Beyond the Masquerade
CoC chats with Stefan Traunmuller of Golden Dawn
by: Quentin Kalis
If there was justice in the world, Golden Dawn would have achieved the same level of fame and notoriety within the underground as countrymates Abigor and Summoning. Some of the blame must be laid on the Metallica-esque gap between their two full-lengths -- their debut album _The Art of Dreaming_ came out in 1996, but their sophomore effort _Masquerade_ was released only in early 2003. Musically speaking, the gap between the two albums is astounding. _TAoD_ was a black metal CD, yet went beyond the limiting confines of the genre both musically and lyrically, without losing the essence of what constitutes black metal. The follow-up _Masquerade_ was a completely different and more complex affair that combined the best elements of prog, black, gothic and heavy metal. I was sufficiently impressed with both albums that I just had to know more about the band responsible. The result is the introductory interview, conducted via e-mail with Stefan Traunmuller; hopefully more metalheads will become aware of this enigmatic band.

CoC: For those who are unfamiliar with Golden Dawn, could you explain, briefly, in your own words, the formation of Golden Dawn?

Stefan Traunmuller: I began to make music in 1992 and started Golden Dawn as a one-man project. The first demos suffered from the bad sound and a lack of technical abilities but already showed some experimental keyboards and progressive edges. The first serious publishing was the third demo _Way of the Sorcerer_ and the two tracks on the compilation _A.B.M.S. - Norici Obscura Pars_. The collaboration with Dark Matter Records continued with the first album _The Art of Dreaming_ and ended during the production of the second album _Sublimity_ when they went bankrupt. Then in 2001 I started to work together with Karim and Sebastian on the new album _Masquerade_ for Ars Metalli. But they ripped me off again and therefore I am very glad to be with Napalm Records now.

CoC: The Golden Dawn website lists only two albums for Golden Dawn, released some years apart. What happened?

ST: As stated before, the second album should have been a record called _Sublimity_. It was recorded between 1997 and 1999, but Dark Matter Records had less and less time and more and more financial problems. We worked very hard on this album and just before the final mastering could have been done, the label stopped its existence. I was very disappointed and did not want to record and release everything all over again; therefore I spent some years at home composing and recording just for myself.

CoC: Was any material released during this period?

ST: Yes, there are the two albums _Sublimity_ and _A Solemn Day_, but they were just demo recordings for myself.

CoC: Were you -- or any other current members -- involved in any side projects?

ST: Yes, Karim, Moritz and me play in Sternenstaub as well. Sternenstaub is symphonic black metal, more straightforward than Golden Dawn. We have already recorded our debut album and are looking for a label at the moment.

CoC: _Masquerade_ is vastly different in style to _The Art of Dreaming_. What prompted such a drastic change in style?

ST: Time, experience and personal development. If you knew the in-between albums and songs, you would not find the change so drastic. But _Masquerade_ also reflects the influence of two other musicians for the first time, another thing that changed the direction a bit. But I think that there is some kind of characteristic style in my music; on the first album it was presented in a very intuitive way and now in a more sophisticated way.

CoC: I can hear a wide range of influences in _Masquerade_. Which bands have influenced Golden Dawn?

ST: In the early nineties I listened to many of the well-known black metal bands, but I also admired classical and electronic music. With the passing of time I turned away from black metal and nowadays I listen to a lot of prog rock. Of course I am influenced by all the music I hear, as well as by all things I experience in my life; I think that this is natural. But I will never try to copy anything or focus on a certain style.

CoC: I must say that I like the design of the Golden Dawn website! It seems to tie in with the _Masquerade_ cover; is there any meaning to it or does it simply suit the music and atmosphere?

ST: The latter... I had an idea of a very complex cover with philosophical background, but nobody was able to make this real; therefore, we decided to take a kind of gothic styled cover. There are also some modern elements in it, just like in the music of the album.

CoC: What are the future plans for Golden Dawn?

ST: To compose the next album, which should become a concept album with strong classical and progressive influences.

CoC: We've come to the end. The floor is yours! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

ST: Thanks for all your support, keep up your individualism and be at one with yourselves.

(article submitted 4/9/2003)

7/12/2003 Q Kalis 7.5 Golden Dawn - Masquerade
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