Tony Wakeford is with his various projects, a busy man as they say.First, I caught him in Wroclaw, where he attended a gig with his new band OWLS. Later, at the time of the "riots" in Britain, I asked him if he would be so stuck in some kind of trouble, he said no, because there everything was quiet and his wife to rule with an iron hand would. Ultimately, however, it was next to the refurbishment of the fact that our parents cherish the same taste for names, even by Sol Invictus and the new album "The Cruellest Month". 

Looking back at the WGT 2011 in Leipzig - what was it like to play solo with OWLS and Pagan in the village? And have you forgiven your JOE HOLZER BUDE "Come on Grandpa!"? 

I liked our live debut at the WGT much. We are currently in Wroclaw, where we play a festival tomorrow. I think the whole thing, especially with the use of live video installations, works really well. JOE is a cruel man! If anything should happen to me, you'll know where you should seek. 

"The Cruellest Month" is indeed now appeared some time ago.You have said elsewhere that you were not sure if you still wanted to publish a SOL-Invictus album. Were there any plans to carry the band to the grave? And when, why and for what reasons you have changed your plans? 

I thought it would be with the publication of the Box-Sets time to put an end to the matter. Ultimately, there were some events that have helped to show that there were a few good reasons to keep going - but to go in a new direction. Thus, it was just another album.

How did you come in contact with PROPHECY? It's a label that is more focused on metal. Even the most neofolk bands AUERBACH - except HEKATE - have their roots in metal. Sol Invictus is therefore something of an outsider and do you feel like to be part of this force? 

They have contacted me. I thought at first that an offer for the re-release would be an old album. MARTIN But I was quickly confronted with his plans for a "SOL blitzkrieg". I actually see it as an advantage that the label is not a neo-folk label. Musical effect on me claustrophobic ghettos and no one in the band feels especially comfortable with some things that run under that name. 

It seems that the noughties Sol Invictus had stolen a lot of time. After the collapse of WORLD SERPENT you had to keep only once on the lookout for a professional label. You tried in DARK VINYL COLD SPRING and to find a new home, what has not worked but apparently real. Is that true or were there other reasons why there was only one regular album between "throne" and "The Cruellest Month"? 

I guess it was not a good time for Sol Invictus. Trying to record an album on a Windows machine, is something that I will not repeat. And to put it brutally, two of the then line-ups had been years earlier must be dismissed - but that was my fault. 

How is that from your perspective. How important is a working label - generally just in times of mp3, i-phones, etc. WORLD SERPENT was actually a distributor with whom you've worked with your own label Tursa PROPHECY is the first "real" label for you. or not? 

Yes, although at times get lost in those "real" label, for which thePROPHECY fortunately does not apply, in addition strange looks. It wasTursa or other small label in any case impossible to ever hold the SOL CDs - of something like the box set not to speak first. Seen at the signing was a godsend PROPHECY. 

"Sol Veritas Lux" was indeed re-released years ago by Tursa / DARK VINYL before. DARK VINYL was not with a partner and times planned by all the re-release albums Sol Invictus? 


Can we now expect even more in the back PROPHECY tours and concerts? 


The last album "The Devil's Steed" in my opinion was an album that was created in an era in which Sol Invictus was changing.SALLY DOHERTY MATT HOWDEN and had left the band. KARL ERIC ROGER BLAKE and followed by the album. Thus, the album seems to be a rather difficult was that was the end of an episode. Would you agree? 

Yes, explicitly. 

Now you have some new musicians. What are the main reasons for you to work with a person or not? 

That they can stand me and I is always a good start. 

And how is it to work with Tony Wakeford? 

Wonderful, I've never expressed to him a rude word. 

The sound of the album is raw. Sometimes songs appear somewhat crowded and there are very many effects on the vocals. Why have you worked out this sound and you can understand the view of listeners, which are very good melodies buried under sounds and effects? 

Of course, this is a legitimate point of view, but if you work with a producer, you must be prepared to accept his advice and I am personally happy with the album. 

The album title "The Cruellest Month" refers to TS Eliot's "The Waste Land." Is that correct? (This is called the April the cruelest month of all. A real paradox for a month, which stands for the spring. This also explains song titles such as "Raining in April" or "April Rain." Editor's note) 

Yes, this is one of my favorite works. 

A song that sums up the aging of the growing cynicism is very good, "Toys". Do you think it is part of human existence, that every dream is destroyed and that all the good turns sooner or later something bad? Or is there more to laugh about themselves - about the stupid belief of a child? 

A bit of both. The actual idea came from "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull. As sung by the heroes of childhood, who have retired on pension to Cornwall, there to write their memoirs. My idea was more then how they would develop - sick to my world. 

(See also the article photo. Editor's note), some promotional pictures for the album the band show in a way that the me of the old-style WORLD SERPENT, as it appears on the "Earth Covers Earth" album of CURRENT 93 is identified, recalls. Was it pure coincidence and the term "WORLD SERPENT Family" mean to you a fitting, if you look back? 

LESLEY, who had made these photos, I think this idea, and yes, they have that "look". The term "WORLD SERPENT Family" but in my opinion is as good as anyone else. 

I imagine that it's weird to keep up with the box set to be "lifetime achievement" in his hands. Came while working on it nostalgia, or as you first before you had the end result - a kind of memento mori-feeling? And to look into the future, there are already plans for a new album? 

Yes, it's weird. In a way, as if one would see his own grave. Well, there are some songs that are currently under preparation. But we are not in a hurry, as we hope, some of them develop as a band and live. 

End of June in the evening you've played the last concert 6COMM. Is it true that a publication of PATRICK and you intend?He has mentioned it. 

Yes, we were honored to be invited to Patrick's last concert as 6COMM in order to play there. We talked about a possible joint project. At the moment we are both very busy, so ... 

Most of the former WORLD SERPENT - artists feel more uncomfortable when you ask them questions about their past,WSD and anger within the family. It seems that you are with some of these artists are standing still pretty good. You worked in the recent past, for example, NWW-members and you play concerts with Patrick Leagas. Like a family reunion with Tony Wakeford would look like as a mentor? 

How the hell on earth, one would think. When I think about the whole thing, then follows with the age of a certain perspective. Life is too short for most of these things. But something must of course always decide for themselves.

Elegy Magazine 

The Devil’s Steed was supposed to be the last Sol Invictus album. Six years later is released The Cruellest Month. What made you want to finally release something new with under the name of Sol Invictus ?


* Well the album is old, nearly 5 years, old. So it was an early decision to continue. The line up should have been changed around 5 years before Devils Steed but a mixture of lazyness and sentiment meant the dead wood was alowed to rot. 

What would you say about this album title, ‘’The Cruellest Month’’, which is also a very contemplative and peaceful song we found at the end of the record ?

* Musically perhaps but not lyrcly. Its a nod towards T.S. Elliots, the wasteland amongst other things. A sort of nod to the outpourings after the first world  wars as the hovering war clouds of the second come into view. 


What about the beautiful expressionist painting on the cover ? Who did it ?

* It is by Tor Lundvall and is wonderfull. Its a privalage to have his contribution.


Who are the musicians involved on the album and how collaborative was the work on this new album ?

* Caroline Jago, Guy Harries, M, Renee Rosen and Andrew King.  Joanne Owen of nevus made a guest appearance on accordion. I laid down the basic guide vocals of guitar and vocals and then it was built up from there. M, aded keyboards and percusion and this gave the basics for the other musicians to work with.


The album is very diverse, with nervous songs and more peaceful melodies. It’s for me one of your best record and I felt that you really enjoyed making it. Can you tell us more about your state of mind during the making process ?

* Thanks very much. I'm very happy with it and I think will be a surprize for some people. It was a very positive work after what had been a very toxic period in the bands history.


What would you say about the recording sessions ? Was it at home ? Any anecdotes ?

* The basics were done at my place but M used a rehersal studio in North London for the drums and assorted magic.


I’d like to talk about some of my favourite songs. First, Raining In April. What would you say about it ? The atmosphere is very mystical, the perfect choice to open the record…

*Thanks, it grew from some amient loops I had worked on for a progect called "Aprilis", which later morphed into the album.

To Kill All Kings is probably one of my favourite Sol Invictus song. I like the martial and hypnotic way of the percussions as well as the voices and choirs. It’s like the perfect battle hymn, don’t you think ? 


*Yes, its a kind of a peasants revolt set to music. So your reaction is just what I wanted. Its kind of pitch forks and flaming torches  amongst the vineyards. M really came into his own on this. 

Fools’ Ship is very gloomy, with a lot of reverb on the sound I think.

* Yes, its the world seen without the palliative of optimism. We seem to be on a ship on an uncaring sea, heading for the rocks.


The Bad Luck Bird is very emotional, with strong chorus, melodies and melancholic feeling. It make me think about the band Spiritual Front and, ince then, I now feel a Sol Invictus influence in their music. Do you know them ?

* It had never occured to me. Simone is a friend, they are a great band....with a terrible name :-)

* Believe it or not, the song started out as a kind of remembrance for a rescue bird of ours called  Bob. The worlds unluckiest bird.


Cruel Lincoln is one of Andrew King, right ? What would you say about his role on the record and in Sol Invictus in general ?

*Its a traditional song that Andrew has made very much his own. I just added the usual 2 note guitar part that is about my limit. Its a great live track and Andrew has added much to the band in the last few years. Andrew and Sol will be parting company afer the June concert  but his has been a very positive contribution to the group. Well, if infanticide and traditional Anglicanism can be termed positive.

The Blackleg Miner is perfect to conclude the record. The folk Americana sound make me think of the band 16 Horsepower. Is it a traditional ?

* The song is a traditional industrial ballad. I first knew it from the Steeleye Span version which I heard when I was on a the right to work march. I had always wanted to do a verion of it. I'm very happy with it and has become well received live.


Finally, I’m sure making this new album made you want to continue with Sol Invictus, I’m wrong ?

* Well, I was considering ending the band afer this album as its release alongside the box set would seem to be a fitting end. However, instead it will mean a change in direction and augmented new line up. 


In june you’ll release The Collected Works, a must have for all the Sol Invictus fans. Can you tell us more about the box, the content and the bonus inside ?

* Well, Martin of Prophecy had a Martin Luther King, "I have a dream" moment.  Its all the studio releases and a whole lot more, you will need a mortgage to afford it but the up side is it is actually big enough to live in.


I think the Above The Ruin record isn’t inside the box. Any plans about a new release with bonus material ?

* No none, Its from a bad period in my life and wont ever be released by me. 

To conclude, I’d like to ask you something about a rumour I heard. It’s about a reunion concert in Italy, next year, of the first Death In June line-up, including you, Patrick Leagas and, of course, Douglas Pearce. Do you confirm the event and what would you say about it ? A one shot or a tour planned, a record maybe ? 

* I'm afraid that is the first I have heard of it. So I would think very carefully before paying money for a ticket! Unless its from me , of course ;)

*What rotten wood did you have to cut a few years ago? Is it related to the work on Devil's Steed or anything else? What would you say initiated the process that ended with The Cruellest Month?

-- Well some people misconstrued kindness for weakness and/or basically thought they were irreplaceable regardless of what third-rate Machiavelli they tried to pull. They were wrong on both counts. Anyway that's all history and of no interest to anyone with a life.

After Devils Steed it really was a matter of calling it a day or moving in a new direction and with a new line up.

*What led to the Prophecy/Tontrager signing? Do you still run Tursa in any capacity?

-- Prophecy contacted me and I just took it they wanted to put out a couple of the old titles. In fact they wanted the whole Sol Back catalogue plus new release which was both flattering and daunting. Then Martin told me his "Mad King Ludwig's" castle, box set obsession.  I feared this was going to be the goth "Heaven's Gate" and bring Prophecy to its knees. I'm relieved to report this is not the case.

Although we had a lover's tiff over the delay in the new, old album coming out  I have to give credit where it is due. They have put an amazing amount of effort and resources into it all.

Tursa now just exists for my own non-Sol work that I want to release myself. I am just about to put out "Oddities", which is a CD of material that has never found a home. It means I can have some contact directly with the benighted few who really seem to like what I do. This has been shockingly positive, as on the whole they seem a good bunch. And they get limited editions that don't cost an arm and a leg.......yet!

*Regarding 'the end of something old or beginning of something new' - do you say that about your music or more about the evolution of what the Sol Invictus moniker/framework means for you? What would you say you are putting behind you now, and what new path are you taking?

-- I think with the release of the box set, it was symbolically another make or break moment. It would have been the obvious moment to end it.  Instead I made the hard decision to change direction. The plan is to add extra instruments, guitar, cello and keyboards and nod in the direction of PROG! This was far more painful in the sense that I was vary happy both on a musical and personal level with all the present line up. But a bastard's got to do what a bastard's got to do. Any new material is going to be rehearsed together as a band before any recording is done which will be a departure for me as an individual and Sol as a band.

*You state the album is a 'utopia-free zone' that deals with 'ageing and decline as individuals, empires and states'. I have two questions in relation: 1) how do you view the use of folk in relation to the subject matter (as in many cases in both traditional and neofolk it is imbibed with a sense of idealism or utopia) 2) I can relate my personal attitude towards notinos of utopia to my dissilusionment as a former political activist, especially in regards to activism's narrow-mindedness and dogmatism. My current view veers between nihilism and pragmatism, yet at the same time I mourn losing the part of me that could believe in something in outmost certainty. Do you relate to a similar process? Are you just older, wiser and more bitter (or perhaps less angry?), or can you relate the album's themes to specific experiences and processes you went through? 

--Indeed folk does have that current to it, but also the dark nature of some traditional songs twist down another path entirely. Anyway, I am not a purist. We are not a traditional folk, or neofolk band. We will use and abuse anything we can get our clammy hands on.

I do absolutely identify with your attitude. As someone who has been through the mill of political involvement, I have a very similar reaction. Indeed, the world is a simpler place when you believe in great certainties, that is the lure of utopia. I'm always reminded of the Camus quote. "When one wants to unify the whole world in the name of an ideology, there is no other way but to make this world as fleshless, as blind, and as deaf as the ideology itself."

The language that the French describe as speaking with a wooden tongue that is so prevalent amongst a certain strata of the "vanguard" is a case in point. I think political parties be they left, right  or whatever lead to a certain mind set, a certain apparatchik that can do the most terrible things for the most "wonderful" reasons.

Strip away the sexy uniforms and symbols, and it's still dead bodies in a ditch.

When writing the album, that feeling of being between wars seemed prevalent with me. That the future is not necessarily an upward curve of progress. That a form of barbarism is blowing in. I am certainly older, I think wiser is pushing my luck a bit, but certainly less stupid. Although it sounds like hippy shite, learning to rise above or at least ignore pathetic feuds and using all that energy for something positive is a lesson well learnt. 

* (feel free not to answer) - as I was one of the persons who embarked upon the futile mission of trying to reason/debate with those Who Makes The Nazis people, beyond the understandable frustration I felt, I was trying to think whether this disproportionate, fanatic, blind which hunt mentality is merely a leftists' power-tripping or does it point more deeply to the fact that in many ways the left/right debate in Europe is stuck in limbo, fed by trauma and taboo. I feel that nothing will ever be learned until Europe breaks away from being suspended in 1945. Or, if to relate it to the content of the new album, would you say that this tragic loop is the cruel fate of mankind?

-- I'm afraid its often just a case of the authoritarian dog chasing its own tail. I think the 1945 point is a good one. It really does resemble "Allo 'Allo! " without the gags, sometimes. The far left/right have so much in common, in many ways. I mean apart from the finger pointing and apologia for concentration camps, gulags and mass murder. They feed off each other like dysfunctional lovers. Sadly, it's futile to have a dialogue with people with that mindset, be they left, right or centre. Like fundamentalists the world over, they are censoring, both of the self and others, and mean spirited. They are best left to drown in their own bile.

Frankly, I have better things to do, like wash my hair. But I do salute your indefatigably in making the attempt.

*What can you tell me about 'Edward', 'Cruel Lincoln' and 'Blackleg Miner'? How do they tie in with the rest of the album?

-- Well the first two are very much from the strange archaic world of Anglican avenger, Andrew King! The usual happy go lucky, bloodletting of traditional rural England.

The Steeleye Span version of Blackleg Miner was first heard by me when I was recovering from alcoholic poisoning in Birmingham thanks to a right to work march! I have always wanted to do a version. So I re-discovered and channelled my inner red to record this one. It has become a live favourite. Hopefully it will earn me brownie points with my sister and her tribe of offspring who seem hellbent on making Exeter a worker's republic......

*Love Lundvall's cover art 

Yes, it's wonderful. One of the pluses in doing what I do is the ability to work with really talented people, not just chancers like me. He is a great artist and a good friend.

One extra regarding Tursa - do you already have specific stuff set for release? Do you have by any chance any unused The Wardrobe or Grey Force Wakeford you consider releasing? Or, will those projects ever return?

I'm planning to release an album by The Gild which is a collaboration between me and "M", who as well as being a loud Israeli who keeps trying to hug me also produces and plays in the studio with Sol and Orchestra Noir.  Also an album by The Window Tappers, which is my collaboration with avant-garde angst kitten, ivory tickler and diva, Susan Mathews.

There is nothing in the can or on the hard disc of the Wardrobe or GFW. Now that Andrew Liles moves in the sunlight dappled world of the C93/NWW glitterati I may well be but an obscure foot note to his bright firmament. But who knows.  

 Sol Invictus ‎23/‎05/‎2011    Metallian (France)

* Sol Invictus is back! With «The cruelest month ", at the same time dark and witty, what are the main themes which have marked this disc?

 I think the underlying theme is the decline and fall of individuals, ideologies, states etc.

Also a feeling very much like that between the wars of intending doom. Of something nasty this way comes.

And that even childhood Toys can go bad!

* Is your antipathy for our modern world is still alive? Italian philosopher Julius Evola always inspires you as much?

He only inspired me in the theft of his titles for songs and albums. Which shows up my essentially shallow and magpie nature. Frankly, I found his books unreadable and generally see him as a a bit bonkers. 

I think if you are going to go for a walk in a bombing raid to prove your self invincible and you get your legs blown off, it might have been time to reevaluate a little.

Modern world…. Britain has talent bad….Ipad…good. Blood pressure pills…brilliant!

* Have you worked again with the American painter Tor Lundvall for this new sleeve?

Yes, Tor came up with a beautiful yet disturbing painting which I think fits perfectly with the album. As you may know Prophecy are about to release a Sol Invictus box set, one of the pluses is that it is a chance to showcase more of Tor's work.

* Your music is still very experimental since your start, but its main base remains very folk! What is the creative process of Sol Invictus ?

The album was recorded nearly 6 years ago after changing the line up after The Devils Steed. So it was a case of a breath of fresh air after the malignant stench emanating from some of the last line up.It was nice to work with people who did not have personality disorders.

I  started working with Israeli producer 'M" which meant I had a fresh pair of ears and someone with real studio skill. Also some new musicians, Guy and Caroline meant it all became a much more pleasurable experience both in recording and playing live. 

* How and where happened the recording of " The cruel month " ?

As usual I came up with the basics and some very rough ideas regarding what I wanted. The title track and two other tracks are based on ambient loop pieces I had started for an album called "Aprilis" which later turned into "The Crulest Month". So it was partly a new way of writing for me that was not  so much based on my plodding Guitar.

* Do you think you will touring to support this album ?

 Well we have been for the last 5 years really, in the sense we have been playing the studio tracks live. We have a number of dates this year, but the line up is undergoing a change later in the year when we will go in a different direction with a modified line up. We will be embracing THE PROG!

* What are the bands which inspire you in 2011?

Everything and nothing. I have been listening to Porcupine Tree and the The Tiger Lilies, recently. And the usual, Faust, Tull, Henry  Cow, Eno, Genesis -EARLY!, Jazz and Classical. Although it has to fight for ear space with my wife's J Pop obsession. Thats J for Japanese not J for Jewish, by the way .

* Your first album was released in 1987! What assessment can you make of your career after all these years? Have you any regrets after you left of Death in June for example ?

My life is full of mistakes, bad decisions and self destructiveness. The thing is you either learn and go forward or stop and rot.

In a song called "`Families" which I wrote for OWLS, a project with Eraldo Bernocchi,  a line goes "Regret is like a withered arm".

Thats how I see it. What is done, is done, move on.

Interview for SOL INVICTUS by Sergio Gilles Lacavalla for Ritual Magazine

The first question is quite obvious: why six years between ‘The Devil’s Steed’ and the ‘Cruellest Month’?

* Well, the album is 5 years old. A war of attrition between Sol and Prophecy led to much suffering and many orphans. I wanted the album released during those 5 long lonely years and the brutes on the Rhine wanted it out with the box set. That said, despite this, they have been an excellent label to be with.

Let’s talk about the title: which is ‘The Cruellest Month’?

* Well, according to "The Wasteland" its April.

The front cover is very evocative and strange: what brought you to this choice and what’s the meaning behind this image?

*"Tony's lyrics to "The Bad Luck Bird" and the traditional lyrics to "Edward" immediately made me think of this old painting as a possible album cover.  There is no story or specific meaning behind the imagery, at least not on a conscious level.  The painting just felt right and it manages to capture the mood and themes of the album perfectly."

Tor Lundvall

What can you tell me about the meaning of the album as a “whole”? You say: “it’s a meditation on ageing and decline as individuals, empires and states. It deals with the question if the cruelty of life is simply a reflection of the cruelty of god or if we are simply cruel for cruelty’s sake. It is a utopia-free zone”. That’s such an interesting topic, can you go more into the matter?

* Well, I wont go as far as saying age has brought wisdom, but maybe  in my cases a decline in stupidity. I think the Camus quote sums it up. "When one wants to unify the whole world in the name of an ideology, there is no other way but to make this world as fleshless, as blind, and as deaf as the ideology itself." In the past I have suffered from the infantile need for a big, bad idea. That is long gone. Now I have no idea, what so ever.

Another interesting statement is: “A few years ago, I had to cut wood that was rotten, but 'The Cruellest Month' is a vindication that I had made the right decision” So, the question is: is the “Cruellest Month” the end of something old or the beginning of something new?

Well, 5 years ago it would have been the beginning of something new, but it is about to be the end of something old. I was considering with the release of the Box Set that it would be the obvious time to end the band, and part of me still thinks that is the case. However, from June Sol will continue with a changed lineup and an attempt at a different way of working. And a move towards..........PROG!

What else have been important influences on ‘The Cruellest Month’? I mean, musicians, traditional stories, writers or artists that you find inspirational?

* Elliots "The Wasteland". Bowies, Aladin Sane. Andrews Kings lust for foot notes. The whole inter war period. From hope to horror.

While listening to the music I noticed that the core of the album is centered around a dimension that is, at the same time, folkish and epic, martial and melodic. How did you manage to balance those elements?

* "M" an Israeli producer who had settled in London contacted me. He bought me a cup of tea and some cake so we started working together. He produced and engineered the album as well as playing on it. Also the title track and two other tracks were based on ambient looped pieces I had composed for an album called "Aprilis", which later turned into "The Crullest Month". So this was a big change from my usual plodding guitar being the basis of songs. 

Still talking about this point, while composing, do you have a sort of experimental/improvisational approach or the composition process is completely structured and fully organized?

* Its usually a matter of snippets of words or guitar, or loops slowly finding each other. Some times, a complete song will emerge fully formed like a grumpy baby. Angels Fall and On and On for instance, but this is fairly rare.

What do you think of the present times: is our society fading away? Is Tony Wakeford still “against the modern world”?

* I think the idea that many have instinctively felt, that progress and the future go hand in hand seems to be getting past its sell by date. The rise of various fundamentalism's, be they political or religious or a combination of the two seems to suggest the worst may yet be to come.

As for the rod I made for my own back, due to stealing that title. It seems to show that crime really does not pay, sometimes. Of course elements of the modern world are vile, but I am quite keen on the pills that keep me alive and my wife's IPad that I unhealthily covet.

Really, this esoteric far right baloney about some mythic sun dappled aristocracy, is just adolescent tosh. In any such golden age most of us would have been slaves, serfs or dead from a mouth ulcer at 14 or something.

How do you perceive the evolution of your project throughout the years and in the same time your personal evolution as musicians? What was the initial musical vision that brought Sol Invictus together and how has this vision evolved and been adapted up to the present time?

* It started as a path out of a very self destructive dead end that I had got myself into. The only way was up. The music has changed as I have, less dogmatic, and obsessive. Less rhyming rune with moon. Leaning the hard way that some people, thankfully in the past did not deserve a second chance.

Which are according to you the fundamental elements that define “folk noir”?

* Well it was a term coined by an old friend of mine, David Mearns, who died last year. So quite possibly, eat, drink and smoke too much, and do not suffer fools. God bless him. I think folk with the minimum of twee and trotsky.

Heading back in time to the beginning of your long “journey”, you lived in first person the golden age of the punk movement, first, and neo folk, later. How do you remember those days? What kind of legacy did those days leave behind?


Well, very dimly to be honest. A legacy? An obscure foot note in my case. An obscure, speed raddled, foot note.

Still talking about the past, are there any interesting memories of the Crisis period you can share with us?

*Well, the gangster who ran the Roxy, and was our manager, for all of 3 days, was later found dead with his genitals stuffed in his mouth. That story always seemed to break the ice at parties.

* Oh,and having our passports confiscated during our tour of Norway when someone who thought Punks were there to be bullied got put in a comma.

And our 45 minute set taking 25 minutes as the band and audience were all up on some rather good quality amphetamine sulphate.

Where do you see Sol Invictus going from here?

*PROG Heaven.

Who is Tony Wakeford today?

* Fat, Fifty, and Fascist-NOT!

* Interview with M Guest Guy Harries on Resonance FM September 2009

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* Interview with M, Tony Wakeford and Stephen Flinn on Resonance FM 24/06/09

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Sol Invictus Interview; Figures on a Beach
Thursday, May 01 2008

Sol Invictus / Tursa Interview
As a member of Death In June from 1980 to 1984, an occasional collaborator with Current 93, and most importantly with his own projectSol Invictus from 1987 to the present day, Tony Wakeford is one of the founding fathers of the post-industrial musical genre which has come to be known, somewhat problematically, as neo-folk. Classic Sol Invictus albums including Trees In Winter (1990), In The Rain (1995), The Blade (1997) and In A Garden Green (1999) feature an acoustic folk sound, often augmented with rich chamber music textures, and filled with cultural pessimism, romantic melancholy and a peculiarly English exploration of our primordial, and often bloody, pagan heritage. All these albums were released on Tony’s own record label, Tursa, and distributed through the influential but ill-fated World Serpent Distribution. 

The period since the collapse of World Serpent in 2004 has been one of retooling and retrenchment for Sol Invictus and Tursa. Sol Invictus has evolved into a five-piece line-up, featuring Tony Wakeford on guitar and vocals, Tony’s wife Renée Rosen on violin, Caroline Jago on bass, Lesley Malone on bodhran and laptop electronics, and Andrew King on vocals an percussion. Andrew is also a solo performer, a scholar of traditional British folk music, and a member, along with Tony Wakeford, of the duo The Triple Tree. This latest incarnation of Sol Invictus made its live premiere at the Water Rats Theatre in London in December 2006, also releasing three tracks on the accompanying souvenir CD A Mythological Prospect Of The Citie Of Londinium.

This interview with Tony Wakeford took place in a pub near his home in Waterloo, London, on 13 April 2008. Also present was the American-Israeli producer and musician Reeve Malka, who now runs the Tursa label alongside Tony, and who is also a member of Orchestra Noir, another of Tony’s many musical projects. We were joined later by Andrew King.

Heathen Harvest: I’d like to begin by asking you about the sense of locale in your work. You live in Waterloo now. Have you always lived in London?

Tony Wakeford: I’ve lived in various parts of London since late 1976, always in south London, apart from a month in Notting Hill.

HH: Do you come from London?

TW: No, my dad comes from Brixton, but I was born in Woking.

HH: Because you sound like a Londoner.

TW: Well, that’s my dad’s influence.

HH: Some Sol Invictus songs have dealt with geographical locales, either in the most general terms, like ‘Death Of The West’, ‘Looking For Europe’ and ‘In Europa’, or songs about England, like ‘English Murder’ or ‘Old London Weeps’ and so on. How important is a sense of geography to your work?

TW: It’s so important that I never even think about it. For me, most art that I appreciate is attached to a specific place and time, and reactions and feelings to that place and time. For good or bad, I’m an English artist, and trying to pretend that I’m American or whatever is a pointless exercise. Being in this place and time is 
comes out in everything I do.

HH: You were recently interviewed by sociologist Peter Webb, who has written about the neo-folk subculture. When I talked to Peter about neo-folk, I suggested to him that neo-folk was essentially a punk rock take on the pastoral ideal, because when you go back to the earliest manifestations of the genre, with Death In June and Current 93 and your own work in Sol Invictus, you guys weren’t peasants working the land, you were living in bedsits in London and Freya Aswynn’s basement in Tufnell Park, and the music was about a disgust with the city and a longing for a more rural life. Is that a fair assessment?

TW: I think that’s as valid an outlook on it as anything else. I’ve never even really thought about the reasons for the music’s origins. I think it was one of those sort of things where a group of people, including Douglas P. , David Tibet and myself, all independently moved away from what was supposed to be sort of post-punk or industrial, stepped outside it a bit and moved more into folk music. It seemed to coalesce under this neo-folk title. I’m not for it or against it, really. A lot of neo-folk is just Death In June or Sol by numbers, really. There’s much more interesting music outside neo-folk. But I’ve got no problem if people call me that.

HH: In fact, your musical point zero is situated in punk rock, with the band Crisis, which broke up and then evolved into Death In June, which started out with a post-punk, very Joy Division-influenced sound, and then became more folky.

TW: A lot of that was because before Sol Invictus, I was playing bass in Death In June. But after DIJ, I started learning the guitar, and writing songs for acoustic guitar, which naturally pushes you in the direction of more melodic song structures, with less of a thumping rock feel to them.

HH: Bringing things up to date a bit more, we last talked in the autumn of 2006 [for an interview published in issue 14 of Zero Tolerance magazine], before the Water Rats show. At that point, you were talking about a forthcoming album called Aprilis. This has now been renamed The Cruellest Month, but it still hasn’t been released. What’s happening with that?

TW: It’s been stripped down and rebuilt, taking it in a new direction, with a wider group of musicians being involved. I’ve recently signed to the German label Auerbach Tonträger, a subdivision of Prophecy Productions, which is very exciting for me, and hopefully exciting for them, and we’re not rushing the new album, but we’re roughly planning for it to come out late this year or very early next year, and on the back of that, we’re planning to gradually re-release the Sol Invictus back catalogue.

HH: You’ve given up on the idea of releasing the album in April, then? 

TW: Absolutely, yeah. It might even change titles again. Trying to arrange for it to come out in April any year is asking too much! But it should be out by early next year.

HH: And will that be a Tursa release?

TW: It’ll be on Tursa via Prophecy. It’s a Prophecy release, but it’ll have the Tursa imprint on it.

HH: That will be the first studio album since The Devil’s Steed in 2005, so there’s been a fairly substantial hiatus with Sol Invictus. You have the new line-up now. How’s that working out?

TW: The new line-up works very well, on a personal level as well as a musical level. I’m also using a larger pool of collaborating musicians, so I can have different line-ups for different concerts or whatever. They’re not tied to me, I’m not tied to them, it’s a lot more fluid. We’re going to have cello on this album, for the first time in a long time. We’re experimenting with loops and electronics. We’re using a dulcimer for the first time. It’s been a very creative period.

HH: You say you’re drawing on a larger pool of musicians, but you also have a fixed core membership of four other people, so Sol Invictus isn’t so much your solo project anymore, is it?

TW: I think it’s still me working with collaborators. I’m still the songwriter. I’m very open to the ideas of other people, but in the end, with Sol Invictus, I have the last say. It’s my band, and everyone knows that. But it has more of the feel of a band now than it used to, I suppose.

HH: Are there going to be female vocals on the new album? Because in preparing for this interview, I was listening to the albums The Hill Of Crosses (2000) and Thrones (2002), and Sally Doherty’s vocals are really important on those albums.

TW: There may be some, I haven’t really decided yet. I’m working with various singers on various projects, but it’s a question of deciding who fits in best where. There’s an a cappella group in Norway who I’m really interested in, and there are a couple of things that they could chorus on, but it’s all up in the air at the moment, I haven’t decided.

HH: Are they like a Scandinavian folk thing?

TW: They’re called Saffron, they do everything from traditional Scandinavian folk right through to jazz, and they’re really, really good.

HH: Will your new album have any jazz or blues on it, or have you moved out of that phase?

TW: Not really, no. It has much more of a classical atmosphere to it. We’re using flute, percussion, dulcimer, cello and violin.

HH: You said there was going to be loops and electronics as well. Is that going to be more in the vein of ‘In God We Trust’, which had quite a strident industrial sound to it?

TW: Yeah, but it’ll be more on the ambient side of things, not so percussive.

HH: That track seemed like a bold departure for Sol Invictus.

TW: It was built up around something which I accidentally looped, and which worked.

HH: Are you playing bass on the new album, or is anybody?

TW: It’s a mixture of me playing some double bass and some electric bass, and Caroline doing some bass as well.

HH: Just a couple of days ago, I got a MySpace bulletin about a show you’re doing in London in October, with Arcana supporting. Can you tell me about how this show came about?

TW: I’ve been discussing it with Justin Mitchell at Cold Spring Records off and on for a month or so [Cold Spring organised Sol Invictus’s last London show, and Sol Invictus contributed to last year’s acclaimed Cold Spring dark folk compilation John Barleycorn Reborn]. It was just a question of finding the right venue and the right day. Justin came up with the other bands who are playing.

HH: Have there been many more live shows since the Water Rats show in 2006?

TW: We didn’t play in the UK last year. We played in Italy and Germany, though. We just did two shows in Germany a couple of weeks ago, and we have a date in Holland in August. I’m doing a solo performance with Renée in Germany at the end of May, and The Triple Tree, which is Andrew King and myself, are doing what will hopefully be the first of a monthly residency of Tursa artists at Ryan’s Bar in Stoke Newington on  the 29 June. If that goes well, there’ll be a show on the last Sunday of every month, showcasing Tursa groups, or friends of ours.

HH: That seems like a good point at which to ask you more generally about Tursa. Again, last time we talked, I got the impression that Tursa was pretty much on the ropes, with a lot of financial problems. But it seems like there’s been a resurgence in activity from the label, specifically to do with the involvement of Reeve Malka.

TW: Yes, originally, Reeve and I were going to work together purely on a musical thing, but Reeve has a lot of enthusiasm and get-up-and-go, which I lack, and we share a lot in common, so he became a business partner in Tursa. I’m stuck with being identified with a certain genre, whereas Reeve doesn’t have that dubious honour, so there are some interesting artists who he’s brought into the field of vision, and Tursa will be releasing a greater diversity of artists. There are still financial problems, but they are less than they were, and the whole weight of the Sol Invictus thing, I don’t have to worry about so much now, as Prophecy are handling that. I know that back catalogue is in good hands, which has loosened things up a bit, to concentrate on side projects and finding other artists we want to work with.

HH: Reeve, maybe you could answer this question. What’s the current release schedule looking like for Tursa?

Reeve Malka: The Triple Tree album Ghosts, which is based on the short stories of M.R. James, will be out in the next couple of months. Then we’re doing a promo compilation, a label sampler to showcase the entire Tursa repertoire. I’m getting the bands to submit a track each, then I’m mixing it and we’ll overdub things, and it’ll come with the Tursa stamp of quality! That will be my first production for the label, so it’s very exciting, and we’re want it to highlight the new direction that Tursa is taking.

HH: I know that you, Tony, aren’t so interested in the business end of things, so is it a big relief having someone helping you out with all that?

TW: Yeah, absolutely. At school, in subjects like maths, I just stared out of the window, so it’s good to have someone who’s up on that side of things as well as the artistic side.

HH: Don’t you ever wish you were just signed to a major label and all you had to do was play your guitar and sing and not worry about all this stuff?

TW: Well, I think those days are pretty much gone anyway, for most artists. Yeah, if someone was putting hundreds of thousands of pounds in my bank account, obviously that’d be nice, but the whole thing’s topsy-turvy now. The bands we’re working with on Tursa aren’t tied to us by contracts, they can do whatever they like. There’s a family of groups who can help each other, and in a world of millions of different groups on MySpace, instead of just dissipating, at least Tursa has some kind of a name, and those artists can benefit from that, and we can benefit from their input.

HH: You think it’s useful having a group identity, or a brand?

TW: Yes, when you have an eastern European folk band like Zunroyz, or an avant-garde artist like Susan Matthews, it’s not easy for people like that to find an audience, so we all help each other out. We had a little show at Bonnington’s in Vauxhall, and there was none of that ‘make the support band have a crap sound’ kind of thing, everyone helped each other out, lent each other equipment, and so on. It would be really nice if we could keep that feeling. I don’t know whether we can or not, musicians being what they are, but so far it’s been very positive.

HH: Just going back to the Sol Invictus back catalogue deal you have with Prophecy, how did that come about?

TW: It started when Martin Koller from Prophecy contacted me, and I’d personally always held Prophecy in quite high regard, which is quite a rarity among record labels. I asked around, and nobody really had a bad thing to say about the label. The worst that anybody said was that they could maybe do a bit more advertising, but there was no question of dishonesty or treating their artists like shit. I’d very slightly worked for them on the Sol Invictus track for the Looking For Europe book and compilation, and I was very pleased when Martin, out of the blue, sent me an email proposing a deal.

HH: Yes, there a lot of bands on Prophecy who I like a lot, such asEmpyrium and Dornenriech. But what’s the release schedule for Sol Invictus looking like?

TW: Well, first of all there’s the new studio album, and after that, what Martin is talking about is one reissue every few months, with a common look to the releases, maybe a portrait format digipack, and Martin was proposing a boxed set, so that people can collect the albums and put them in the box.

HH: Do you know in what order they’ll be coming out?

TW: Not for sure yet. Maybe in chronological order, but not necessarily, but all the studio albums will definitely be coming out.

HH: There are a couple of Sol Invictus reissues out at the moment anyway, aren’t there? You have In The Rain on the Russian labelInfinite Fog Productions/Eternal Pride Productions, and the Sol Veritas Lux release, which collects the first two Sol Invictus albums, and which was released on Tursa / Dark Vinyl in 2006. So are those albums going to reappear in Prophecy versions?

TW: They’ll come out again, but with extra artwork, some outtakes and remixes. There’s also an album I’ve done with the new line-up, plus Guy Harries from Orchestra Noir, who’s started playing flute with Sol Invictus live, and in the studio as well. That album was recorded live in the studio in London, and that’s going to be an extra bonus album for people who collect the set.

HH: Thinking about the Sol Invictus back catalogue, I was wondering if there were any songs in there which you wouldn’t be interested in playing now, for political or aesthetic as opposed to purely practical reasons?

TW: Yes, ‘Death Of The West’ would be one.

HH: That’s interesting, because Douglas P., who co-wrote it, was still playing that song in his last live performances.

TW: That’s fine, but it doesn’t represent where I am now. It’s too much like living in the past for me. That’s just how I feel about it. I don’t really plan on playing ‘Looking For Europe’ again either, or any of the ones which are more preachy and ranty, really. I don’t have any urge to be up on a soapbox proclaiming anymore. I prefer the more personal stuff. That’s what I’m better at, really.

HH: Let’s talk some more about your bewildering profusion of other projects. We already mentioned The Triple Tree, and the Ghosts album, which is going to be co-released with Cold Spring. There was also a Triple Tree track on the John Barleycorn Reborn compilation last year. Was that the first Triple Tree release?

TW: Yes it was, and that got a very good reaction, it was played on Radio 6, so that bodes well for the album.

HH: You have your solo album Into The Woods out now on Tursa / Dark Vinyl, and I believe you have another solo album coming out soon, called Not All Of Me Will Die. Can you tell me about that project?

TW: Yes, that’s going to come out on an Israeli label called The Eastern Front, who I met when I was visiting Israel for a wedding. It’s run by a couple called Ygor and Tanya, who are really nice, and so I’m doing a concept album for them which should be out some time this year. I’m working on it in my spare moments. The album is based on the writings of a Polish poetess called Zuzanna Ginczanka, who was shot just before the end of the Second World War. There’s very little written about her or known about her, but some of her poems survived, and I found them very, very evocative and moving. It seemed fitting for this album to come out on an Israeli label.

HH: So why isn’t it on Tursa?

TW: It’s a long story. The musical side of it was originally done for a Polish chap who lived in Ireland, who asked me to do something for a Polish charity which helps children with serious illnesses, but unfortunately he ran into problems, so the project was put on hold. But because this was a Polish thing, I was looking around for something with a Polish angle, and I was in contact with Tanya and Ygor, and they were very keen on using this work, which seemed fitting, as Zuzanna Ginczanka was Jewish.

HH: OK, you’re also busy with another project, called Grey Force Wakeford, in collaboration with Nick Grey and also Kris Force fromAmber Asylum, and which has an album out on Athanor Records. How did you come to be working with Kris Force?

TW: I’ve known Kris on and off for years, and she came over here to do some recording whilst she was on holiday, and I discovered that, independently of me, she knew Nick Grey, who, through the horrors of MySpace, I’d also hooked up with, and so the three of us just started swapping tapes and WAV files. We put it all together and made an album.

HH: So it was basically a sort of musical love triangle?

TW: Yeah, Kris is the meat in our sandwich! Don’t print that!

HH: Ah, c’mon, I’ve got to !

TW: No, she’s a great girl and good to work with. I’ve not met Nick, though. He was based in Montreal, and then in Monaco. I think he’s back in Canada now.

HH: Do you have any plans to work with Matt Howden again, either as Howden Wakeford, or HaWthorn, or in another project?

TW: Well, we’re hoping that when the Tursa nights start, he’s agreed to come done and do one of those nights, and we’re both playing at this Amsterdam festival, so we’ll do a rock-star thing, where he’s going to come on stage for a song! There are no plans to record together again at the moment, because we’re both really, really busy. But we’re certainly still really good friends. I think we might try to play live together again some time. There was talk of me, him and Simone from Spiritual Front maybe doing something together in Italy, which would be nice. Simone has also agreed to do a Tursa night, incidentally, if that comes together.

HH: And then there’s Orchestra Noir, which is the new incarnation of L’Orchestre Noir, which released a couple of albums in the late 90s. Orchestra Noir has an EP, Affordable Holmes, out on Portuguese label Extremocidente, and there are plans for an album to follow that. How is that project coming along?

TW: Slowly, but it’s very, very promising. There are some brilliant musicians working on that, and the album is basically all there, it’s done. We’re just sorting out some female vocals, and maybe some extra male vocals aside from mine.

HH: Do you have anyone in mind for that?

TW: Yeah, Reeve’s been sticking his nose in there.

RM: I’ve been negotiating with some people, but I can’t talk about that in print yet.


At this point, Andrew King arrives, and he begins by describing the problems he’s having recording the bells at Greenwich, which he wants to use on his upcoming collaborative album with Brownsierra, Thallassocracy.


Andrew King: The track in the middle of the album about the death of Lord Nelson is unaccompanied vocals, it’s the only unaccompanied track on the album, and it seemed suitable, because the naval college at Greenwich was the centre of the British Empire, essentially, to record the bell that Nelson and the other naval officers would have heard when they were there. So I’ve been trying to get a decent recording of the bells, with permission, but because there are flights going over Greenwich every hour, it’s virtually impossible to get a recording without the noise of aeroplanes on it. Which might just work, but I’d also like to have the option of having some bells without the background noise. So I’ve arranged to go into the tower this Thursday and record them at 11 and 12 o’clock. 

HH: Just a suggestion, but maybe you could have the bells with no plane noise at the beginning, and then with plane noise at the end, to symbolise the past and the present.

AK: It’s certainly a possibility, and it may even be better to leave the ambient noise in, as we’ve used field recordings throughout the album, but I’d just like to have the option, and see which one works best.

HH: You also have several albums coming out, I think. Do you know when your new solo album Deus Ignotus will be released?

AK: That’ll be after the Brownsierra album and the Triple Tree album. We were hoping to get it out at the same time, but we’ve had a number of technical problems with the studio we were using, but that’s about 90% finished. It would have been nice to get it done in time for the Wave Gothic Treffen festival in Liepzig, in May, particularly as one of the pieces is a song in alt Deutsch, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible now.

HH: I was wondering whether the balance of power in Sol Invictus has shifted at all, given that you’re now in the band and you’re another songwriter.

AK: I’m not really a songwriter, I do traditional songs, so I don’t think I’m queering Tony’s pitch, so to speak. I don’t think anything’s changed, to be honest.

HH: Well, there are two male vocalists now.

AK: Yes, but people come to a Sol Invictus gig to see Tony. If he wasn’t there, people would be a little bit perturbed, wouldn’t they? But if the rest of us didn’t show up, it wouldn’t matter so much, there’d just be a smaller band sound.

TW: And more money for me!

AK: So I don’t really see a big change there, other than we probably travel a bit better than the old band did.

HH: Is the balance of power more evenly distributed in The Triple Tree, then?

AK: Oh, most definitely, yes! That’s a different thing altogether, and although Tony came up with the idea for the album, I think it’s fair to say that I have contributed quite considerably to it. [general laughter]

HH: So were you both admirers of M.R. James already?

AK: We both know his work inside out. We have slightly different angles on it, but that’s only to be expected. Most of the compositions on Ghosts are Tony’s, but I contributed an awful lot on the vocal front, particularly spoken word, and research as well.

HH: Well, you have a good voice for M.R. James characters – slightly plummy, Oxbridge sounding. It’s a little bit less estuarised than Tony’s, isn’t it? [more general hilarity]

AK: Yes, for representing the memoirs of Mr Abney or something like that, I probably do have a more fitting voice than Tony, that’s the best way of putting it.

HH: Although James’ stories are full of working-class caricatures. Does Tony get to do them?

TW: [in heavily plebeian accent] Cor yes, guv’nor! Strike a light!

AK: Caricatures is definitely the operative term! And of course they are different types of caricatures. There’ll be the London train driver, and the Mummerset peasant, and so on. But they don’t really figure as major characters in any of the stories.

TW: And as for women…

HH: They hadn’t been invented by then, had they?

TW: Not as far as M.R. James was concerned, anyway.

HH: So how does the songwriting in Sol Invictus work?

AK: My only involvement is with any of the traditional songs. So for example, with ‘Cruel Lincoln’, Tony had some loops and asked me if I had anything that would fit in with that key, and I set a different version of ‘Cruel Lincoln’ to the one which I recorded solo, which I felt fitted with that backing, and that piece grew from there. But I don’t think there’ll be any Sol Invictus lyrics by myself, it’ll be purely traditional folk things.

HH: Andrew, I’d like to get your take on the question I was asking Tony at the beginning, about neo-folk being an urban, punky version of a pastoral ideal.

AK: I can’t talk for anyone else, but speaking for myself, I would say that your description, if you didn’t say ‘punk’, is a fairly good one for the folk revival, full stop. Any of the post-war folk revival singers were people who were part of a commercial popular music scene, who then turned towards doing traditional music, so they weren’t really traditional singers in any way, shape or form. With regard to the neo-folk situation, I suppose in my situation I’ve learned a lot of songs from the traditional sources.

HH: But you’re in an unusual situation in the scene, from having this involvement with trad folk, which people like Tony and David Tibet just didn’t have, initially at least.

AK: Yes, but I think it’s to do with the definition of what constitutes neo-folk, which is a clumsy term anyway, although it works perfectly well for myself. As a convenient label, it’s become the one to hang onto people from a post-industrial background who’ve gone back to doing song, some of which are influenced by traditional music. The term ‘neo-folk’ might more accurately be applied to some of the German and other European bands, because the actual chord structures and so on are much closer to the tradition of campfire, Wandervogel type songs, which we really don’t have an equivalent of in this country, for social and cultural reasons, So anyway, I don’t think the development of neo-folk is a case of people getting bored with what they were doing and looking towards the countryside, I think it’s more of a case of the label being applied after the fact to the work of certain people whose work it seems to be suitable for.

New Dawn for Tursa, Tony Wakeford and Reeve Malka. Interview by Peter Webb.

Tursa ( and ) as a record label and production house has gone through a number of significant changes and developments in the last two years. Tony Wakeford's band of merry troubadours `Sol Invictus' ( ) have been at the centre of the majority of releases by the Tursa label but it is now branching out much further than it ever has before. Sol; reflective of Tony's personal musical vision and an expression of a remarkable personal journey that has dealt with some of the political contradictions, interests, preoccupations and ideas of a period of British culture stretching from the 1970s to today, have fostered an extremely independent music and cultural scene that developed from punk and post-punk through Industrial to the folk noir or neo-folk scene today. There is little literature on this very underground of scenes, David Keenan's `England's Hidden Reverse' and Deisel and Gerten's `Looking for Europe' being notable exceptions, but a cursory glance at the WWW shows a massive number of websites, myspace pages, forums, record labels and distributors who are involved in this area (see Soleilmoon, Tesco, Dark Vinyl, Athanor, Cynfeird, Strange Fortune, Trisol, Woven Wheat Whispers, Cold Spring, Eis Und Licht, Hau Ruck amongst others). Although the scene is not recognised in much mainstream music press (Zero Tolerance being an important exception) across Europe the artists and fans of the scene have created a vibrant and thoughtful music and cultural underground that has explored and fore-grounded ideas about paganism, ecology, individualism, anarchism and local cultural tradition. There are also elements within this scene that foreground philosophical areas attached to the New right but these groups are thankfully small and marginal to the majority of the scene.

Tony, as an English artist, has honed his craft with Sol through many different phases. The early recordings of raw edgy guitar, bass and drums have given way to an evolving complexity of strings, oboe's, violin, bodrhan, found sound samples, acoustic guitar and bass all set off with Tony's affecting and brooding vocal style that is particularly emotive. The subject matter on the early releases discussed themes related to Paganism and Magick, now those themes have given way to examinations of Religion, Nationalism, Individualism, Love and the strange and rare beast that is English culture. Tony had solely run Tursa as a label inspired in part by David Tibet and his early releases of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound on the Maldoror, United Dairies and eventually Durtro labels ( ). Death In June also had run their own New European Recordings label, this though had mainly been Douglas P's baby ( ), so Tony, once he had started Sol Invictus, decided he needed to take control of his own destiny and developed his own label on the Enterprise Allowance scheme (a 1980s government attempt to get people off of welfare and on the road to capitalist enterprise). Although he didn't become the Richard Branson of the Post-industrial scene he made a concerted attempt at presenting his work and selling it to a wider public. Over the years the label has released 23 Sol Invictus albums and also albums by Skald, Seiben and Algiz. After being through a turbulent relationship with World Serpent (a distributor and finance vehicle for Tursa which ended in a collapse and bankruptcy of the company and left Tony with a large number of debts and non payment of royalties) he decided to develop Tursa partly as a label in its own right and partly to license recordings to other labels. As the 2000s progressed and the internet started to instigate massive changes in the wider world of music it also had a huge effect on underground scenes like the Neo folk/post industrial scene. The net encouraged a decline in sales of recorded music through peer to peer file sharing but also brought people and music scenes together in closer ties through networking sites like Myspace, forums, websites and web communities. With all this in mind Tony has revamped and re-energised Tursa in a number of ways. 

Firstly he met the Israeli and Jewish artist M or Reeve Malka. Reeve and Tony first linked up through `the evil' that is MySpace. Reeve had been doing some work with Jarboe (on a yet to be released project) and Tony having worked with Jarboe in the past took a look at Reeve's work. The two of them corresponded and hit it off. They started to look to ways in which they could collaborate. Reeve is a musician (see M, Init, Hatch, The Miller Test see - ) but also a talented producer and they decided that a fruitful relationship could be developed firstly with Reeve as a producer of Tony's work and secondly as a joint label owner for Tursa as his business acumen was much more refined than the humble Wakeford's, something he all to readily admits. Their first released work has been Tony's solo album `Into the woods' a layered, textured and beautifully crafted album that highlights Tony's structured song-writing on tracks like `Down the Road Slowly' and `The Devil went a travelling' and also his ability to produce dense atmospheric slabs of brooding ambience that evoke, in this albums case, an England of old, steeped in enchantment, magic, fear and mysticism on `Into the Woods' but also so readily brought back to earth lyrically in tracks like `The Hangman's son' and `The London Hanged'. The album has shown how the new relationship between Tony and Reeve is beginning to blossom into something quite special. They have also been working on the Orchestra Noir project and a check of the MySpace page of the band also shows the way in which Tony and Reeve's collaboration is beginning to shape the project into a stimulating mix of classicism, ambient textures and vocal combinations of Tony, Autumn Grieve and Jessica Constable.

As a new business partnership and production house Tony and Reeve have gone about constructing a small empire of acts and bands that initially have come mainly from Tony's own creative vision. He continues the project Orchestra Noir ( ) with a host of musicians some of which are `names' on the classical scene: Guy Harries (flute, oboe - ), Mark Baigent ( , Richard Moult, Alexandria Lawrence, etc. He also has developed a number of new projects – The Triple Tree with Andrew King ( ), Grey Force Wakeford with Nick Grey and Kris Force ( ), Wardrobe with Andrew Lilles ( and his own solo project. Tony and Reeve have also gone about adding a new set of interesting artists to the Tursa stable: The Zunroyz: a Ukrainian folk band and the melancholic and atmospheric pop of London based Hong Kong in the 60s. 

The rest of this decade looks like being an exciting one for the ever-expanding group of musicians associated with Tursa. With these new developments in mind and also wanting to get Tony's take on his life and the various paths that he has taken up till now, I sat down for a cup of tea and a slice of Zucchini cake at Tony's London residence with himself and Reeve Malka. We started by exploring Tony's first interest in politics and discussed his membership of the International Socialist organization (who later morphed into the Socialist Workers Party):

PW - Tell me about your relationship with the International Socialists and your time as a member with them:

TW – Basically they (The IS) came to the door one day to sell my sister a copy of their paper, her being a member of the hoi poloi and all and she got involved. I was about 13 at the time she was 6 years older than me, she was a skinhead girl and I was a little mini skinhead. For me it started as an easy way to get into pubs, as most of the meetings were in pubs, then of course eventually you get involved, she started going out with one of the blokes in the party. So I got involved and became quite active and for a socialist or far left group I think they were one of the best around at the time or the best of a bad lot. They were quite easy going and had a sense of humour and it wasn't dogmatic but it eventually morphed into the horror that is the SWP.

PW So in terms of the politics did you get disillusioned with them?

TW – Well I was a real mixture of things, my dad was a shop steward and an ex military policeman and he was a supporter of Enoch Powell so I was a real mixture from my upbringing. I was very socialist, I was in a council estate that was right next to St Georges Hill which was one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the country at that time. The houses there were full of rock stars, my dad had become a taxi driver and used to drive the stars and rich Arabs about, so there was a weird mixture of different competing prejudices within me. I considered myself to be pretty socialist and left wing but also I was pretty racist as a lot of people were. So there was a real mixture of different views. I also got involved in a lot of the anti-fascist campaigns of the time which is quite ironic as I get a lot of criticism now but I have probably punched more fascists than a lot of the people who criticise me have. There was for me no real disillusionment with the International Socialists but when the SWP came along and dominated the Rock Against Racism campaign and threw people like us into any warzone they could then I got fed up with it. The problems of the far left i.e. being very middle class dominated and the level of self hatred that is expressed where nothing English can ever be any good. All cultures are a mixture of good and bad. 
It is a shame that today there still seems to be a self hatred that I think Orwell (George) talked about that is destructive and negative and alienating to a lot of people.

PW – Was that one of the reasons that you got disillusioned then?

TW – Yes it was just how we were treated as members. It is the same with all of these extremist groups they live in their own bubble. You can say exactly the same about parts of the far right; they've no connection to reality. Both extremes seem to meet up as `culty' conspiracy loons. Certainly the far left and the working class could be living on different planets.

PW – So in terms of the music, which was very political at that point, Crisis were very political in a leftist sense, but then you move out of the far left, Crisis splits up and later Death In June forms. Then there is a use of symbolism that is associated with the far right and a whole image that seems to come from a far right aesthetic. Was part of the appeal of that politics and aesthetic finding; as Douglas P is quoted as saying, the `left wing' of National Socialism or even of finding the socialist element of those politics and being attracted by that?

TW – Yes I think that one of the dangers of being heavily involved in anti-fascism is the danger of attraction. You define yourself in opposition to something so much that you become obsessive. You find out more about it and it gets weird. I had always been a socialist but I didn't see what was wrong with liking your country and being patriotic and I thought that the views of the British working people were being ignored. So, of course, in the name of a socialism that is patriotic and is interested in what is happening here and not a thousand miles away I looked around. So as I got disillusioned with the left then that became an interest. So when you find out about the Strasser Brothers and their ideas, it seemed to click with me, on a certain level and unfortunately, for me, it coincided with the NF having that strain within them. I remember picking up a magazine and being quite surprised because it was quite left wing. So when the members of left organisations are telling you that the NF are the boot boys of capitalism and a bosses front and then you read their material and it seems to be the total opposite of that so rather naively you think okay maybe there is something here. Maybe this is an alternative. I have to add that I was the only one to be stupid enough to fall for it. Neither Doug or Pat shared my death wish. But the reason that I do deeply regret it is the fact that, regardless of that the underlying strain of that politics is, or at least was then, anti-Semitism. That was also the bizarre thing that apart from having the left wing affectation of being very anti-Israel, I had had Jewish girlfriends before then, the Crisis song Holocaust was about the Nazi's and the extermination program and I was very anti-Nazi and that is one of the real shameful things of it is that you get involved in the bubble that is far right politics and things you don't believe in get ignored. When I joined I said that I was very socialist and patriotic and I don't want to know about this holocaust denial and anti –Jewish stuff, I think that is bonkers. Then you get into it, you get in this bubble, you're drinking and meeting with people and you just let things slide and in the end, I'm ashamed to say, you go out on the piss or to a party and you realise it's for some dead genocidal maniacs birthday or something. At one point you would have been shocked at that but because you are in this political bubble you just go along with it. Now, looking back on it, you realize you were aligning yourself to something that had they won power somewhere, would mean that many of your friends, and your wife would not have even been born.

PW – The NF were very good at recruiting amongst football casuals, young guys that were into music, culture and fighting and who were patriotic, socialist in some senses but had the feeling that the left was full of middle class intellectuals. But these people often got fed up with the leaderships of these organisations, wondered about their motivations and often when the more extreme element s of the racism came to the fore it contradicted their relationships with young black kids in their cities, workplaces or schools. How did you see the leadership of these organisations?

TW – I think that with all parties and extremist politics the further you go up the greasy pole the more corrupt and un-idealistic it becomes. You get all these Muppets on the ground, whether it is the NF or the SWP, who get their hands dirty and do all the groundwork but the further you go up the organisation the more cynical and corrupt it becomes. It's all a bit of a cult.

PW – So when did you decide that you had had enough of that and when did you decide to move away from those politics?

TW – This period, for me, coincided with low level criminality, drugs (the taking and pushing of), drinking far too much, a general downward spiral. I woke up one day and realised that if the police had knocked on the door and come in and searched then I would have `gone away' for a long period of time. I felt that despite all the changes in the NF and all the different ideas that the underlying ethos was still that the Jews are to blame. Even though there were some of us in the NF who would say that `if it rains they'll blame the Jews'. Also, even though I was racist the idea of attacking someone because of their ethnic identity felt horrific, I was always polite to people in general whatever their background, because I'm very old school English like that. If people are polite to me then I am polite back. In fact I hate people's bad manners far more than anything else, so it just wasn't me. So although the people in the NF weren't all the Devil incarnate there were some utter scumbags who should have been put down, so I thought what the hell am I doing, this just isn't me. So I tried to just untangle myself from it all and it wasn't immediate it was a gradual process of getting out of it.

PW – So Like leaving any organisation that you have spent time in you still have friendships with some of these people. Would it be fair to say that you maintained relationships with some people who had been in the organisation after you left?

TW – Most of the friendships that I had with people were with people that also became disillusioned with the politics. So very soon after leaving I didn't have friendships with anyone who was still in the NF. Friendships in those organisations, just like the SWP, are often about being in the organisation and after you leave the friendship is dead, you become an outcast. It's like a crap version of the Mafia. But yeh I don't know anyone now who is a member of, or active in any of those organisations on the Far Right. But the people who left, we used to get together occasionally over a pint and have a moan and complain and it would always end up with us saying `what the fuck were we doing?'. Of course you still have residual views that carry on for a period of time but the further away you get from it the less you have those ideas. I mean now I'm the least that way inclined than ever, I don't have any interest in it whatsoever. I find it quite alien. For me the past really is another country

PW – So in terms of your trajectory since leaving the NF and DIJ what are the themes of Sol that are key concerns of yours. There seems to be a concentration on Englishness, Paganism, the Occult, the Runes, Religion are these new influences for you or are they themes that are carried on from your earlier path?

TW – Yes, I think to be self critical, that I always needed a crutch of a big idea or a utopian dream. I think that the interest in Magic, the runes and Paganism was trying to fill a gap in a way and of course the Occult is just like all these political organisations in that it's `cranksville', people in bed sits thinking that they are great, either they are the new Lenin, Mosley or Aleister Crowley but the fact is they are wankers. In the end you come to the conclusion to mis-quote the Marx Brothers `that any organisation that wants you as a member is probably one that you don't want to join'. I still find it very hard to look back on a lot of this stuff; I have just pushed it down not because I want to keep it a secret but because I'm embarrassed about it. I just want to forget about it but of course life is not like that. The English love belonging to things whether it is the Women's Institute or Train spotters and I guess that I have been a more extreme and sociopathic version of that.

PW – In terms of Sol's development as that progressed and you got disillusioned with the magical and pagan elements of it what were the themes that remained strong for you in that work?

TW – I think that running all the way through it for good or ill is that I am an English artist and a lot of the music I like reflects a sense of place or culture because otherwise you are just playing lift music for corporate crap. Maybe I 'm just being hopelessly reactionary but I think that music should be an expression of the artist. Part of what an artist is, not the only thing, but one thing is where you come from and the culture that you were brought up with and that should be reflected in the art you produce. So I am a very English artist and whether that is good or bad, I don't know, but that is what I am. So all the hang ups and obsession of living on a little island, all the class, sexual and religious hang ups that England or Britain resonates with all come out in the music. Also, more generally, I write on a more personal perspective now. I've tub thumped for long enough. So in the end how individuals think and feel and act is far more interesting than sprouting some ideology. Politics and art are very uncomfortable bed fellows. Especially when with music, they're ending up singing alibis for murderers.

PW – So, when you take a good look at your lyrics over the last ten years then I would say that a lot of what you are expressing is the contradiction, the madness, the chaos of English life.

TW – Absolutely!

PW – Rather than saying isn't this great, let's fly the flag, it seems to be saying look at what is going on in this culture and look at the strangeness of it. Would you say that is a fair comment on your work?

TW – I am a bit embarrassed by flag waving, I like the kitsch value of it but I do know that it should be kitsch. So the whole contradictions of the English whether… I think that there is a quote that says `brave soldiers, cowardly civilians' if you stick a uniform and a medal on them they'll die for you but in everyday life if you say jump they'll say how high. There is also the whole class thing that I think a lot of Europeans don't understand you know you can open your mouth in a pub and half the people in there will hate you – maybe it is not as much now but it is still there. The whole sexual hang up thing, I came from a very repressive working class family, my parents didn't even undress in front of each other. I know that sounds ridiculous but it happens and those things have an effect on you. My dad was… another reason that I can speak about these things now, and my wife pointed this out to me, is that with a lot of the politics stuff etc while my parents were still alive I didn't want that to come out. My dad was one of those that liberated Neuengamme concentration camp, he had a walking stick…while I was in the NF I pushed all this aside, but I suddenly remembered that it was a walking stick that had been carved by one of the inmates as a thank-you to the soldiers who liberated them. It was very nice piece with the name of the concentration camp on it. Now that my parents are dead I feel more comfortable talking about these issues.

PW – How do you see yourself now? Sometimes you may be described as a Libertarian do you think that is fair?

TW – In some ways I am a libertarian but there are certain issues that I have strong views on; People who are cruel to animals. Rapists and paedophiles, bullies in general I guess. I'm still a fascist :-) when it comes to stuff like that. But apart from that if people aren't hurting other people then they should be able to do what they like. That is another thing with the far right is that they had an irrational hatred of homosexuals, people have different views on things but nobody should be killed or discriminated against for who they sleep with.

RM – I think that it is easier for me because I have followed Tony's music from the early years; a friend of mine introduced me to Sol Invictus and Death In June. I was attracted to Tony's music because I think he maybe unconsciously developed this winning musical formula of one's ideas, ideals and opinions through lyrics rendered by folk style music with an experimental nature (needless to mention that folk symbolizes the togetherness) topped with aggression, anger, beauty, mystery, the occult, and many other moods and emotions.

PW – So on the musical front there was definitely a strong feeling from you for what Sol was doing?

RM – Certainly, I loved what Sol Invictus is about, the lyrics and the way to hint and hide behind the words has a definite effect, his good old English sense of humour, the witty language, the insinuations, all of it is Tony's artistic persona!

PW – What about your background as an Orthodox Israeli Jew? When you hear about Tony's past how did you feel about that?

RM – I see things in a healthy way, you never judge a person for his opinions only for his actions.
If the good man had murdered someone or something like that then I definitely wouldn't have anything to do with him.
Everybody goes through changes and we always grow.
I have to admit and it may seem strange but I knew nothing about Tony's personal life till I met him, personally I have no intentions to know any details about a musician besides his music.
I knew vaguely that there was something about DIJ and colleagues but never bothered to know more or stick my nose in someone else's business, I'm not the type of person, I don't like it and I don't like when someone does it to me. 
It was after our first meeting when Tony emailed me a true and sincere email about his past, I then figured and said ah, so he was the trouble maker _. I simply admired his openness and the good that he is after and took no time to reply yes, we're going to work together!
I have worked with big names in the industry and I will mention no names but there are some who did more harm and were anti Semitic, people you least expect, but they often put on an efficient disguise. 

PW – So now that the two of you are working together in Tursa, have you become a creative part of it as well as a financial part of it?

RM – Yes I am a creative and financial partner.

PW – Sol has this Neo-folk tag attached to it which sometimes makes sense and sometimes not at all and you come from a background where you have been into a wide variety of music and music scenes, do you see these tags as being useful in terms of an audience or categorisation?

RM – Basically I don't like tags nor categories, I don't like or want to have the need to explain my art or my intentions, it is strictly up to the individual to absorb and to experience it.
It is up to the stores to categorize for efficiency and effectiveness of sales.
The Neo-folk tag seems to work as long as the artist has no intention to limit his creativity and vision to one style of working. Artists should not use the Neo-folk flag as a style that can get stagnant and not be explored developed or progressed.
I think it is quite unfortunate that the Neo-folk has a reputation that identifies with certain movements and ideals, as far as I am concerned most of the artists I listened to recently in this genre are simple copycats and some of them have got it very wrong or they simply don't understand!

PW – The other development at the moment seems to be Orchestra Noir. There have been two previous projects that were quite classical in approach, what is the approach being taken with the new ON project?

TW – It's got, not so much of the martial elements, I'm really tired of all these martial sounding acts, casio panzer divisions, plastic kettle drums etc. Richard and I when we first got together on this wanted to do something more emotional, much more personal but with classical elements and other ideas coming into it.

PW – Has that become much more of a band or unit as a whole?

TW – Well it used to be French based and now it is UK based. A lot of the people are now in London or the South East so it can come together much more easily now. Hopefully we will actually be able to play live. That won't be easy especially with the nature of things as they are now (the expense of live performance) and with the fact that there are up to ten people involved. But the core of the project is me, Richard (Moult), Reeve and Mark (Baigent), the horrendously talented Oboe player that we all hate. There is a lot of potential there, before I was knocking it out and someone else was arranging it where as now it is a far more. Well not a democratic band because the ideas originate with me but Reeve gets involved. So for example the track `The Last Train', Richard sent me a piano piece, there was a passage I liked so I looped it, wrote some bass and some lyrics and then everyone else got involved. Reeve created a really good percussion part that changed the direction of the piece, so it is a very interesting project.

RM – The track `Unto Eden' is an example of the new direction that we might take ON in, not for this coming album, but certainly for the next.

PW – So I'm not sure how many projects that you are now involved in, is it 7, why do think that you are involved in so many projects?

TW – I think that partly it is… I'm not sure really. I really enjoy that side of things and I hate the business side of things and Reeve as well as being an artist can do the business side. I think that some projects, like for example the Triple Tree - the M.R, James project, originally that was an Orchestra Noir project but it seemed to be too rigid for that so Andrew King and I developed that work. So these projects arise because we have such a big pool of fantastic musicians and within the Tursa family there seems to be no big egos. I've been in the music industry for a long time and I don't know who is worst for ego versus talent; drama students or musicians. But within Tursa we have a great bunch of musicians who have no need for huge egos; they know they're good and I know they're good. We all respect each other and so far there has been no problem. I'm never sure whether those with the big egos are those who are lacking in talent?
With the Triple Tree, this started out as a one off project for Woven Wheat Whispers, a great on-line site that Mark Coyle started. He is a real un-sung hero of the folk scene and I am very proud to have the Tursa catalogue as part of it.

PW – When people look at Tursa from the outside and don't know about the development of it and Tony's development they may look at someone like Richard Moult and ask questions about him e.g. where has he come from, he had links to an organisation that were on the extreme edges of Satanism and National Socialism, does he still have those ideas? He is not here himself so he can't talk about it but how would you describe that relationship?

TW – The bizarre thing about it is that I didn't know about Richards past at all until fairly recently and as soon as it came out I thought `oh no this is a conspiracy theorists wet dream'. I found out about him through Current 93 and his artwork and I thought that his work would be good for an album. When I was thinking about the solo album I contacted him and said that I really love your artwork and would you consider doing an album cover for me. He said that he would love to and we got talking and he said that he really loved the Orchestra Noir stuff and if you ever need someone to tinkle the keyboards then I'd love to do that. So we started collaborating and like a lot of these things now a days you don't meet, you send stuff to each other and work on it. But on one occasion he was coming up to London to do some stuff with us and I thought it was a good opportunity to have a conversation with him. Because of my past I like to tell people about it, I did it with Reeve because he is Jewish, Lesley and Caroline because they are gay.

RM - Yes he sent me an e-mail and we had a chat and I thought great this person is very genuine.

TW – There is always a cloud hanging over you especially if they have a good reason to be offended by my past. But with Richard he was just a painter from Wales, so he came up and we were working and I thought I'll make him a cup of tea and tell him. So I said `Richard I've got something to tell you' and he said `well I've got something to tell you too'. I said `do you know about my past' and he said `oh yes I know all about your past, don't worry about it'. He then said `do you know the group the Order of the Nine Angles' and I thought `oh my god, of course I know, David bloody Myatt!'. For me all of that is way beyond the pale, whatever he has been involved in whether it has been far right politics, magic or Islamic stuff the underlying core of it has been a virulent anti-Semitism. For me that is just too much and I would never have any sympathy with any of that shit, I never will have and Richard knows that. If I thought that Richard was still involved in any of that then it would be `goodbye'. But for me I had to tell people who I wanted to work with about my past, like Reeve, Caroline, Lesley and they have been very gracious and understanding, so what am I meant to do when someone comes to me and says something that is of a similar situation. I couldn't tell him to fuck off. I did think when he first said it that I might go for a piss and come back and find the cat with its throat cut splayed inside a pentagram, but he said to me that this was ten years ago and he totally rejects it now. So I thought okay, fair enough, if this is genuinely in the past then let's keep working but I know that this will cause a load of shit and people will use it to stir things up. He is however ultra sensitive about it and he does think that he was stupid, but we know that if this wasn't in the past then we couldn't work together anymore. For me all the David Copeland stuff and everything about them is beyond the pale. I have been through some really shameful, horrible things in my life so it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to not treat him with respect when he says he has turned his back on those ideas. But of course, if I was looking at it from the outside then I would think look at these connections, but I genuinely didn't know at the time and now we have resolved all of that. If I was part of some underground occult movement trying to pervert our pop kids then I think I would go about it in a slightly more undercover way.

PW – Another side to this, away from the politics is the classical and operatic side that Richard has brought to the Orchestra Noir project. He has a background in interpretations of Britten's work and pastoral music and it seems to have brought another element into the project.

TW – Yes it really does and he has brought something else to it. There are some disparate strands involved but they work really well together and everyone who is working on it has said that they feel it is a very special project.

RM – Yes classical, experimental, ambient even some pop elements there is not much like it out there at the moment. The way this music is performed we achieve an emotional response, strong and soft at the same time, intelligent and elegant songs and we all seem to love the outcome- it is an extremely strong band!

PW – Before it has just been your voice but now you are bringing in some female vocals to it. What was the thinking behind that?

TW – I'm not the biggest fan of my voice and with this project I thought that there was a definite need for contrast because the female voice takes it in to different areas and gives it a different feel. The contrast between the two is good, the melodies get more interesting. With the project you have Mark Baigent who is one of the best oboe players in Europe and he is classically trained but he can improvise and that adds to the sound and suits a variety of voices.

RM – He's great, he can produce anything with his oboe!

TW – Then there is me, I don't know that many chords I just play what I play, but within that and with Reeve and Guy (Harries) who are great musicians, we gel really well and there is a great feeling about the group.

PW – So you have an album that is being completed and that is going to be released next year and that is coming out with which label?

TW – We don't know yet. We are leaving our options open because we are not sure who to go with. It is a very important release and I don't want it to trickle out and do a thousand. So we want it to come out on the right label that will really push it and promote it.

PW – For the Orchestra Noir stuff you, Reeve, have brought a lot of different feels to the music especially in the percussion end of things.

RM – Yes I look at each song and lay down what is needed, lacking or what will make it work, I am a percussionist by nature and I always push towards rhythm but in the end it is up to us to decide on the production and the image of the project.

PW – So in terms of Sol Invictus? What is the plan there?

TW – We have an album planned for 2008 which at the moment is called `The Cruelest Month'. The last album was 2005 and this one has gone through many stages. It has been percolating for many months. It started off as basic guitar and voice and since then we have added a lot to that which may get stripped off again the nearer we get to the final mixes. Reeve has got some ideas for cello and trumpet parts so we again are going to spend time on it because it is also an important release. It will be the first studio album with this line up. So we are going to take our time and get it right. But I am very happy with the way it is going I think it will be a very good release.

PW – Apart from Orchestra Noir and Sol Invictus, what about the Triple Tree and Grey Force Wakeford?

TW – Grey Force Wakeford (a collaboration between Tony Wakeford, Kris Force and Nick Grey) is all done and dusted as an album, Athanor are going to be putting that out next year. Triple Tree will be put out by Cold Spring in January. Also Renne and I did a concert in Norway, with a communist promoter no less, and friends of his have a band that are mainly accapella with bits of percussion but amazingly beautiful. So we may do some work with them on Tursa or with Orchestra Noir and bring something out.

PW – So you are using Tursa for some projects and other labels for others like Cold Spring for example. They put out a CD from the concert you did last year, how is the relationship with them working?

TW – Yes that relationship is good. Justin has been really supportive and has stuck by us after the World Serpent fiasco. I like the fact that he is generally a good bloke and he has been very good with us. He organised a good concert and put out the compilation so he's been fantastic. I don't like everything on the label but you could say that about most labels and it is his project. So he has always treated me very fairly and likes Triple Tree. God that sounds so sycophantic. He is a northern git and Cold Spring is just a front for dwarf smuggling into the UK. Something should be done!

PW – So in a way this is an example of the diversification in the music industry using different labels and looking at how those labels may connect you to audiences etc?

TW – Exactly, we will have the Tursa logo on the albums but we are using lots of different labels and we see ourselves as almost a production label. But that is the way the industry is going it is all about diversification and the whole industry at the moment is in flux.

PW – And what about you're other projects Reeve?

RM – I am doing a project called iNiT as well as Hatch with my dear friend and a colleague of 12 years Guy Harries and I'm quite proud of them, iNiT is an electronic pop rock with infused with middle eastern influences and people seem to really love it and dance to it. With iNiT we are looking for a major label as it is pop and dance orientated music. I also work and perform under the name of M and have a few unreleased albums of which one is double album masterpiece with Jarboe of Swans and I'll release them when the time is right!
I also play in and produce the Miller Test also on Tursa, as well as Zunroyz which is a band I was commissioned to put on together for a few highly successful shows and then had a pressure to record an album and when I gave Tony a copy we decided to bring it to the Tursa repertoire. 

PW – Are there any other projects that you are involved with at present Tony?

TW-- I'm working on a solo album for the Israeli label The Eastern Front. I met Tanya and Igor who run the label when I was staying in Tel Aviv.
The album will be called " Not All Of Me Will Die" and is based on the poems of the Polish poetess Zuzanna Ginczanka. I'm exploiting the talents of people from Zunroyz, Sol and Orchestra Noir on it. I'm very pleased with how it's going. I find the couple of poems by her translated into English very moving and powerful. She was shot by the Nazis in Krakow just before the end of the war. She was denounced to them by a neighbour. Her work was ignored by the Communists. I guess being Jewish and having friends in the Polish resistance did not put her in Uncle Joe's top ten.

With that I finished my Zucchini cake and cup of tea with soya milk said my goodbyes and headed for the exit. Tursa and the individuals that make it up, as a production label and a group of musicians are producing music of real quality that stretches way beyond the confines of a narrowly defined Neo-folk whilst also maintaining its relationship with that audience. Tony Wakeford has forged an interesting and productive relationship with Reeve Malka and a listen to the various myspace pages of Sol Invictus, Orchestra Noir, Triple Tree, Grey Force Wakeford and Tursa show the breadth of music that Wakeford is instrumental in producing. The story of Tursa is also one of change. Tony Wakeford's own personal journey reflects this change and shows how a simplistic view of someone's political history can never capture the place that they have come to. Wakeford seems at one with himself and very open to a discussion of a period of his life which now is well and truly behind him. The future looks increasingly good for the various projects that Tursa has instigated in the last few years and the label is striving to provide an alternative beacon for independent music and production in the 21st century.

Interview with Tony Wakeford and Reeve Malka London September 2007
Written and undertaken by Peter Webb. February 2008

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