Greetings Aurvandil, please introduce your band. Where are you from? Tell us about your motivation to start it. When was it formed and how came all into existence?
Hailsa, unknown man. I, and therefore Aurvandil, come from France. I didn’t decide to release music at a specific moment. I was just playing the guitar and listening to music, and everything went naturally. It was materialised in mid-2006, on an immature decision to actually record music, and was assembled under the Aurvandil moniker.
Please enlighten us on your influences; music, literature or art in general.
Music rules(/ruins) my life. It sounds generic, but it is true for most of us who share the same passion. There is no hour without music. Heavy Metal and its subgenres, especially Black Metal, appeal to me. However, it would seem pointless to name influences, as they wouldn’t be found in the music. Literature does influence me, mainly fantasy, old anticipation/sci-fi short stories and novels, historical (mostly Celtic and medieval works), etc. I have little interest in graphic arts, though I can appreciate its beauty. However, I don’t think we should associate Black Metal (or Aurvandil for that matter) to Art; Art’s greatest quality is to have no use; strangely enough, it is good and necessary. But Black Metal is not just music; it is a way of thinking and of apprehending the surroundings with an eye very different from ‘normal’ people.
How have been the responses (fans, labels, magazines) been over the years?
The responses have been very scarce in these two years. The fans are few, silent, and since they are ‘fans’, they appreciate the music and concept, that’s what I can tell from guesswork. Apart from NTR and the labels that carry Aurvandil material, the response from labels is near to null. A couple tape labels approached me, but hey, I cannot just record some tracks when a label offers a release. No response from magazines or fanzines. A couple webzines have published a review, but that’s pretty much it. And then, there are a few individuals like you, who follow Aurvandil’s works while being critical and perspicacious (and also unappreciative) about it. Needless to say that these are the most interesting.
Do you write all the music by yourself or are there other musicians with whom you compose songs?
All music is composed by me. No external help is planned for now, except for the drummer addition.
What is your opinion on one-man bands? Do they have dis-/advantages in comparison with a 'full' line-up?
You might laugh, and rightfully, but I despise most one-man-bands. Yourself have disserted and studied the shortcomings of such projects, mainly: bad production, bad drum-machine, composition restriction. The only advantage I can think of is that I do what I want, I get lessons from no-one but reviewers, and even I may not follow them. From this I can deduce a disadvantage: most of the time, it is very hard to be critical about your own work, hence the need for an external opinion prior to release. I hope I overcame this. Also, in terms of composition and recording, everything is way faster, as you don’t have to wait for your bassist, who is sick, or you drummer who is on holiday etc... You are independent schedule-wise.
Tell us about your side-projects. What differentiates them from Aurvandil and how are they going? What has been your intention to create them? Any responses on them so far?
Two other different projects were created in early 2007. Morgoth started as a project for all the acoustic parts I had no use, added with my growing interest into Mournful Congregation. Morgoth is now heavier and relentless, with sludge influences taken more and more room. A LP should see the light in 2009. Manipulator was envisioned as a non-serious death metal project. It appeared that my visions have changed. A EP should be released in 2009, and then a full-length album, with more influences from early Darkthrone and Portal. A demo was released for both, it was practically not distributed, and accordingly, apart from your and a Hungarian webzine’s reviews, the response is close to nihil.
You have released two splits so far: one with Halla from Iran and one with Tchernobyl 75666. How did you manage to get the former done? A split with an Iranian band is certainly out of the common. Are new splits planned?
‘Horizons’ was created following an exchange I had with Indar. He simply contacted me for this purpose, and after thoughts, the whole thing was set, with NTR backing it (Cheers to Noah for his constant support). Uncommon indeed, yet an interesting experience. However, it shan’t be renewed, as I am now seeking specific bands for split releases. Well, actually, the split with Blood Rising is such an experience, but this is the last. Upcoming split releases are: -With Blood Rising. It is a cold mechanical black metal project from Bombstrike guitarist Martin. Nice vibe, but nothing released yet. The split will feature three Aurvandil songs: two ‘new’ ones and a Celtic Frost cover, and should be released in the end of the year. It is our wish that this is released on vinyl, but it’s extremely difficult to get a label willing to press this. Any interested label is welcome for contact. -With Dead As Dreams. Extremely spontaneous split. They play an original mid-tempo psyched’ black metal. The split will feature two songs from each band, and I have starting the recording. You can definitely expect a change of pace and sound; indeed the Aurvandil material is influenced by Dead As Dreams, Paysage d’Hiver, This is Past and maybe Darkthrone.
Tell us about where you have started with Aurvandil in terms of the music and where to do you want to progress with the band.
Aurvandil started as a moniker assembling all the songs I made at the time. Part I: Fall is essentially minimalist rock tunes mixed with black metal. Part II: Winter keeps the minimalism but adds an epic edge, and the essence of cold, blast-driven monotonous black metal. Død is how Aurvandil mainly sounds like: melodic, yet rather violent and dark. Futile Reh is a collection of vain tracks, which are the very logical evolution of Død. The album material is composed of re-recorded and rearranged tracks from the first demos. The upcoming splits show a rather abrupt evolution, you will see in which direction, and finally the EP to come will be blasting cold black metal inspired by my current surroundings. I do not decide what I do with Aurvandil, and that is where the entity is autonomous. I am but its tool.
Aurvandil does not sound like a lot of black metal bands. In fact, it has a special sound and atmosphere. How do you see your band in comparison with other ones? What are the essential facets of your art?
My perception toward other bands depends from the said-bands. I feel small and worthless next to some, while I feel very proud of my stuff regarding others. Well, I already told you I don’t do art, but the most important and permanent facets are, in my opinion, the atmosphere created by the layered guitar leads, and the overall simplicity of the music. On the upcoming material, I have worked to bring atmosphere through the rhythm guitars, hence a lack of solos, but a more coherent riff evolution.
What do your lyrics deal with?
Aurvandil mainly speaks of The Journey of a man (that is Gylfi, or Gangleri, the Wanderer) toward North. This is the debut album theme. Of course, throughout the demos, influences and variations of the environment, the lyrical content has evolved. The main themes are the Journey, either Northward or Skyward, and everything related to it: winter, coldness, nature, astral visions and absence of humanity.
Which language do you prefer for them and does the choice influence the atmosphere?
English is a rich-enough tongue to express the harshness in Aurvandil. French doesn’t interest me, mainly because it doesn’t sound so good hehe. German I have never spoken but it perfectly transmits the feelings hidden. Finally, Norse-related languages are of great interest to me, for various reasons.
Black metal is often associated with 'Satanism' respectively 'anti-Christian' themes. How does this aspect influence your music and the concept behind “Aurvandil”?
Black Metal is Satanist and anti-christian in essence; it was born from this hate. One could think Black Metal has to be Satanist/anti-christian. Black Metal is a main influence for Aurvandil, as you might have noticed. I enjoy Satanism as an interesting image to express anti-christian feelings, and to spit in the eye of all that is sacred for ‘normal’ people. But because it is so, does it mean I have to be a Satanist? I worship no god, I bow to none*. No god, nor its inverted reflection.
You do not use symbols of any kind. No inverted cross, no pentagram. Please tell us the reasons why these seem to be of no importance to you. Is the use of them stressed too much these days?
I do use symbols. They are well hidden, that is all. No inverted cross or pentagram, because, while Aurvandil is absolutely anti-religious, it does not embrace Satanism (although references are made) nor uses redundant iconography. I admire once more Darkthrone, who tag themselves as ‘Unholy’ and not ‘Satanic’; they use satanic imagery and poetry, but not without subtlety. Aurvandil’s symbolic is important to me, but one should be able to see past it. So if by symbols you mean ‘usual black metal symbolism’, yes, it has no interest for Aurvandil, though I personally enjoy it.
How do you see the LLN? I know near to nothing about it, and my interest in the Black Legions equals my knowledge of it. That should answer your question.
Clean sound vs. raw sound. Which of these do you prefer and explain why?
There is no absolute answer to this. Both are appropriate for different kinds of music. Aurvandil lingers in raw sound, because rawness is a main part of it. However, I enjoy a clean production, no doubt! But maybe we don’t have the same definition of clean/raw sound: for example, Darkthrone’s (again!) FOAD has a clean sound; every instrument can be heard equally, the guitars have light distortion. So, clean sound, but it is clear that Darkthrone is not the kind of band you can accuse of being overproduced. Once again, it depends on how you see production.
As an artist, how do you see the tendency to download music?
Once and for all, I am not an artist. I am Aurvandil’s tool. As such, I see downloading as a good way to discover bands and to prevent purchases that might be regretted, but I don’t use it. As a music amateur, I find pleasure only in the materialisation of the work, and therefore only physical copies interest me (not too fond of extra die hard limited stuff, though). I also like to purchase material from bands I don’t know, so that leaves room for surprises, and as of now, I had very few bad surprises.
What do you prefer? Exchanges via e-mail or sending letters to people abroad? Please explain.
Sending written letters has a lot of charm. But, for the sake of practical issues (and laziness, sadly), I mostly use the electronic mailing systems.
As the scene is changing due to the rise of the internet, how do you see the metal scene or the black metal one in particular? What does the term 'underground' mean to you?
I follow no scene, but a very simple observation shows that since in all times, there has been masses of ‘unserious’ bands. The myspace/bedroom black metal/drone wave will break like all others. Internet is typically a useful tool of discovery and communication, but it has its downsides... The Underground has two faces: it is a blanket term for everything not signed to a major label, a marketing phrase used in the informal circuits to sell unworthy products to credulous teenagers. It is a scene of posers, elitists, jerks, and arseholes of all kinds craving for ‘coolness’, and a pretext to mediocrity. It also is a core of individuals and collectives dedicated to music and to a ‘good’ attitude, non-capitalistic, nostalgic, and willing to support worthy acts by releasing music on obsolete format. *I actually bow to those.
If you should name a few good underground labels, which ones would they be?
You know what they are... I cannot name them all, but I know that many of them are good and dedicated. Nokturnal Transmissions Records, despite what one may think, is dedicated, professional and has the particularity to ‘not give a fuck’. Carnal Sadist Productions, Skull Fucking Metal and AVRecords, the unholy underground black metal trio has my admiration and support. None More Black records views appeal to me. On the French side of things, it’s scarcer but: Legion of Death is a real purveyor from hell. He signs mainly stuff from obscure countries, get in touch with him. Ostra Records release quality doom records on black wax. To name a very few...
How do you see the NS and pagan bands?
I would not put them in the same bag... I try not to look in their direction, so I can’t see them. More seriously: I don’t believe in racism (well I do believe there exists physiological differences between people, but superiority of one? Give me a break), and I find the whole IIIrd Reich/Hitler worship very stupid. I am anti-religious, and that includes Judaism; also I do believe the medias are totally biased... but ZOG? Once again, give me a fucking break. So, basically, white power raving crap makes me sick. Plus, it is generally worthless music-(un)wise. Pagan Black Metal bands I can enjoy. I understand how one can take pride in one’s ancestry and heritage (though I do not apply it), and I usually like the heathen and pagan iconography, and have great interest in historical and mythological aspects.
What is black metal? How would you describe this term? Has its meaning and implication changed over time?
How could I describe it? Very simple motto: Black as night, metal’s might. Black Metal is an expression of hatred, darkness, misanthropy, a rejection of all that is sacred, a Fist in the face of God. Black Metal has never changed, but its perception by those who claim to play it has changed a great deal. While numerous bands and persons have watered it down, Black Metal remains the essence. That is a reason why I rarely say which bands I listen to, I just say that I listen to Black Metal, and it is enough.
You have also a small label. Have you already some releases out on it or are there any planned?
Cold Void Emanations was created to release demos from worthy and quality (and un-recognised) bands, regardless of the genre, the key words being consistency, coherence and quality. This is my modest contribution to my definition of the Underground. Some releases are planned, and will be issued very soon: -Void1 – While Sad Spirits Around Me Stroll – Grey demo (instrumental black metal with great riffs). -Void2 – Widergeist – Storm of Thoughts (black metal with no guitar, but brooding atmosphere made by basses and blast beats. Pre-Irrwisch band)
Towards the end of the interview: Which albums (metal/non-metal) do you see as essential? To list a compendium would be a futile exercise in which I have no interest. What other bands from your country should we give a try?
Go for De Silence Et D’Ombre (Black Metal in the ‘astral’ vein), Sünhopfer (at last, an excellent quality one-piece band), Maïeutiste (Doomed Black Metal, very original), Hyadningar (Sick Black Metal with a classical edge), Arphaxat (what Black Metal is... no guitars!) etc...
How can people contact you? Where can they get your releases?
People who have an interest in Aurvandil or Cold Void Emanations can contact me through this email address: dworkin at hotmail dot com or through the Aurvandil myspace page. I support initiatives, folks, so here is the snail mail address. --- I answer every single mail or letter, whatever it is about. Aurvandil material can be obtained from various distros (check the link section on the website), or through myself.
Final words, please.
Thank you for your time and interest. Drift.