the Satanic philosophy in the sense of individualism

Dimmu Borgir

Good evening

Hey Randy how are you?

Very well, thanks! And thank you for taking the time to take to us. How are things in your world?

Pretty good at the moment to be honest. We are held up in the Studio in Sweden recording. We are doing vocals at the moment so things are sounding really good and everything is on time, on schedule. So yea, couldn’t be better.

Exciting times at the moment then?

Yeah it is. It’s going to be a busy year you know. Starting with the DVD release in April and it looks like the album’s going to be dropped in August or something so yeah.

We are going to talk to you about your upcoming records a bit later in the year when there’s more news so now we’re going to focus on the DVD.

Yeah sure!

You’re about to release not one but two DVD’s in one box “Forces of The Northern Night” and “Northern Forces Over Wacken” those really two great live shows man

Yeah it is! It’s I guess that’s what you can call a pinnacle in our career. To be able to record with an orchestra on an album is one thing but to actually perform with an orchestra choir live is something that we have had as a dream for many years. To finally be able to do that and also release it as a proper release feels really good and is a huge accomplishment  for us as a band.

It truly is. Many bands dream of this kind of thing for a long time and you do it multiple times and you get the chance to record it as well.

Yeah exactly and the good thing about it all is also that the process of actually playing live behind it went really well. You know there were not many things that went wrong. But a lot of stuff could have gone wrong especially the Wacken show which is more of a gamble when it’s an outdoor festival. You don’t get to have a soundcheck and we really need to have soundcheck on regular touring. So that was definitely the one of the two shows that I was more, not worried, but there’s so much stuff from a technical point of view that can go wrong so that was in the back of my head at least. But it all went down really well.

It’s always a big accomplishment if something goes well on a festival

Yeah exactly. It’s always a gamble on its own without an orchestra so imagine being a hundred people onstage and everyone needs to be mic’d up and have proper… Yeah,  you know. Imagine (laughs).

Looking at these shows on the DVD how do you view it as a spectator?

It definitely shows the band in two different settings I would say because the Oslo show was more of our own show basically. It was really well arranged and we got to go through the set before the doors opened and everything was perfect in that setting. The Wacken show was more of the punk version. Still the same setlist but it was more like plug and play and let’s hope for the best you know. So that in itself, to do that you got to be a bit crazy because it’s such a huge gamble. But I think the fans get to see the band in two similar settings of course but still different and listening back to the DVD now and how Russell finished the mixes it’s clear to me now that the dynamics in the orchestral parts really come to the forefront much better than it actually did on the “Abrahadabra” album. Not to take anything away from the mix on that album but I think definitely the dynamics in the orchestra and choir definitely sounds much better on the DVD.

It’s music that really works live and you’ve proven that.

Yeah I think so too and I mean our music somewhat always since the beginning even had this attachment to symphonics so to record and actually perform with an orchestra live is not that huge of a step. It probably sounds cocky to say that but it’s definitely a nice merger between, we’ve used keyboards in the past, but now when you go all the way out with an orchestra you can actually hear that it makes sense.

Yeah it sounds a lot more natural and it’s a natural progression for you.

Yeah absolutely it and it’s, as I said, an accomplishment to finally be able to do this you know.

For these two shows you had a huge number of people on the stage especially the show in Oslo. How big was this production?

It was obviously the biggest we’ve ever done and it came out much bigger than I personally expected as well but it was so well planned and prepared, and it has to be like that because if you leave some up to coincidence you know that something is bound to happen and fail. So everything is in the details in the pre-production stage. That’s when you either make it or break it. It’s not really when you’re executing the show. That’s not when you will do anything wrong its more on the pre-production stage that things can go wrong. But we realised once we started rehearsing with the KORK orchestra for the “Abrahadabra” recordings that actually we were not as professional as we first thought because we’re the professionals you know (laughs) and so that put us in our place and we got a new and different perspective on ourselves and how to conduct ourselves in any possible situation playing as a band so we learned a lot from these two sessions and I’m really glad that we got to do this because that was the next logical step for us to take and I am not saying the we are not ever going to do it again but to put something of this magnitude together it takes a lot preparation. A lot of costs are involved of course but we’ll see later down the road if we get the chance to do it again and if the circumstances are there and are right then why not?

Yeah exactly. It must be difficult rehearsing a show like this. How do you prepare for such a huge production?

I think we approach just the same as if it were a club show or whatever because for us the performance is the same. It has to be 110% and of course the preparations are a little bit different, especially when it comes to the technical side because when you rehearse and play with an orchestra you have to kind of build in the drums for instance, they have to have a wall around them basically because with so many instruments and so many mics there’s a lot of bleeding between the instruments and that was also of course a much bigger challenge to mix the Wacken material because that was outdoors and of course no soundcheck and hardly any line check so that was much more of a challenge for us to mix than the Oslo show.

Yeah I bet. It’s probably very different to work with these kinds of musicians. I think they have a very different way of approaching the music.

Yeah and I think obviously a lot of people from the orchestra and choir knew about Dimmu from before and were really looking forward to it. But the you also have a few people that are a bit sceptical but I think we managed to convince everybody at some point that “Wow, this is really fucking cool” and judging from the people in the orchestra coming up to us later and saying “thank you for giving us this opportunity, for giving us this challenge. Your music is awesome. It’s been a pleasure playing your music” and for me that just says a lot. It means that people that are way more professional than us actually appreciate our music and that’s an accomplishment too.

It really makes you feel accomplished.

Yeah it does! It really does.

Did you have to cut down the show a lot to fit it on the Wacken stage? On a festival time slot?

No luckily that was something we agreed upon before we signed the deal playing Wacken that we need to do the same set, same show. So that was not a problem at all really. Of course it’s a different type of production because it’s outdoors and you can utilise more stage show basically but even if it’s a big festival stage it’s still pretty cramped when you have to fit a hundred people on there. And you have to fit them on there in a matter of 45 minutes so that was definitely a huge challenge (laughs)

I saw the difference between the stages and I thought that must have been a big challenge. If you had the choice, and the endless budget to go with it, would every Dimmu show have an orchestra or do you also enjoy the more toned down shows?

Actually that’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about that but I would say to play with an orchestra for each show I’m not sure. Of course don’t get me wrong I really loved doing that but there’s so much extra that you have to focus on and that drains you of energy obviously. So to do that on a whole tour? That I think would take away some of the magic but to let’s say, play an orchestra show in one city in each continent over the course of three or four weeks, that could of course be doable with an unlimited budget. I’m not against the idea of doing that at a later stage.

You could always go Trans-Siberian Orchestra once a year.

Yeah absolutely!

A once a year theatre tour

Yeah, although they play two shows a day sometimes which we probably wouldn’t. But you know (laughs)

What would you say is the biggest plus when playing material in such a setup? Is it mainly the wow factor, or something else?

I think obviously to play in front of an audience that is not necessarily only your own especially on a festival you tend to reach out to more people that probably have just heard about you or one or two songs you know and of course here in Norway when we did the orchestra show in Oslo that was a lot of press and a lot of curious people from all over the music industry in Norway. That is of course is really helpful to spread the name and the music of Dimmu. So it’s a good commercial (laughs)

Dimmu Borgir are their own event but at Wacken you are somewhere in a day slot so it’s a completely different thing .

Yes I guess that’s the downside of playing festivals in the summer in Europe because it hardly gets dark and if it does it’s late you know but that’s how it is and just have to make the best out of it.

I was kind of surprised that it was still light. I’ve been to Wacken a few times and the biggest acts are usually the last ones in the dark

Yeah yeah that’s true but I think we wanted to have that type of slot. I mean we could have played later but we felt that it would come across better if we did it earlier in the evening. So there’s a give and take in each situation.  Especially playing festivals

Well with things that can go wrong, if you do the night slot you have to do pyrotechnics and you have the risk of burning violinists and you don’t want that (laughs)

Yeah exactly. They tune by ear you know and if you have a lot of pyro and stuff that’s going to affect all the instruments that are onstage. There are a lot of things to take into consideration.

You mentioned the last Dimmu album was very much in line with these two shows. Nicely bombastic. Is that a trend you will continue in your upcoming album?

We definitely feel that the next album is really bombastic in its bombastic parts but it also has where we have very primitive side of the band is also more primitive this time and the stuff that is brutal is more brutal this time. So you have extremes on each part basically. That’s as far as I can describe it in an objective way but it’s definitely going to be a very varied sounding album and there’s a lot of ups and downs within each song to so I can’t really wait for people to hear it. Even if we’ve been under the radar for a long time we have still been working on and off with the music so that’s gonna really show and people are most likely and hopefully they’re gonna forget that it has been seven years once they hear it.

Yeah exactly. I did hear from your record company when they postponed this interview twice that you were in a cave recording your music (laughs) It’s good to hear that you are coming out with good music. I like the brutal and primitive side

We owe it to ourselves and to the fans of course to do our best, and to do your best you have to go with the natural flow and not force it because we all know that if you force art it’s going to fail no matter what so that’s just how it is you know. It’s just sad that it took longer than usual because we always take a break between albums but this time it went a bit too far I guess (laughs)

You can’t rush quality

No you can’t you can’t

When it comes to the symbolism in your music there is always a lot of Satanic-ish symbolism in your work and in your performances. My question is do you really believe in the Satanic philosophy or is it just for show?

I really adhere to the Satanic philosophy in the sense of individualism. You might as well call it individualist instead of Satanist or whatever and also the fact that I adhere to the symbolism when it comes to the rebellion and to be standing alone. The wolf pack type of mentality, so yeah absolutely, probably more than ever. For each new album I feel like we are going in a more, how to say it? Yeah it’s hard to describe but I think compared to in the past even if we perhaps used more Satanic imagery in the past. The feeling and the atmosphere in the context of the lyrics and stuff is more Satanic I guess you can say than ever. Based on how I see it from an individualistic point of view. Or a Luciferian point of view. That’s probably a better description.

So it’s not really a metaphor kind of thing? It’s really about the philosophy behind it?

Yeah I mean for me it’s like enlightenment is a difficult word to put across you know coz you don’t want to come across as a fucking guru or whatever you know. But I think when it comes to symbolism we have for instance a new song on the album called “Light Bringer” and that obviously has references to the Luciferian thought and way of life but I think when we use the word light it doesn’t mean, obviously in the religious sense at all, It has to do with you getting more of the hidden knowledge that’s out there. That’s also something that I’m trying to make a point of with the lyrics this time. That there’s a world that we see and there are also worlds unseen which are there and natural overlapping of dimensions that we experience from time to time. That’s at least from my perspective so I don’t expect people to agree with it but for me that’s how,, That’s the truth for me.

I think everybody has their own world that’s why I always open up in interviews with “How are things in your world?”

Yeah exactly. There was a guy that once said “The only understanding that’s going to be valuable for you is your own understanding” That’s very true.

When it comes to playing festivals, do you enjoy playing festivals?

Yeah I do. It’s a little bit different because you hardly get to have a good sound onstage and if you do that’s just one out of fifty shows I guess (laughs) but you learn how to adapt to the situation and you still have to do the same show as if it was a club show. Yeah there are pros and cons with everything but obviously playing a festival in front of a lot of people you tend to,,,yeah it’s more a party feeling for like of a better word. But yeah it’s good to see people really enjoy themselves and they’re there not necessarily just to watch you but they’re there to have a nice experience and soak in the atmosphere.

If they have a good time then that’s a bigger win for you even.

Absolutely yeah yeah of course

What are your best festival memories so far?

Obviously the Wacken with the orchestra but also pretty much every time we played Wacken and we played Dynamo three years in a row and I think we are pretty much the only band that’s ever done that and since we grew up in the 80’s to play the Dynamo festival was like the big thing.

Before Wacken that was the big thing

Yeah it was that was the Mecca of festivals you know. We have tons of great memories from playing festivals.

When you’re playing a show like Wacken or Dynamo you must run into a lot of other artists backstage. Do you have any tour memories mingle with others?

(laughs) Haha yes there are stories that can be told and there are stories that can’t be told. The thing with festivals is the nice atmosphere and commodore that is backstage between bands and that’s special because it’s not so much about,, You don’t ever get the feeling of competition just the feeling of unity and people being there because they want to be there and they have a thing to do and that’s very important for everybody and that’s why it’s usually always a good atmosphere in the backstage area between the bands because it’s a special atmosphere.

It’s a metal brotherhood.

Yeah I would say so absolutely.

You mentioned Dynamo and I suddenly have the vision of Dynamo one year when DEATH was playing and at the side of the stage the singer of PANTERA was rocking out to DEATH.

Yeah yeah. I remember watching DEATH that day and that was really special I mean DEATH has always been one of my main inspirations when it comes to extreme music and Death Metal in general so that was awesome to see them live on the big stage yeah absolutely.

You were there that day?


I was rocking out.

Yeah that is good memories, man good memories.

Will you be doing any touring in the coming months to support the DVD or will you be spending all your time preparing the new material?

We will do that in the fall I suppose in connection with the new album too. We’ll see how we pan this thing out but we definitely gonna do more touring for this album that we did with “Abrahadabra” I think we hardly did minimum of what we could expect from ourselves so next time we’re gonna, we’re gonna be very selective of course but we’re gonna make sure we put on a great big production and that people feel that they get their monies worth once the leave the show.

We’ll definitely be there to at least catch a show and have a full report in the magazine for you

Cool awesome

And I am also looking forward to our talk later this year for the album

Yeah yeah me too me too absolutely

That leads me to my last question and that’s do you have any last words for our readers?

Well just the fact that we feel really pumped and confident coming back, well I guess you can say it’s a comeback when it’s been that long between an album so, we really look forward to meeting the fans again and show them that we appreciate their patience and that is was worth the wait both with the DVD and the new album.

I’m sure it will be absolutely. Thank you very much for your time and I’m looking forward to the new stuff.

Me too Randy

Have a good night

You too man cheers

Randy Gerritse

Randy is the founder of Metal On Loud Magazine and its community. He is a lyricist for several bands (Dissector, GOOT), an author currently working on his second book, and does web development for a living.

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