Shining

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

Please tell me about the beginning of SHINING. When and why did you decide to compose music on yourself? Which bands influenced you at the time?

I gave birth to this ill child of mine in 1996 and knew from the very start that SHINING would be nothing but a portrait of Kvarforth, or rather the most demented parts of his psyche, exclusively. I also understood that I probably would have to do it by myself as there is only one Kvarforth you know, the rest - they just come and go. At that very moment in time I was inspired by the likes of BURZUM, BETHLEHEM and CELTIC FROST, and they have all somewhat remained as being inspirations in one way or the other up till today even though I have obviously found my own path by now and incorporated even more influences over the years.

On the first albums you wrote all the music and lyrics, and you're also doing the guitars/bass and keyboards. Are you a self-taught musician, or did you study music?

I actually still do most recording, and I write basically all music and lyrics myself, the others are merely there to kind off perfect my vision you know. I am self-taught yes, and I believe that's a better choice for anyone who's considering working with music as you then truly draw all knowledge from the very inside of yourself, rather than building your work on pillars already set by someone else. I have over the years however, let close allies of mine contributing to my work with lyrics here and there, something I find somewhat refreshing, to reflect someone else's madness a little now and then.

Why did you release your first 3 studio recordings by yourself, under Selbsmord Services, and didn't search for a label?

Back then I had no interest in working together with any other label or company as I felt a need to do this on my own, even though we had quite a huge amount of labels throwing themselves over us, trying to add us to their ranks. As said, I wanted to try out things on my own instead of relying on someone else, something which now in the end surely have paid off considering I know pretty much how this industry works in each and every way and thus, can give our present label for instance, further directions on how I think things should be done. The first recording we did was the EP you know and I didn't want to waste that recording on a mere cassette release thus, I decided to make the vinyl single instead.

Your two first albums were re-released by three labels, Avantgarde, Modern Invasion, and ultimately, Osmose Productions. Did you ever expect to get such a massive response? When did Roberto Mammarella [Avantgarde boss] contact you, and how did the discussions go?

First I released both SHINING I and SHINING II on my own, via Selbstmord Services and then when we got signed to Avantgarde Music for the third album me and Roberto just decided to re-issue them both via Avantgarde as some kind of celebration that the deal was done or something, and also, the demand was quite massive.

Then in the midst of it all, Modern Invasion Music and I were discussing the distribution matters concerning the Selbstmord titles over in down under and he proposed to release the two albums over there as well, and so the story goes. Two years ago when we decided to leave Avantgarde Music, we practically "gave" Osmose Productions the opportunity of releasing both albums again, as again the demand was still there and we had never released the albums on digi-pack prior which had been the plan since the very beginning. Hopefully this very confusing story ends here.

Classen of Bethlehem is one of the most insane vocalists in the Black Metal scene (although BETHLEHEM is so much more than that). He sang on your first album. Then Hellhammer did drums on the 3rd. Why did you pick these guys, how did you get in touch with these musicians, what made them decide to be a part of SHINING?

You really think that of Classen? I would rather say that Landfermann (who sang on the second BETHLEHEM album) or any other BETHLEHEM vocalist for that matter are all way more "insane" vocalists and that Classen has a rather normal, calm flow in his performance. However, one has to remember I did more than 50% of the vocal-lines for that very album and merely used Classen as a session-vocalist as I doubted my own skills back then. Hellhammer came into the picture when I fired Wedebrand, as I was in need of a drummer and just asked whether he was into taking part of this or not, something he gladly accepted. All musicians who have taken part of this band throughout the years have more or less felt honoured of being involved in such a magnificent band rather than just doing favours and helping out you know.

I find "V" to be absolutely monumental, as it seems to continue where IV left off. Very different and complex song structures, way more guitar solos, there's even a cello and a piano, and those amazing acoustic guitar parts make this record stand out, it's miles away from anything released these days - so damn avant-garde and original. What I really love is that nothing is overdone, the sound is so clean...Is this the new SHINING? Is this what you wanted from the beginning, or is it a natural evolution?

I would say it's a rather natural progression, just compare the evolution we went through between the second and the third album for example, or the third and fourth for that matter, comparing the progression that way, you should really consider the leap being not too exaggerated. I would never stagnate and try releasing albums relying on the same formula, I mean what's the damn point of for instance redoing another SHINING II for example, just for the mere sake of resting on "safe" barrels? All music and lyrics are strictly out of my head and obviously as there are always a couple of years between each album, I change, or develop my life further you know, and it would be rather odd if my musical performance, brilliance if you will, wouldn't have "matured" and progressed throughout the years, right?

We have always had solos in SHINING even though it isn't until now we really do master the technique, thus, experimenting a bit more with that. I have also always used many acoustic, clean parts in my songs, even though it wasn't until with this album I really managed to bring forth the ideas in a dynamic harmony. In the past I've used synthesizers in order to imitate what a Cello would sound like if used in my work and this time we had the possibility of actually using an authentic cellist playing on the album, something I just couldn't pass, and last but not least I also used synthesizers for the piano parts I had going on the earlier albums, yet on this recording we had the possibility of using a grand piano and that's, I guess why the piano got a bigger role on this record. To sum up, these are all things I've wanted to blend into SHINING since the very start but for either professional or financial reasons haven't been able to do until now, but as off today when the name is actually getting bigger and bigger we'd most likely have more of this on future albums. 

The second track, "Langtar Bort Fran Mitt Hjarta" and the 4th one "Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni" are simply unbelievable... so varied, original, twisted, innovating...Can you translate the names of these songs, and tell us what they're about?

First of all you have to understand that the lyrics or even titles are very hard to translate due to the complexity of the Swedish language contra the English one. I have tried finding a suitable partner who can translate my written work but we always wind up facing the problem that it just turns into a word-play in the end, meaning that the texts basically loose their entire meaning. However, "Langtar Bort Fran Mitt Hjarta" means something in the line off "Longing Away From My Heart" and as you notice this translation sounds rather cheesy, nevertheless, in it's original language the title appears rather eerie and uncomfortable. This song is about the human specter of emotions and how I would like to kill it, basically, as this disgusting monster is the only thing preventing me from doing what I should, meaning, that it's being considered a dead end rather than something which could help along the way.
The fourth song, "Besvikelsens Dytsra Monotoni" means something in the line off "The Desolate Monotony Of Dissapointments" and is about repetitions, glorifying the fact that whatever man does, we countlessly repeat our mistakes all over again, also exploring the paradox of man, friends turn into enemies, love turn to hate, admiration turn to envy and so on. All songs on this album deal with the darkest emotion of man, will. One could also say they are reflecting the last couple of years of my life, so in a way, the lyrical themes of Halmstad are absurdly personal really, a bit too personal perhaps.

Let's go through each album, tell us what your feeling on each of them is, how the sound evolved until this day, in your eyes...There is a huge difference between "I" and "V"...

SHINING I was a very dark album being the debut, mentally challenging to write and overall made under circumstances of tragedy considering family-members dying, being without any income whatsoever and also locked up by force because of the mental situation back then being really intense.

SHINING II was a pretty decent period of my life when many things were done and plans laid down for the future events, I guess it was during that period I truly found the formula of doing what I do today.

With SHINING III, things pretty much took off, yet the mental crisis increased and the drugs came back into the picture, many people got hurt during the process.

SHINING IV was a very strange period with me relocating to another part of Sweden and for some odd reason tried to settle down with wife and kid, yet the darkness was way too overwhelming and it took 13 months in order to finish the album, both because of the band constantly changing members, me trying to act like a family man [laughs]  and half of the album being completely erased, causing a need for recording everything all over again, and things started to go in a very bad direction the members in between and with our relationship towards avantgarde music.

SHINING V, the new album, which again took nearly a year to record due to my separation, vanishing into thin air for 6 months and constant abuse, is being released as said, any day now. All albums differ from the one and the other, as I am in constant evolution, next album might be even worse, just wait and see...

On your new album, the 5th song named "attiosextusenfyrahundra" is in fact a cover of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", a composition that could bring any unbalanced person to tears...Your interpretation is even more dramatic, as your voice can be heard in the background...goddamn it's sad! You truly are a damn genius when it comes to manipulating people's motions...Did you play the piano yourself? And...why Beethoven? Do you listen to a lot of classical music?

I have always wanted to make my own version of that particular piece, I mean it's monumental, we already know that, and people will probably go on and on about what a pretentious choice this was, yet, who the hell cares? I wanted this and so obviously I did it, just imagine how many people who have had that very tune playing when they've ended their lives, well people, now you have a new, more suitable version out there! If I would go deeper into the subject of the title or even what I am doing in the back-ground while the piano is playing we would probably never be able to enter the states to play as I would have been locked up, so I'll leave it there.

The piano on this track was actually not performed by anyone in the band, but by a man called Marcus Palsson who plays together with Witt in a cover-band they're doing at weekends when Witt haven't got any other obligations, felt a bit weird to use him on the album but as I wasn't able to play the piece myself, so there was no other choice. "attiosextusenfyrahundra" and "Neka Morgondagen" are actually connected to each other in terms of concept, yet as said, I cannot really develop the theme in interviews so I will have to let the listeners themselves dwell deeper into the darkness if they want to find out what they're really all about. I do not listen to classical music that much anymore, I had a broader interest in that some years ago, yet I still hold the works of Schnitcke for example dear.

Your "Submit to Self-destruction" EP is in English, just like your debut album. The second one is all Swedish, and from the third to the fifth, they're mixed. Since your music is very personal, I could understand why you'd feel comfortable with writing in your own native language, but when you use English words and samples, I feel your need to share your thoughts with the rest of the world, ultimately that's every artist's goal, to be acknowledged, to share who he is with the world...how do you see this?

When I write either music or lyrics it all comes from the very depths of me, meaning I am not really in control of it. Sometimes I write in English and sometimes in Swedish, however, I would prefer to be able to either write more in English or have someone translating my work, but it's not that easy. SHINING has always been about force-feeding the listener with self-destructive and suicidal ideals, making them swallow it and thereafter hurting themselves and others under our influence. In Sweden and Norway this worked out pretty good, and we do have a lot of people who actually are walking my path because of SHINING, some abroad as well, yet we're obviously into spreading the disease as intensely as possible, so we just have to wait and see, hopefully the next couple of lyrics I'll write will be written in English yet again, I can't do anything premeditated.

Finally, I would like to add that anyone who makes "art" are obviously intending to spread his or her agenda at a world wide basis when they publish it, anyone saying the opposite are either liars or plain stupid. Cause what's the point in releasing an album if you want no one to hear it? And yeah... I hardly think death comes in a limited edition.

Where do all these suicidal thoughts come from, your music is so filled with despair and suffering....do you read a lot of nihilistic philosophy, is there something in your past that triggered this self destructive tendency? Do you have a family that's close to you there?

I do not read as much as I did a couple of years ago but I believe this refreshing hobby of mine will have a revival  quite soon now that I've looked through the bookshelves of Maniac a bit too many times already without having picked one up, brought it with me and locked me up for a few days. I have lived a pretty tough life yet I do not blame a thing on my past, its too easy, and it really disturbs me when I hear people going on about how their past have messed them up and so on as in the end it is oneself who messes oneself up, no matter what past might have had on you. My family, well, I lost it along the way.

Haha, Maniac...it seems I can't get him out of my interviews...how did you two meet?

[Laughs] That's a pretty funny story actually, we first met in 2000 or 2001 when MAYHEM were playing in Stockholm and I went there to meet up with Hellhammer. Apparently, Maniac wanted to slit my throat, and I also had a gut feeling pealing his skin of would be rather thrilling. Yet, due to my friendship with Hellhammer, nothing happened. Later we met again when MAYHEM were performing in Gothenburg a few years later and the situation was basically the same, we just hated each other.

When I moved to Oslo I was taking a few drinks with Attila at the place I was working at when Maniac came by, the two of them sat down and had another couple of drinks and Attila asked me to show Maniac my new tattoo which was saying SKITLIV [the same name with Maniac's new band], and having basically the same humor Maniac found it delightful and invited me to a party later that evening. Since that night, we have basically spent every single day and night at his place, how homoerotically don't you think? Nah, he's one of my absolute best friends and I would kill for him if that was necessary, I guess it's like people say: "Karlek startar alltid med brak".

On your IVth album you're thanking doctors for keeping you alive...can you explain how that happened? Was there a suicide attempt, or an accident?

Between the years of 2003 & 2004 I was starting to go downwards for real and I had been on medication for quite a few years when I suddenly stopped on the day, which isn't really that smart you know, especially not considering the degree of mental illness I have floating inside of me. Suicide attempt, accident, its all the same, I just ended up where doctors where feeding me medicine, struck down to a bed at the Halmstad emergency rooms. Thus, the little thank-you note, for allowing such a man as myself living on.

I'm curious about the movie samples you have on your last two albums, like the one on "Samvetskvalens Ballad" (IV) for example...it gives me the chills every time I listen to it, where do you take them from?

Throughout the years we have sampled from Blue Velvet, Prozac Nation, American Psycho, Identity and She's So Lovely, go and see them all, they are all somewhat worth it, and then you'll probably find out where I've sampled from.

Since the beginning you always had a trouble finding a stable line-up, many people leaving the band... why? Please introduce us to the band today...Is SHINING going to be a band that's going two play live a lot?

Yeah, tell me about it, just a couple of days ago Witt came with the news that he had to leave the band as well, however, luckily though I have managed to find him a replacement today, namely Jarle Byberg which is one of the most professional drummers I know (mostly known today for his participation in URGEHAL amongst others). So, it's him on drums, Phil A. Cirone on bass (back from the grave, just recently replaced Hallander), Graby and Huss both on guitars.

We intend to play live as much as possible obviously. I guess the reason why members so often are leaving, being fired and replaced is because the persons who get involved with the band always say they support the "concept" fully yet when time passes and they actually find out that this is not a joke and the "concept" is 100% serious they either run for their lives or prove to be the liars they are, doesn't bother me much though, anyone is replaceable.

Tell us about the two European tours in 2005 and 2006, how did they go? You've played with URGEHAL, NOKTURNAL MORTUM and many more underground acts...do you feel comfortable on stage? I think the new album would be spectacular to hear live, but what do you think? Has SHINING evolved from a studio project to a 100% live band?

All ceremonies have been "good" experiences, as preaching in front of masses is very appealing and especially when I have a chance to confront my followers and force them unto taking action against themselves and others. However, we've had many shows were shit obviously have hit the fan quite severely yet, It's natural, playing with fire will eventually get you burnt.

I haven't liked any of the bands we've performed together with as off yet with the exception of URGEHAL and DHG, as most of the support acts we've had belong in what I would like to call "the bottomless sea of untalented retards". For the coming ceremonies we will perform at least half of the new album live and thanks to the technology of today we'll be able to basically have all details on display. SHINING has never been a studio-project, we just didn't have any possibility of performing in the past because of the line-up difficulties and the constant physio/psychological situation.

Name some of your favorite bands in Black Metal today, and other genres too. What inspires you when you make music? What's your view on the music scene?

I am not that much into metal and especially not Black Metal considering the evolution this pitiful kindergarten has went throughout the years, but to start the name-dropping I have to say that the last DISSECTION record truly put a spell on me in contrast to the earlier albums which does not interest me at all. The new HJARNEDAUDI, DHG, WATAIN, CELTIC FROST and MAYHEM albums are all amazing and I am really looking forward to the debut of SKITLIV. I bought the new Thastom album and the new Christina Aguilera album just recently, and they are both appreciated. I am inspired by everything around me, I know that sound very pretentious but hey, that's the way it is. My views on the scene we're currently residing are quite obvious, not that good. 

Last year you disappeared without a trace for a few months, and before doing so you chosen a new vocalist for the band, named Ghoul. Many thought you finally killed yourself. When they came here in NY, DARK FUNERAL's guitarist told me that you were in fact living in Oslo, and you were ok, but you were done with music, fed up with the whole thing... Now you are back with the new album but there is no explanation for what happened....

As said, the situation in Halmstad got completely out of hand and the whole thing became both physiologically as well as mentally unbearable, thus, I decided to leave everything/everyone behind and really didn't care what happened to either the band or anything in between, which is a quite usual reaction in horrific times you know. I went to Oslo and there I got the support and help I needed in order to get back on my feet again, started working in a bar and just went astray on the usage of drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex for three-four-five months or something, a period when I didn't have any contact whatsoever with either label, band members, management and whatnot.

During this period people "close" to me obviously started figuring what might have happened and those who truly know me, Niklas Kvarforth, wouldn't exactly determine the possibility of a self-afflicted death but no one of them never said I was dead, this is entirely made up by YOU, meaning the media and each mongoloid black metal kiddie with an access to a computer and some message board URLs, misquoting the statement our manager posted on the website, however, go and have another look and you'll probably notice my "death" never being stated. I had always said that if I ever vanished for one reason or the other a replacement would introduce himself, this was of course bullshit, just my humor I guess, having the band standing on stage the day when the "Ghoul" is to appear, with a sold out venue understanding in the middle of the first song I was just lying, thus damning both band and fans over one last time...

Hallander was more afraid than hostile when he saw my face again on stage, Graby completely nonchalant whilst Witt and Huss relieved I guess. Hallander did leave the band after the Halmstad show, the rest are getting used to that basically everything can happen in this band you know. 

It's well known that you enjoy carving yourself while playing live. What do you get from it, does it help you feel more alive, does the sight of your own blood on stage give you an adrenaline rush?

First of all, I never cut myself in front of anyone, you never see what I'm doing as I always turn my back at the audience as I really feel uncomfortable with the feeling of that my fans would believe I did this as a mere act. I cut myself, brand myself and abuse my flesh in many various ways on stage for various reasons, for most in order to release what lures inside, and hurting yourself and seeing the inside of you is quite a good way doing that.

Tell us about this very controversial show you did on February 11th in Halmstad. You had Attila (MAYHEM), Maniac (former MAYHEM vocalist, recently replaced by Attila), and Nattefrost (CARPATHIAN FOREST) join you on stage, all full of blood and other things I can't mention in this interview. I hear Hellhammer was there as well and was supposed to play drums but his kit didn't make it in time or something....what happened that night on stage man, I hear very weird horror stories about you letting yourself be attacked, or giving razorblades to some people in the audience....and a lot more...

Most of this gossip that has been going around concerning the Halmstad show are merely exaggerations made by media. It was more or less a normal SHINING show where some guests appeared, Attila, Nattefrost and of course my good friend Maniac who all contributed to the birth of the Ghoul. What media reacted upon was first of all that I handed razorblades to the front row, telling them to hurt themselves, that I kicked someone in the chest, that I drank urine, that Maniac beat me up and carved a swastika into his forehead. Well, to begin with, I often hand out razors to the audience.

I want people to hurt themselves. I hurt people and have to correct fans who think too much of themselves. I often drink urine as it is a part of my transcendence I go through at basically each concert and very often during ordinary weekdays. Maniac beat me up in the midst of it all which was no problem at all considering the negative energies we had on stage it would have been odd if he didn't. And last but not least, Maniac was, as said, in a very bad mood, drinking a lot and sometimes you play with your body, in his case meaning carving a swastika into his forehead. I have to point out that I am not into politics myself, it does not matter if your black, white, brown, green whatever, you are all equally worthless, and I cannot really understand the fuzz about it, I mean he was but performing on one song and had a swastika carved into his forehead, I mean, in what way does that connect to SHINING, the band?

I understand there will be a DVD released soon? What should we expect?

We're working on it yet it will take longer than what we had expected as we really want to make a product no one will ever forget was put on the market. "Fy Fan For Livet!" will contain eight hours worth of material including both the Halmstad ceremony and a new ceremony in full, music video, interviews, various songs from various locations in the world as well as a two-hour long "road-movie" which will scare the living shit out of anyone dumb enough to press play. We'll keep everyone updated through the web-site regarding the process of collecting and editing the material.