VINTERSORG — Playing With Fire
August 12, 2014, a month ago
Swedish blackened folk metal duo, Vintersorg (which translates to “Winter Sorrow”), has been forging their own brand of epicness since 1994. According to mastermind of the band and multi-instrumentalist Andreas Hedlund, also known as Vintersorg, the band’s conceptual themes and music are a celebration of nature. Joined by his longtime musical partner, Matthias Markland, the band has just released Naturbål, the third album in a four-element series. The album as a whole deals with the element of fire, which the lead-off track, “Ur Aska Och Sot,” translates to “Out of ashes and soot.” A teacher by day, until summer vacation that is, then Mr. V is free to wreak havoc through his participation in Vintersorg, as well as his other full-time band Borknagar.
BraveWords: Vintersorg was inspired by the Isfolket series by Margit Sandemo. What struck you about the main character to name the band after it?
Andreas Hedlund: “That is the story behind it. She writes a lot of Nordic fantasies. I’m not sure if she writes today as she’s older or maybe has passed away. Early in her career she was writing a lot about not really Viking sagas, but more folkloristic literature. A kind of fantasy style and I was struck by it as a kid while I was growing up. As I’m older, that book is a little bit naive, a bit childish. I was struck by the name, Vintersorg, which sounds awkward in English but in Swedish it’s an odd way of putting words together. I was struck by the name and the character. His character is not really significant in a really large role. I put it in my mind somewhere and ten years later I thought of it. I wasn’t connected personally to the character. It was more like the name itself has a signature atmosphere around it. When I was about to start this project, it had the same atmosphere that I was trying to create with the music.”
BraveWords: It’s hard to believe that your breakthrough album Cosmic Genesis is 14 years old. Do you stay fresh by playing in other projects?
Andreas Hedlund: “Yeah, probably in a way. I haven’t really thought about it. for me it’s pointless in a way because I can’t really stop writing music. That’s the main reason why we are still going on. This is art for us, it’s entertainment. I like both. I know if I watch a movie, when I do it myself, it’s on a much more deeper level. It has to move you. I’ve been writing music since I was eight or nine years old and I can’t really stop that force. I don’t want to change. I don’t really investigate it that much. In a more analytical way, I just want to be able to use that force to write music. Sometimes I just want to pick up the guitar and play some cool riffs just for fun, but it always turns into me writing new material. I’m just happy that the inspiration is always there.”
BraveWords: How do you step outside of yourself while writing for your many different bands? How do you find the time?
Andreas Hedlund: “The time frame you have is 24 hours in a day. It’s kind of my worst enemy in a way. I also have a full-time job and I have two kids and a family and it’s always a struggle with time. The whole music thing has been so important. My mind is always working on music, not really unconsciously but not really totally consciously either. So there’s a grey area there. If I’m consciously writing music for a specific band, I always try to pick out that atmosphere and vibration of how this band sounds. I don’t just write music randomly. It’s much more of a challenge to find the right atmosphere of a particular balance. In Borknagar, I don’t write that much of the basic music but I write the vocal lines. I get the riffs from Øystein (Garnes Brun) and I write the music and also some lyrics to that. That’s a great way to work also.”
BraveWords: With each Vintersorg album, you have successfully reinvented yourself — musically, vocally and lyrically — you’ve always progressed. On Naturbål, it sounds like you’ve combined a lot of your earlier elements with your recent formula.
Andreas Hedlund: “Yeah, for me it’s all about emotions and I don’t really calculate that much when I’m writing. But the thing that I wanted to include this time is to take back a little bit more of this Scandinavia folk music that was floating around in the earlier albums. I just write what I feel and that was the only thing I wanted to include and that was what I calculated with, the Scandinavian atmosphere. I prefer to progress as a band. So it’s a good mix of the old and the new and the previous as well. It’s hard for me when you’re sitting on the inside you don’t think that much about how the album is sounding. If it sounds good, then it’s a good album. I’m very pleased with this whole production. I’m starting to do really good production as a sound engineer. So it’s a leap up from the last album. Also, by adding a lot of the atmosphere, it’s more epic and crunchy. The whole essence of Vintersorg is nature should have its toll.”
BraveWords: Your last four albums feature songs sung only in your native tongue. Do you think this alienates some fans or creates a barrier outside of Europe and Scandinavia?
Andreas Hedlund: “I don’t know, and I haven’t really thought about it. When I started up this band, I was singing totally in Swedish. Then after eight or nine years, I started to include some English lyrics and of course that was easier for people who weren’t from Scandinavia to understand what I was writing about. But even before, people weren’t that picky about the lyrics, they were more into the whole atmosphere with the vocal lines. I totally do this for a linguistic reason. All the other bands (I’m in) we were using English lyrics. I like to write in English as well, but I was used to writing lyrics in my mother tongue. I started to go back and write in Swedish. In other bands I sing in English and in Vintersorg I sing in Swedish. So I guess I can do both as well. I can have the cake and eat it too, so to speak. It’s just out of artistic reasons. I don’t calculate if people like that more or less. It probably alienates some (fans), but in a way it attracts others.”
BraveWords: Will all of the four elemental albums connect musically or thematically?
Andreas Hedlund: “There are those kind of similarities between Jordpuls, Orkan, and Naturbål. They are heavily involved melody wise and they also have a bit more kind of folk music style on it. Those albums are not super progressive. We did some albums before that were more progressive but we’ve toned that down a bit. We are going back more to the past but still of course with new targets toward the horizon. They are connected. They have the melodic language in them. And when I do the Water element album, it will connect as well. Of course we’re also going to use the same artist for all four covers. It’s really hard to pinpoint what connects them, but for me, it’s on more of an emotional basis.”
BraveWords: Vintersorg has always explored orchestral and Celtic folk elements. How do you get the inspiration for the epic sounding songs?
Andreas Hedlund: “It’s in my blood, I guess. I haven’t really thought about it much as well. My inspiration is finding me, and I write what comes out of that connection with me and my brain. I can’t really control that process, mentally or emotionally. The inspiration is an affluent thing. It’s not a specific thing that you can pinpoint where it’s going to. It’s a systematic thing, you go by what you feel. Also writing music itself is a great inspirational source. When I write guitar riffs and when I listen to those riffs, I come up with ideas around that. Dare to be inspired by your own work. You find something that you feel great about and then you get inspired by that to just roll with it. I just go with my heart.”