This band from Jena rapidly achieved a good reputation in the neo-folk scene, despite having only one limited release (Jenzig 10″) on the Eis & Licht label. One explanation for that must be the convincing concerts of Forseti at various festivals. The first full-length album “Windzeit” fully lived up to the high expectations. Time to learn a bit more about what drives Andreas Ritter, the captain of the band.
This interview was already conducted in October 2002, but for some reasons not online untill a few month later. In the meantime a luxurious box of “Windzeit” has come out, and “Jenzig” has been re-released on cd.

Can you introduce Forseti and yourself in a few words?

Forseti1FORSETI is basically only Andreas Ritter as an individual person, who is in the mercy of gifted musicians, who support his strive after authentic music. This aim demands the exclusive use of ‘real’ instruments, because only they can spread an irreplaceable warmth and true atmosphere.

FORSETI has no steady line-up and in the course of time at least twenty different musicians must have contributed to the studio recordings or concerts. Important are also the lyrics, which are always in German, they can be poems from German literature or own texts. The themes are similar and portray that which defines FORSETI: the artistic endeavour, to connect nature and life.

How did FORSETI come into existence? Were you active in music before FORSETI? What kind of music did you listen to in your ‘youth’?

I can’t name a precise date for the foundation of FORSETI. In fact music has always occupied me. In 1997 I bought my first guitar and I experimented with the accordion. Already a few years later the first FORSETI concert took place. A few musical experiments existed already before that, but they were quickly discarded again.

In my youth I listened to quite a lot of music, which you would not directly associate with FORSETI. Things like Christian Death but also the Pet Shop Boys and others. But when I was young I also listened already to musicians who woulld influence my own music later, like Death in June or Leonard Cohen.

You play the accordeon, guitar, drums and perhaps some more instruments. Are you self-taught, or did you follow music lessons?

I once had a couple of hours of piano lessons and one single hour of singing-lesson, but that was about it.
As far as I know, you are the only steady member of FORSETI, aided by often changing guest members. Were do you find all these talented musicians?
The manner in which I find these musicians is different each time. But actually most of them find me. For some of them the musical interest in FORSETI started out of friendly relations, but even professional musicians have enjoyed themselves with contributing to FORSETI. Of course I’m happy with so much creative force and support. There also exists mutual cooperation, as is the case with Oliver from Sonne Hagal.

Quite some time passed between the first 10″ ‘Jenzig’ and your first album “Windzeit”. Why did it took so long? And do you think the sound of FORSETI has changed when you compare these two releases?

Well, there certainly has been a development. Some people will probably not be pleased that FORSETI has moved somewhat from the typical campfire romanticism. But for me and the involved musicians it was very important to progress further. Actually it would have been more sad when nothing would have changed after so much time. In this manner stagnation is not the case. Personally I find that the music has made a big step forwards, and this tendency should be consolidated. Who keeps standing in the same place goes actually backwards, you could say.

But the changes in our sound are not that serious, that you could not recognize FORSETI from our music and lyrics anymore. Our intentions and aims have stayed the same, but perhaps our means to express them have been improved.

The long time between the releases was absolutely necessary. Basically I am always working on some songs or I am searching for appropriate texts etc. But everything just has to fall in its place. The actual delay has also partly been caused by technical problems and the labor on the elaborate outer appearance of the album, which was very important for me. I have taken up the design mostly by myself, which I fairly underrated in respect to the time it would consume.

Can you tell a little about the main themes of Windzeit?

Forseti2Windzeit is a fairly complex collective noun. Windzeit is an autumn album, but not exclusively so. First one can translate the term simply in a literary manner, as a description of the forces of nature in regard to the seasons. This is already nice, but a little too straightforward. Nature and the saga world related to it offer so many ways of interpretation. Windzeit is in the Edda, the ancient Icelandic saga, namely also the representation of the time which precedes the Götterdammerung, the end of ages. A time, in which storm enters the world, a decline of values begins and eventually the annihilation.

Despite this negative aspect Windzeit is not exclusively about negative feelings. After each destruction follows a regeneration, after each autumn a new spring, with new light and new hope. Seen from this standpoint Windzeit also evokes the image of autumn which is also used by the German Romantics quite frequently, to describe the evening of life and general decay. In this indirect manner Windzeit is also a personal album, because man too has to endure his periods of wind now and then, to emerge from it regenerated with new hope.

How do you usually create songs? Do you start with the music, or with the lyrics?

Usually first the music comes into existence, after which it is very difficult to create a text which matches it perfectly. But as a whole there is no fixed method for the creation of a song. This happens in a different manner every time. Sometimes I find a wondrously beautiful poem, which I then absolutely have to set to music.

Windzeit was released on your own label “goeart/Grunwald”. Why did you release it yourself? And will this label only be used for FORSETI releases?

The main reason that I had to create my own label, was the elaborate and especially costly production of Windzeit. No other label would have undertaken that. I’m also very happy, that my partnerlabel goeart agrees with my views on the need of the detailed and sophisticated design. That made it a lot less complicated and besides, your own label gives you total self-determination. But releases other than those from FORSETI are not planned at the moment, although I would not rule out any possibility…

Wat did you think of the Konzert Sommernacht in Mansfeld last summer? Are there other concerts of which you have special memories?

In general every concert is connected with a distinct memory. No matter how many concerts you have experienced, and although you might get somewhat used to it, I still see a concert as something special and a new challenge every time. I’m also very excited before each concert and afterwards very relieved when it went well. The concert in Mansfeld was a very positive experience, especially because the organizers are very good friends, therefore you go more relaxed to such an event.

It was also a nice change in comparison to the concert in the crypt of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig. There reigned a somewhat frightening atmosphere and that night we kept the concert fairly solid and quiet, to do justice to that mood. In contrast with that Mansfeld was filled with energy.

A concert which I also remember with excitement took place in May in Copenhagen. The audience was much more attentive than usually is the case in Germany. Already with the first note the spectators were completely silent. I found that really very striking.

After you worked on Death in June’s album “All pigs must die”, Douglas P. now contributed the song ‘Black Jena’ to your album “Windzeit”. How did you experience the collaborations with Douglas?

The collaboration with Douglas P. was very pleasant. Unfortunately there was a lot of time pressure and so we had a high stressfactor during our work. I heard Douglas’ material for “All pigs must die” only one night before the recordings and after that we travelled to my studio to record ‘Black Jena’. So the whole experience was somewhat stressful, but positive overall.

You also seem to be working a lot with Sonne Hagal?

That is right. Like I already mentioned before, we support each other mutually in our musical creations and are apart from that also fairly good friends. We have similar, but fortunately not the same musical ideas and ideals, which means we can exchange ideas, give advice and inspire and support each other. Which is a positive thing in general. Actually this scene, when I can call it that way, is really not very large and I am very happy to have come into contact with other musicians in this field, like Kim Larsen (Of the wand and the Moon) or Matt Howden.

In the last years many German folky bands have arisen, most of them connected to the Eis & Licht label. Do you feel that FORSETI is part of a scene?

In a certain manner FORSETI is a part of it. To me only the definition or the direction of these scene is somewhat alarming. I have no objections to FORSETI being called Neofolk, although I would not use that description myself. This category has become a very loose term, which can’t be really grasped, and people hardly make any qualitative or content-based differentiations anymore. But I feel that differences are important nevertheless, not everything should be treated alike.

The music and image of FORSETI is traditional, conservative perhaps. Are you “Against the Modern World”?

Forseti3To stand up against the modern world, I would have to know how the old world was. The changes in values, which have occurred in the last years or perhaps decades or centuries are explained by many as a decline in values. One can decide for himself what he thinks of that.

But a change in moral attitude would not save us from the damage, which has been inflicted upon our nature. I feel that every rejection of the modern world results from a discontent and uncertainty which I can understand.

Personally I have tried to arrange my life in such a manner, that my love and high respect for nature occupy an important place. In some ways I can deal with the modern world very well and inventions like telephone, car, computer and internet are regular elements in my life. In my opinion the decisive factors. are to become conscious of the processes in the world and the inner attitude that one has.

Do you have a job besides the band? Would you prefer to be active full-time with music, or do you like the combination work/music?

Originally I am a independent photographer, but at the moment I am very occupied by music and there is hardly time for anything different than FORSETI. Everyone who is intensely active with music can perhaps imagine the amount of work that it involves. Most people believe that you just write a couple of songs, you record in the studio for a week and you do a concert now and then. Perhaps this is the case for some musicians. But FORSETI is almost a way of living and therefore there are hardly boundaries, that allow something like a professional or a private sphere.

Are there any musicians/bands, both from past and present, that you admire? Are you a music collector yourself?

Forseti4There are some musicians, that I highly appreciate. This goes much further than only folk music. As I mentioned earlier, I have spent my youth listening to music like Death in June or Leonard Cohen and they are still favourites of mine. In general I like quite varied styles of music, it only needs to have a feeling of warmth and authenticity, and it must evoke feelings when I listen to it. For example there is also quite interesting music from the north: Sigur R?s, David Darling or Ketil Bjornstad, to name but a few.

Collecting music? Only specific matters, which I then really need to have, but in fact my collecting passion remains within borders, because when you’re honest you don’t really need that many releases. It is precisely the commercial aspect of some limited releases that I find very negative, and when you take a look at what happens at Ebay you can get really sad. While originally it was a good idea to make a limited release, when you wanted to create something special, which could not be produced in large series because of aspects of cost and time.

February 2003 addition:

Can you name five records (old or new) which you have enjoyed lately?

  • Sigur Ros “()”
  • Tindersticks “Trouble Every Day”
  • HöH “Children Of Nature
  • Argine “Luctamina In Rebus”
  • Empyrium “Weiland”

At the concert in Mansfeld, there were fans standing in front with FORSETI banners. Who were they, and weren’t you a little embarrassed?

I was quite shocked when I saw it, but of course I also found it all comic and moving. Afterwards I learned that they were people from Die Tat, a very
unconventional music magazine from the surroundings. Therefore I appreciated it even more, because I know that they are against each form of normal behaviour, what makes them very sympathetic. Had this ‘Fancultus’ not be meant ironically, then I had begun to worry…

Do you and FORSETI have any future plans?

This year we will do a few concerts in Germany and abroad. First FORSETI will play at the third Flammenzauber Festival in Heldrungen ( At the moment I am working on new songs and I hope to have a new release still in this year. But time will tell…

February 2003 addition:

Is there perhaps any news which hasn’t been mentioned in the interview yet?

I’m still working on completing some new songs. I plan a new album (to be released in 2004) plus some other small things. For this year I intend to work together with Kim Larsen and Oliver from Sonne Hagal, for some live gigs and others… Furthermore FORSETI will realize this year an Italian tour and play a gig in Athens.


Can you give short spontaneous reactions to some of the few German terms I know:

  • Weltschmerz
    “Das waere wohl eine passende Umschreibung der schwarzen Szene. Ich bin ein nachdenklicher Mensch, aber Weltschmerz empfinde ich durchaus nicht.”
  • Oktoberfest
    “Viele betrunkene Menschen, die in Muenchen feiern…und das möglichst ohne mich.”
  • Windzeit
    “Windzeit, Wolfszeit bricht herein in die Welt. Passend zum Wetter.”
  • Bundesliga
    “Dazu faellt mir meine Freundin ein, die mich böse anschaut, wenn ich nicht wegschalte.”
  • Sturm und Drang
    “Der junge Schiller, der junge Goethe und der Anfang zweier fuer die deutsche Literaturgeschichte nicht mehr wegdenkbarer Gestalten.”
  • Jena
    “Meine Heimat. Hier habe ich einen Grossteil meiner Kindheit verbracht, hier lebt meine Familie und hier in der Umgebung m?chte ich auch den Rest meines Lebens verbingen.”
  • Schlager
    “Jörg Hindemith, der ein netter Mensch ist und im gleichen Studio aufnimmt wie ich, aber Titel wie “Nicht jeder kann in Suhl geboren sein” sind dann doch nicht wirklich mein Ding.”
  • Rammstein
    “Musik, auf die man verzichten kann.”
  • Schröder oder Stoiber
    “Politik in Deutschland besteht meist nur noch daraus, zwischen dem kleineren uebel zu waehlen.”
  • Sehnsucht
    “Ein schönes und treibendes Gefuehl.”

Any final thoughts?

The only thing that comes to my mind right now, are my thanks and respect to everyone, who support me and Forseti…

Many thanks for the interview!

[translation: HD- Funprox]