Interview: Gjendød (2022) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Gjendød

The way the music unfolds on your new album resembles an extremely thick, spilled liquid, that spreads on the floor slowly, but with authority. Do you appreciate this analogy and do you have a problem with liquids of regular density, metaphorically speaking, or the proper sounding black metal bands if you will?

KK: Sure, that sounds more or less like what we were after. Thick liquid with a few lightnings. Someone can probably sound like proper black metal but how many times? I just have a problem with bad taste really, which I think most people have, and probably have had since forever. Also, for us, something else must be done every time. On this album we tried to get a less distilled sound, but still in a more detailed batch. Letting the riff mature more, to the moment right before it starts to dissolve itself and contaminate the whole project. Like a shape without a shape, the ultimate metamorphism.

Is I Utakt Med Verden the most sentimental Gjendød album yet? Do you find them all to be sentimental to a degree?

KK: I guess there are more sentimental parts this time, yes, if you can call it that. I find some other parts in our discography sentimental as well, off the top of my head, but I rarely listen to it.

Do you feel that sentimental black metal is an oxymoron, that you cannot push forward a message of hate with the sound that feels like you actually care?

KK: Yes (laughs). I was always about aggressive extraverted freedom and a fighter for direct personal mockery. With Gjendød I came of age, and when I spread my foggy narcissistic internal philosophy I feel pretty… Satisfied. I Utakt Med Verden has no direct message of hate, the halfway concept was some kind of despair. I think it is easier to write a book with no plot holes than lyrics for Gjendød, never easy, but I enjoy the challenge as long as there is time.

It’s hard to decipher whether your albums are awesome because they are awesome or because they sound awesome, and to recognize that thin line where the music ends and the sound begins, and vice versa. Would it be fair to say that the way your records sound is as important to you as the music itself, the actual songwriting?

KK: We try to do things differently with each album, both musically and sound-wise. We have all heard albums that sound great but still suck, haven’t we? I think all our albums have at least some awesome and eternal parts, and some I got a bit tired of.

Although you probably don’t appreciate discussing or even acknowledging influences, it feels that there are more than a few traces of the earliest Ulver to be found on this album. Even if you don’t hear that yourself, could you at least appreciate such a notion and understand where it comes from?

KK: I think the third riff in the song Oppreisning on the new album might sound a bit like Ulver. Also, the acoustic top in the ending of the title track might resemble them. The last riff in the song Angrip on Angrep sounds very Kveldssanger to me. Some said the last song on this new album sounded like Ulver, and I can hear that, even if the feeling is inspired by something totally different, some old folk rock stuff, but yes, the slow heavy metal atmosphere is there. Now, I think we will avoid this in the future. I played in a couple of projects that never released anything with AiwaRikiaR some 15 or so years ago, and I can’t say that inspired anything at all, it was something quite different (laughs).

Gjendød Interview 2022 (I Utakt Med Verden)

One could argue that in your interviews you come across as a bit silly sometimes, which is perfectly fine as that disposition feels genuine in your case, completely unforced and unintentional. Would you say that you are intrinsically somewhat silly people, would that be a fair assessment?

KK: Maybe silly for the self-solemn, or anyone else, the normal people that have a float in their conversations. Those that are understood because they can’t see where conversations are heading, so they won’t skip some lines and jump into the future like I do. Anyway, nowadays a lot of people don’t understand humour, so if I say to someone no thanks to that diet drink because I just drink sugary sodas because I have bought such an expensive toothpaste, two for 3€, that needs to prove its worth, people look like questionmarks. Also, when I say to work associates that I finally got back my shotgun from cleaning so I will finally try to shoot myself again tonight, just the old people will laugh. The same one that laugh when I say that if I win a billion I will buy a nice family tomb for the bearded recluse caretaker. But silly people, no, I don’t think we are, just stuck in the wrong dimension.

Speaking of silliness, is being silly directly opposed to the ethics of black metal, or is it the right, or perhaps even the only way to look upon life and the world, that are meaningless and silly themselves, seemingly without any deeper purpose or reason?

KK: I wrote a page on how I think corpsepaint is silly, but I deleted it because it became too off-topic. But I think it’s among the silliest things in black metal, it has grown out of hand. Lyrically and musically, Gjendød is quite dry serious, even though we privately might seem unhinged or boring to common sceneboys, or the crazy guy at the store near us that looks like a living cake. Black metal, how we want it, should be well done and well thought through. It has always irritated me when there came a new band in town which folks praised and talked about, that often sounded like some Darkthrone or whatever tribute band. When someone starts a black metal band because it’s cool it mostly sucks, and people here often talk about how cool this and that band is, but when I hear those bands there’s always something wrong with them. That is silly! We prepared and planned this band for a long time because there was no need for us to do a black metal band when we started playing together, it never felt right to parachute late into the trend, because it had exploded and become silly with all these ridiculous trendy anti-trend bands and albums everywhere. And corpsepaints. There was also a point around 2000, I don’t exactly remember when exactly, when normal people had accepted it here and stopped yelling satanist! after our kind in the street. Black metal became silly and some other styles of music started getting the beating we were getting for years. Still, K and I have made some black metal songs now and then, before we started Gjendød in late 2015. Forsteinet from demo #4, for example, was first made and recorded poorly in ’99. But why we do what we do now, and why we did something else then, has nothing to do with anything else than our path, which we follow for our man-made purposes.

Gjendød Interview 2022 (Band)

There’s a notion that all human relationships have an expiry date, that nothing good lasts forever. How about you two, are there any signs of intolerance slowly creeping in or do you still enjoy being around each other and how does your relationship influence the music?

KK: I think we are so used to each other that there is no problem. We both have other bands and projects which don’t involve the other, and it’s fine. I don’t think anyone else could have developed the music better than K, he takes the material I make a step further everytime. If it had just been me I guess it hadn’t been so much different tones, strange chords, and layers in it. Had it been only him, there would have been less variation the other way, and no lyrics (laughs). We both try to make as much music as the other in Gjendød. We are really two guitarists but we both play the most common instruments, more or less.

Speaking of your relationship, do you perhaps see music as an aural manifestation of intimacy, and do you feel that sharing intimacy through music is similar to sharing intimacy in a conventional way, in the sense that you cannot do that with just anyone?

KK: No, nothing like that. But when I plan to start playing with other people I often race too fast ahead, because I have too little time. I have played and composed so much music alone in recent years, in various styles. And the reason why no one else can play guitar in Gjendød is because K has a unique understanding of this kind of material, and talent. Also, good taste in music is mandatory.

How often do you deal with anxiety and have you in the meantime developed emotional, intellectual, or spiritual mechanisms of not letting it drown you completely and keeping you under for too long?

KK: I think anxiety is for more down to earth people than me. If I ever get it I’ll get some medicines for it because anxiety and similar stuff is nothing I can schedule a time for. At least not now. Maybe at death row. I guess I have done and said a lot of stupid stuff back in the day, and I still do now and then, but getting anxious because of it, no. Also, listening to people talk about their anxieties does nothing for me. Or maybe sometimes it can be funny. I just think how it’s self-centered the wrong way, and how they should turn it into something creative instead of just feeling sorry for themselves. But what do I know? People are not creative, they usually watch people run after a ball and commercials.

What Gjendød means to you personally, and what about that meaning makes you persist in keeping the band going? Do you see it as a creative outlet, a way to battle your inner demons, or merely as a means of having a conversation with yourself, by yourself?

KK: All of the above, except for battling inner demons. I’m my own self-certain demonlord. I’m embracing the negativity in me, because it’s so rare. I catch it and release it in the feeling of the riffs and in the lyrics. For me, Gjendød was always my sober band really. I hadn’t had even a taste of beer or anything with alcohol for seven years, during the entire existence of Gjendød, but roughly a month ago I understood it was time to break these chains and evolve outwards. Let’s see where that takes us musically and lyrically.

Are you satisfied with the recognition the band is getting and the way people react to your music, and is the feedback from the general public something you consider important, as a form of self-verification?

KK: Apart from us, I guess there are some other people who like our music, since someone bothered to release it, and it seems that you like it also. Some people like our earlier stuff better though, which I guess happens to any band with more than three or four albums released (laughs). I don’t think we get much recognition at all, but if someone likes us it’s a nice bonus, and those that do should spread the word, since we think we’re onto something and we have much more in storage we want to record and release. But! I’m sure most people would rather take hundreds of lashes than listen to us, something they deserve, for they must be mentally itinerant, like myself, constantly searching and swarming around for the best when they can just sit down, unplug their bodies, and realize that the best is already around. I like when people tell me they like our music, and if someone told me they didn’t like it, I must have blocked or forgotten it. They should listen to something else anyway, without telling me, for they would always be wrong.

Gjendød Interview 2022 (Promo)

I utakt med verden translates as out of step with the world. Is that a personal statement, do you feel like being out of step with the world yourself, or at least with the world that is your immediate surrounding, your microenvironment?

KK: I can think of the new Trondheim scene (laughs). We’re out of step with that, I think. We feel musically more in step with the old Trondheim scene, which had Thorns, Manes, and The 3rd And The Mortal. At least some of the old material can remind us of it, but our next material probably won’t. Otherwise yes, I feel very out of step with the world, but mostly like the center, which I guess most people do. Sometimes I think the world is out of step with me.

Staring at the front cover of this album will likely lure anyone to literally step into it and experience that wonderful forest with all the senses. Have you had a similar experience with that image before deciding to use it as a gateway to the album?

KK: Yes, I had. What irritates me is that when it was released, some other morons passed the goal line before us, some years actually, and released an album with the same cover. That’s the most irritating thing with the public domain. If you find something great that fits, someone else might have already grabbed it out of your hands. So it’s always best to make your own cover art if you’re able to. Covers are mostly very hard to figure out, but somehow we always find the right one.

What are the main differences between the last three Gjendød full-lengths? Are those differences a reflection of the turbulences you went through in times of creating each of them respectively or a manifestation of strictly musical evolution that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the headspace you were in while writing them?

KK: We had some kind of mental template for those three albums, which we planned after the debut. I guess I, or we, put ourselves in the pre-decided mood for each of them. Krigsdøger is about sensing the war before it comes, like a war precognition or something. Frustrated, not knowing what to do, building caves, trying to convince blind people to see that the world won’t go under if they lose their lives. I also dreamt some of the music on that album so it reminds me of that when I see the cover. The dream melody which is the last thing you hear on the album pops up in my mind every time I see it. Angrep is mostly fast but the feeling of the previous album’s foresight is now really there, as this was meant to be the war we sensed on the previous album. Not just brutal, but full of different feelings. The lyrics aren’t much in the mood of war, but still more outward than the other albums. It took a long time to make by our standards, and we won’t do this sort of album again. With I Utakt Med Verden we tried to drag ourselves together and slow down from the previous experience, one could say to build up the land again after the battles. It became what we tried to make, and it is what it is. Most likely something completely different will happen next time, but I Utakt Med Verden could also have been a good call it a day album. In some way it is, at least with this line-up.

What is the meaning of life?

KK: The meaning of life can be evolution, discovery, loss, plague, pest, adventure, love, or hate. But the true meaning of life is probably waiting. I have spent so much time waiting, mostly on other people.

 

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