Gaoth, if you have had the privilege of listen to it, is one of the most atmospheric, haunting, and deep black metal albums that has come out this year. It’s truly a work of art and if you haven’t heard “Season’s Dying Glory” you really need to treat yourself, here’s my review but don’t just take my word for it. I caught up with Fionn Statfort, the man behind the band, and asked him a few questions about what Gaoth means on a more metaphysical level.
Resounding Footsteps: I’ve looked up Gaoth a few times and there seems to be about three or four different definitions. What does it mean to you and why did you choose it?
Fionn: The name itself was conceived only at the final stages of writing the debut album, if we take the prosaic translation, it translates from Irish simply into ‘Wind’. However, the etymology brings us through antiquity to it’s Indo-European root derivative ‘Ghai’, meaning ‘Drive’, ‘Storm’ and so on. To me, it conveys the idea of an unseen power at work which directs and influences our reality, but also there’s the inescapable connection to Nature, and the absence of any human or ‘ego-ist’ element. It mirrored what I was trying to achieve with the album, I suppose that’s why I chose it.
RS: How did Gaoth start? Was this something you’ve wanted for a while or was this spur of the moment inspiration?
FS: Gaoth was in progress for over two years before the album came to life. You could say I had cut my teeth on various other projects throughout the years, which refined the direction I wanted to take and improved my musicianship to the point where I felt capable and inspired enough to put together an album. It’s always been extremely important for me to have a musical statement that is distinctly my own, that captures subtleties and palpable feeling that are distinctly my own, and it’s something I’ve been doing since day one of my musical journey.
RS: How does the writing process differ musically from Celtachor to Gaoth, if it differs at all?
FS: It does indeed differ a great deal, for one, being the sole member of a band allows for an almost instinctive ‘knowingness’ when writing music, the ability to take an idea and convolute it or sculpt in a way that’s not necessarily as instinctual when writing music for a group. Saying that, what we do in Celtachor is inspired and directed by Irish Mythological stories – so we always have a base concept on which to build our ideas. In a way, that makes what we are trying to achieve quite clear cut and direct, where as with Gaoth, it’s more like brining together ideas from the opaque depths of being. I enjoy both, and both offer unique challenges and nuances.
RS: Do you see this project having a second album or did “Season’s Dying Glory” say everything you wanted to say?
FS: I am already writing a second album for Gaoth, I make absolutely no statement regarding when it will be released, but there will be a second album and most likely more after. I intend to keep going, keep exploring, keep refining and brining to life what inspires me to write this type of music.
RS: Going forward, what do you see yourself being able to achieve with Gaoth that you might not be able to do with Celtachor? In the end, what do you think your impact on metal will be?
FS: Ultimately, the need to channel and piece together art from individual experience is important, in that regard, you could say what I achieve is an indelible footprint which is distinctly my own. On the other side, with Celtachor, I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved collectively, the experiences we’ve had (and still have) performing across Europe and the results we’ve had from our second album. In many ways, both are two sides of the same coin. I haven’t much thought about what the end result might be, I’m more concerned about expressing successfully that which comes from within than surveying its impact on the metal genre. I suppose time will tell.
RS: Which instrument is the easiest for you to play? Which is the hardest?
FS: Interesting question. ‘Easiest’ in terms of being able to convey the emotion I desire is the guitar, virtually everything I write begins on guitar, however, technically, keyboard is probably the easiest in its execution, due to the lengthy drones and uncomplicated chords I use to complement the guitar. The hardest to perform is actually the vocals. I really have to prepare myself and find the correct frame of mind before I even attempt to record voice. This normally takes about 2 or 3 days of mental preparation, as well as physical vocal exercises.
RS: Why metal? What drew you to black metal in the first place?
FS: Metal, Black Metal rather, was the only genre capable of conveying what I’m trying to express with Gaoth. The first ever experience I had with Black Metal was stumbling upon the Enslaved side of the ‘Hordanes Land’ split with Emperor (back in the pre-internet days of actually searching for new music in a record store). Initially, I had never seen anything like the stark black and white cover art or the crimson Gothic script stamped across the spine of the CD, something about it gave an air of seriousness or deeper meaning. Needless to say, I was truly mind-blown by it’s contents, and have been hooked ever since.
RS: Do you ever see Gaoth being a live band? Even for a one off show?
FS: Maybe eventually, If I found musicians passionate about the music in the same way that I am. For now I’m more concerned about writing the music than performing it live, and indeed, there’s so much going on I’m not sure how exactly I would replicate it live. Only time will tell…