WINTERTHRONE turned out to be one impressive one-man project. So impressive that I had to interview the man behind it all. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I’m not so sure that I hear Burzum in your sound but I did come to think of Obsidian Gate when I listened to “The Godslayer”. What was the reason behind the creation of “The Godslayer”?
-I do not think that Burzum influenced me, and neither did Obsidian Gate, although there are stilistic similarities (Burzum: quite simple guitarstyle Obsidian Gate: rather high speed and a lot of keyboards). O.G`s Music is much more „thoughtful“ and skillfully played and their melodies more similar to „real“ classic music, while Winterthrone has its focus more on a violent and lofi-raw side of black metal and uses keys in an different way. The reason to create this album? I am not sure that there is need for a reason or any kind of goal to create music. It just satisfies me. it is more or less what I do since I am 14 years old. I think it is the act of forming and creating that I like. Watching ideas grow and develop.
The title “The Godslayer” implies that there is something bigger behind, like a concept for example. What is it that you want to say with the album? The God’s to slay could be any number of characters.
-„Concept“ is a big word. No, it is a little story in the album, telling about the godslayers attempt to change his fate and take revenge for his (undisclosed) sufferings. During its course he goes from despair to blind wrath and hate, then to triumph, then to insight ( yes, he succeeded, but what now?) and therefore back to despair again. It maybe mirrors that all human effort in the end is pointless…or something else. Maybe the question if man is able to find purpose in himself, without the guide of self made „greater beings“ of any kind. Or more profane: „The god(s) to slay“ must not necessarily be seen in a religious/Christian way, more like every concept/circumstance that makes man dumb, ignorant or tries to oppress or manipulate otherwise. But getting rid of authority and omnipresent attempts of control always comes with a certain amount of (self-)responsibility, and not everyone is made for that.
It could also be just some thoughts on the mechanism of rebellion in general. In the end it is the music that is most important for me, though I think that there should be some content in my lyrics. I am not on some kind of „mission“ and do not want to promote a certain ideology or statement with the album.
It is a story (not a novel, more some vaguely connected pictures) the listener can make of what he wants. Even ignore it and go for the music.
Germany is a pretty liberal country even if you have the Christians at the helm of Government. How much of an impact does the Church have over everyday life in Germany?
-Nearly none, you can avoid church and religion very easy if you want. Even in school no one is forced to take bible lessons or something. At the other hand, there are some Christian traditions that most people do participate in, but I doubt that this participation is heartfelt. Christianity seems to be hollow these days. At least in that part of Germany I live in. No need for burning churches here…
In being alone in this how much time do you spend on every little detail to get it perfect? When does enough is enough happen when nobody tells you to quit?
-It is always an „eternal struggle“ and I truly hate that part. I can work many months on the musical details and the mixing without making major changes, just moving in circles. When I really start hating it, I usually make several versions and then force myself to pause for a week or two. After that I choose the version I consider to be the best and make some final adjustments.
When you are alone in the creative process how much of a job is it to cut and slice the good from the bad that you have to do when there are more people contributing ideas? Do you use everything that pops into your head?
-Usually a Winterthrone-album in its basic(!) elements is written in one session, it takes me one, maybe two days. I have to be in the mood, being able to have nothing else in my head. It all has to feel right, I need to be obsessed to a certain degree. When this is not the case, or it had a good start, but then the flow stops for some reason, I usually throw it all away. Since the bones-album in 2006, I threw away 3 or 4 full albums.
When you record, what do you start with? Is it easier to start with the drums and then work your way up from there?
-I always start playing guitar, writing down riffs and melodic ideas on a sheet of paper. Maybe in this state I also write down first words or a first song name or working title. When I feel I have enough material, I record it to a basic drumbeat and arrange and refine it. The other elements are built around and get worked over and over to the final shape. Once I am satisfied, I spend a weekend listening to the new music, drinking and makind notes for lyrical- or other ideas like intros,solos or samples.
In the end I add the vocals. After that the fun-part is over and the mixing and the above mentioned moving-in-circles-part begins.
The art work to the CD version that I received is kinda dark and murky making the resolution rather weak and hard to see the actual artwork. Was that the intention? To make it somewhat more suggested than actually seen so to speak?
– I have to state that it did not look that blurry an dark while working on it on my computer. I do not think that it was the pressing plants fault, I just have to improve my skills concerning graphics and industrial printing….but at the other hand, it would have been much more dissatisfying if the print would have become too bright;). So, in the end I am ok with the artwork being dark and murky, especially if it causes the recipient to take a closer look..
How important is art work to get the picture/meaning through? Can art say more than word ever can about a concept/aesthetic?
-When I listen to music of other artists, I do not care if I get their message right, I do not even care about the lyrics most of the time and barely take a look at the artwork… I surround myself with the sound and let my mind go to whatever direction it wants. And exactly that is the important thing when it comes to music. So I may end up liking music of complete fools just for its sound and the mood it gets me in. That is a fact I consider to be good for me. Otherwise I would not be able to enjoy some of those great „Hail Satan, I-am-way-more-evil-than-you“ BM-bands and metal-stereotypes in general as much as I do… Concerning my own music, I sure try to create an artwork that supports its mood and maybe contains references to the lyrics, but I do not consider it to be very important. The second part of your question: I think words, graphics and music are equally able to decribe a concept or aesthetic.Combinations of words can be art, too. It is just not my cup of tea.
Does the music and the art have to have anything to do with each other to make it a whole?
-I do not think that the music needs the artwork to be complete, it can stand for itself. At least I do not need to see any artwork to decide if I like music or not. Nevertheless it is a nice feeling to hold a complete album in your hands. So, they do not need each other to be „a whole“, but the artwork of an album maybe „gives directions“ to what awaits the listener and helps establishing a mood. To me that is secondary, but other people may have other priorities. I do not consider myself to be a graphic artist, I find it really hard to being called an artist at all. Winterthrone is my playground, where I can do anything I want, and I want to do it all alone. Sure, I could pay people (who can do better) to get that perfect look or production, but I simply enjoy doing it myself – in this process improving my skills, and in the end hopefully get exactly the result that I want. Most of the time I don`t…;)
Where does the future take Winterthrone?
-There is no master plan or something like that…the only thing I can say right now, is that I will re-record the „The Burning Skies“-demo from 2002 quite soon, since this year is Winterthrones 10-year-anniversairy. After that, I will keep on creating and releasing music from time to time, without pressure or goal.