Ván is a relative new underground metal label from Germany with lots of interesting and valuable releases which are worth to attention. Here is Sveinn the owner of this label.
Hello Sveinn. Please introduce yourself to the readers. Please give us some details about the formation of your label.
We founded the label for the release of the TROB debut album, 2004.
First time we got in touch when you sent the first The Ruins of Beverast CD for review. I was very surprised with the great music from this absolutely unknown band. I think the good reaction from the scene about this band was very helpful for the future of Ván.
Of course I was aware of TROB’s quality otherwise we have never thought about an official release… Within our local brotherhood (Wód Ván) it became a use to release the efforts of the bands as very limited tapes or CDrs, just for locals and some friends. After Kettenhund Records died with our close friend Andreas Lacher it’s we made some negative experiences with labels and so nobody was really interested in cooperating with any. Further the scene changed a lot and we felt more and more alien. Then we start our own… and it worked out quite good. So, next to the TROB debut it was mainly our interweavement in the scene since the earliest 90s that gave us a quite good start I think.
Many of the current labels are formed with the only purpose of making money following the current trends within the scene. Could you tell us about the reasons that motivated the creation of Ván?
As mentioned before it was mainly to release our local art without losing too much control to a non-local label.
Lots of fanzine editors, small distros ending their activities and turning to managing a small underground label. What is the situation with you?
We did a damn funny magazine back in the 90s (Westwall), but this has nothing to do with the label. The aim was to act a bit more autonomous as community and keeping the integrity. So, Ván started as the public division of the Wód Ván and beyond.
Where came the labels name? What is the meaning? Is this a German word?
We chose the name to enhance the connection to the local brotherhood…Ván is a mythological river… that is why we have this nice river in the logo;-)
What are your current objectives for the label in order to release material of quality?
Objectives? I just want to release stuff I like myself music-, content- and aesthetic-wise. A the moment I want to focus a bit more on high quality (not too standard) layouts and maybe a bit smaller editions as not too many people are interested in spending money on art when they can download it everywhere. So, we want to address our releases more to the music-lovers who prefer to dive into a music-gem intensively and not to listen to as many as possible superficially.
You release agenda is very varied, I can see that, but also I have noted that you have a priority for The Ruins Of Beverast, that is quite obvious, as you’re releasing almost every work from them. Is The Ruins Of Beverast perhaps taking an active part within the label?
I really blame Meilenwald and Graupel for releasing via other labels, but unfortunately these agreements are older than Ván and of course they are true to their words… ;-) Yes, we started the label as three piece and Meilenwald as well as Weigand next to myself. But if a band decided to become part of the Ván family, it should be 100%. I do not like “label-hopping” and I cannot understand the bands practice that… it is not possible all the time with all bands but I am very strict with our “core hordes”;-)
Being from Germany, a country with tons of metal labels, I would like to know what kind of troubles and obstacles have you found since the formation of Ván?
I assume not the usual ones… It was quite a surprise for us how fast the BM scene and the whole “music-business” changed respectively reacted to the myriads of retards who occupied our scene with mere mass and it took some time and efforts to find the right addressees.
Almost all releases of Ván came out on CD and LP as well! I think you are a great collector of metal LPs. What is your preferred format, CD or LP?
Mostly I prefer to listen to CDs while having the record with the artwork etc. in my hands… but some releases just sound much better on vinyl… so it is always up to the moment and the music I think… You cannot listen to vinyl along the way, so it is more like a small ritual.
When releasing some vinyl, I can see that you try to make this release very special. When you are planning to release something, what factors do you have in mind in order to make that special release aesthetically attractive?
Mainly the artwork… without knowing the artwork it is impossible to decide the different papers, cartons and whatever. Further it should fit to the music too, of course. I think it is more a matter of heart and follows no rules…
What are you looking for in a band in order to sign with them? Do you have perhaps some special parameters? Please explain.
Mmmh, I can hardly answer this question with my insufficient English in detail. Of course the band and / or individuals have to share some point of views regarding some general matters and ideologies with Ván. Integrity and authenticity are very important points and when it comes to black metal bands it really becomes very complicated to meet my needs.
What is your personal appreciation about the current situation of the metal scene, not only in terms of sound, but in attitude? How could you compare it to the scene from the 80’s or 90’s?
Predominantly I am a metal-head with an affinity to black metal, so it is obvious that I have a very nostalgic view to the good old times. EVERYTHING was better back then… really everything when it comes to Metal and especially to Black Metal.
I’d like to know in your own words, what are the reasons that make Ván a label that is unique when compared to other European or North-American labels?
I do not think that we are… and honestly I do not care. There are a lot of good labels and far more bastards and a few I respect honestly for their origin work. Uniqueness is up to the personality… some fit better to us and others do not.
In which way the bands signed to Ván are ideologically relationed with you? If it isn’t in that way, what do you think is the link that bind them with you?
Sure, of course that is an important point that we and our bands share a lot of views, etc… I mean it is not a secret that (Black) Metal goes much beyond the music. Next to that I have a close friendship to a lot of the bands of our community…
How do you see the acceptation of your label by the worldwide scene?
We are still total underground so I see absolute no worldwide acceptation… just a few individuals here and there who are interested in our work. We have to improve our work more and more and make some acknowledgements to the business without betraying ourselves or our traces… we are learning.
Have you had some problems with censorship, when you releasing some new albums? I’m asking this question, because in a country like Germany I think you had some problems with bands which name is Genocide. Your comment:
No, absolutely no problems. If any, regarding religious offenses and not any political ones. We are serious people and no retarded freaks…but hey, it would be good promotion…maybe we should arrange something.
I was very surprised when I listened first time the The Devil's Blood 7"EP. I understand that this band is very satanic and enigmatic, etc, etc, but musically is 70’s rock, nothing more. Is this a super-group or a side project from some well known black metal artists? How got a deal from a label which is interested in extreme metal (black metal) like Ván?
TDB is a very serious cult, not a side project and without any well known bm artists involved. I listened to the demo at a friend’s home and could not believe what I heard… the songs did not left my head for three days until I sought the contact with the band. Some personal meetings followed and then we all agreed that Ván fits perfectly.
Is Ván your full time job?
At the moment it needs my full attention, yes. I invested a lot of money and it would be careless if not.