In February Iceland will finally get the proper Black Metal festival it deserves when Oration MMXVI takes place at Húrra. Featuring some of the best bands Iceland and Ireland have to offer, as well as Germany’s Shrine of Insanablis and Israel’s Mortuus Umbra, this music festival has the potential to become something great, even though USA’s Ævangelist recently canceled its appearance at Oration. But, what is Oration and what’s it all about? Who is behind it and what are the plans for the future? Stephen Lockhart, of Oration & Studio Emissary, was kind enough to spill the beans on this as well as a few other things.
‘Oration’ is a record label run by myself and Joseph (Slidhr/Myrkr). The idea itself is an old one, which we very briefly made a start on in 2008/2009, but due to busy schedules and Iceland being in the throws of a financial crisis, it never panned out. Orations purpose then, as it is now, is to allow us total control over the final stage of our musical creations and to offer that same level of quality to artists we truly believe in. When considering the amount of bands that Joe and I are in or in close collaboration with, it only made sense that we should be handling more ourselves. Although we have talked about re-igniting this venture for years, what pushed us over the edge was the fact that I am regularly seeing magnificent bands coming though the studio that are just starting out, but display massive potential. Often I recommend these bands to label contacts and more often than not, they get signed. Considering Joseph has been handling artwork/layouts for many of our projects for the last decade and I am able to oversee music production from start to finish, it just makes sense. We have everything we need. The mentality of ‘if you want something done right, just do it yourself’ is something we both strongly adhere to. It is the reason I started ‘Rebirth of Nefast’ as a solo project, which led to me buying recording equipment so I could record everything myself. Oration is no different. If we can handle all our affairs and release a few other good bands in the process, it’s win/win.
Oration MMXVI festival will take place on February 19 and 20, here in Reykjavík. How did that all come about and why this date?
Again, Oration MMXVI is an idea we’ve had for a while. Originally, I considered holding concert of only bands that have worked with Studio Emissary (as a promo/portfolio gig), but this felt a little restrictive as there was some bands we wanted to play who didn’t fit into that category. So we pulled some strings and put some balls in motion and before we knew it, Malthusian, Mortuus Umbra and Ævangelist were on board. But the line-up is still very Studio Emissary orientated, with 10 of the 12 bands have come through the studio in one form or another, be it recording/mixing/mastering or a full blown production. There is no specific significance to the date other than it fitting into Malthusians schedule. But in general, we wanted to hold the festival while the cold and dark of the Icelandic winter was at it’s worst. And during February, there is not really a whole lot else going on in terms of underground festivals.
Iceland already has three annual festivals that cater, in some way or another, to the Black Metal scene here in Iceland; Eistnaflug, Andkristni and Norðanpaunk. So, what is it that Oration festival has that the others don’t have? Oh, and will Oration be an annual thing or is this just a one time deal?
The major difference with Oration MMXVI and all of these festivals is this is an underground Black metal festival. Although all of these festivals cater to Black metal, they also cater to a variety of other genres, often with aesthetics completely alien to Black metal. Given that the original idea of this festival was to have only bands involved with Studio Emissary, there are many other bands we could have added to the bill, but they would not have fit the context or tone we are trying to present. As regards whether this will be a one time thing; ask us on the 21st of February!