“I was sweating like a hooker in church”
Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Dolk. Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview. Congratulations on Djevelmakt, it’s a great album (reviewed here).
Dolk: Thanks a million and respect!
Jason: To begin, can you tell us about the new album? What did you want to achieve
Dolk: This album is more planned as a whole unit or album, more than ever in fact. We have never ever been working so hard and totally focused on the whole outcome of the album ever before in Kampfar’s history. That I can say without blinking at least. I had huge goals for this album. For the first time in years, I was sweating like a hooker in church, when entering that recording room. I pushed my limits as far as I could at that point. We all did! That’s all I can say. If I/We succeeded or not, it’s not up to me to decide. But at least it’s different than before in many ways. Again just another step further in the same footsteps as Mare started to walk in 2010. But Our goal has never been to be more accessible. It has been more about finding the ultimate old school sound but with a modern twist that suits Kampfar.
Jason: Is there a theme that underpins the album?
Dolk: It is more direct and grim than before at least. The new album is anti-religion , but not anti-human if I may say so. This time it’s more directly than ever before. It’s all condemned! All religions condemn you to an infernal place (Gehenna, Hell, you name it) if you don’t apply to their laws. All these places are constructed normally out of places that exist or existed here on earth during mankind’s time here. It’s still so very delightful or maybe you can say scary to see such impact these places still have on Us people even today. It’s scary… Where is the free man? Where is the free, strong, self-thinking individual that thinks and choose its own paths in life, regardless to what others condemn you to? Damn if you do and damn if you don’t! Fuck it!! We all heads towards the darkness no matter what we do, if we listen to them who speaks about salvation. This goes both for the ‘light’ side of religion and for the ‘dark’ side of it.
This album is about that: It’s about what these idiots tells you to do and about the condemnation if you don’t! Light and darkness and the human in between. Raise the banner and be your own strong King or Queen is more or less the message coming through on Djevelmakt!
Jason: Can you tell us about the album title, Djevelmakt? Where did it come from? What does it mean? Is it thematically linked to the music?
Dolk: It’s like I already explained, but the new album is anti-religion , but not anti-human, it’s direct and it’s all condemned! But at the same time it’s much wider than just religion too. In our society today you need to follow and obey its laws and damn if you don’t!
There are in fact Devilpower in every way possible in our society today, politics, war, religion, you name it. And you bet it’s all linked up to the lyrics and music on this album.
Jason: Is there any one track that stands out for you as a favourite or as representative of Kampfar?
Dolk: Hmm… How can I answer this question? Well I cannot, it’s impossible. Cause the main focus here for me has been the whole album. We had a hard focus on that every song had to fit into the same approach for this whole albums content and all the songs are even written for the line – song 1 to song 8 for a reason and it all fits I would say.
But if you ask for a song than maybe describes Kampfar anno 2014 in the best way I guess it must be the song ‘Mylder’ (the opening track). That’s all I can say really.
Jason: The artwork is a piece by polish artist Zdzislaw Beksinski, an artist for whom both classical and rock music played an important role in his creativity. Why did you choose this particular piece?
Dolk: Yeah, it’s a blast first of all! True sense of art! Period! But maybe even more importantly, it’s also so closely connected to the lyrical condemnation on Djevelmakt and the essence of the lyrics and music. It’s just perfect! Nothing more to say really.
We knew immediately when we saw this art that this is it. This is the painting for 2014. Some lyrics and songs on the album are even written as a direct inspiration due to these paintings in the booklet… So it’s just perfect. I cannot say it any clearer than that really.
Beksinski was one if these kind of genius artists that let the painting speak for itself, and this is also the case for this painting, as far as we know at least. This cover painting is some sort of a dream or nightmare he had portrayed.
Jason: Originally joining Kampfar for live performances, Ole Hartvigsen has recently become a permanent member. Why did you decide to make him a part of the band?
Dolk: Ole came in as a fresh storm so to speak. We really needed that in the band and it has in fact made all of us even sharper than before. Ole came in to the band right after the Mare recording was done in 2011. Due to the fact that we know a lot people in this scene, we handpicked a few guitar players for a showcase more or less to fill in for Thomas after he left the band in 2010. I personally didn’t have any high expectations to be honest. ‘Cause I had been creating Kampfar’s music for almost 17 years together with Thomas. So I did almost not see any future for the band back then. It was total darkness.
But Ole came in for the first Showcase… played 10 Kampfar songs. He played it better than the rest of us when we rehearsed together, hehe. The only thing I remember was a big smile on Ask’s (Drummer) face. We looked at each other and knew immediately that he’s (Ole) the one. It was really as simple as that. The rest is history.
Jason: How has this affected the band and the writing process, particularly for Djevelmakt?
Dolk: Ole has his own studio in Bergen. And he is really a creative soul. So just guess what that has to do with the case. It’s a total new world for Us! All for the better! And you can for sure hear and feel His touch on this album. The song structures in general are so much more complex now. And Ole is the main force behind this, I would say.
Jason: Musically speaking, how does the band on Djevelmakt differ from that on 2011’s Mare?
Dolk: As mentioned, this album is for sure following in the same footsteps as our previous album Mare. But it’s different than before in many ways too. Even though it is in the same footsteps as we started to walk in 2010. So the change in compositions has also turned out for the better now.
Jason: Kampfar have been making music since around 1994. Those twenty years must have had their challenges. What is it that has kept you driven and still drives you today?
Dolk: Well, what can I do? And what can I say? Honestly I do not know how to answer this question. I just try to stay focused on what we do and do it my very best and honest way possible, so that I can have a look in the mirror every morning and not regret anything. That’s what’s important to me.
I am pretty sure the road was split in two ways some decade ago for me and I chose to walk the path with Kampfar. Kampfar is my life, Kampfar is my second family. Kampfar is not my “hobby”. It’s so much more serious than that. It’s not an escape from everyday life either! So what can I say? Kampfar is a warrior-sprit by birth, and it still is!
I think the most correct way to answer this is that I still have the same goal with Kampfar as back in 94. We are musicians and we need to develop as creators and musicians too. Otherwise we would have stopped doing this many, many years ago!
In Kampfar’s history we had two major fuck ups, or cracks if I can put it that way. The first one was around millennium, that’s correct. That was really serious and maybe the closest ever we have been to a split up of the band. After the Fra Underverdenen album and in front too was the hardest personal period for Kampfar so far. And in my opinion, you can actually hear that in this album.
Anyway, we had major issues in our lives, both me and Thomas back then. And I have never talked about these issues to the media ever and I will definitely not do that now either. But we managed through those rough times and continued on our road/path all the until 2010. Then the second dark period came to life in Kampfar’s history. My blood brother, companion and friend for almost 17 years in Kampfar and me split up for real. There was only darkness at that time. But my will is strong when it comes to Kampfar. It’s my life so it is really some strong blood boundaries there for me. I refused to lie down and just give it all up. Even though it was darkness at that time, I admit that. But to end this question Kampfar is a way too strong a force to be broken by one person , so that’s why the drive you speak about is an unbroken one in a way at least. I’m still here, we’re still here.
Jason: How do you view your early works? Do you ever listen back to them? What’s your relationship with them now?
Dolk: I seldom listen to my own music, if I may say so. It’s all hunting me inside my head anyway so I really don’t need to listen to that in my spare time. I think to be an artist you more or less create music and lyrics all the time, even if you not mean to do so or not. At least I do, I think about music and Kampfar almost 24/7. At times this can be more or less like a nightmare more than a blessing too. ‘Cause sometimes I just want to get away from everyone to just create music and lyrics. So it can be the opposite of a blessing some times to be honest.
About the old stuff I can say that I am proud of everything I have done so far with Kampfar, even though some of the old stuff is not my favourite today. I still enjoy it for what it is and what it was.
Jason: Kampfar’s roots are in black metal but the label Norwegian Black Metal has come to be associated more with church burnings and murder than the music. Would the music have as much value today were it not for the events that surrounded its origins?
Dolk: The music would for sure have as much value today, regardless to what’s happened or not in the early years. Black metal did sadly turn into business the same day as the day it all started. Like it or not, it’s still a fact I am afraid! And to be honest, the only thing I care about is again that it comes down to this: As long as I can look at myself in the mirror every morning knowing that I am being true to myself, I will continue doing this fight for personal freedom and speak and not give a fuck about what others do or think about it. No one can stop it except death! And that’s more than some other “Black Metal acts” can say these days at least.
Jason: Any plans to tour in support of Djevelmakt? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?
Dolk: Yep, the 3rd of April we are doing London/Camden and The Underworld again! It’s so gritty there and the crowd is amazing every time. I just love it. That’s how it should be! And the very next day on the 4th of April we are doing Rotterdam and Baroeg. Another gritty but great underground place! So of course we enjoy this intimacy. We have chosen these clubs for a reason. Kampfar wants to pay a tribute and pay attention to those who have always been there!
With the Spreading The Plague MMXIV Tour, we take with us Hate from Poland, Velnias from the US, and the Northern warriors Iskald from Norway. All of these bands belong to the true hardworking underground! That’s why this tour is so great.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Dolk: Thanks a lot for the support. We are so looking forward to hitting the road again after one year of hard work composing music. Kampfar is a live band and that’s where we belong!