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Arcturus | Sham Mirrors | interview | metal | Lollipop

Arcturus

The Sham Mirrors (The End)
by Scott Hefflon

Since completing The Sham Mirrors, I hear you're working on scoring a film?
Yes, I just returned from Stockholm in Sweden. It's not my first such experience, but it's the first professional movie I've worked on. We brought our entire studio with us. We rigged it in the basement of the film studio. It's called Lyckantropen (Lycanthropist). It's a psychological thriller, perhaps inspired by David Lynch. The actors are big theater personalities in Sweden, but it's director Steve Ericsson's first movie. He's done documentaries in the past.

How far is Sweden from where you live in Norway? I'm from America, so I don't know...
It's our neighbor country. Stockholm is pretty far away, however. Gothenburg (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), and Copenhagen (Denmark) are not too far apart, but Stockholm is on the East side of Sweden, about a seven or eight hour drive.

You packed up all your equipment and relocated to do this project?
Pretty much. A good thing about technology is that you don't really need all that much stuff.

If a plumber has a favorite wrench and a carpenter can't live without a certain hammer, what tools do you swear by?
Just the computer and a microphone, really. And some sort of keyboard. It doesn't even have to be a good one because we have so many plug-ins.

Are you a computer geek?
No, that's not my department. That's Tore (Ylwizaker, the other half of Trickster/Garm's other band, Ulver), he's the geek. A lot of rock musicians seem to think that computer-based music is as easy as hitting a few buttons and there, you have a song. It doesn't work that way. It demands an entirely different talent, a different discipline. It requires a certain vision... The most recent Arcturus album was much easier to realize than the last Ulver album.

You put out a double album a year or so ago, right?
A little over two years ago, yes. The album (Theme's from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) was based on writings by William Blake, and then we released an album (Perdition City) that was quite calm and melancholic, rather futuristic-sounding, and then we released two EPs (Metamorphosis and Silence Teaches You How to Sing) last year, almost simultaneously, that were improvised sounds and things that... happen. Ulver is not a strict discipline... It's not pure electronica, it's not rock or pop or metal, it's elements of things and sounds that we like. It's spacious. It doesn't rely on having so many things going on simultaneously...

The Arcturus record took us five years to release, and it will probably take us another five years to do the next one. It's a very difficult band to coordinate. Unlike Ulver, which is subtle, Arcturus is quite over-the-top at all times. And that's good... What's the use in being in two bands if they're both quite similar?

I notice that you have Ihsahn (Peccatum/ex-Emperor, R.I.P.) on a track... He did much the same thing with black metal and neo-classical.
Yes, but they overlapped somewhat still... I personally am not very into metal. In the case of Arcturus, I think it's very good that a couple of the guys in the band are not into metal. The album benefits from that, in that it doesn't derive its style from other things currently going on in the metal world.

There are two other creative, highly-artistic black metal bands from your neck of the woods - Borknagar and Dimmu Borgir - do you no longer feel a connection with them?
Well, I sang on the first two Borknagar albums, but I quit immediately after the second one.

Too metal for you?
(sighs) There were a lot of considerations... They lived in a different part of the country, and I already had too much to do... It was never going to be something I was going to put a lot of time and effort into, and I was pretty clear on that from the start.

Let me guess: You don't like touring.
I hate it. I don't like the whole concept of live performance. If it's Kiss, it's cool, but if it's just going to be some lame reproduction of something already done [the word "pantomime" went through my mind], I don't see the point. Especially with electronic music, where there's one or two guys having already generated everything, so when they get on stage, it's not really a matter of them playing anything, it's basically playback, and it's boring to watch as well.

You prefer barricading yourself in the studio and creating sounds and songs?
Definitely. I appreciate the concept of isolating what you do from everything else around you. I try to separate the part of me which creates things of substance from the mundane me. I also appreciate a certain amount of mystique in the arts, a certain distance from the actual creator. I think the creation is often above and beyond the creator.

This might be a long shot, but do you watch or avoid the show on MTV, The Osbournes?
I know what it is, but I don't watch it. And I know what you're saying...

What Ozzy creates is good, important, and transcends everyday life. Watching him putter around in his bathrobe brings you no closer to understanding him or glimpsing the mechanisms of his talent.
I don't watch the program. I don't watch much TV, and if I did, it wouldn't be reality shows. I'd probably just rent a DVD...

What do you like to watch?
I'm not much of a genre thinker... If I had to pinpoint what moves me in a profound manner, I'd say it'd have to be drama. Human relations...

So you enjoy watching the human drama unfurl on the TV screen, but you dislike being in a group of people and watching it take place around you?
I'm not that anti-social... I'm not a geek... But I do think I act on a primal instinct to challenge myself, and that can sometimes be not so good for your mental health. (chuckles)

People don't appreciate how much security there is in not challenging themselves...
Exactly. For me, there is no choice. Many years ago, Fenriz, the drummer in Darkthrone, wrote the lyric "When Hell first calls your name, there is no way back."
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