Valkyrja (Sweden) 06/06/2012
Valkyrja, for those who don’t know them, come from Sweden and they were formed in 2004. Although the band exists for eight years now, as their vocalist A.L. tells us, they want their steps to be steady and have some value, so they have released two full length albums that they have done quite an impact to the Black Metal community. Before recording and releasing their third album, it is a good opportunity to get to know them a little better.
1. Hi Andreas, thanks a lot for the interview. First of all Would you like to give me some information about Valkyrja since 2004 until now? The name Valkyrja refers to heathen/pagan metal but your music doesn’t. How did you come up with that name?
A.L.: At this point, I've more or less forgotten the origin of our decision as I only associate the name with our work, achievements and determination. The fact that many have falsely labeled us as heathen-, pagan- or viking metal is no surprise to me, but it also gives a quite accurate reading of the listener – if you'd make a 30 second study of our work you'd soon realize we have nothing in common with such topics. I'm pleased to see the drape of this blind judgment unfold, at least to some degree.
2. I recently attended the live you played in Athens with Vader and Gorgoroth. Had you ever come to Greece before that live? I think that the crowed wasn’t so expressive in your performance. What do you think about it? Does the crowed play an important role in your stage performance?
A.L.: The two gigs we did in Thessaloniki and Athens are our only experience of Greece, but I'm more than satisfied and would gladly return. These two were also the very last performances on the tour we did with Vader and Gorgoroth, so we had a lot to digest at the moment. A great ending, indeed! Of course a more participating crowd add fuel to the fire, we've experienced gigs that turned out bad, outstanding and all in between. I can't really say it's vital though, our performance is the only aspect with any actual weight as it's the reason we're there in the first place. A great crowd can't weigh out a poorly executed set, but as stated – it can make bad to worse, in a positive aspect.
3. In your live performance, concerning your stage appearance, I think you reminded me a lot of Watain. What do you think about that? Is Watain one of the bands that have influenced you?
A.L.: You are not the first to draw this parallel, but Watain are not the only band we've been merged with, and this seems to be the general mentality. The ability to categorize bands and artists appear to be vital, for a reason to me unknown. But to be more precise - no. I can't say I am inspired by them to a larger degree as they are only a brick in the great wall of music I support and stand behind. Each brick serve its cause, therefore I can't point out one specific influence as one is no larger than the other. I respect them and their devoted work, and that can be said about several artists. Watain will remain to be Watain, as we will remain to be Valkyrja.
4. In 2010 you released “Contamination” album with Metal Blade a big label which doesn’t deal much with Black Metal. Why did you choose them for your release? Are you satisfied by their support and promotion?
A.L.: They proposed a collaboration and we were simply satisfied with their offer. We saw an opportunity to connect to a great distribution and cooperate with experienced individuals whose assistance would be rewarding. There were never any suggestions of alteration from their side and whether we'd released it via X U.G. xerox-cover cassette label or via X major worldwide label, the outcome would've been identical. Why mind having your releases accessible? If equipped with poison, why only contaminate a single glass of water when there are vast oceans available? Aim larger, you won't become respected because your demo/album is printed in 50 copies. I think the reason is obvious.
5. I know that big labels push the bands to release stuff frequently. Is this happening to you too with Metal blade or you have the freedom to work on new material whenever you like? I ask you this because in my mind is very important for an artist to have his time and space in order to create art and not “fast food”.
A.L.: We're taking the time we need, that's unshakable. To be honest, I couldn't be more fed up with all these pointless releases you're constantly flooded by. Everything you happen to catch on tape doesn't need to be made available, there are plenty of cheap examples of garbage being released as poor excuses for letting the world know you're not dead yet. No outside word would affect our process, and trying so would be an insult.
6. Are you working on new material at the moment? When do you plan to release it? Will it be in the familiar Valkyrja style or you have been working on new direction?
A.L.: There are bones for several pieces, but it's too early to state anything specific. If one would like to expect anything, I'd advice against holding your breath. Everything we create under this banner has of course our signature branded in the heart, but to what degree and in which shape it will emerge is for the future's work.
7. How do you get inspired to write music and lyric? Which bands or music styles do you think that have influenced your music?
A.L.: Nothing really originate from any specific source, I'd say the surrounding is more influential than music. Of course one can be inspired when hearing certain music, but it more fuels the anger and loathe, while I'm more inspired to create after reading an interesting book or similar. Music is a very constructive force, even when played for in the opposite intention, but expansion is one of my most important keys. Gaining knowledge and/or experience to transfer via the music is the reason to keep holding this banner high.
8. What kind of music do you listen to?
A.L.: Mostly metal or metal oriented, but there are of course several exceptions. As long as it carries something of value in one shape or another, I give it a chance. Personal limits and prohibitions is nothing I support.
9. What is your opinion about religion and the new movement self called “orthodox”? Are you involved with Satanism and any of its paths?
A.L.: I've chosen to keep such matters to face-to-face discussions as it's difficult to summarize such things. I know where I stand and there are no questions in my mind concerning what I support and not. Let it be known that we are not alone, let it be a hint. Far to many individuals proclaim their paths and faiths in their interviews to boost their status without understanding they are vermin beneath the boot of those who actually stand for their opinions, whether it may boost their sales rate or not.
10. S.W. is also involved with some other bands. Do you want to give me some information about them? Is it difficult to work for many different bands and also have time for lives, recordings etc.?
A.L.: Correct, he is a member of Ondskapt (also including our bass player) and Die Hard. So far we've never experienced any difficulties and I doubt any will surface. None of the bands have shown any cravings for constant releases and I would be surprised if this even changed slightly.
11. I believe that nowadays you have the advantage to live by your art. If not what else do you do apart from music?
A.L.: The opposite, actually. The small amount of money we make are invested in one way or another – equipment, printing merchandise, et cetera. We all have other ways to have a roof above our heads and a meal on the table, otherwise I can't say money has any value to me. As long as my basic needs are pleased I'm satisfied. I wouldn't describe working as something you “live by”, as it's the complete opposite. You're being deprived of time you could spend on something valuable, but that's just one of the countless flaws of this hollow globe I suppose...
12. Sweden is a country that always produces really good Metal in every genre, Heavy, Doom, Death, Black… What do you think about the underground scene of Swedish Black Metal? Are there any bands (not widely known yet) that you support and would like to suggest to me?
A.L.: I had more insight in this question some years ago, now I more or less encounter bands with (mostly) an already decent reputation. Not many U.G. acts from Sweden to recommend either, I think you can enlighten me better than vice versa. If so, please do.
13. After the big step moving to a big label how do you plan the future of Valkyrja and how do you dream about the band in 5 or 10 years?
A.L.: Impossible to say. I don't know what the next 5 days will look like, and if I knew – what's the point of seeing tomorrow? I chose not to speculate in the question, even if I could paint a superior scenario as development, twists and turns will have their way. Hopefully the world will have ended, but I doubt it. Let tomorrow bring its arsenal and I will greet it with a spit in the face.
14. Have you planned any live performances for 2012 and where?
A.L.: One performance has already been executed and three are confirmed at the time – In Flammen Open Air (Ger), Metal Magic (Dk) and Faceplant Metalfest (Swe). I highly doubt 2012 will include a larger number of live appearances as the focus is to form a potential third album.
15. Do you want to sum up your near future plans and if you want add anything for conclusion? Thanks for the interview.
A.L.: Support to you and your zine. Those interested are advised to keep at least one eye open, violence breed violence and today is a day as good as any other to let it manifest, grow and succeed.