Enslaved Interview

Salut mighty Enslaved!First of all let me congratulate you because of the best Viking –Black metal album that is released recently namely “ISA”.Frankly,this album has been always been on the top of my playlist last year,and is still one of my faveorites.I simply call this new style of Enslaved as “ Progressive Viking-Black Metal”(!),i know it sounds weird yet i have no other definition for it at the moment!So,what are the latest news from your camp?I hope everything is ok. on the Norsk side?                         

Ivar: Hello Frostkamp! Thank you very much for your kind words on “ISA”. I am glad to find it on top of your play list. I can’t quite agree with your classification, I prefer to call it only Extreme Metal, maybe with some progressive elements. It is kind of stupid for me as the composer to call it progressive, I think it is up to other to judge it as progressive compared to something. Everything is good on Norwegian side, it is a rainy day as usual in Bergen, I am working in my studio with both music and Enslaved-“business” (like this interview). Latest news is that we will enter the studio immediately after New Year 2006 and release a new album approx May 2006. I am working here in the studio with finishing the last track for the album, and our drummer is working with pre-production in a studio in Portugal. 

 

You have had many recent line-up changes, yet i don’t want to mention about the stories regarding them at the moment,as it has already been asked to you 1939 times.Now just give your latest line-up briefly, who plays what at the moment in the Enslaved?                                

 Ivar: Good thing we avoided number 1940 then. Right now we have a very good line-up, it has never sounded as good before. I myself, Ivar Bjørnson, am writing all music and most lyrics as well as playing the guitar. I have been part of the band since we started in ’91, together with vocalist and bass player Grutle Kjellson. We have one of metal’s finest drummers Cato Bekkevold, who was a founding member of Red Harvest (he quit in 1997) and has participated in projects like Sirius, Re:Aktor and Ashes To Ashes. On keyboard and vocals we have Herbrand Larsen, which is very integral to the “new direction” for Enslaved with more intricate vocal arrangements and massive keyboard atmospheres live. Finally there is Arve Isdal who does the lead guitar.                                                                    

I think you are working on the new songs at the moment.What kind of musical,lyrical and visual conception should we wait this time?Will the songs appear in the way that you employed in the last two albums or should we expect something totally new?              

Ivar: Yes, as I said I am in the process of finishing the new album these days. I have been working all day and night for many, many months with the new album, so at this point it is impossible to give any sensible analysis of the material at this point. All I know is that the material is the best Enslaved material I have ever heard, and the new album will definitely be stronger, better and more interesting than both “ISA” and many other releases. No matter what I say it won’t do the material justice, I think.                                                               

Your “Isa” album won you several awards and nominations last year.I want to learn,how it feels when your album (should i say “your son”?)gains such respect from the audience?I also saw some family photos in your web-site,with the awards you have been honoured,that msut be a really great feeling indeed…                                  

Ivar: It was very nice to be rewarded with these prices, absolutely. It was a bit surreal to receive all these awards, we actually won all the prices possible for a Norwegian rock band, even prices competing with pop and hip-hop acts. Very crazy indeed. The biggest thing was the Norwegian Grammy, this is the price you can see my and Grutle’s parents being very proud of on our website. At the time when they handed out the Norwegian Grammy, we were on tour in Spain, so we decided to send my and Grutle’s parents to represent us. They really had a good time and we were very proud to have them there to represent us. It is very difficult to explain exactly how it feels, I think the best way to describe it is to say that is very satisfying. When you work with something for hours and hours every day, year after year, it feels good when somebody slaps you on the shoulder and says “hey, great work!”. And it is also a big inspiration to work harder and better for the next album. Pressure is a good thing if you can handle it.                                                                

You are no longer sing in Norsk,lyrics are generally in English.What is the reason for this?Do you think that this decision will take you a wider spectrum of listeners,or do you think English written songs suits more unto your concept?          

Ivar: We no longer sing in Norwegian, no. Actually it is hard to find a very clear and direct answer. It was the result of quite a long discussion over several albums what to do. We had been receiving so much feedback on our music, lyrics and concepts from all over the globe since the very first demo days. We came to a point where we saw that singing in English could give everyone listening to us the chance of experiencing the lyrics simultaneously with the music, instead of having to go through translations post-music. If it sells more I have no idea, but I guess it makes it more available. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as we make honest music.                                  

All of you in Enslaved seem to have a good relationship with your parents, do you think that does an artist’s family has an initial and importnat effect on his/her success?Have they supported you from the very beginning?Or were there some problems at the earlier times?                         

Ivar: They have supported me all the way, in everything I have done. Of course it makes it easier for an artist when he can be supported by the family. Some fathers want their sons to be workers and business-men and would force and beat them into doing what they want, so of course some artists actually never become artists because their family destroyed this path for them. And then again some people can be motivated by the problems with their family, so the conflicts make them stronger. I guess it is different from person to person. I am very grateful to have had such a supportive family in any case.                                                                         

Are you thinking of using ex-logo in the future covers?Actually the new one seems quite minimalistic,unlike your music.On the other hand,the ex one seems quite oldschool,unlike your music again…thus,have you ever thought of a new designed logo?                    

Ivar: At this time we are very satisfied to use both, as I think Enslaved is a band that has gone new ways (new logo), while still maintaining some of the older feeling (old logo). Like in the ISA-booklet the new one is on the front, while the old one is in the centre-pages of the booklet. We do t-shirts and merchandise with both the new and the old logo, they are both valid symbols for the band.                                                                      

Everyone feels that they have to classify the music, so what do you consider Enslaved… now?As I said above can we say it “Progressive Viking-Black Metal”?(ok. I must confess that this definition seems not that rationale!it is my stupid definition,peh!)                         

Ivar: I concider it Extreme Metal, no less and no more. As I said, some people argue it to be progressive, and it has a lyrical conceptual base centered around ancient Northern mysticism. So maybe I would say “Extreme Metal with progressive influences, lyricially inspired by native mysticism”. Too long? Hehe.                                                                                 

How are the things with TABU recording so far?Have you ever faced some problems regarding the label?                       

Ivar: Things are great with TABU so far! These guys are really dedicated to giving their bands the best possible treatment, and it also helps that they are good business people. We have been very lucky with honest labels, first Osmose and now Tabu. With all the horrible stories from bands that has been ripped off by people like Hammerheart Records/ Karmageddon Media, I feel that we have made the right choices. No problems yet! Also I think it is a big advantage that we now have a very professional and hard-working management working for us. They keep kicking TABU’s ass to make sure they kill themselves working 24 hours a day.                                             

Talking about the labels,for you,what kind of qualities should a label carry?What is the most important side in a recording label? Honesty? Promotion?Publicity?             

Ivar: Definitely a combination of everything you mention. There’s no point in being honest if they can not understand numbers, budgets and economical planning. Also they must know about musical qualities and the complete process of recording and releasing an album – you need to be able to have a good dialogue concerning recording budgets etc. But honesty I think will get any label very far. The other labels and distributors will appreciate their honesty and trust them, which will give them benefits in the market. The journalists appreciate honesty: they stop believing the people from the record company if they call them every time they release something and tells them it is the best the world has heard. If a release is weak, the label should still support it, but if someone asks their personal opinion, nobody wins from the label guy lying and saying how much he loves it no matter what he really thinks. The worst thing is the real rip-offs, however. I have several friends that has been ripped off by Karmageddon/ former Hammerheart from Holland. That is the worst kind of people: dishonest people that steal art and sell it.                                                                                       

I heard that you are into fishing, What other past times, besides fishing, are you fond of?                       

Ivar: Myself I like to read, watch movies , lift some weights, and I work part time with concerts: I work as a producer for concerts here in Bergen, and do some video/ big screen engineering from other concerts. I also run the Hole In The Sky metal festival in Bergen, which has been around for six years. So I guess it is mostly music, but what else is there to do really? Grutle and Cato are the big fishers!                                                                   

On the other hand i again heard that Grutle and his girlfriend have 13 cats! What kind of madness is that?We have two cats here and they are already too much for us!Little crazy bastards!                              

Ivar: It is very special, but then Grutle’s girlfriend is very dedicated to animals and taking care of them. I guess they like cats, why not?                                                                            

Are you married? And,what kind of effects could marriage have on the creativity of the artist?Have you ever thought of this?                        

Ivar: Not married, no. I think a good, healthy marriage would have a positive effect on the creativity, while a fucked-up marriage would either kill creativity or make the artist make very depressed or aggressive music – if the result is good depends on the quality of the artists work and talent in general – not the marriage. Hehe, I haven’t thought too much about it. Again it is a very individual issue, these things can’t be generalized.                                                                                           

It is generally usual to ask bands about their fave bands/songs etc.Yet I want to ask whether is there a band which you find really disgusting? Do you have any names for us?                   

Grutle: He,he…although there’s a lot of bands I really don’t like,I do not think they deserve me telling people how they disgust me!It is a matter of taste still,isn’t it?? I really don’t like hiphop though…. It is actually a lot easier with the good ol’ “What’s your favorite bands?”.

Everybody knows that Norwegians has some weird jokes against Swedes,now can you do me a favor and tell one of them?It can be also a word that you use to make Swedes angry !?

Grutle:Actually I have never apreciated those jokes at all! That is because they’re just very lame! They are far to “mainstream” for us! We enjoy far sicker stuff. Besides we like the Swedes. We’ve got loads of friends and fans there.

 

What kind of future plans do you hav efor the Enslaved? What does the future hold for Enslaved?

Grutle:First of all we’re gonna record a new album (jan/feb 2006).Then we’re gonna shoot some videos.After that all the fun begins with touring and festivals!

Do you think that you are already at the peak of your musical car eer(as an individual or as a band)or do you think that there is still time for such kind of words?In other words,do you see yourself experienced enough?

Grutle:Definately not! Our goal is constant development as individuals and musicans.There is still a strong force that keeps us going for something yet unknown to us.We have no idea where we are heading,and that’s the great thing about it.

Are you interested in politics?I mean do you watch related news,read related newspapers?And,for example do you follow the elections closely in your country?Or it can be elections from USA or Sweden etc?Moreover,have you ever thought yourself as a politician?At least in terms of imagination?

Grutle: Some of us are a great deal interested in both politics and what is going on in our surroundings,but that is just on a personal level that we keep miles away from the band.Paying attention to what is going on is more or less just an hobby,totally insignificant to the Enslaved-world…he,he..

 

Returning to the music,can you say that How long have you been fascinated with the Viking culture? Was this keen alive before you formed the Enslaved?’

Grutle: I was introduced to our ancient culture and to our mythology at pretty young age,way before we started Enslaved.I was very facinated,although what I learned about the ancient religion, was that it was very “pagan” and very uncivilized. That is of course the christians have always done everything in their power to make all the ancient religions in the entire world look like something primitive and silly the people of the ancient world came up with, cause they had to much time off or something. It was a couple of years later I found out that our old religion had actually a quite complicated system and that it was far closer to any human soul and mind than any of todays “shortcut religions”!!

 

Now I want you to be very honest when answering this question;how is the releationship between the Norwegian bands?Do you know the Satyricon,Dark Throne, Mayhem, Immortal etc personally?I mean were there any jealousy between these bands through the years including Enslaved?

Grutle:The relationship beetween those mentioned bands and Enslaved are very good! (luckily you mentioned these bands instead of others…he,he) Aspecially the reationship beetween us and Darkthrone/Immortal are exellent. Abbath,Demonaz,Nocturno Culto and Fenriz are among our best buddies. Fantastic bands and fantastic persons!

 

On the other hand do you content about your county’s current black metal scene?Actually there are new coming and very successful bands hailing from Norway like 1349,Koldbrann,Elite etc…what do you think about the new generation of black metal bands hailing from your motherland?

Grutle:Well, I have to admit that I prefer the old pioneers…almost every new band are doing something that has been done better before. That’s a bit sad I think. Why aren’t bands interested in creating something? A lot of bands could might as well be doing coversongs! Then they would at least be playing good songs! Brutal words of course, but that is the truth in my point of wiew. There are a few exeptions however,like 1349 as you mentioned,Manngard and Sulphur.

 

Do you like reading fanzines / metal music magazines?Or do you prefer web-zines?

Grutle: I like mags ! I’m pretty oldschool, so I prefer the good old papermagazines! I read Terrorizer, Scream, Monster,Metaltitz and Eld magazine. You are welcome to send me the next issue of Frost magazine.

 

Now VS questions on the way;get ready!Chose one ,and give a short definition!

Jackson VS Ibanez?

Ivar: ehhh. They are both quite not my thing, I prefer classic guitars. I would probably go for Jackson?

Depeche Mode VS Kraftwerk?

Ivar: Ah, they are BOTH good. Depech Mode.

M.Manson VS Slipknot?

Ivar: Slipknot.

Bush VSKerry?

Ivar: Fcuk them both.

Cradle of Filth VS Dimmu Borgir?

Ivar: That’s easy! Dimmu Borgir.

Web-Zines VS Printed Magazines?

Ivar: Printed Magazines! Just like vinyl: it feels better to have the “real big thing” in your hands.

Ok then,that was all from me,please add your last words,i hope you did not bored.Thanks for your time on Frost Magazine!

Ivar: Thank you too for great questions,not bored at all!

 

2006

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