Interview with Varg Vikernes (23.02.2010), by EvilG, Lord of the Wasteland, Luxi, and Arto
In his very first interview with Metal-Rules.com, Varg Vikernes speaks to us about his new Burzum album "Belus". As well, since Varg has always been outspoken with his political and societal views, we ask him about the changes he's seen in the world over the years he's been incarcerated. Whether you are a fan or not, his place in Black Metal history is undeniable as his role in the formation of the genre cannot be overstated. So without further adieu, we present Varg Vikernes.
Good day to you Mr. Vikernes in wintery Norway! How is it going there, presumably there is a lot of snow all around?
Good day to you too. Things are fine in Norway. There is a lot of snow, but that's how it should be. It used to be like this when I was a kid, and I am happy to see true Winter return. For some reason nobody is talking about global warming anymore...
Thank you in advance for answering all of our questions. Several members of the Metal-Rules.com staff from Canada and Finland contributed to this interview and we look forward to reading your answers. We are also eager to hear the new Burzum album as 11 years is a long, long wait! Here we go...
The new album, "Belus"
After an 11-year break from releasing new music, how did you start creating the material, songs and, and in general, the concept for the new album, "Belus"? Did you find it a major challenge to come up with vicious and excellent sounding tunes and riffs satisfying your mind?
You know, I have been active all the time, to some degree anyway, so I never needed to return to anything, and the music of "Belus" is made prior to, during and after my incarceration.
With an international fan base, I'm sure there will be a few fans may be just a little unhappy that the album's lyrics are entirely in Norwegian. Is there a reason why you didn't use any English on the album?
Yes, there is a reason; American imperialism. The Romans demanded that everybody talked Latin, and the morally bankrupt USA tries and wants to be the new Roman Empire, and their Latin is American ("English"). I know I have an international fan base, and that's why you can find a French, a Russian, an Italian and possibly other translations of the lyrics as well on the burzum.org website.
How do you think the new album will be taken by Burzum fans, keeping in mind it's been 11 long years since your previous album, "Hliðskjálf", came out?
They seem to appreciate it.
Why did you decide not to release all 11 songs that were initially planned to be on "Belus"? Did those three remaining songs not fit into the concept of the album, or do you have some sort of a plan to release them later on some other Burzum release?
The track list you saw was a working album's track list, meaning it wasn't finished yet. That's just the how making a record works. You make changes all the time until you are satisfied, and then you record the album. There is not more to it than that.
Now that you have the recording technology available that was always limited or unavailable in prison, can people expect a different production sound on "Belus" from previous Burzum albums?
The production is better, and the sound too, but it does not stand out too much from the other metal albums. It's still raw and unpolished, and exactly like I want it to be.
Are there some special lyrical things on "Belus" that you want people to realize and understand without provoking their minds with complicated metaphors that you may have included in your texts?
You know, I really think it is best if each and every one of those who read the texts are allowed to make up an opinion of their own, or if they don't want to have an opinion, be allowed to enjoy it without feeling that I try to force some "true" meaning of the lyrics down their throats. Art should be perceived as subjectively as possible, and if anyone wants to see something in "Belus" that I had not planned that is fine.
Burzum in general
The artwork of Burzum's albums has always reflected dark, cold feelings, but still has eye-catching beauty. How do you typically go through choosing the cover art and declare it fitting for Burzum? Do you have a certain vision in your mind how the album art should look?
I always have a certain vision.
Are you still a fan of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"? As many know, your former (?) stage name of "Count Grishnackh" was taken from the Orc Grishnákh. I realize that Tolkien's stories owe a lot to Norse tales, and I understand that is where your main interest may lie, but as a Tolkien fan, I was just curious to hear your thoughts on how it may have inspired you.
This might disappoint you somewhat, but I have to say my interest in Tolkien has faded dramatically over the years. His language skills are amazing, his story good and fascinating, but... he has a very Judeo-Christian perspective, and his use of mythical creatures is very... ignorant. He even said so himself; when he wrote LotR he had to correct his mistake of making the "hobgoblins" larger than the "goblins" in his previous work. The opposite is the case in mythology, he realized, and thus he came up with the uruk-hai, to have a creature that resembled the larger "hobgoblin" of his previous work.
His other fantastic creatures, like the dwarves and the elves, are also very, very different from the dwarves and elves of the mythology he used as a source. The mythological dwarves (alias dark elves) are dark and ugly dwellers of the burial mound, and the mythological elves (or light elves, if you like) are mere spirits. The dwarves are originally the bodies of the dead forebears, and the elves the spirits of the dead forebears. The dwarves are said to have forged mighty weapons and other objects because the dead were buried with their belongings, and the living went into the burial mounds (on Halloween) to collect these, or actually to "take them back", because they saw themselves as the reborn dead – and these objects still belonged to them.
Now, Tolkien's fantasy world can be fascinating still, wonderful and beautiful, but it is nothing but fantasy, and I prefer the mythological fantasy world to the modern fantasy world of Tolkien. That's it really.
Oh, and that Hollywood LotR-movie really sucked, and was a true turn-off. That's what Hollywood always does even to good stories...
All the previous Burzum albums are viewed as milestones of the Black Metal genre. Do you feel a sense of pride that Burzum has played an essential role in helping define the genre of Black Metal and the overwhelming influence on younger bands?
Yes, I am proud if what you say is true.
Have you considered writing an autobiography to give your complete story in your own words that will put to rest any mistruths or rumours that have always followed Burzum? Interviews, your website, and blog postings can go a long way towards this, but an official book covering your life is something that Burzum fans would appreciate!
Maybe so, but right now I am busy elsewhere, so to speak. Personally I would hope the burzum.org articles would suffice... and I do appreciate some anonymity and privacy, for sure.
Socio-political and other musings...
After spending so many years incarcerated, was it strange to suddenly have the freedoms on the "outside" that you may have taken for granted when you were a younger man? Do you consider yourself to be truly a "free" man now?
In fact, I am not free, not even on paper. I have to report to a parole officer once every month, and this is considered a part of the "punishment". Mentally and spiritually I have been free all the time, but now that the walls have been exchanged with laws I am still physically a prisoner. We are all prisoners, and most of us have been since the introduction of agriculture – some time in the Stone Age...
After being away from society for 16 years, have modern advances like debit cards, iPods, mp3s, Internet, cellphones, etc. thrown you for a loop? Do you feel like you were in something of a time warp and that you were "left behind" while society evolved without you? Any other difficulties with reintegration?
Doing 70 miles per hour on the road only to soon discover that the "well known" road ahead has been rebuilt completely can be quite an eye-opener, and this has happened a few times. I do feel like a Stone Age man in 2010, but the biggest shock to me is to see how society has been degraded in so many ways. "Freedom" is even more relative now than before, and everybody seem to be fine with this. There is hardly any evolution to see anywhere. I see mostly degeneration.
Reintegration? So you assume I was ever an integrated part of this society? I don't think so. Not any more than a bear in a zoo, trying to get out...
In many interviews you've lamented about the plight of modern society/humanity. What are you doing to change it, or in your eyes, save it? Is society beyond saving to the point where you feel nothing for your common man and you've become pitiless?
Yeah; this sinking wreck is sailing into the abyss, and I choose to jump overboard and swim ashore rather than try convince the blind crew to place the insane captain in chains and turn around. The other men with wits jump overboard as well, and we are better off with those who are going to drown when the ship sinks. That's survival of the fittest...
While Christianity has been a primary target of yours, what are your thoughts on Islam? It is one of the world's fastest growing religions, and it too has its extremists. By SOME estimates, the population of Europe will be 40% Muslim by 2020. With thoughts of brutally backwards Shariah law being imposed and AGAIN with the possibility of a way of life being smothered, does this stir the same feelings of contempt?
Islam? I don't worry too much though; we have dealt with destructive foreign groups in our midst before, and we will probably do so again. The mood is changing in Europe. I see it every day. Hail Richard Lionheart!
What are your thoughts on the new Black Metal documentary, "Until The Light Takes Us"?
From what I have been told it is okay, but I haven't seen it myself yet, so I really cannot say much about it.
Again, thank you so much for time, Mr. Vikernes. Hail Burzum!
Authors: EvilG, Lord of the Wasteland, Luxi, and Arto (© 2010 Metal-Rules.com)
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