Interviews

In the Ruthenian woods (interview with Obšar)

Obšar has come to my attention quite unexpectedly and by a sheer coincidence. A friend of mine has sent me a link to their latest video and what a surprise, his brother was a drum player in this band! Funny thing is, I remember him being like 5-6 year old years ago, so it’s quite interesting how time flies.

Ayway, the music and the fact Obšar sings in the Ruthenian (Rusyn) language, the ethnic minority dialect from Eastern Slovakia (which I am proud to confess it’s a part of my heritage also) was enough to give the guys a shout and to do this interview.

Let’s go, then, to the dense forests of Carpatian mountains …and enjoy the walk with Obšar!

Hello, guys, I am really happy to do this interview, as to promote a Ruthenian/Rusyn cultural heritage is definitely a noble goal! But let’s start nicely in a traditional way…so, what actually “Obšar“ means? And what can you tell us about the band itself and its members?

Hi, thank you very much for your interest! “Obšar” is a name of a hill nearby Nižny Komarnik. We chose this name as it’s a symbol of freedom and strength as well for us. Fierce battles took place on in in 1944 during the Carpathian-Dukelian operation (Karpatsko-Dukelská operácia) after which followed liberation of our home town Svidnik and after leaving of army also to liberation from domination of Nazi Germany of whole state.

The word obšar means in Ukrainian language “outlook” as we found out later.

What was the reason to form the band? Are there any influences you can mention, which have had a hand in this process? When and why the decision to sing in Ruthenian (Rusyn) language was made?

We were all involved in other bands playing variation of genres before, few of us even in the same for some time. The first idea to make it came out some time ago. First ideas were put together by guitarist and bassist. Later joined drummer and singer and we worked on the music together, everyone on his part. As we live quiet far away from each other it’s a distance work but works ok for us. Specially in these days. Our Influences are from a wide spectrum of music and music genres so I guess to mention some bands would be insignificant. And why Rusyn language? We are all Rusyns and we would lie to keep this language and culture alive this way. Main rason is to remind that there is an ethnicum in Slovakia that is often forgotten. We want bring closer the way of life and way of thinking of Rusyns – of us. FOr sure not forgetting about the traditions and habits.

Obšar’s album “R.U.N.E.”

In 2019 you released your first – and to-date the only – album R.U.N.E. What does this abbreviation stands for? Where did you record it and from today’s point of view, what do you think…did it stand the test of time (I am pretty sure it did, at least for me).

R.U.N.E. Rusinske Umiňa Novoj Ery (Ruthenian Art of New Era). Was recorded on diferent places (Drums in Svidnik, Guitars in Bratislava, Bass in Prague andvocals on a cottage in woods).

Every musician finds with listening stuff which he could do diferent. But we had a concept that it has to be straight not too technical and melodic in way as it is. We are OK with it as it expresses all what we wanted to forward with it.

What about the reviews of the album? I am convinced there must have been a lot of positive reviews… do you recall any negative ones, though? What can you tell us about the promotion of the album?

We cant say if we saw all reviews but those which we read were ok. We did it as best as we were able (distance regime) and we are glad that also some people liked it. The Rusyn culture found its way a little bit more with our music.

In September 2020 you released a single “Dovhŷ tyni”, which announces an upcoming album “Počornily horŷ, počornily lisŷ”. Obviously, I can but be curious about it…will it continue in the steps of the first one, or you preparing any surprises? When can we expect its release?

All instrumental parts are done for few months. We have to do the vocals , do some sound work and will be done. Hard to say when exactly as the situation is as is but we hope it will be soon. The album will be also whole in Rusyn language. We are also working slowly on some new ideas, some might be darker some not. We´ll see.

As I’ve noticed a few times, it’s not that typical for black metal bands to do live gigs (many do, some never do), what’s the situation with Obšar? Have you played any gigs so far, and if so, what can you tell about them?

For now no shows coming. We are opened to do sometimes some live performances, we already received several offers but had to reject them. As I mentioned, we live far away from each other so some rehearsals are out of range for now. For sure nowdays situation is really not helping it. In case that we will decide to make some shows, for sure the forst one will be on our home soil.

I admit I am not that familiar with the Slovak scene anymore, since I left the country 16 years ago, so, can you tell our readers something about your local scene? Any interesting bands to check from Svidnik area and Slovakia as a whole?

As everywhere there are old bands, new bands , good bands and bad bands in every country. Im not in position to rate if its good or bad. We can talk about lots of bands personally 🙂 Some bands have great musicians but lame ideas, some vice versa and some just have this something what works. For me personally (B) its now Krolok. Cant get enough of their record “Flying above ancient ruins” and can’t wait for the new one.

It’s interesting to note that, for example, Darkthrone is now considered a sort of a part of a Norwegian cultural heritage…do you think Obšar can achieve the same within the Rusyn cultural community?

Never really thought about it this way. The Rusyn heritage is more connected to folklore etc. but who knows. Maybe some more open minded will appreciate also our way of interpretation.We have to keep in mind that Norway is far away in everything from Slovakia : )

Finishing this little interview…what are the plans for Obšar for the post-Covid age?

Finishing the work which is still in progress with “Počornily horŷ, počornily lisŷ”, work on new stuff. Will be for sure again some limited edition and maybe even some limited edtition of merch as some maniacs keep asking for it.

Any final words/message to our readers?

Thank you for your interest in Obšar! We really appreciate spreading that there are still some Rusyns in the world and that they are loud. That’s the spirit of our idea. Feel free to contact us if interested. Cheers to al Rusyns and Non-Rusyns in the world!

Bandcamp: https://obshar.bandcamp.com/album/r-u-n-e

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/obsharband

Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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