Many of you out there think probably that bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth are the top bands in the sympho/melodic black metal genre but some others of us have heard some of the great hidden gems in the genre. I picked up The Art of Dreaming by GOLDEN DAWN for $2.99 at a music store and since then, I have been in love with the music. I took time later to contact Stefan Traunmueller and have been in contact since working with him on music as well as just being friends with a common interest. Since starting this page, I have always wanted to show music that was either forgotten, unheard or just pure fucking awesome so today I bring you my interview with Stefan of Golden Dawn!
MP: Please introduce yourself and the band:
GD: Hi, I am Stefan from Golden Dawn, I appreciate a lot to have the opportunity to answer your questions!
MP: How did Golden Dawn come to be?
GD: I got infected with the fascination of Black Metal right when the second wave started in Norway in the early 90ies. I had no band members and no musical teachings but when I got home from school, I couldn’t do anything else than playing riffs and recording songs in crappy quality with my 4-track-recorder. It took 3 years until my abilities reached a level where it was possible to go into a studio for more serious recordings.
MP: When did Golden Dawn begin?
GD: I started the mentioned process in 1992, at the age of 14. The first more or less listenable demos were done in 1994.
MP: How did you come up with the band’s name?
GD: I was interested in all kinds of magic and shamanism back then and of course also read Aleister Crowley. But basically the name should mean a state of enlightenment that a shaman reaches after a quest of many years.
MP: Describe the musical styles of Golden Dawn:
GD: In the beginning I played Doom and also some kind of Viking Metal, later Black Metal with medieval and classical influences, then it got more progressive and also influenced by Power Metal. Nowadays I tried to overcome all experimental elements and started to get back to my Black Metal roots.
MP: what inspired the music for “The Art of Dreaming“?
GD: As I said it was above all shamanism and occult philosophies. Musically I can say that Bathory was the reason to start music at all, furthermore, amongst others, the first albums of Burzum, Emperor and Satyricon, but also classical composers like Gustav Holst and neo-classical music like Dead Can Dance.
MP: Why did you decide to add musicians to the lineup later?
GD: Hm, from my current perspective it was a mistake to add those specific persons but I just wanted to get fresh inspiration and was tired of having all responsibility on my own. But the influences all those guys brought into my music did not really fit to me and what I was aiming for, so I decided to kick them out again. It is good to have studio musicians obviously but for me, writing and producing my own music has become an ego-trip that I really need for my own satisfaction and self realization, even though there is the drawback of being “too involved” at a certain stage.
MP: What inspired the change from symphonic black metal to more of a gothic metal sound?
GD: I don’t think it was Gothic Metal, actually there were only one, or maybe two songs on “Masquerade” which had a bit of that. At that time I listened to some Power Metal and owned several synthesizers. I also learned how to produce music on the computer, so I had all those Synth effects which I find more or less horrible today.
MP: The track “Where Dragons Reign” from Masquerade really has a folk metal sound, what made you create that song?
GD: The guy that was part of the line up of this CD was a quite skillful acoustic guitar player, so we arranged some songs in a folky way.
MP: Why was there such big gaps between the release of each album?
GD: After the first album I composed two more albums, “Sublimity” should have been released in 1998 and was more or less finished in the studio. But the owner of the studio and the record company went bankrupt and the recordings were left unfinished. I remember that Napalm Records were interested in a release already, but that studio guy wanted too much money for giving away the recordings. Then, after the release of “Maquerade” it took all my energies to start my own recording studio, so I had no time and inspiration for own music.
MP: Why is there many changes in sound between albums?
GD: As you mentioned there were many years in between the releases, furthermore all albums were recorded in different studios under totally different circumstances.
MP: What is the ABMS (Austrian Black Metal Syndicate)?
GD: Above all it was a way to combine the forces of several Austrian Black Metal bands in the mid-90ies, maybe inspired by the Black Circle in Norway, but without any radical tendencies. There was a really cool compilation album called “ABMS – Norici Obscura Pars”, which also featured the two first professionally recorded Golden Dawn songs.
MP: What other bands have you been a part of?
GD: I was in Sternenstaub, which played some kind of Symphonic Black Metal, my current band is called Rauhnacht, furthermore I am producer of a lot of Metal Bands, for example Wallachia from Norway. Besides I do a lot of Ambient music, in the mid 90ies I used to have an Ambient project called Apeiron.
MP: What inspired Return To Provenance?
GD: I was in an emotionally hard time of my life and wanted to get rid of this by producing a new album after several years in which I only worked for other bands. Also I wanted to focus on straighter song structures without too much melody or progressive stuff. I wanted to find a way back to the essence of Black Metal, what is also reflected in the album title.
MP: What do most of your lyrics talk about?
GD: Initially about shamanism and sorcery, later about philosophical aspects of life, on “Return to Provenance” also about personal feelings and depression.
MP: What inspires your music?
GD: Nature, reflection on life and death, and of course the bands I listened to when I was 13, 14. I don’t really get inspired by “modern” bands to be honest.
MP: What bands do you look up to?
GD: Quorthon was my god when I was a boy. Of course also the other “evil guys” of the second Black Metal wave were fascinating for me back then, but later, when I realized that most bands are quite normal people, with the only difference that they usually drink more, I stopped looking up to them, haha. Nowadays I don’t really feel part of any Metal scene and actually I prefer composers of classical music or film scores.
MP: What is your favorite Golden Dawn song to date and why?
GD: I never thought about that. When I record a song, I give all I can to let it sound as close as possible to what I have in my mind, but when it is finally done, I don’t think about it too much anymore. It’s the same with records, when I finished one, my focus already belongs to the next project.
MP: Can we expect new music from Golden Dawn?
GD: I am currently planning the release of a 3-CD-digipack called “The Heritage of Golden Dawn“. I remixed several old demo tracks from my 4-track-recorder and also remastered my unreleased albums “Sublimity” and “A Solemn Day“, which were the first computer-based recordings I did in the late 90ies.
MP: Any last words?
GD: Thanks for the opportunity for this interview, I appreciate a lot that there are still some people that have not forgotten Golden Dawn. Support individual music, not generic bedroom Black Metal!