Dzivia is one of the projects I mentioned in my 2018 review a little while ago. I admit that for someone who’s living in the clocks and watches country, I tend to have pretty vague notions of time, it simply flies over there. Anyway, I knew it was about time to have a tad more formal correspondence with the mastermind behind it, Artur Matveenko.
Hello! I hope you’re fine. How did Dzivia commence?
Eight years ago, I first started working with an orchestra. And at that time I played in several pagan metal bands. I always liked cinema composers (Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, James Newton-Howard, Howard Shore), and classical music (Dvorak, Musorgsky, Tchaikovski).
My first full-length album was released a long time ago and now it is not so easy to find it on the Internet. Dream Reaper came out two years later in 2013, and it consisted exclusively of orchestral compositions. More than half of the musical instruments were sampled, because I was seventeen and I did not have money for studios and musicians.
Where does the project name come from?
This is my personal collective image of a Slavic female deity. This is a reference to many deities, to the goddess of Polabian tribe – Dziva. To the goddess Divia, who, along with other Slavic deities, is listed in medieval Christian “teachings against paganism” (Gregory of Nazianzus), and to others.
The thing is that in the Belarusian language there is no letter “D”, only “Dz”, “Dj”.
According to what I read about the release of your second album Rujnuj, you’ve worked on it for seven years, which means you started four years before releasing your debut album Dream Reaper. How did you manage and articulate these two opuses?
The album Dream Reaper was released in 2013. About a year before its release, I started working on new material.
Deam Reaper appeared like a solitary wander while Rujnuj is more action-packed. What differed in your composing and creating process?
The album Rujnuj contains much more complex orchestrations and more ethnics. A very large amount of music was not included in the final version, because it did not fit the mood. It’s not just epic like Dream Reaper. This album tells mostly stories about despair, aggression, and humility. If the first album for me personally is a typical Lord of the Rings, then Ruinuj has a much more sombrer mood.
Someone on the Internet translated the lyrics of “Vataha (The Pack)”:
The Roundelay of Flame
reaps of lightning.
The Wheel of Fire meets us.
Whistling sound of steel
is breaking a weapons.
There screams of mutilated human souls
in the towers on the shoulders of giants.
My hands are mutilated by quern.
I was baptized in blood and honey.
Cross and the fire will be clean me of dirt.
In the fire, I’ll save you.
I will save you.
I will save myself.
You indeed moved Belarussian symphonic folk metal to pagan orchestra and I noticed some significant changes such as the more striking drums. This and other things made me think of further tribal bands and the likes. Were you specifically inspired for this album?
To be honest, I was inspired mainly by music without bright drums, in terms of tunes. This is mainly symphonic music (Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, James Newton-Howard, Howard Shore, Dvorak, Musorgsky, Tchaikovski).
By the way, “tribal” is a very good word. I really wanted to do something that would not be associated with medieval folk, but with something more ancient. With paganism that was on these lands even before the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
It seems to me that the band that had the most influence on me was Septicflesh (after 2011). This is my favourite band, which I consider extremely undervalued. Their orchestral arrangements are awesome.
Will you ever release physical copies of your albums?
Yes, I think about this right now.
What are your upcoming plans for Dzivia?
I hope to put together a live team. I have had a lot of invitations to really cool events where I would like to play. But unfortunately I have to refuse, because it is rather difficult to assemble a live team there, even without a live symphony orchestra.
If you were to play a concert as second on a three bands bill, who would you love to support and who would you choose to open for you?
It’s hard for me to name the bands with which we would look harmonious on stage. Maybe it should be some kind of Nordic Folk bands, like Heilung and Wardruna.
Artwork credits: Anastasia Serova