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Interview Skálmöld – “It doesn’t get more beautiful than that”

GRIMM: Impressive. Have you ever attempted to trace your lineages back to the Sturlung Era?

Oh yes, in Iceland it’s very easy to do so, since our history was documented so well. There’s a very detailed database in which you can retrace your family history much further back than just the Skálmöld. Two main reasons for this are the small population and the fact that there’s not a lot of new blood coming in the country, you know? We’ve always been pretty isolated from the rest of the world. so our wars were always our own. Very small and adorable, like everything we do *laugh*. The fact that we were the only ones to document them, makes history easier to trace.

GRIMM: I always heard that people in Iceland are very proud of almost anything that hails from their country. How would you compare fans back home to fans from the rest of the world?

It’s maybe a little different? Back home our fans consist of almost anyone from three years old to eighty-three years old from any kind of social class. During our release show of ‘Börn Loka‘ we even had an instance of four generations showing up to see us play. It was a family of a great-grand-mother, the grand-mother, the mom and her daughter attending. And they traveled from a very remote village. It doesn’t get more beautiful than that. If you can get grand-mothers to come to your show, that’s when you’ve made it *laugh*.

So we don’t draw metal fans only. While we see this phenomenon recur on our European indoor tours as well, when we play festivals, it’s usually metal festivals with the matching crowd. The great thing about these kind of festivals is that you’ll play in front of thousands of people who’ve never heard of you and, if you do a decent job, will stick around. We love that, in so doing, people become part of Skálmöld.

GRIMM: Now, Skálmöld played a few shows with the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra. It must be a massive undertaking to organize such a thing, isn’t it?

Yes, we played with them like eight or nine times now. The first time was back in 2013, when we played three sold out shows in the biggest concert hall in Iceland. We did so again in 2018, where it happened four times. We had people from over thirty different countries attending. Each time was amazing.

It takes at least a year to prepare for these concerts. Getting all the contracts ready, was the boring administrative stuff which our manager took care of. Probably one of the hardest parts in prepping for these concerts was picking which songs we were going to play. Now, we could reuse the transcripts we used in 2013, but had to write new parts which would work with the symphonies on our newer songs.

Fortunately we have a lot of help from the composer who told us, sometimes forcibly *laugh*, he wanted us to scratch parts and let the orchestra take over. He would say which parts of which songs we should rewrite and the result was great. We let him do his thing and it worked out incredibly well. He wasn’t thinking about how to put symphonies on our music, but rather rewriting everything into something new. We did have to learn our songs all over again in a rather different way because of it, but it was worth it.

GRIMM: Will we ever get a European/world tour of Skálmöld and the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra?

It has been talked about but it’s a huge project. The orchestra in itself is not the problem. You can find good musicians almost everywhere, and you could hire orchestras. It’s the choirs you need to think about. We use three of them when we do this: a children’s choir, a mixed choir and a choir of sixty male singers. And for some reason other choirs in the rest of the world don’t know any Icelandic *laugh*. You could get choir singers from other countries to mimic the Icelandic language of course, but it would still be a massive undertaking. We’re talking of shows involving close to three-hundred people. It’s big. If we could find a way to take all those people across Europe or the world, we would definitely do it. We just need to reach the Dimmu Borgir status *laugh*.

GRIMM: I hope we can help with the fame *laughs*. In any case if it ever happens, I’ll be looking forward to it. That’s it for me, guys. Thanks a lot. See you out there.

You’re welcome. Lovely chat. See you!



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Wim

Wim is an avid enthusiast of any form of extreme music that ranges from ridiculously profound to profoundly ridiculous.


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