Ulver

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

Kristoffer Garm Rygg aka Trickster G. is one of the most respected Metal musicians in Norway even if for quite some long time now he gave up composing or listening to Metal. By entering and exploring new dimensions more abstract and experimental, Garm actually created a new aura for his project, ULVER, succeeding thus to perplex his audience. He is well known both for his performance in ARCTURUS and his very label, Jester, which is a record company promoting post Modern materials of genuine weirdness. Well, I must confess it was in my desire and a must to include inside my magazine an interview with such an enigmatic character. For such desire to become true I had ask for help from an old friend of mine, Norwegian, by the way, Roy Kristensen, and this was because Kris is a very-very busy person and he approves interviews... but solely by telephone...

Well, I am afraid such wouldn't have allowed me the freedom I wanted and neither the chance to have completed a detailed and elegant interview. Therefore, Roy agreed to collaborate (well, I write for Imhotep as well... am I not!? he, he...) and here it is my wish come true! Moreover, I must confess, ULVER's soundtrack, "Svidd Neger", indeed stroke me... right into my heart! This material is, no doubt, an authentic jewel, a great album!!!! "Waltz Of King", "Comedawn" or "Wildcat" are amazing tracks, by far absolutely outstanding!

The interview is structured in two chapters; first was conceived by Sauli Vuoti (a basic collaborator of Imhotep) almost seven years ago... which makes of it an old material...but it was never published so far and it has the merit of surprising Kriss with some provocative and incendiary statements, mostly gravitating on " Perdition City " album. Well, a few years later those statements are called off by no one else but himself! Second chapter was conceived and conducted by Roy , in the last days of January 2004 especially for Kogaionon!

In other words, you have the chance to enter ULVER universe by comparison: past (two years ago!) and present...

Have a nice time reading it!

Part I - by Sauli Vuoti

   Ulver is quite a package, and Garm a misunderstood genius in my opinion. Being mentally kicked in the head by the brainless metal people, Ulver still strives for a greater cause, independently. And they have created some unbelievable music during the way. Although I managed to piss of the master with my arrogant opinions and unjustified comments, here's what Trickster G had to say.

"Perdition City"

   Hello Rastaman Garm! Many black metal fellows claim to enjoy winter a great deal, but how is the winter in Oslo after all?

   "Winter is a season very rich in atmosphere. Our creativity must be the highest this time of a year. We're privileged to enjoy four completely different seasons while some have merely one lousy season."

   How are you then?

   "I'm fine, although I have a thousand projects underway, not much time."

   Your new album " Perdition City " just got out. The stuff on it is rather original; it reminds me of Pink Floyd, yet still being electronic.

   "You're right; the music of Pink Floyd is quite organic. Otherwise our music is rather modern, but there are parallels."

   What an interesting comparison. Do you use drugs too?

   "Not during composing, but yes we have used them. I have always enjoyed obscurity, cryptic feeling and psychedelia. One can access those states pretty easily by using drugs, but I don't recall messing up during composing. And I don't use any highly psychedelic anymore. Alcohol is always good, it's nice to mess one's head."

   How would you describe your music yourself?

   "It's post-modern. I could say that if you imagine a mix of electronic music and post-modern rock, it would sounds quite like Ulver. But of course we don't use the guitar that much these days."

   In my opinion the pictures and the whole booklet are fantastic. Where did you get the idea of taking the listener on a trip to " Perdition City "?

   "We didn't consciously think of taking the listener into a concrete city, it's more of a metaphor and abstract. A friend of mine who has written books and taken many photographs inspired me to capture weird pictures. We then compiled the best of them to support the story the lyrics make. We tried to make an anti-aesthetic whole that would create a documentary feeling."

   What do you mean by "soundtrack to an inner movie"?

   "We mean just what we say, an abstract "inner movie". It wouldn't be wise to comment on anything afterwards in case there would be a hidden message."

   Your previous recording, "Metamorphosis" EP aroused quite much attention.

   "Well, it was totally electronic, at parts even techno."

   How did you end up with this result, considering music?

   "When we are in the studio, things seem to go their own paths. We never write anything in advance but all is improvised in the studio. Usually we have only a pattern, a loop or a sound we like. Then we just play with that sound until it becomes a song."

   You seem to drift further away from metal music, and your process of creating a song sound quite radical.

   "We don't drift away from metal, we have separated ourselves from it entirely."

   However your William Blaked-themed album contained rock a bit.

   "That's true, it was like a step towards this electronic sound. I think we're much better in what we do now than in what we did earlier."

   At what kind of audience may this new album be directed, I suspect not to the puritanical metal audience?

   "I think many people liking dark and dismal metal enjoy a dark and dismal feeling in general, and therefore like our music. There's a special feeling in our music, but I can't say whether it is directed at someone in particular. I bet many different people like it."

   The album however is not easy listening...

"Definitely not, and it doesn't mean to. I'm not interested in making consumable music."

"In my opinion, black metal is dead."

   Are you intending to make any metal music in the future?

   "No, although how should I know. Not by the name of Ulver at least, but for example the next Acrturus album will be a metal album. It will, however, be the last of that genre for me, after that I'm not going to touch metal with a stick. I have never been terribly interested in metal music, so I suppose I couldn't make anything of high quality anymore. I want to experiment with different styles and sounds, something in which my soul is fully involved. I don't listen to that much metal anymore, albeit some albums are very good. It all depends on the mood; when I drink beer, it's nice to listen to Danzig , The Cult or something like that. Rocking stuff, that's what I like. Yes, and psychedelic stuff like Mr. Bungle! I definitely don't listen to black metal, it has lost all of its value. It was interesting years ago, but now it has become just what the people behind it hated. The new album of Dimmu Borgir might be technically brilliant and they are capable musicians, and in the last hand it isn't very commercial because that kind of extreme music can never access the big market because of its brutal nature. I just belong to the time when those kinds of phenomena were those we rebelled against, so real black metal is dead in my opinion. I don't get the new stuff they do."

   I bet many black metallers will get your point, but why move to electronic field?

   "In my opinion it is the next natural vein in which you can express dark atmospheres."

   Are you totally against metal then?

   "I wouldn't say I'm against it, it just doesn't interest me any longer. I have found something more lasting. I have no need to make enemies, I think it's weak. I still have many friends who play metal, but I just don't like the music. My friends respect that and I respect them."

   Would no changes convince you to get interested in metal again?

   "I don't think so, I have nothing to give anymore. There are many strongly ideological movements here in which people find similar mystical beauty from the same things and the same music than I. Those kinds of things I used to find in black metal."

   What do you think of the fact that many people have been inspired by your music?

   "Of course our music affected people, because we were so early with it. We did things that could've been considered original, but many people misunderstood them and copied them really poorly. It is a great thing."

   What does your debut album "Bergtatt" sound like now?

   "I haven't listened to it for a few years, but I'm still proud of it. Considering my age, my environment and the things I was interested in, it was ok, but it's past culture nonetheless.

   How about your second album "Kveldssanger"? It was rather simplistic.

   "Yes, but that was what we meant to. There are some good ideas on the album, but it could've been realised better. We have thought of taking some ideas from that album and also from "Nattens Madrigal" and rearranging them, we'll see about that... I think the album is the strongest we did at that time, considering the music."

   Then you regressed and made "Nattens Madrigal". This album is the absolute favourite of many people and one of the milestones in the history of black metal.

   "At the time we did it we were very interested in traditional black metal, and "Bergtatt" wasn't brutal enough in our opinion. It is always hard to explain the changes within our style, the reasons are rather complicate. The album was finished before "Kveldssanger", but Century Media didn't agree to publish it until '97. And we didn't record the album in the forest as the rumours tell!! The riffs became original because we listened to a lot of different music at the time, and we sort of placed rock/pop riffs into a brutal context. It was great that we managed to do something as brutal."

   The lyrical side of the album is very interested, it tells about the beast in man?

   "Yes, there are eight fractions of a story that describes the bestial character in man."

   Were the lyrics meant for critics or praise?

   "We meant to criticize nothing, it was pure cultivation of the bestial character. We meant to bring forward the primordial senses of the human race and remind man of his roots."

   After the album you took quite a step inside your musical expression, and you released an album based on the book by William Blake. Did you have any expectations of the reactions from the fans?

   "Not at all. We don't think of the listener at all, if we know ourselves that the material sounds good, that's enough. Of course we know that many people will like it, as well as many will get upset..."

   Has the book affected you personally?

   "Certainly, William Blake is one of my great idols. The response from other people liking the book has been positive; we have managed to capture the atmosphere of the book at least somehow."

   Why did you include a long empty spot on the other disc? The work could've been released on one CD because of the duration...

   "It was too lengthy for one CD, one couldn't have listened to the whole album on one occasion. Now when the work is on two discs, you can go eat something in between or something..."

"Dance music for black souls"

   Then there's the material on "Metamorphosis" and " Perdition City "... How would you react if some dance club played your music?

   "It would be tremendous! Although some dark and obscure club would be better. Perhaps the songs are a bit too lengthy, but parts of them could work. On "Disguised Masters" by Arcturus there is some dance stuff, so I think it could work better!

   Perhaps those people could get upset if they knew that the same persons made strong black metal before...

   "Perhaps, but I have nothing against people who don't listen to metal. Too many people have been fucking with us concerning these things, but we believe in artistic freedom. If someone should not like our music, he doesn't have to listen to it you know..."

   It seems that you really hate these current black metal fellows?

   "I don't hate them but I hope they end up receiving what they deserve..."

   What's your opinion of Wild Rags re-releasing your "Vargnatt" promo, even with a picture of Shagrath urinating on himself?

   "That's a really bad thing. I could kill those guys. Shagrath was a short-time member in Ulver in '94, and putting those kinds of comments in our mouths is so low. I don't like the music of Dimmu Borgir, but the guys are ok. It's a compliment to make bootlegs, but not this way, thank you."

   Have you been promoting your new albums inside those circles where people listen to more of that kind of music?

   "Yes, we have, and some of the reactions have been fantastic. In Denmark we are at the charts of electronic music, and in Norway we hold the top positions of a house music chart."

   What kinds of sales figures have you reached with your previous albums?

   "The << ...William Blake>> album has sold 25 000. It's a lot considering that I released it on my own label with a limited distribution."

   Are there other bands on your own label?

   "Some, and they are absolutely brilliant. All of them are techno, house or otherwise electronic music."

   Do you think you can make a living with the band in the future?

   "Yes, and I kind of do it already. I work in a studio in which I am a partner, then there's my label and Ulver."

   The studio you work in is rather famous. What kind of music has there been recorded in?

   "Mostly pop music, but also a lot of rock and other styles. Not that much metal. Being in this kind of environment affects me positively, and that can be heard from my music. I can distinguish professional music from non-professional."

   Or at least you think so.

   "Yes."

   On a general level of Ulver again, who are there in the band anyway?

   "I and Tore, who came in as a new member for "Metamorphosis". All the other members have been kicked out because they were not interested in our current style, and besides we make the programming better ourselves. I know quite many musicians, and I can ask them to help if I need to. In the future we might make an album with more guitars on it, and then we would again need Haavard, who was the lead guitarist on our first four albums. The guitars do not interest me at all at the moment."

   What did the other members think of being kicked out?

   "I'm still in terms with them, but we can use the computer to create better bass lines, drums et cetera, so we don't need them, the machines have taken their places. I formed Ulver so the decision is mine. The other members still play metal, but they weren't talented enough to make electronic music. However they like the new style. These days I am responsible for all vocals and a half of the programming, and Tore does the other half of the programming."

   Originally you did many other things in Ulver too.

   "I tried quite many instruments, but mainly it was the vocals. I also wrote most of the songs with our guitarist, Haavard."

"Ulver vs. fans"

   On "Metamorphosis" there are quite nasty comments towards the fans. Has you line of privacy been crossed?

   "Yes, and too many times. It is straight talk to the backstabbers."

   I think that the constant changes in Ulver and in the opinions of the members might have upset many, perhaps reasonably. Don't you ever give positive feedback to the positive fans?

   "I think I do that quite a lot, because in interviews I mention that I appreciate certain things a lot. I meet a lot of nice people who really understand where I'm heading at and who are fun to talk with. One reason for why I'm so tired of the black metal circles is that all my friends are either former black metallers who have developed to be something else or people who are not interested in the whole thing. In my opinion black metal people ought to respect what we did in the past few years, but also that we have now decided to develop into another direction. These black metal puritans have caused enough trouble already, and the same problems have touched also my good friend Ihsahn of Emperor. I still live up to the satanic principle of respecting those who respect me and counter-attacking those who attack me."

   Now back to the song-writing process of Ulver. How long does this improvisation take, all in all?

   "It's impossible to say the exact time, but we're about to release an EP that is written, recorded and mixed in a day. " Perdition City " took quite a while, because we wanted to work with the songs so that we could stand behind them. For example "Nattens Madrigal" took half a year with all that rehearsing and recording."

   You caught a lot of attention in '93 when there were church-burnings in Norway and you also appeared in the document Det Svarte Alvor dealing with the satanic movement. Have your opinions changed from these times?

   "We were a part of the great black metal movement in '94, together with such bands as Satyricon and Mysticum, and we were also a part of the former Inner Circle . My opinions haven't changed as much as people would think, I have just re-determined many of my views onto a more mature level. I still consider myself a Satanist, although I don't boast about it because the philosophy is so simple. I am not so interested in those things anymore, but some of the views are still near to my heart. Michael M. from the American Church of Satan contacted me a while ago and interviewed Ulver in the biggest international satanic magazine called Black Flame. We are the first band they have really taken seriously, and I feel much more empathy towards them than the black metal people. I'm sure it wasn't coincidence, and that's why I have the right to be a little arrogant on this matter. Our lifestyle is even more satanic than we thought..."

   Do you count on propaganda or on "fist in the face" technique on these matters?

   "I think that without the church-burnings and all those shocking phenomena black metal wouldn't be that big these days. It has also got people to think optionally and caused the weakening of Christianity. There's a point at which one must notice that black metal is not the only and not even the best way to oppose Christianity. I'm still very antichristian, but I don't have the urge to make enemies. When you are young, you are childish and insecure and you need someone to blame on all the bad things that have happened to you. Nowadays I defuse all my frustration inwards and let the world do what the fuck it ever wants to do. The worst thing is if someone gets on my way, and those are mostly black metal fellows and not the Christians. I'm completely antichristian, but I won't waste time or energy because of it. I have so many things more interesting to do."

   Then what is your aim in life?

   "To create cultural artefacts. In my opinion rebellion against Christianity and all the concrete acts is cheap, it is more challenging to try to create something better which will displace all the age-old traditions and institutions. We have developed in a way that we don't want to tear anything down, we want to create something to fill all defects. I see this as my mission in life."

   At one point your mission in life was obviously to destroy Century Media?

   "(laughs) I wouldn't put it that way, but from the beginning they disturbed our artistic expression. They only made some 6-10 album deals, so a deal of 3 albums took almost a year. The contract ended in the "...Blake" album, but I had to collect lots of money and buy us free by selling records. And when I released the album by myself, it got full points in almost every metal magazine in Europe , and that must've pissed Century Media off. I reached the sales of 25 000 copies on my newborn label, so if they had released it might have sold twice as much. I bet they are not my biggest fans! (laughs)"

   In the beginning of your career you also worked on an album by Borknagar.

   "That's true, but I wasn't an important member, I just took care of the vocals".

   You also sang on the new album by Zyklon.

   "I just did that to be cool with Thomas."

   Still a few words about Arcturus... What's the situation in the band nowadays?

   "At the moment there are Hellhammer, Sverd, I and a guitar player in the band. The new direction the band took for "La Masquerade Infernale" was my idea, and the previous remix album was entirely my handiwork. The upcoming album will be a more developed version of "La Masquerade..." It's not entirely ready, let's see."

   Thank you for the interview. I hope this unravels the current concept of the band a bit and makes the listener familiar with you mysterious world. In the end I just have to ask what are you intending to do in the future?

   "No one knows the future, this day does not dictate tomorrow. "Tomorrow never knows"."

Part II - by Roy Kristensen

   I met Garm in Ulver's studio in Oslo one misty afternoon in Olso, Januray 2004.

"Jester"

   The last few years Garm has worked more and more with his label, Jester Records. This label was started when Ulver released "William Blake..." back in 1998, and has slowly but surely grown. On the list Jester has such bands as Star Of Ash, When, Virus and obviously Ulver. We don't speak metal here, we're talking about very different aspects of music, integrity, identity and the lack of time.

"That's my problem" begins Garm when I ask him about the matter of time. I thought Garm found some recipe to lengthen the 24-hours cycles, but he hasn't.

   "I don't have enough time for Jester Records. My conscious isn't too well concerning this matter as I feel I haven't done all I could for the various bands and releases. I have done most of the Jester managing myself, but the good news are now that the old Ulver-drummer, Erik Lancelot, will participate in the development of Jester Records by helping on the more marginal releases of Jester Records.

Up till now I have done all of it myself. You know, keep in touch with people, promoting our releases, looking for new bands and so on. Lately these doings have suffered since I have been very busy with my own projects, especially Ulver and all our releases."

   Think about it. Ulver, Jester Records, Arcturus. In addition he has a family, he has friends and in between he has to eat and drink. Garm look forward to the aid he'll receive from the mentioned Lancelot.

   "I think it'll be better for the label as well, not only for me. Especially the logistics should improve, but I will of course be the manager of Jester in the future as well, deciding which bands we'll sign and take those decisions that have to be made.

We got a little money from the "...Themes..." album, money that we could invest in other projects. However, we don't make much money from our releases so far. Nonetheless, the surplus we may get easily finds the way back to the bands or into new plans. We don't do Jester Records to make big money, it's more that we build a catalogue we're proud of. I mean, our bands aren't the most easy-listening ones you got."

   Just the day before we met I got the latest Terrorizer, and the new When album got 7 out of 10. Garm still has a name in our world of metal, despite the lack of just that in Jester's releases. Personally I haven't heard more than a handful of these releases, but I'm always impressed by the identity and the quality of these albums. Which is that strange, as Garm is and has to be very conscious on the quality aspect of his releases.

   "I'm always skeptical towards all those demos I get, and most of those don't stand a chance. I mean, during the years I have leant my lesson well and I am conscious about the quality and what's good or not. Obviously, my personal taste affects my choices for Jester Records. It makes me feel great when I discover bands/projects where the members do know their business. Especially on the matter of sound, where I feel I still have a lot to learn..., sound is important and it satisfies me to learn about these bands that know how to work with sound."

   Sound, yes. Ulver was a black metal band back in those days, moving over to the experiment "...William Blake" after all was into today's experimentation and development of sounds, rhythms and the music itself. Garm doesn't look at it from this point of view, as he says:

   "I don't think black metal per se is that extreme, since we have all those performers of this style in today's scene. I consider what we do in Jester to be more extreme, because we are closer to the borders of what's different and challenging. While there are less people involved in what we do, black metal is way more conform and easier to relate to."

   Speaking about yourself, Garm, I think that your expression was pretty extreme back in those days, when way less people liked and listened well to black metal.

   "I don't find my development as being nicer. Our creations today..., well, I think we consider it darker compared to what we did on "Nattens Madrigal". Our music is more subtle and singular now, more conscious.

We have leaved our desire for rebellion behind. That's one of the main differences compared to our first few years of Ulver. We don't make music with exclamation marks, it's more like we raise questions. The hopelessness have grown and grown!"

   Ulver paints in different landscapes. Ulver moves in various levels. " Perdition City " can be listened to as some kind of background music, but it can also be regarded as a move which makes you think and feel.

   "It's like reading a book" Garm begins. "Earlier it was like you read an article, but now you have to read the whole book."

 

"Arcturus"

 

   I sense that Garm will not do the vocals for the next Arcturus album. He agrees to that, as far as he knows. We laugh a little before I tell him I had read that the touring-plans were the decisive factor to him leaving Arcturus.

   "Yes, it was the main factor" Garm begins. "When we begun the work for "The Sham Mirror" we were in a productive phase at the time, but then two years went before the album was due for release. I wanted to finish it off in the end so I pushed it towards the end while I thought this would be the final work of Arcturus. However, when we heard the final outcome the unavoidable happened, that we actually liked the result so much some of us got inspiration again. Steinar "Sverd" Johansen got it, but I didn't really feel going on with Arcturus right then. To me it was more like enter a period equal to the time between "La Masquerade..." and "The Sham..." albums. So, when they wanted to rehearse three days a week I couldn't manage and had to leave them behind. After all, my schedule was more than full with Ulver, soundtracks, Jester and my newborn child. In addition I didn't agree with the others about working with new Arcturus material right away.

Personally I think the latest album needed its time to grow. That it took like five years since "La Masquerade..." turned out for the better, because our music deserves time. I don't think the album would be this smart if we had done it three years earlier. Of course, if "The Sham Mirrors" was released earlier it wouldn't have been a totally different album but I guess it wouldn't have been this good either. The summary of all our doings and development makes the album what it actually is today."

   Garm speaks about five years. I guess five years are a minimum of what you need to swallow "La Masquerade Infernale". We laugh and Garm continues:

   "Well, I think that album was a experimental demonstration at the time. You know, there was no other band like us at the time. "The Sham Mirrors" was more like a demonstration of power. "La Masquerade..." was more rebellious compared to the latter, while "...Mirrors" not only showed that we were able to write great songs but also that we could create more depth to our music. To us there was never a point in showing off, if you see what I mean."

   What impressed me most concerning "The Sham Mirrors" is the vocal performance from the man in question. I had to ask him if he sings a lot while he showers. Garm laughs and says:

   "Yeah, I sing a lot when I take a shower. Seriously, I spend quite a lot of time in the studio (like 200 days a year or something), and as I become more experience I manage to listen to my own vocal from a 3 rd persons view as well, so I the sum of all this evolves my vocal-performance from album to album.

For the new album from Ulver, which we're doing these days we have deleted a lot of vocal-recordings. I guess a lot of this would have survived a recording process like two years ago."

 

"A poet's tragedy"

 

   "In the end we become more and more critical towards ourselves and our creations. I guess we end by not releasing an album at all due to this self-criticism. This is the poet's tragedy, that he ends up writing a blank sheet. I take notice of this to a higher degree all the time, that we become more and more critical towards ourselves, thus we strip our creations more and more.

What we release are physical manifestations of our defects. I guess I am rather pessimistic here, but that's the way I see our hopelessness. However, when I consider the level of many other so-called musicians I tend to think "shit au" (oh well), and still keep going."(Garm).

   But when you feel this hopelessness and since you are this pessimistic I have to raise a question concerning your motivation. In our beautiful country we have all the possibilities to live a life of luxury and materialistic abundance, we have the equipment to make life easier... But still I wonder, where does all your darkened thoughts origin? Garm agrees and counts in the whole Western civilization into this matter. As he says:

   "We have obviously left behind the level of survival, while we now concentrate on torturing ourselves mentally."

   So, what's in it for you?

   "Well, I have a nice life. But I am, as most others, a complex individual. However, when it comes to the artistic side of me I tend to focus on the more negative aspects of our art. I don't really know it is like this, but most often it is more interesting, the darker and more negative aspects of different types of art. Darkness is more exciting, it's full of secrets and you're digging in the darkness metaphorically speaking.

   To many we're talking about a process of cleansing. Some use their dreams to solve their problems and negative experiences before they go to work without any deeper thoughts, while I need several remedies to cleanse my mind. Don't think that I'm this super-negative guy walking the streets after midnight, far from it, but my artistic side, both musically and lyrically, have its main focus in the darker feelings in life."

 

"Svidd Neger"

 

   Personally I like the soundtrack to this Norwegian movie. It's dark, and to a certain degree it fits the movie. Though, "Svidd Neger" is what I should refer to as a black comedy. But, how did Ulver end up doing the soundtrack?

   "Actually, it was the director and the guy who did the manuscript who contacted us, each to his own. The latter later told me that he was listening to "...William Blake" album when he did the script (go figure - ED). They talked about it and then talked to us after agreeing that we could do the score for "Svidd Neger"."

   The movie contained different songs from other artists, but the Ulver part is the score. I don't like the other contributions to this movie musically speaking, as they have nothing to do with Ulver. The movie itself, "Svidd Neger", is a strange movie including strange happenings, wicked personalities, blood, tits, great nature, insane humour and a bloody ending. Out of curiosity, what did Garm think of the movie?

   "Well, I don't think it's a film that goes hand in hand with Ulver...". Garm hesitates, takes a deep drag from his cigarette before he continues. "It's a funny movie, but I think it had the potential to become way better. Well, I can understand that the average Joe found it rather funny, but to us this was more of an opportunity to try something different. We've learnt a lot from it, and it has opened some doors for us. In fact, we're going to do two new movies when we return from Los Angeles . However, it doesn't bother me at all that the movie is..., well, speaking of genres it's not exactly what Ulver represents. But we thought we can allow ourselves to be a bit commercial since this has to do with films. After all, this is a nice opportunity to make some money which we can invest in our own music instead of having to find ourselves average jobs."

   The process of making a soundtrack is probably different compared to doing Ulver, right? Actually, they didn't do it the easiest way, but then again they didn't have the experience at the time.

   "We made the music during the editing of the movie. This was a big mistake and we wasted a lot of time, so from now on we will not work like that. We wont' do anything until the editing is finished, because it will make things a lot easier to us technically speaking."

   How would you compare this to making the real Ulver music? I mean, with "Svidd Neger" you have a picture or 2.000 to relate to, while making the Ulver-music you have your minds and inspirations... Garm pauses before he answers.

   "Well... It's a bit difficult to answer. We insisted that we should make music which was related to Ulver, but of course we have to make compromises. There were several persons who listened to the music, and had opinions upon it, but nevertheless it was Ulver who made the soundtrack, thus it had to be connected to us and our minds."

 

"Studio"

 

   So, for an ignorant like myself I asked Garm to tell us a bit about the process their through when they work with their music.

   "We develop, naturally, our own internal way of working. The starting-point is most often pretty simple, we find a melody or something which attracts us. Then we start working with the sound or the melody where we develop layers upon layers of sound, before we reduce the numbers of layers again. Well, it's pretty hard to describe our way of working as it is this internal."

   Before you begin to work with your new ideas, do you have a picture of where you're heading?

   "Naturally we have some ambitions, but they dig their way to their own grave rather quickly. In this sense we're transcending into a intuitive process. Luckily we have dead-lines, and they're really needed. If not, we would never be able to finish off our albums. Close to dead-line we're working really hard to get the result done... Hehe, we're always coming to that point, so the closer we are to our dead-line the more stressed we become."

   Being in the studio now compared to let's say 10 years ago has be quite a different thing, right? Garm confirms that.

   "Obviously, but things were different back then. We rehearsed quite a lot and we hired a studio for two weeks. These were two hectic weeks where we had to finish the album. As said, we have dead-lines today as well, but it's more like we plan to finish the recording in half a year. So far we've spent one year with the development of the new album, even though we haven't been in the studio every day. Now that we're closer to the dead-line we spend more or less every day in the studio, so in that sense it's like a normal job five days a week.

Our access to a studio and our technical abilities has improved a lot the recent years, and I dare say that our creations are way more thorough compared to..., well, a lot of other works released the last few years. This has turned into our way of making our music, so it would clearly not work fine in a studio where we had to limit ourselves to..., let's say three weeks."

"The fans"

   We haven't talked about the metal scene, and to Garms relief we're not going to either. I mean, Ulver doesn't have much to do with the metal scene anymore, both musically and mentally speaking. But, just as in the metal scene and every other musical scene, Ulver has fans. What do you think attracts a fan of Ulver, and who's your fan?

   "I think that's individual. There's no formula you can use to identify an Ulver-fan, but I have the feeling Ulver appeals to a student milieu where some may have references to metal and then widened their horizons together with the development of Ulver. However, there's no definite answer to this question, and today we find Ulver-fans in every level of our society."

   What kind of feedback does Ulver receive in general? What I've read it turns out to be mostly positive and constructive critics...

   "Well, when it comes from some metal-people it seems they bother to listen to us for the reason that they find something they like in Ulver, because Ulver has a certain quality. I don't really know, it could be because we used to be a metal-band that they invest some time in us, despite the fact that they normally listen to metal. They take notice of our quality and that we're actually pretty good in what we're doing.

When a metal-related magazine (fanzine or such) write about us, we're rarely disliked due to Ulver not being a metal band. Though, I guess those who don't like us as we are today don't waste any time on us."

   The "...William Blake" album got almost top score in Terrorizer a while ago, and as far as I remember there was an interview as well. Garm has done vocals for Arcturus until now, and I assume that's worth something as well, so... I don't know, it could be that Ulver still has the dark feelings and atmospheres, something which should appeal to many a metal fan.

   "I'm sure my history has a lot to do with this, since I have another history compared to the common electronica-musician who more probably did rave-music in the early 90's."

"Inspiration"

   Thank you for the music, in this case "Bergtatt" which I still enjoy to a high extent. One thing that makes me curious is the further development of Ulver. I wonder, what is your inner demon, Garm? What makes you able to create even more music? Or as the more average man would ask; what's your inspiration?

   "That's hard to tell. On one hand we have music, on the other hand there are lyrics. I think the force behind Tore and my further creations is the overcoming of the musical problems that occurs. Also the lyrical challenges are interesting, that we're going to write good lyrical poetry. I mean, there are numerous ways to attack..., well, everything. The truth is so goddamn relative and we're painfully aware of the fact that whatever we do would just be another alternative truth. We're also inspired by others who work with similar things. We're now talking about abstract matters which are very hard to describe. We work with contradictions in contraction to what we did on our three first albums. Back then it was simpler and we focused on more simple atmospheres and messages if you will, like the forest whisper my name and things like that. I feel that black metal can be quite simple and exact, while I sense that in Ulver Tore and I work with abstract emotions. We tear apart different meanings and work more with paradoxes and abstractions. Our kind of darkness is different! Our darkness is the blank sheet. That could also be regarded our perfection, which again is paradoxical because we should end making music if we're getting there."

   After we finished our conversation I got to hear three tracks from the upcoming Ulver album. Once again Ulver is ready to conquer our minds and I promise you, Christmas will never be the same again.