Monday, August 12, 2013

Eldjudnir Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before? Winnem: Eldjudnir is a Danish black metal band that draws a lot of inspiration from Nordic folklore and musical traditions. We try to capture the essence of both the naturalistic and mythological aspects of our ancestral heritage. 2. How would you describe your musical sound? Winnem: As a mix between a thunderstorm and a quiet breeze. Some have said we sound like early Enslaved; I honestly don't know. Describing music with language isn't easy to do! Friis: Seeing as I only joined comparatively recently, I can only speak for where we are going from here. Sadly, I cannot take any credit for the stuff for the existing discography and the great material there. That is all Winnem. But in regards to our sound now, and where we are going from here, I would say we take Black Metal as our starting point, and aim to make the most atmospheric, deep and evocative music we can. We are not purists, so we do tend to draw upon other inspirations if we feel it is needed, most notably funeral doom and a small amount of death metal occasionally. All sorts of little things go into making this a cohesive whole. Given that Eldjudnir is no longer a solo project, the sound is evolving, and I am not sure I can say for certain where exactly we will go. However, we are extremely excited about our new material, and I for one am extremely proud of and pleased with what we have made so far. The collaborative process between Winnem and I is something I find enormously gratifying. 3. The lyrics cover Norse Paganism; can you tell us a little bit more about your heathen views? Winnem: All of our lyrics draw heavily from Norse Mythology. We are not Asatro or anything like that though; all of us are firm atheists. Religion in all forms is nothing but an expression of mankinds fear of the unknown; Eldjudnir embraces the unknown. When I write lyrics I blend Old Norse with modern Danish, to distance myself from the music, as we do with the cloaks we wear on stage. It is still extremely personal, of course. Such is the power of music. Friis: As Winnem said, we are not a "religious" band. We will not become the Asatro Stryper anytime soon. We approach our heritage and mythology as storytellers or cultural historians. Not as missionaries. Conversely, Eldjudnir is also a completely apolitical entity. We are all very much on the left of the political spectrum, and I actively identify as a feminist, but this has no bearing on the music of Eldjudnir whatsoever. It is focused squarely on telling the stories of our ancestors. 4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name? Winnem: ‘Eldjudnir’ is the name of the halls of Hel in the underworld of Asgard in Norse Mythology. It is where you end up if you die of old age or illness: 'the straw death'. Of course, the honorable way to die back in the day was in battle! Kristiansen: Its taken from the old text "Gylfaginning" where the properties of Hel and her halls are described. It somehow seems like an appropiate thing to take a name inspiration from when playing this kind of music. 5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance? Winnem: We are constantly refining our live performance, as one would expect. One of the more memorable ones recently was at ‘Pumpehuset’ in Copenhagen, where we played with Solbrud and Horned Almighty. That was a defining show for us, and we were proud to play there. Friis: The Pumpehuset gig was indeed a bit of a watershed for us. Quite a large crowd, for such a niche genre, and generally just a great time. Our most recent gig (also with Solbrud, of course) was also amazing. The venue, BETA in Copenhagen, was simply a joy to play at, with extremely professional staff and probably the coolest, nicest and most skilled soundguy in existence. Also, my 62-year old mother-in-law came to see us, and surprisingly enough she actally liked it. Kristiansen: The first live gig for Eldjudnir ranks as a memorable one as well. We played a small hippie-ish festival late at night and had more or less expected people to leave during our gig, as the festival was very broad in terms of musical genres. But turned out people stayed and enjoyed it. Also the first time trying out the hooded appearance and how that worked. 6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future? Winnem: Currently, no. We are planning to record during fall and winter, and our next show is scheduled for early 2014. Friis: Writing and recording the new material is of course top priority over the next stretch of time, but after that there will hopefully be a good deal of live activity. It will probably be together with Solbrud, as per usual, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I really like those guys a lot, and it would be great fun to sit in a stinky van with them for a few weeks. 7. Currently, you are signed to Schattenkult Produktionen, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far? Winnem: Well, we are not really ‘signed’ since we do not have a contract with them. They released all our music on cassette though. SKP simply wrote to us and asked if we were interested in an agreement. 8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and pagan metal? Winnem: It seems we have many supporters in Eastern Europe, which is great! America seems to be catching on as well. Friis: It is heartwarming for me to see the diversity of the people who reach out to us. It is a pretty cool feeling when your little hobby thing makes someone on the other side of the planet happy. However, the feedback we get after live shows is a bit funnier, given that our entire appearance is obscured. After the Pumpehuset gig, I went out on stage immediately after the show to gather up my cables and pedals. A guy and his girlfriend came up to me with a wild look in their eyes and said "what was that band's name!? They were awesome!" They didn't know that only minutes earlier, the black-robed figure in front of them had been me. I was amused at this. Our anonymity means we can talk to people after the shows without them knowing they are talking to the band. This means we can get the 110% honest opinion, for better or worse! Something which has also become a running joke in our band, was a concert reviewer who criticised us for not having colour-matched our instruments and our robes, as well as playing too fast. We got a good chuckle out of that. Kristiansen: The underground blackmetal scene is really strong worldwide and Eldjudnir has been spread far and wide, reviewed in underground zines etc without us doing much. Compared to my experience from Huldre (the folkmetal scene) this is really something unique for blackmetal; that we can put music online and it will spread around so quickly. 9. What is going on with the other musical projects these days? Winnem: Our bassist is currently very active in his other band, Huldre. The rest of us also play in Grindcore outfit ‘Gestapolis’. Our drummer is in ‘The Cleansing’ as well, which is Death Metal, and I play bass for a singer/songwriter project. Friis: As stated, I play in Gestapolis. I am also writing a lot of material at home for some sort of mathrock/indie/postrock thing that I'm quite sure most black metal fans will consider "gay" and absolutely despise. We'll see where that goes, maybe it becomes a side project band, maybe it doesn't. 10. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases? Winnem: We have already written a lot of tracks for our next release, which will be more heavily focused on the avant-garde side of black metal (think Ved Buens Ende and Bergtatt by Ulver). We try not to compare ourselves too much with other groups. We try to do our own thing. It is going to be Eldjudnir. Friis: As stated earlier, Eldjudnir is in a state of evolution at the moment. The new material will be more intricate, more experimental and more diverse. Slow parts will be slower, and given the absurd speeds our drummer can reach with ease fast parts will be MUCH faster. Some parts will be very melodic and "epic", while others will veer into Portal/later-period Deathspell Omega-esque dissonance mindfuck territory. It will be a lot of things, but I'm convinced "boring" will not be one of them. 11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and what are you listening to nowadays? Winnem: As I mentioned, Ulver and Ved Buens Ende are some bands that I feel have shaped the sound of Black Metal as I prefer it, personally. Blut Aus Nord is another name that comes to mind. Wardruna has had influence on the more ambient and atmospheric parts of our songs. Pink Floyd is a huge influence. And everyone in the band is a fan of De Nattergale! Friis: My favourite Black Metal artists tend to be the ones who tweak the formula to a lesser or greater extent. While I love good, oldschool true Black Metal as much as the next person, my favourite BM "band" of all time is still Deathspell Omega, more specifically Deathspell Omega when they got weird. I can't run from the influence they have had on my playing and writing. I also love bands like Woe, Deafheaven and Wolves in the Throne Room. However, I don't think only BM artists influence us. We are all extremely eclectic, so don't be surprised if a few drum fills can be traced back to Vinnie Colaiuta's work on Sting's (utterly sublime!!!) "Mercury Falling", if my clean guitar sound and use of effects is faintly reminiscent of Rush's Alex Lifeson or if a certain riff has an aftertaste of Gorguts. Inspiration can come from the strangest places. Even from De Nattergale, who are undeniably the greatest band in existence. Kristiansen: I dont know if its an inspiration as such, but when it comes to blackmetal I currently like to seek out the ones that try something a bit different like saudiarabian Al-Namrood. Other than that I listen to stuff like Skogen, Bishop of Hexen and Cor Scorpii. Im a big Windir fan as well. 12. Outside of music what are some of your interests? Friis: Well, all of us enjoy the occasional video game, that's for certain. We also enjoy fermented, hops-based beverages. That is even more certain. I myself also enjoy reading, as my education deals with literature. I have recently started writing English-language fiction again, and find great enjoyment in that. I am also obsessed with the Warhammer 40000 universe, and have been for 15+ years. Winnem: Video games are a common interest for sure. I am currently studying classical philology, so language and reading takes up a lot of the time not spent writing and studying the art of music. Being active in three bands doesn't give one much room for other social activities. Kristiansen: Nerds and metal yeah? I like video games so much I develop them for a living. Other than that: music! 13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview? Winnem: Thank you so much for the interest in the band and the great questions! We are truly grateful that you like the music and we hope to have captured the interests of the readers enough to check us out if you haven't already. The new album is going to come out some time next year. We are very excited about it, and you should be too!

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