Iceland’s DYNFARI are back with a new album. To find out more I interviewed them about this and that. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
You have a new album to promote. How does this one compare/differ from your previous one?
-I think with “The Four Doors of the Mind” we’ve expanded our sound quite a bit from “Vegferð tímans”. I’ve always found we’ve had a rather logical progression of musical evolution through our discography without losing the spirit we’ve had from the beginning. An element that has especially expanded is the post-rock influence that was very apparent especially in the Vegferð trilogy (on side B of “Vegferð tímans”). Instrumentals and dynamics are used to dramatic effect as before. Although black metal influences may have been toned down, they are far from lost. Ambience and other auditory supplements that have become a trademark of our sound still remain an important part of the music.
Something I often wonder is, when you live on an island with a population smaller than Sweden’s third city Malmö how do you find people to play with? Because to me most people on Iceland either play football or handball.
-Go to shows and talk to like-minded people. Use social media. If there is a type of music that is not being made in Iceland, you have to make it yourself.
When did it become a revelation that you can do this and maybe get paid for having fun, instead of just putting out all the money?
-I think “having fun” doesn’t do justice to what we are doing. Of course it’s fun when things go well and we highly enjoy the self-expression of creating music. It obviously helps a lot that there is some income to fund the project. I think we’ve known from the start that if people continue to enjoy what we’re doing and actively support us we can keep the ball rolling. I don’t think there was ever any “revelation” but after the success of “Vegferð tímans” we’ve seen that there is a possibility to make things close to sustainable – even though it’s very difficult in the music business these days.
When you spend an amount of your life on a band does it ever feel like you have wasted time, that you have fought one too many windmills?
-I think things have always been rewarding enough. I’ve never felt time was wasted. It’s an art and a skill to choose your windmills.
No matter how small or big you were as a band you will leave a legacy behind you. How do you want people to treat this legacy?
-Take the music for what it is. Nothing exists in a vacuum, but I would like to believe that despite multiple influences we have managed to carve our own identity into our work. Keeping that identity alive would be a good way to treat our legacy.
Is digital taking away the mystery of waiting for a new album now that you can upload as soon as you have written a song?
-It’s definitely different. I still believe in the full-length album format. I think it really depends what type of project you are running. For some purposes uploading a new song immediately can be the way to go. We want to keep some of that mystery in the mix partly because we see each of our albums as one whole piece of work. It’s a real process to cut the albums down into songs. We considered splitting “The Four Doors of the Mind” into just four long tracks, but decided against it.
How important is image in separating you from all the million different styles of metal there is out there?
-Image can definitely be used to your advantage, as can be seen with the success of everything from Okilly Dokilly and Ghost to Immortal or Mayhem. I think we like to keep a rather personal identity. We don’t try to seem anything else than what we actually are. But we do make an effort to make our live appearances really appeal to the senses, making it an experience to be immersed in. I guess being in that atmosphere is where our image peaks.
Do you deal in different topics lyrically or do you keep to one, just using different variations?
-Our main topic has always been philosophy. We’ve branched from that core out into musings on life, death, hope, loss and sorrow. For the first time on “The Four Doors of the Mind” we make pain a central theme, or rather the different ways the mind has to deal with pain as put forth by fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss. That idea may actually be traced back to Norwegian philosopher Zapffe who was reinterpretating Nietzsche in the 1930s. Sorrow is also very apparent theme in the early 1900s Icelandic poems by Jóhann Sigurjónsson as they are weaved together with Rothfuss’ ideas. I believe to truly appreciate the union created by the Icelandic poems and Rothfuss’ ideas you need to speak both Icelandic and English. Nevertheless, understanding just the English spoken word parts does give you good insight into the topic of the album.
When you live on an island does that affect the mind in a certain way? Does the isolation make you think more about existentialism and you place in the universe?
-Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think living on an island has had a dramatic impact on my mind in that way. I don’t have the opposite perspective though, because despite having lived in three different countries, I have always lived on an island. I think existentialist questions go through the minds of continent dwellers just as much as islanders even if isolation may be caused by other phenomena. Can’t cite any research on that though.
Do you consider yourself a live artist or do you like to spend most of the time secluded in a studio?
-I think both. We may have a different appeal live than in a studio. But we enjoy both of these different formats of expression and make an effort to do them both justice in their own way..
What does the future hold?
-Time will tell. Right opportunities at the right moment, we might go on tour again. First we’ll see how “The Four Doors of the Mind” will be received. We definitely aim to continue releasing albums.