(Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum returns to us with the following interview of Mattias Hemminby of the Norwegian bands Eldamar and Askheimr.)
This is an interview with Mattias Hemminby about his one-man Black Metal project Eldamar and his new project called Askheimr.
When it comes to Eldamar, I think that the music has a great atmosphere influenced by Burzum and the greatness of Lord of the Rings. I have always found Eldamar pretty peculiar and interesting due to its pretty harmonious composition. Eldamar’s style is ambitious and aesthetically beautiful and not easy to achieve, especially taking into account all the limitations a one-man underground project faces, but in spite of this the result is favorable and I enjoy the music a lot. I think it has a touch of uniqueness in the way it has been put together, and of course its “Norwegianness” surfaces. adding a lot to it.
I have always been interested in one-man projects, and this is another one that has not only captivated me but many others. Eldamar has been well-received in the atmospheric Black Metal world since its inception and now it has a fan base. But the same composer has engaged in other endeavors in the form of Askheimr, which is a Black/Death band that draws from Scandinavian influences, particularly from Finland.
What follows is an introduction to both bands, an inquiry into particulars about composition and the thoughts behind Eldamar and Askheimr, and what we can expect in the future.
What were your motivations for creating Eldamar?
I found that I wanted to create a one-man band because at that time I just had gotten into Burzum and I wanted to do the very same thing. At the same time I was into Lord of the Rings. I was fascinated by the elven theme. I guess I wanted to create something pretty heavy on top of something beautiful.
I think you have succeeded in establishing Eldamar in the atmospheric black metal scene. How has been the process of making the band get recognition?
In the beginning I remember I was sick from work because I almost cut my finger off. I did lots of stuff like videos and other things. I was trying to promote Eldamar and I was signed on a label. A guy who owned a big YouTube channel asked if I wanted some promotion, and after that it went through the roof. I wasn’t expecting so much attention. After that I didn’t promote anything myself. I just let the fans come to me automatically. I don’t know what happened…
What are the positive and negative sides of playing in a one-man band?
There are lots of positive things. First, you get to decide. You can really lock yourself into your own atmosphere, your own head, and create your own ideas and just fade away. You never get someone telling you that you should do this or that.
You have other musicians now in your new project Askheimr. Do you jam with them?
It did not start as my project; it was my friend’s project. He had the name Askheimr for his solo project. I was composing music for Eldamar then. The name is an old name for my hometown Askim. He wanted me to join his project and I worked with many songs, but he quit the project and I stayed. I had some ambitions with different styles, then I created a song myself, a song that turned out perfect, so I went on to work with other songs. Then I got other musicians to join and we are now doing rehersals.
How would you describe the Askheimr’s sound?
It is pretty Nordic sounding. It’s Black Metal and Death metal on top of each other. It is pretty melodic. I wanted to create a grim atmosphere. It has some neoclassical elements because I have always been a fan of Yngwie Malmsteen, Children of Bodom, and Dimmu Borgir, and those are my biggest influences.
How is the recording and composing experience with Askheimr different from that you had with Eldamar?
The process of Askheimr is just me doing the same as I have always done. I work alone and it works pretty well for me. But nonetheless during the composing process I always get my friends to listen.
What was the process of making the female cleans fit the music? The tonalities go with the music. I think that makes it original, and besides, not many bands do that to that extent. Tell me how you got the idea to do it in such a manner?
I have always liked the Lord of the Rings film score compositions from Howard Shore. It’s so clean and beautiful. I love how it is written because I love how the chords are. The melodies and the chord progression fit together. I was pretty inspired by him as well as other musicians in the atmospheric black metal scene. I chose a female voice because I listen to lots of Celtic music.
I have to admit I was kind of skeptical about doing it in the beginning — I suppose there are other people who are skeptical too — but I went for it in the end. But I don’t think I’ll pursue this style anymore. I have kind of changed the style since then and right now I’m trying to produce another album, but at the moment I don’t have any inspiration for it. I have to do myself some damage in order to get inspiration. I think it’s going to be more like atmospheric Doom, but it won’t be the same cleans anymore.
What about the Black Metal vocals?
When it comes to the Black Metal vocals in A Dark Forgotten Past album, it was just me and a friend. We went to a cave in Askim and I just placed my computer in the hole and plugged it in and hung up the microphone. I think my friend added some vocals too, but I didn’t know it at the time. I screamed and did two layers and doubletracks and that was it. It has no lyrics, just screams. I have always been a fan of Lustre and Basarabian Hills. They create such a great atmosphere for nature, and I got inspired by all that.
What are the future plans for both bands?
In addition to trying to compose a new Eldamar album, I have just some riffs and melodies but there is nothing much. But when it comes to Askheimr, I’m just going to try to make the band fit for the studio and contact the right label. It’s just the very beginning.