(Interview by Antti Mikonmäki, with Lars:
When I first heard Solefald’s first full-length “The Linear Scaffold”, I was impressed by the progressiveness and artistic ambitiousness of the album in the Black Metal world, although it certainly wasn’t the only “avantgarde” Black Metal release in those times. Nevertheless there was something different in the style and attitude of this album, which made me predict great and progressive things for this band, and I certainly wasn’t wrong. Solefald has released seven full-lengths by now quite steadily, telling of an overflowing creativity, which comes as no surprise when thinking of the individuals involved in the band.
Hi, Lars here. Thanks for showing an interest in our band, and for your kind words.
How are things in Norway at the moment? What is the state of your wealthy society speaking from an insider’s perspective?
Well, sadly there are negative tendencies in Norway politically speaking these days, as the conservatives are in office, and have started to attack parts of the Norwegian welfare model. As is modus operandi for conservatives, the subjects for the attack are the poor, and the beneficiaries are the rich, so even though our society is a pretty egalitarian one, we’re moving in the wrong direction.
When you first entered the Black Metal scene (so to speak) in ’95 with your demo “Jernlov”, followed by the still-amazing first album, what was the response from the Black Metal audience and artistic circles of those times? Were you much involved in the Black Metal culture socially, or did you stay more in the background?
We’re what you could call second-generation black metallers, meaning we listened to the first generation stuff, but we didn’t know a whole lot of people in the scene when we started up. The first album changed that rather quickly, though. We had a whole lot of feedback. Our debut seemed to make waves.
Norway produced perhaps the most respected and pioneering second wave Black Metal bands, but also the most artistic, imaginative and progressive bands in the same time, with names such as Arcturus, Solefald and Ved Buens Ende coming to my mind instantly. Why do you think this is?
I believe the Norwegian scene had an excellent base for experimentation in the mid- to late nineties, as the genre had developed for a few years, and was in need of movement and change to stay interesting. You have to remember that BM was a highly innovative genre in the beginning as well, so the experimentation was in many ways a continuation of that attitude.
While you have experimented with various musical styles during your long career, you have now made home in this world of “Modern Folk Music” (as I’d like to call your latest music adventures). Is this a steady permanent place for you, or is it impossible to know where your creative minds might venture in the future?
No, not at all. Our coming album, “World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud” (due in January of 2015), has close to nothing to do with the modern folk music that has been present in our two latest releases. Solefald still does what Solefald does best: Change.
Is Solefald the manifestation of your musical creativity to such lengths you can see yourself doing music under this name for as long as you shall make music?
Yes. As simple as that.
How do the Norwegian audience take your music? Does your recent style raise interest in for example the young people? Is there any kind of longing for older traditional culture going on (at least in this sense), or has the so-called old culture always been there, never really going anywhere, but perhaps changing forms?
We’ve always been sort of an oddball band, so we appeal to a lot of very different people. Those of our albums paying homage to the old Nordic culture, appeal to some Norwegians in a historic perspective of identity, but we wish Norwegians in general would care more about our common heritage than they do.
Both members of Solefald have professions outside music, making your names known publicly in Norway. I’ve understood that music is not the “main profession” to you (even creatively), but rather a therapeutic passion in life?
I’m a television producer for ITV, and Cornelius is an author, so we’ve got somewhat illustrious careers outside the music industry. That makes our musical ventures more about artistic expression and fulfillment and less about money and sales, which fits us perfectly.
What do you see as the most fascinating aspects of Northern life? Do you like to investigate specifically the Norwegian cultural mentality and it’s unique aspects, or perhaps more global Universal themes (seen through the eyes of someone living in the Northern Hemisphere?)
That’s a hard question to answer. We explore the Norwegian (cultural) mentality as well as its connection to the rest of the world. Northern life is pretty multi-facetted, and I think what fascinates me the most, is the charming, almost gullible attitude we have towards threats as a society. In many ways it’s what makes our society an open and appealing one, but on the other hand it could be seen as dangerous and with the potential of making us a target. It’s part of the duality of an innocent social democracy with a rather peaceful history and a sky high gdp per capita.
I know this is a broad question, but what would you say are your biggest influences from all kinds of art, when it comes to Solefald?
What we see, what we read, who we meet. Art, music, literature, film and philosophy. Lowbrow comedy, booze and travel. Solefald’s biggest influence is the sum of our (artistic) experiences. I believe that’s the case for most artists.
Thank you for this interview! What are your future plans, besides focusing on the recent release of your latest Ep? Will you perform live or perhaps just focus on creating more music?
We will for sure play live again, and in the end of January, we release our new full length album. Which sounds nothing like the EP. We’re Solefald, after all.