If you are not familiar with Skjaldborg, I could understand since the project does keep a decidedly low profile. My advice would be seek them out immediately and pick up their stunning debut Todgeweiht, one of the best (if not the best) Viking metal albums in my opinion to come out in 2013. To make it even more impressive, it is all the brain child of one man, the multi-talented Virus. I was able to contact him recently (in his first published interview!) to get everyone acquainted with Skjaldborg.
Your project prior to the forming of Skjaldborg was called Dol Guldur. Is this a continuation of the original project with a new name or is this an entirely different concept altogether and if so why the change?
It’s a different concept: the first three Dol Guldur demos (2002-2003) I made everything by myself with a keyboard and I didn´t use guitars. The lyrics were mostly about Lord of the Rings stuff. The fourth and last demo (2004) under the name Dol Guldur was a little bit different: there were guitars (played by a friend) and the lyrics were about pagan stuff. But the sound and the production was still horrible, like on the other three demos :D From 2004-2008 I didn´t write new songs, let´s say there was an creative break ; 2008 I decided to start under a new name, because Dol Guldur sounded like LotR-Stuff with a bad production. Skjaldborg (what means shieldwall) typified the new lyrics and the music much better. And of course I wanted a “cut” from the old creepy produced material to the new songs which were composed and produced with much better equipment.
On your own
You are the sole musician in this project. Is this a conscious decision to do everything on your own or not being able to find likeminded musicians that are into your concept?
The idea was to make music from me, for me. It started as a one-man-project and it should continue in this way. But I think the actual session guitarist is more included than the others before. Let´s see what the future brings.
Being the only member of Skjaldborg must have advantages as well as disadvantages…what are some that come to mind if any?
The biggest advantage is of course, I can do whatever I want. A big disadvantage for me is the creativity: when you play in a band with other people someone brings a basic melody and the others can help to form a complete song. When you are alone you must do everything by yourself.
Do you feel “pressured” to get music recorded and get it out there or are you of the mindset that “it will be done when it is done”?
Virus: I`m the “it will be done when it is done” type, for sure :D
What instrument do you feel most comfortable writing on and why? Do you record everything at home or do you have to go to the studio?
I compose the music with the keyboard, because this is the only instrument I can play good. I started playing when I was 15 and it was a learning-by-doing, I had no music-lessons. I also have an acoustic guitar and a drum kit at home, but I’m too bad at playing ( and maybe too lazy to practice a lot… ) That´s the reason why I program these instruments. The session guitarist gets the notes and we try together which sound is the best. Most of the records are done at my (very small) home studio. The rest at the professional studio of a friend.
Is there any part of the first release “Todgeweiht” that anyone else had involvement in other than the music (ex. Logo design, layout, etc.)?
In the booklet are the three names of people that supported me: Schulze helped me with the logo design and layout, Benny mixed and mastered “Todgeweiht” and Oliver played the guitars. Again big thanks to them!
Do you have anyone that you run ideas past while recording Skjaldborg material to get a sense of how it will be received?
Sure, there are some people.
How do you prioritize getting music done with your personal life/professional life? As an example I am married, have kids and work full time and have to “find time” to work on music. Is this the case with you as well?
Yes, absolutely! I have a full-time job where I sometimes travel abroad. Like I said, making music is a hobby, no “must” in my life. I also use my free time for other important things like family, friends or other hobbies. That´s the reason why “Todgeweiht” needed so much time ;)
When presented with an opportunity to work on music, can you just get into immediately or is there a process/ritual that you need to get started?
I don´t have a ritual or something like this. Making music depends on my mood and my creativity. Some days everything works fine, some days I have no idea about new music or lyrics.
Bands of all types usually have decide whether to sing in their native tongue or usually in English. Did you have a feeling one way or the other prior to recording about which way to go?
From the beginning it was clear that I would sing in my native language German. In my opinion it´s not necessary to sing in English. Some people think they must sing English otherwise no one wants to know something about the lyrics… bullshit! If someone is interested in my lyrics and can´t speak German, he can buy a dictionary. It would be horrible when each lyric would be in English!
In the future maybe I will try to sing a song in Swedish, because I like the sound of this language.
What are your main musical influences if any? Influence outside of music?
Since more than 10 years I listen a lot to black / Viking / pagan metal. But I don´t have a favorite band and I don´t want to copy the sound of a band.
Another hobby beside the music is reenactment (Viking age). Some weeks each year I camp at early medieval markets and fight with blunt steel weapons (swords / spears / axes) in battles, sometimes full contact. I´m generally war-interested, through all centuries. But this is more important for the lyrics than for the music ;)
Any hopes to play live/ tour with others in the near future? What are you currently working on?
Skjaldborg is a “studio-project”, so there are no plans to play live someday.
At the moment I compose songs for the second CD which will be finished in winter 2015 / spring 2016, hopefully.
Any closing thoughts or comments??
Virus: Thank you very much for your interest in my music and thanks for the interview, my first one by the way ;) Support underground music! Cheers!