Orphaned Land

Interview date

Janvier 2010




Interview Matti Svatizky

Hello, my name is Philippe, thank you to give a little of your time at the French webzine http://auxportesdumetal.com/. Can you introduce the musicians and make a little history of Orphaned Land through your first three albums ?

Hello, I'm Matti Svatizky, Orphaned Land's guitarist. The band is: except for me, Kobi Farhi (Vocals), Yossi Saharon (guitars and traditional instruments), and Uri Zelcha (Bass). The band was formed in 1991 under the name "Ressurection", and changed the name to Orphaned Land in 1992. We are from Israel, and play Death Metal with touches of Middle Eastern flavours. Our first three albums are: SAHARA (1994), EL NORRA ALILA(1996) and MABOOL (2004).

Tell us about your new album and his beautiful artwork?

Our new album is called "The never-ending way of Orwarrior", and it is a concept album which tells the story of the warrior of light. The album's artwork is made with a drawing style called calligraphy, by the artist Zen-Two. All the artwork has been done by hand, except for the layout arrangements.

Who had the initial idea for the creation of The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR, and how you divide your work of writing and composition in the group?

It wasn't one person's idea, but we all started writing material for a new album. We started to work on the music, and somewhere along the way Kobi has introduced to us the main idea for the concept story of the album. In Orphaned Land, Yossi and I usually write the guitar riffs, and then we gather to work on them, stitch them together, select the better stuff and so on. Kobi is in charge of the lyrical department, and he does it with the help of Alon Miasnikov, a guy that helps us with lyrics since the beginning of the band.

The texts sung in Hebrew, Arabic and Yemeni are they all traditional texts or are they some written by you?

Most of the texts in "Exotic" languages are traditional. The Yemenite texts are by a Jewish poet who lived in the 17th century. Some of the Arabic texts are from the Quran, and some of the Hebrew texts are from the bible, but there are some Hebrew texts which we wrote.

Does Shlomit part of the group and been involved in the arrangement of texts?

"Shlomit", our female vocalist, is not an integral part of the band, though she sings with us since our Paradise Lost cover to "Mercy" in 1998. She was the one who introduced us to the song "Sapari" (which opens the album), and to all our Yemen songs so far. It happened like this because of her Yemen roots.

It is said that for this fourth album, you've spent nearly 600 hours of studio, what happens?

We had some long hours in the studio. Studio work is always the hardest but also the most fun. You sit there until the small hours of the night. We sometimes recorded until 5 or 7 am, and went home only then. There has been also much work to do beyond recording, a lot of post production work which has been done in studio.

How was the recording sessions with the Arab Orchestra of Nazareth and it was he rewarding for you to work with it?

The recordings with Nazareth Orchestra were amazing. First of all, for the fact that they are Arabs and we are Jews. This bridge between nations is always an important and intriguing thing. We love the Arabic culture but don't get to see it much every day, so working with Arabs was very important to us. Also, their sound is a great sound, the one that we looked for for years, and that we have finally found.

Personally I find the sound and the final mix of The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR really excellent, which was precisely the role of Steve Wilson in the preparation of the album? Participation in music, arrangement, mixing, recording, production...?

Steven mixed the album. He was supposed to produce the whole thing, but unfortunately it didn't happen because of some time limitation reasons. He did a wonderful job, and we adore his previous work with Porcupine Tree and Opeth, and hope to get the chance to work with him on a larger scale in the future.

The Warrior solo is incredible! (I even thought Ulis Jon Roth was invited on the album). How Yossi Saharon and Matti Svatizky are divided there arrangements? The solos? Y was he a lead guitarist in the band?

Actually we both play solos. The one in "The warrior" that you speak about is played by Yossi. Yossi was the lead guitarist on our first two albums, and I have joined him only later. We both compose the music, but the whole works on the material in order to get it to sound right, and this work is the most important and effective thing in the band.

Before the release of The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR you have photos to promote it, it shows you Yiddish, Muslim or Satan and Jesus for Kobi. Why these pictures? And how communities have responded?

We decided to go for a "different" photo shoot. We could have done for the regular style shots, where the band stands looking cool and showing their tattoos, but we decided to make it more interesting for ourselves and the audience. These photos were just another place for us to be creative. We decided to reflect through the photos something of what the band is about. We are about unity between nations, and I think that the photo delivers it well. The communities took it pretty well. People understand that we mean things in a good way and don"t mean to provoke, so they take it well.

For about eighteen years, you fight through your music for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Expect something more positive the various politicians who rule this orphan land (as you name it)?

We always keep a window open for a chance for peace. The situation is very complicated, and just words cannot solve it, there is a lot of action which has to be done in both side, but in the end good will reign, I have no doubts.

As artists Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil) Australian Minister for Ecology and Culture and Gilberto Gil Brazilian Minister of Culture, would you be near to join a government to bring your ideas and beliefs? And what would you do if you are given the means?

Politics is very far from us. Currently we are artists and want to concentrate on making music. Maybe, someday, when I’m very old and very bored, I would do something like this, but it will be only if I'm sure I will be able to make a positive change.

Do you do some dates in France? Or perhaps Hellfest?

We are stitching up dates for a European tour, and when we will have all the details we will publish them. We are also planning to play some festival this summer, and last time we played Hellfest it was really a blast, so we keep the option open.

I thank you for this interview. Can you finish with a few words to your French fans?

We have many fans and good friends in France! We played there several times and can't wait to get there again. We hope our French fans will like OrwarrioR as much as they liked Mabool. I wish them all good health, and most important, peace. Stay Orphaned!