During the Durbuy Rock Festival 2019, we met and interviewed the very friendly but intimidating Vorph, singer of the Swiss metal band Samael with whom we had a pleasant time during both the interview and their concert.

So, Samael is the name of a demon but it is also the name of your band, can you tell me what is behind all that?

That’s right what you say but since then, we’ve “tamed” that name. It was chosen because indeed it was the name of a rebellious angel, a kind of bogeyman, someone who punishes. And then there was something behind that drew us in there. But there for a long time, I used to say that it is a little the name of the entity that we form when we are all four, and this even if we are not the same four since. The dynamic has changed.

There is always a band spirit, a kind of fifth person who is embodied by the band itself. It is this entity that makes us more than four. It is true that in addition we have an entourage that follows us.

So the first albums were rather qualified as “black metal”. Now people are more likely to say it’s more industrial metal. How would you explain this musical transition and how would you define your sound?

We do not really define ourselves. We’re a metal band, I think we do not have a lot of doubts about it. That’s where we come from. After that, we always tried to play things that we like. When we discover something new we try to tame it and to use it in our way. I think that’s what all artists do. You take things that are around you, then you do “your own cooking”. We never decided “here we are going to do that”. It came nicely but it’s even happened accidentally.

I often take this example, we released a mini album in 1995 with a fully programmed song called Static Journey. At no time when we did this song we thought it would be the next step for the band. Then we had a change of line up, our keyboardist left the band. Xy who was the composer of the keyboard parts got into the keyboard. We programmed the drums and that’s been a huge change. That’s one of the reasons we have a tendency to go to the industrial electronic sounds because it allows us to work with sounds that are different. There are also different possibilities, we do not have to have drum sounds systematically to make the percussion. We can use samples. So, it opened doors and even there we do not know what we’ll do later but it’s true that if I look at the latest albums we have tried more to be in cohesion than in experimentation.

What is behind your music? What themes do you like to cover in your songs? What is the message you want to transmit to people who listen to you?

It has changed. I’m not even sure we really have favourite themes. We talk about things that affect us at the moment, things that make us react. In any case, I do not think that we are a politically driven band. On the last album for example it is the first time, in my opinion, that there are reflections on the current world. It was something very interior before that, not philosophical but rather a personal search.

And there for the last album there is probably a sort of more marked echo to the outside world. I think it’s also the fact that information is always present. So it’s hard to ignore everything that exists. So, inevitably there are songs that infiltrate and that are added to that.

How is the underground and metal scene in Switzerland?

There is one like everywhere. There are clubs. So, I think we have the same problem as Belgium. We are a small country. So to exist we can not play exclusively in Switzerland. It’s not possible, we have to export ourselves. This is one of the reasons why bands who want to continue have to play outside their native country but there are always new bands coming up with something interesting. For example our bass player has his own project, Herod, which I really find pretty good. There is Zeal & Ardor, it’s band we talk about a lot, I find it really interesting. Afterwards there are several bands like Coroner who started before us. In this case they are about the same generation as ourselves, even if they had a head start. They already had two albums while we had released our first demo.

Is Samael as popular in Switzerland than abroad?

It’s going pretty well in the sense that as I said it’s a small country. We never really toured in Switzerland but we play, I think, between one and two times a year there systematically. Then there is German-speaking Switzerland and French-speaking Switzerland. And usually we alternate, this year we do not play in French-speaking Switzerland we will finish our tour in Zürich. So here our Swiss date is booked. After that, we will play a festival a little later in the year. I think if we do between one and five concerts in Switzerland a year is enough.

If you had to recommend one band or artist to our readers, which one would it be? The last thing you want to listen to for example.

If the last hours of my life are counted, I think I would rather listen to classical music and here I would say Mozart’s Requiem.

What are your plans with the band for 2019?

In the immediate future, we have our tour which starts in May. So here it is going to be our news in the present. We have two albums coming out next week, these are augmented reissues. Each will have a bonus CD, these are our albums Lux Mundi and Solar Soul. Lux Mundi is remixed and remastered and Solar Soul only remastered. And then we’ll see.

As I said, there will be some festivals this summer. We will probably make dates in the east before the end of the year because the tour we are doing in May is only around Central Europe. So we will certainly go to Poland, probably to Russia. And then we’ll see.

I leave you the last word of the interview.

Enjoy life, it seems like a good thing to do.

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