Kampfar – Interview with Dolk, December 2013

Kampfar is pagan black metal band from Norway, approaching its 20th anniversary in 2014. The guys are preparing the new album, “Djevelmakt”, which is going to be released on 27th of January. the band frontman Per Joar Spydevold, known as Dolk, agreed to answer some questions for PlanetMosh.

KAMPFAR release new track and video for ‘Mylder’

You are releasing your new album “Djevelmakt” in 2014. So, why “Djevelmakt”? It means “devil’s power” in Norwegian, right?

I have always since childhood been very much into history and folklore. My grandmother taught me some how to be individual and she showed the old ways in nature and so on. The list is really long but she lit a fire in me somehow and I still have that within I would say.

So the devil’s power we are talking about here is maybe an infernal sting in the face of religion! I will not obey their laws. I will follow my own laws… PERIOD!

Religions always condemn people to hell Gehenna and it’s indeed a devil’s power in all religions.

How the “Djevelmakt” will differ from the earlier albums? And how it will relate to “Mare”?

Hmm…We pushed our limits as far as we could at this point at least. That’s all I can say. If we succeeded or not its not up to me to decide. At least it’s different than before in many ways. Again it’s just another step further in the same footsteps as “Mare” started to walk in 2010.

Our goal has never been to be more accessible. It has been more about finding the ultimate old school sound with a modern twist that suits Kampfar. There is no point what so ever to go back into the basements and record something with a tape recorder again. Face it – we live in the year 2013! What’s the point in not using the technology? The music is not more true because it sounds like shit! Or is it?

So there you go…Yes, we want to be modern! But hell yeah, we belong to the old school side of Black Metal too… Have no doubts! And in short word has that been more or less the goal, masterplan for this album. Modern n’ old school is a hard task but that has been our goal in a way. Of course, we have a new guitar player in the band now, so that may differ a bit, I guess.

I actually like the idea of modern and old school mix. Is there anything new what was used in this album recording?

Hmm.. new? Well, it’s maybe the opposite in a way. We have been working really hard this last year to kinda get back to our origin roots in a way, but at the same time try to develop it into something new. The vocals have been pushed pretty far this time, I had some really strong ideas for this time. And for the first time in years I was really nervous when entering the recording room for recording vocals.

And how do you like the result of that?

Personally I’m really satisfied. I know I pushed myself to the max at least at this point. So I can not be disappointed about the result. If so it’s just very personal feeling at least. But then again Kampfar have always been personal to me, otherwise I wouldn’t have done this music at all, I guess.

Of course. “Mylder” is the first song from the album, which went public already. Why this one, how it represents the album?

It’s more about what we talked about, it represents Kampfar anno 2013. It may not be the “big hit” but it represents who we are and that’s why we went for that one in the first place.

I see. For the very first time you have chosen to acquire pre-existing art for the design of the album. What led to this decision? How did you chose one?

KAMPFAR release new track and video for ‘Mylder’
“Djevelmakt”

It’s a blast first of all! True sense of art! Period!

It’s also so close connected to what we already have spoken about. The lyrical condemnation on “Djevelmakt” and the essence of the lyrics and music. It’s just perfect! We knew immediately when we saw this art that this is it.. this is the painting for 2014. Nothing more to say really.

How did you find it? Did you know the artist?

Yes, I knew this artist but we hadn’t any plans for using these pictures in Kampfar. One evening in the studio we started talking and Jon mentioned this artist.. and the rest is history in a way? It just felt so right and correct. Luckily we got the rights to use it. In fact, the owners (because the true artist is dead) were thrilled about our request for that painting. And our cover painting is in fact a dream he had, nightmare and it all fits so naturally to me. He was indeed an interesting person, too.

Are there any more artists that you could relate to? If there are any names in your mind at the moment.. maybe they inspire you as well?

Hm, that’s a hard task to answer. I guess, in the end I am not that kind of a person, who have idols and I am a very down to personal earthing a way. So I already talked about my grandmother and she was this kind of a person, who was really into a lot of tales and forces of nature and she kind of lit a fire in me back in my younger years. And this person is still my “Idol” if I can put it that way. She still is the person, who I feel connected to, even after her death several years ago. It might sound weird but I don’t care. I still get inspiration from her in a way. Why should you look so much abroad when you can look in your own garden…

That’s actually, so true… The band will celebrate 20th anniversary next year. Any thoughts about all this time and work with Kampfar?

Well… When I was a kid around 10 years old, my teacher in school asked everyone in class what we wanted to do when we will become adults. There were a lot of policeman and firefighter answers among the boys as you can imagine. My answer on the other hand was: “I want to play metal, I want to play in a band”. It may sound like a joke to you but it isn’t. I was already back then pretty sure of what I wanted to do in life. And metal was my life even back then. I have got long hair since I was 9 years old. I still get comments from some of my friends back from school about that statement.

So when Mock (my previous band in 1991-94) split up, there was never an option for me to stop. Kampfar was created the same day as Mock split up. I guess that has been my lifetime story in a way.. I can not answer it any clearer than that. It’s just who I am.

To become famous or not has nothing to do with it, it’s all about feelings. I have to create, I have to play something aggressive. I think I would have been fucked up deeply if I didn’t, to be honest.

A lot of my old friends are now dead due to drugs or other shit… I am pretty sure the road was split in 2 ways some decade ago for me and I chose to walk the path with Kampfar. That’s why it isn’t strange for me to still be here with Kampfar. Even though I had some dark spots during the road with Kampfar during all these years. And after Ole came into the band… I feel even more dedicated than ever to continue. It’s good to be in Kampfar now! Without any question!

But when I look back it’s insane – seeing all kinds of “voted” metal lists in magazines that handles the best black metal albums from the nineties and so on… Like one in Sweden that just a couple of months ago I saw my debut album “Mellom Skogkledde Aaser” got number 7 out of 100.

I can tell you for sure that this was not the case for us to feel back then. Albums seem to get bigger in people’s mind always after a decade or two. It’s always much more easy to look back and say “Yeah, that was great” than look ahead and see something new becoming classic.

So yes, it’s strange to me… I still enjoy my earlier work at times though, but mostly I just regret the production and small details instead. “Why didn’t I do this instead of that and so on” – I guess I am my own worst critics in a way. So in all it’s strange to me that it has been 20 years! Strange but good!

You have mentioned, that there are some things, when you look back, you’d do different now, what are they?

We record bass guitar now with the sound of bass *Laughs* that’s at least the first obvious thing. ‘Cause back then I didn’t want bass in the sound picture at all. Another thing is of course the way we compose music in the first place. Before it was me and me only but now we are a band and we have our own studio (Oles studio) in Bergen. So you can just guess what that means when it comes to composing. But the reference towards Kampfar’s music is still more or less the same still. But we are better musicians now of course. It’s crazy, too – now have guitars delivered to us for free in the post (free from companies like ESP, EMP), while back then, in the beginning, we had nothing more than a useless guitar and amp. If it helps it’s not up to me to tell, I guess, you have to ask the listeners.

Djevelmakt” was written during the first half of 2013, passed almost half a year more since then. Do you already have some ideas for the new material?

*Laughs*… we already started to write new stuff when recording the album… so just guess! We do not have any long form master plan. But we create music for sure that’s what we do. It’s all very personal and we do this not because we are suppose to but because this is our lives, short but true.

I enjoyed a lot your memories from past, is there anything memorable for you from those 20 years? Can you share it with us?

Of course there is but where to begin… In fact, I am writing a book these days about a lot of this stuff. There was some shit when we drove “Pelle” (more known as Dead) to the hospital after a party and so on.. I can not tell any more ’cause then I would reveal too much info about my book. There are incidents like this more than concerts in the first place. ‘Cause we did not start to playing live before many years later in Kampfar’s history. It was just me and Thomas back then you know…

Yeah.. oh well, when the book will be ready for public then?

Hmm, I have a long term working period set for this, ’cause I do not want to publish shit or stories everyone have heard before. So it has to be couple of years still I think. I have been working with this more on and off now for the last 1,5 year.

Talking about concerts, I saw there are some 2014 festival dates confirmed, any UK dates coming up?

Yes, we will do London in April tour with support Hate (Pol) as main support and Velnias (US) + Iskald (Nor).

Is there something you would like to say to your fans in UK, who will be reading this interview?

Well, all I can say is that it has been almost 3 years already since last time in the UK for us, so we really looking forward to finally come back to London again. We will bring a nice bunch of bands, a new package and live set for Kampfar. So I am ready to battle again and for sure that counts for the rest of the guys, too.

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About Jurga Kalinauskaite

Photographer, journalist, curious wanderer.
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