Put up your feet and pour yourself a virtual horn of mead, as Canada's Viking metal bard speaks with e.V. about Bathory, Burzum, breakfast cereal, Primordial, the soul, thinking up things in the dark - and most importantly, about SIG:AR:TYR's coming album "Northen', their indepth follow-up to the epic Godsaga.. SIG:AR:TYR's creator and driving force, Daemonskald, is the possessor of one powerful pagan metal muse., forging lyrically vivid and melodically evocative atmospheric, often acoustic, metal, 'though he describes himself as a part-time musician.
blackened folk metal, thunderous and poetic by turns. doom fans who love Saturnus can give it a go as well \w/
SIG:AR:TYR on Bandcamp
SIG:AR:TYR Official Website
e.V. For people who may not have heard it (or who have heard only a song or two), please describe your music and name 2 of your songs for people to listen to first, just for new listeners to get an idea of where you are coming from as a musician.
Daemonskald: I would describe it as atmospheric pagan or viking metal. In the beginning the main influences that I wanted to combine were the viking metal aspects from Bathory's Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods albums, and the neoclassical style of Yngwie Malmsteen, mixed in with a little black metal atmosphere like Burzum. That was it, really. If I had to choose two songs that fully represent what I've always tried to express, it would be the tracks "Blood of the North", and "Godsaga" from the Godsaga album. The earlier stuff is a little more stripped down, a lot of acoustic instrumentals and ambience, a few metal tracks, but I think these songs combine the best of all these aspects.
e.V. Please tell us about the idea behind your latest album, Godsaga, and about the new album that you have in the works.
Godsaga was about two main themes. One is the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson, a rather surly Icelandic warrior, farmer, and of all things, a poet. I had read the poem Sonatorrek (translated as the "the irreparable loss of sons"), and it really struck me as something quite epic and beautiful and sad, all at the same time. In the poem, he curses Odin for the horrible things that happen in his life (losing his sons), yet still grudgingly accepts Odin's gifts of poetry and battle hatred that served him well through his life. It is about loss and sacrifice. I tried to compare this with Odin's sacrifice on the world tree Yggdrasil, where he won the knowledge of the runes. The concept is what makes the "Godsaga", how with great struggle, loss, and sacrifice, come even greater spiritual gifts.
That album, as was my previous albums, was done completely by myself. I worked so terribly hard on that album, and Godsaga sucked the life out of me. Once it was released I took almost two years off from music entirely. I just really needed to recharge the batteries. I had a bunch of ideas for new songs, but no overriding theme to connect them all together which is very important to me. I just slowly collected them over time and put them in my mind's vault. In mid-2012, I got an offer to play live for the first time at a festival in the US. So some friends of my mine from my hometown, London, Ontario, who are all in other bands, offered to help and so we spent 2-3 months rehearsing for that first show. Since then we've played sporadically, only 5 shows so far, just special occasions as everyone is so busy with their own lives.
It was in late 2012 that I had begun to form the theme for the new album. 1000 years ago, the Norse made it to Canadian shores, on the coasts of Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland. And although it has been touched upon musically now and again in a superficial way in the metal world, I don't think anyone ever wrote an album about it in any depth. So suddenly, I had the main theme, and then next thing I know, the songs just started coming out of me and I had that inspiration that I had not felt in a very long time since Godsaga. The new album is called "Northen", and deals with the Norse in Canada, their contacts with the Native Americans and Inuit here, and also the shadow of their fading pagan faith at a time when the Viking world was quickly Christianized. I'm hoping to have it complete and released later in 2014.
e.V. What are your favorite genres and what drew you to them? Do you have a genre you enjoy that might shock others given the genres you typically play?
Daemonskald: I would say my favourite genre is loosely based around European melodic metal. So in the 80's, I was very much into Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Yngwie Malmsteen, King Diamond, Helloween, then the viking-era of Bathory. I would say those were the main ones. The 90's, I really got into Norwegian black metal, primarily Burzum and Emperor. I just loved how extreme it was, but at the same time so beautiful and melodic. In the 2000s I got more into pagan/folk metal, such as Primordial, and a handful of other bands in that more serious style, like Drudkh. I was never much into the more "fun" type of folk metal bands, although I do appreciate it now and again. I don't think there's anything I like that's very shocking... I guess growing up in Canada we had so many of our own bands such as Rush, April Wine, Triumph, Loverboy, Aldo Nova, there was a bit of a golden age in the early 80's with bands like that who ruled our radio airwaves with hard rock.
e.V. How long have you been playing and what instruments do you play? Do you have a favorite one? What instrument do you NOT play that you wish you did and why?
Daemonskald: I've played guitar since I was in my mid-teens. I actually started out on drums while my brother played guitar, but I quickly grew bored of hitting things with pieces of wood, so I wanted to play guitar too. I play bass on my albums but it is very rudimentary and not very interesting. I wish I could play piano/keyboards, I think if I had grounded myself in that classical musical theory it would have made my life a bit easier in terms of songwriting. But it just wasn't for me, even playing guitar I don't know the whole theory of it really, I just don't have the discipline to learn all that. I'm more interested in just writing good, memorable songs. I also wish I had a better voice for clean singing, but it just isn't there!
e.V. When and how did you first know you wanted to be a musician? Do you think there is a way for someone to know if they should go into the music business?
Daemonskald: I would call myself just a part-time musician, really. It's always been a hobby and never a life-goal. I only just recently started playing live for the very first time, I had never been on a stage or played in a band ever before 2012 so that was quite the change. I was always more interested in just hiding away and creating music, much like how Quorthon from Bathory did. I was never into the scene, or wanting to be a star, or anything like that. It took a lot of encouraging from my friends even just to contemplate playing live. I'm glad I started it, but it definitely isn't the life for me. If I had to be on a tour bus for weeks on end I would go crazy! It is really great to meet fans who have listened to your music a long time and who finally get a chance to see you play it live, that was the only reason I did it. That is the gratifying part.
e.V. What do you find is most difficult about being a musician and songwriter today?
Daemonskald: We live in a time where it is so much easier to get your music out there and heard, in terms of social media, Youtube, music sites, etc.. but at the same time, it is a bit overwhelming, and it's hard to get noticed if you aren't signed to a label. I've been trying to get a demo out there of the new album to record labels, but it is very competitive out there, and what I'm doing isn't exactly the flavour of the month. I think, in the end, it will be released independently again, but that's par-for-the-course for SIG:AR:TYR, it's always been just me, just thinking up things in the dark, and expressing them musically then, seeing if anyone wants to hear it! I have help now of course, the band is helping me with recording the new album, and I'm positive that we'll be able to make more waves once the new album is complete and we start playing live more regularly again. I'm very confident in the new material, it is actually pretty straight-forward metal, and I think will open this up to a wider audience.. I didn't plan it that way, the songs just come out of me as they come out, but it is, at its very heart, a heavy metal record.
e.V. Let's pretend that your child (if you don't have one, your youngest brother, sister, niece, nephew or godchild) decides to become a musician - what would be your advice to them?
Daemonskald: It sounds so cliche, but I would say, just write music from the heart. Forget about what was popular then, what's popular now, what might be popular a few years from now. Just take your influences, take the very things that comprise your soul, and try to create something that no one has encountered before as a full expression of your innermost self. If the music comes from a genuine place, I think it resonates with other people, regardless of genre or style, or even ability.
e.V., Queen Of Doom
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You can find Aqualyra's own music at aqualyra.net and via victorianunderground.com
from The Desk Of