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Oration Festival | Interview

It’s a new festival, happening in Iceland – and there are two familiar names behind it.

The plan is to showcase the vanguard of Icelandic black metal, alongside a few bands from outside that land’s chilly borders.

It’ll also be a springboard for Stephen Lockhart and Joseph Deegan’s new label: Oration Records.

As well as that, our own Rebirth of Nefast’s will debut their first ever gig despite being in existence for ten years now.

Andy Cunningham had a brief chat with Stephen Lockhart/Wann (Rebirth of Nefast/Sinmara/Studio Emissary etc.) to get the inside scoop.


The impetus came from wanting to hold a small festival consisting of bands produced by Studio Emissary.

We pondered names for some time before settling on the name ‘Oration’. It just made sense. It describes exactly what we are trying to channel while retaining the original objective; a line up consisting primarily of bands involved with Studio Emissary.

Right now there are no guidelines in terms of how big the festival should get. Whatever happens happens.

It will never get to the point of the integrity of the festival being compromised, nor would we want line-ups consisting of bands we don’t even like just to sell tickets. The aesthetic of this festival is all important, without that, then whats the point?

We are both leaning towards the idea of this being an annual thing, but nothing is certain yet. Lets see how round one goes first’.

In conjunction with the festival you have also decided to set up a label, also called Oration, but as of yet there has been no announcement regarding a release. What are your plans for the label? Will we see something soon?

There are many releases in the pipeline, some from the obvious projects we are involved with, some from other bands we support and believe in.

We would rather not be a label that pumps out mediocrity just to accumulate a catalogue. For now, it is a means of controlling our own output while also supporting artists we like.

How do you decide on which bands to work with? Do you both have to agree with each other 100% on who will join the fest and the label or is there wiggle room? Surely there will be some level of conflict regarding personal tastes so how will you approach that issue if or when it arises?

Generally we are on the same page. If one of us really wants to work with someone and the other person is neutral, then we proceed. But if one of us outright dislikes a idea, then it’s not gonna happen.

Either that or we will argue until a logical conclusion is reached. We have been working together in one way or another for nigh on a decade, it always works out in the end.

When MI caught up with you last I asked what was happening with Rebirth of Nefast. Oration is set to be your first gig and we seem to be inching ever closer to getting a full length release from you soon. What details can you give us regarding your live setup and the status of the recording?

‘The Rebirth of Nefast album is very close to being finished, though it’s delayed, yet again. Working for an hour here or there just doesn’t cut it for me. I need to immerse myself for days at a time for anything to happen.

Getting that sort of time in the last few years is a rare occurrence. There will be a lot of news soon.

The live set up will consist of myself on vocals, Þórir (Svaridauði/Sinmara) and Þorbjörn (Zhrine) on guitars, Magnus (Svartidauði) on drums and Sigurgeir (Azoic/Churchhouse Creepers) on bass. Needless to say, I expect to be the best show ever. But realistically, if we make it through the first show without something catching fire, it will be a success’.

Your hands are full these days between Rebirth of Nefast, playing as part of Slidhr’s live band, Sinmara, running Studio Emissary and now Oration Fest/Records so how has your relationship toward music changed and evolved since the early days when you were operating as a solo musician?

The profile of each project is steadily rising after a long time spent in the shadows. Have you have had to make some sacrifices and compromises for this to happen?

I find my relationship towards music, or black metal more appropriately, fluctuates. I go through phases of being utterly jaded with what is going on in black metal.

Perhaps from watching every new innovation become the norm and being implemented because it’s popular rather than out of true conviction to an idea or aesthetic. Or because of the ‘already heard it’ effect that comes from following a specific genre of music for a long time (and working with it every day).

That said though, occasionally something comes along and surprises me. It comes in cycles I suppose.

What does not fluctuate however, is what I get from my own work.

The feeling when you create something you want to hear yourself, there isn’t really anything else like it. This is feeling of elation has not changed since I first began Rebirth of Nefast.

This entity exists in order to create something great that I want to hear, not create something that sounds like someone else or that is gonna make me a ‘rockstar’. This will never change and I will never compromise with this project.

In terms of Slidhr and Sinmara, I try to take more a of back seat with these projects. There is a very different dynamic in both cases. Of course it is necessary to make sacrifices to juggle all these elements, but that’s just how it is, I do this with open eyes’.


Oration Festival will take place on February 19 & 20 in Hurra in Reykjavik. The full lineup is Svartidauði, Slidhr, Shrine of Insanabilis, Malthusian, Sinmara, Mortuus Umbra, Rebirth of Nefast, Misþyrming, Almyrkvi, NYIÞ, Wormlust, Mannveira, Abominor & Azoic.

– Interview by Andy Cunningham ::: 14/02/16

  1. Man, I’m so looking forward to seeing Iceland and catching that insane lineup.

  2. Roll on the coming weekend.

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