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Dimmu Borgir

  • Black Metal / Norway

Interview with Silenoz

Q: How did the South American tour go? What were some of the highlights – anything funny, memorably stupid, cool, or gross happen on the Road? (certain clips from the DVD you guys put out years ago are coming back – how much does life on the road resemble that band I saw on the DVD nowadays?)

SILENOZ: Not too much, but then again what’s on a DVD is usually compiled material over the years which also means we only have used what we think is appropriate on a visual and official release… The Latin American tour was amazing, we did almost 3 weeks so we got the chance to see other countries and play cities we didn’t manage to include last time we were there. The fans are absolutely crazy and their devotion and dedication to DIMMU, and metal in general, is nothing short of incredible. Their enthusiasm really is contagious and it makes for great interaction between the band and audience. We all had a great time both on and off stage and we got to meet a lot of new friends. On the downside we also got to see the brutal reality in some places in terms of poverty and what’s left after an oppression. It really put things in perspective and I’m grateful to be able to be part of something that perhaps can take some of the attention and worries away from people’s everyday life struggles. Attending a concert, a play, or something connected to art makes you escape and focus on the now.

Q: Many people automatically perceive Black Metal bands such as your own to be “Satanic” or rooted in the occult practices, etc. Your own previous statements on this and your lyrics have always been interesting. But today, what are your own ideologies on life, death, spirituality, and the “religion” thing? I have heard DIMMU referred to as “Spiritual”. What to you does spirituality mean or entail, how has it applied to DIMMU’s music and approach from the beginning ’til now, and what is spirituality as opposed to religion? And what do “God” and “Satan” bring to mind for you when you see those words?

SILENOZ: Spirituality is individual while as I see religion as not. It’s man made and there to enslave and control the insecure and those who for whatever reason don’t dare or have given up the fight. To have a religious belief, or a religious conviction to me means you give up that birth given right to be an individual, perhaps on more levels than just the spiritual one. And ‘satan’ or referring to the description ‘satanic’ for me is being that individual as Satan is a modern metaphor for breaking out and away from what’s considered the norm and what’s considered safe and controlling. I adhere to progress, not only in scientific terms but also on a personal level and everything that concerns my own being. We wouldn’t exist without a continuous ongoing evolution and so the “Luciferian thought” is a way of always lighting the torch in the dark. Without being willing to bring in light we would still be stuck in the dark. To me it’s pretty simple if you break it down symbolically.

Being religious to me also means you leave your responsibilities by the door or over to something else, a higher deity. It doesn’t make sense to me. I have never been able to relate to it nor will I ever, it’s against common sense. For me, there’s no higher spiritual deity than myself and I take pride in taking responsibility, whether it’s a physical or a mental one. I don’t rule out anything other than the fact that I’m here now and solely in power of myself and my actions and reactions. That pretty much sums up the general idea, my lifecode, whatever you want to call it. There’s no one that can tell me to fear or worship any other god than myself.

Q: How does Black Metal continue to make a mark in Norway, or does it? Obviously for a time it was quite infamous and making a great storm on the national media scene, often for violent reasons which fueled backlash from the religious community, etc. Do you believe Black Metal has seen its prime and has died or been diluted from its point? I hear so many arguments in the Norwegian BM community about what it even meant or was. What is your take?

SILENOZ: From my non-judgmental and not so up to date point of view I think black metal has reached its peak in terms of rebellion and shock value, but it hasn’t died out artistically and musically. Far from it. It’s been watered down, sure, and obviously become more available for obvious reasons, but as there are several new genres born under the so called black metal banner the last few years I still see it relevant and as a pivotal addition to the music world. There’s still passion, dedication, honesty and authenticity in this form of art and as long as that is on the forefront it’ll still be life. But as real life is all about contradictions the term black metal is no exception. It has progressed, thank god – pardon the pun!

Q: DIMMU are now “reduced” to a creative trifecta – how do you feel this new arrangement benefits DIMMU, and what have you learned and experienced from working with a pretty decent amount of different musicians in the band’s lineup over its lifetime? What is the dynamic between yourself, Shagrath, and Galder like?

SILENOZ: The creative core has always been the 3 of us anyways, at least since Galder joined in 2000, so the work and writing process is still pretty much the same. We decide what goes and what doesn’t, it will not work trying to run a band in a democratic way – that’s an illusion. In theory it sounds nice but it doesn’t work so an advice to new bands; don’t kid yourself and find your place in the band as soon as you can and adapt as good as you can. The way we run things have more benefits than drawbacks but it’s not like things always go down without disagreements, verbal arguments and timeouts. There’s a lot of people involved when we make decisions, it affect others as well not only the band itself. Everything has a domino effect and sometimes you need to take quick decisions made on not much information, other times it’s easier where you can and have time to plan ahead and in control of a situation. Pretty much like in real life. Sometimes things doesn’t work out for obvious reasons, sometimes for less obvious reasons. We have always acted on what we think has been best for the band at all given times. Sometimes it’s been personal, sometimes musical.

Q: Are any of you guys doing other stuff in music, still, outside DIMMU? I know Galder had [[OLD MAN´S CHILD]], S**g had/has CHROME DIVISION

SILENOZ: S**g has OV HELL together with King from GOD SEED, yes. And I got INSIDIOUS DISEASE primarily so we all have somewhat of a mistress on the side hehe… Galder is not busy with OMC right now but that could change, it’s dormant for the time being. My priority is and always will be DIMMU of course but I think it’s healthy, at least at this time in our career after 20 years, to have something on the side – another creative outlet. It’s natural that it’s music, but it could also be something else you never know.

Q: Hope this isn’t a sensitive question, but since many longtime fans like myself were left scratching our heads and worrying what the band’s future was for a moment there… what was the real situation behind the exit of Mustis and Vortex? Copyright infringement issues as far as writing credits on songs?

SILENOZ: “Being ignorant is not so much of a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

Q: What are DIMMU’s plans for 2012? You did a DVD a few years ago with footage from 1998 to the early 2000′s… Is another DVD in the works?

SILENOZ: We filmed The Forces of The Northern Night show with the orchestra and choir in Oslo Spektrum May last year, there has not yet been set a release date for this unfortunately but I can assure you it’ll be a real treat for the fans and that their patience will pay off! What’s on youtube etc is the sound and images from the TV broadcast and it’s not even the whole setlist. It works well as a teaser sure, but we have since then re-mixed it and edited the footage plus there’s a lot of bonus material previously not released that you’ll find on there once it’s finally out. We’re really proud of how things turned out and hope it’ll see the light of day as soon as possible so we can share that magic moment in our history with the fans! We also filmed the Wacken show this year with orchestra and choir and since things seem to be dragging out we might still have time to add some of that to it as well making it a real nice package!

Q: What can you tell me about the 20th Anniversary album you’re working on? Also, what are you feeling, looking back on two decades of history with DIMMU BORGIR? If you don’t mind sharing, what were some of your greatest or craziest moments during your time with DB? What was your vision of where you would be today, and what are your ultimate visions for the band?

SILENOZ: Visions come with ambitions which again come with evolving as a band, ‘progressing’ as an artist and musician, but most importantly as an individual. Obviously we have believed in ourselves since the start but still we didn’t think of the possibilities of getting as far as we have – that has happened along the way naturally just because we are the way we are. However, it’s not about “luck”, it’s all about priorities, sacrifice and dedication to your craft combined with talent, making the right and wrong decisions. What seemingly can be a great opportunity might be a curse in disguise, and vice versa. We’ve experienced so many great things that it, for me at least, outweighs the bad stuff. I move on way more easily these days in the past, but that doesn’t mean I forget. You’ll rarely hear me complain – but when I do – there’s a good reason for it trust me. We’ve toured the world several times, met some very special people along the way, made lifelong friendships across the seven seas and we’ve endured the craziness and hardships together. It’s like a marriage, just harder. It’s not for everyone and you’ll only find out if you embark on such a journey. I’m humble and grateful for everything that I have experienced, learnt and gone through with the band as it has made me come closer to myself mentally and spiritually. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a book about the craziness?

Q: What do you think you’d be doing now if it weren’t for DIMMU BORGIR and making music?

SILENOZ: Hmm, just speculation but perhaps I’d be a journalist, reporter of some sort, maybe a retired soccer player by now…who knows? I’ve always been into art since i was a kid so with or without DIMMU I’m almost certain I’d be into the creative aspects of music or art somehow. At least I’d like to think so!

Q: You guys have a pretty big legion of dedicated fans. Have you ever been (I hate this word but for a lack of a better term) “starstruck” by someone YOU have met, like one of your longtime music heroes?

SILENOZ: Oh yeah sure! I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of the idols I had as a kid and still have. I have even played and jammed with a couple of them! The majority of them have been really cool and down to earth and humble, while a few has been living up to their bad reputation so we’ll leave it at that. Meeting RONNIE JAMES DIO a few times was always awesome, as everyone else will tell you. To meet guys like Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson among other metal celebrities telling you they’re a fan of your band and music is always cool!

Q: Since this partially has to do with religion again, what was your opinion on Anders Bering Breivik’s reason for the massacre outside of Oslo last year? I read some excerpts of the book he wrote. I can see some reason in what he was upset about due to the different figures he listed, but what are your opinions on WHY he did what he did? Apparently he thought that by destroying a new generation of future political types he was trying to “save Norway from what it’s become” due to immigration and some of the cultural and ideological clashes occurring, etc?

SILENOZ: “We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.” I was downtown when the bomb went off and obviously I knew right away something was terribly wrong. After a while reports where coming in on a policeman going postal shooting people randomly out on a small island close to the city. It felt unreal and soon enough the unveiling of this immense tragedy was a fact. First people think of terrorism, naturally, but when it was clear it was a one man job and the person was caucasian and the shootings happened where it happened you start putting two and two together. But, in little Norway?? Really?! We seem like a naive nation sometimes, it’s printed in our minds and I can say that as I’ve seen Norway and Norwegians from the ‘outside’, traveling all over the world, experiencing other cultures and mindsets. But what happened next with so many people suddenly standing together in such a process was remarkable and perhaps just as surprising to other nations as it was to us Norwegians that such a tragedy could strike at home.

Q: How has the music business changed since DB began? How have you guys survived all the shady people in the business, the lack of the same luxuries that bands decades ago took for granted, the fact that record sales basically aren’t worth s**t anymore and most people MUST support themselves through touring and other means and other inventive ways? Do you have any words of wisdom to impart on new bands/musicians out there?

SILENOZ: My advice would be to trust as few people as possible, no matter what level you’re at. Make sure you understand English well, even if you’re on a national level, as you’d need a great lawyer to look through any type of contracts. Pay attention to the details. Never assume anything from anybody in this business; if needed, do as much as you can yourself on your own. That’s the only way you can be on top of things at all times. Treat people well. Remember that having a band takes time and steals a lot of your spare time but then again it all comes down to choices. Is this what you really want? A band is not only party and fun, [it also involves] touring hard and lack of sleep and travel [with] frustration. As soon as you sign something, it becomes a business, and it is what you make of it! I think bands, apart from METALLICA, Iron Maiden, etc., will be touring more and more to be able to support themselves, album sales obviously won’t cut it anymore the way things are at the moment. There’ll be more competition around. But as long as the music is good and people will pay to be entertained there’s still a chance bands will keep doing what they do. I didn’t sugarcoat anything, did I? Hehehe!!


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