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The first episode of the Zwotte Kring Podcast

Floris, Gerhans and Ward take you back to the track that drew them into heavier music.
They show you their latest gems and let the wheel of fate decide which song of their discograpy should be listened to.

Thanks to OJC Maddogs for making it possible to record the Podcast at this place.

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Interview with Ward of Void Wanderer Productions

In this second interview for the Zwotte Kring we dive into the world of the label Void Wanderer Productions from the Netherlands. Label owner Ward is part of our collective and also a member of Asgrauw and Meslamtaea. Out of passion for black metal, he started this label a few years ago.

1. Hi Ward, thanks for your time! Void Wanderer Productions is a label that already has done a few Zwotte Kring releases, but has also distributed many cool albums and merch outside of it. Can you introduce yourself and the label?

Hey Floris, thank you for the attention and this interview. I, Ward (aka Kaos, aka Void Wanderer) am the guy behind Void Wanderer Productions. VWP is an underground black metal label based in the Netherlands. My mission is to offer a platform for bands with a high quality and releases that I would like to have on a physical format myself.

2. What was the reason for starting the label? Was it primarily about being able to release your own band’s music and merch, or is there a general passion for black metal behind it?

How it all started? Well, since the founding of Asgrauw, I have been quickly drawn into the (Dutch) black metal scene. Since 2014 I have been actively distributing our own material, starting with Asgrauw’s debut ‘Schijngestalten’ and a number of self-designed t-shirts. From there I had a lot of contact with labels and distros, which also sparked my interest. In 2018 I got the idea to really take the step to do this myself and I founded Void Wanderer Productions.

3. Void Wanderer is known as a traditional black metal label, but with Teitan, The Color of Rain and Stuporous you also dare to release other styles. You are also a fan of hardcore punk yourself. You will currently receive a lot of requests from bands. What makes you want to release something?

Indeed, I often release traditional black metal, but I have also released some deviating experimental or doomy black before the Zwotte Kring bands mentioned above, but also Offret, Lethargie, Tattva, Abigorum and Archaeopteris.

I receive quite a few submissions. And I actually don’t have much time because I enjoy doing so many things, which means I have too many hobbies. But I have been able to make a combination, I exercise 5 days a week and I have enough submissions to listen to at least a new one every time. When I’m working out and an EP/album is finished, there are a number of options: either I thought it was great and wanted to release it, or I heard it wasn’t my thing and I’m not going to release it. Occasionally, after such a session I don’t really know what I listened to. This could be because it didn’t grab me or because I was just too focused on something else. Then I would like to give such an EP/album another chance. But just liking it and wanting to release it is not enough. I still have to agree with the band: when, on what format, etc…

4. Do you prefer vinyl, CD or tape? Does that differ per release?

Personally I would say vinyl, I think this medium is the most beautiful. And what Rui (War Productions) also indicated in your previous interview, playing vinyl is about the entire experience or, as he said, the ritual.

I myself am actually from the CD generation, as a teenager in the 00’s you could no longer find tapes in the shops, I only knew them from my MyFirstSony with which I sometimes recorded songs as a kid.

But for a label things are different. I wish I had the space to release vinyl mostly. But also the upfront investment is too high for me to do this often per year. Tapes, on the other hand, are a different story, the circulation, production time and investment are easy to manage and therefore attractive for an underground label. Another thing is that I am very visual and things that are possible with tapes these days really has some value in that regard.

I also release CDs, I release about half of the releases per year on CD. Some subgenre are simply better suited for CD and others for tape.

5. In the past, quality music emerged naturally. That is no longer the case at the moment. Void Wanderer is very active on social media with PR and, if I’m right, you also expect an active attitude from bands. Is that right?

I indeed have those expectations from bands. My mission is to spread the music as far and wide as possible. I assume that the band wants this too and is therefore actively involved in promoting their own product. This of course goes further than just the physical release, the band certainly benefits from having their name spread, also for their future releases. I like working together with the bands and see them as partners in this. It’s something we have to do together.

6. Doesn’t being active on social media have the downside that the ‘mystery’ surrounding black metal bands (like in the 90’s) disappears? Or is the current time no longer comparable to the past in terms of black metal culture?

I was born in 1990, so I experienced that period very differently. For me, black metal was unknown territory. I don’t know how to run a label without social media these days. Maybe the mystery is gone because there is a more direct line between label – band – fan? But here too the mystery still lives, people like to fill in the blanks for themselves

7. You often collaborate with other labels such as War Productions from Portugal and Onism from England. What is the reason for seeking collaboration?

When I started as a label in 2018, I already had some contact with War productions. This was mainly because of the trading of Asgrauw and Meslamtaea. So for me it was a logical step to also exchange my own releases with War Productions. When I wanted to release the band Eternal Abyss in 2019, I looked for a partner. Ever since War Productions and Void Wanderer Productions have released a lot together.

In 2021 I came into contact with Onism Productions. We released both Teitan albums together on CD.

These collaborations have several positive aspects. You have immediately distributed a larger number of copies to a completely different region, but bearing the financial costs together is of course also a solution for small labels like us. After my experience, learning from each other is also an aspect. In this business it is often about trial and error. And being able to learn from friends & colleagues about what works and what doesn’t work is nice.

8. Which releases are you particularly proud of, and can we expect any interesting releases on Void next year?

Actually, I’m proud of everything I’ve released. We have already planned releases for next year until the summer. I won’t mention any names except Stuporous because the PR routes have yet to begin. But you can expect CDs, tapes, vinyl and merch.

9. How do you see the future of black metal labels in relation to the huge rise of streaming? Is there still a demand for physical formats and do you see that disappearing in the coming years? Can you anticipate to this as a label?

I think the streaming listener is a different group than the collectors. Fortunately, we still have enough collectors in the underground.Collectors also use streaming platforms, but more to discover new music. So these streaming platforms are really helpful for me as a label. I can reach much more people who might be interested in the music I release. Personally, I see CD sales declining the most, there are probably just more vinyl and tape collectors.

Interview: Floris