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VICOTNIK Discusses DØDHEIMSGARD's Latest Masterpiece & His Other Projects

The legend is back with yet another imagination-defying wonder!

Photo by Ole Martin Halvorsen & Pudder Agency

"Vicotnik," Yusaf Parvez, is easily one of the kings of avant-garde black metal. Over the years, Vicotnik has created several of the greatest albums in the history of the movement.

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The brilliance of Vicotnik is even apparent on early recordings from his days fronting Askim's Manes, one of his first bands. Vicotnik would move to Oslo, where his musical partnership with Carl-Michael Eide, also known as "Czral" and "Aggressor," morphed into Ved Buens Ende. Together with "Skoll," Hugh Mingay, they released the demo Those Who Caress the Pale in 1994 and their sole album to date, Written in Waters, in 1995. Shortly after the birth of VBE, Vicotnik and "Aldrahn," Bjørn Dencker Gjerde, co-founded Dødheimsgard. Darkthrone's Fenriz soon joined. Like VBE, the original DHG trio unleashed their full-length debut, Kronet til konge in 1995.

In the past, Vicotnik has been involved in Code, Naer Mataron, Endwarfment, and Aphrodisiac. He has also made guest appearances with the likes of Fenriz's Isengard and Dimmu Borgir — as Vicotnik explained on the podcast of his Peaceville Records labelmate Thomas Eriksen of Mork, Aldrahn originally created the word "Dødheimsgard" for Dimmu Borgir's "Over bleknede blåner til dommedag" from For all tid (1995).

At present, not only does Vicotnik remain active in Dødheimsgard and the now twice resurrected Ved Buens Ende, but he is also a member of the legendary Strid and the supergroup Dold Vorde Ens Navn. In 2022, Vicotnik surprised the metal community with the news that he had formed a new project called Doedsmaghird, which has been branded as "the more grim and malevolent twin" of Dødheimsgard.

Dødheimsgard's sixth album, Black Medium Current dropped in April. On this masterpiece, Vicotnik is joined by the great talents of Lars Emil Måløy of If Nothing Is, Tommy Guns of Kirkebrann, and Øyvind Myrvoll of Dold Vorde Ens Navn. The intensely meaningful Black Medium Current will transform you as a listener. Thus, it will actually change the ears with which you hear Vicotnik's past victories.

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We were honored to have had the opportunity to speak with Vicotnik about Black Medium Current ahead of its release, his musical journey, and his various projects.

Congratulations on the release of Black Medium Current! I've been waiting for a new Dødheimsgard release and expecting the best for a very long time, but Black Medium Current still completely blew my mind. So, back in 2019, you told interviewer Marlon Crudo that you had maybe 60 potential songs for the album. Could you please take me through the creative process in terms of songwriting and how Black Medium Current evolved?

Yeah, I have to go back to the last album, A Umbra Omega [2015]. It always takes a long time, probably a couple of years, between the release of an album and an actual composition for a new album. It's not that I stay dormant in the meantime, but it's just so much thinking, basically, like where to go next — thinking about concepts. And, you know, if one has said it all… If I have kind of done all that I can do within my capacities… I don't want to be one of those bands that just kind of repeats or reenacts — I like the word reenact — an album over and over and over again. That just feels like then you've kind of said everything you had to say a long time ago. So, it usually takes me a couple of years.

But I knew one thing, and that was that the song "Architect of Darkness" from the previous album was some sort of starting point for the next chapter, you know, being a bit more slow and methodical and probably a bit more atmospheric and evocative. So, I knew I had those four words. And I think also something that's been weighing a bit heavily on me is the kind of the blackness, the bleakness, I guess, of living life. Life has a lot of great things to offer. But then, you also lose a lot of people along the way, and they're kind of stuck in your mind. And in a way, suddenly they're part of you. They're not part of the physical anymore. So, I really wanted to bring that sort of notion to the foreground of the songs as well — some metaphysical substrate like an emotional darkness, rather than a mythological or a made-up one. And from there, you need to figure out what kind of sonics or sounds correlate with that, you know.

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The next thing I'm going to say — it's not factual, it kind of was inspirational — I was kind of thinking to myself: "What about all these melodies that maybe humanity has been humming to themselves for the last 50,000 years before there were recordings or before there were concerts and all that?" You know, you lost a child to some disease, and still you're standing in the forest and gathering your wood, and you're humming this sad melody to yourself. And this melody, it offers some sort of comfort. It kind of speaks to you, your own melancholy. So, yeah, that was what I was spinning around. The atmospheres we express, we don't have a language for it, so we express it through sounds. There's something very alluring about that, because it's very easy to imagine that there were people like 50,000 years ago, not singing in like a tribal ritual or singing in a concert or something like that, just humming to themselves to offer themselves some comfort or some solace.

That makes a lot of sense! As you just said, in some ways, you were inspired by A Umbra Omega. You also explained that in an old interview with Greece's The Gallery. You stated this album had to be the sonic progression of A Umbra as well as the continuation of the exploration of psychological and emotional darkness. I do feel the inner link between the albums. And when you go back to A Umbra, you certainly hear similarities as well. But, overall, Black Medium Current is a completely different experience. So, how closely related do you feel that the two of these albums are, now that you've completed Black Medium Current?

Yeah, I think it's a starting point. "Architect of Darkness" is the second to last song. But it kind of picks up where that album ends up in a way. And that album also ends with kind of a strange figure of piano notes, and I think that also relates to Black Medium Current. But I really knew that I didn't want it to be that chaotic this time. I knew that I wanted the whole thing to be more immersive, and I kind of wanted to dial back on the notes per minute and all that stuff and just let it sit for a while, you know — just let the core kind of emotion of the melody have the ability to get inside you, I guess. I want the listener to sort of be part of the album, not listening to music but actually be inside it. I wanted it to be really immersive. That's why I always tell people that ask me to send the album: "Okay, on one condition: You have to have 75 minutes for yourself, no distractions, nothing like that. You can't do the dishes, and please have a decent headset and volume… And just stay there for the next 75 minutes!" That's the best total experience of this album, I think.

Yes, I've listened to this album a bunch of times by now, and that's the only way to listen to it. You can't really listen to any of your music, I don't think, in the background. And, to me, Black Medium Current did feel like a virtual reality experience. I know that you've mentioned that being too self-critical has made things difficult at times as far as Ved Buens Ende is concerned. Was that a challenge at all here, or did things just flow?

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You know, I'm probably better at making complicated music, but I really didn't want the core to be complicated this time. It's really-really hard to make music that you can trust on just a few notes in a sense. Of course, this album is very layered-complex, so it has a lot of complexity layer-wise. But I really wanted to cut back on all the chaff, basically. And I kind of translated that act of cutting back on stuff as honesty or authenticity, instead of over-ornamenting everything all the time. Then, you're kind of hiding something. You're putting all these layers of filters in front of what's at the core. So, I really wanted to dial all that back this time. It was really hard, you know, because, as a human being, I'm used to going back to what I'm accustomed to. At some point, you have to teach yourself how to make new customs, I guess. And it takes a long time. But as soon as you nail that first theme that really correlates with what you're trying to do — like you spoke to it and it speaks back to you, and you have dialed the volume full up, and you're listening back to it — then you just know. You know: "Yeah, this is it! This is the place!" Then, suddenly, you have a blueprint, I guess. And it's just, you know — go from there.

You had mentioned that you wanted to do the lead vocals on A Umbra Omega. Of course, Aldrahn did a fantastic job, but I was delighted to know that you would be handling vocals on Black Medium Current, especially given your performance on Dold Vorde Ens Navn's Mørkere [2021]. So, how was that for you this time around?  

Yeah, you know, I love it. It brings you even closer to the… sometimes it is wrong calling it a product, but the end product, I guess. It brings you closer to that and the whole process in itself, you know. It also gives me a bit more leeway in the sense that I don't have to consider so many things. Like when you're a duo or when you have at least given some percentage of your band to somebody else, you also have to take care of that person in the sense that he also has to decide how the outcome is going to be. And when that's kind of out of the picture, when that's not prevalent anymore, then you're able to kind of complete your vision. It becomes more of a whole-hearted effort in the sense that now you cover all the bases. That also makes the pressure of it huger, which is nice because it should have pressure. When you do artistic things, if it's too easy, then you're doing something wrong.

That's for sure. How was it working with the team on Black Medium Current?

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It's great! I have a good bunch of guys, and they contributed in their very own special ways. And Lars [Emil Måløy], the bass player, has worked very tightly with me. He has also contributed a lot of layers. So, there are a lot of contributions from him. And the other guys, they maybe don't offer that much content, but they change bits here and there and add bits here and there. In the end, it was all beneficial. We did it a bit differently this time: After I made them the kind of outlines of the songs, we finished them by practicing them in the rehearsal room. So, then, we could also kind of discuss every part when we stopped on something, met a hindrance. Then, we could go home, and then come back, and then have our plans for action. So, a lovely bunch of guys! I always say it, you know, I have the best band! Somebody might dispute it, but I don't think so. They're the best!

I agree! But you do actually have a few of the best bands! So, you've spoken about the fact that it's liberating to self-produce. Did you encounter any challenges with that while making Black Medium Current?

Yeah, less hassle though than last time. Last time, I did it all, you know, like recording every note. I don't have a studio, so you have to set up wherever you can. This time, I rented a studio and an engineer, which meant I could be more producer than engineer. And last time, it was everything — the recordings, the mixing, the editing, throwing away layers, and yeah. So, I experienced last time that that was too much. And I also think that even if you don't know it specifically, inadvertently something suffers from it because you're spreading yourself too thin. So, I didn't want to do that this time around. And it's always nice to change a bit of the method as well. That also affected the product differently than the last album. But, you know, there's always a hassle if you're not happy — like you're almost there, but it doesn't feel right when you listen back to it. And I experience that a lot. And then, you don't always know what you need to dial into to make it right. You just have to kind of explore and then find it.

You've said that you're more of a studio person — you feel more comfortable in the studio than performing live for the most part. But you've done a lot of incredible live shows. Do you have any thoughts about taking this material on the road?

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Yeah, yeah! No, I'm really looking forward to that. I have this thought that this music, as immersive as it is when listening to it on headphones, will be able to translate into a live setting. So, I'm really looking forward to just packing the audience in there and covering them with this Black Medium Current of sound. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to that, actually. The last album was in 2015, so it will also be on a practical level — great to get some new stuff into the set, right?! And I think we are also cracking the code a bit of being a live band. I've always liked the solitary existence of being in the studio, and obviously doing festivals and stuff like that — that's kind of the opposite of the solitary studio existence. It's a social thing as much as anything else.

I would like to ask a question about the Dødheimsgard track, "Stemmen fra evigheten," from Peaceville's 35th-anniversary compilation, Dark Side of the Sacred Star [2022]. Obviously, that's a phenomenal song! You had used some unused material from Kronet til konge [1995] on that. And I noticed that toward the end of Black Medium Current, you said "Dødheimsgard" [on the seventh track, "Det tomme kalde morke"]. That was the first time you had done that since Kronet til konge. Did you want to make listeners think back… because since then Dødheimsgard has covered an enormous amount of territory?

Yeah, I think the riff that ended up on the Peaceville compilation — that's just a riff I always remembered. It's like one-and-a-half riffs, and then the rest is added there. So, I think that's just happenstance, you know. Paul [Groundwell] really wanted us to contribute, and he wanted to take a song from the Black Medium Current album and put it on the compilation. And I said, "No, no. Not a chance. The album has to be complete. I don't want to remove something from it, put it on a compilation, and present that before the album even." So, that was kind of blasphemy to me. And he said: "Alright then. Then, you have a job to do!" And then, I said: "Okay." So, I wrote the song.

Yeah, I think by mentioning the word you're actually right. And there is a lot of nostalgia on this album. It's not like thinking that everything was better before kind of nostalgia. It's not a sour-old-man type of nostalgia. But there's a love, and there's a sadness there, you know, because it holds too much. That space and that period of time, it just contains so much and all the personal changes along the way as well. And to be here 30 years later and still be able to have this vessel of expression… So, I say something like: "We travel towards Dødheimsgard." It's an endless travel, and that also kind of correlates well with the 30 years that are already gone. And it also kind of inadvertently speaks about the fact that the travel hasn't ended yet. We're still traveling towards Dødheimsgard. So, I guess that's the meaning of that particular line.

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And, you know, in another lyric I also say something about an address in Oslo. In the first song, "Et smelter," I say like: "Dronningens gate." This was where Elm Street was, and the rehearsal place was right there on Skippergata. So, it was basically the hub of the second generation of black metal. So, there are a few references there, even if you listen to the riffs. Some of the riffs are really like '91/'92 type of melancholic black metal. It's just packaged and presented in a different manner. So, it kind of co-exists. It's the present and the future, and it's kind of co-existing with the past.

Listeners should definitely feel that! I'm amazed by the Doedsmaghird track, "Then, to Darkness Return," from the Peaceville compilation as well. When I first heard about Doedsmaghird, I was pretty stunned because you have so many projects going on. I was so happy to hear about it! But I was like: "Woah, how is Vicotnik going to balance another band?!" So, I'm really curious to know where the inspiration for Doedsmaghird came from and what we can expect from the new album.

I'm really happy about the question, actually. Not many people, I think none, have asked me specifically about that. And the idea was, like timeline-wise, that we made Satanic Art in 1997. And in 1999, 666 International came. So, the initial idea was: "What if there came an album in 1998? How would that sound?" … "What would that potentially sound like?" is probably a more honest rendition of the question. And I went from there, you know. I had to figure out what was the methodology in order to kind of capture this. I knew that I couldn't be my 46-year-old thinking self. I needed to kind of connect with whatever spirit exists inside me, you know. So, I thought: "Okay, I think this material has to be improvised, basically. No preparation, no riffs pre-prepared, no lyrics pre-prepared. Just book the studio and make whatever you make there. Don't be too over-conscious about bad takes. Don't do a lot of retakes. Don't sit and edit. Don't do this. Don't do that. Just kind of enter into the unknown!" — because that's what we really did in the '90s since we didn't have any studio experience and the technological possibilities, they were also slim, you know. So, I needed to recreate the setting in order for the 1998 idea to not be a forced idea, but actually something that's more or less channeled from the era itself. But, of course, there will also be a lot of references to this Dødheimsgard album in the Doedsmaghird stuff. It's a spin-off, basically. But it's a spin-off that gets its own life! But still, it's not a knock-off of Dødheimsgard because there is a solid idea behind it.

Is that a complete solo project?

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It started as a solo project. So, I did do the songs alone. Then, I got Camille [Giraudeau]. We just started talking. And I think actually I was going to join one of his bands. But after a while, I said: "There's no time for it." And then, he said: "Well, do you have something I could join?" And it's as easy as that. I said: "Okay, I'll send you something." So, he came in, and now we kind of share the responsibilities. So, it went from a solo thing to… I view this as a kind of dual band now. And we also have another guy from Canada called Olivier [Côté]. He hasn't played any instruments on the album or anything like that, but he's been my go-to guy for the last, I don't know, 12-13 years, something like that. I send him a lot of stuff, a lot of lyrics. And it's not that I need confirmation, whether it's good or bad. I just need somebody that I know can discuss the content with me. And doing that, it also deepens and broadens the content for me because then it's not just those lines in the lyrics. Then, it's the whole subject around it, a whole conversation, perhaps even more conversation. Every sentence ends up packing a lot more. So, yeah, I consider him a member of the band as well, and I hope he will contribute more riffs and stuff like that next time around, both of them. But I think also, for me, it was really important that it started out as a solo project so I could kind of set what it was supposed to be before we were chefs.

I have a question that's going to take things back in time. So, you were born in Oslo, then you moved to Stockholm, then you moved to India, then back to Stockholm, and then you lived in Askim for a while. I love your work with Askim's Manes. "Thamuz" [Gunnar Håkonsen], who was also in Manes played with Malfeitor, which was pre-Strid. Strid is also from Askim. Obviously, you're in Strid now — you have been for quite a long time. Were there ever any thoughts about possibly hooking up creatively with "Ravn Harjar" [Edvard Rødseth] back in the early '90s?

No, the thing was that in the '90s, they were complete, you know. And they were the right guys there. I think I was the right guy for that when people in Strid started dying, basically. Then, I think I was kind of the natural guy to ask, considering my and Edvard's extensive relationship over the years and stuff like that. But, no, I had no desire to play that. I just had a desire to adore it and not be a part of it. But it became kind of a natural thing when people were dying off.

It seems like you moved to Oslo around Easter 1993. Manes' Promotape 1993 is dated to November. Did you go back to Askim to record that?

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You know, Askim is only one hour away, and I guess moving to Oslo was a gradual thing in a sense as well. When I first started coming here, I stayed for a few weeks. And then, I went home, and, you know, I was completely broke. I was a kid, and I didn't have a job, and no one wanted to give me a job either. So, I lived in the rehearsal place. I went back and forth, and I also studied back then. I tried to kind of make everybody happy in a sense, you know, not quit school and all that. And by '94, I thought: "Oh, fuck this!" I went to Oslo, and I stayed. And so, I was still broke, but that also makes an interesting lifestyle, you know — like living in a rehearsal room and going to bars and trying to get people to buy you drinks and hooking up with women just to get their refrigerators and stuff like that.

And speaking of bars, you developed a friendship with Fenriz at Elm Street. It's not where you met him though — that was at Stovner Rockefabrikk, where he was recording Valhall material. That's a great story! So, I was wondering: Is there any possibility that Fenriz might make an appearance with Dødheimsgard in the future… as in the old days?

You know, I would never want to bother him about that. Maybe he would say yes, actually. But, you know, I think he would rather I didn't ask the question. So, I think I'll sit that one out until he knocks on the door and says: "Hey, Yusaf, could I do something with you guys?" Then, I'll be open for it, you know. Fenriz — I don't see him that much anymore. Now, we are becoming semi-old people. So, everybody kind of lives in their parts. And if we see each other, there's something happening like a local festival or something like that. But, yeah, a huge source of inspiration. And it was such a cool thing to get one of your main inspirations to join your band back in the day and soak it all up, I guess.

I'm excited to hear your guest appearance on the next Den Saakaldte album, Pesten som tar over. Readers should know that they got their name from the title of a Ved Buens Ende song that you wrote the lyrics for. But, yeah, I think it's cool that you had the very special talents of "Sykelig" [or Mikael Siouzios, Den Saakaldte's founder] and Niklas Kvarforth living in your apartment at the same time. So, was there ever any talk about joining that band in the very beginning? It kind of seems like you were involved, but I wasn't sure if that was accurate.

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In the beginning, Mikael asked me to do bass in Den Saakaldte, but I really didn't have the time. And, you know, sometimes I think that people fall in love with ideas, but, in the end, I think they were better off getting somebody else that could commit to it because commitment is such an important thing in art. You know, if it's uncommitted it's not even art anymore. So, yeah, there were initial plans for it, and I was already in a situation where I was helping him and Niklas out, you know. I guess they were both running from something, so they ran to my apartment, and they stayed there for five or six months. So, yeah, at some point, you also have to say that you reached your limit, basically. It's important to be honest.

Yes! And it was really great that Niklas participated on the other side of the 2009 split that you released with the other Manes from Trondheim [Pro-Gnosis-Diabolis 1993 / Solve et Coagula]. So, you've been involved in a lot of other projects that I also really love like Endwarfment and Aphrodisiac! Aphrodisiac — that was you, Svein Evil Hatlevik ["Zweizz"], and Carl-Michael Eide ["Czral" / "Aggressor"]. And then, Kristoffer Rygg ["Garm"] contributed a song to your album [Nonsense Chamber, 1997]. So, that was awesome! You've also worked with Svein Egil in Dødheimsgard, of course. Back in the day, you performed live with Fleurety as well. Was that just a one-off thing or were you more involved in the band?

Yeah, I was a bit more involved. To go to the beginning of the story, I think like Svein Egil and Alexander [Nordgaren], they were my first friends in black metal outside my own city. So, they were kind of the first trip somewhere else to meet like-minded people. Now, you take it for granted because you can just go to a bar or you can go to a concert, but there were no bars, there were no concerts, there were no people in the school that wore your T-shirts and stuff like that. So, this was kind of the first time connecting with people in that fashion. So, yeah, I got a bit involved with Fleurety in the sense that they were supposed to go on a tour. I think everybody's really happy that tour didn't happen back then, but we were supposed to, at least. We practiced a lot of their material on the album and demos and stuff like that because I was supposed to go with them as a live guitarist. There were also talks about me joining them as a guitarist to kind of add up the quantity of riffs and act as somebody that thinks a bit differently than Alexander so we could kind of stock our arsenal a bit more. But then, I disappeared to Oslo and, you know — no phone, no address, nothing. I wasn't the easiest guy to get a hold of for the next year, so that kind of blew away.

I talked to Alexander and Svein Egil a few weeks ago, actually. We were out, and they were talking about making a new Fleurety album, and I said: "I'm launching myself to a contributor on that album!" — because, for me, that would kind of be like coming full circle with those guys, so I really want to do that. So, I said: "I'm doing vocals on one track, and I'm doing bass on one track, and there's no discussions here, you know." And they said: "Okay, so let's sit down and talk about how we're going to do it." So, yeah, I think that's going to be great, a really great experience.

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That would be really-really cool! You've made a lot of amazing guest appearances that I've really enjoyed! For example, I'm really fond of Doedsvangr's Serpents ov Old [2021]. So, I would like to ask you about Slavia because not a lot of people know about the details of that fantastic band. You and Ghash both appeared on Strength and Vision [2007]. Is there anything you'd like to share about that experience?

You know, I've never heard it. I never heard the track. Yeah, Jonas [Raskolnikov Christiansen, "Jonas aus Slavia"], I got to know him quite late in his life, I guess. But, yeah, we became really close. He was really depressed at that time. I had this big-ass apartment in the middle of Oslo, so he just started coming there. We could sit for hours and talk. There was some sort of real closeness to it and some sort of vulnerability because I knew why he was there, and he was open about it — about why he wanted to share my company and all that. And that kind of morphed into me kind of doing the vocals for him as well. So, the vocals, whether I heard them or not, that's really what it means to me — the bond we had in that period when, I guess, we both were dumb in a sense and we could offer companionship… of course, aided by heavy drinking, but, yeah, you know.

You had mentioned the possibility of a new release with Strid. You said that it might never happen, but you've worked on it. And you've performed new material. You also discussed another Ved Buens Ende record. And you talked about a potential Dødheimsgard compilation since you have a lot of unused material. I heard you made a whole "Supervillain 2," which you just threw away, but it would be awesome to hear bits and pieces of it… or the whole thing! There's also Dold Vorde Ens Navn — looking forward to whatever you're doing next with that. So, are there any plans for future releases, aside from what we've already discussed, that you'd like to reveal?

You know, we are currently working on Ved Buens Ende. So, that's kind of the next project that has the most amount of focus. And I'm just finishing up with the Doedsmaghird album. I have a few last takes on vocals. I was actually doing them right before I was speaking to you. And I'm going back, doing those last lines after our conversation. And then, Haavard has been writing Dold Vorde Ens Navn music. And, I guess, when you're attached to people like that, those people have to be your main priority. So, whatever other projects you have on your own, those have to wait.

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But I have all these kinds of songs and bits and pieces that were not tied to metal in enough sense to present them as Dødheimsgard. You know, Dødheimsgard has all of these other influences, but at the core it's still metal and that's kind of what binds it all together. But then, I also have a lot of music that kind of fell out of that category. And I was thinking to myself that it would be cool to kind of piece an album together with a lot of the material is already recorded. It will, of course, need some love and attention and lyrics and vocals and stuff like that. But, at some point, it would be great to make use everything that you've thrown away over the years. I was also a bit curious about an idea of smashing A Umbra Omega and Black Medium Current together and using all those files to make another product from it. So, I'm actually not recording anything. I'm just structuring everything in a different manner and in a different presentation and seeing what comes out of that, basically. So, I like all of this kind of thinking before I do something because if the thought pattern is different than the thought pattern for any other project, then the end result will be different as well. The approach will kind of dictate where we will end up in a way. So, if you always choose different approaches, that's a way to ensure that your products become different, or your end results.  

You just mentioned that Dødheimsgard is still metal at its core. After A Umbra Omega, you told Decibel that you have no desire to call Dødheimsgard anything other than black metal… and neither do I. Is that still the case for you?

Yeah, sure. You know why?! Because I am black metal. And because I was there. I'm one of the originators, especially if we're talking about kind of the avant-garde side of black metal. So, it doesn't really matter if it sounds sonically different than what black metal was 30 years ago. I'm still a representative from that era, basically. So, that's why, for me, black metal… Of course, it's a musical genre. You can break it down — you wear this-and-this clothes and you have this-and-this sound and you use this-and-this instrument. But that's a less interesting aspect of black metal. The more interesting aspect of black metal is what it is culturally. And if you're talking about what it is culturally, then you can't isolate it from where it was and in what time it was and which people were involved — all these people that were there in the sense of where it all happened, like the epicenter, and promoted it or created some content for it as the original source of it. All those people are black metal. We are culturally black metal people. That's why I have no desire to call Dødheimsgard anything else than black metal because it comes from black metal — the real thing, the real black metal, not the genre, not that you wear this-and-this clothes, that you play this-and-this-instrument, not like the generics of it, but the actual-actual thing.

As far as Black Medium Current goes, you said a while back in a previous interview that it's not inspired by literature or mythology. Of course, the product is extremely literary, philosophical, poetic, etc. So, I am really curious, maybe not with Black Medium Current but in general, as to what inspires you these days. You've mentioned Ibsen in regard to Dold Vorde Ens Navn, for example.

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I would say that Black Medium Current is not mythological, but it's definitely philosophical. And I tied my emotions to different things. For example, "Halow," is a play on words in itself — like a "low" and a "halo" tied together, which is kind of a contrast, two terms that are, in some sense, opposites. But I also tied the lyric to the concept of "behind the veil of ignorance," which is a philosophical concept — how you deem your kind of place. How could I explain it? It's like, you know — it's measuring the honesty of your choices, basically, measuring the honesty of what you feel. So, the kind of the practice is that you give a person all the tools in the world, all the kind of money in the world. And this person, let's say he's a rich man, you say that now you can distribute all this money all over the world the way you see fit. This man will give this money quite in accordance with where he is himself in life. If he's successful, he will put a lot of money in that part of the world. He will kind of have a bias, you know. Then, you do the experiment again with the same person. You say: "Okay, now you have to distribute the money or the goods or whatever around the world, but you don't know where you will end up yourself." And then, you see this person's mind changing about how he distributes because now he's unsure where he ends up. In that process, he needs more empathy. And so, I tied this lyric also to the concept of behind the veil of ignorance. There's a lot of philosophy on the album, actually. I wanted the experiential, what you have experienced, those notions, to come first and then try to draw philosophy out from that instead of kind of putting philosophy there just on its own.

Yeah, the album is definitely an insanely profound experience. It's totally overwhelming. And the lyrics — they're masterpieces in themselves.

Thank you. I wanted to make them really basic, so I was a bit worried about that. Will I be able to kind of do that and at the same time maintain some kind of expectations?! But I think that the music had to reflect the lyrics and vice versa. So, when I was dialing back on the core melodies, I really wanted to do the same with the lyrics. And again, I guess I translated that as authenticity and honesty, being closer to it, not adding a lot of filters in front of it. But actually taking them away, going closer to everything that I wanted to convey and using less concealment, basically.

I was wondering about the fact that you have a couple songs on the album that are in Norwegian only, some that are in English, and others that are a mix of the two. It creates a great kind of richness. It has a deep effect on the listener, psychologically speaking. In the statement from Peaceville, the word "confusion" was mentioned as kind of a precondition for intellectual honesty. Was the blend of languages meant to foster a beneficial sense of confusion that maybe helps people become more in touch with themselves?

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Yeah, you know, again, I have to go back to the kind of concealment thing. I'm a Norwegian-speaker, and as soon as I speak English, I'm putting a filter on my kind of language. I also lessen myself in a way because obviously I'm better at thinking, speaking, and writing in Norwegian. When you're kind of trying to be that kind of naked in a sense and honest, the English language didn't really work on all levels. I really had to redo all these parts that I felt didn't work in English. So, I did them in Norwegian. So, yeah, you can say that there was a real big sense of confusion. But, you know, I think I ended up with the right solution. So, it was more work, it was more struggle, it was more pain, more confusion, more irritation, all that stuff. But it was all worth it because I felt that the words became truer — they rang truer to me.

I have to say that I don't want readers to get the wrong impression about your English lyrics because they're just fantastic as well! As great as they can be!

Thank you very much.

Your albums are always beyond genius! So, when Black Medium Current comes out, I really hope that a ton of people will buy it because…

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You know, I have no thoughts about that. Obviously, you want everything you do to be successful. But, for me, it's already successful, like listening to you, that's kind of my greatest reward, you know. And some guy told me: "I listened to 90 minutes of your new music, and it made me cry."

It made me cry! I didn't want to say that, but it really makes me cry… every time.

Then, I'll tell you like I told him: "Your tears make me happy." Your tears are my reward here because that means you're not just listening to music. We're sharing this experience. And it's an experience. It's not only like the practical notion of listening to music. Then, it can be whatever, you know. So, that's a deeper reward for me than if it sells 100-200,000 records. At least, I know the people who adore it — they really adore it!

And like you said elsewhere, when someone really grasps one of your records, it becomes a friend for life.

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Yeah, I think so. And I'm really confounded by the amount of people that still writes me from time to time and sends pictures of A Umbra Omega and says: "Yeah, it's still on daily spins." It's like 8 years old.

It's as great as anything can be, and this record too!

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Obviously, I can't thank you enough for your music and also for your time. Is there anything else that you'd like to tell readers?

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Stay tuned for more and remember that the Doedsmaghird album and Black Medium Current are connected. So, for the whole experience, you'll actually have to wait six months for the Doedsmaghird album to be released and that will be kind of the totality of it.

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"Black Medium Current is an important album that speaks to the fact that we are eternally traveling homeward 'in defeat' to Dødheimsgard."

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