UTMARKEN

Back in the 90s I tried listening to Swedish folk music because bands like Garmarna really hit it big. Nowadays folk metal is another sub genre on our beloved metal tree and UTMARKEN does in one way subscribe to that branch. Anders Ekdahl ©2016

You have one of these names that does not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-It was actually a misunderstanding that lead to the name. In the beginning I (Gyllengahm) did some experiments under the name “Norrsinnt”, and in a video I had written ‘Utmarkens år’ or something. When I started getting attention one of the guys that saw it actually thought the project name was ‘Utmarken’. Most Norrsinnt experiments are more esoteric and I was a bit back and forth on which direction to take. The more exoteric material felt less “Norrsinnt” and that was the direction I took, and Utmarken felt like a better name for that material.

Could you give us a short introduction to the band?
-Things began when I started to spend more time outside the city. I got new material in my head that I understood was different to what I was used to. I felt it needed another framing, something more “natural” and less electronic. I (actually it was my wife) stumbled upon a nyckelharpa and I got an introduction to folk music by Lasse who sold it to me. I did some early experiments (Norrsinnt) that received serious attention, and me, Benny and Jörgen were already collaborating. They teamed up and now there is 6 of us.

What would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-I could of course list a whole bunch of classic 70-80:s heavy metal bands but although you can clearly hear that those influences are part of the basic building blocks I’m not sure it’s the most important piece of the puzzle. I would say it is my new environment that is the biggest influence. The nature and people where I now live. That’s where it all comes from. I would never have written this music if I was still living in the city. It would simply not have been possible. And the nyckelharpa of course. Most of the material is centered around it. It’s not simply written on guitar and then I’ve squeezed a nyckelharpa on top of it.

What is the scene like in your area? Do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-Closest cities are Umeå and Skellefteå. We’re closest to Skellefteå and unfortunately it doesn’t have a big scene but there are active bands like f.ex. Feral, Blister Brigade, Aenimus… Benny & Janne also play in TME. Those bands have all released full length albums, some are touring as well, but except for those and a few others… honestly to me it appears as if most guys play in cover bands nowadays. One nearby project with folk influences is Draugûl, a one man project by “Vargblod”. I was involved on a few tracks on his latest album. Then there is of course Vintersorg which Utmarken is often compared to (one big reason is probably that Benny has been their live drummer), but it was long since they played live, and I think my material is closer to Mr V:s project Otyg. To be honest… I haven’t dared listened through his catalogue, since he might already have been over many of the themes I’m exploring. I think Utmarken is quite a bit different though, but I don’t claim to do anything original, and because of that I don’t want to know that much of the already explored environment. Folk metal is nothing new. Although I’m far from certain that we actually play folk metal…
If there is a “scene” Utmarken is connected to it is not local. There is something going on when projects like Wardruna and Skuggsja become big. Something big is going on out there, that’s for sure, and I’m just a small, easily accessible part of, but I think it is too early to say what this “big thing” really is.

Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-Absolutely. Even though I’ve written the songs I have the other guys in mind, and I have tried to do something that fits the “soul of the crew”. They influence me just by being who they are, and when you get together rehearsing things happen by themselves. But I feel it’s bigger than the band too (perhaps that was the question?). The band is part of a “movement” as well. Although I have done most of the work on the album there have been so many things happening around that has affected the process, forces outside the band, that has made the final outcome what it is. This is bigger than me – and the band as well. I have the feeling I’m merely a channel for something. That there is something bigger that is “playing” me, I merely pick up something external, and try to forward the message to the best of my abilities. Whatever that means. I direct this flow – but I’m not in control of it.

When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-Tough question. It depends completely on what the band/artist wants to communicate. I think a great album cover has something that stays with the viewer. Something that gets stuck on the retina, whether you like it or not. But what that is might differ.

What is your opinion on digital versus physical? Is digital killing music?
-I think it’s too easy to make it a question of digital vs physical. There is more music out there than ever. More great music than ever. On the other hand there is also more crap out there than ever. Tonloads of more crap than ever. I saw that “old” music (released 16 months ago) is selling more physical copies than “new” music, for the first time ever. I think it’s a sign of something. I get the feeling that material coming from the business is not allowed to take its time to mature today. This goes far outside the realm of music as well, new products etc. Once upon a time you invested time, money and energy in something because you believed in it. Now it’s all about getting maximum payoff in least amount of time, and the perspective is horridly short nowadays. No failures are allowed, only safe bets. Everyone looks over the shoulder of everyone else. Good things take a lot of time and energy to create. Both listeners and artists need to acknowledge that. If you like something, be it music or anything else – support it or it dies. Digital is not killing music. If anything can kill good music, good products, well anything really, it is the lack of people supporting it.

What kind of live scene is there for bands like yours?
-I’m not sure yet. I know there’s a market in Europe, especially Germany, we’ve had some interesting offers, but judging from other reactions I’m convinced there’s a place for us on the Scandinavian stage as well. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-We have only made one single show yet, actually. I look at it as both I think. It’s most important that people get a good show and have fun, but I also want it to be an “event”. Something happens when people with a similar mindset get together physically, in the real world – it is very powerful. I hope people will also be able to, after having a blast at the show, keep a feeling of whatever it is I’ve connected to with the material. Something they can bring with them into their everyday lives, that lifts them up and empowers them.

What would you like to see the future bring?
-I’ve got a very good feeling about us as a band, that it’s the right people for the content, and I want us to get stage experience in a pace that we’re able to handle (hopefully quickly). I hope that the material reaches the right people, and to be able to deliver something even better and more powerful for the next album, material that reflects the full lineup. I’ve got so many ideas in my head it hurts… It would also be nice to have more time to work on these things without having to push myself as hard as I have done this time. I also want to see this “new thing”, that I believe we’re part of, emerge. See what kind of beast it is, the other artists that are part of it… And continue to be a tiny part of that. The gods have certainly been with me/us throughout the creation of this album. If they continue to stick around like they already have the future will be interesting. Very interesting. But we’ll see what their plans are. We’ll see…

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