Some say that waiting for the next full player Myrkgrav from is a lost cause, that all we can do is cherish the short players Lars Jensen gives us every few years. All we know is that Vonde Auer is a Hell of a short player and you should check it out!
Why did you begin studying folkloristics? Is Black Metal to blame?
Growing up on the countryside, where my whole lineage consists of peasants and farmers, I heard a lot of interesting stories from the local area revolving around what you might classify as traditional folklore, i.e. tales of weird and inexplicable things going on in the forest. Because it was such an integral part of my upbringing, I’ve always been interested in oral tradition, storytelling and cultural phenomena in general. Deciding to do something out of this interest beyond as a mere hobby (as is the case with Myrkgrav) was not that difficult really.
Of course the folkloristics field is a lot more than tales of times that have long since passed. In my research I find intertextuality between the old and contemporary; and how imagination and reality exists in parallel instead of in opposition to one another fascinating. Folkloristics and ethnology of today is basically the study of everything people surround themselves with and find important in their existence, humans and their creations are pretty awesome and complex sometimes.
Why don’t you call yourself Leiðólfr anymore?
I figured that if I couldn’t create something and stand behind with my own name instead of hide behind a pseudonym, then why should I bother at all? Even though not all Myrkgrav material is all that great in my opinion, I’m still proud that it was all put together by me – not some faceless character right out of generic metal lore.
Why do you call your music “old fashioned peasant metal”?
Let’s break it down: Old-fashioned refers to lyrical and visual themes as well as the incorporation of traditional instruments such as the Hardanger fiddle and willow flute. The truth is of course that this definition of “old-fashioned” isn’t really that old-fashion and is a cultural construction that stems from the romantic period; where the Scandinavian farmer and peasant was used to represent the essence of everything that was good about the nation in building a national self-image. Either way, that is what people think of when they hear “old-fashioned”, so I’m not going to crash the party. Peasant metal of course also represents melodic structures based upon Norwegian folk music (mainly played among “the folk” – the farmers and other lowborn), as well a further reinforcement of the whole thematic concept surrounding Myrkgrav. It’s folk, it’s about peasants and it’s metal. Old-fucking-fashioned peasant metal, fuck yeah!
Why does taking a stand in the discussion against racism matter to you?
Unfortunately, certain spheres of the metal community are littered with some rather aggressive political agendas. It’s pretty sad really that I’ve had to actually spell it out that I do not want to be affiliated with racism or other bullshit ideologies. Not being an asshole that judges others based on ethnicity, color, culture and so forth should be the goddamn standard, not something you have to specifically explain.
Because parts of the world are very apprehensive towards national romanticism and there are a lot of lyrical and visual themes in Myrkgrav which bear connotations to that period in history, there has unfortunately been a couple of cases where someone has speculated that I might have some kind of political agenda in mind with the band. This is, of course, not the case. As a cultural researcher I fully acknowledge that every culture is of equal worth, and that any thoughts of one culture, race, ethnicity etc. being better than another is just the product of lacking insight and exposure to other worldviews. People and their cultures are pretty great man, don’t see the reason to be narrow-minded and generalize and hate people who are probably more similar to you than you could imagine.
Why has there been almost ten years since the last (and first, for that matter) Myrkgrav album?
Between being in (failed) long-distance relationships, battling anxiety and depression, living alone in the middle of nowhere and sub-sequentially moving to another country (with the identity crisis that entails), I can say for certain that the clichéd saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is pure and utter bullshit. It’s more like “what doesn’t kill you makes you jaded”, haha. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that following the release of the Trollskau album, I was not in a mindset for a long time to do anything that required creativity and inspiration. Now that I have somewhat gotten things sorted out, I must admit that Myrkgrav feels a bit like a closed chapter of my life. It represents something I have for the most part moved on from, and as such it’s not all that rewarding to work with the material for the second album, which has been laying around since 2008-ish. This answer is probably both more you were hoping for and less positive than you were hoping for, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. The album is coming though, and it’s going to be pretty awesome if I may say so myself.
What is your favorite folktale and why?
Choosing just one is impossible; they all have their merits! That being said, I quite enjoy the ones that are humorously morbid, in lack of a better term. Take Vonde auer, for instance, where a man almost dies just because he makes a stubborn old conjuring woman cross, but the man’s wife manages to fend her off in the end by hitting her over the ass with a burning log. Stories like this one are common, ones that deal with life and death but in a very harmless and “fun” sort of matter. I feel like many bands either have lyrics that are all fun and parties or just death and gloom. Why not take advantage of the far more relatable middle road?