I did not know that there was this many cool interesting Danish metal acts. And I only live 20 minutes away from Denmark. IOTUNN Interview with Jesper Gräs. Anders Ekdahl ©2021
Hi Anders! Thanks for reaching out.
How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?
-I think it is quite important. The band name was found by my brother during the time when we really got into the essence of the sound that we are still exploring in many ways. So yes, it represents that in some way and also the point that we wish to always be on the move in our creativity. To break boundaries and keep searching for new feelings and energies.
I wanted to start a band in the 80s but couldn’t find the right people to do so with. What was it that made you want to do the band?
-I´ve been dreaming about making a band since childhood actually, haha. And the first riffs I wrote were back when I was 11 years old or something. So the founding of IOTUNN is in many ways an evolution of this wish but for sure the focus became more and more sharp over the years, and the wish to make a band grew. It is the many feelings when writing music but also the feeling of creating something collectively that I´ve always liked. It is a special kind of freedom and connection with the world I think that has been the essential energy when it comes to what it was (and is) that drives the wish to play in a band for me.
With so many genres and sub-genres of metal today what is your definition of the music you play?
-Simply put it is that we don´t think in genres. We call ourselves a progressive metal band because it represents progression in our daily life of creativity regarding everything IOTUNN. So the categorization and genre-thinking is something that we really spend no time thinking about to be honest.
How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
-The creation of the songs start with my brother and I, and our “method” is to have no method I think. When we write riffs, themes etc. it is all about just flowing into it and seeing what comes to mind. Then we get together and have long working days where we write lead guitars, arrange songs, write solos etc. and in this process we try to feel the music. If it doesn’t make us feel something profound we have a “red” folder ready, haha. So in this process we have become increasingly better to get in touch with our music and to scrape away material so that the stuff we end up using is the top of the iceberg. So creatively we try to remove methodological and theoretical thinking as much as possible and only use it when it is for the good of the music, and working wise we have structures that work well for us.
I am fascinated by how people can still come up with things that hasn’t been done before, chord structures that hasn’t been written, sentences that hasn’t been constructed before. Where do you find your inspiration to create?
-I think there are countless sources of inspiration for us all. One that is very important is nature. We all like to go out into the nature and just be present and sensing. But really, it is a mixture of so so many things. Family, relations, history, philosophy, music…
How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc.?
-I really think the graphic side is very important. When we work with music videos it is something we pay full attention towards, and this also applies to for example band photos, artwork etc, our live show etc. I think the visual side of a band must align with the music and kind of complete the wholeness of the band.
I get the feeling that more and more metalheads too are just downloading single tracks. Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
-I think it is rather hard to say. In the metal community it is my impression that the album format is very much alive and appreciated. And for all five of us in IOTUNN I also think this is the case. For me personally the album format is the most complete way to experience music (together with live concerts), and I think there are many musicians out there that think about both the single songs and the whole album at the same time when creating music. For us it is very important and plays a huge role when we create our music but also when we create all the visual things – music videos etc. It is this dynamic of the singularity and totality that is constantly intertwining, and I think a lot of people out there appreciate these aspects when listening to music. But of course the digitalisation has changed things and so it has regarding so many things in the world, and I really think that sitting down and experiencing an entire album is something that can slow the pace down a bit and make you feel a bit more connected with the music and yourself.
Are we killing our beloved metal scene by supporting digital downloading or can anything positive come from supporting single tracks and not albums? Will the fan as we know him/her be gone soon?
-I think the metal scene shows so many good aspects of what it means to love music and be a music fan, and I can not see any change regarding this. It is impossible to change the digital direction of the music industry so I think the important thing here is that the financial structures of the digital market evolves in a more fair and just direction so that the environment for the musicians in these regards improves. If this happens the world will see more music and more people being able to feed themselves on this basis.
Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
-Oh, that is hard to say. I hope that our music can touch many listeners out there across all those genre definitions, and from the overwhelming response we´ve had to our first two singles we have a good feeling about this.
What does the future hold?
-We are planning many things. We will dig deep into the creation of our next album during 2021 and will try to plan concerts/tours. It is different times these days so we will just keep continuing to work hard and do our best in these different circumstances.