Interview with Ihriel and Ihsahn
Six years have passed since you first formed Peccatum. What are your best and worst memories so far?
Ihriel: It is difficult to single out certain moments in this regard, but the privilege of working with music and the excitement of fulfilling albums are ranking high on our “best moments” list. On the downside, there are all the trivialities of the music business one not only has to encounter but often give main priority.
How did the writing and production processes of Lost in Reverie develop and why did you decide to stop working with your brother as a full-time member?
Ihriel: We always try to build on our previous experiences and work to renew and refine our expression with each new release. Lost in Reverie was a year and a half in the making and we probably threw away two albums worth of material in the process. We wanted to approach the writing process with even more diversity than before, so some of the material was taken from a purely acoustic point of view, either just building it from piano or acoustic guitar, while other songs have their outcome purely in electronic equipment. Then there’s everything in between too. Parallel with this, we wished to explore the themes themselves in a more traditional and compositional style, to express them accordingly and weave them into new themes and patterns.
As for PZ, he left to focus fully on Source of Tide, but still helped us out with a couple of choir parts.
Unlike your previous works, Lost in Reverie was released by your own label, Mnemosyne Productions. Why did it happen, and do you plan to keep the label for yourselves exclusively?
Ihriel: After releasing two full-lengths with Candlelight we felt the need to move on. We got some offers from several other labels, but ended up starting our own. However, Mnemosyne productions is not just an outlet for our own projects, so we look forward to try to find new talent and start working with other artists as well. We believe in working closely with artists and hopefully do some of the production work here in our studio.
Recently, you released a solo album, Iter.Viator, on Jester Records under the name Starofash. What is the project about?
Ihriel: Initially, I had quite a few ideas which I wanted to pursue in a different manner and, though Peccatum is a versatile constellation, there is always something else we have to compromise. Further on, I have every intention to keep on working with this outlet, but at present I’m rather tied up with both Mnemosyne Productions and new Peccatum material, hence Starofash will have to wait for a while.
Dreams seem to depict central elements in Peccatum’s universe. Do you agree that your works – the latest, in particular – could be described as dreams to be dreamt individually? How do they influence yourself and your life? Would you agree they let one be as closest to death as possible?
Ihriel: We use the word dream more as a metaphor of that which removes you from the meaninglessness of everyday life and allows you to be lost within your own solitude. We do not believe in following dreams we have not dreamt ourselves, thus, it also represents sincerity and the path towards a goal. To sum it off, “there is nothing I don’t dream, there is nothing I don’t scream. – Georges Bataille.”
Death is certain, life is not. Even Poe once wrote that perhaps “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Would you agree?
Ihriel: “You tell me: Life is hard to bear. But if it were otherwise, why should you have your pride in the morning and your resignation in the evening? Life is hard to bear: but do not pretend to be so tender! We are all of us pretty fine asses and assesses of burden! What have we in common with the rosebud, which trembles because a drop of dew is lying upon it? – Nietzsche.”
The meaning of something is subjective in itself, while a value is definitely objective, thus, it’d be logical to consider that subjectivity always arises before objectivity. Do you think that the expansion of consciousness is shorthand for the principle that a human is constantly uplifting meanings into values – and, therefore, transforming relationships from the material to the mental and in the end to the spiritual?
Ihriel: These last questions are of such philosophical depth that it is impossible for us to concur, or not, with your statements, or to sum up our views in a few sentences. However, we’d like to follow it up with yet another quote from Nietzsche: “Truly, men have given themselves all their good and evil. Truly, they did not take it, they did not find it, it did not descend to them as a voice from heaven. Man first implanted values into things to maintain himself – he created the meaning of things, a human meaning! Therefore he calls himself Man; that is: the evaluator.”
Ihriel told me that you have a new solo project on the side. Can you tell me a bit about it at this point?
Ihsahn: Yes, I’m currently working on a Ihsahn solo-album which, most likely, will build on my experience with extreme Metal. I have some ideas that might even incorporate session musicians, but no part of this project will be made dependent on anyone but myself.
What do you plan for both Peccatum and Mnemosyne Productions, as well as your solo projects?
Ihriel: At present, we’re working with a follow-up EP and video for Peccatum, which will be out this autumn. The Ihsahn solo-album is scheduled for 2005 and we hope to sign a couple of new acts in the near future.
Thank you for the interview and hails from Norway to all experimental music lovers of Portugal!