Folk bands seem to be gaining a lot of popularity these days. The band we present below, however, is not just another folk metal act. Their music is very interesting; it is a blend of power metal, classic metal, folk and, above all, fantasy! You will find more details about their latest album …Of Exile here. Scythia recently released a new music video to the track “Spirit of the Quest” – watch it below and then head down to check out Curt’s interview with Scythia’s Dave Khan. Lots of interesting things to be learnt below.
Curt: Congrats on …Of Exile! I thought it was a well played and enjoyable album. Have you received generally positive reactions to it?
Dave Khan: The response to Of Exile has been surprisingly polarized. There are those who dislike it and complain about the production and the fact it’s not heavy enough. On the other hand, others have sung praises about the story-like quality and the sophisticated arrangements. I think the band feels it represents us and are generally unapologetic to those who have issues. If we could (and we will), we would like to finish mixing and remaster the album. We were pressed to release it before the mix had been finalized and as a result, it doesn’t have the punch and clarity that we were aiming for, but that’s a technical issue.
Curt: Can you go over the band’s history and background a bit?
Dave: Sure. 2012 marks our fourth year as a group. It’s been a fairly transient path involving several line-up configurations. I like to claim that this project has it’s own vision. The members are responsible for honouring this vision and bringing it to life musically. Though we all are capable of writing forms of music that are unlike this style, the need for this project has always revolved around a couple central themes. In 2008, I came across a picture of Russian warriors riding bears into battle. At the time, I was reading books on the Russian mystic G I Gurdjieff and the history of Medieval Russia. I found the subject matter to be fascinating. Therefore, I began writing songs based upon folklore concepts; the music followed the theme and lyrics sprouted from the two. It wasn’t until 2010 that Scythia had found the right group of people to represent its subject matter. We never planned on having an oboe, it just came about.
Curt: Lyrically, who/what are your influences? Any specific fantasy authors or films?
Dave: It’s hard to actually point to authors that have influenced the lyrics or even films. Terry and I both write lyrics and I think they are inspired by the concept of the song/album. I think saying that the lyrical styles of Terry and I are different, yet, complimentary. I appreciate descriptive language and weaving a mood based on my love of Romantic-era poetry and Terry tends to write powerful, direct lyrics based on his own raw energy/personality.
Curt: How is it playing metal in Vancouver, is it hard to get attention?
Dave: That’s a loaded question because I’m sure at some point, someone from Vancouver will read this interview and hold these words against me… haha
The scene here seems to be more sympathetic towards tech-death and death/thrash. Bands like Scythia or other power/progressive acts seems to have a small, dedicated cult following. However, there are members of the scene who will show support for any metal band regardless of their particular sub-genre.
Curt: Does the band have any plans on touring outside of North America in the near future?
Dave: There are plans. Economics shall determine the viability of such plans…
Curt: What are your thoughts on illegal downloading? Do you feel it is theft or positive exposure for the band? Also what do you think about streaming services such as Rdio and Spotify? Good or bad and why?
Dave: We have been pretty hard hit by illegal downloading. Both our albums have appeared on 20+ torrent sites before the official release. To have an album leaked and readily available before the official release takes the wind out of its debut and undermines the amount of effort and resources we invested into it. I don’t mind Spotify and other streaming services because they are more controlled and we do see some marginal returns. However, they are very different than the unauthorized posting and copyright infringement that the torrent sites host. I personally BUY my music and believe that everyone else should too. Streaming is a great way to find out about new music and I think it is more intentional than someone blindly downloading an artist’s discography and shoving it into some obscure recess of their hard drive.
Curt: How has the band fared using Bandcamp to sell the album? Would you recommend this as a viable format to other musicians?
Dave: Bandcamp seems to be on par with CD Baby in terms of volume of sales. However, it seems that too often Bandcamp tells me that the entire transaction went to paying for my bandcamp dues. Being hit by bandcamp and then paypal really takes a chunk out of our sales. So in the ended I’m still undecided/indifferent to using Bandcamp.
Curt: Recently you guys did a benefit concert for the Richmond Animal Protection Society. Do you guys feel strongly about animal rights?
Dave: Definitely. Half of the band are pet owners and I personally have a very strong affinity for animals, especially large predators like Bears and Mountain Lions. There is an innocence and a majesty in the untamed animal kingdom that is an undertone in our music.
Curt: Any other local Vancouver bands that you would like to mention? Other than the famous ones like Devin Townsend and 3 Inches of Blood of course!
Dave: Yeah, there’s some great bands that have been colleagues in the metal scene. Shout outs go to Titan’s Eve, Marching Mind, Unleash the Archers, Omega Crom, Archspire, Aeterna, and Eye of Odin.
Curt: Your Bandcamp page says that new music will be released in 2012. Can we expect the same style on the next release?
Dave: Nope. It’s quite different actually. But I’ll keep it at that until people head over to Bandcamp to check it out for themselves!
Curt: Anything else you want to say to the readers?
Dave: Support local metal \m/
Dave Khan – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Terry Savage – Bass Guitar
Morgan Zentner – Oboe
Celine Derval – Drums, Vocals
Scott F. Thompson – Keyboards