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An interview with SAGITTARIUS

May 2008

CW: Cornelius Waldner
CSR: Cold Spring

CSR: How would you best describe the music and influences in 'Songs From The Ivory Tower'?

CW: Ask a composer to describe his own music, and he will rather shoot a bullet into his head. To be honest, I hate categorizing music especially my own - but I could live with a description of Sagittarius as (in the widest sense of the word) dark neoclassical music, based on piano.
Considering the fact that it took more than five years to finish the work on 'Songs From The Ivory Tower', there have been diverse influences, but a large part of the album is about reflection and meditation on various aspects of German poetry. To mention two examples - four of the songs ('Du stehst am alten gartentor und schweigst', 'Der sommer, den die erntezeit gekrönt', 'Die nächtlichen geschicke' and 'An des meeres strand') are based on 'Das Herbstlied' ('The Autumn Song'), a poetical cycle written by Timo Koelling, who might be remembered by some readers as the editor of the infamous German 'Moondance' magazine, while other tracks ('Das lied', 'Nova Apocalypsis', 'Sternwandel V' and 'The Song') may be defined as a musical tribute to the German poet Stefan George and his poet's circle.

CSR: You have a long history in Black Metal. Why the change to a 'lighter' kind of music? Do you have any plans for further work within BM?

CW: Alongside various session work for well recognized black metal bands like Secrets of The Moon and Warloghe, I had been concentrating my musical skills on a black metal project called Hailstorm, which had released a bunch of demo tapes and done a number of live performances, among others alongside the above mentioned acts, between 1995 and 1999. But after having finished the recordings of a MLP entitled 'Death. Defiance. Decadence.' in August 2000 (which had remained unreleased until 2006 due to various delays and problems), I felt that that the entire endeavour had come to a dead end, both in an artistic as well as ideological sense. I felt it impossible to conceive black metal that could top the material that was recorded for 'Death. Defiance. Decadence.', and above all I was disgusted by the primitive 'booze & bullet belt' mentality that had become more and more prominent among the black metal-scene, and its general lack of any serious spiritual approach. To focus on Sagittarius, which originally was only supposed to be a side project, seemed to be the only solution, and proved to be a correct decision.
However, Hailstorm's old bassist D.B. and I are presently working on a resurrection of the band. There will eventually be no live appearances, but there is the possibility of publishing some new material in the near or distant future. We are not bound to anything or anyone least of all to expectations of any sort.

CSR: Sagittarius has changed line-up over the past year. Who is 'full-time' now? What have the benefits been?

CW: Actually there is not much to tell about that subject. Between 2006 and 2007 I had been trying to work with a full line-up, but during the recording-process of "Songs From The Ivory Tower" it turned out that the other musicians, despite their undeniable enthusiasm they put into the project, would not be able to chip in adequate musical contributions. Because of that I decided to finish the album with the help of a couple of friends and guest musicians, and as a result of this decision, alongside with various personal reasons, Dea (who was handling the vocals back then) decided to quit her activity in Sagittarius. After these incidents I felt it best to continue Sagittarius in the way I founded it in 1999 as a solo project, occationally assisted by various friends and musical colleagues. In other words I am the only 'fulltime' member, and I received greatly appreciated help from Marcel P. (Von Thronstahl / Allerseelen), Damiano Mercuri (Rose Rovine e Amanti), Troy Southgate (HERR), Butow and Twiggs (Kammer Sieben), as well as sG (Secrets Of The Moon). Without these friends, alongside the support from my family as well as Cold Spring Records, 'Songs From The Ivory Tower' would have remained unreleased.

CSR: Do you think the 'scene' in Germany is difficult for Neofolk acts?

CW: Not the 'scene', but rather Germany itself, which has been unthankful to her poets, musicians and artists more than once.

CSR: What are your hobbies outside of music? What are you reading at present?

CW: Since I am presently busy with working on material for a compilation album called 'Aithiopis', a musical tribute to the lost Ancient epos based on the stories of Penthesileia, Memnon, and the death of Achilles, I have been focussing on reading books related to the 'Trojan Cycle' - both Ancient works like the classic epics 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey', Vergil's 'Aeneid' and 'The Fall Of Troy' by Quintus Smyrnaeus, as well as lots of scholarly literature. Apart from that I enjoyed some Indian literature like the 'Mahabharata' and the 'Gitanjali' by Rabindranath Tagore, as well as some German, Finnish and English poetry (Stefan George, Gottfried Benn, Bernhard von Uxkull-Gyllenband, Uuno Kailas, Yrjö Jylhä, Helmer Selin, Count Eric Stenbock, Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats).
Apart from that I try as good as I can to fulfil my role as a family-father in a declined world gone insane, which does not leave much time for 'hobbies'. I am a passionate hobby cook and enjoy travelling as well as long stays in various refuges located in my Westphalian and Central Finnish homes.