Wardruna, Norway’s mystic trance-inducing dark folk troupe featuring former Gorgoroth members Kvitrafn and Gaahl, are nearing completion of the long-awaited follow-up to 2008′s Gap Var Ginnunga. In the first of a two-part studio report, Subterranea invoked band founder Kvitrafn for a meditation on rune communion, Odin and shamanistic suffering for your art.

The new album is going to be the second part of a trilogy. Are you approaching it differently to Gap Var Ginnunga?

“It basically evolves around the same approach and the same tools, but the story I’m telling and the runes I’m portraying are totally different, so the album will be quite different too. And also I’m evolving into the tools I’m using. I used to be a drummer and a guitar player and suddenly started working with these old instruments, and I feel that that process also, I feel really like a beginner in it, and there’s so much more I want to learn and to do. So I think the next album is going to be quite different, but still no doubt about it, it is Wardruna but the story is also very different. The first album is about creation and sowing a seed, and the next one is Ygdrassil, that’s about making the seed grow, to strengthen it and nourish it. The third album, which is Ragnarok, is the transformation.”

So this is very much a cycle?

“Definitely. The whole trilogy is a cycle, but also the album in itself is a cycle. The use of a lot of these ancient, monotonous rhythms, the shamanistic approach, makes it more alive and it demands something from the listener, and it involves the listener. You get taken into the music. It’s a really interesting way of making music, but also because I want to get as close to the runes as possible. So basically it’s the runes who decide what words, what instruments, what setting I record in, even dates, or time of year – the seasons, the elements. So in many ways it’s the runes that are the composer, I am the instrument.”

So do you feel like a medium for something?

“In some ways you can say that. But of course in an intuitive way and a spiritual way, but also in a quite scientific way as well, because the problem with people working with runes today is that they start out reading some American books on it, which is utter crap. In most cases it’s obvious that the authors don’t even know the theories that they base their whole books on, so when working with runes you should always start with what we know, from a solid fundament, and then you can go into the whole intuitive approach to the runes, because they are very powerful symbols and alive in some sort of way. There are many levels to it. So these days I’ve even started doing rune courses with a Swedish runeologist, and it’s really exciting to spread knowledge about these things in that way as well. I don’t like the whole preaching thing. That’s why showing people through music is important, and we’re hopefully waking some interest in it.”

If it’s a journey of discovery for you, that open-endedness is going to come across as well. You get to translate that sense of wonder that you feel.

“Definitely. For me the most important thing is to grow, to evolve, to seek knowledge, and that’s what Odin is about. That is the core of Odin. He is the one who is willing to do whatever it takes to grow. He is the seeker of knowledge, and he is willing to pay the price. If you want to go into these things you have to be willing to pay the price also. Not many people are, and the price can be many things of course, but a lot of time and effort is a good start.”

What has that price been for you personally, apart from the time and effort?

“Heh, well, how do I say this without being too personal? For me, I have also a shamanistic approach to this, and when I go really into the process being that medium that we talked about, being at one with what I’m trying to express through my music, it is very overwhelming, and it can be really tough. I’ve been sick, it’s really demanding. I think a lot of artists, if you are painting or if you are writing, the whole creative pain and suffering within creating is an important part. I think many people who are into these things in many different aspects of art or creating can relate to this. But it’s been really fruitful. I feel that we talking about the deepest pools of wisdom and knowledge here.”

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