Solefald have recently put out their new EP Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord. (see our review here) and we caught up with Cornelius for a chat ahead of the release. See what happened below.
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little about the band?
My name is Cornelius von Jackhelln, I am a Norwegian writer and musician living in Berlin, Germany. The band Solefald were formed in Norway in 1995, as a counter-revolutionary measure within the black metal revolution. My band partner Lars Nedland and I both had artistic interests and a philosophical orientation, so we tried to infuse a red dose of fury into the black/white landscapes of Norwegian BM. One of the first songs we wrote is called Philosophical Revolt. Since then we have written and published eight full albums and two EPs – so I think it is about time that we be discovered! Solefald is like America undiscovered! Huge and full of troubled ideas!
You’re currently getting ready to release your brand new EP Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord. Can you describe the writing and recording process of it?
Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord is Solefald’s first real Progressive release. I deliberately tweaked the guitar sound to make it sound like the classic acts from the early 1970s, such as Gentle Giant and King Crimson. I dropped the fuzz boxes and used only overdrive from a tube preamplifier. The result was a cleaner, bigger sound. The main piece of the EP is of course the opener Norrønaprogen, which is a progressive trilogy enclosed in one song. The lyrics are poems by Olav Aukrust (1883-1929) and myself. We had Einar Kvitrafn Selvik of Wardruna sing on the track, which it gave it a solemn, Norse touch. Kvitrafn has a profound interest in Norse paganism, and I think this shines through in his vocal performance. For the B-side we did two remixes with my Oslo noise act Sturmgeist & The Fall of Rome. We took two guitar riffs from Norrønaprogen, stripped them down and added noise and beats. Almost all the recordings were first takes, which is why I really love that B-side, spontaneous as it is!
Which song on the EP would you say you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of Songen: Vargen for the reasons given above – it is a spontaneous work that arose almost out of nothing. Kybermensch of Sturmgeist & The Fall of Rome sampled the guitar riff, programmed a beat – and we recorded it all together into one mono file – synth, noise, vocals and all! Subsequently, we added one vocal line by Lars and Hardanger fiddle by Mari Skeie Ljones. I think her fiddle really shines in the recording, it is the sound of an old tradition that I am proud to have in my band.
Were there any that were more of a challenge to perfect?
Norrønaprogen was of course the hardest song to perform and produce, given its complexity and its duration of 11.30 minutes. It is a classic Solefald piece, with many tempo changes and vocal layers. I am especially fond of the middle part, which was partially improvised.
What can fans expect from Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord?
Solefald fanatics can expect a journey through the Norse cultural tradition, with poetry and melodies invoking walks through the Jotunheimen mountains. Det siste landskap is our first piece of Electro Pop, and describes a bumpy Land Rover ride through the Icelandic desert with our friends in Sólstafir! With this Norrønasongen LP, we have tried to create a fresh-sounding and vibrant audio trip to the North!
Are there any interesting studio stories?
On the first scheduled recording day this summer, I found myself standing on a ladder in a back yard in Oslo, knocking away at a bedroom window – I thought the studio guy had overslept. It turned out he had gone away for the weekend. We improvised a recording studio at my place, and Petter Hallaråker recorded his guitars under a painting of a Norwegian mountain, while we others sat in the garden under the apple trees. Don’t know how interesting this story is – but we got into the studio the next day, and recorded away!
You’ve worked with many different guest musicians over the years. If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would it be?
I would have loved to hear Mike Patton lay down some vocals for us!
Similarly, if you could choose any band to cover one of your songs, what band and song would you choose?
I would have chosen The Beatles to cover Proprietors of Red from our album Neonism.
And finally, if Solefald could put their name to a product, what would it be?
That would be a Scotch single malt whisky!