-Skyggefigurrer is a one man black metal project from Detroit, Michigan that explores various styles and genres of black metal and even creates some new sounds that some may consider non traditional to black metal. I have created many other music projects over the years in many different styles and genres of music, but this is the project I feel closest to and that I feel best represents me.
2.All of your recordings sound different from each other, can you tell us a little bit more about the progression you have made with these recordings?
-When I created the first Skyggefigurrer album Selvtitulerte, I was still finding my individual sound and was wearing a lot of my influences on my sleeve. You can definitely tell there was a heavy dose of death metal and the black metal elements were a direct nod to the band Ulver. In some ways I feel like m first album was really ambitious since it flows as if it were one long song if you listen to it from beginning to end. I often feel like it is one of the best and most cohesive albums I have made. But at the same time, I have definitely evolved on each album after and really started incorporating different influences from other styles of music and establishing a sound that was more of my own and not trying to be like any other bands.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explore with your music?
-My lyrical themes vary greatly from album to album. On the first album, the main lyrical theme is the destruction of organized religion using Satanism as both a literal figure as well as at times a counterpoint for my hatred towards organized religion. It’s definitely more traditional black metal subject matter. The second album Riket At Tomhet (Realm Of Emptiness) is something more of a concept album that follows the story of someone dying who becomes a spirit and the process the spirit goes through figuring out that they have died and accepting this and in the end the spirit is banished by a priest and ends up in a sort of state of limbo before possessing a person to continue living and not being stuck in limbo. If you listen to the album on repeat, the person the spirit possesses dies and the story continues perpetually. My instrumental acoustic album is a concept album as well that is meant to tell the story of a boat sailing through a storm and barely making it to its destination. The albums and EP’s after that don’t really follow a concept and have more eclectic subject matter including misanthropy, rituals, nature, death, depression, paranormal phenomenon and suicide.
4.On the first album you had some satanic and occult lyrics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?
-I have always had a great disdain and hatred for organized religion. I feel that organized religion and Christianity in particular encourage closed mindedness and not asking questions. I feel like organized religion is too often used as a tool to control weak minded people and for personal profit of clergy. That’s why I find Satanic and occult imagery so powerful. I feel like it is the antithesis of everything organized religion stands for and makes a clear point in the context I used this imagery. I myself am not a Satanist. I feel like Satanism is also a form of organized religion and can be just as bad as Christianity. But I appreciate the power that the imagery holds and use it more as a metaphor than as an actual homage to Satanism.
5.All of the song titles are in Danish, can you tell us a little bit more about this concept?
-Actually the song titles are in Norwegian. I chose to use the Norwegian language for a few reasons. First, it was a way of acknowledging and respecting the original black metal musicians in Norway who created the style. I feel it is important to know the history of any style of music one chooses to create. My second reason is that I feel close to the Norwegian culture. I myself am of multiple ethnic heritage, but I am part Irish. The Vikings from Norway actually invaded Ireland and many stayed there afterwards so most people of Irish heritage also have some Norwegian blood in them. I think that might be part of why I feel so drawn to Norwegian culture and the Norwegian languages. I actually have a friend in Norway I speak to who helps me with the translations for the song titles since I don’t speak the language myself.
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Skyggefigurrer'?
-It’s actually a funny story. My band name is actually spelled incorrectly and I have no one to blame but myself for that! I released my first album before I realized the mistake! I guess that’s what happens when you try to use a language you don’t speak! Long story short, I misspelled the band name by putting one too many letters in the name. It’s actually supposed to be Skyggefigurer which is the Norwegian word for shadow figure. In the context of the Norwegian word, it’s meaning is closer to shadow puppet. Once I realized the error on the album cover, it was too late to fix it. Instead of letting it bother me, I embraced it. I now feel like the spelling I used differentiates it from “shadow puppet” and allows me to explain the context I intended when asked which refers to a shadow figure which is a type of spirit that manifests itself in the form of a disembodied shadow.
7.In 2017 you had released at least 7 releases in a few months but cut back after that, can you tell us a little bit more about it?
-I had the first 3 albums recorded before I decided to release the first album. I didn’t expect to get the kind of interest in the project that I got, I was mainly making these songs for my own amusement. I released the first three albums within a few weeks of each other and continued recording for the other albums that came after. Then life got in the way as it often does and as of late, I have been too busy at my day job to write and record music at the pace I was previously. So I have been mostly focusing on collaborations with other black metal artists as well as another black metal project I am involved in with the members of the bands Tahazu and Belzebut called Ordo Malum. Since I do all instruments and vocals for Skyggefigurrer it can be difficult to find time to put a full song together, let alone a full album. But it is much less time consuming to just record vocals for a collaboration or in the case of Ordo Malum to record some guitar and bass parts. I’m hoping things slow down soon so I can catch up with the new Skyggefigurrer album I have been working on, I’d really like to have it done by the end of the year.
8.On the album you recorded mostly everything by yourself, would you be open to working with a full band in the future?
-I’ve often thought about this. As much as I’d like to see Skyggefigurrer be a full band, I don’t feel like Skyggefigurrer is the vehicle to do that with. I’d rather start a separate black metal project if I was going to do a full band. I feel like it would be too much like a Skyggefigurrer cover band if I tried to make it into a full band. I would have a hard time just doing vocals and I know I wouldn’t be able to do the vocals and play any of the instruments at the same time, so at this point I don’t see it becoming a full band.
9.You have also been a part of a couple of splits, can you tell us a little bit more about the bands or musical projects you had shared these recordings with?
-The first split I did was with the one man band Tahazu from Wisconsin who is absolutely a force to be reckoned with in the underground black metal scene. He has been a huge influence on my own music and being a part of that split really was an amazing experience. I also did an EP with Suldusk from Australia who has truly come into her own as an artist. I can’t say enough good things about her. I don’t know if the EP was necessarily a split since I played the guitars and she did the vocals, but I think that still qualifies. I don’t know what else I would consider it. She has more of a dark folk and blackgaze influenced sound to her work which is not the first thing you would think of when discussing black metal and yet somehow her vocals inspire me to deviate from my usual more harsh tones to create very melodic acoustic guitar parts that her vocals wrap seamlessly around. I have plans for another EP with her in the future when both of us have more time to dedicate. That one will be a concept EP and will have a heavier direction than our last collaboration but will still be melodic so it should be an interesting listen! Really looking forward to making my vision for that one a reality!
10.You have also done contributions on other musical artists recordings, can you tell us which projects you have contributed to so far?
-I have done songs with some amazing one man black metal artists from all over the world. I have collaborated on several songs with Ankoú from France. He has a unique gift of having a vision for a concept for a song and being able to turn that into a song that surpasses my expectations every time. I also have done several songs with Scathanna Wept from South Africa. He has this amazing unique electronic based black metal style that I have never heard anything like before. He is truly blazing his own trail. I tend to experiment a lot more with my vocals when I do vocals on one of his songs as it really inspires me with how brutal yet melodic the music is. My most recent collaboration which is still in the works is with Decarabia. I honestly have no idea where he is from. And I kind of think it’s better that way. I think it adds to the air of mystery that surrounds his project. He has a sound also rooted in electronic instrumentation and explores the more symphonic and ambient side of black metal in a way that is absolutely beautiful. It really has inspired me to add more melodic elements successfully to my own music and explore that sound more.
11.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
- At this point I’m not interested in a label because my main goal is to create the music I have in my mind and in my heart without any restrictions. I feel like working with labels can sometimes stifle creativity and ruin the integrity of the music. Also, being as busy as I have been recently is not conducive to working with a label that may expect a certain amount of output. I like having the freedom to make the album I want to make at my own pace. I have had a little bit of interest from labels, but most of the interest I have had were just distribution deals and I’m not really looking for that at this point. I make my music available for free download on my soundcloud page so it can reach as many people as possible. I can’t think of a better way to distribute music than by making it free. But with that said, I wouldn’t rule out working with a label if the situation was right. But I’m not making this music to make money. I just want to share what I create with like minded people who want to hear it.
12.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
-I have released several of my other music projects over the years and none of them really got much interest. I really didn’t expect much interest in this project either, but after I finished the first 3 albums and listened to them a lot, I knew I had created something that was much more special than most of the other projects I had done. I guess other people must have agreed because the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I really thought my music would struggle to get played 100 times. But less than a year in my music has gotten over 5000 plays. It’s astonishing and surreal at times! The first song I did with Suldusk called Drogue got over 10,000 plays in less than a month. That blew my mind to be a part of something that so many people were touched by. I’m so grateful for every single person who listens to my music or reposts my songs or tells someone they know to check out my songs. I actually try to take time to communicate with every person who shows interest in my music and thank them for listening. As long as people keep showing interest in my music, I will keep creating it and posting it!
12.When can we expect new music and also where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?
-I am really hoping to have my next full album out by the end of this year. If nothing else, I will definitely have a lot of collaborations coming out this year including my collaboration with Decarabia and a new song with Ankoú. As far as where I see myself going in the future as a musician, I never really know until I get there. I have so many music projects it’s kind of ridiculous. I can say that I see Skyggefigurrer being around for a long time though. This project means more to me than any of my other projects and it really is like an extension of me.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
-I have quite a wide variance of musical influences. I listen to a little of everything. I think the styles that have worked their way into my music besides black metal of course are shoegaze, folk, djent, hardcore, post hardcore, punk, progressive metal, post rock, and jazz. Lately I have been listening to a lot of eclectic music as always. Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Shmu, Cheatahs, Vinyl Williams, Fallujah, An Autumn For Crippled Children, the Japanese band Envy, The Depreciation Guild, Be Forest, Drudkh, Leviathan, Luminous Orange, Advent Sorrow, Korouva, Omotai, The Rocking Horse Winner, Shai Hulud, and of course the music of the my fellow underground black metal artists like Tahazu, Belzebut, Decarabia, Ankoú, Suldusk, Rasmusson C S, All The Seeds, and a ton of others! I’m always listening to music as you can tell!
14.What are some of your non musical interests?
-I like working on cars when I have the time. I love playing video games. I used to only play old school video game systems. I mostly played original Xbox and Dreamcast and original NES and Nintendo 64. The newest system I had for the longest time was the Nintendo Wii and that mostly collects dust lately. But I recently picked up and Xbox One and what little time I have had been going to playing games on that lately. I mostly play stuff like Grand Theft Auto and Gears Of War, so I’m a little ashamed to admit I’ve become slightly obsessed with the Life Is Strange game series the last couple weeks and have been playing the first two LIS games nonstop while waiting for the new one to come out. That game is a mindfuck and is extremely intense! You can’t be grim and frost bitten all the time right? Even black metal artists need to have fun from time to time!
15.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
-This was an excellent interview! I can tell you put some time into these questions! Thank you so much for the thought provoking questions! And thank you to everyone reading this! Thanks to all my underground black metal family on SoundCloud, you know who you are!