Skálmöld in Balance

skalmold int2Skálmöld delivered another killer album with Vögguvísur Yggdrasils. The sound on this album is slightly changed without losing the typical Skálmöld sound. Let’s say it’s more accessible. Was this on purpose? How did this happen? Folk-metal.nl talked about this with the guys from Skálmöld about this and other things.

“Thank you. Glad you like the new album.
There is always bound to be some change in sound between albums, you are always trying to improve yourself and search for the best possible outcome every time.
And sound change you refer to was bound to happen. Mainly because we were working in a new studio, with a new producer, this time. We had been working with the same guy for all our albums, our good friend Axel “Flex” Árnason. He had produced, recorded, mixed and mastered all our previous albums.
He moved from Iceland to Germany last year and closed down his studio in Iceland. So we had to find a new person to do the job. And luckily we found Arnar Guðjónsson at Aeronot Studio in Reykjavík. The nicest guy ever, super talented and it was a pleasure working with him. And also rewarding to get a new pair of ears, he approaches things in another way than Flex and it was good for us to stir it up a little, don´t get stuck doing the same thing for another album.”

Balanced
We noticed a nice balance on this new album, a bit more keys here, more riffs there, but when something is coming to the front other instruments step down a little. How do you manage this, is this done in the writing process, or at the rehearsals or is this the work of the producer?
“It is a bit of everything you mentioned actually. When you are writing music, different parts of different songs require some instruments to be in the front and others in the background. And once the songs are ready and you start rehearsing the final outcome the band members learn play the different parts even better, sometimes you are loose, sometimes you play hard, etc. And then when you have finished recording the songs the producer brings to front certain elements in the songs.”

The concept is the tree Yggdrasil, why did you choose this as a theme and can you tell us a bit where the songs are about in relation to this tree.
“The concept is not really the tree itself. The concept are lullabies. Snæbjörn, our lyrical mastermind, had been talking about this idea for quite some time, to use lullabies in Skálmöld. He wanted to include a lullaby on the last album but it did not fit into the concept, the story, that time. So when we were discussing ideas for the new album this idea came, to write nine lullabies, one for each of the worlds in Norse mythology. So that is what you get this time around, lullabies. Well, at least the lyrics are lullabies, the music is Skálmöld.”
 
More fans with every new release
All previous album were received pretty good, well very good, I would say (at least by us at Folk-metal.nl). Does this give some pressure when you’re in the process of making a new album?
“We have tried from day one to write and record the music we feel like playing at any given time and not think too much about if people will like it or not. When we started the band it was for the only purpose of just being in a band, write some music and record it. We had no intentions of tours, festivals and record deals. It was supposed to be for fun only. But since then we have been very fortunate, travelled all over Europe several times to play our music, we have a healthy relationship with our label and I feel like we are only getting stronger with every release. This has all resulted in us gaining a lot of new fans all over the world, people that are really into our music and are so supportive and give a lot of energy to keep on going. And I must admit, at least for myself, that yes, it sometimes puts pressure on me when we are writing new music. But we try not to think about it too much. When all comes down, it is our band. And I am glad to say that we have still not released a song that we were not happy with.”

Two years ago, back in 2014, you released not only a new studioalbum but the album ‘Skálmöld og Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands’ as well. There’s not a week passing by, I’m not listening to some songs of this album. Do you still receive comments on this album?
“Yeah, we get a lot of comments on this album and all of them seem to be very positive. This whole thing was just a unique experience, almost surreal.”
Do you feel it ‘changed’ the band is some way or another?
“But I don´t think it changed the band, I would not say that. We have from day one always tried to be true to ourselves and do what we are comfortable with and not try to be something we are not. We just do our very best in every aspect when it comes to this band. And I guess you could say that it changed us that way, to stay true to yourself and give it all you got and good things will come to you.”
skalmold int1
You released a single together with Alestorm as well, on which you cover a song of each other. How did this came about? How was it to play a song from a very different band? (Unfortunatelly I haven’t heard it yet, but I must say I’m very curious about it).

Alestorm
“When we were starting to write the music for the new album the idea of recording some bonus songs came up. On our previous releases with Napalm Records we have always included some bonus songs on the first pressing of each album. This time around we just felt like recording some cover songs, and we wanted it to have some connection to the band. And since we are really good friends with Finntroll and Alestorm those two bands came to mind immediately. I think it was the label that picked this up… since we are labelmates with Alestorm they came up with the idea of us recording one of their songs and they record on of ours. It was just for fun and we really liked it. But I must admit that it was quite different to record a song that had already been written and recorded by another band. It was a bit strange.”
The coverart of this single is in the same style as the new album, why?
“And the cover art it just one of the illustrations from our new album with the new SkálStorm logo on top :)”

This are two special things in the past years, the album with orchestra and a split single. Besides this we got to see a Skálmöld member in the Eurovision song contest. It seems you guys are always ‘in for something’, can we expect more ‘outside the box’ things?
“Well, you never know. The other guys in the band are always doing some music. I am probably the only one in the band who is not doing something else musically outside Skálmöld. So, who knows? Could be.”
 
Standing Ground
Speaking of outside the box. In the past you expressed yourself in social media, which resulted in a decrease of likes. How do and did you feel about that. And how do you feel regarding the intolerance which seems to be spreading all over the world these days? Do you feel you’re privileged to speak against it, because you’re famous and people listen?
“We feel good about this. It is just a shame that we feel like we need to express ourselves on this topic. To us it is something that should be given. You should not have to remind others that we are all different, but although we´re different it doesn´t make us wrong. We all have gay, lesbian, coloured friends, people who we respect for who they are and not what they are. It is just a shame that people are discriminated for being themselves. And we do not feel privileged to speak against such discrimination, we do not see ourselves as being famous and that people should pay more attention than any other. We have just seen this with people we know, love and respect that they are being treated differently just for being themselves. That is just plain wrong and unfair. And if people start unliking Skálmöld because of this it just proves our point even further, right?”
Right!
 
Can we see you live somewhere outside Iceland in the next year?
“We will be joining Korpiklaani and Moonsorrow for a European tour in Oct/Nov 2016. Then we will support Epica on a short Scandiavian tour in March 2017. There are some festivals offers that are being discussed for 2017 as well as another European tour in fall 2017. So a lot of things going on. I just hope we´ll be able to visit the Netherlands in 2017 for some shows. The shows there tend to be pretty cool, so let´s hope we´ll see you guys while supporting this album :)”

By: Michel