DATE OF INTERVIEW:
20th April 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: You’ve said that Burzum’s music is not for live performances, that a solitary experience is required. Is there any context in which you think that your music could be performed live, such as by an orchestra or in film perhaps?
VARG: I don't think a solitary experience is required, I just prefer that myself. Everyone are of course free to enjoy Burzum any way they may please, and there is nothing magical about Burzum that will force them to listen to it this way or the other in order for them to enjoy it.
(Varg Vikernes on the future possibility of a live Burzum performance)
"...I don't rule out a live performance altogether, but if I was to ever do such a thing I would want it to be worth it and for it to serve a purpose other than to fill my bank account."
Interview by Jason Guest
Official Burzum website:
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Darren Toms for arranging the interview
Varg Vikernes - promo shot
Photograph supplied by, and used with permission from, Darren Toms; copyright © 2012 M.C.
Det Som Engang Var (1993)
Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (1994)
Aske (EP) (1993)
Dauđi Baldrs (1997)
Anyhow... Yes, Burzum would fit well in films, or the theatre, or other settings, and I don't rule out a live performance altogether, but if I was to ever do such a thing I would want it to be worth it and for it to serve a purpose other than to fill my bank account.
MD: Your post-prison albums have seen a significant change in production and more use of clean instead of “black metal” vocals. Are you purposely moving away from that aesthetic in order to more clearly define yourself as a musician?
VARG: If I recall correctly I used the clean vocals (in “choirs”) as early as on ‘Det som engang var’, my second album – recorded in April 1992, about two months after the début album had been released – so I have never thought about this as anything new to Burzum. Sure, I didn't use it on ‘Hvis Lyset tar oss’ or ‘Filosofem’, but that was just coincidences. I could just as well have used it more back then as well.
The ‘Filosofem’ album was my first attempt to distance myself from the “black metal” trend, and was in reality an anti-black metal album, just like my first few albums had been anti-death metal albums. Unfortunately nobody understood this, and instead ‘Filosofem’ just set new standards for what was to be defined as “black metal”. Of course ‘Dauđi Baldrs’ and ‘Hliđskjalf’ really made my point clear, that I did not play “black metal”, but by then it was in a sense too late. The parody of so-called black metal that we today know as “black metal” had already become a huge sub-culture and a genre in itself.
In a sense I am not in this context as much interested in defining myself as a musician, but more in defining myself as not being a “black metal” musician. I really do not want to be associated with that sub-culture/genre.
MD: When you were incarcerated, you made two synth-based albums because you weren’t granted access to any other instruments. Do you plan to do much synth work in the future or is the guitar central to the expression of your musical ideas?
VARG: The guitar has been central only because that is the instrument I play the best and make (almost) all my music on, but I could just as well have been using only other instruments for an entire album. I might in fact do that some time...
Right now I am very fond of analogue and acoustic instruments, so I have no plans for a synth-based album, but I will not rule out anything. I follow wherever the music takes me, so to say.
MD: You no longer take any interest in the black metal scene and its musical direction. What, if anything, do you listen to? Are there any particular influences that (still) shape Burzum’s music?
VARG: For a few months now, ever since I sold my old car and bought a new one without a car stereo, I haven't had the time to listen very much to music at all. I haven't even been working with music the last few months (since I recorded ‘Umskiptar’), so I have not listened to Burzum-music either – save ‘Umskiptar’ mostly in context with the mastering of the album.
What I would normally listen to is ‘Within the Realm of a Dying Sun’ by Dead Can Dance and ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure, to name a few. I also would have listened to more classical music if I could, but this type of music is not very suitable for a car, where there is so much background noise, and also to more traditional music.
MD: How much interest do you take in and how much credence do you give to reviews of your work?
VARG: There is as I see it no reason to give any credence to reviews, for the simple reason that music taste is very much subjective, and some individuals just don't understand this or that type of music. I e. g. do not understand the appeal of rap music, and see this only as annoying sounds – in the same manners as I find the sound of dogs barking at me when I run past them annoying.
What matters and what should matter to me is what I think about my music. Sure, it is nice when others like it and understand it, but if they don't that doesn't mean I am doing a bad job. It only means that my music does not resonate with their personalities, so to speak. You know, I am not making music for the masses, in the sense that I don't try to reach as many as possible. I make music for those who like this type of music, for those able to appreciate it for what it is. The more who like it the merrier, of course, but that is and should be only a positive side effect of the music, not a goal in itself.
It is flattering when you get a good review, but I think it is not necessarily good for artists to get too many good reviews either or focus too much on the good reviews. Many draw inspiration from flattery, and make more and even better music because of it, but this flattery can also be very harmful for the musician – and can “go to his head” and turn him into some egocentric prick. I guess Bono from U2 would be a very good example of the latter (or of both, actually; he has made a lot of very good music too).
MD: Do you think that your history and notoriety overshadows your music? Do you think that it hinders your music reaching and being appreciated by a wider audience?
VARG: It is really futile to ponder upon these questions. The best thing I can do is to just make music and don't spend any time worrying about whether my history is a hindrance or an accelerator or not. It doesn't matter anyhow. There is nothing I can do about my past, but I can do something about my future, so I focus on that instead.
MD: Is it possible to differentiate the musician and writer from the image?
VARG: Yes. It is possible if you want it to be possible, but if you don't want it to be then it is probably impossible....
MD: What does the future hold for Burzum? Do you have plans for more music? How do you see Burzum developing?
VARG: Right now I am preoccupied with some other time consuming projects, so I have no plans on the table, but I expect to make more music – and like I said I just let the music take the lead. Wherever it goes I follow.
We will see what happens.
MD: Thanks very much for your time in answering these questions.
VARG: Thank you for your interest. Remember to check www.burzum.org for reliable news and information about Burzum.
From The Depths Of Darkness (2011)