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Fornhem interview

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As label staff, we talk with "our" bands about this or that on more or less regular basis, and every now and then we happen to get surprised. Some weeks ago, I wrote back and forth with FORNHEM's Vafthrudner, and thus started learning that FORNHEM is in fact not the first band consisting of him and Solbane. Before, there was - and still is! - FÖRDÄRV. While a new majestic FORNHEM album takes shape, it might be interesting to dig a bit in the dark soil to uncover some of the roots which nowadays feed the growth of - surprise, surprise! - both bands. These days, you won't find too much about FÖRDÄRV in the wyrd wide web, yet most of the rare reviews reflect the hidden magic of black metal which is strongly detached from the hyper modern world. Maybe this little chat with Vafthrudner inspires you to take the time and to listen to FORNHEM's predecessor...

Thor: Hi there! Some weeks ago you told me about the roots of FORNHEM in an earlier band - or rather a project - of yours: FÖRDÄRV. That name might not ring a bell even among some dedicated underground black metal listeners, so let’s dive into the - dark?! - past and blow some dust from the treasure chest which hides both releases... According to the translation service of a big company, "fördärv" is the Swedish term for "destruction" or "ruin" (in English), while the German translation could also be "to avoid". With what ambition did you choose that name and start your band/project?

Vafthrudner: Yes, I suppose the translation is as correct as it can get in English or German. Although it hasn't that sinister ring to it as in Swedish. We just wanted a name that fitted the dark, cold and somewhat melancholic music we were about to create. We were also closely connected to our then record label Nigredo Records when we started out, in fact we were the first band to be released there, and we found that our name FÖRDÄRV also reflected the alchemical concept of Nigredo.

Both your (mini) albums were recorded in winter - probably no coincedence?

Well, it was nothing we really thought of. The material was done and we wanted to get it recorded as soon as possible. But possibly the winter outside the studio added to the cold atmosphere in the sound, who knows?

"The Echo Of Emptiness" is a title which reminds me of meditation, and it goes well along with my perception that some black metal music reflects the human need to distance oneself from society and daily routine in order to re-connect with your inner self; and be it on subconscious and primitive level. Can you relate to that?

Yes, "The Echo Of Emptiness" is musicwise built up like a circle in which nothingness excists in the shape of the lyrics and "what´s not being said". We find it to be very meditative, repetitative, and somewhat shamanistic - if one is open for that.

I already told you that in my perception the roots of FORNHEM in FÖRDÄRV are obvious in sort of "trademarks" of your sound... And while "The Echo Of Emptiness" is rather rough, "Between The Eternities" presents a more distinct approach with subtle layers and melodies which already hint in a direction you went further to with FORNHEM. So, all in all, it seems pretty natural to me. What’s you perspective on this evolution?

Well, it's interesting that you say that since we don´t hear that evolution so clearly ourselves. Fornhem just came up in the middle of it all. We were working on material for another FÖRDÄRV album (which is still not done) when En/Solbane came to the rehearsal with this new riff. It was too great to scrap, but we both found it to be too soft or too melodical for FÖRDÄRV. And I had recently seen the name FORNHEM and started to think about a side project. So we discussed it, and FORNHEM was born. The riff in question was the main riff of our song "Fornhem", which is the first song we recorded in that project. Ever since, FORNHEM has been our main project.

Is there any option you will record under the name of FÖRDÄRV again and what made you draw a line and decide to compose and record under the name FORNHEM?

If we have material which we feel is more Fördärv then we would record as Fördärv. But the interesting thing now is that the new Fornhem material has a lot of Fördärv in it. More aggression, speed. So we feel that the both projects now have conjoined which will also be illustrated lyricwise…

You lately gave a first insight into your upcoming FORNHEM album, and as far as I know, you have a handful of new songs which still need a bit more shaping?

Yes, we have four new songs, alternatively sic, depending on whether we decide to "chop up" the last song on the album in three pieces or if we decide to have it as one track that will then run for ca. 25 minutes… But the songs are done, the lyrics are written and it´s now just a question of a bit of polishing. The next step will be to create a "rehearsal demo" with all the guitars, bass, drums, vocals to see how it all sounds together. We usually do it that way since we are just two.

I’m not sure whether we already can reveal one working title of a new song, so let’s just say it’s about a creature from the North, haha! The name of this being has in recent years turned up - and imho abused - in contemporary contexts, although it has a loooong history and deep roots. Do you want to give us an insight into what the song is about?

Ha-ha, well, sorry to disappoint you Thor, those titles were just something that came up in the head without thinking too much about it or having any meaning. The song in question will instead be about the first chapter of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Nietzsche.

How comes you take up Nietzsche's "Zarathustra", what's your motivation to do so?

I'm aware that Nietzsche has been abused by National Socialists since the days of NSDAP, Hitler doing his "pilgrimage" to the shrine of Nietzsche built by Nietzsche's Nazi-loving sister etc. This saddens me. As it would have saddened Nietzsche himself, I'm sure, being an anti-nationalist and against antisemitism as he was.
Philosophy can be interpreted in many different ways, especially if it's written as poetic as Nietzsche's. But to interpret it to race-ideology and then put that one into practice as the Nazis did, is a really low and non-intellectual interpretation. Unfortunately, the Nazis stained Nietzsche's name and work, as they stained Norse mythology, runes and the vikings as well, to take another example. I like to highlight these things and try to give a fair image of what they were before they got abused by radical and non-intellectual extreme right wing fractions and parties.
When it comes to my motivation of writing this lyric, it was simply because I read the first chapter of "Zarathustra" and got inspired by the imagery and symbolism in that, and, what must have been at Nietzsche's time, provoking declarations. I took interest in Zarathustra living as a hermit on the mouintain for ten years, only with his eagle and his snake (interesting symbols) as company to gain knowledge. Done that, he goes down the mountain (his "Untergang", a word with more than one meaning in Nietzsche's writings) to spread his knowledge to the people. And this knowledge can be uttered in one provoking phrase: "God is dead!". These were the main motivations for me to write this lyric, any you may add to that my romantic perception of such beautiful and powerful nature sceneries Nietzsche paints with his words.

What else can or do you want to share about the upcoming FORNHEM album with interested listeners at this point?

Well, we think it's the strongest and most dynamic material we have created so far. We're really looking forward listening the final result, putting it on CD and of course sharing it with people interested in our music. In short: you can expect FORNHEM in a new light, AND you can also expect FÖRDÄRV in a new light…

Some days ago, I stated to another musician that I have much sympathy for your "strategy" to mainly focus on the music and letting it speak while you seemingly don’t put much energy on creating an "image" - or am I wrong and these days it’s especially difficult not be a loudmouth on the internet...?

Well, supposedly, if you want to become a well-known name and sell a lot of records, you need to be active and visible on the internet these days. But we have never been about that. Our biggest triumph is to hold a physical copy with all the visuals in our hands. That has always been our main goal. That being said, we are of course very grateful for the feedback we get from what we release. It's really profound to share something as magical as music and to get new perspectives on what one has created!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts & all the best for the recordings! Trollmusic is already happy with  what we heard so far...!

It's great to hear that we still satisfy and we look forward to the recordings as well!

Conducted in early April 2019
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