BORKNAGAR Interview with Øystein G. Brun
XM: What has the band been up to so far this year?
Øystein: First and foremost we have done a lot of promo work. We finished the new album just before Xmas, so this year we have mainly done the final work on the releases (cover, layout etc.), and as I mentioned, promotional work. Also, we just recently headlined one of the days at the Inferno Festival in Norway, which turned out to be a blast.
XM: Can you briefly explain the title of your latest release ‘Urd’ and give us an idea behind the concept of the album?
Øystein: This time around we wanted a Norwegian title, to underline our musical roots and origin. “Urd” is a name from the Northern Mythology, naming one of the three norns standing under Yggdrasill weaving the life line of mankind. Urd represents the past. There are many themes to the title, but first and foremost, it symbolizes the ancient roots of our artistic expression.
XM: I absolutely love the cover artwork for ‘Urd’. There is almost a 3D feel to the Norse carvings. Who did the artwork and how did it come about to do it in this way?
Øystein: My good friend Marcelo Vasco did the artwork. He lives in Brazil and has done a quite impressive job for bands like Soulfly, Dimmu Borgir, Keep of Kalessin to name a few. He is a visual genius and is able to create awesomeness based on just some keywords.
For this album we wanted a more down-to-earth kind of cover, compared to the previous one that had more of a cosmic feel to it. And there is some symbolism to this as well, the cover of “Urd” is pretty much the center of the cover of “Universal” blown up-- or zoomed in, if you will. I think Marcelo nailed the cover perfectly, we really wanted an ancient northern feel to it, without going too Viking.
XM: The band recently welcomed Baard Kolstad as their new drummer. How has the transition been so far and where did you find this incredible talent?
Øystein: Man, never played together with such a great drummer before, to keep the story short. I have played with quite a lot of drummers throughout the years, but Baard Kolstad is one of his kind. We just did the first concert with him during the Inferno festival some days ago, and I have never before felt so comfortable and secure on stage. Actually Mr. Vortex first crossed paths with Baard. Baard did some demoes with another band in Toproom studios, and Mr. Vortex was hired to do the engineering for this band.
After the departure of David Kinkade, Mr. Vortex called me and said that we should keep an eye on this dude as he showed to be an abnormally talented drummer. And so we did…haha
XM: Borknagar reunited with Century Media early last year and signed on for a 3 album deal. how did it all come about and how has the reunion been treating you so far?
Øystein: The deal with Indie Recordings did not work out as we hoped for, and we decided to cancel the deal. Then we basically approached Century Media and told them that we were interested to discuss a new deal. The offered us a nice deal and that was it basically. The cooperation so far has been really great, we could not ask for more really. Probably not common among bands these days in a tough business, but I can’t do anything but praise them for being a great label.
XM: The band has taken part in many festivals all over Europe. Which would you say was the best experience overall and why? Do you prefer to play to a larger crowd in those kinds of settings or do you like to play to a smaller crowd in a more intimate setting?
Øystein: Wacken in Germany is always a highlight as it is such a big festival; it’s a real blast to play in front of 60,000 thousand people. But I have to admit that I personally always prefer smaller festivals as these are more about quality and not quantity. Honestly I think festivals like Wacken have grown too big, even though the atmosphere is great and you get a notion that metal is more than just a minor subculture. The best live experience I have had happened quite recently I would say. We headlined one of the days during the Inferno Festival (a week ago), and I think this gig will remain one of my favourites for ages. This was the first show with Mr. Vortex back in the fold and our new drummer behind the drum kit. Also Kristoffer Rygg (our first vocalist joined us on stage). Memorable moments!
XM: If you could have been involved in the production, writing or recording of any album which would it be and why?
Øystein: My all-time favourite album: “Dark Side of the Moon” with Pink Floyd
XM: When it comes to cds, cassettes, vinyl and mp3s which do you prefer? What is your current/preferred way of listening to music?
Øystein: As an “old school” musician, I definitely prefer vinyl. In my eyes, our albums haven’t really been properly released before having the LP version in my hand. I just love the smell of newly printed LP’s-- nothing beats that. But on a daily basis, I have to admit that I listen to a lot of MP3 files, as that is way more easy to cope with and listen to. I mainly listen to music on my mobile phone these days, as I am traveling a lot.
XM: Your self-titled album featured only Norwegian lyrics. Are there any plans to revisit this type of album or perhaps to include a Norwegian song on a future one?
Øystein: Nah, I don’t think so. Been there, done that. To be quite frank, I don’t think the Norwegian language is a musical language. We did it on the first album, but that is also the reason why we don’t do that anymore...haha
XM: When it comes to social media many bands are on the fence as to whether it helps or hurts the future of the music industry. What are your views on this topic?
Øystein: Oh well, as you say there is a positive and negative side to it. On a positive note, I have to admit that internet/social media has made our work way more easy and efficient. The communication within the band and towards our associated runs way more smoothly, and we don’t need to waste too much time on issues like communication. Also the social media makes our dialogue with the fans more interesting; we simply get closer to the fans. That is something we have always strived for, standing shoulder to shoulder with our fans. But at the same time, we need to be aware of our musical independence, so sometimes we need to distance ourselves from the fans in terms of musical autonomy. We can’t allow our fans to dictate our musical maneuvers and so on.
The negative side to the whole thing, from my point of view, is the danger of being reduced into some kind of virtual being. Generally speaking, I am a bit skeptic towards the fact that a bigger and bigger part of our lives is lived in a virtual environment. Maybe I am old-school, but I prefer talking to people eye to eye.
XM: What are your plans for the rest of 2012?
Øystein: Right now we are working on a video for one of the songs on the new album, a very interesting project which hopefully will result in an interesting video. We’ll also try to pull off some gigs as the last show we did really boosted our motivation. Apart from that, we’ll start to work on some new material, already have some ideas and our goal is to overshadow “Urd” big time. So beware!
XM: On behalf of www.xplosivemetal.com I would like to thank you for taking a few minutes to answer a few questions with us. Is there anything else that you would like to let your fans in on?
Øystein: Thanks for your support! Thanks to everyone reading this! I would urge you all to check out the new album; hopefully it will knock you out of the chair! Take care folks!