Leja Siv Harju of HailsWebzine.com recently conducted an interview with guitarist Silenoz (real name: Sven Atle Kopperud) of Norwegian symphonic black metallers DIMMU BORGIR. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
HailsWebzine.com: Many people automatically perceive black metal bands such as your own to be “Satanic” or rooted in the occult practices, etc. Your own previous statements on this and your lyrics have always been interesting. But today, what are your own ideologies on life, death, spirituality, and the “religion” thing? I have heard DIMMU referred to as “spiritual”. What to you does spirituality mean or entail, how has it applied to DIMMU‘s music and approach from the beginning ’til now, and what is spirituality as opposed to religion? And what do “God” and “Satan” bring to mind for you when you see those words?
Silenoz: Spirituality is individual while as I see religion as not. It’s man-made and there to enslave and control the insecure and those who for whatever reason don’t dare or have given up the fight. To have a religious belief, or a religious conviction, to me, means you give up that birth given right to be an individual, perhaps on more levels than just the spiritual one. And “satan,” or referring to the description “satanic,” for me, is being that individual as Satan is a modern metaphor for breaking out and away from what’s considered the norm and what’s considered safe and controlling. I adhere to progress, not only in scientific terms but also on a personal level and everything that concerns my own being. We wouldn’t exist without a continuous ongoing evolution and so the “Luciferian thought” is a way of always lighting the torch in the dark. Without being willing to bring in light we would still be stuck in the dark. To me it’s pretty simple if you break it down symbolically. Being religious, to me, also means you leave your responsibilities by the door or over to something else, a higher deity. It doesn’t make sense to me. I have never been able to relate to it nor will I ever; it’s against common sense. For me, there’s no higher spiritual deity than myself and I take pride in taking responsibility, whether it’s a physical or a mental one. I don’t rule out anything other than the fact that I’m here now and solely in power of myself and my actions and reactions. That pretty much sums up the general idea, my lifecode, whatever you want to call it. There’s no one that can tell me to fear or worship any other god than myself.
HailsWebzine.com: How does black metal continue to make a mark in Norway, or does it? Obviously for a time it was quite infamous and making a great storm on the national media scene, often for violent reasons which fueled backlash from the religious community, etc. Do you believe black metal has seen its prime and has died or been diluted from its point? I hear so many arguments in the Norwegian black metal community about what it even meant or was. What is your take?
Silenoz: From my non-judgmental and not-so-up-to-date point of view, I think black metal has reached its peak in terms of rebellion and shock value, but it hasn’t died out artistically and musically. Far from it. It’s been watered down, sure, and obviously become more available, for obvious reasons, but as there are several new genres born under the so-called “black metal” banner the last few years, I still see it relevant and as a pivotal addition to the music world. There’s still passion, dedication, honesty and authenticity in this form of art and as long as that is on the forefront, it’ll still be life. But as real life is all about contradictions, the term black metal is no exception. It has progressed, thank god — pardon the pun!
HailsWebzine.com: DIMMU are now “reduced” to a creative trifecta. How do you feel this new arrangement benefits DIMMU, and what have you learned and experienced from working with a pretty decent amount of different musicians in the band’s lineup over its lifetime? What is the dynamic between yourself, Shagrath, and Galder like?
Silenoz: The creative core has always been the three of us anyways, at least since Galder joined in 2000, so the work and writing process is still pretty much the same. We decide what goes and what doesn’t. It will not work trying to run a band in a democratic way — that’s an illusion. In theory, it sounds nice, but it doesn’t work, so an advice to new bands; don’t kid yourself and find your place in the band as soon as you can and adapt as good as you can. The way we run things have more benefits than drawbacks, but it’s not like things always go down without disagreements, verbal arguments and timeouts. There’s a lot of people involved when we make decisions, it affect others as well, not only the band itself. Everything has a domino effect and sometimes you need to take quick decisions made on not much information, other times it’s easier where you can and have time to plan ahead and in control of a situation. Pretty much like in real life. Sometimes things doesn’t work out for obvious reasons, sometimes for less obvious reasons. We have always acted on what we think has been best for the band at all given times. Sometimes it’s been personal, sometimes musical.
HailsWebzine.com: What are DIMMU‘s plans for [the rest of] 2012? You did a DVD a few years ago with footage from 1998 to the early 2000s… Is another DVD in the works?
Silenoz: We filmed the “Forces Of The Northern Night” show with the orchestra and choir in Oslo Spektrum May last year. There has not yet been set a release date for this, unfortunately, but I can assure you it’ll be a real treat for the fans and that their patience will pay off! What’s on YouTube etc is the sound and images from the TV broadcast and it’s not even the whole setlist. It works well as a teaser, sure, but we have since then remixed it and edited the footage, plus there’s a lot of bonus material previously not released that you’ll find on there once it’s finally out. We’re really proud of how things turned out and hope it’ll see the light of day as soon as possible so we can share that magic moment in our history with the fans. We also filmed the Wacken show this year with orchestra and choir and since things seem to be dragging out we might still have time to add some of that to it as well making it a real nice package.
Read the entire interview from HailsWebzine.com.