•  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

This very last interview was the consequence of a sudden decision made only two days before the New Year due to one single major factor: I actually had the opportunity to talk in person with Karsten Hamre. Moreover it happened that we walked together for a few serious miles as we had the same road for a couple of hours. In other words, Karsten left Stavanger/Norway a couple of months ago and I honestly believe the time of return is solely a matter of providence. So, after some exciting adventures in the south of Romania, maybe not all of them fortunate, finally Karsten arrived in my birth town, Suceava...and here we are exchanging opinions...

Ciao, my friend and welcome on Romanian ground. As I see how things are going, I have one rather impertinent question just on the top of my tongue like: when do you think we'll actually perform an interview directly in Romanian language? I guess here from there is just a step for you to apply for Romanian citizenship... I also understood you gave up Scandinavian cigarettes ("Prince") in the favour of autochthon ones ("Viceroy") while Romanian beer, "Bergenbier" actually is pretty familiar to you...

"To be honest I have no idea when we would be able to perform an interview directly in Romanian language. Time will tell. Maybe next year or the year after, who knows. Yeah I gave up scandinavian cigarettes in favour of Viceroy, but lately I switched to Winston (Red). Though I have had the opportunity to try the Carpati cigarettes, but those are not what one could call good cigarettes. "Bergenbier" as well as Ursus are among my beer of choices."

Many might ask what in the world Karsten Hamre is doing or looking for exactly in Romania and why is he here for over two consecutive months. Can you make light on this issue?

"Mainly I have had the opportunity to work on more music as well as the possibility to get in contact with other musicians who have more or less similar ideas as me when it comes to music."

Of course, I cannot help but asking if you liked Romania...How do you find my country so far? What exactly did you visit until arriving in Bucovina?

"I do like Romania. Well until arriving in Bucovina the most interesting place I visited was Baia de Fier."

Tell me, right after your pilgrimage at Bucovinean monasteries, especially Putna, do you believe there is any shade of a possibility for Orthodoxy to mark in a way or another a Norwegian... maybe even a Viking, he, he? I understood you were quite fascinated by architectural lines...

"As for the religious part I don't have much to say really. I must say I do not really fully understand the orthodox way of worshiping icons etc. Though on the other hand it is quite right that I was fascinated by the architectual sides of the monasteries. Also the way the monasteries are decorated inside, with its paintings of saints etc are really nice, and one should not forget to mention the landscapes that surrounds some of the monasteries, and then especially the monastery that is located somewhat 7km from the border of Ukraina (the most northern monastery in Romania)."

If we finally came to religion issues, what can you tell me about yours? What about your belief? Did you change over the years, in a way or another, as far as religious aspects are regarded? You were born Baptist; you "reformed" yourself and detached from any of this..., what about this moment? Is it different?

"I don't think it would be right to say I was born Baptist. Norways official religion is Lutherian Christianism, and I as most Norwegians were baptised in the Norwegian church (sorry, it was my mistake-ed). When I grew older and had the possibility to make my own choices I took the necessary steps in order to no longer be registered/listed as part of the Norwegian Church. When that was done I later became a member of the Human Etic Society. I believe in the human being, not in any specific god."

There are rumours that say you are about to move in Iasi where great plans of composing are to be fulfilled...a marriage is on that list as well and thus there will be descendants and so your four musical projects shall definitely meet continuance... At the age of 31 I believe it is time for mature facts as well, don't you think? he, he...Am I wrong? Where? What do you wish for this New Year to bring?

"It's true that I am about to move to Iasi, where I definitely will be working on music together with a few musicians I have met here in Romania. I guess that the older one get the more it is important to find ones place in life, or have some definite plans on what to do. I guess I still am of the opinion that it is hard to predict the future so I rather take a step at the time, and deal with the present insted of being lost in what the future might bring. As for the marriage, who knows? Maybe sooner or later than you expect!"

Let's move towards music! It is a little weird, Penitent is either dead or still alive...but in times when no one expects... Beyond Productions affirms that band never ceased to be. What is the truth?

"As I signed a two album deal with Beyond Productions there will be at least one more album. After that I'll see if there's reason to continue with Penitent or not."

Last Penitent album was released with quite a delay since Ars Metalli honoured not the contract, moreover lost as well some money. What did actually happen? How did you come to sign with the Italian label?

"Basically Ars Metalli did not keep their part of the contract when they did not manage to release the album within the time schedule that the contract had. So when six months had passed since Ars Metalli were supposed to release the album I decided to get in touch with other labels. An Italian friend of mine suggested I should send a copy of the album to Beyond Prod. and so I did. After a short time Beyond responded and we started to discuss the details of a contract. The contract for two albums were signed and now the album has been released."

Can you tell me something regarding the feedback next to this last album? I'd rather say Devil Doll in a Norwegian version; am I wrong?

"The feedback on this album has been more or less positive. There are of course people who do not like, but those seem to be more caught up in how Penitent sounded before and I guess they want Penitent to continue in the old way. I wouldn't go as far as saying the last album is Devil Doll in a norwegian version, though I do agree that there are songs who have quite a few similarities with Devil Doll."

Dense Vision Shrine enjoyed an elegant debut at the British label. Are you pleased and satisfied with the result? When do you plan for another material to come out?

"I am very satisfied with the result of the first Dense Vision Shrine album. It also pleases me to see that there are a lot of people finding it interesting and enjoyable. New material could be released sometime this year. Unfortunately I cannot say what part of the year."

Veiled Allussions and Arcane Art bring for the New Year two albums released at the American label Dragon Flight. Please, give me all details (you actually can) regarding these two materials.

"The instrumental full length version of Arcane Art 'KritaRan' will be released this month, January 2003. In March there should be the Veiled Allusions double CD 'The Art of Dying/Visions of the World'. The first disc here, 'The Art of Dying', is brand new material while the second disc 'Visions of the world' is a re-issue of the debut album."

I wish for success with your time-honoured projects! I also understood you intended to play in a Romanian Epic Black Metal band. How would it be like?

"If it will be 100% Epic Black Metal is yet to be seen. I guess it will be a mixture of various metal forms, not only one. How it will be in the end is impossible to say right now, but if all goes well we will be recording a demo/promo before summer."

How did you spend the New Year? Especially since you were in Romania.....

"I was at a party with good friends." (In Roman city-ed)

Karsten, I assume it is time to end this conversation. I believe and really hope you felt secured and fine in my car and I also hope you enjoyed the music you had the opportunity to listen to during our journey...I really trust that "my music" (Winds, Agalloch, Tenhi) didn't bother you... Well, I wish for you to come to record at least one album in Ljubljana/Slovenia studio... you know... Mr. Doctor... One single detail: what is LIFE for Karsten Hamre? How would you define it? Which might be its limits?

"Thanks for this rather unusual interview, especially the first part of it he, he. The trip in your car was pleasant and of course I felt secure, after all the car wasn't a Trabant... Listening to good music, as the music of the bands you mentioned, always makes a car ride pleasant. I also hope that I one day will be able to record an album in Lubljana, or in Tivoli Studios with Jurij Toni as Engineer/producer. What is life? Life is like a box of chocholate, you never know what you're gonna get."

January 2003.