Even though Norway is famous (or infamous, depending on the point of view) for its black metal, some bands were left in the shadows and never got the attention they would have deserved, just because bands like Mayhem and Burzum and the incident with them. One of the most primitive and hateful black metal bands in the world is definitely Ildjarn - one man band with obscure atmosphere and really grim black metal. I was given the chance to interview the man behind Ildjarn and Sort Vokter and discuss things in the past and in future. Welcome to misanthropy.
Ave Ildjarn! You haven't been active for years, it seems, but now suddenly we can see Ildjarn webpages on the net and so forth. What does this mean? Do you care to tell what's happened since the last interview you did?
It came to my knowledge that my music was wanted for in the underground, so I decided to make a short "comeback". I have also had a bunch of my limited edition releases stacked in my flat, because I never bothered to sell them. Now it seems people want my releases more than ever, and people have tried to contact me and soforth. Nothing much has happened, really, I've stopped making music, just trying to get through the days.
I heard from somewhere that you weren't supposed to do any more interviews but you change your mind. Is this because of your so-called comeback? I was also told a couple of years ago that you have abandoned your instruments and music, is this true?
Never trust a sick soul. Well, it surprised me, but all of a sudden there were a bunch of people saying that Ildjarn now suddenly had become legendary and shit. Finally people had understood the essence of my music, well, some of them that is. Also, I saw this as an opportunity to sell the CDs I still had in stock to dedicated people. I never bothered to advertise for the CDs, but now I thought I'd do it. I've abandoned music, but I still have some very old stuff that will be released.
I must say that I don't know too many Ildjarn enthusiasts besides myself, but the few I know are really much into Ildjarn and most likely very intersted to know more about you as a person and as a band. So, what do you think about your fans then? Respect, scorn, indifference or something else?
The reason why I made a "comeback", was that I got a lot of response from people all around through some of the people I've known for years. I sense there are some souls out there worth using time on. For example, I got into contact with Fred of Painiac Records, proving to be a true underground soul. I still believe most of the people worldwide that are into BM are fakes, but the ones listening to my music seem to be the ones left from the underground, at least some of the people I've been in contact with. There are some new souls as well, of course, and I sense these people are in it for the real values: embracing darkness, living in hate (closely related to my music) showing respect and admiration for nature etc.
Even though Ildjarn is anything but a young and unknown Norwegian metal act, it's not too well-known. Could you tell the history of the band since its birth til today, year 2002?
It started right after Thou Shalt Suffer split. I still hung around in the basement where we used to rehearse, and I then started doing my own stuff on a 4-tracker.
What lead you doing the kind of music Ildjarn plays in the first place? It's still one of the most primitive bands there have ever been and thinking of the time when you started it, it must have been very unique.
Yeah, the first demo was recorded January 92, so I was pretty early compared to many of the other bands in the genre, excluding the originators, of course. I had done some very primitive recordings before this as well, but I never thought of it as the genre that would explode as it did. I'm not interested in the new BM bands, I just don't think they do it for the right reasons. Nowadays everybody wants to be rock stars and earn a lot of money on their music.
What are the right reasons then? What black metal means to you? I suppose it's a "bit" more than just music to you...
Black Metal should be lived, being in the forest, mountains, away from people, embracing nature. And once in a while going back to civilisation to practice your hate... I'm sorry to say I haven't lived 100% after the laws of Black Metal, but that's because I've had to work to get money, intermingling with people. I plan to leave work as soon as I've earned enough to live on the interests, and move away to a small cabin in the mountains, without electricity. I could never release anything in order to earn money. It's OK to get in as much as you've paid for pressing, layout etc., but I think it's a disgrace how people have ruined the true spirit of BM these days.
Could you list Ildjarn's discography here?
I started by recording the 1992 demo, back in January 92. Then I released another demo in 93, after a long break, recorded January 93, and then the 94 demo. Then followed:
Norse 001: "Det Frysende Nordariket" CD
Norse 002: "Ildjarn" CD
Norse 004: "Forest Poetry" CD
Norse 006: "Landscapes" DCD
Norse 007: "Strength and Anger" CD
What about "Svartfrad" MCD with Nidhogg, one of the best Ildjarn releases in my opinion and Son of the Northstar MCD? Are there any other Ildjarn or split releases besides those you mentioned?
No, but me and Nidhogg have recorded two recordings way back. They will appear on limited ed. CDs soon.
"Son of the Northstar" seems to have some older (already released) songs, too, and the sound is even more necro than on the albums, I think. So, what was the idea with this release?
It was intended to be released 7-8 years ago on 7" vinyl on Freezing Records. Suddenly it cropped up for no particular reason..(?) without my knowledge. Some shit happened in the pressing, so the sound is real shitty.
I think that the sound is quite good actually, in a necrotic and primitive way, of course. You have also fancied raw and primitive sound, as we can hear when listening to Ildjarn albums. What's the thing you find so tempting with such necro noise? Have you ever thought about "better" sound for Ildjarn releases?
There are different forms of today's black metal, of course. My primitive Norse form benefits from necro sound. I could never have used a studio to do all my music. That would just not have worked. My music is made like this: I have never sat down to write anything down. Sometimes I have recorded some riffs, and then maybe some well accompanying lyrics, all depending on my inspiration there and then. Then I have maybe gone to the basement where I've recorded all my stuff (actually the same basement that Emperor have done most of their rehearsing, and recorded their demo). The basement also had a 4-track recorder, which I've used on all my metal music. I have sat down in front of it whenever I got some new ideas, then I recorded the drums first, and then guitars/bass and vocals. It was often difficult to record the drums, just having the entire song in my head. Drums were recorded first, because it's difficult to first record guitars, keeping the beat. At one time I thought about going to a real studio, but that would not have been as good, not as raw sounding, and the inspiration to make music would not have been there to the same extent. The Ildjarn-Nidhogg releases have a somewhat fuller sound, but that's just because we used a drum machine for those releases. All Ildjarn releases are pure drums, played by me.
Norse Leagues Production is (/was?) your label and all of those full-length albums have been released through it. Was Ildjarn solely the reason to found a label or what's the story behind this? Are there any other Norse releases besides Ildjarn and Sort Vokter albums?
Those are the only ones. And yes, Norse League was founded just because of Ildjarn and my music. The label is no more. It's just too much shit dealing with this business. I just want to be out in nature, not sitting in front of a computer or shit like that.
How come you chose Ildjarn ("Fireiron" in English) as your band's name as well as yourself, if I'm right? What's the story behind this name?
I derived the name from a place in Norway, and I thought it sounded good. There's no meaning behind it, really, but it captures some of the old norse heathen feeling.
What about Nidhogg? What's his relation to Ildjarn and part in Ildjarn's music?
He has been a great help concerning the layout work. I have done all production and vocals/music myself, but I'm not very good at technical computer stuff, so he has been good to have in that respect.
Is Nidhogg still active with some bands, projects or music scene in general?
No, he's an alcoholic and drug-worshipper. We have finished the Hardangervidda-CDs together, though.
How would you describe Ildjarn's music yourself?
Hateful, primitive, atmospheric in its stripped sound.
Do you consider Ildjarn as a black metal band or maybe something else?
I've never understood what people incorate in the term Black Metal. My music is about hate, nature and obscure thoughts. I will not try to explain here. There are so few people out there dedicated to this kind of music anyway, so to me the only important thing is to know that what I do truly comes from inside, and that there are some true souls left out there.
Samoth and Ihsahn participated in Ildjarn at some point. I would like to know what is your relation to your old band/session members Ihsahn and Samoth and whether they understood the music you were doing? Are you still in touch with them?
I met Samoth on a Mortiis-concert at Notodden a couple of months ago, but we rarely meet. Ihsahn I haven't talked to for many years. I don't know if they have ever liked my music that much, I never asked.
In what Ildjarn releases they appeared?
Samoth appeared on my '92 Demo, and Ihsahn on my '93 Demo. That's it.
What do you think about Thou Shalt Suffer after all these years?
TSS had something to it at the time, but there have definitely been greater Death bands around. Death was a common musical form at the time, and I wouldn't say TSS had anything very inspiring and new. Still, it was an ok feeling to play this kind of music, and now it seems people have again taken a fancy to this kind of music. Pathetic teenagers mostly, but still...
What is the situation with Ildjarn nowadays? Will there be more Ildjarn or Sort Vokter albums in the future?
I will release a CD with some previously unreleased + old tracks, because I feel that some of my songs are a bit misplaced on some of the albums. It's a collection of the tracks that I personally like the best, and it's sort of a rounding off of my career. Also, me and Nidhogg will release music in praise of Norwegian mountains, recorded some years ago. Hardangervidda (available from my site).
So this album is kind of "Best of Ildjarn" album, one might say? Or should we say "The most necro of Ildjarn? Have you already decided when this album is getting out and with what name?
It's called "1992-1995", it will be out early September on Northern Heritage of Finland.
Could you tell me a bit more about this release which is going to be "in praise of Norwegian mountains"? What kind of music will it be?
Symphonic landscape music. I guarantee it has never before been done.
Will these releases be out through Norse League Prod. as well?
I don't think I'll have the energy to do that, I'll have someone else doing it. Available from: home.no.net/ildjarn
You agreed to something which was something totally unexpected: to release Ildjarn on vinyl by (in)famous Finnish label Nothern Heritage! I also heard about official t-shirts coming out that way [a must have shirt for me -ed], so uh, what the hell is going on? I mean, this is great knews for vinyl freaks, but what led you to this co-operation and why Northern Heritage? I know the guy behind NH is an Ildjarn freak, too...
He's in it for the right reasons, professional and a true undergrounder. Of course it's also the only format that fits this style of music a 100%. Vinyl times were different than today, where most music is contained on a tiny piece of plastic.
If I understood correctly, there were also some other labels interested to do the vinyl versions. Was Northern Heritage simply the best choice for you or what was the thing with other labels?
Mikko of NH seemed the overall best suited man to do it. He is professional, and has a lot of resources, yet a true undergrounder. He is very easy to correspond with, and he always takes the artist's views into consideration. Originally Fred of Painiac Records was supposed to release these vinyls, but after I had a talk with him, he totally agreed that it would be best to release it on NH. Painiac would definitely be my second choice, being true underground and truly dedicated. NH also has more resources, and after all, there will be a huge launch of vinyls from that part during the winter.
What can you tell us about Sort Vokter? After all it's music is very much like Ildjarn, but with synths and some way even more necrotic feeling? What's the story behind it and who plays in it?
Me and Nidhogg joined up with two guys not known to the scene. One of them offered free studio time because he worked in the studio. I play almost all of the guitar and all the bass, plus vocals on one track. This release means very little to me. There were just too many compromises being four of us.
Okay, but I must ask one more question about Sort Vokter however. What the name means? That's something which has bothered me for quite some time.
Sort=black / Vokter=guardian/protector
You don't have any lyrics included in any of the CD's, if I'm right and some of the song names are quite vague. Why not include any of the lyrics with albums? What kind of lyrics Ildjarn albums have?
I have always been very satisfied with the lyrics, but I burnt all the lyrics for the demos, being in a necro state of mind. I really don't know why I didn't feature the lyrics on Forest Poetry, for example, the album I consider to have the best lyrics. I guess it became a trend for me not to feature them. I would definitely have them featured on some of the CDs, but now it's too late.
So what kind lyrics Ildjarn songs usually have? What kind of topics you usually dealt with? Any certain source of inspiration besides nature?
Hate, nature, aggression, in an obscure mix. I hope people listen to my metal music doing all kinds of fucked up acts.
Do you have any lyrics left you could here present to us? Just to get a glimpse into the lyrical side of Ildjarn...
I regret the fact that I haven't got the lyrics anymore. I would definitely have them featured on my releases if I was to make some new stuff. At the time I just didn't think of including them, and when it was too late, they were no more, lost. I think one of the reasons for not including them was that my releases feature so many songs on each. Anyway, some lines of poetry will appear at least on "Strength & Anger" vinyl.
A question from a friend of mine: a deep relationship to Norwegian nature appears in the Ildjarn work. Do you have an interest in shamanism and possibly related experiments with T.H.C. or mushrooms?
Absolutely not. I find darkness in its pure form without any man-made ideas or drugs.
What do you think about drugs and alcohol in general? It seems that you don't mind too much other people using them, am I right?
I never use drugs or alcohol, as I want to keep my mind pure until the day I die. I have so many visions and thoughts not belonging to this world that I don't need it. Nidhogg has turned into the opposite. He is a drug-worshipper, and he is so fucking strange that it's often difficult to know what it's all about for him. Still, he is a total man-hater, pissing on people's graves, while still being very intelligent, so I still have a lot of respect for him.
Nature seems to mean a LOT to you, like you already expressed. What can you tell about its meaning in your life?
It means getting away from people, taking part in something bigger than you. I have never found interest in being with people. Sure, I've spent time with lots of people over the years, but I've always prefered being alone. I guess people can start to grasp what meaning nature has had for me when listening to the Hardangervidda CD. It's just a stream of landscapes in musical form, created by years of spending time in Norwegian nature. It has got no ideology, it's an escape from all relating to man.
What about animals, essential part of nature? Do you have any pets?
I don't have any at the moment, but I consider myself an uncle to Nidhogg's two cats. I had cats from I was about 6-7, until I was 22. Animals are deserving of nature. I would give my own life to kill all humans, so that the animals again could wander the earth without having to be afraid of humans. People that harm animals are at the top of my Death list, all christians are a good number two.
Have you ever done something for this fight for animals and their rights?
I was more involved some 8-9 years ago, but later on I've stopped involving myself in society, I just do what I have to survive.
Could you imagine living somewhere else besides Norway or Scandinavia?
Not outside Scandinavia. Sweden, definitely. Sweden is a great country, and Swedes don't have as much double moral as Norwegians do. I think society in general is better in Sweden, but still I don't think any country can compete with Norway when it comes to nature.
Are there any bands you listen to these days? Do you have any interest in nowadays (black) metal scene at all?
I'm not as interested in music as I was, but I listen to Mortician and Krisiun sometimes when I want to listen to raw stuff. I like ambient, also, Biosphere as the favorite, but there are many great records in this genre. BM has turned boring these days, but sometimes someone tries to do it the old style, and that's ok. Still, BM is not interesting if you sense that the guys playing are just wimpy teenagers in their heart, and I guess this accounts for a great deal of these people. I don't like bands that just HAVE to be original, those bands seldom give me a good musical experience.
What you think of nowadays black metal with all kind of political issues with half of the bands and pussy-loving tender synth black metal on the other half?
Many bands today are very good on their instuments, but the feeling is not there very often. As I said, there are many forms; technical, atmospheric, primitive etc. I like all types, as long as there is some feeling to it. Emperor and Limbonic art are worth listening to, and I can also listen to "pop-music" like Dimmu Borgir. Most of all bands play music for the wrong reasons, but if you just want to listen to the music, not concentrating too much on the topics, etc, there are lots of bands I can listen to.
As you also mentioned your antipathy towards Christianity, what do you think about the past incidents with churches in Norway?
Christianity has only become stronger after this, so in that respect, those incidents worked contrary to what was intended, I guess. It only cost a lot of tax money. I like the initiative, of course, but those people were just too few and the actions were sporadic and poorly planned. It's sad that the actions were not taken any further, killing priest, for instance. I don't think that would have harmed christianity in any way, but my heart would be in joy.
What do you think about religions in general? Is Christianity an exception or do you hate other religions as well?
I have a problem in believing in something that evolves from the human mind, something all religions share in my view. I definitely worship darkness, and I live with it each day. If this has something to do with religion, I don't know, but I don't need to label anything in this respect. I can easily get along with satanists, sharing many of their ideas. There is one thing, though: most are just fakes, and that's a shame. Those truly black at heart know it, they don't have to announce it for the entire world.
Any thoughts about neo-paganism that has risen its head for some time now?
Not much, ideas change all the time, and it seems people are incorporating new ideas to their work all the time. I think people should do their stuff, and stick with it. I've never understood the idea of progressing in your musical form, you should do what feels natural in your heart from the beginning, and of course, you can't be truly dedicated to a lot of things at the same time, some things are closer, and more important.
Okay, the last few questions before we call this off. You just got Hardangervidda CD released, yet it has no label marks or logos on it. Did you release this just by yourself or what? Why not through NLP?
I released it myself, and it's supposed to be a dedication to Norwegian nature. There should be no excessive use of words, no unnescessary text, just mountain music, not related to any part of human life.
Any plans for the future? What are you expecting from it?
I plan to quit work, move up to the mountains in a small cabin without electricity. This will hopefully happen in two year's time. I have wanted to live as a total recluse for a long time, and some day I will realize this dream. I will eventually leave this earth, not peacefully, though.
If Ildjarn was an animal, what animal would that be?
A devil-pig, an animal not known to man.
Before the last words, would you like to send any regards to bands, friends, allies etc.? Word is yours.
I normally don't do that, but one of the reasons why I decided for a "comeback" was that I got response from lots of undergrounders worldwide. Suddenly Ildjarn was a cult phenomenon, and some considered me a legend. Truly dedicated people are extremely few, but the ones that exist are worth it. I have no friends, as I don't believe in friendship, but still I have to send out some hails to some of my allies and dedicated people: Nidhogg, master of obscurity and pissing on the face of god, a true ally and man-hater forever. Javier, ally and brother in hate and eventually death. Mikko of Northern Heritage, a true soul dedicated to the underground, and a true master in his grand work. Fred of Painiac, a true believer in dark matters. You, Jerry, for taking my work seriously, and for understanding the essence of things. The true souls at anus, just for being there in dedication of the underground, if still alive...
And the same goes for enemies - or does it? Any words for them?
I have many. A certain rip-off company will be destroyed in the near future if no appropriate actions are taken by them. If/when the time comes I will inform metal people worldwide of the campaign that will be launched, and I am certain to get hundreds of dedicated people with me in the crusade against this company. I will later on inform people of the facts, of course with reliable documentation. I would guess those people that are really dedicated to getting rid of rip-offs, will be with me in this. This campaign will take most of my time when started, and I'm willing to go to extreme measures, even sacrificing my own life. Other people I hate intensely will never read this interview anyway, so it's no use including such worms.
Alright, we've come to the end of this interview. I thank you for your time and effort. Final words are yours.
I have a website with a gallery, which will be updated with lots of pictures later on, and there's also a possibility to obtain some of my previously hard-to-get CD-releases, not previously advertised for: home.no.net/ildjarn
I would advise people not to buy my metal music if they aren't truly into dark music in their hearts. My music is only intended for those true at heart, and others will not understand. Now you know.