Berns was fortunate enough to catch up with Varg Vikernes of Burzum. Varg shared his thoughts behind Burzum‘s latest offering “Umskiptar”, Pagan traditions, Old Norwegian and the progression since “Belus” and “Fallen”.
I was fortunate enough to review your latest album titled “Umskiptar” and I could not help but notice a progression in the music. In what way do you feel you have progressed as a musician?
The thing that I think made a big difference on “Umskiptar” was the language of the lyrics. Old Norwegian is so much more beautiful, poetic and powerful than Norwegian is, and I felt that the language itself elevated the entire production, gave it another spirit, so to speak, and indeed made it much better. The fact that there was a lot of lyrics this time made this fact even more significant.
Maybe I haven’t progressed as a musician at all, but just made an album this time, which happened to resonate more with your personality? “Umskiptar” is slower and more atmospheric, and even more “ritual”, than the older albums.
Your latest album is very different to that of “Belus” and “Fallen” in terms of the way you projected the message of your album through a poem Völuspá. Did you want to convey the message of the album in more of a metaphorical aspect in using this poem?
The message of the album is Voluspå, so to speak, and the metamorphoses this poem describes.
“Umskiptar” actually deals with the exact same topic as can be found on the “Belus” album, only this time I use a more mythological language and imagery – where I used a more traditional sorcery (“pre-religion”) language and imagery on “Belus”. It still describes the Pagan traditions and the metamorphoses of nature during a full year.
The last 3 albums were released in quick succession and I have seen that some of the tracks were recorded in the space of 2008-2009, especially on the “Belus” album. “Belus” was more of a politically motivated album, where “Fallen” was more of an experimental album with an atmospheric tone to it. “Fallen” also had a similar feel to “Det Som Engagn Var”. Where would you place “Umskiptar” in relation to it’s predecessors? Where did the inspiration come from? Or is it an entirely new concept?
The only album I have compared it to yet be “Filosofem”, because of its slower pace, but I would rather say it is a different concept though.
“Belus” was not a politically motivated album, by the way. Like I stated above, it describes the metamorphoses of nature, only from a (pre-religion) sorcerer’s perspective.
For me personally, I feel that “Umskiptar” had a message that was conveyed at deeper level of understanding especially through the poem and had a metaphorical message behind it rather than being blunt and to the point like its predecessors in the early 90’s. Is this how you wanted to convey the album or more importantly the message of the album?
I wanted “Umskiptar” to be like a voice from our forefathers, telling their descendants about the ancient Pagan traditions. So I used their language and their poetry – to bring them back to life, so to speak.
In relation to recording, the last 3 albums, has the development and advances in music technology changed your approach to recording your music?
Not really, no. Well, I can more easily cut and paste than I could in the past, meaning I don’t have to start all over again if I make a grave mistake, but that’s the only big noticeable difference. I still use the same analogue instruments and record one instrument at the time, and then finally the vocals.
Is your music for the fans or is it more personal than just fans getting the message you wish to convey and buying records?
I think the message I wish to convey is not so important. Sure, some might appreciate this and even look for it, but perhaps even a majority find their own meaning or message in the music they like, whether it is Burzum or something else, and I think that is just fine.
The music I make is as I see it an expression of a desire to create harmony in a dis-harmonic world. It is the fruits of metaphysical despair, so to speak. ‘Elegy’. Naturally this is a personal and really very private thing, but I know that there are at least a few others who appreciates this as intended by me, and that makes it worth releasing the music from a more personal perspective as well.
Has the progression in your music changed the way you approach composing and recording your music? As mentioned before you recorded parts of Belus in 2008, 2009 and in 2010, is this the type of approach you prefer when composing and recording an album? Or is the traditional composition of an album and then recording more appealing?
I recorded parts of “Belus” in 2008, 2009 and in 2010? Where did you read that? It is all news to me…. “Belus” was recorded in January 2010, as far as I can remember.
P.S. I just checked burzum.org and found that perhaps you confuse “production year” with “recording year”? The dates listed on burzum.org are the dates when the tracks were composed.
My favoured approach is to compose an album from A to Z and then record it.
In the past 2 albums and the latest one, 2 of the 3 were very politically motivated and deeply rooted in Norse Mythology rather than Anti-religious, do you intend on keeping that approach for future albums?
You are free to interpret any music you wish any way you want, but like I stated above “Belus” was not a political album at all, and nor is “Umskiptar”. “Fallen” on the other hand could to some extent be seen as one, if you over-analyze the lyrics.
It is hard to answer your question when the assumptions laying the ground for your question are erroneous.
ThisIsNotAScene wishes to thank Varg Vikernes for taking some time to talk with us!