Gaming in the last month meant only one thing for many players – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. White Wolf has become omnipresent in the video game industry, and on our website as well. To keep the pace, we’re presenting you an interview with Polish folk metal band Percival, the members of which co-created the game’s soundtrack.

If you’re eager to know how this collaboration looked like from Percival’s point of view.

This band has been reminding the Slavic people about their roots and tradition since 2005, and they’re still gaining momentum. If you’re eager to know how this collaboration looked like from Percival’s point of view, read the below interview. At first there was a folk-metal band Percival Schuttenbach, which was formed in 1999. What was behind forming another more historical project, which refers to Slavic and Viking music? To which historical events, legends or rituals are you referring in your works?

Percival: Forming another, folk-historical project is connected to our joining a re-enactment group, which re-enacts Slavs and Vikings. At first we were trying to find our place in the group – what kind of person from early Middle Ages we’d like to re-enact? The answer to this question seemed obvious – we are musicians now, we shall become musicians in the past as well. Our goal was to take part in Wolin Festival of Slavs and Vikings, which is the biggest early middle ages re-enactment festival in Poland. We sewed our own costumes, we acquired instruments – one was bought at the festival’s market and one we made with our own hands.

We started making our first songs and so it begun. With years, we were getting deeper and deeper into the re-enactment environment. We were learning old songs, culture and rites. We were learning the history of our ancestors, our roots. It became important to us. With our works we want to demonstrate that some things, that came to being several hundred years ago, are still very close to us Slavs. What is the main goal of Percival – indulging own passion or spreading the Slavonic culture?

Percival: Both are important to us, but the passion is probably in the first place. Being a musician sometimes requires huge sacrifices and a lot of strength, both physical and mental. Without the passion, we wouldn’t last this long in the musical branch. We love playing and this is what gives us the push forward, this is what makes us develop. And if by doing what we love, we can also educate people, make them learn more about our culture and history, then we are more than happy. We grew very fond of Slavonic history and culture since we are involved in historical re-enactment. It is a fascinating thing and we are very happy that thanks to us many people can discover this world too. I had the opportunity to attend a few of your concerts and I have to admit, your passion can be seen and heard when you play. What gives you more pleasure and satisfaction – making music or performing on stage?

Percival: It is really difficult to compare. Making music often is equal to closing oneself in one’s own world. In a world where only the musician and the music exists. It is a wonderful feeling, which cannot be simply described in words. The satisfaction that comes after making and recording a song is huge. On the other hand, concerts involve interaction with people. We have to open ourselves to the audience and give them energy in form of sounds. It also is a great experience, which gives a lot of positive energy. Sometimes we play the same songs for a hundredth time, but they are never played in the same way, they live their own lives. That’s why we’ll never get bored with the concerts. Making and recording albums is like coming back home, to our place, to tranquillity. Both those things complete each other and we love them equally, even though they are completely different. From my own experience, I know that playing in a band consumes a lot of time. Do you find some time to play some games? If so, do you pay attention to the music in games?

Percival: Sadly, we happen to play games very occasionally. We are not gamers so we can’t say much about this nor about game music. Playing in the band takes a lot of our time and it’s difficult to find a bit of time for anything else, it’s true. Playing video games is a bit like escaping from reality. For us the music is the escape from reality.

We wanted to give maximum; we wanted to really feel what we do. It worked out perfectly and we are very proud of the astonishing final product. – Percival Let’s focus on The Witcher now. How did you get involved with CD Projekt?

Percival: CD Projekt approached us with a proposition to cooperate. We eagerly agreed, without hesitation to be honest. Although, as we mentioned before, we are not gamers, we found The Witcher very impressive. We are happy that everything worked out very smoothly and without difficulties and that the outcome of the cooperation is so great. We are really happy and proud to be a part of this endeavour. In the song Sword of Destiny we can hear some themes from your song Sargon from the ‘Oj Dido’ album. Will we hear some other pieces from your works in the game?

Percival: Yes, quite a lot of our songs were used in the game, such as Lazare or Oj dido. Those who are familiar with our songs will easily recognise our sounds. We hear from our friends very frequently that they’ve heard this or that one of our songs in the game. We are very happy about it and we are looking forward to playing and to experiencing it ourselves. There is no denying that the songs, we could hear so far, are of best quality and bring about unique atmosphere. How much freedom did you have while making the music for the game?

Percival: We agree that the music for The Witcher makes this amazing atmosphere, which we really like. However, we didn’t have much influence on its final sound – it’s all the composer Marcin Przybyłowicz’s doing. Our task was to prepare sounds for him, the musical matter, which he later transformed into final songs. Of course, some material already existed – we are talking here about our songs from our albums. However, some compositions were created exclusively for The Witcher. During two studio sessions we recorded as many different sounds and melodies as we could. We had a lot of freedom – often we were given only some minor instructions regarding tempo or the atmosphere of given song. The sounds themselves were made by us, we often improvised. It was a great adventure and a great lesson for us.

Being a musician sometimes requires huge sacrifices and a lot of strength, both physical and mental. – Percival What instruments were used in making the soundtrack for The Witcher? Are those only Slavonic instruments or are there also some instruments from other regions?

Percival: We used nearly all the instruments we have during sessions. And there is a lot of them. We used instruments that were used or might have been used by the Slavs, as well as completely modern instruments, such as electric cello. There was so many instruments that it would be very difficult to list them all. Certainly, the instruments we usually use in Percival were used, such as lyre, bağlama, davul, and bodharn. And also a guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, cello, and even an accordion. Additionally, whole bunch of different kinds of flutes and piccolos, drums, and other ‘disrupters’. And let’s not forget about very important instruments, which are our voices. Was working with Marcin Przybyłowicz a new challenge for you? Which aspect of the work was the most crucial for you?

Percival: It was a completely new experience for us. We learnt a lot. For the first time in our career, we had the opportunity to make music at this scale that is an illustration to something. It was the first time we could see such a huge and professional corporation as CD Projekt at work. We really did learn a lot. Marcin Przybyłowicz truly nailed it as the producer. He really managed to make the best of us. We often were surprised that we could play or sing so many new sounds. We wanted to give maximum; we wanted to really feel what we do. It worked out perfectly and we are very proud of the astonishing final product.

We like challenges, new projects, working with interesting people. – Percival Tell us little something about your plans. Have you considered making more music for games or would you rather focus on your own projects?

Percival: Our plan is simple – play as much music as we can, especially abroad, release new albums, and make a lot of great music. If the opportunity comes to make music for a game again than we are more than happy to do it. We like challenges, new projects, working with interesting people. All that develops us and gives a lot of experience, which will be useful later. Working on The Witcher was really nice. We are open for new propositions. It is very probable that we will so something similar in the future.

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Ex Executive Editor

Marta Bińczak