I was surfing the Net the other day when I stumbled upon an article which stated that in Iceland, there is a larger number of existent books than people, due to the multitude of talented writers. The same applies to its music. For example, Björk is the most popular Icelandic female artist in the world, closely followed by the band Sigur Rós, an iconic symbol of artistic vein for the remote northern country. Speaking in more extreme terms, one of the most striking appearances of the last few years is undoubtedly Sólstafir.
Following the same line, a relatively new occurence, named Auðn, stepped into the limelight in 2017, along with the launching of their album ”Farvegir Fyrndar”, via Season Of Mist, that received numerous positive reviews. Having an original and well-thought black metal album Auðn is getting ready for plenty of tours around the world in 2018. This was an opportunity for us to do interview with their guitarist Aðalsteinn Magnússon, who shared details concerning their last recording occurence. You are more than welcome to read it down below:
For the beginning, I would like to ask you about your recent tour with Gaahls Wyrd, where you participated as an opening band. His project will soon come in Romania, so we would like to find out how was the tour from your perspective and what should we expect from the event?
Tour was great, everyone involved was very professional and treated as equals. The bands were all in great shape, nailed it every night. Expect Gaahl staring you down to the core while the legendary melodies of these great songs they perform keep the audience entranced throughout the set. I watched it every night for two weeks, I was very impressed by their performance and after the tour we went back to the drawing board. We were very well received, reception was great. It seemed in some places our reputation had preceded us as the crowds knew the songs. Europe felt welcoming and we’ll keep coming back.
Regarding you latest material, “Farvegir Fyrndar”, how well was it received by your listeners. I saw that it was included on some metal charts as one of the best albums of 2017. Were you expecting this feedback?
The reception of the album exceeded our hopes greatly. We worked hard on this album and I’m glad that effort came through in good reviews. I am humbled to say that we were not expecting the album to be such a success, but we will carry on and deliver another record sooner than later to follow up and remind people that we are here to stay.
I read that you concentrate your themes on subjects like depression, but the band remarkably managed to retain an astonishing soundscape. Therefore, how does the songwriting process go the band, and how do you keep such a delicate attention on the element of atmosphere.
The songwriting mostly happens in our rehearsal space, sometimes a song writes itself as we play. Someone comes up with a riff and we add on it throughout the rehearsal, record it and then re-arrange as needed. I think it’s important to write together in order to reach a conclusion everyone is ready to reveal to the world. Writing alone at home can be good as well, but without the rest of the band to filter the material it somehow lacks what our music is about and that is us coming from different music tastes and backgrounds. While writing together might take longer time in many cases it is a better way in my opinion
Speaking of atmosphere, how much are you influenced by the landscaped of Iceland? Is there any connection that is implemented in your music philosophy and style?
We are heavily inspired by our surroundings, Iceland is mostly a vast lava field were nothing grows. Black volcanic sands make up all of the coastline along the Island. These images of harsh landscapes are implemented in our music and lyrics both through words and feeling. The emotion the music generates for us is this sense of isolation and desolation the nature around us offers.
Although in metal is quite hard to capture the feelings you want to transmit, did you encounter any difficulties to catch them up in your songs? Is the Icelandic language the perfect element for this issue, to translate the sentiments in such a rough scenery?
For me writing most of the lyrics in Icelandic come naturally and seem to be delivered to the audience without them understanding the lyrics. The lyrics are most written after or during the songs are being composed with the feel of the song in mind. I try to mirror the emotions and images presented in the music through words most won’t understand. I feel Icelandic works as any other language in metal music. For me personally it is enough to grasp the feeling of a song, I don’t need to dig deeper than that unless it’s something that really catches my attention. Language does not have to be a barrier in order to grasp a feeling.
From your perspective, how do you see the evolution of black metal nowadays? Do you think that its ideas and conceptions slightly changed since it’s apparition in the music industry?
I think there is a lot of good material coming out. I think the industry for extreme music is what we make of it. It helps getting signed to a label if you utilize it right, but it’s not a game changer if you are not ready to put in the work. Evolution of black metal is what people making black metal decide to do, being non-conformist. We are doing our part with making music the way we want to and in a way we are playing black metal shaped by the 2nd wave, some say.
There are torch bearers that change the scene every now and then, but in essence all of this is music and every chord progression has been done before and will be done again. I think no matter what, black metal in one form of the other will prevail and shape its own route.
How do you see the fact that in Iceland there were born some of the greatest and well-known bands, like Sigur Rós or Solstafir? Does the state support the culture in various forms, like literature or experimental music so much that you find it easy to create art?
There are funds that help with getting the music out there and help artists perform abroad, but in order to get that you have to get the ball rolling yourself, there are no hands out. Hard work is rewarded with help from these organizations.
What are the plans for your band in 2018? Are there any festivals that you will attend to?
Auðn will be in various places in 2018 and there is a lot in the works. We will be performing at ESNS Eurosonic Festival in the Netherlands and Inferno Metal Festival Norway again, this will be our second performance there in a row. We just started working with DOOMSTAR Bookings to book the rest of the year and there are some very interesting offers on the table, keep a look out for announcements!