Interview with Percival’s singer Joanna Lacher
Our interview with Miss Joanna Lacher was brutally ended by technical difficulties. On one hand, we have enough to share it with you, on the other hand, I think we will have to finish our conversation on another interview in the future.
Now, we think that most of you, dear friends, know who Miss Lacher is. Those who do not may learn from our talk. Without further adо, lets get to the long-promised interview.
Slavic Chronicles: Could you tell us a bit about the beginnings? How did it all start? How did you guys meet?
Joanna Lacher: In the beginning, there was chaos…
I understand that you ask about Percival and not about our beginnings with my boyfriend? (laughter)
SC: Of course. (laughter)
JL: We met in the reconstruction group from Lubin because of our common passion for history and musical culture. Mikołaj and Kasia wanted very badly to play on the “Festival of Slavs and Vikings” at Wolin, and to get there, you need to get yourself into [the historical] reconstruction. And we were a group of friends. One day my sister was planing a Swadźba (Polish for wedding), and she asked me to sing there. So I asked Miki and Kate to play with me. They liked it, and our friend convinced them to give me a shot. And they did. And so it went on for the next 10 years. Because we had a common goal: to create music.
SC: Who came up with the idea of your name? It refers to a character form The Witcher Saga, is that correct?
JL: You know, I came to an already made band. The group has existed since 1999 and I joined them in 2006. It was Mikołaj who was responsible for the name, as a young fan of Sapkowski. Among the characters this author created, there was a character of a gnome called Percival Shuttenbach, which perfectly fitted into Mikołaj’s style. Because both of them were jewelers by craft and he also has a big nose. (laugher)
SC: History made a full circle when you participated in the success of the Witcher III game, which was already from the time of its premiere called “the best video game in history”.
SC: How does it feel to know that you are co-creating something that popularizes Slavic culture more widely than any other media in the modern times? Percival has achieved something which most folk bands may only dream of. You came out of the pit and your work has given off quite real fruits.
JL: I feel pride. I am glad that our mission of popularizing Slavic culture is finally getting fulfilled. But also, I do not make it too big a thing. I am just a normal girl who works and lives like any other. Just like anybody else, I may get beaten up on the street or have an accident. Success doesn’t make us better people. It only puts the bar higher for further work. Even now, I am in a situation where the happiness I got from this success was taken away from me. The fruits are gathered by other people on the world tours. Well, life likes to surprise us.
SC: We are sorry to hear that. May we ask for the reasons why you were not able to take part in this tour, so important for the band?
JL: It was after the concert at the Movie Music Festival in the Kraków Tauron Arena, with the music from Witcher. I was going back home with with my manager, my boyfriend, his mother and the daughter of Mikołaj. Near Nowa Sól, on the S3 road, while we were standing still in the traffic, we were hit by a truck. My spine was fractured in two places in this accident. Luckily, the spinal cord was not severed, so I can still move my hands and legs. But I am going through a small nightmare right now. Today, it’s already 14 of March and I hope that I am already closer to rather than further from health. The road I have to make is hard, slow and demanding; it consists of many sacrifices. I would like to describe my way to health in a book. To motivate others who have to go through similar sufferings.
SC: It’s amazing that instead of focusing on yourself, your reaction is to do something for others. We encourage our readers to make sacrifices and prayers and aim them at your return to full health.
JL: Its not necessary to do sacrifices. Its enough to think positively about me.
I simply know what it’s like when somebody is afraid of the operation. One that is hard, and that may bear terrible consequences. The life and death operations.
SC: We understand. It’s truly hard to imagine.
JL: And the person that is afraid looks for advice from people who had survived and with whom everything went alright. But there is very little information about my kind of spinal reconstruction. So it’s worth talking about it. So that people will be less afraid. The other thing is that I like people very much. Everything I do, I do for people. I am not a musician for myself, I sing for others. Because people, even though they sometimes act wrong, are good by nature.
SC: Our page is involved in promoting things that help people become better and change their lives for the better. We guarantee you that we will promote your book when it comes out.
JL: Wow. Great!
SC: This interview is with you as Joanna Lacher, not as a member of the band Percival, so the following questions will be of a little different nature.
JL: I won’t borrow you money! (laughter)
SC: We were speaking about making sacrifices. Are you a rodzimowierca (Polish word describing a person who believes in the existence of Slavic Gods) or a rodzimokulturowiec (Polish for person who does not believe in the existence of Slavic Gods but cultivates the traditions for their own reasons)?
JL: Maybe I will make some people angry or disappointed, but I don’t believe in any God. I do not make ritual sacrifices, etc. But I do believe that the Slavic religion is closer to human nature than Catholicism. And more interesting. So if faith does help someone, I’d recommend our native one.
SC: We do agree that religion of our forefathers in very interesting, but it was not so “happy” and “friendly” as it is practiced by modern “pagans”. They totally deformed the original. Can we still speak about rodnovery or is it already some modern neo-paganism?
JL: Well, I don’t know. It’s a question for people who are practicing it. I am a musician.
SC: What attracted you to Slavic music?
JL: The energy! I always liked the folk atmosphere because, for example, archaic singing carries a lot of emotion and influences our bodies in a good way. Generally, I was always interested in the so-called folk, or something I would call “music of the sources”. Sure, I could be interested in pop also, but I expected more from music than a few cool sounds sticked and crossed together. Still, there are geniuses even in pop. I myself am interested not only in Slavic music but also in Nordic, Celtic, Germanic. But after all, the Slavic one is the closest to me. I am Slavic after all. You may cheat your father, mother, grandmother, but you can’t cheat nature. (smile)
SC: You must have a lot of energy. It’s hard to argue with the fact that your rock voice is the driving force of Percival. And the most necessary element, without which, I am convinced, they would not have achieved such success.
JL: (laughter) Well, yes. I think that it helped Percival gain momentum, but I do not despise my folk vocal abilities. For example, on the album with Eastern Slavic music, I didn’t use my rock voice, not even once.
SC: Our fans from Serbia speak very highly of your accent in the songs from that region.
JL: (laughter) Seriously? You’ve surprised me. I have no idea how I did that. It goes by itself, I guess.
SC: They also want to know when they will be able to enjoy your voice in Serbia.
JL: Oh, I am dreaming of going to Serbia and playing there. But I won’t go on any tours for a long time. My heart is bleeding. I feel like a bird trapped in a cage, but I cannot make certain processes faster. I want all the metal bolts out of me and my spine fully rebuilt; I want to get back to my full physical ability. Because, unfortunately, I can’t even move my head the way I want to at this moment. It’s impossible to sing when you don’t have the full flexibility in your vocal cords area. And in my case – when I sing, my whole body dances along.
SC: I never thought of that, but you are right. You are either playing an instrument or dancing. Energy. I believe that this vitality and strength will make you return to your full potential. May the nature of the Sarmatian Head-Hunting Maiden be heard in your voice.
JL: (laughter) Gosh, it’s so good to hear that!
SC: Do you listen to any other folk groups? Which ones are especially worthy of checking out?
JL: Hmm… let me think.
For a certain period of time I was listening to Orkiestra Świetego Mikołaja, Openfolk, Corvus Corax, a bit modern Scandinavian Garmarna. Now girls from Laboratorium Pieśni are making cool stuff. But there is also Werhowyna, Stary Olsa. In the past there used to be a cool band from Wolin called Gędźba, but they unfortunately broke up. I may also recommend Jar. But personally, I listen to Werhowyna, Orkiestra Świętego Mikołaja and Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa (Warsaw Village Band).
Ah, and there is Żywiołak. They are more modern-folkish. If somebody likes something “jumpy” then I recommend them.
SC: Ah, yes, I do remember Gędźba! From the fresh stuff, I would highly recommend CóryMary, a young project moving in a very interesting direction. Kind of Wardruna-like.
JL: Yes, I’ve heard something about them. Generally, I’m trying to stay away from music at this moment. Because ever since the operation, I’ve been hearing a very high-pitched tone in my left ear, non-stop. So I’d rather be sitting in silence and listening to this sound (laughter).
SC: Too bad, there was some action on the scene lately.
JL: Well, too bad. But what can I do. I guess somebody got jealous and cast bad spells on me (smile).
SC: Percival comes also in metal form. Are there any folk metal bands that have influenced your music anyhow?
JL: I don’t think so. None of us ever listened to folk metal before. Our inspirations are rather “thrash metalic”, or “King Diamondid,” so to speak.
SC: Any musical plans for the future?
JL: These unpredictable life coincidences are giving me motivation for trying something new. I want to create my own album. I can’t go on tours with Percival anyways, so I am working as much as I can with my friend from the band Moonlight, Daniel Potasz.
SC: What style?
As you can see, our conversation stopped in an unexpected moment. We guarantee you that this story “will be continued” and all the themes will be closed. Send us any questions you would like us to ask Miss Lacher in our next interview either at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the inbox of our facebook page.