to eat… (ha,ha).
What are the musical influences of Ilbeltz? Which bands of which kind of music do you listen to? Metal? Traditional? Medieval?
I like listening to any kind of music. I think that each style has got each particular point of view, and it trasmits each particular feeling. Concerning to Ilbeltz, I would say that the most important influences have been those that you say, and also Rennaissance music. I’m afraid the list would be very extensive… from any band of extrem or not extrem metal to rock, blues, jazz, classical of any period… But these last years, the kind of music I’ve mostly listened to, has been traditional and renaissance. And I think this has influenced very much the composition of the songs of this CD.
Your album is fantastic, except the sound of drums. I've read that a friend of yours has progammed the drums.
Thank you very much for your words. And yes, that’s right, the drums were programmed between a friend of mine and me. Well, this friend is also technician or engineer in a studio, and he did most of the work with the drums. Yes, as you say, I know there is people that don’t like the sound of these drums, and also there is people that don’t like the way of programming it, in some parts of the album. I accept those opinions and critics very gladly. It’s important for me to know the real opinion of the listener. From the other hand, there is people that told me that they specialy like this sound. So I’ve heared both things, both opinions. For me it does work. For me it trasmits the sensations that I needed for the songs.
Have you recorded your album? Who helped you? Can you describe us the recording process, and in particular how many instruments you have played?
Well, the recording process has been quiet intense. I recorded most of the things in my little and humble “homestudio”: accordions, violins, flutes, oboe, bass, clean and classical guitars, some percussions, vocals… And I recorded the distorsioned guitars and we programmed the drums in the studio. After that, we made the mixing and mastering in the same studio. The instruments I’ve played are: electric and classical guitars, vocals, bass, cromatich button accordion, flutes, baroc flute, a keyboard, an old drum full of dust… and I think that’s all. Imanol from the metal band “Azken Garrasia” played the violin, Albistur (ex Numen) played the oboe, Eneko de la Fuente played bodhram and alboka, Beleak from Aiumeen Basoa sang harsh vocals, Egoitz from Aiumeen Basoa played the bass in part of the last song, my mother and one of her friends sang the “irrintziak” (ancient Basque cry), Mikel Gordo programmed mostly the drums.
If I give you the money to re-record your album in a professional studio with an engineer to get a more powerful sound, do you agree or do you fear to lose the feeling of "Auskan..." ?
I think that I would use that money in the next albums that I’ve got in mind. You know, the recording of “Auskan…” has been intense, and sometimes hard, and I think its sound also represents a period of my life, so I think I wouldn’t change it. Most of the times I’ve really enjoyed recording this album, I’ve been immersed in a deep happiness, but also there were very dificult times, and these intense feelings are also represented in the recording, in the sound… About geting a more powerful sound… yes, that would be great! But it seems that it’s not easy to keep an equilibrium between the black/heavy and the traditional/renaissance parts. When mastering the songs, you’ve got to choice and take dificult decisions. My decision was the equilibrium. But yes, maybe, if I would change something... I would use a more powerful guitar sound, in some parts, for example.
Can you resume us the story your lyrics are about? Is that right that you have written an entire novel about this story?
Yes, I’ve written a novel of 1000 pages (ha,ha), and this album is based on the first chapter of the book more or less. The book is in Basque language, and the story is about some fishermen that scaped from war in the XVI th century. They scaped from war, and became pirate. So, it’s mostly an adventure story. But also apear in the book other characters strongly conected with music, a Venecian lutenist (lute player), a Basque minstrel/trobadour…
Many bands sing in their native tongue and don't care if listeners can understand or not. And by the way, many listeners don't care about lyrics. Was it important for you to translate your Euskera lyrics in English?
Yes, I prefer if people have the oportunity to understand what are the songs about. The translation that I did is not very good maybe, but at least, people can get close to the meaning, I think. The Euskera that I used in the lyrics is not the standart one, I’ve used a mix between diferent dialects, so it wasn’t easy for me to represent that mix in the translation. By the way, my English is not very good nowadays (ha,ha).
How can you define the Basque identity? What is specific to the men of the Basque Country?
And, how can we define the French identity? Engish, Italian identities? I think diferent people would give diferent answers. The same thing happens with us. The diference is, that some Basque people are forced to be French, and some Basque people are forced to be Spanish. But I would say, that the definition of our identity would be similar of the definition of other identities.
For me, the most specific thing of the Basque Country is our language. Language and culture, are the things that nowadays make French diferent from the English, for example, isn’t it? So, the same thing happens with Basque. That’s my opinion.
Do you live in a town or in the countryside? What is the place of Nature in your daily life?
I’m from a city, is not very big, but it’s a city at least. But I’ve been living in the countryside for some years too. Now I live in the city again, next to the sea. Nature is a very important thing in my life, and I suffer with the speed that “modern” life and industry are eating and destroying the forests, mountains, fields, rivers and seas. I don’t understand, how we are not smarter than that. And I don’t understand why we don’t respect the planet, the enviroment and the place where we live.
You have planned a new split release with Hanternoz and Anceisural Eritance. How have you been in touch with Antiq Records? What values do you share with these two french bands?
Yes, I’ve recorded a long song for this split! Leon from Hanternoz wrote to me asking about my album, and I also listened to one of his albums, (I’ve lastly listened to Anceisural Eritance too) and we began talking about music, history, tales, languages and things like that. I am very interested in music and culture from Britany, from around the Loire… and I liked very much a Breton tale that he told me.
He already had in mind to record and release a split based on this tale. I liked the idea so much. And answering to your question, I would say, that the main value and spirit of this split is the ancient respect to forests and nature. I’ve recorded my own version and interpretation of the idea of the tale, inventing another little tale, that would happen in Merlin’s times... Concerning to music, maybe I should’ve recorded a more extrem song, but anyway, I’m really glad about it, I enjoyed a lot composing and recording it. I must say that it’s an underground recording, concerning to the sound (in my case).
You have no label. Are you interested to ink a deal with a label or do you think you could lose control of your project?
I supose it depends on the label, and on their proposition. For me it’s important to have complete control about the musical decisions, about the music that apear in the albums, for example. And in my opinion, in the end, after covering the costs, if the label is earning money, the musicians must too. And this doesn’t happen nowadays usually.
I've also read that you prepare a release of classical stuff. Can you tell us more about that project?
Yes, this was a really great adventure. The previous summer I decided to begin composing a “concert for soloist and orchestra”, this was new for me, but I was very motivated. I began thinking about the first basic melodies and armonies, and at the same time looking for scores and videos to learn of these kind of concerts like Tchaikovsky, Tchaikin... I worked really hard. I worked for 4 months more or less, 8-10 hours every day. I wrote the scores on paper, with a pen, but I needed to write them on a computer. I’m still waiting for the computer, I haven’t been able to buy it yet. After this, I must think about the recording, and some interesting people told me that there is a chance to record it with a real orchestra. This is a crazy option, because I’m afraid I’d have to play the soloist part with the button chromatich accordion, myself. And this is too much pressure. But I will not discard it.
Metal, Classical, Traditional music, you seem to have no bounds about musical creation. Are there styles of music that you don't want to play?
Well, I’m not sure. Sometimes one can enjoy extremely playing styles and songs that wouldn’t imagen, for example when you are drunk (ha,ha).
You have also done the design of the album, including the cover. Are you interested in all forms of Art?
Yes, I think so. But in this case, It was the first time I was going to do the design, and I had some little problems with colours, brightness and darkness... you know, I was working with a portable computer... I made a lot of tests, but...
As you’ve asked about other forms of art... a couple of years ago, I began writing a script for a film. I haven’t finished it yet, I’ve only began with the first parts and minuts, but who knows, maybe when I finish the classical concert... This film is a continuation of the story of the CD and the book.
Is there any chance to see Ilbeltz on stage in the future?
From the one hand, I would like to. But, I would need a lot of help of lots of friends. Who knows... maybe if the next albums are good enough... I’ll let you know if you want, if that day arrives.
Thank you for your time, Ibai. You have the final words.
Thank you very much for your review, for this interview, and for your interest in our music. And also for your work, talking about music and spreading it. Best wishes!