Originally from Romania and now residing in Dublin, DJ Annatar a.k.a. Stefan Leon O’Rzu, who hosted ‘Crimson Nights’ in Romania, played at Deliverance in Scotland , and of course Dominion in our own fair ‘ol emerald isle, spread his Raven wings and flew up the mountains of Leitrim to join us for Species 2015. He brought a ghoulish blend of electro industrial, industrial metal, EBM, powenoise and hard style that kept us stompin’ into the dark hours of the night!
DJ Annatar, live at Species 2015
An Interview with DJ Annatar
- How long have you been DJ-ing and what drives you to do it?
I’ve been doing this for about 8 years, on and off. I’ve never DJ’ed on a regular basis, but I’m happy whenever I’m summoned to spin some tunes!
My greatest drive to DJ is the pleasure of sharing with others the music that I love and surprising them with songs that they’ve probably never listened to. The greatest satisfaction I get is when people come over to my booth and ask me “what’s the song I’m playing” I generally try to avoid crowd-pleasers, but any good set has to have a few of them obviously 🙂
I see DJ’ing as a form of dialogue between the DJ and the crowd. You can set the pace of the party with your choice of songs, channel people towards a certain state of mind, but you also need to catch the crowd’s vibe and pick your tracks accordingly.
- You have a unique and intriguing alias ‘Annatar’ is there a story behind the name?
I took this alias a long time ago, when I was reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Silmarillion”. Annatar was a former name used by Sauron, back when he crafted the Rings of Power and it meant “Lord of Gifts”. Annatar’s appearance was beautiful and charismatic, and with a bit of cunning he got to trick everyone into using those rings. I consider this facet of Sauron to be more complex and intriguing than the one we all know from “Lord of the Rings”.
- Tell us about the types of music you played at Species:
I’m not entrenched into a single genre of music, so my set lists ranged from mild Gothic Electronica to Harsh EBM, Aggrotech and Industrial Metal. Even threw in some bits of symphonic stuff. Anything that borders on the dark, insane or downright sick, but still makes you wanna “throw some shapes” on 🙂
I often have trouble labelling bands into particular subgenres accurately, so I decide by ear if the sound of a band fits the theme of my set lists.
- What preparations did you do on the run up to your music sets at species?
Most of my preparations were of technical nature. I made sure that my laptop, my software and controller worked in good order and I was good to go.
On other occasions, when I know the crowd well and know what to play for them, I prepare my set lists thoroughly, match songs by theme and BPM, and so on. For Species, given that it was all new to me, I drafted a rough sketch in my mind and decided to adjust it depending on how people react to what I’m playing. I believe it worked out quite well in the end.
- What part of Gothic culture intrigues you most?
The Gothic culture is so vast it’s impossible to catch its essence into a single paragraph. What fascinates me most is its way of blending the macabre, the darker aspects of our existence and spirituality with sensitivity and romance, in a poetic and elegant manner. At the same time, there’s Industrial, which brings a more existentialist, colder and cynical note into the equation. I relate to that as well.
Being a Goth (as a general label) doesn’t come without challenges in day to day life. Whether you like it or not, you stand out and not always in a good way. So it takes courage to dress differently, to affirm different preferences in music and (wherever the case) in spirituality, and then show up in public holding true to who you are. I identify completely with this mindset.
Also I discovered that the Goth community, in spite of all the gossip, cliques and thought bandwagons that usually go around, just like in any other community, shows a much higher degree of tolerance, acceptance and open-mindedness than any other subculture I’ve been exposed to so far.
- What is your views Gothic culture in Ireland today?
It’s pretty thin, to be honest, and it’s mostly concentrated in Dublin. I don’t know if it’s symptomatic to a deeply Catholic country or because Ireland is somewhat out of the reach of continental cultural influences, but I expected a higher spread of Gothic culture here.
On the bright side, the Gothic community here is very active and there’s a few people who are organizing amazing things for us, whether it’s gigs or all sorts of unconventional meetups. You can tell that people in the Irish Gothic scene are very much involved and do their best to keep the scene alive.
- You have also been involved with Goth events in Romania and Scotland. What is the Goth scene like in those countries and how does it differ from you experiences in the Irish Goth scene?
Romania is unfortunately a bit behind when it comes to the Gothic scene. Although Metal is well represented there and many metalheads dabble into Gothic music, there aren’t too many Gothic-specific events going on there and you don’t see too many people dressing up as Goths. At least in my city, where only me and a couple of friends organized some Gothic nights, but attendance wasn’t exactly stellar. I’m sure the capital Bucharest has more to offer in this regard. Again, as a very religious country isolated for decades by the Iron Curtain, you can’t expect a great deal, but it’s been a while since I left the country…maybe things have started to move forward a bit.
As far as Scotland is concerned, things are pretty lively there. Maybe not as much as in England, but the Gothic scene is fairly well represented nonetheless. In Edinburgh there’s a weekly event called Deliverance where I DJ’ed from time to time and a monthly event called Ascension. In Glasgow there’s Bedlam which goes on a monthly basis. You can also find a good number of pubs catering for alternative subcultures, so I’d definitely recommend going there for a good bit of craic 🙂
- What parts of Species did you enjoy most?
All of it! The live performances, the location, the decorations and especially the people that I met there. I felt very comfortable being around them and I made few good friendships there. Species gave me a sense of freedom and self-expression which I never felt before at a festival.
The organizers made a huge effort to make it happen and I could feel that everything with love and passion. I’d definitely recommend Species to anyone who enjoys the same things that I do.
- Would you like to be involved musically next year?
Absolutely! I’d be thrilled and honoured to be a part of the line-up for next year as well. More so, I would like to help out with setting the place up for the festival when the time comes.