Interview with ERNTE

ERNTE - Interview


Yesterday we published our review on the debut release by Swiss black metal duo ERNTE, a record that took us by surprise and which our head honcho holds in the highest regards for its sheer brilliant tonality, song-structures and myriad changes of pace which are not only provided by the drums provided by V. Noir but also supported by the well-placed switches between the vocal styles and speeds delivered by Witch N. Reason enough for us to talk with the band about their record and its influences, their lives in Switzerland and the black metal scene.

Witch N. is one of those persons from whom you immediately know that she is not “talking bs” - she doesn’t hold back her opinions but is able to provide a clear reasoning for it: there is no hiding behind the bush but there is also no reason to set the bush on fire. In that sense, her fellow harvester V. Noir is also a good companion because of being well-articulate. What you hear is what you get. If you haven’t read our review of Geist und Hexerei yet, here you can change that. And now, let’s see what Witch N. and V. Noir have to say.

Hello – as your band is still pretty new – could you tell us what are your duties in ERNTE?

V. Noir I am the founder of the band, playing guitars, bass and programming the drums. Furthermore I compose the songs and do the mix in the studio. The layout of ERNTE and the music videos are part of my duties too.

Witch N. I am the singer and write the lyrics. I play bass and violin and I do as well some songwriting. I am responsible for communication and the social media stuff of ERNTE.

ERNTE – for all our non-German-listeners it means “harvest” - do you two reap what you sowed as you have been a part of the scene for quite some time now?

Witch N. This is a question we are not able to answer yet … But when we started ERNTE, we were part of different art scenes for quite a long time and we really wanted to create something real, professional, fulfilling. We knew it would work, because we had the same visions – and we realized once more that it’s not worth wasting our time with people with all hat and no cattle.

V. Noir It’s right, I cannot yet answer this question either. But our vision of ERNTE was the right one and we are now at the beginning: Let’s plant the seeds and we will harvest later.

The other idea connected to your band name might be that you are contributing a lot of sounds to this record, all of them rather dark and sinister. Are these instruments the seeds for the sound of ERNTE?

Witch N. No, this was not the idea of the band name, but you’re right, we have a lot of dark and sinister sound influences, all coming from our personal musical background and our personal taste and life experiences: death in all its forms, Doom and Death Metal, Dark Ambient sounds and of course Black Metal.

The name transports a certain darkness by its own sound – is that another reason? On the other hand – everyone needs the results of harvests to survive, it is nothing short of one of the most important actions in human life. Do you like that duality of dark sound vs. bright meaning?

V. Noir I just like the fact that man is born and will die again. During his lifetime he should give his best.


You seem to use many folk tales from the rich history of Switzerland – is that perception correct?

Witch N. Actually I don’t use Swiss folk tales at all for my lyrics – I mostly write about personal experiences, gloomy and dark themes like the story of the very last person on earth, condemned to die eternally and to experience the absolute nothingness like in ”The ending void”. Sometimes my lyrics deal with inner demons, like in ”Killing Phantasmagoria”. Or I create tales of witchcraft, the power of nature, the spirits and the ghosts in there. By the way, I like to use female protagonists or female powers, for example in ”When the moon is calling”, where the female protagonist invokes the power and magic of the moon.

Which stories did you choose for the record? I figure a song like ”Betyle (The Holy Stone)” has such a background in Swiss folk lore and maybe ”Montane Mastery” too?

Witch N. “Betyle” is the name of an iconic stone in the ancient world. This stone cult was widely spread around the Mediterranean Sea – you see, it’s not Swiss really. The song is about the tragedy of killing for superstition. So it’s more a critic then a glorification of this stone cult…With ”Montane Mastery” we are getting closer to Switzerland: It is about the mightiness of the mountains and the natural spirits living there.

The record starts with one of the most interesting intros I heard in a while, because the first thing you hear is a Glockenspiel and then the violin kicks in. Combined with a few synth sounds that is everything you hear for the first three minutes. How important was that intro for you?

Witch N. We wanted to start this album with something exceptional that does not sound necessarily what you expect a Black Metal album to start with – something strange, a bit weird and still dark and gloomy. And we think we achieved this goal. By the way: There are no synths at all, it’s only violin, Glockenspiel and drums.

V. Noir For me, the intro is very fascinating and I had a kind of ritual in mind at the beginning of the album. We go the way of the “procession” with the listener. Once we have reached our destination, the ceremony or the funeral begins.

Is the name “Prozession” (engl.: “procession”) a hint at you taking the listener onto a voyage and that first song is you leading him towards the start of that voyage?

Witch N. Yes, ”Prozession” is sort of a ritual, an initiation for the listener – join us and we will show you ghost and witchcraft.

V. Noir Exactly. That’s how it’s meant.

At the same time ”Prozession” has that sacral, religious background – how does that work within the context of a record that is called Geist und Hexerei (“Ghost(s) and Witchcraft”)?

Witch N. The term “Prozession” is the perfect name for this intro because it surely has this ritualistic feeling, like a very old pagan procession. In these old times, the belief in witchcraft and ghosts was still alive.

V. Noir A procession is not necessarily a Christian-religious act at all – even if it’s very often understood in this context.

Do you believe in witchcraft? If so, how does it manifest itself in our world?

Witch N. Yes, but not in an esoteric way. I rather believe that if we experience and gather the power of everything that surrounds us and everything we can perceive with all our senses. Therein resides a mighty instrument to achieve our goals and wishes. That’s what witchcraft means to me.

V. Noir I don’t like to call it witchcraft although I believe in it too. For me it is the form of lower and higher magic – as well projecting oneself through the inner force with the help of nature around us.

I love the dynamics on the record – a song is never just one thing nor the other – it is always black metal, of course, but you incorporate many other elements into its sound. Sometimes a bit post-rock-y, nearly ambient, sometimes doomy and slow. How did your songwriting go about? Did you write the songs collaboratively?

Witch N. Thank you for the compliment, your opinion supports our own impression of Geist und Hexerei. Most of the songs originate from V. Noir – the songwriting mostly went very fast, and not necessarily collaboratively. I just listened to the almost finished songs with guitar and drums, gave some inputs regarding the length of a part or a melody – then I wrote the lyrics and we recorded the voice. We were very creative and efficient at this time. You know, we wrote and recorded the whole album within 4 months. Our second album is already finished by the way!

V. Noir Even if the roses go to me, Witch N. contributed a large part to my inspiration. Most of the songs I wrote and played at night. It was at a time when I had a lot of inspiration and processing in my life. In addition, many songs were created as the result of personal development. It is best understood through the words of Hermann Hesse: ”Whoever wants to be born has to destroy a world”.

Witch – how independent were you with your violin parts for “Prozession”?

Witch N. I only used violin for the intro ”Prozession”, and I was completely independent – we both only had a vague idea of how the intro should sound, and then I tried something out. First there was a single melody, but during the recording process many other ideas joined in… It was a very cool experience and I am totally happy with the result.

You call your music “True Hellvetic Black Metal” – how serious is that “trademark”?

Witch N. You are on the right path with this question! Surely it is not to be taken deadly serious, we rather play with the “trve Norwegian black metal” term. At the same time we pay tribute to the Norwegian pioneers which we really adore. But the “Swiss” in it is of course not just a joke – we are a Swiss band playing Black Metal in a way that is deeply inspired by our Swiss background.

I guess a lot of inspiration comes from Norwegian Black Metal, right? Can you name a few of the artists that inspire you?

Witch N. To stick with the Norwegians first, I am inspired mainly by the old Kampfar records, by Urgehal or Khold. But a lot of inspiration comes as well from other scenes all over the world: Turia, Krieg, Baxaxaxa, Ultha, Urfaust, Afsky, Begotten – just to name a few bands.

V. Noir There is really an incredible number of bands that have inspired me over the years, and new ones are added every day. But if you want to list a few then it is very clear: Gespenst, Gaahls Wyrd, Begotten, Pest, Asagraum, Wallfahrer and not to forget Mavorim.

Watch the video for “Killing Phantasmagoria” here:

One can hardly talk about Scandinavian Black Metal without mentioning its problematic sides – which then transported to many other scenes as well. Can you differentiate between the art and the artist?

Witch N. Definitely yes. You know, if the lyrics are explicit in a politically right wing direction I don’t want to listen to the song! But I think this is basically a philosophical question that everyone has to answer for themselves. In my opinion, art should generally be independent from the artist, from the character behind it.

V. Noir I totally agree with Witch N. in her statements and I also think that it’s entirely possible to separate art from artist. It is important however that no one is harmed in any form of action. Well, with a burning church my heart gets warm.

Witch N., your last band had some roots in Northern Scandinavia – now this is Swiss Black Metal – where do you feel more at home?

Witch N. As I am a true Swiss, I feel more at home in Swiss Black Metal. (Ashtar is still alive and active by the way).

You are a woman in a pretty men-dominated, how do you feel about the scene in general and your position in it?

Witch N. I always felt that as a woman you instantly get more attention, but then you need to be twice as good as the male musicians to be taken serious. Generally, there is a tendency to get more open towards gender roles in the scene today. Nevertheless there are a lot of clichés still around and it is still not common to be a front woman or just a female musician and vocalist in an extreme metal band. I have been doing this for almost 20 years now, and my attitude regarding this issue has got more relaxed. I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist but still I think it’s important that some prejudices get smashed and the listeners don’t judge a band based on the gender of its members!

V. Noir – you have been an artist within the scene but mostly not on stage right?

V. Noir Not on stage as a musician, yes. But I worked as a visual artist for many years, have given exhibitions (and still do them today) and made art films. In this regard, I am in the spotlight even without ERNTE.

The cover of
their debut

Did you also do the artwork for Geist und Hexerei?

V. Noir Yes. Incidentally, this also has the advantage that you can implement the idea exactly as you see and want it. I also don’t like compromises or accept half-hearted work.

And now our infamous quickfire questions:

Swallow the Sun or Empyrium?
Witch N. Swallow the Sun
V. Noir Swallow the Sun

Mayhem or Celtic Frost?
Witch N. Mayhem
V. Noir What is Celtic Frost???

Emperor or Ihsahn?
Witch N. Emperor
V. Noir Emperor

The Swiss mountains or the vast Finnish snowlands of the north?
Witch N. The Swiss mountains
V. Noir Yes, the Swiss mountains!

Violin or Bass?
Witch N. both
V. Noir Bass

Doom or Black Metal?
Witch N. both
V. Noir Black Metal

Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride?
Witch N. Paradise Lost
V. Noir neither

Night or Day?
Witch N. Day
V. Noir Night :-)

Symphonies or Concertos?
Witch N. Symphonies
V. Noir Symphonies

Beer or Wine?
Witch N. Beer in the summertime, wine in the wintertime
V. Noir Wine

Streaming or Vinyl?
Witch N. Tape!
V. Noir Vinyl

Summer vacations – at the sea or in the mountains?
Witch N. in the mountains
V. Noir Clearly in the mountains. I also hate summer!

Watch the video for “The Ending Void” right here: