(One of our Norway-based contributors, Karina Noctum, brought us this two-part interview of Seidemann, long-time bassist for 1349 and the principal creative force behind Svart Lotus. The interview was conducted shortly before 1349‘s recent performance at Inferno Festival in Oslo and will be continued tomorrow. The interview includes photos from Inferno Fest by Metal Exposure and Silje Storm Drabitius, and we thank them for allowing us to use them.)
Before 1349‘s majestic performance of pure Black Metal immersed in aural hellfire at this year’s Inferno Festival in Oslo, I got the pleasure to interview Seidemann (bass). This is the first part of the interview, in which Seidemann presents insights about the creative process behind the band’s latest EP, Dødskamp, which was a musical interpretation of a work bearing the same name by the famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, and an in-depth talk about Seidemann‘s band Svart Lotus.
Here you will also find some information about what is to come for 1349 in the near future, and that topic will be further extended to the second part of the interview to be published later.
How was the process of writing Dødskamp that was inspired by Munch’s art, in response to a challenge by the Munch Museum? How to translate art into music?
When it comes to inspiration, so it comes from all sorts of sources, but it is mainly taken from Munch’s work that is in vein of 1349. We got all this Munch art, many different paintings. We had to look at them and choose one. Basically we could pick one, and the guitarist Archaon—who writes the music mostly— decided upon upon a painting called Dødskamp. Because it was the one that inspired him the most and made him want to write a song.
I did the same as well. So when both Idar and I had written the lyrics, we decided to merge them into the song. He had written the lyrics in English, and meanwhile I had written them in Norwegian. So I ended up writing two versions: I translated mine to English first and then translated his to Norwegian to fit my own lyrics. In the end we gave these to the vocalist and he thought the English version was the easiest for him to sing. So this is why the song’s title is in Norwegian but the lyrics are in English.
I looked at all the pictures and sort of wrote whatever came to my mind because all of Munch’s paintings have a certain spirit. They transmit a feeling of agony. The anxiety, the psychological turmoil, the alienation, the feeling of being an outsider. All these are basic human emotions, and in a Black Metal context particularly they are pretty basic, because we are alien to this normal society. You don’t even have to play Black Metal, you only need to listen to it and find that there are still people who think that because you do that, something is wrong with you. Even though Black Metal is a part of Norwegian culture, people here still associate it with the Church burnings that happened some years ago, and that’s what sticks. It is by no means mainstream here, it is still a part of the undercurrent. It’s an annoying part of the subconscious for most people.
How did you come up with the idea of creating Svart Lotus?
In December of 2011 my father died suddenly, one week before Christmas. Suddenly I inherited this house in the mountains. I had to empty it out and decide what to do with it and with my life. So I decided that I would at least try to go where, in the middle of the mountains, there’s absolutely nothing to do. No music scene, nothing. I still wanted to go there and see what that could give me, in terms that I still would have a house and I could build a studio in the basement.
Finally I bought an acoustic guitar I could use to write music in the house because I wanted to write an album. I wanted to find out what I could do. I wanted to find out what’s inside me that is not 1349. Because I’ve done 1349 for over 20 years. I wanted to see what else was coming out.
For a long time it was just me recording demos while playing the acoustic guitar pretty badly, because I did not know how to play guitar since I’m a bass player. As time went by I suddenly realized that it was probably time to get a band, so I met some local musicians. Soon after, I started jamming with the drummer and I suddenly got inspired by this. Eivin is a really good drummer. So suddenly after all this I had an EP ready.
I recorded it, I released it on my own label, and I even printed out some vinyls because I had some money left from my father. I even did some shows, and so I set out to write the whole album.
For me it is important for Svart Lotus to be considered a band and not just my side-project. Because you know with 1349 for a long while people said, “You know it is just Frost’s side-project. It’s not a band.” I mean what the fuck? For a long time we were a band and then he joined us. It’s not like he came to us with the idea. We started it and he joined us. So I didn’t want the same to happen to Svart Lotus. They are great musicians and I do not want them to disappear in the shades because I play in 1349. I chose these guys because they are great people and I want to play with them. Svart Lotus are a band and they are my brothers in arms. They are with me on this and they deserve the praise and the glory for what they have done here
How is the sound of Svart Lotus compared to that of 1349?
Svart Lotus is such an expression of me, and me alone. It’s everything that’s in my head, and I mix and match everything I have been listening to since I was a kid. For example, I still think at the age of 40 that Celtic Frost is the best. But I never only listened to metal
1349 is very strict and set. There has to be a certain kind of very dark coherence. It is exclusively Black Metal in many, many ways. It is true that there are certain variations within Black Metal, but it is Black Metal only.
When I was composing Stemmer fra Dypet, I was listening to a lot of film scores, videogame music, ’70s prog, Doom, and lots of depressive things. I never felt like I was going to make a song that would sound like Celtic Frost, but when I felt that something was good I’d use it, something that would work pretty well live. What I do is to let things flow. Everything is a reflection of me and it is egotistical in that sense. Meanwhile 1349 is a reflection of us that results in a 1349 kind of spirit. But this is just me and I do what I want to do, which is liberating and scary at the same time.
Could you describe Svart Lotus’s sound to those who have not had the pleasure of listening to it yet?
Someone said to me that Svart Lotus sounds like Gubbe Metal, which means metal for old men. It’s very introverted, dark, doomy, ’90s Black Metal with some really weird shit thrown in. It is pretty introverted stuff, low frequency. It’s pretty much of a reflection of me and where I was then, and where I’m kind of going, in addition to all the influences that I have in me and do not necessarily show in 1349. I wanted a place to take those out. If I want to do more progressive music or Doom I can just do it. I can play out all these things that are inside me. The result of it was Stemmer fra Dypet. It is the album we released last year. I considered it an expression of the voices in my head.
Svart Lotus has been influenced by all the music I grew up with. I grew up in the ’80s with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest like everyone else, and I was lucky enough that I found Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, and all that kind of stuff. Towards the end of the ’80s I got into Possessed, Morbid Angel, Bathory.
Afterwards in the early ’90s someone gave me a tape, a typical cassette, and it said Burzum on it. Once I listened to it I wondered what the fuck was with the vocals and I couldn’t stop listening to it. The vocals were a total mystery to me, but the songs were amazing. So I realized that this was not just about the riffs but more about this feeling. A feeling that is almost impossible to describe in a coherent way. A feeling that is my definition of Black Metal and that made me realize that it was that what I wanted to do.
I visualize the Svart Lotus sound as a journey through a dark forest in winter. There’s snow and you are surrounded by tall trees, mountains, everything shrouded in darkness.
If you look at the EP, the first song is called “Ferdamann”, which means traveller, and the last song in the album is called “En Ferdamann Krysser sitt Spor”, which means a traveller crosses its tracks. I repeat the riff from the first song in the last one because it’s a journey. There’s a story in there and it’s a journey from this weird travel in the woods and in the mind, and then you come out on the other side crossing your tracks, ready to move on. Ultimately that’s what is going to happen to Svart Lotus too. Once I’m done with the 1349 album, I’m going to write the next Svart Lotus album because this journey has already started in my mind, I’m ready to go there.
Why did it take so long to release the first EP?
So long is a relative term because, yes, I moved back in 2012 and technically started what would become Svart Lotus, but it didn’t take its full form in the very beginning, not until composing the EP. Svart Lotus didn’t find itself as a band until I started with the EP because by then I had found the guitarist, the drummer. I did the bass on the EP apart from one song, and ultimately I found a better bass player to record the album. But when I first got a clear idea for the EP then it took me a year to complete it. It was 2015 and I found the name Svart Lotus.
There are only four songs on the EP. There are two Norwegian songs on side A and two songs in English on side B. The ones in English are the first ones I wrote, they are from 2013. They have an acoustic feeling in them. Those are more me, and then you get drums. But the other two songs are more group-oriented. I then had other musicians who understood what I wanted to do, and the composition process was quick.
You also have to consider that I’m working full-time as a psychiatric nurse; 1349 has been touring; and I was in Den Saakaldte until 2016. So if you think about it, Svart Lotus came to fill the void that was left when I quit Den Saakaldte. I used my energy on Svart Lotus instead.
Why did you choose to release the album yourself given the fact that you have contacts and could probably have gotten a label to release your EP?
I’m sure if I’d been a businessman I’d have done it, but I’m not. I’m not into the business side of it. I didn’t even look for a label because in my head this was very much my stuff. It was so close to me and so personal that I didn’t see why anyone would really want to listen to it or release it. The other fact is that I want to control it because I’ve been in the music business for a while and I’ve been fucked over a lot. All sorts of shit happens when you do not pay attention. So I decided to do it myself and have full control. It would be all me.
What’s 1349 doing now? Are you writing new material?
At the moment I’m totally immersed in 1349 as I have to, because technically we’re going to the studio right after the Inferno show. We are recording a new album. I’m an old guy and I have to do one thing at a time. So I always focus on 1349 100% when I have to do that. Mainly because of the drummer situation there will be periods of time when 1349 is inactive. So I have had time left and I’ve been playing with many other bands over the years. But since I moved away from Oslo — it was 7 years ago or so — I withdrew from almost everything. I quit almost all the bands until it was only 1349 left.
To be continued…