One of the most unique bands on the world music scene today, Dibbukim presents their own startling brand of Yiddish folk metal that is absolutely fascinating to behold. Their debut album for Grand Master music is entitled Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn (English translation: As a bird and a golem dances), and it’s well worth checking into. There is magic, mystery and intrigue to be found within the Dibbukim compositions, heralding a culture that is rich with history and tradition. Here is an interview we conducted one of the Dibbukim founders to uncover more about this wondrous new collective…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Dibbukim, and how long the band has been together.
Cheers! My name is Niklas Olniansky and I am Dibbukim’s male vocalist, I also write songs and lyrics. The band has been around since 2009, so we are still pretty fresh! 🙂
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Any local bands that you could recommend?
3/4 of the band lives in Lund, which is a town in southern Sweden, and the other 1/4 lives only 20 miles away. Since many great metal bands hails from Sweden, it hurts a bit to admit that the genre has a very marginalized position in our region. Our label mates Yggdrasil and Jacob’s other band Pandemonium are two of few good acts from Lund. We also have an up and coming act called Forlorn Remembrance which plays really innovative and good progressive metal that I very much enjoy, but that’s about it. If you look outside of Lund, but remain in southern Sweden, I’d also recommend Cloudscape from Helsingborg which is quite an interesting group.
Where do you come up with the idea to do a Yiddish folk metal band? The sound is phenomenal!
Well, it was actually Ida’s idea, but I guess that in the end it was quite a natural fusion since we both share a great interest in the Yiddish language and the culture surrounding it, as well as a huge interest in metal. We had actually discussed starting a new project for some time, but we wanted to come up with a special ingredient to make us stand out in the crowd. When Ida suggested that we’d make metal in Yiddish I immediately liked the idea, because it would mean a forum in which I could enjoy two of my favorite things in life, Yiddish and metal!
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn?
I guess you could say that it is. We wanted to have a title in which every listener could make his or her own interpretation, and also something that could symbolize our musical genre. In the latter concept you could say that the fragile and beautiful bird is a symbol for Yiddish and that the heavy and rough golem is a symbol for metal, and Dibbukim is the result when they both join each other in a dance. But there’s more to the title than that, as the title is also a metaphor for freedom and how we let material things control our lives, preventing us from being truly free.
Please select two songs from Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics?
Alright! The first song I wrote for the album was “A mabl fun mashke” which is actually a drinking song. The title translates to “A deluge of liquor” and the lyrics describes how booze in enormous amounts can help us forget sadness and anguish and just laugh about it instead. Hmmm, it sounds quite sad when you say it like that, but it’s really a very happy song which was inspired by the simple pleasures in life.
A song that is somewhat connected with the sublime message in the album title is “Der Rodmakher“, or “The Wheelmaker” in english. I wrote it as a critique on how humans base their entire lives around lies, vanity, jelousy etc. and how we all are forced to run around in a big wheel of hypocrisy.
Who did the outstanding cover art for Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn and how much input did you have on it?
I’m very glad you like it! It was made by our friend, Jean Hessel, and it was a collaboration between him, me and Ida. We had quite a good idea on how we wanted it to look, so we pitched the idea to Jean who made a really cool painting. After that Ida and I made some changes in colour, added some effects and a few other alterations, just to make it a perfect fit for the album, and in the end I believe that’s what we got.
What is a live Dibbukim show like for those of us who have yet to see you play?
Haha, I actually have no idea, since we haven’t played live yet. But when I picture what a Dibbukim show would be like in my head, we are pretty awesome! 🙂
Have you had any unusual reactions from people when you tell them you play Yiddish folk metal?
Sure, I guess everybody who hears about what we are doing reacts in some way. The word Yiddish combined with Metal tends to get peoples attention and we’ve recieved everything from amazingly loving to hateful reactions. Fortunately mostly good and loving ones. The most unexpected reaction so far was probably when an American Rabbi told us he loved our music, the support from a religious leader was certainly nothing we expected, but it was really great to hear. Ida actually printed a pin that stated “The Rabbi Loves it” after that one. 🙂
How did you wind up being signed to GM Music? And do you know Yggdrasil, the other band on the label?
Our guitar player Magnus is actually the owner of GM Music and he is also a member in Yggdrasil, so that’s the way it’s all connected.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
I hope they’ll remember that this was something unlike anything they’ve heard before and that they were totally captivated by the Yiddish mysticism surrounding the album. However, as long as our music has left it’s mark I’m happy.
Any final words of wisdom?
In the words of Lars Ulrich: “Buy our album!”
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to see your band in the States someday.
It was my pleasure, we are all Highwire Daze fans in Dibbukim!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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