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Borknagar | Epic | interview | Oystein G. Brun | metal | Lollipop
Epic (Century Media)
An interview with guitarist Øystein G. Brun
By Eric Chon
You're hard to pin down and categorize. How would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn't heard you before?
I would say that it is extreme ethnic metal with progressive elements. Really, a blend of a lot of elements and ethnic themes.
It's really organic music. We use all sorts of organic instruments such as Hammond organs and the like. There aren't a lot of technological elements. We draw from all sorts of different music - I'm a big fan of classical music, and I like to draw from that. It's a big blend, but the base is founded in heavy metal, of course.
With such a diverse base to draw from, have you always considered Borknagar to be an outsider in the world of metal?
Well, I've always wanted to focus on my own musical expression, to be unique. Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, these are bands with a distinctive sound, something that Borknagar strives for. I want people to be able to put in a Borknagar disc and instantly know it's something different, that it has a sound that is unmistakable, even if they've never heard us before. Sure, there are a lot of other metal bands doing creative and diverse things, but we're always searching to be ourselves.
We want to challenge the listeners and get away from black metal or death metal. Whether or not listeners are receptive, we do this for ourselves, never for commercial reasons.
You push your boundaries with each new album. From Empricism to Epic, what's been the shift in perspective?
Basically, we wanted it to be longer. Grander. We focused on increasing the depth of the music, adding more melodies and more layers. Although Empiricism certainly contained many of these same elements, it was a little simpler. With Epic, we wanted to create an album that would need several listens before all the elements began to come together. Lyrically, I wanted to focus on nature, basic forces, elements - to be more philosophical about the world. It's not easy-listening, but that's what we wanted - to challenge the listener.
You simply can't grasp it all in one go. It's a chaotic whirlwind the first time, and it's hard to focus.
Yes! We wanted more of everything! We wanted to expand our musical expression, make it more epic, more chaotic, deeper, and grander. We wanted to add even more folk and classical elements.
While still staying metal...
I would say this is our most brutal album to date. While at the same time, it's our most atmospheric.
Writing this album must've been a huge challenge and time investment.
There were a lot of creative ups and downs. At times, it seemed like I could follow an idea in two days and finish it. Other times, it felt like it would be a month before I could think of anything good.
Do you ever hold back ideas from previous albums and apply them later? Or do you start from scratch each time?
Never from scratch, of course. We're always building from before, but I don't hold back. I shift and move the focus of each album further and further. Always progressing, always chaotic.
Are there any other bands or albums that help inspire you? Or even give you some much needed relaxation?
Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon certainly comes to mind. Anything that focuses on soundscapes and landscapes. I look for the magic that happens between the sounds, between the notes.
Have you been working on any new projects or ideas outside of Borknagar?
Andreas (Vintersorg) and I have been working on combining metal with movie soundtracks. It's very different and kind of hard to explain. It's just the two of us. The project is called Ion. Otherwise, I've been working on symphonic stuff, exploring myself as a musician.