Interview with With Strength We Burn, 2006

The following is an online interview from 12/09/06 with Hebbe, musician and vocalist for the Swedish Folk Metal band Skald. Skald has two demos, both of which are available for download from their website. Skald also has a MySpace page with 4 songs available for listen and download.

WSWB- Hails, Hebbe of Skald! Thank you taking time for this.

Hebbe- Hails! And thank you for doing this interview

WSWB- For the sake of folk out there who do not know you yet, can you introduce yourself a bit?

Hebbe- Of course. Skald was formed in 2005 by me and an old friend David. Our main idea was to make pure acoustic folk-inspired music based upon my Swedish lyrics, which I've written for quite some time. The acoustic results weren't very satisfying so we began experimenting with some heavier guitar-play and made a couple of songs. We released our first demo in March 2006 by the name of "Sagor Fran Skogstjärnen" (Stories From The Forest's Bog) which we are very unsatisfied with today. Lately, we released our second demo "Trolska Vemodsband" (Trollish Bonds Of Agony) which we are much happier with. Our music can best be described as natureromantic folk metal, inspired by bands such as Otyg, Vintersorg, Månegarm and Storm.

WSWB- I was knocked back when I first heard your music. The melodies are sweeping and the feelings I experienced were similar to the ones I have when listening to the bands you mentioned. Your sound has a pure and Nordic sound. I like it a lot. This is why I am so happy to be doing this interview. When you make it big, remember your ol' buddy Skalk. Ha.

Hebbe- Thank you for those kind words, it is most appreciated when someone tells you he/she likes what we do. Heh, I promise you that if we'll ever make it big, we will remember you!

WSWB- Right now Skald is a 2-man project. What instruments do you play, and who is the other member of the band?

Hebbe- I mainly handle the vocals, the mouth-harp and lyrical aspect. On our first demo I played on an ocarina as well, but we weren't satisfied with this so it had to take a step back. I recently bought myself a willow flute which I'm currently learning to play and hopefully, we'll use it on our third demo. David is a good friend of mine who is the one who turns my melody ideas into music with his guitar work. He is also the main responsible for programming the drums and bass.

WSWB- I'm looking forward to hearing that willow flute. And my personal hails to David for his contribution. I'm listening to 'Nar Allt Tystnar' right now, I think if anything defines Skald; it has to be this song. It employs and encompasses so much of what your sound is in one song. It is inspired and inspiring. Well done. Will Skald ever become a larger lineup (i.e. drummer, etc)?

Hebbe- Thank you very much. I also think that "Nar Allt Tystnar" says quite a lot of what Skald sounds like, but personally I think it's a bit too short. We have just briefly talked about recruiting other members and haven't decided anything yet. Right now, we are quite happy where we are, but we both would like to a have a drummer of flesh and bone. I think that this is something we'll talk more in-depth about the next time we are making music together. I would also love to have a violinist and a bass player in Skald so we'll keep all doors open.

WSWB- With the foundation you have laid, finding like-minded musicians who share your vision should be much less of a task. I eagerly await anything that comes from you in the future, be it a duo or a 7 piece lineup. But as a duo, I imagine you do not play live at this point?

Hebbe- You are correct. If we gather some other musicians we'll most definitely try to play live. But I myself have never stood on a stage and I think that I have a stage-fright to a certain degree. Not sure though, but since I will be doing some live gigs with my other band this summer I'll have to see how that goes. It might just turn out alright...heh

WSWB- If you are confidant in your ability (which you should be from what I have heard) you'll find playing live to be one of the most rewarding experiences you can hope for. But don't believe that whole "think of the audience in their underwear" thing... there's a lot of really ugly people out there. Ha.

Hebbe- Hehe, no I most certainly wont picture the audience in their underwear. I'm beginning to feel a bit more confident in my singing, but it's still a quite new thing for me. Except singing in the shower...

WSWB- I'm going to ask a few questions about what inspired the imagery and lyrics for Skald. Skald by classic definition is a poet who carries on oral tradition by sharing stories. Do you feel that you are doing the same thing?

Hebbe- Yes and no. I don't think that my lyrics are very "poetical" in the poetical sense - I just write them as the inspiration comes to me. Some lyrics have little stories which in some extent are inspired by Scandinavian folklore. But not all of them.

WSWB- All of your lyrics are in Swedish. Do they translate well to English?

Hebbe- No, I can't really say that they do. The reason I translated our lyrics on our website was that there were some people who wanted to understand what they meant. I just translated them straight into English and it may seem a bit weird and "Swenglish" at some points. But I am aware that most people who enjoy Skald aren't necessary Swedish or Scandinavian so I think there's a point in translating them anyway.

WSWB- Thanks for explaining that. I would like to know the lyrics, but at the same time I don't need to know them to song along and feel the spirit of the music. I still have no idea at all what the lyrical translation to 'Huldran' by Otyg is but I sing right along anyway. A quick observation... your English is excellent. Thank you for that, as my Swedish is... uh... non-existent.

Hebbe- Thanks! I'm not so excellent in speaking though. But here in Sweden, we start to learn English quite early in school and I've always found it easy. Add to that, I watch a lot of movies (without subtitles) and that I always want to know what the lyrics are when I listen to music. I usually look up English words that I don't know in a dictionary. And don't worry about your Swedish; it's not as if you'll ever need it. Except if you want to understand Swedish lyrics... Anyway, most English-speaking people tend to know what the word "Skål!" means...

WSWB- I tend to say that word a lot around Yule.

Hebbe- Hehe, I knew it!

WSWB- What is next for Skald? You mentioned "the next demo". Are you writing any new songs right now?

Hebbe- Well, not really being written. David has made a few riffs intended for Skald, but I don't know if we're going to use them yet. Most of time, it depends on my lyrics - the way they are written, they mostly have a melody to them to begin with. And I have a LOT of lyrics in my database - I constantly write. But I can definitely say that we are going to make a third demo.

WSWB- I look forward to it, without doubt. Are you eventually going to try to be distributed via a label?

Hebbe- Eventually, yes. We would like to polish our sound a bit before getting more serious with Skald.

WSWB- If you ever need anyone to review / critique your music before it goes to mix down, I know a guy who has a website that does a lot of reviews for bands...

Hebbe- Great! It would be most welcomed. Though I think we are going to pay a little money this time to have our third demo being recorded and produced in a real studio.

WSWB- That would be excellent. The recording you have is well done, but the mix is slightly off (meaning some sounds get lost). Hiring someone to do the mix would perfect your final product. As it stands though, this is one of the best demos I have heard in a long time. I really have high hopes for Skald (defined in terms of an obscure underground sub-genre of Folk Metal) and I genuinely think Skald has a place in that culture. The future may well hold good things for you.

Hebbe- Thanks a lot! I'm overwhelmed by your words and I agree that some sounds are lost on the demo. Though I don't think we even come close to the majesty of the Otyg-demos

WSWB- I'm careful to not "compare" bands when I make references between them. Each band brings something different when they strike out on the high seas of musical journey. Your sound reminds me of bands like Storm, Isengard, and Otyg... but as a point of reference. You are most certainly Skald, which is exactly who you should be, not an Otyg clone.

Hebbe- Yes, I agree with you. But I tend to compare everything I hear with Otyg, which in my opinion is (was) the greatest band on the entire planet! I actually wept on that dreadful day in March 2002 when they disbanded.

WSWB- It was a dark day for the genre, but Otyg has inspired dozens of others to follow the path... I think you would agree.

Hebbe- Definitely. And as you say, it has hopefully inspired many - including Skald.

WSWB- Hebbe, thank you so much for your time today. Anything else you'd like to add before we wrap this up?

Hebbe- Support Skald and the Folk Metal underground! And be sure to check out www.skald.se