It’s been a while since I did this interview but I finally got around to it. The lads of the Icelandic viking/folk ensemble Skálmöld agreed to meet with me after their set at Graspop Metal Meeting 2019 for a quick chat. These good-natured gents played an awesome set in the Marquee and seemed to have enjoyed themselves tremendously. The minute they started playing I wanted to know more about their music. Give this interview a quick read if you’ve been wondering about their thoughts on playing shows and festivals at home and abroad, on them working together as a band, and on organizing their concerts with the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra.
GRIMM: Hi guys! Thanks for doing this. Just wanna say real quick I enjoyed the set you played today. The crowd seemed to share my enthusiasm.
Thanks a lot, man. We thought so too. I mean, holy shit. We played the one o’clock slot on the last day of the festival and people still went absolutely crazy. We expected a disaster but got a great show instead.
GRIMM: Has it ever been a disaster?
Luckily, no. But you can’t help but think about it. This is a big festival so the risk of a poor turn up is fairly low. In Iceland, we’re used to smaller numbers, with towns being more isolated and having far less inhabitants than other countries and all.
GRIMM: How’s the road been treating you so far?
It’s been really good. We finished the Spring tour and are now just playing festivals. Got a few in July and August? And in November we’re playing a viking festival in England.
GRIMM: You’ll fit right in.
GRIMM: Right! Now, concerning Skálmöld‘s subject matter, as I understand it, you guys sing about the wars between Iceland’s ancient medieval families. Is that correct?
That’s actually the name of the band. “Skálmöld” – literally, “age of sword” – is a term used to refer to a period of civil war known as the Sturlung Era. All of our material is in one way or another connected to that chapter of Icelandic history, but we choose different concepts for our records. On ‘Með vættum‘ for example, we went for a kind of lullaby structure in which we focus more on Icelandic mythology derived from that era. We also write stories which are completely fictional but which are set in the Age of the Sturlungs. So you could say it’s the ongoing theme, yes.
GRIMM: Okay, and where did that all come from? You must be big history buffs.
Some of us, yes. Our bass player writes all the lyrics, which are written according to strict Icelandic poem structures. It’s really precise, really fancy stuff *laugh*. Most ideas come from him, depending on what he’s looking into at that moment.
GRIMM: But it’s still a team effort?
Very much so. We still all write together. Someone may come in with a new idea, which we then drag through the Skálmöld machine, breaking it up and putting it back together into something we love.
This interview continues on page 2.