I knew absolutely nothing about Swedish black metal band Grá until I received their album. After having heard it I knew I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I get a feeling that you want to be something more than just a black metal band. What kind of “ideology” do you subscribe to?
-Well, actually we are not trying to be anything at all. We just are what we are.
To put it short we are satanists. A big word that can mean a thousand different things but still the easiest way to sum it up with. I am personally also very interested in the dark aspects of Germanic Heathendom (and also hellenic heathendom).
I get a very gray feeling when I see your album art work and listen to the music. What kind of images do you want to conjure up with your music?
-Well you mention the artwok and the music but miss out on the lyrics. The lyrics are quite explanatory about the imagery of Grá. The only thing we can look forward to in this physical existence, the only thing we know, is that it is transient. It will pass. We have been mistaken by some as some depressive/suicidal band but that’s far from the truth. The whole idea about Grá is to tribute the passing, to salute Death. Not with self pity, but with pride and honour.
When you are being praised by everybody and his mother how much do you listen to it? How easy is it to get caught up in the praise and forget the bigger picture?
-We are very confident in ourselves so we don’t get hubris when we get compliments or good reviews. We know what we are doing and we know that we are fucking good at it! In Sweden there’s this christian invention called “the law of Jante” which means that you should suppress and restrain yourself. All kinds of self-assertions or free will/thought is met with envy and back talk. Fuck that shit!
We have such pride in ourselves that we wouldn’t release an album that we are not 100% satisfied with and we wouldn’t play live if we weren’t 100% sure that our performance would give us the desired satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that anything comes for free, we work our fucking asses of when rehearsing or writing music. We are our own worst critics but when we succeed in pleasing ourselves, when we feel that our minds drift away, on to gloomy paths, or float on dark currents merely by our own achievements, then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else think or say about us. Praise or not.
Can we speak of a Swedish black metal aesthetic? What would that be?
-Difficult question which I don’t think I’m the right man to answer. I have very little relation with the rest of the Swedish black metal scene. I’m not intentionally distancing myself from anything but still, I have no clue about what others do and how they see things.
When you are a part of something that has so many sub-genres how do you set yourself apart? Is the music alone enough?
-I don’t give a fuck about what people call their music, I listen to all kinds of music. If it appeals to me, why bother what genre or sub-genre it is? We claim to play Scandinavian Black Metal and for us that is what we do. If we were to change that, we would also change the name of the band.
With an album out what kind of plans do you have for world domination?
Our music fits the live form very well so we intend to be out playing as much as we can. This is only the beginning…
How black metal are the social media? How do you promote the band?
-It has indeed replaced the old ways, everything is online these days. It was many years ago I actually got a real letter from someone (and probably equally as long time ago since I wrote one myself). I am one of few who actually refuse to join the Facebook-slavery. Dimman and Isengrim handle those parts for Grá. I do suppose it is necessary today to be visible on social medias since there’s where people gather information. Even “old school” websites has played its role it seems. I don’t like it but I think that I have to accept it to some extent. If it’s black metal or not? Well, how black metal is paying a postman employed by the state to deliver your mail really? One good thing about the internet is that it has reduced all forms of human contact. You talk to a screen, you write on a screen, you send mail through a screen. Hell, you can even have sex over a screen if you want to. I wonder what would happen if the internet suddenly just crashed and vanished into oblivion… I know that I wouldn’t be mourning, that’s for sure.
Is there a point to being exclusive and reclusive as a black metal band?
-I think that if you are into these kinds of dark paths, the reclusiveness comes natural.
When does black metal stop being black metal? When do you lose your cred as a black metal band?
-When you stop practicing what you preach.
Do you have any future plans? What are they?
-We are preparing for a gig in Stockholm in July. After that, I’m off to the woods in northern Sweden to gather strength and inspiration. When I’m outdoors and the strongest sound I can hear is my own tinnitus, then I know that I’m home. The plan is that after the summer we will slowly start touching the subjects for the next Grá album which will be far more epic and atmospheric. We aim to set foot on the other side of Styx and wander through worlds separated from this one.