Forest King Interview
Prepare yourself for another epic album of Viking metal on October13th with the sophomore effort from Forest King. The new album entitled “Crossing The Myrkwood” and features the sound established on the debut “Lore Born” from 2017 plus some new directions. The main man behind the project, Tyler Haagenson was able to field some questions for us regarding the new album, the influences, the writing and recording process and a few other items of note…. check it out…
Congrats on your new album “Crossing The Myrkwood”… have you gotten some early feedback regarding it before the release date of October 13th?
“I’ve gotten a little feedback so far but not a whole lot., just some friends who seem to enjoy the step up in production and the different feel or style of this album compared to the last.”
Could you give our readers a brief history of the project and the name Forest KIng’s origin?
“I (Tyler Haagenson) created Forest King around 2011 after I moved back to north Idaho after playing and performing in some bands down in Tucson, Az. After jamming shortly with my friends in Kvasura I decided I wanted to start my own project playing the genre I’ve enjoyed for a long time and put my death metal and black metal on the back burner for a little bit. The name Forest King popped up since I spend a lot of time in the forests and mountains of Idaho and thought something along the lines of “the forest is king” after some mid hike mead.”
How would you describe your style of music? Is Viking metal too simple a description or more than adequate?
“I use “Viking metal” as a general theme or description to my music for simplicity sake. Viking/ Pagan/ Folk metal are what I hone in on when I write and attempt to pay tribute to even when I stray onto other realms a bit.”
What bands are the biggest influence to the Forest King sound?
“Some of the bigger influences to my music are Enslaved, Isengard, Bathory, Amon Amarth, Månegarm, Týr, Windir, (I could go on and on) to other bands outside the genre like Dååth, In Flames, Hypocrisy and more. I’ve been obsessed with metal most of my life so all sorts of inspiration and styles creep into Forest King.”
What other items influence the sound (books, TV/movies, nature) etc.?
“I’m very influenced by nature, Nordic culture and lore as well as philosophy. Most of the books I read are either Philosophy, History or culturally relevant material to Norway or Sweden specifically as that’s where the two sides of my family are originally from. I add those and personal life experiences into a melting pot as a base to create art and music.”
Crossing the Myrkwood
It has been 3 years since the debut “Lore Born”…. was there a long process to get to this point to release a new album? Were tracks specifically written for “Crossing The Myrkwood” or did you have tracks leftover from “Lore Born” that made it to the new album?
“With “Crossing the Myrkwood” I started doing vocals again as I did before the debut “Lore Born” and I wanted to both go a bit heavier as well as leave room to work in some elements like synth. I’m a huge fan of horror movies and their soundtracks and worked a bit of that vibe in. Most of the tracks were written specifically for this album with the exception of “The Nothing” that I started writing before “Lore Born” was completed but added the lyrics and vocals later.”
What did you want to do differently than the debut “Lore Born” on the new album? Conversely, what aspects did you want to stay the same?
“I wanted some of the melody to remain and the core of what I had done with the first album but to delve into the dark of the woods as the progression of a journey from what “Lore Born” was and for a bit more dread and seriousness to take hold while trying to overcome hurdles.”
How do the tracks come together, are music and lyrics worked on in tandem with each other? Are riffs written and then pieced together afterwards into complete tracks? Do you have concepts in mind for lyrics while writing the music?
“I’m mainly a guitarist so I usually write most of the riffs and structure first then build up the lyrics and synth, but sometimes I’ll write a catchy chorus first or let a melody guide the track. Both lyrics and vocals are being written around the same time, so I try to make them work together as much as possible.”
There is a variety of influence apparent in the album in terms of metal styles, do you feel like “anything goes” and could be a Forest King track or do you edit out riffs/ideas as maybe being too extreme?
“Mostly I’m about going with anything that I like and will work, which is usually something heavy so long as I can keep some foothold in the Viking/ pagan/ folk metal realm whether it be through melody, riffs, or lyrics. I like to find out what I can get away with that has some feeling and focus behind it while sounding like the same band and won’t go so far out the songs fall apart or wouldn’t at least partially work with other bands in the genre.”
Being the main man behind the project has its challenges, are their aspects of the whole process you are more comfortable with whether it be vocals. music, production or other? What do find to be the biggest hurdles?
“It definitely has its hurdles since writing/ producing/ and recording each has its difficulties that sometimes conflict with each other, but I do my best to compartmentalize each and leave room for the ebb and flow of creativity while constantly keeping forward momentum. I’m most comfortable being a guitarist and riffing but then later I’ll put the producer hat on and make sure that it’s not just the best riff or lyric that makes the cut but what will do the most service to the song and hopefully anyone that listens.”
You hail from Idaho here in the US…is there a metal scene there? Are there other local bands to go and see/hear?
“I love north Idaho for the nature and seclusion but there isn’t much of a metal scene here. There are a handful of great musicians in town but we all mostly drive a short way to Spokane, WA to either see shows or play our own. Some great bands and friends here would be bands like Age of Nefilim, Xingia, or even a few friends down the road from me are in bands like Serpentspire and Symbolik who just came out with a great album this year.”
Ton of Work
How does being independent and no record label/distribution work for you? Are site and social media like Facebook, Bandcamp, Spotify etc. the best way for doing things on your own? Is signing to a label an interest or too much of a potential obligation?
“Doing everything fully independent is a ton of work and time is always in demand. I find ways to fund the music through working tons of overtime at my main job, running a small leather shop, brewing mead and doing odd jobs musical or otherwise. I work constantly either trying to learn or use social media to reach people and have been getting better but sometimes I just need a hike or to focus on creating. Bandcamp has been the best for sales but YouTube and Spotify seem best for streams, I’m also looking into alt tech and other ways to get the music out there. I wouldn’t be opposed to some sort of label or distribution deal, but it would need to be a right fit.”
Is there a want to make this a live project at any point?
“Forest King has played a handful of shows live after the release of the first album and could potentially play live again but with how so many venues have unfortunately closed this year and everything else uncertain for the time being there is no immediate plans to tour or play live again other than to try to keep creating even if it’s just online content for now.”
Favorite tunes from 2020?
“One of my favorite albums of 2020 is Vredehammer’s “Viperous”. A few others I’ve been enjoying is the new Finntroll “Vredesvärd” Enslaved’s new album “Utgard” as well as the new Anaal Nathrakh and even Dawn of Ashes’ “The Antinomian””
“I’d just like to say I appreciate everyone who listens, shares and even helps this style of music in general in any form. Crossing the Myrkwood has taken a lot of time and effort which I hope translates into something enjoyable and worthwhile. The fans, creators and publications like Folk-Metal.nl who take the time to help this genre continue in a world oversaturated with all forms of media and entertainment especially in uncertain times are vital and true warriors to the craft and continue to forge a brighter future to all who wave the banner of folk/ Viking/ pagan metal and beyond. Skål/ Cheers to you all!”