(Karina Noctum has brought us the following interview with two members of the Norwegian band Drott, whose fascinating new album was released not long ago on the label of By Norse Music.)
Drott’s latest album, Troll, left me with the impression of having listened to something unique, and that does not happen too often in the metal world, quite frankly. Drott have an eclectic blend of musical influences. Some of the songs are framed in what can be a pretty dark and cold Norwegian atmosphere, which is something I cherish as a black metal fan. You could not have expected otherwise from a band that features Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver), Arve Isdal (Enslaved) and Matias Monsen.
In this interview we get interesting insights from Arve and Matias. At the time of this interview the album was set to be released on May 19th, and is out now.
How would you describe Drott’s sound?
–Drott is the sound of three individuals simultaneously. All of us, despite background and preferances, are musicians making music. We unite in grooves and energy. And sometimes a melody comes, or an atmosphere, something that we pursue further into a concept. All of our releases are sort of impulsive that way.
I managed to identify some jazz, acid rock, stoner doom, and New Wave influences in the album. What other musical influences are present in the album?
– Obviously there are Black Sabbath’s Devils Fifth referances in our album. Also a lot of impressionism and romantic classical elements from Norwegian, French and Russian classical music. It’s all part of our musical heritage as well as newer genres probably. They all influence our sound consciously or not.
Who had the idea to create a band and play this eclectic sound? How did it all begin?
– We talked about starting this band for years but didn’t find time to actually get it on until 2020. The lineup with drums, guitar and a cello seemed interesting and we are also close friends that have either played together or worked together on different projects before. When we started we just pressed REC on our phones and jammed for hours. We did that for a few weeks before we even listened back to any of the sessions. None of us remembered anything we had played but when we listened back to it there were a lot of good ideas and even some parts that sounded like a finished arrangement for some songs.
We liked how we sounded together and thought the music was something new and fresh so we decided to keep on jamming and writing and Drott was a fact. We recorded some songs in my studio and sent a demo to By Norse. They liked it and wanted to release it, so then it all started. A big thanks to them for believing in this weird trio of ours.
I think most of the songs have cinematic qualities, like they convey a narrative or tell a story. Is there any particular narrative in each song or throughout the entire album?
– There is no narrative present in this album but the conception of the old Norse word “troll” and the different interpretations of the word thereafter. From the origin of the word to the more stereotype interpretation of the word. There are some inspirational values for some of the tracks.
The song “Sabbat” is about the mountain Lyderhorn in Bergen where there were magical gatherings in medieval times. There are still gatherings elsewhere, but Lyderhorn is dormant at the time-being, a magical mountain waiting for us to reconnect. “Til Stein” means turning into stone from sunlight. We wanted this song to grind and turn as Earth slowly twists its angle to the Sun, connecting it to the mythology of the trolls fearing daylight. “Solskodde” (Sun fog) is the moment where a new day maybe is the beginning of the end of nocturnal behaviour or livelihood. Bright, bleak and weird, yet hopeful in a sense. You should check out the mythology concerning Fornjot.
In the thematic concept of the album are Troll folklore stories presented as they are or is it a more modern approach, like they are symbolic figures for natural phenomena?
– Our ambition has been to explore the mythology and symbolism of the troll combining stereotypes with the older meaning of the word. In Norwegian troll has many meanings; the word itself is used to describe magic, “trollmann/trollkvinne” means sorcerer or sorceress, “trylle” is the Norwegian verb for performing magic.
Did you set out to compose music with cinematic qualities or did it just happen organically during the composition process?
– The chicken or the egg? It’s a natural progression in our music. We had some songs which we felt had a strong Norwegian folklore feel to them and that’s were the idea of writing an album around the Troll concept started. As a trio, we meet as musicians and improvise, but is it the energy and/or ambience created in our sessions quite early that set the tone and narrative for this album?
I find that the music can be both dark, cold, and dense, but also it can be warm and folkish. It is an interesting blend — what do you try to evoke in the listeners?
– That’s what we try to do. Play around with different feelings in our music. We love the contrasts of dark and cold and warm and bright. Both as separate songs but also within a song.
Would you say you have achieved something unique with this album? Why?
– Hard for us to say but we feel that we have evolved our sound and that both our sound and our music differs from most other bands. At least that we’ve heard of.
What would you say you have brought from Ulver and Enslaved into Drott?
– Enslaved and Ulver are both unique bands that have always had a very strong signature in their music and both bands have evolved through the years and never made the same album twice. They also work within different concepts, so that’s something I guess is similar to what we do in Drott. Also the prog influences are kind of similar to at least the later albums of Enslaved, but I don’t think we sound like any of those bands at all.
What are the possibilities of a live performance for this band? Would it be challenging?
– We will perform our first concert for the release of the Troll album the 19th of May in our hometown Bergen. Since there are a lot of layers and overdubs on the album it will sound a bit different live but the essence of the songs will be there. It will be challenging for some parts but it has worked great at rehearsals so we look forward to presenting our music live.
What are the future plans with Drott?
– To write more music and keep on evolving and expanding our sound. One of the ideas with Drott was to release a different album every time, so you kind of didn’t know what to expect. We feel that the self-titled EP and the 2 albums have some similarities both conceptually and musically, so maybe we’ll do something completely different next time. We also want to play more live shows in the future.
Is there something new and upcoming going on with any of the bands you are active with that you would like to share with our readers?
– Enslaved just finished a US tour and will continue to play some festivals this summer and keep touring on our latest release Heimdal. Audrey Horne will do some festivals also and do another tour in Europe in December and start writing a new album. With Ulver we are not sure what’s going at the moment.
Anything you would like to add in conclusion?
– Check out Drott and our new album Troll if you want to hear something rare.
The guest vocalists Kristian “Gaahl” Espedal and Lindy Fay Hella have done some very interesting stuff on the album, so a big thanks to them for contributing with their amazing talents on this album!