Historical Stories by Frisian Friends
Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. Congratulations on your 2022 latest release “Njord” My first experience with your music was back in 2017 when I found “Fan Fryslâns ferline” online streaming. Since then I have been following the band and the music and I find it a great honor to interview you. I must admit, there is very little about the band itself posted on the internet.
Is there a reason you remain “off the grid” on the internet?
“As Vikings we are always off the grid, the moment you don’t expect us we are suddenly at your shores raiding and pillaging. Next moment we’re gone. Sting like a bee float like a butterfly 😉 No seriously, we’re not that hard to find. You should try googling ‘Baldrs Draumar’ or visit our socials and website www.baldrsdraumar.com“
How did you all meet and begin collaborating?
“We met a good while back at 2009, playing in all kinds of different metal bands. From black metal to hardcore. We now and then even played each other’s band if musicians were needed. That started our friendship and as we all had our own expertise we wanted to collaborate to see what we could achieve. Of course we had a lot of common interests like beer, meat, partying and metal so why not?”
How did you come up with the name for the band, was there a previous name and if so what was it?
“We came up with the band name due to our mutual love for Nordic mythology. Back in the good old days we were a bit younger and you kind of grab what’s right in front of you. We picked Baldrs Draumar as it is an interesting story in the Edda which should be told more widely as everybody was always going with the shallow Thor, Odin and the other ‘cool gods’ tales. We felt Baldr was the underdog that needed more attention. After only one album we realized that singing in English and using norse titles felt fake. We had our own rich history and legends that were worth telling. So, we started to focus on our own history and we started singing in our own language. Baldrs Draumar in Frisian writes as Baldrs Dream, but we already had a couple of releases under Baldrs Draumar and it sounded nice so we choose not to change the name. It reminds us of our starting point and keeps us grounded. And it’s a good tale to tell as we regularly get this question!”
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
“We have 2 different sets of music. For the metal, we see us as the warriors bringing the war chants and bloodshed. The music is rough but rich of melody and orchestral compositions. Our music relates to genres like Viking metal and folk metal yet we refuse to use this as our genre as our music is diverse. Acoustically we see ourselves as the skalds of old, bringing the tales that you can listen to around a warm and cozy fire drinking from you mead filled horn. It might be less brutal than our metal set, still we have hints of brutality in these songs. Anyway, whether we play metal or acoustic, both times we like to refer to our music as “genuine Frisian folk.””
You have several releases that change between electric and acoustic. What style do you prefer to play?
“We don’t have a preference really; we just enjoy doing both things! We just happen to love making music and telling our stories through said music.”
What band or type of music are you currently listening to?
“We listen to a lot of different music, currently a couple of us are listening to;
Gaerea, Njordjevel, Primordial, Katatonia, Mgla, White Ward etc. Other bands that frequently appear in our playlists are Wardruna, Danheim and Heilung but also band like Despiced Icon, Lorna Shore, Behemoth and the mighty Dikke Lul Band. As you can imagine, us touring in a minivan creates quite a diverse musical experience!”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music? And as a follow up how do spend time when not creating or performing?
“We all have jobs that demand a certain amount of time, wives, children and such. So we are all very busy with life in general. Music takes up a lot, or almost all free time. Writing, recording, and playing live next to families and social life takes a good amount of planning haha.”
The Creative Process and current release
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
“When writing new music, it usually starts with a concept or idea for the album that’s written out. A main theme as you could say. For example, our latest album Njord started with the reading of a specific book, a chapter that inspired us. Then we dig into our history and unfold a concept, some first lines, chapters and stuff like that. We take time to write music that fits the feeling of the stories. Sometimes that’s brutal, sometimes that’s intimate and soft. We let the stories inspire us. We bring the music to the rehearsal room and start shaping our songs. After we’re as good as satisfied with the song we pre-record it. Then we re-shape everything till we’re perfectly happy with it and it’s ready to record. We initially write far more songs than that end up on the album. If we’re not satisfied with a song we throw it away. No fillers on our albums!”
What typical folk instruments do you prefer to use in your music?
“For metal, just about everything that fits the theme we are working on. We don’t restrict ourselves to certain types of instruments. Acoustically, next to the guitars, we are fond of Irish bouzouki, bodhran, whistles, tagelharpas and lyres. But again, if we find something that adds to the music and theme we’ll just go with it. Fun fact is that we actually play all these instruments only we can’t play them all at the same time so we use a backing track live. We pray to the gods daily to provide us with extra hands.”
Is there a message you try to communicate through the music and lyrics?
“We base all our lyrics and albums on actual historical stories. Most which are not well known to the general public. As a general message, we try to inspire people to dig into their own history.”
What made you decide to sing in Frysk? Do you feel the language alienates listeners not familiar with the language?
“We made the decision to sing in Frisian because our albums are telling the stories of Frisian history and mythology. Singing about them in a foreign language sounds weird and not fitting. As stated before creating our first album later felt fake to us. We see a lot of bands that claim to be Vikings or whatsoever whilst they are from a complete different part of the world. That is strange and a waste opportunity to tell your own history.
A band that inspires us is Moonsorrow, also singing in their own language and that never bothers anyone, on the contrary. Or take our friends in the Dutch Heidevolk or Vanaheim for example. The point is that singing in the mothertongue gives the music an extra layer. If one would like to know more about what we sing they can always send us a message on our socials!”
The song “Akraberch”, which is one of my favorites off “Njord “, can you tell me the origins of that song?
“Our whole album Njord is about the last heathen Frisian sailing to new shores, they end up on the Faroe Islands and settle there. One of the songs is dedicated to Akraberch on the Faroe island called Suduroy (Frisian: Akraberch, berch meaning mountain), that’s the place where the Frisians first reached the shore according to the tales. It’s in fact a tribute to the creation and beauty of the island, the mountains being giant’s bones, the sand his flesh, the sea his blood.”
Shaped in primeval times from the bones of giants
That high judges seat
Majestic mountains rising from seas salt
Naked under the nightsky
Borrs sons filled thy treasury
Rich waters and evergreen
Surrounded by the frostgiant’s sweat
Aegir his jaws grinding grimly
Golden glows the sunshine on your countenance
In Aesir hearts you’re enclosed
Veil of fairness, Breidablik’s similitude
Amongst the halls of Gods you’re written down
In wizards whereabouts your name is whispered
Akraberch on Suderoy
Where sibbes are warmed up amidst fires
Whilst below the waves break and bellow
Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?
“We admire bands and musicians that succeed in telling a tale, in lighting your fire, in staying true. Wardruna, Moonsorrow, Primordial and some others succeed in doing so. In 2023, with all technical equipment and digital possibilities are easily accessible, a lot of shitty soulless music is being produced. We want to hear the effort in music, the inspiration.”
How do you feel about the recording process, do you find it exciting or burdensome?
“It’s both exciting and burdensome, yet with age comes wisdom and we know when to quit a session that’s not productive haha. You see, before your eyes, your own ideas come to live and that’s always very exciting. We challenge ourselves not only when comes to composing and playing music, we also challenge ourselves in creating the best sound, the best balance, the best recording. We do everything ourselves, apart from mixing and mastering.”
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of your latest release?
“Yes, we are very pleased with Njord and how it was received! We feel it is our best album so far.”
You did a video for the song “Akraberch” off the “Njord” album. What was that experience like? Do you enjoy doing music videos? Do you feel this helps reach an audience?
“The experience was awesome, we had asked our friend Frederik to help us out with our ideas for the clip, swimming in the cold sea and he did it without hesitation and complaining (even though it was freezing). So hats off to him. We did the instrumental shots at poppodium Iduna where Niels Hoekstra took care of the awesome lightshow and Angela Schoorstra made the awesome shots that resulted in the Akraberch clip.”
“We like doing music videos. It’s usually a couple of days shooting and that’s a good experience with friends, hilarious moments and beer. We think of our video clips as extensions of our album and music, video clips have a different charm of its own and maybe that reaches a different audience. We love the creative process and surrounding us with creative people.”
How do you feel about playing festivals?
“Awesome! We like to play festivals, love the feel and hanging out with the fans and other bands! It’s one of the best things in the world and one of the reasons we are still around.”
Have you ever played in the United States? If so, how well was your music received?
“No, we would like to though. We do get good reviews from the USA though and a lot of our merch is shipped there!”
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
“We shared the stage with a lot of awesome names already, mainly in the metal genre. We therefore would love to support Wardruna for example. But it’s always an honor to share the stage with whatever band!”
What is your favorite song to perform?
“For our metal set, personally it’s ‘Upstallesbam’ for me. ‘Frij’ always delivers and ‘Of Slogma Tha Saxum’ is really awesome with the slow doomy ending. With our acoustic set it’s ‘Njord’ for me and ‘De lêste Fries’ because of its bouzouki parts, that always gets me fired up!
All over the world there are different music scenes, what country or where have you had the best music scene experience?
“We have been to Spain, France, Belgium, Ireland, Germany etc and found out that there is a mutual love for music wherever you go! Never had a bad experience. We are however looking forward to playing the Faroe islands in March as that’s the place we wrote our album about, that will be magical!”
What is one message you would give to your fans?
“Thank you for all the support we received! Without you there is no Baldrs Draumar! You are the Baldrs legion and you are what keeps us going. So keep supporting us and we will keep playing, recording, partying and telling the tales of our past!”
What’s next for the band?
“Well, we are going to do a couple of really special gigs on the Faroese Islands with Hamradun. A busy summer with a lot of metal and acoustic gigs and next year Baldrs Draumar turns 15 years old…. So might be a good time to release something really special and do some crazy things?”