Interview with Samoth
Shortly after your sentence, you still managed to put together a side-project called Zyklon-B. Will you ever do anything more with it? How are things with Emperor and Nocturnal Art Productions?
With Emperor we’re now working on new material for the new album. All the basic material is done and we’re rehearsing like hell now to get ready for entering the studio in October. The keyboards and vocals will be done in the studio and the material written so far is very promising. My label, Nocturnal Art Productions, is definitely going in the right direction as well. We’ve resigned Limbonic Art, plus signed a few new acts (such as Odium and Apotheosis – both Black Metal bands). The debut album of Odium, The Sad Realm of the Stars, has been out since August and is doing pretty well. The debut of Apotheosis is scheduled for release in the beginning of next year.
As for Zyklon-B, that project has been dead for a couple of years and it wasn’t really much more than about four rehearsals and a “in a hurry” studio session. However, myself and Trym are jamming on some more extreme stuff now, not so unlike Zykion-B, but we’ll see how serious it gets.
Zyklon-B presented a rather extreme, cold and fierce approach in all of its aspects. Given the obvious association from its meaning, do you think it might have been misconstrued by your audience and, on the subject, what was your aim with it?
The intention with Zyklon-B was to create extreme music with an extreme concept that was based on hostility towards mankind. The lyrics are words put together by quotes of several serial-killers and mass-murderers. Bloodsoil was a lyric written by my long-time friend Bård Eithun (Faust) who is, unfortunately, serving a long-time prison sentence. Zyklon-B was also supposed to be a fist in the face of humanity: a sociopath Metal machine! Due to the extreme nature of the band name, I know that some people have linked the project to Fascism and such but, as the cover states, “Zykion-B is not to be linked to any kind of racial or political preference”, so what more can I say? The name represents extremity and nothing else. As I said earlier, there was never too much time or real effort put into this project, but who knows? Maybe Dr. Zyklon might blow life to the tornado again.
Regardless, Emperor has really stood-out among a great deal of Black Metal artists, hasn’t it?
Yes, I think Emperor has made quite an impact on the 90s Black Metal scene. Why? Because we rule, I guess! I think it also had something to do with being there at the right time. We created our own style and became one of the originators of the Nordic Black Metal Art.
Apparently, you are supposed to be working with Thorns for a project to be released on Satyr’s Moonfog Productions. Will this result on a split-release or a new side-project?
Well, this is just a cooperation between us and Snorre, from Thorns and Moonfog. It looks to be a very interesting concept. We have recorded all the material and so have Thorns. The album shall be released by the end of the year through Moonfog Productions, with Emperor doing a Thorns’ cover of the classic Ærie Descent (as well as some really weird Emperor material), plus a classical version of Thus Spake the Nightspirit, done in the same way as Opus a Satana. Thorns will then do one Emperor track, plus past and present Thorns’ material.
Was there any reason to opt for the work of Stephen O’Malley instead of Necrolord’s for the Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk layout?
We didn’t even ask him. The In the Nightside Eclipse cover is great but, after that release, all kinds of blue-toned Necrolord covers started to appear and we felt like having something more of our own. We’ve known Stephen for a long time and he has done great stuff through his computer. We sent him some pictures and ideas and he presented us with the Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk cover, which we are very satisfied with. He’s been looking into some of our ideas for the new cover as well.
From where did the idea to start your own label came from and are you planning to make it even more ambitious in the long-run?
Well, I established the label back in 1993, but then it was very underground based. I did a few 7″ EPs, but I did not really work more professionally until the autumn of 1996, when I really started to put real time, effort and money into the label. We had then released the legendary Anno Domini recording by the Hungarian cult act Tormentor.
The actual reason for establishing a label was to work with the music I’m dedicated to and not to have to get a shitty normal job. I always had it as a goal to do things in life that I really enjoy, without having to be a slave for others. Nocturnal Art Productions is, mainly, a label for extreme Metal music, but I’m very open-minded when it comes to music, so be not surprised if Nocturnal Art Productions all of a sudden does a complete out of the ordinary act. We already did Choronzon’s Magog Agog album, which a lot of people did not like because of its weird nature, but I think the band has some very interesting elements. Contrarily to what some people might have said, we’ll not do Tormentor’s The 7th Day of Doom, as it has already been done on CD. First it was released as a bootleg by some idiot and then by Italy’s Holocaust Records; however, I’m very proud of having released the Anno Domini album.
Not so long ago you played at Dynamo Open Air festival’s Black Stage, along with Norway’s Covenant, Enslaved and Immortal. How was the experience like, given the festival’s reputation?
To be at Dynamo Open Air was great, but the show itself sucked! The sound was horrible (as usual) and in the middle of the set the fucking lights went out. The same shit happened at the Milwaukee Metalfest, in the United States: crap sound and we had to leave out the keyboards due to a serious fuck-up at the venue. These big festivals are often very chaotic unless you have a manager and a crew that sort everything out for you – which we didn’t have. I prefer to play regular gigs, as they tend to get less chaotic.
Speaking of which, was it difficult to find a proper live keyboard player to join you on a regular basis? How’s it like working with Tartaros’ Charmand Grimloch?
It has always been very difficult to find a proper keyboardist. Ihsahn has always been the one doing the task in the studio and that’s the way it will be, I think. But it was great to find Charmand Grimloch; he is very talented and a very cool guy, and he has been a permanent live member of Emperor now since 1997. He will be playing with us next year as well. I urge everyone who hasn’t heard his projects, Tartaros and The Thrill, to check them out, as they rule!
Right now we’re looking for a permanent live bass player as well, since Alver has just departed from the band due to practical reasons.
A couple of years ago you did your first official video for The Loss and Curse of Reverence, of which the outcome was kind of a departure for the genre. How was it like shooting it and working with David Palser (which is known for his videos of both Burzum and Immortal)?
To work with Palser? Fuck, that guy is not even as half as competent as he claims. We were fooled by his fancy talk about doing a great video. The video is okay, but would have been so much better if he could have realised his words. This was not a big-budget thing and, surely, not very professional in my eyes. Anyway, the video got good feedback and was played through several TV stations. Our label is thinking about having it released as a retail video together with some live footage, but time will tell.