South-America is in these times identified with the European or Western cultural sphere. Yet, tradition and history runs deep in the Andes. None know this better than Yana Raymi from Peru.
Blending folk and metal, the band breathes life into a past that is buried and forgotten by many. The band has been active for years, they’ve recently dropped a new album that tells the stories of the Andean past.
Luckily, I was able to get an interview, in which we discussed their history, the history of their region and music. Of course also the connection with Indoraza. Jhon Castro Cancho was kind enough to answer my questions and some interesting facts came up!
Ancient spirit of the Andes
Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?
My name is Jhon Castro, I am the founder guitarist of Yana Raymi. Peruvian band of Pagan Folk Metal. The band is composed by Luis Sarapura on drums. Jim Castro Bass and Voice, Evit Ordonez in the native instruments of winds and my person in the guitar. I currently play only in Yana Raymi .
How did the band get started and did you meet up?
The band began in the year 2004, in the city of Huancayo. The bassist, who is my brother, had been playing in a hard rock band named Indoraza and I had participated in Ccarccaria thrash death metal band. I joined them for a while and from there we decided to start the project that I had in mind. The idea was to make folk with a solid base in the traditional metal. After overcoming the lack of a drummer and getting a stable formation, Yana Raymi was born.
What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Yana Raymi?
Different bands. Bands like Sepultura (Old ), Sarcofago, Hadez, Kranium, Candlemass, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, and many more bands. As well as bands of South American Folklore, like Kjarkas, Savia Andina and others. At the time of writing we have never limited our horizons, nor have we typecast the band in a single style.
Which would you say is the core message behind Yana Raymi. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?
The central message is to revalue our customs, legends and Andean Cosmovision, Peruvian through the extreme art of metal. We want to transmit to the people, through our musical style, all the heroism and glories of our past. Recreating in each song, battles, sacrifices, pagan rituals and worship of our ancient gods.
Can you share a bit about the Peruvian mythology, what is it like, what stories and aspects do you take from it and how do you put this in your music?
Peruvian mythology is based on the Incan empire, which reached its splendor with the brutal subjugation of other cultures in our territory. The worship of the Sun, Moon, and Mother Earth, among others, was the main feature. This Empire was ruled by the Inca, who was a direct descendant of the sun. This theme is included in our music through the lyrics.
Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?
I make the base of all the songs, we work the lyrics together with my brother, and the other arrangements are made with the other members of the band already in the rehearsal room. We want all the members of the band to feel satisfied with the final result of a song.
As I understand it, your band has a connection to Indoraza. Do you feel you are bands in a similar mind or do you feel Yana Raymi is completely different?
The connection with Indoraza dates from the year 2002 – 03, which is when we played there. The sound evolved and Yana Raymi was born. Indoraza continued his path inside the Hard rock. The musical style is different, but in thematic, there is a certain similarity since both bands seek the revalue of certain customs. They in a more current way and we oriented to the pre-Hispanic era.
Recently, you released your latest record, which was named ‘Yana Allqo’. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it? What is the figure we see on the cover?
Yana Allqo ( Black Dog ) is a thematic disc that narrates the confrontation of the Inca army with the guardians of the Wanka Culture, this was located in the region that we currently inhabit (Center of Peru). These guardians were giant dogs that were invoked by the god Wallallo Carhuancho . for the defense of Wanka Valley. The figure we see on the cover is a Yana Allqo or black dog, around whom the theme of the album revolves.
Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music and how you implement it during the creative process?
We chose to do this because it complements the theme we address. The traditional wind instruments give us a favorable environment for what we want to transmit. With regard to the language used is basically Spanish, with some Quechua terms that is the native language of our country.
What sort of scene is there in Peru and how big is it? Which bands brought the genre to your country?
The scene in my country is relatively small, but with very good bands, and with people who bet big for the future of Peruvian metal. Currently, the “Lima Metal Fest” festival, that brings together bands with a worldwide career, is being held. There are emblematic bands like Mortem, Hadez, Anal Vomit, Kranium among others. The style we practice that is a South American Folk Metal that was born in our country since the first record we have by the band Kranium, which began to capture this style in the mid 90’s.
What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?
In the beginning, it was complicated, being a different style we did not receive support, we had to leave our city to start playing live. The cities that supported us initially was Ayaviri, Juliaca, in the south of our country and cities across the country of Bolivia where we went for the first time in 2007. Today things are different, the band achieved some consideration within the Peruvian scene.
South America has a thriving metal scene, but I wonder how much interaction you have with bands from abroad How important are the cross-border connections for you? Are there countries with whom you don’t really connect?
The South American metal has a very marked sound within the extreme style of which we are very proud. We keep in touch with almost every country in South America. Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, they are countries where we maintain a friendly relationship with bands and bangers that like Yana Raymi. But we have a very special connection with Bolivia, a country that we have played twice in 2007 and 2011, and in which we have been very well received, and at present, we are in the process of returning. If we have not connected with some countries or we have lost contact, it is basically due to the language.
How’s the availability of everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?
We have our own instruments and rehearsal room. The places to play are small, and the concerts in my city are rare. Usually, we leave our city to play.
Which bands from Peru should people definitely check out and why?
All the bands in Peru deserve special consideration for the effort that demands to make metal in my country. The bands that should be known are Mortem, Hadez , Kranium , Necropsya , Grave Desecration, Tunjum, Anal Vomit, Putrid, Nahual, Chaska, Deicidios, Psicorragía, Darken. They are really good groups with a distinctly South American spirit.
What future plans do you guys have?
This year play as much as you can, and the next start with the production of a new album.
If you had to compare Yana Raymi to a dish, what would it be and why?
We would be Panchamanca, which is an ancestral dish that is being made to this very day.
Thanks for the consideration and support. A hug from Peru. Cradle of the glorious Inca Empire