Norrsköld about the new album

Norrsköld

We met the man behind Norrsköld and talked to him about how it is to play in a one man band and about the cold forests of Sweden. He will be releasing a new album this year and we wanted to hear more about his plans before the big release.

RR: When did you start playing?
N: I borrowed a guitar from my 8:th grade teacher and learned to play in between classes and even ”took some lessons off” in order to get more practice time. I started out with learning Metallica and Iron Maiden songs and later on caught up with softer tunes like Dire Straits and Ritchie Blackmore etc. Rock music was always the base though. I got my own first electric guitar when I was 14.
RR: When did you start writing your own music?
N: I started to write my own music quite late. The first one i wrote was an acoustic piece that came about in 2009 or so.
RR: What are your inspirations for song writing?
N: I used to be a real metal head in my youth with ”house gods” such as Metallica, In Flames, Opeth and Thin Lizzy. I later went to a music high school and got my eyes and ears opened for other musical alternatives, mostly jazz and traditional folk music. Nowadays I mostly listen to instrumental music such as classical music and movie/video game soundtracks, which is also the main influence for my songwriting.
 RR: Which musicians do you look up to?
N: I admire the creative and driven song writing skills of Jesper Strömblad, who started In Flames, Dimension Zero, Sinergy etc. He’s got an amazing talent for ”setting the standards” in metal music. Mikael Åkerfeldt is also a great composer with incredible song writing skills. Opeth is another of my great influences, especially the earlier albums. One artist that I really can relate to is Vintersorg, who also started his musical career as a one-man band and worked his way up to the metal charts. It seems I only have Swedish musicians on my admire list, but that’s not the truth of course. I’m a big fan of the Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu who’s written most of the Final Fantasy soundtracks.
RR: Who would you like to write a song with?
N: It would be really cool to do an acoustic music project for a movie or a video game, maybe with mr. Uematsu or some other famous composer.
RR: Describe the music of Norrsköld with three words.
N: Folkish, melancholic and catchy
 
RR: What is the song writing process like in Norrsköld?
N: Basically I sit on the couch with my classical acoustic guitar, fingerpicking some chords and melodies. If I find some interresting melodies I record them on my phone and/or write it into tabulature. Some of my songs I keep acoustic and Some songs I modify to riff-based metal songs using my electric guitar. But the main work is always done using an acoustic guitar. When I have a bunch of good songs (acoustic and non-acoustic) I contact my faithful session members of Norrsköld and we start rehearsing the songs for an album recording. I usually let the drummer (Robert Isojärvi) decide the main approach of the drumming. The lyrics are often written in a later stage of the process.
 
”When I was younger I had a huge stage fright. Not only when it came to music, but also in school when we were supposed to give presentations for the whole class. It was one of the worst things I knew!”
RR: What does the perfect album sound like?
N: It should have a balance between calm and furious songs, and the songs themselves should be varied and kept interresting all of the time. I’m not a big fan of long, hauling, super epic songs where every riff is played 12 times. I’d rather hear a song where the riffs are so good that you just have to play the song again. I refuse to get bored of songs! I more appreciate interresting and dynamic songs. That’s one of the main goals of the Norrsköld songs; keeping them quite short, dynamic and with lots of harmonies and leads. Ideally the lyrics are in harmony with the atmosphere of the music. I try to accomplish this in Norrsköld by writing dark and semi-depressing stories based on nature powers and folklore.
 
RR: Lyrics or music, what comes first and what is most fun?
N: The music always comes first! Basically since I have way more inspiration for writing music than text. At least that’s been the process this far, where I have all of the songs ready before I write the lyrics, fitting them in to the song structures. For the next Norrsköld album though, I’ll probably try to write some lyrics completely separated from the music and then merge the two together.
 
RR: Who is your typical fan?
N: According to Facebook it is either a South American or an Asian male in his twenties! It’s fascinating how great the feedback is from these continents, maybe because this kind of music is seen as exotic and mystical? I don’t know, but there sure is some reason. Amongst the people that I’ve actually met in real life, it seems like both men and women like the music, mostly younger ones. For some reason Norrsköld tend to frighten the +60 people.
 
RR: What does it feel like being a one-man band with no permanent members but yourself?
N: It’s quite a difference from being in an ordinary band of course. There are no other strong wills to indulge and no competition in the song writing process. But on the other hand, there’s no collective responsibility for arranging recordings, live gigs etc. It also tend to get quite expensive using the DYI strategy. All the limits and possibilities are on me alone. But all in all, it feels great to have the opportunity to write and release exactly the kind of music that I like.
 
RR: Who would you like to reach with the new album?
N: I’d like to reach out to all the people who love melodic metal music! But also the people who normally don’t listen to metal, but likes melodies. I think the acoustic parts of the new album will appeal to the latter.
 
RR: Are there any touring plans?
N: After the release of the new Norrsköld album (hopefully released digitally in February-March) there may be a chance that we assemble ourselves for some live gigs. Probably gigs in Sweden to begin with, but it’s very likely that we have some gigs abroad before the year of 2014 is over.
RR: What is so special about the forests of Sweden?
N: First of all we have so many different kinds of forests, ranging from the harsh mountain birch areas in the north to the deep pine and spruce forests in mid-Sweden and then the beech woods in the south. It’s a long country! Then it’s the fact that most of the folklore culture in Sweden has it’s basis in the forest environment. Until some hundred years ago, most of the country consisted of endless forests. As for the rural population, most of them only had candles as a source of light in their forest cabins. Hence, it became natural to explain ”unexplainable” phenomenons with forces of the dark woods. For Swedish culture this has become a very rich foundation for folklore legends, tales and, not to mention, art in its different shapes. A lot of writers and painters such as John Bauer have had the mystical and nature romantic forests as primary inspiration for their work and this is also the case with Norrsköld. A long day roaming in the deep woods, or just an hour lying in the grass of a glade usually has tremendous effect on the inspiration for melodies and lyrics later used in Norrsköld songs. In short; the Swedish forests are the best possible inspiration for a folk metal musician.
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