Interviews > Borknagar
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Borknagar have unleashed a musical masterpiece of epic proportions with their new Urd (Century Media). As profound as Fate itself, Urd is named after the Norn who weaves the tapestry of the Past. The Norns are three sisters who reside under the great tree Yggdrassil and weave the lifelines of all of Mankind. (Verdande is the Norn of the present, and Skuld weaves the future).

Hailing from Bergen, Norway, Borknagar are: founder/guitarist Oystein G. Brun, the “Golden Threesome” of vocalists Vintersorg, ICS Vortex, and Lazare (the latter two also handling Bass and Keyboard duties respectively), and lead guitarist Jens F. Ryland. David Kinkade kicked the skins on this album, but has since “mutually parted ways” with the band and is focusing all his energies on Soulfly.

Although loosely labeled as Black Metal, this album pushes those boundaries and is clearly much more. It’s Avant-Garde. Massive. Emotional.

The Crowgrrl recently caught up with Øystein G. Brun to find out more.

"Urd" is an excellent album! What is the significance of naming it after the Norn of the Past?

Thank you! First and foremost we wanted to project or address our musical, lyrical and artistic origin, so we early on started to discuss having an ancient northern name as the title for the album. In regards to this, “Urd” was the best option, as it has a mythological and mysterious notion to it as well as being a title we could build different layers of meaning. The whole idea of the Norns is an interesting approach to the whole existential pondering we profess in our lyrics. For instance the lifeline Urd, Verdande and Skuld are weaving in many ways mirror an ancient view of what we today know as the DNA- molecule- and so forth.

"Age of Creation" is as epic as the formation of the Earth itself. Can you tell us more about your inspirations behind this one?

Vintersorg wrote the lyrics for this one. But in my eyes this is very influenced by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss and his almost childish yet profound approach to the nature. Mountains have always had an important role in different cultures, religions and so forth- having some kind of godly/godlike connection. And the same thing goes with volcanos. So this is what this song is centering around, so to speak. Musically the song is very suitable in my eyes, having a very huge and "up on the mountain" feel to it.

Can you tell us more about "The Earthling"?

"The Earthling" is basically dealing with the circle of life in our own obscure way. I am basically trying to describe the beauty and poetry in death. Death is the ultimate bringer of Life.

"In A Deeper World" is more organic than the other songs – it’s almost like being one with nature. What are your thoughts on this song?

You nailed it there. In a deeper world is all about celebrating Nature, being as one with Nature. This song is also heavily inspired by Arne Næss, and the title of the song is more or less a twist of his theories about “Deep Ecology”. Of course, we always do it in our own twist- but I have to admit that Arne Næss has been an important source of inspiration on this album. Musically we tried to portray the magnitude of nature.

"The Beauty of Dead Cities" is profound. Can you tell us more about this song?

"The Beauty of Dead Cities" is pretty much the culmination and somewhat a modern expression of some of the main themes on this album. The uttermost consequence of our lifestyle that have become distant from the nature and the laws therein. We don’t want to go green- peace, but more a poetic portray of mankind’s inevitable downfall.

What about “Frostrite”?

For my point of view this song deals very much about being your own god. As simple as that… But Mr. Vortex probably has a better answer to this one.

What’s your personal favorite song on the new album?

I am not sure to be quite honestly, depends from day to day. But “The Earthling” has turned out to become a very personal song for me, lyrically speaking. Lyrically it’s somewhat a continuation of the song “My Domain”, which is a song I wrote (lyrically) during my dear grand mom’s death bed. So this goes very personal to me. But in the end of the day I love all the songs on the album actually- there are no fillers on this album.

Any video plans for any songs?

Yeah, we are currently working on a video for the song “The Earthling”. Very interesting project as we haven’t really done a proper video before. But it will be very different, more like a short movie. Very excited!

Any stories behind the cover art?

In my opinion, the cover perfectly mirrors the music and the lyrics for the new album. I have always liked abstract covers, in my opinion covers should not be too obvious, more like a summary notion of what the music and lyrics represent. The cover doesn’t have any shining meaning; it’s more designed to give you a feeling and a notion of what we do/where we come from musically. No story really, more a visual spearhead of the album.

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

I do the most of the songwriting but in the end of the day it is all about teamwork. I mean, I do most of the scratches, but we wrap up the songs altogether.

Do the lyrics come first? Does the music come first? What is the songwriting process like for you?

I always write the music first, but when writing music, I always have some sort of lyrical map or initial theme idea in the back of my head. First and foremost I am a musician not a poet, so the other way around would not work for me. I work out my musical scratches in my home studio and play around with lots of ideas before I present the material to the rest of the band. When I have something presentable, I send files over the other guys and we start to arrange the songs as a unit by adding all the other elements like synth, vocals and so on.

I’ve heard that Baard Kolstad is your new drummer. Is this true?

Yes, it is very much true! Fantastic guy and an awesome drummer. I am pretty sure Baard is a rising star in the world of drums.

Tour plans?

No, not at the moment. At the moment we have some time issues that make it difficult for us to do extended tours. But we’ll try to kick of some selected festivals and gigs along the line.

What is your live show like?

We’re not Kiss so to speak…haha… we try to keep things down to earth. By that I mean we try to keep a classic approach on stage where the music is the focus point. In my youth I was always very fascinated by Metallica, they just stood there with their black jeans and t-shirt and delivered the most powerful shows thinkable without going nuts with all the circus- effects. That’s a live approach I like and I think that is pretty much what we try to do with BORKNAGAR on stage.

Does your live set list contain mostly songs from your new album, or your other albums?

We usually try to cover all our albums. For the latest set-list we did two songs from the new album. Maybe we’ll do a few more new songs for future shows.

What kinds of merch are you bringing with you this time?

As I said we don’t have any plans for touring yet, so the touring merchandise isn’t something we have thought too much about. Though, we have made three different merchandise designs for the new album and that all look really nice- hopefully they will be printed soon.

What do you do on your down-time on the road? Do you bring movies or videogames? If so, which ones?

We often use our down time strolling around the local area. Being on tour is to me more than just playing concerts in the evening, it’s also a nice way to see new places and meet new people. Some of my best memories from tour are actually the down-time-- then we are able to see the world. And of course we have spent quite some hours watching movies and playing videogames, there is no way around being on tour.

Any long-form DVD plans?

Not at the moment. We have a lot of material, but I don’t want to release a DVD just to release a DVD. There has to be some sort of quality to it as I don’t want to sell crap to the fans. But maybe one day… ;-)

How hands-on are you with your website, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace pages?

We run most of our sites ourselves, so we try to be hands-on with everything. Nowadays we use Facebook a lot and try to have regular dialogue with our fans. It’s really cool I think, both for us and our fans-- or friends as I prefer to call them. Same goes with Twitter. But we have more or less stopped using MySpace as it turned out to be a spam thingy.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to tell our readers?

Thanks for the support! I would like to urge the readers to check out our new album, it’s definitely worth your hard earned money. Take care folks!!