Danes HULDRE made me think of Garmarna and its likes playing metal. So much so that I just had to interview them to get to know them a bit better. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
I cannot lie. I have no idea who you guys are so could you please introduce yourself?
Bjarne: My name is Bjarne and I play bass in this band called Huldre. We play folkmetal with strong roots in traditional Scandinavian folkmusic and we have an ambition of treating the two merging genres as equals. We have been called unique and characteristic and compared to bands like Lumsk (the early stuff), Gåte, Otyg and others in that vain. We play folkmetal that doesn’t treat the folk part as a gimmick
Laura: I’m Laura, violinist in Huldre. Bjarne, Nanna and I know each other from the world of viking reentactment – Bjarne (bass) used to be a viking warrior and Nanna (vocal) and I (violin) had been playing at several viking markets with our other band Gny, and hence we knew each other that way around. We had for some time been talking about starting up a folk metal band, as we all felt that combining Nordic folk music with some more heavy stuff would be a great idea – it’s like a lot of Nordic folk really NEED to be backed up by some heavy stuff.
With so many sub-genres of metal these days I have a hard time deciphering what’s what? How do you define the metal you play and how important is it to be put in a specific box?
Bjarne: I might have covered some of that above, but basically we play a mixture of Scandinavian folkmusic and metal, where the metal is some part oldschool heavy metal and small part extreme metal… sometimes. And the folkmusic is real. I’m the only one in the band that doesn’t have a “market band” on the side, as in, a band that spends weekends touring medieval and Viking markets playing traditional folk music. We don’t care really care much for boxes or the putting therein of us.
Laura: Ehehe, well boxes – I think they’re WONDERFUL! We’ve been called a lot of different things, among others: folk metal, pagan metal, folk rock, Viking metal as well as my personal favorite forest metal (since I’m a Master of Forestry IRL I particularly like this one). The best thing about all these subgenres is that you just need one band playing something a bit different from anyone else and then you have a new subgenre – at the same time it’s very specific and totally pointless, as no one really knows what genre you’re talking about anyway .
What band(s) have been the most prolific in shaping your sound? Where do you draw influences from?
Bjarne: No one and all of them. We have no combined conscious band influence. We have a collective of 6 individual musicians with each their own conscious and unconscious influences and it’s in the meeting of minds, during the composing of material, that the shaping of our sound takes place. We will occasionally namedrop a band during composing but mostly that’s to draw comparisons to a certain style that we think one of our songs may be leaning towards, but that’s usually a hindsight kind of thing.
Do you as a band follow a specific musical ideology? Do you have a pre-formulated game plan for the band?
Bjarne: Not really. We are very chaotic and spontaneous people. We usually never get anything planned until the very last moment. Although we do run this band as a consensus democracy of sorts; Everybody has to be happy for something to be accepted. If one band member is not happy about some part of a song we will usually continue to work with it or seek a compromise. This can take the form of “I think the chorus riff is too happy, it needs to be heavier” and then we spend 3 hours nerding specific ways to hit note 3 in riff 2 and add a single halfnote change the 1st time around and so on and so forth.
Laura: Hahaha, nope – we’re really not that organized. We do have a common idea of where we want the music to lead us and that we’d like to play concerts both in and outside Denmark, but all details are more or less defined as we move along and meet new possibilities/obstacles on the way.
How important is a local and national scene for the development of new bands? How important is it that there are people to ask when you start out as a band?
Bjarne: It entirely depends on how you define a “scene”. It of course helps to have a network of musicians and bands to ask when you are in the process of finding musicians for a new band, but that requires that you are already deep inside the scene. Folkmetal is still a small, and mostly unknown, niche here in Denmark so for our part it was incredibly difficult to find members because there wasn’t really any metal musicians interested. Either that or they just laughed at the prospect. I think this has changed in the last couple of years partly because of a band like ours. Anyways, I don’t really think it’s important to have anyone to ask when you start out as a band. It’s more important to do your own thing and allow for a slow and organic growth of your band into something great.
Laura: I don’t know – we didn’t really ask anybody during the development of Huldre, we just did it. At the same time it’s f course very important that there is a possibility to play concerts for upcoming bands as well as listening to other upcoming bands, because if you lack that possibility it’s really hard to get anywhere with your music. In that sense especially the local scene plays an important role. The national scene as well plays an important role as something to go for – getting to play at bigger venues is a very good carrot, I think.
Something I often think about is how do you chose the lay out for your logo? What are you looking for? Should it be aesthetically pleasing or what?
Bjarne: We started out with a simple idea of having our logo spelled in a way with trees. Some have confused this with a sort of blackmetal style and clearly missing the fact that you can actually read our logo. Well anyways, one of my good friends is a painter and he offered to come up with a logo and after a bit of ping pong back and forth he came up with the one we have now. And we are very happy about it. It illustrates the nature and folklore part of our music and its of course aesthetically pleasing to look at as well.
Laura: To me it was important that the logo symbolized our music as well that it was actually possible to read the name. The topics of the songs usually revolve around Nordic folklore, nature and creatures both real and mythical, so having trees forming the name was to me a great idea (as well as the trees in the logo are deciduous since conifers are not indigenous in Denmark (forestry nerding, I know).
How tough is it to find the right kind of people to work with when you record? How much does money play a part in what choices you have?
Bjarne: Money always play a part, no matter if you like it or not. When we had to record the debut album we had a lot of ideas about how we should do it and a lot of people on our minds. When Nanna told us she was talking with Lasse Lammert (LSD Studios) we finally agreed that it would only make sense to go all in and invest a lot of our own money into obtaining a high quality recording. A halfway measure was not an option. So we did.. and the result is better for it.
In terms of finding Lasse, it wasn’t hard at all. He had worked on some great albums before, also within folkmetal, so we knew that he knew what he was doing.
When it comes to art work and lay out what are you looking for? How do you come in contact with the right kind of people?
Bjarne: Luckily for us we have an extensive network of very talented artists between us. All our art needs has so far been covered by friends. Logo by a friend, Anders Siggard (Painter), The entire album artwork was done by another friend of ours, Kristina Tandrup Gittesdatter (Photo artist) and we have some new Tshirt design in the works from a third friend, Kiri Østergaard (Painter). We like to trust these people with our needs and discuss ideas until we have a common vision and from there let them do what they do best and that has worked incredibly well so far. The visions so far always revolve around nature and folklore and luckily we generally share ideas about nature with these friends.
So how pleased are you with your latest record? What has it done for the band so far?
Bjarne: We are really pleased with the outcome. It turned out to be the right idea to invest a lot of money to get a high quality recording. We were fairly uncertain about how it would be received. We didn’t have any obvious bands to compare ourselves with, which of course is a good thing, but it was a great and wonderful surprise to see how great it was received. It has received rave reviews from all around the world and people seem to really like it. The album has gotten a lot of attention and we now have fans from around the world. It has put us on the folkmetal map, so to speak, as a band that stands out from the crowd and dares to do something different.
Laura: I think we’re all happy that we chose to go all the way instead of making some kind of half hearted product. As Bjarne says we’ve got a lot of attention from almost all over the world, and personally I think we have managed to make an album with great balance between production, music and art work. So far it hasn’t “paid off” with any concrete concert offers from bookers etc. (as far as I know) but I think it’s just a matter of time before invitations from festivals from all over the world start rolling into our mailbox.
What does the future hold for you?
Bjarne: Good things I hope. We are currently in the process of composing new material and we hope to be able to start recording a second album next winter. We also hope to be able to get some concerts going around Europe during this year as well as record a music video.
And who knows… maybe this year is the year we find an interested record company that wants to work with us.
Laura: I’m sure the future is loaded with good stuff – since I really enjoy playing our music and think the whole process of composing, playing concerts, planning, rehearsing, doing stuff etc. is pretty fun, it really can’t go wrong.