Interview: Hyperborea

Recently the Bulgarian death metallers of Hyperborea released their new album titled Umbra, which we reviewed here. Now DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen also interviewed Hyperborea’s guitarist Yordan Kanchev and vocalist Dancho Ivanov.

Hey, congratulations with your new album, Umbra. It’s really nice.

Yordan: Thank you! It is nice to hear it being appreciated.

Dancho: Hi! Thank you very much. We are very glad to hear that.

How are the reactions you got on it so far?

Yordan: Actually pretty good reactions. People like the sound, the playing. They say it is pleasant to hear the music and it makes them move their heads. I think this is more than enough! We put a lot of effort in this album, and it feels so good when it is being appreciated.

Dancho: The album has been accepted very well so far. People that come to see us live already know not only the singles but some of the other songs that were released online as well. All this makes us very thankful and happy.

There’s 12 years between Umbra and its predecessor, Cryogenic Somnia. What was the reason for that?

Yordan: Time flies, a? Haha 🙂 Yes, you are right, it is a very long time for an album to be released. We had some lineup challenges, people coming and going from the band. It is very difficult to find the right people, because the right person is a whole complex of qualities, and you can imagine how difficult it is to form the team. Here in Bulgaria, there are not so many people who are into death metal and at the same time, who are good musicians enough to play this kind of music. You see that we have a Greek drummer, and he is great, both as a drummer and as a person, and we are lucky that he lives in Sofia.  

Dancho: Well, we are mostly a live band. Making albums is great but the real joy comes from playing those tunes live in front of real people. Then the music comes alive. It is no longer something intimate that is shared between a recording played on the sound system, and a young boy or a girl in their room. It is a shared experience for a whole community. As most of the underground bands, we make a living in areas far away from music. Nevertheless, this genre and the band are our passion; we don’t do it for money. It is true, there is none, ha-ha. Our revenue barely covers the expenses. Travel cost, hostels, booking of clubs, lightning, backline, sound engineer, security and so on and so on. Often those are expenses the band has to cover from its own pocket. Not to mention the gear, expenses on behalf of every band member to stay in shape technically and psychologically. Often we take vacations from work to focus on a show when we are exhausted. All these things require motivation, very good discipline in personal life and work and dedication to the band. This is not for everyone I guess. However, to find the right replacement takes time, sometimes you invest this time for someone to whom it takes a year to feel for himself that this is not his way of living. By that time, the band starts again everything from square one.

It’s the first Hyperborea album on which drummer Antonis Trochopoulos and vocalist Dancho Ivanov can be heard. Did that change something to the creation process and if so, what changed?

Dancho: I’m speaking for the whole band. When I came along all the missing puzzles came together, ha-ha. Antonis is on another level. High-class musician. He rearranged the already made drum parts of a couple of songs and created the beats for the rest of the album. Only specific parts of the drums were altered by the rest of the band until the recording. By the time I joined, most of the lyrics had been already written. Pretty much this creative work was done by our guitarist Yordan Kanchev, who, I think, has done a very good job.

Yordan Kanchev: Yes, I am very, very happy that they started to participate in the creation process – Antonis have some riffs in Umbra, and Dancho – some lyrics. This makes me very happy, because I have always seen the work of Hyperborea (and always wanted it to be this way) to be a collaborative process, where everybody has something to say. Besides, they are great drummer and vocalist.

One song on Umbra, Unwelcome, is about global warming. What do you think about the way the global warming issues are treated currently?

Dancho: Global warming is just a consequence and it appears in the song as a means for nature to wake up deadly bacteria and wipe out the monkey problem. As a whole, the song doesn’t treat the greenhouse effect and the rising of the temperatures. But yeah, the song is about destructive activities of humanity. Nobody comes home and starts spilling oil and plastic waste around. It is just not natural to do so, then why do we do it to our home planet? The truth is that we are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons. I don’t want to go deeper into that global problem because it’s just a very individual one. We just don’t care. We are so used to be told what to buy and what to do, that a few words on the TV could turn our heads the other way and helps us to sleep peacefully.

Yordan: Global warming is not being treated at all, as it should be. This is an extremely serious problem, and nobody will be able to escape from it. Humanity is being very, very light-minded with it. Global warming and pollution are the single biggest problems in the world today. I think that even the other traditionally big problem – the availability of nuclear weapons – is not as big nowadays, as it used to be during the Cold war, as these two. The risk of a full-scale nuclear war now is not as grave as it used to be, and certainly not as grave as the risk of global warming and mass pollution. However, the song Unwelcome has a deeper meaning, apart from the global warming warning, and I will leave it to you and your readers to discover 😉

For Umbra you signed with Art Gates Records. What makes them the best record label for Hyperborea at this moment?

Yordan: They are a very serious label, who respects us and are experienced in what they do. They make a good promotion of Umbra. We are happy to have signed with them.

How was the release show you recently had?

Dancho: It was a blast. My neck still hurts. The club was full, the faces were happy, we were all exhausted in the end. I hope every single one in the crowd felt the same energy. It was fantastic.

Speaking about shows, can we expect some Hyperborea shows in support of Umbra in the near future? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?

Yordan: I am sure there are some really nice clubs in the Netherlands, where we can play, and we will make everything possible to come 🙂 After all, it is not so far away from Bulgaria. Otherwise, we plan a little tour in Bulgaria in the beginning of next year, and after that we plan to visit the neighboring countries. After that, we’ll see – always open for opportunities to play 🙂

Dancho: Wow, we would surely like to do that. As I said, we are a live band so going to new places and playing in front of people that have never heard your band live is something we love. We are used to seeing how reactions first appear on the people’s faces and then the mighty roar of the crowd is so rewarding. Definitely, we would like to spread the area of touring this year. I hope that we will meet.

I understand that you just released Umbra and that it’s probably too early to start talking about a successor, but can fans hope that it will take less time compared to Umbra?

Yordan: Haha, this is my hope, too 🙂 Another 12 years? No way, I will be 50 by then 🙂

Dancho: Because of the preparations for the end of the year and January dates now we won’t speak about it, but be sure we won’t wait another twelve years for a successor.

You come from Bulgaria. How is the Bulgarian metalscene?

Yordan: The Bulgarian metal scene is – traditionally vibrant, with lots of bands fighting or collaborating with each other in their strife for success in metal – and traditionally under the radar. If you go to the Bulgarian section of the Metal Archives, you will see how many bands we have had, and still have. And these are not all. However, quantity does not mean quality – there has not been even one internationally renowned Bulgarian metal band. Take your country for example – you have also lots of unknown bands, but you also have Asphyx, Pestilence, Altar, Within Temptation, Epica, Ayreon, Delain, Legion of the Damned, …

Dancho: Unfortunately, or perhaps for joy, the scene in Bulgaria is not particularly materially rewarding. Surely, we have awesome musicians here who form fantastic bands but could not keep them for too long. Then they join another band and as I told you things get difficult to maintain. However, those who still survive are on international level. Sadly, this industry is not well developed here and not being supported well financially. It all depends on the people to support their local scene.

Any Bulgarian metal bands you would recommend, besides Hyperborea of course?

Yordan and Dancho: We can recommend Past Redemption, The Revenge Project, Hecktic, Velian, 8 m/s, Dimholt, Eufobia, Impenitence, Mass Cremation, Odd Crew, Grimaze, Hate Campaign. We are certainly missing somebody.

Thanks for your answers. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Yordan: Thank you for your interview! I wish you and the readers of DutchMetalManiac all the best in life, be healthy, stay true and be kind to each other!

Dancho: Thank you for the interview. As for your readers, I would like to wish them to be healthy and committed to things they love. Support your local scene, desire for more, respect each other and keep the metal faith alive.

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