Paysage d’hiver: Wintherr Speaks

To remove almost all subjectivity and embodiment from a piece of art, to have such strong a vision as to provoke an atmosphere of complete and utter isolation within the kernel of nature and to deliver this vision with the conviction and honesty of a knowing artist, that is Paysage d’Hiver.

The creations of Wintherr have left profound marks on many, including this LURKER. The treasured back catalogue of this influential wanderer left me eager to understand why there has been no new magic from Wintherr’s camp since 2007. What follows is an interview conducted in the subdued winter of 2012 in an effort to bring all LURKERs back to the eternal, unflinching visions better conveyed by nobody.

The music of Paysage d’hiver is very inhuman. The music is heavily based on different modes of nature, winter and night. It takes me to places completely devoid of human interaction. Can you tell us about Paysage d’hiver’s interest in nature, winter and darkness, in particular?

Winter has and will always be a very intense, mystical and solitary concept. It forces deep self-introspection and provides a mirror-image of what nature itself offers during that specific season: everything is asleep, shut down to it’s very core, giving a very pure feeling of what truly IS. I personally think this idea is very important, not only to myself, but to nature itself. So winter, or more specifially, being outside experiencing nature in winter, not only offers me uncomfortable feelings, such as coldness, darkness, misanthropy. It also provides me with the opportunity to face my surroundings and inner self with a crystal like clarity.

The strong connection with Paysage d’hiver towards the aformentioned aspects is down to my own comfort with the season of winter. It offers silence which makes it possible to go deep into my own mind and learn about my own emotion. It’s very much like a self styled kind of meditation… which of course influences the music a lot.

Paysage d’hiver is strongly connected to my innerself, it’s an expression of my innerself in terms words could never convey. So, mirrored by my surroundings, winter is the perfect “platform” for the “concept” of Paysage d’hiver. Yet it is also simply a feeling, I am sure some people know exactly what kind of feeling I am talking about and for the others, it’s quite impossible to put this feeling into words.

What goes into a Paysage d’hiver release? With compositions that sometimes hit the hour long mark, where does one even begin when composing a demo?

I just begin! I am a highly imaginative person, so most of what you hear is basically pictures put into “music”. I can’t really tell you how composing happens. It just happens. Always new, always different. Really depends on what is going on inside my head and also what experiences I have, be it spiritually, impressions of nature, thoughts, feelings, etc. Basically everything I am at that moment floats into it. It’s like opening a gate to within, putting behind the everyday-conciousness. A view of myself in a more intuitive manner. This might sound very egocentric, but if I open this gate, once I am in that state of being totally inside myself, many things from outside, let’s say from the cosmos, float into my perception as well. I think I kind of knock out my every-day-conciousness and thus have the possibility of a broader, purer form of perception. A form of meditation by making sounds and melodies? I think that might be it.

Your chosen vehicle of expression drifts between ambience and black metal. What do these chosen genres mean to you, personally?

Monotonous, ritualistic black metal riffing or ambient soundscapes just seem to be a perfect vehicle for what I’m doing. Of course I used to listen to these genres a lot and that is because they transport the most intense images of all genres for me. Thus it was natural to use these forms as the vehicle for Paysage d’hiver.

Why the name Paysage d’hiver?

I didn’t feel around for a “Cliché” kind of name at that time for my music. Paysage d’hiver appeared to me by coincidence, it was not intentional. It just seemed perfect!

Care to share some art that you enjoy and influences you?

Musicwise, I listen to many different kinds of music. Mostly it is dramatic, hypnotic and psychedelic music. What ever draws my attention in whatever form, I care about. This could be the arrangement of a tune or a melody, or a sound which really sucks me in.

I don’t see much point of telling you names though.

For myself, Paysage d’hiver magnifies the colossal power nature has over us as individuals. There is a similar dialectic within the work of Darkspace. It is essentially Schopenhauer’s full feeling of the sublime – knowledge of the vastness of the universe and the consequent insignificance of the observer, gaining a kind of bizarre pleasure from beholding violent, destructive objects. I have yet to come across an artist who can convey this like you. A Paysage d’hiver piece echoes the sentiment of Caspar David Friedrich’s work, such as ‘Die gescheiterte Hoffnung’ and ‘Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer’ perfectly. Is this feeling of the sublime an important part of your art? Can you elaborate on this?

Honestly I have never read any works of Schopenhauer, so I can’t answer your question properly. Something to remedy, isn’t it? But yes, the feeling of the sublime is an important part of Paysage d’hiver for three reasons. First, it’s simply a great feeling. Second, by going down deep into myself I feel the greatness and godly spirit of nature. Third, I get the same feeling when surrounded by nature. I try to capture this feeling of the sublime within my music.

Paysage d’hiver releases have a very lo-fi, raw sounding production. Why?

Because of the atmosphere! If I had the possibility to have the same atmosphere with hi-fi sound, I would do that. So far, this has not been possible for me. For Paysage d’hiver the atmosphere is the most important aspect. So the sound is more of an artistic approach than anything else. This kind of sound really opens me up to the possibilities of the imagination than clear sounding instruments would. I don’t want to see a jerk with a lousy guitar and even lousier playing skills (meaning: me) before my eyes but the sublime power of nature, great landscapes of winter, mountains and woods.

Was there ever a direction to Paysage d’hiver? Early work references journeys to fortresses and ‘Der Baumfrau’, while latter day material is more focused solely on nature.

I think I have already depicted the reasons and directions of and for making this music in former answers. I don’t agree with the disjunction of forteresses and later solely nature. Paysage d’hiver is a journey and thus focusses upon different aspects of the wanderer. “Nacht” for instance doesn’t simply refer to a nightly winter forest, it refers to a state of benightedness. It is all very metaphorical because it all refers to my personal situation at a given time. Except put into a story and every album is a chapter of that whole story. It deals with different aspects of my world that I have built within my imagination which I call “Paysage d’hiver” (of course). But the chapters are not linear like within a book, nor are they linear corresponding to the release dates of the albums. I want the listeners to use their own imagination, feel free to mix the chapters however you feel suits you best. Use your imagination! That is imperative. All you think is correct, it’s not that there is a specific intention behind this music. Make your own journey with it. Of course I did mine and it strongly reffers to this journey, but it is most likely totally different to anybody else.

Previously you have mentioned how Paysage d’hiver is largely a personal voyage. How have you responded to the attention to your project, the sky-rocketing prices that original cassettes fetch and the obsession in the underground with your art in general?

At first, I felt honoured that there are actually people out there interested in what I am doing. I don’t think this is self-evident. Actually I didn’t expect that at all! When I first released “Steineiche” I was very proud of it and thought that there would be a lot of interest in it. Well, there wasn’t. This might sound strange but back then this was the case. So I didn’t really have any intentions on releasing anything else because I didn’t see the point in bothering people with music nobody is interested in. After 6 more “Demos” I still felt that somehow this should be available, so I made those tapes. With the rather bad experience that was “Steineiche” I never thought they would get much attention. It was never intended to create any kind of “hype”.

I try to be strict with what I am doing, I don’t want to raise the availability. I consider the production of tapes and vinyl more as collector’s item. With the unlimited release of the CD’s, it is possible to purchase Paysage d’hiver’s music without any big, expensive problems.

The self titled demo is arguably the most ‘black metal-centered’ demo in your back catalogue. ‘Welt Aus Eis’ may just represent the aesthetic peak of the black metal movement in general. Could you please elaborate on the concept of this album and the meaning of ‘Welt Aus Eis’ in particular?

This whole album is an “overview” of the world of Paysage d’hiver. Thus the title of the album. There’s nothing specific to tell you about that album or song, it would rather be interesting to hear what you have to say about it, what opinions the listener brings to it…

I can’t put into words what I see within that title, I tried to give a picture of it through the music and lyrics and artwork and what I wanted to say with it speaks within the collaboration of those three aspects. It is not a question of understanding, but rather of perceiving, so what should I tell you?

We live in a society dominated by technology. It determines how we socialize, entertain ourselves and earn a living. Do you think modern man has lost touch with the realities of nature? What are the implications of this?

We are living in a dualistic world, so there are two sides to the coin. It all depends on how we deal with and look at it. In my personal opinion. I think humanity as a whole has to change quite dramatically. We have to change our way of thinking which would of course change our approach towards nature, but also towards technology. I don’t romanticise any ancient culture being closer to nature, so I don’t proclaim “back to nature”, but rather “forward to nature”. I think it all depends on how we deal with ourselves and our surroundings, especially as a whole, as one entity. On a very personal scale, I think we have the possibility to have a highly technologized world but still have a strong connection towards nature. I don’t think those two things collide with each other but they do if we carry on putting our selfmade monetary system in the centre of everything! I think this is the illness of our “western” society.

Thanks to globalization this affects the rest of the world too. It affects everyone because of a very small number of people who are still playing sand-box games. This might sound totally unrealistic and hippie-romantic but just imagine what would change if we eliminated money from the world. We are so used to it that we cannot imagine life without it. Nonetheless it is us who have invented and given it value, it is not a natural phenomenon. I don’t say money is generally evil but it is with what has been made out of it. The former idea of having an easy, open-ended trading system is ok but if you see that nowadays only about 5-6% of the money is actually being traded, there is definitely something wrong. The system has fortunes for only a very very small amount of people and only disadvantages for the rest. If we would change that to be fortunate for everybody, most problems in this world, including exhaustion of nature and it’s resources, would not even factor into the equation.

So. Basically I think the main problems of the whole of humanity lie within this western capitalist ideology we cling too. The system is broken and we must fix it. Opening your eyes to the realities of the recent economic collapses, monetary system abuse and underlying causes makes me sick.

It has been quite on both the Paysage d’hiver and Kunsthall front for close to 4 years. Can we expect anything new in the foreseeable future? How have you been satisfying the creative side of your brain in recent years?

I have had much less time for concentrating on my musical projects recently… for different reasons. Mainly down to my lack of time as I also have other things in my life which have become more important. I have a son, girlfriend, I need to work, my personal demands on the quality of my music have grown and thus it takes more time. I cannot only focus upon art in general for my personal development.

But “Das Tor” will be finished very soon. So yes, there will be new stuff coming in the forseeable future!

When will the winterjackets arrive?!

I am working on it, they will come, that is for sure! But when? I don’t know. Wait and see!

Do you enjoy hiking and exploring? The Alps must provide huge amounts of inspiration for you.

Yes, definitely!

Can you tell us a little bit about your opinions on the following:

Black Metal:

Old recordings still amaze me, not so much the newer stuff, which lacks the magic I am looking for…

The relationship between man and nature:

It has to and will reach a new level of cooperation in near future. I think dramatic changes are inevitable.

The purpose of art:

Exploring the possibilities of your own imagination and mind.

Climate Change:

Does it change? Who to believe?? Al Gore? Nuts…. ”don’t believe what THEY say”. I am sceptic. Pollution in general is a terrible thing though, there is no doubting that.

You'll find me in the vast wilderness of British Columbia, talking metal at LURKER, or working in publishing and front-end web/eBook development.

10 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Josh

    Cordial salutations to Wintherr, for taking me to places I would not have otherwise gone. Also of course to Lurker, for making this discourse accessible.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Andreas Bauer

    A refreshingly down to earth interview without all the esoteric bullshit that other genre artists usually spew forth.

  • […] while acts like Paysage d’hiver and Graveland can evoke thoughts of crawling through tundra and forest armed to the teeth, Skyrim […]

  • Reply March 17, 2012

    lllmphmxlchlblrnsvgd

    thank’s sp much for making this interview dude!

  • Reply May 22, 2012

    crepuscular

    Hail Wintherr! thanks to Lurker for this amazing interview.
    regards from South America

  • Reply June 15, 2012

    Ritual Sound

    That was a great interview with a wonderful artist. Thanks.

  • Reply November 13, 2012

    Daniel

    This is great! Shout out to Wintherr for making such captivating music! And Lurker for this great interview, of course. Wintherr seems like an unpretentious, down to earth guy.

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    Daniel

    Just started listening to Paysage d’hiver, so thanks for this interview!!!

  • Reply March 9, 2013

    Amelia

    Wonderful interview! Paysage d’Hiver has been my favorite band since I discovered Schattengang last summer, and I must say this interview definitely solidified my respect for Wintherr as an artist and a person. Paysage d’Hiver definitely does what Wintherr set out to accomplish, as every album transports me to the world of nature which I too love. The overwhelming feelings nature gives me are so perfectly translated in Paysage d’Hiver! Also, loved and fully agreed with his remarks on lo-fi production and limited runs of tapes/vinyl. As a proud owner of Das Tor, I must say it is very special knowing that I have one of only 300 out there! Keep up the good work, Wintherr, and GREAT interview!

  • Reply May 30, 2014

    Moonshine

    Excellent interview. As a longtime fan its refreshing to read about the human behind this very unhuman and cosmic music. I raise my hat to you gentlemen.

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