Interview: Schavot

Nowadays, numerous black metal acts “successfully” carbon copy the sounds and aesthetics of the glorious Nineties’ Second Wave, but very few actually capture the feel of that era. Dutch multi-instrumentalist Floris of the black metal entity Schavot is one of them. The urge and time to pay homage to the music that shaped him as a teenager in the mid-nineties gained momentum during the lockdown in 2021. This resulted in the debut ‘Galgenbrok’: a portal to a time when Ulver, Ancient, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Obtained Enslavement left a lasting impression on its creator. Not long after this Floris had enough inspiration and ideas for a second full-length. Thus releasing ‘Kronieken uit de nevel’ (Chronicles from the fog) a mere thirteen months later…

Here below you will find the conversation that was held via email with Floris of Schavot.

Floris of black metal entity Schavot in his preferred surroundings: the woods
Do you remember how you found the name for your project? Why Schavot? Subsequently: can you give a brief timeline up until now?

“It is said that the music from one’s puberty makes the most impression. For me, that period was around the second wave of black metal. To me, the black metal around the period ’94-’98 has never been surpassed. For a while, I had the idea to make such black metal, out of a sense of nostalgia. Dark, melodic black metal with lots of blast beats and vicious, shrill vocals.

When the covid-lockdowns came in 2021 I was given time to realize the idea. The debut album ‘Galgenbrok’ was recorded at home in a time span of a few months. The successor “Kronieken Uit de Nevel” took a little more time and also goes a little deeper. The lyrics are about local folktales and sagas, mixed with a touch of history. The name Schavot (Scaffold) was actually too obvious not to use it.”

You are also known for playing in Asgrauw, Meslamtaea and Sagenland. How do you find the time to do all this? Was there something missing in the other bands/projects that made you start Schavot?

“I don’t spend an extreme amount of time on music, but I’m really focused and use my time efficiently. In my attic I have a studio where I can record drums and other instruments myself. Every free moment is spent effectively. During the lockdowns, various bands and projects were recorded in a relatively short time. So, it appears that I’m extremely productive; however, that was not always the case.

Each project has a different purpose and meaning to me. Asgrauw and Schavot may have similarities. However, Asgrauw is a full live band, and we write the music together, we have a bit of a punk vibe. Schavot is more melodic, and it’s a one-man band without compromises. Sagenland is a project in the folk-direction of black metal (Ulver-worship, also inspired by the Dodheimsgard debut and Arckanum). Meslamtaea is experimental jazz-infused black metal (inspired by Fleurety, Ved Buens Ende, also jazz-rock like Mahavishnu Orchestra). Every band sounds different.

As I speak, I am working with some wonderful musicians on two new projects. The Color of Rain is a sort of experimental post-black with Cynic influences. And the other project Stuporous is black/doom with Flugelhorn. You can expect more information about both projects next year.”

YouTube player
‘Kronieken uit de nevel’ by Schavot (Void Wanderer Productions/War Productions, 2023)
Did ‘Kronieken uit de nevel’ turn out the way you envisioned it? In addition to that: what are the differences between ‘Galgenbrok’ (2021) and this one?

“I think that ‘Kronieken’ is a logical continuation of ‘Galgenbrok’. I just continued recording immediately after I finished the debut. So don’t expect shocking style changes. But where the debut was more of a style exploration, I think the successor sounds more detailed. I wanted more variety in vocals and put in more different atmospheres. For example, I used the pitch-shifter for spoken words (inspired by Bal Sagoth) more often. Even, there are some odd time signatures here and there; however, that is more of a Meslamtaea thing. Lyrically, I also sometimes deviated from the folktale path from the debut.”

You are, what they call: a multi-instrumentalist (drums, guitar, bass, synthesizer and vocals) which is quite common in the subgenre of Black Metal. During my research I read in an interview with Throne Of Absence that you are autodidact. I assume that drumming comes naturally since it is your main instrument. But what I’m curious about is: how was it to learn the other instruments? Did/does it come easy or was/is it a struggle?

“Before I taught myself to play the drums, I actually had to learn to play traditional organ because a musical instrument was supposed to be a part of my upbringing. I did it with great aversion, haha! The organ in the end was disassembled, and I made my first guitar amplifier from it! But I did learn some basics about chords and harmonies by playing that organ, though. Being able to read notes has unfortunately disappeared.

In high school I started playing in rock bands and my parents gave me a drum set that I played every free moment. I learned to play the drums by playing along with my favorite metal bands, and never took lessons. With some perseverance, it went well. I started playing guitar for another reason. I couldn’t find other musicians to start a black metal band, so I just bought a guitar and started recording with it right away. Furthermore, I find the bass guitar a more interesting instrument than guitar. I like to use bass for additional harmonies, and I also use the fretless bass on some projects.”

Can you describe, in general, how you go about writing and recording for Schavot? For example: do you hear/create a riff and/or a beat first?

“I think musical inspiration can hardly be forced. It just comes at unexpected times. When I’m working in the garden or walking. Often I wake up with some melody in my head. Occasionally I record an idea on the way, humming something into the voice recorder, just not to forget it. In the studio, I have DAW sessions for Schavot and all the other projects, that I use as a kind of audio notepad full of guitar riffs. When riffs fit together, I puzzle until a concept song is created. I then (re-)record the final music with drums, bass, guitar etc. etc. With Schavot, the riff always comes first. The drums – and that may sound strange for a drummer – are only supporting. In my other project, Meslamtaea, it sometimes works the other way around. Then I come up with an interesting drum pattern that I have to write riffs for afterward.”

Following up on the previous question: in the promo-text you mention Dutch history, folklore and otherworldly creatures as lyrical inspiration. For those who are not familiar with the Dutch language, can you share some examples?

“I grew up in a region with a lot of history and folktales, like the ‘Witte Wieven’. Those tales are always interesting to me. It says a lot about the people of the past, their fears, and superstitions. How do you explain that people disappeared in the swamp? What is the mist that dances across the land in the morning? All kinds of ghostly creatures and supernatural phenomena were invented to explain everything. Moreover, I think those stories had a preventive effect. Because you don’t walk through the swamp at night where ‘Dwaallichten’ are hunting for visitors. The folktales of ghost ships that sometimes loom are also fascinating. Some stories are also happened for real. One track is about Huttenkloas: a notorious criminal and murderer, who was sentenced to be ‘geradbraakt’ alive (tied to a wooden wheel while they break all your bones with iron bars). The new single “Onmens” is about Goeie Mie, a highly valued woman from Leiden, who turned to kill people with arsenic to collect money from funeral insurance.”

Front cover of ‘Kronieken uit de nevel’ by Bram Bruyneel

How does the artwork of ‘Kronieken uit de nevel’ relate to the music?

“Some tracks from the album are about the witch persecution that has taken place on a large scale in the Netherlands. The idea was a drawing in the style of the Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck. I came into contact with the Belgian illustrator Bram Bruyneel who has a background as a history teacher. He agreed with this subject for art and brought in many good ideas. The image is also full of details that may not be historically accurate, but are just interesting for insiders. For example, a church has been drawn from the village where I grew up (as far as I know there has never been a burning of witches). Moreover, he drew me as one of the bystanders. This piece was one of Bram’s first full-color drawings.”

You are part of “Zwotte Kring” and from my understanding it is some kind of collective? Can you shed some light on this matter?

“Recently, and especially during the lockdown period, several bands and projects have emerged in our group of friends. We formed a small network of musicians who make music together and help each other with productions. We started calling this the Zwotte Kring (local dialect for ‘black circle’) ourselves, and on Social Media we mentioned the hashtag #zwottekring a few times. This has taken on a life of its own and the name is now synonymous with our collective.

Nowadays, due to the large number of releases, it is almost impossible to get music in the spotlight. With the Zwotte Kring we try to make our albums, and those of befriended bands, visible just by supporting them. Bands under our banner are currently: Asgrauw, Teitan, Meslamtaea, Sagenland, Grafhond, Schavot, Stuporous and The Color of Rain. Around, there are a number of friends’ bands and labels that we actively support!”

Is Schavot just a studio project? Or are there plans to bring it to the stage in the near future?

“Never say never, but for now Schavot will only remain a studio project. I do everything on my own and it would take too much time and energy to get this on stage. But to be honest, my personal priority is also more about creating music than playing live. We do play live though, with my band Asgrauw.”

Anything else that you might want to say or mention?

“Thanks for the interview! Have a look at the Zwotte Kring bands and support the underground scene. Cheers!”

Find Schavot on Facebook and Instagram: