Interview with Kraath
How do you feel about creating and performing Black Metal since Setherial’s inception? Do you envision yourself doing it for another ten years? Also, what is your musical background and how were you drawn to Music in the first place?
I feel very good about what we have accomplished, musically, over the years with Setherial, and the way things feel right now I can certainly see myself doing this for another ten years. I’ll be continuing to play Black Metal as long as I find it rewarding on a creative and musical level.
My main instrument is the guitar, but I have had some chances to explore other instruments as well over the years. I’ve done some keyboard work as well as some bass. I wouldn’t call myself a very accomplished keyboardist though, as my strengths lie in the stringed instruments.
As for my musical origins, I started out as a singer before I really played instruments seriously. I had a guitar at home but I never saw myself as a guitar player back then – singing was the main focus at that point. I then started leaning more and more towards the guitar until it became my main focus musically and singing took a back-seat. I can’t say exactly at what point I realised that I wanted to be a musician, but it’s something that’s been present almost as far back as I can remember.
Most of the time, musicians in your field are involved in side-projects. Since I know this to be your case, what news can you tell me on this front?
There have been a few projects over the years, some known and others unknown to all, except a chosen few. The most well-known is probably Blackwinds, a project I did a 7″ with back in 1999 in collaboration with Zathanel and Mysteriis. Blackwinds will actually release an album later this year, but I’m not as involved in that project any more as I was back then. I currently have a band called Division Hate on the side of Setherial, but we haven’t really released anything yet. Regarding time, it isn’t really a problem, as other projects will have to wait when things are hectic with Setherial; the other guys in Division Hate are in full understanding of the situation, so there are no problem, really. The energy is easy to find. Nothing else gives me the kind of satisfaction that creating music and performing does, after all.
Your debut album, Nord, has been regarded by many as Setherial’ most outstanding and awe-inspiring record. From a broader perspective, does it seem a bit ironic and far-fetched to you? How was it to be a part of the recording process and to be at Abyss studio working with Peter Tägtgren?
I respect the fact that many people have a special bond to the Nord album, and I’m still proud of what we achieved when we recorded it back in 1995. I might not always agree that it should be regarded as our best album ever, but it’s up to each and every listener to judge for themselves. The recording of Nord was a special time in many ways, because working in a professional studio was rather new to us at the time, so there were many lessons learned during those nine days. And I remember spending quite a lot of time in solitude during the recording, just working on the lyrics and preparing for the vocals.
Peter is a good guy and was pretty easy to work with as far as I remember.
Much like Nord, Death Triumphant was also recorded at Abyss studio, but this time with more depth and scope in sound, as well as range and intricacy. How was it like to be there this time and also for such a short period? Consequently, how did you like the way the mix and master processes turned out at Necromorbus studio?
The good thing about recording the album in Abyss was that we had 24-hours’ access to the studio. We were recording almost constantly throughout the two weeks we spent there, working in shifts more or less. This was great in the sense that something was always happening and progresses were being made on the album at all times.
The Necromorbus mix turned out great, I think. The first mix we did right after recording the album in the Abyss felt like it was missing something, but the final result turned out to be very satisfying, I think.
Setherial were signed to Napalm Records for nearly ten years but, eventually, things took a turn since you inked a deal not so long ago with Regain Records (formerly known as Wrong Again Records). What happened that led to this turn of events and how satisfied are you with your new partnership so far? In addition, are there are any artists on Regain Records that you find related to?
We had just come back from a break from the band and it felt to us, within the band, like we were actually starting all over again in a sense. The change of label was in a way an extension of that fresh start, as well as a wish to have a label in the same country to make communication easier. I think the collaboration with Regain Records has worked out rather well so far: we’ve done two albums with them now and I have no real complaints about their work for us. I don’t know if related is the right word, but I enjoy several of the bands on the Regain Records roster; you’ve got bands like Marduk and Behemoth among others there, so there’s a lot of quality there right now. I don’t know if there’s any band I feel related to in that sense anywhere in the scene, really. We’ve been part of this culture for such a long time by now that I view Setherial as a band that stands firmly on its own accomplishments, without reference to others. It’s not that I see us as better than others, but just as unique in our own right.
Usually, Black Metal bands tend to gravitate from such issues as Satanism, devilry, witchcraft and, in some cases, nationalism, but many have only just flirted with these concepts. Since Setherial have always been pretty adamant in comparison, I was wondering if you could tell me about the genesis of your contempt for institutionalised religion and how do you look upon organisations like Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan?
To me, organised religion represents everything that is wrong with humanity at this day and age. By adhering to principles that have been dictated by an outside source, people are letting go of the control of their own judgements and thought process. The human race has one definite pillar of strength and that is our intellect. By choosing not to fully use that strength, it is making itself into something that is, in fact, less than human. I have a hard time with any kind of mass hysteric form of expression – be it religious, political or any other. I am a firm believer in the strength of the individual mind and the search for personal fulfilment, that’s why I detest such things as organised religion with such passion. The Church Of Satan has its points, but I need no church or organisation to tell me how to follow my own mind and wishes. In a way, it’s a bit of a contradiction to even call it an organisation, because how do you really organise something that’s meant to be individual after all?
Satanism translates to adversity, which can be seen as a form of freedom. However, most bands, associates and even enthusiasts within Black Metal always tend to follow certain rules, ethic codes and behaviour standards in order to be accepted and, therefore, to feel good about themselves, a clear opposition to the aforementioned notions. Do you agree that such leads to stagnation in opposition to evolution, as a natural step from independent thinking?
In a way you’re right. There are people who think way too much about the opinions of others within the scene and how any given action would be perceived by this and that person. In the long run it might lead to stagnation, but I think that there will always be people breaking new ground and exploring new things within the context of Black Metal. It is quite strange that this phenomenon is as common as it is in a genre that represents strength and individuality, really (I don’t know why that is). I think most underground movements tend to want things to be rebellious while staying the same though, even if that in itself is a contradiction.
Recently, Sweden has lost one of its greatest bands, Dissection. How did Jon Nödtveid’s suicide affect you, and were you acquaintances before? Tackling the matters of Suicide and Euthanasia, how do you look and feel upon them?
It was a loss in the sense that he was a very accomplished musician and songwriter, but I never met him, so I had no personal or emotional ties to the fact that he ended his life.
I have personally never considered taking my own life: I have far too many things I want to achieve first for that to be an option for me. Nevertheless, I respect the right of the individual to end his/her life whenever he/she wants to do so. I think it should be a basic right to be able to decide such fundamental things about your existence.
Last, but not least, what can you tell about your recent alliance with Portugal’s Icon Music Agency, as well as your future plans for Setherial and assorted assignments?
We’ve begun a collaboration with Icon Music Agency for an upcoming tour this fall and I hope that it will come out well for both us and them in the end. It’s hard to really say anything about the situation right now though, as we haven’t played any shows through them yet, so we don’t know if things are great or not so great. I have great hopes for the tour though.
Besides the tour, we’re working on new material for our sixth album, but we haven’t set a date for the recording of it yet.