Even though MYRKGRAV are Norwegian it doesn’t feel like they are your common black metal band. There are more to the band than that. As the new album shows. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
When you release a new album does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
-To be honest I haven’t kept track of all the new bands and albums that have been released since Myrkgrav’s debut came out, so I mostly just do my own thing with little regard to changes in the so-called scene. Most of the songs that are going on the upcoming, long-awaited album were in fact written around 2008, so they probably represent something else entirely than most folk metal being released these days – although I actually have no idea.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)
-While everything Myrkgrav revolves around folklore, local history and cultural heritage, I am not opposed to changing things up. Just look at the artwork of Trollskau, Skrømt og Kølabrenning compared to the new Vonde auer single; there is a relatively major shift in the visual department there. While I am in many ways a traditionalist, I like to keep up with the times in certain manners. As such, Myrkgrav is probably always going to be a natural mixture of old-fashioned and contemporary influences.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know thst you have the right lyrics?
-Seeing how I’m on my 8th year of working on the second Myrkgrav album and all that has been left to do for the last 6 years is lyrics and vocals, I’ve gotta be honest and say IT’S DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE. It’s a pretty long process, so let me just guide you through it. First I go through my old books of folklore and local history and find interesting stories. Then I take into consideration what kind of atmosphere a given song has and which story would be a good fit for that particular song. The hardest part is translating the stories into lyrics that can be sung and arranged to the respective parts of each song, as my heavy use of dialect in the lyrics demands a certain syntax and a specific vocabulary. I try my best to remove as little as possible from the source material in making lyrics out of it, seeing as how subjects are often very context-based and hard to grasp if I leave certain details out. I don’t know why I ever wanted to make this so difficult, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of a pragmatic approach.
How hard is it to find the right art work? What are you looking for?
-I simply try to convey the atmosphere I feel relates best to the actual music. In the original source material for my lyrics, many of the stories are illustrated with a simple sketch. That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, so for Vonde auer I wanted to pay homage to the late author of my favorite series of local history books and do the same thing. Finding someone who is able to follow my very specific instructions isn’t always easy, but I’m extremely content with how well the artwork for Vonde auer turned out. Being that I am a control freak at heart, I did the whole artwork minus the illustrations myself this time around, so it wasn’t too hard to make true what I saw in “my heart’s eye”, so to speak. Photoshop, a few nice textures and a decent understanding of the color palette, and boom, you got yourself some cover art.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpretated because of the metal you play?
-Nah, I keep my personal and music life pretty much separated. As opposed to common belief, no one up here in Scandinavia knows who I am and what I do, other than what I have told them and how they know me from real life. People are always really surprised when I tell them I have this semi-popular folk metal band going, which is completely understandable since I am otherwise into things like fashion and skateboarding – all very non-metal things. If anything, most people are impressed, which is a little funny really. I also think it really makes sense once people think about what I study and how I lead my life: I study folkloristics and ethnology at the university and spend more time by myself than partying or attending other social events, which is more or less the exact same pattern for how things are done in Myrkgrav.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally?_
-It’s funny you should ask me that, because it seems like the fans are more caught up in that issue than I am. There’s always someone who says Myrkgrav deserves to up there with bands like Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, Månegarm and other more famous folk metal projects. While that would definitely be nice, let’s be honest… a one-man band with only one full-length album in its catalog that doesn’t play live is probably never going to be available to a greater audience. I’ve also not been very hardcore in regards to promotion as of late, so it’s just a natural cause and effect thing that most folk metal fans live their life in blissful ignorance of Myrkgrav’s existence. Who can blame them!
On the topic of national recognition though, I do have some gripes. Tall poppy syndrome is very strong in the Nordic countries, and as such it’s really difficult to get any recognition no matter what you do – you’re not supposed to stand out or take credit for anything. It’s just how people are wired up here, but goddamn, it would be nice to get something back for the hard work you put into promoting your local area.
Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats
-I honestly have no idea. Vinyl still lives though, but manufacturing it is expensive and most people are still undecided as to whether they should get a record player now or wait it out to see which new formats might arise from the ashes of the CD. With that in mind, I’ve had a hard time justifying printing anything in physical format, when no one really knows what they want yet. It’s a waiting game right now, but as you know I’m in no rush, haha. Personally I’m happy with streaming things and looking through the cover art on my computer, but I totally get that for some people that doesn’t feel real. Different strokes for different folks!
What does the future hold?
-Hopefully I’ll able to finish the upcoming album so I can retire from music with a clean conscience, haha. Seriously though, what happens with Myrkgrav after that, time will tell – but I haven’t written a single note of music since about 2010, so it’s not looking too promising. Who knows though, perhaps getting the burden of finishing the album off my shoulders will give room for fresh inspiration!