Interview with Varg Vikernes
Pro-Rock (2012), by Naiden Kolchev

Good day, Varg! First, congratulations for "Umskiptar"! Since "Belus", it has become a tradition for you to release an album every spring. Is there some symbolism in this? I mean, spring is the season when nature is reviving and resurrecting itself after the long winter stagnation...

Spring is the season when life returns to our world, yes, but although I appreciates the symbolism it is not planned that way. It was for "Belus", but the others just came one year after the first mainly because the distributors prefer only one album each year.

How do you keep your enthusiasm and vitality as a musician? Are nature and the ancient past your main inspiration?

The romantic image of the ancient world is very inspiring, as is nature itself, but I think the dissatisfaction with our modern world is the strongest force keeping me going.

I've read that you consider the album as "back-to-the-roots", but I personally find it closer to "Belus" and "Fallen", more atmospheric and deeper than to your first releases. What makes the link between "Umskiptar" and "Det Som Engang Var"/"Hvis Lyset Tar Oss", for example?

Ah, well, that depends on what you see as the roots of Burzum. With "Umskiptar" I try to return to my musical roots, and to the roots of the atmosphere I try to create on this album; to traditional music and to classical music.

Your vocals are continuing to change, and beside the whispering and the clean warm singing, in songs like "Galgviðr" the vocal lines remind me of the Northern folklore. Is my guess right? Are such tradition inspirational for Burzum's music? And are the vocals now of equal importance as the instrumental part?

The vocals are more important on "Umskiptar" for two reasons. Firstly because there are more lyrics, made up of the entire "Völuspå" poem, and thus more vocals. Secondly, and this is the most important, because of the language itself; "Völuspå" is written in Old Norwegian, a very poetic, beautiful and powerful language compared to modern Norwegian. It lifted the entire production, so to speak, and changed (metamorphosed) it...

Like I said, I wanted to return to my roots, and unlike other metal music my music is not rooted in blues or jazz, but in traditional music and classical music.

How much of your new music is recorded by analogue instruments, and what part of it is programmed? Do you think that computers are able to destroy "the charm"/or "the aura" of a record, as some people say?

Everything is recorded using analogue instruments. Even the introduction and conclusion are recorded using analogue instruments.

Well, I guess computers can destroy an album, but they don't necessarily do. Some programmed music can be very atmospheric. I don't think the important part of making music is the method used, but rather the spirit put into it, so to speak.

The artwork of "Umskiptar" represents a personification of the Night, correct? The cover reminds me of the cover artwork of "Fallen", where you also used picture from the Romanticism. What attracts you to this period of the European art?

The Romantic art is beautiful, the topic is often Pagan and the ideals positive and European.

Nowadays less and less people buy the music on physical medium most of them prefer to download the digital version or even "steal" it. How about your fans? Are you comfortable with this state of the music industry not to be able to "touch" the record and so on? And is it possible to make your living with underground music?

I think metal fans are more loyal than other fans, and they are often more inclined to collect the albums of their favorite bands. Sales are dropping for metal bands as well, but not as much as for other genres.

It is probably impossible to make your living with underground music, unless you play live most of the time.

Last year you released "From The Depths Of Darkness", a re-recording of old songs of yours. Surprisingly, most of the reviews I read were quite negative most of the complaints were again about "breaking the aura of the old record". How would you comment? How did you decide to record those songs again?

Ah, well, the reviewers who were negative were mostly negative because they wanted to be. Like I stated above; metal fans are very loyal, but they are also often (but not always!) very narrow-minded and refuse to accept changes.

Now, I didn't make that album for the narrow-minded individuals in the scene, but for those who like me think the old vocals and production make it hard to listen to the early music of Burzum. With the re-recording I am finally able to listen to and enjoy this music again.

Do you consider yourself more as a philosopher than a musician, as music being your way to express your views to the world and those, who would embrace them?

I consider myself a bard, a musician singing about Pagan topics to make sure these topics don't go away forever drown in a sea of lies and meaningless information. I am not a philosopher, only frustrated by the development of the world we live in and too stupid to keep my mouth shut when I see injustice.

How would you describe your "target group" (pardon me for this definition) people, that would listen to your recent albums? Do you seek for "thinking" and inquisitive fans? And is it possible to find such among the typical black metal followers nowadays?

My target group is probably anyone who will be able to appreciate the music, the visual art and the lyrics of the albums. I don't try to reach a certain group with my albums. I just record the music I like and release it and those who happen to like it can buy it and enjoy it as they see fit. I guess the target group is individuals like myself, who think of music as a portal to another world of romantic dreams and lost worlds.

Byelobog Productions is dedicated to your new music and its promotion. Is there a way for another band to sign with this label?

Not that I know of, no.

The last two decades, you are public figure in Norway and the "Metal" world. Often you leave the impression of a person that prefers to be left in solitude. Isn't it too exhausting, especially when people tend to concentrate on your past? Have you ever had problems with fanatic fans from Norway that may recognize you somewhere?

No, I have never had any problems with fanatic fans. Or at least I would not describe it that way. I politely explain to fans showing up at my doorstep that they are too intrusive and must leave my property. They need to respect my privacy. This does not happen often, though. I hardly ever moves amongst people who can recognize me so it is really not a problem in my everyday life.

I wish that I could be invisible and unknown, but I try to make a living from music, and this is the price to pay.

I know it's one of the most annoying questions, but I'm bound to ask you. Do you happen to communicate in any way with some of your colleagues from the 90's? Or even listen to new black metal music sometimes?

No and no. (I know this is one of the most annoying answers, but I am bound to reply this way.) :-)

Speaking of this, is really The Cure one of the bands that fit you nowadays, since you mentioned them in some of your interviews?

Ah, I had forgotten about them completely. Actually, I hardly ever listen to music these days, save the music I work with, because I sold the car which had a car stereo, and now I have all my CDs in the (new) car, but I have no car stereo... and I am reluctant to spend money on a new car stereo...

In our last interview, you described your passion for medieval armor and weapons as a romantic attempt to resurrect a "Golden Age that never existed and never will". Do you have a collection of such, according to your latest promotional pictures? Is there a weapon that is particularly valuable for you emotionally, of course?

Well, I kind of like the seax/sax, a long knife/short sword used in Scandinavia in classical Antiquity and until the Viking Age. In a sense it represents the spirit of Ancient Scandinavia. Yes, I have a small collection of classical and medieval arms. Swords. Spears. Bows. Crossbows. Armour. Helmets.

You are famous with your firm opinion, speaking of political, religious or social topics. Last year you published an article, criticizing the murderer Anders Breivik. Do you think such tragedies may occur due to misunderstanding of political/religious ideologies and mental problems, or this is conducted from above, by anonymous political/religious figures and groups?

Such tragedies probably take place because the politicians are destroying their own countries, for personal profit, and sooner or later the people will revolt. First in form of crazy (but not insane) individuals like Anders Breivik, and then in form of more and more individuals like him, until the politicians are all hanging in the light poles in the streets. Some attacks are conducted from above, others are not. The future does not look bright.

Such tragedies, as the one you mentioned, I may add, is nothing compared to the tragedies caused by the politicians and their work every single day.

As far as I know, you are quite interested in Slavonic culture. Most of us, Bulgarians, are also ethnic Slavs, so I always wanted to ask you about the things, that you find close to yourself in this ancient culture. Do you consider European Paganism as universal, no matter the ethno-linguistic group?

European Paganism is European; common to all ethnic Europeans. This is our nature, our blood, and we cannot escape it even if we want. It is closer to us than anything else.

Recently, you've published your latest book "Sorcery and Religion in Ancient Scandinavia". In your opinion, what impact do those ancient times have on contemporary Europe?

The ancient times are the foundation on which we build everything today, and they have an enormous impact. All our art, religious (even "Christian") festivals and our very spirit are all based on this foundation and this is why our enemies hate us. We are still European.

In some of your interviews you speak about Mother Earth and our relationship with Her. What do you think about Gaianism as life philosophy? Do you support the view that we all have to break our anthropocentric attitude towards the World, in order to save our civilization?

Ah, I don't think we should save our "civilization" in the first place, so I might see this from a different perspective. I am not convinced this, Gaia, is our "home world" either. All mythologies suggest we actually come from "the sky", i.e. some other planet out there in the universe.

Anyway, Gaianism as a life philosophy is just another way for the enemies of Europe to promote internationalism, so that we will be more easily conquered and enslaved by them. We should embrace diversity rather than try to make everybody equal in all respects. We are not, and that is a good thing.

To some degree I agree that we should break the anthropocentric attitude towards the World, but... we are still humans (well, to some extent anyway), and because of that we can only relate to the world from a human perspective.

As a father and a person that has seen many things in his life, do you think that parents should raise their children, protecting them from all the cruelty in the world, or only the life itself could give them the best lessons?

We need to protect them from some dangers and expose them to others. I let my children climb and fall, run and stumble, and they sometimes hurt themselves doing so, and that is fine, but I will for example not risk having them sexually molested by some pedophile teacher in school or elsewhere. Life today is very unnatural and destructive, in so many ways, and this is not a life I want them to adapt to. I will rather destroy this world and build a new world for them. Thankfully this world is so sick it is dying, and falling, and will die soon.

If you don't mind, I'm going to ask you two common questions for columns in our magazine:

1) Do you like concept albums and which is your favourite one?

Probably "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun", by Dead Can Dance.


I cannot recall having heard the entire David Bowie album you mentioned, and I am sure I have never heard anything at all from the Emperor album you mention; Emperor is a band made up of police informers, individuals who betrayed their friends and informed on them to the police, so I will never listen to any of their albums.

Thank you very much for this interview and for your patience!

Thank you for the interest!

Author: Naiden Kolchev (© 2012 Pro-Rock, Bulgaria)

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