Antichi Popoli
Author: Daniele Sestini
© Daniele Sestini

1. Peter, what does "the sense of history" mean for you?
Well, history... In my eyes "the sense of history" would be something that lives in today’s people; something that we can still remember, understand and appreciate. We are surrounded by the term "history" in that sense, we can see it everyday and we can feel the results of those actions who have taken place back in time. SKYFORGER is more tended to describe the past of what is more the "heroic side"; what has been important for our people - mostly fights for freedom -. For example, when I wrote lyrics for our album "Latvian Riflemen", I wanted to feel the atmosphere of those times, so I visited battlefields of 90 years ago, where I still could find some empty shells in river banks or walk down the trenches, where once soldiers have been standing against enemy. This gave me such a feelings that is impossible otherwise to describe. I would say that maybe is "the sense of history".
2.Considering your personal experience, in which things is music good for speaking about history?
Music is very appreciative for generating the atmospheres of those times we want to talk about. I think that only music and cinema are able to capture the right vibrations for restoring of such a seemingly impossible task. We are an Heavy Metal band, and our aim is wrap all up in musical accompaniment. We mostly talk about various war topics, so our music style is perfect for that - we can be fast, aggressive and menacing or from other hand we can show misery and sorrows. I try to show the injustices of those times, to show the cruelty of war and how a common man can become a crucial factor for his own country. Also I write about various themes, which is important for me, so I have chance to tell to people some stories, which otherwise would lay untouched and unknown for them. That is a good thing for self-expression. Usually I try to be as historically precise as possible, in order to achieve that, we use much components of history - sounds, old photos, ancient sings, old costumes etc. Also, very important are lyrics; I always explore them very well and I want them to be serious and not sound for fun...Voice is another instrument just like guitars and well used it can become a powerful weapon in re-creating the atmosphere of your chosen song themes.
3. Do you consider your band as an "Historical re-enactment group" to?
Yes, in a way. We have always spoken about history, that is an immense field for working; I have looked at it in whole and I can say, that there are no borders, no limits. On history you may find an huge number of topics and you can just choose what you want to bring in light. We also want to be slightly different from other bands, so we go our own way trying to find more interesting topics for listener, those which are of important role for some reason. We are taking all inspiration from Latvian history; here is plenty of work ahead. Many things lays still uncovered and I guess that to portray such a thing is a very interesting work.
4. What do you think about Historical re-enactment as a way of teaching history?
I have experienced that it is a very good way to teach something. People would never be interested in some stories, but well written and properly presented, it is attractive for them and here we can also make some promotion of valours, which are important for our country and us. I always wanted to emphatize moments such as national independence, patriotism, loyalty to our homeland and will to stand for it. Those moments are mostly well accepted by younger generation, so here we maybe do a good job. It’s possible that we educate kids through our songs and let them think about topics matched in SKYFORGER albums. They start to be interested about those themes, about old traditions; history and some of our fans even have become real experts in that.
5. We know that your band is strongly linked to your people's tradition and history; in few words (and speaking very directly) what you may say about your ancestors?
Our forefathers have been living here since 2000 years back and for me it is interesting to know who they were, where they come from, how do they lived etc. They were called "Semigalls" and there were a couple more Baltic tribes; from them came all modern Latvians. They were peasants and tillers, well organized and with own culture and mythology. Basically all Baltic tribes worshipped the Pagan gods and highly honored them. Sadly, when here came the wave of Christianity, they brutally tried to destroy what was in connection with paganism, so now we know very little about lifestyle of our forefathers. Our ancestors were very much a freedom-loving people, so they showed a big resistance against various invaders.
6. Let's speak a little bit about your country and Eastern Europe; you're one of the new "European country" , what do you think about this process of integration in a single community?
Yes, now we are part of European Union. It depends from which side we look at it. If we look at a side of Latvia’s security, it is definitely a gaining because it is not possible anymore to occupy land without international response. Russians did that just relatively small time ago - 60 years back. Those who don’t know the history of those happenings, maybe think that now all is over, but that is purely wrong. They are definitely interested in getting back Latvia under their boots. Looking from open borders side, I am skeptical, because I feel that we may loose our well-preserved national identity. We are a small nation, with a population of only one million and half, so it is definitely different from countries with bigger population. Also, I don’t like this international cosmopolitism which is coming alongside with EU; for example those faceless mega companies who try to conquer new markets. Actually they only spread American lifestyle "buy it now, don’t care about future"; they definitely don’t need our native traditions and customs. I believe that we still have that spirit of different culture, but looking at western European countries, I have seen that people there forget about their roots and all they mostly need is material wealth.
7. Do you think that the presence of EU will be positive or negative for the "tradition keeping" of your people?
I think that it will bring more negative factors for our culture than positive. Younger people are now more easy to attract to more modern things, like computers, narcotics, gambling games, pokemons, Hollywood stars, Mc Donald’s and other western mass production offers. They are very easily to turn off the road and some examples of how rich cultures have been lost just because of foreign impact is at hand - American Indians, for example. It’s only at us, we’ll be able to keep those traditions alive and keep the spirit of our ancestors in ourselves?
8. You may say that there's a strong sense of history and tradition in your country?
Yes, we are a country, with a very big history; unfortunately it has always been very cruel for native people. Because of that we are a small land, we have always been under the hammer of more mighty neighbours - Russia, Germany, Sweden, Poland etc. In whole history there has been only 20 years of independence in last century and 14 years now. But despite that we have always been able to keep the Latvian traditions, to pass our entire historical and cultural heritage from mouth to mouth to younger generations. That is the essence of what makes us still alive. If you have no roots, you also have no future. Latvia has very big folk music background; it is part of our life. That was the vehicle that kept peoples together for many centuries and they sung them in all situations of life. Latvians have own language, own territory, ancient traditions, customs, beliefs and also material stuff - clothing, jewellery, castles etc. But of course, the biggest value is people, who make that work and don’t let all go away, that’s what is so special about them. I can agree, that despite all occupations and war disasters, Latvia is still like a small sanctuary in Europe; recognizable for its traditions, folklore and for many beliefs and customs who have been lost for western nations.
9. At the end, a little space for you.... feel free to speak!
Thanks very much for your interest in SKYFORGER and in our culture.
I wish all the best for you and all readers!
Nothing is forgotten, nothing will be forgotten!