With all the music that comes across the Decibel desk in a month (hell, in a single week), I find it can help to stick labels on music that I want to be sure to spend time with. Earlier this year, when Owl’s Into the Absolute EP came down, I tagged it with the descriptor “weird death metal” to remind my future self why it would be worth my attention. While that choice of description is overly simplistic and only partially apt, it’s good enough to get me to come back to it when I’m sifting through the newish albums I want to hear.
When the new song/album, The Last Walk, appeared in my inbox, I knew it was time to revisit Owl. Glad I did. Valborg member Christian Kolf finds ways to re-sculpt trance-inducing heaviness and crawling violence into some stimulating idiosyncratic material.
Check out the full song here, and read Kolf’s discussion of the project and how it all comes together.
You have had a lot of other musical experience – can you talk about how the other bands you’ve worked with have felt different than the way Owl works?
OWL is actually a solo project and that’s the main difference. In my other band VALBORG we jam and write songs together in our rehearsal room. It always depends on the people you work with and the creative room or history you created. Every band has its own world. I don’t like to squeeze every style into one band. It’s more about creating a picture, to make a statement, keeping your mind free to stay in flow.
How did the Owl project come together? What were your initial goals when you started Owl?
It all started with the first OWL album. It’s based upon a dream I had 10 years ago. I always wanted to make an album like this, to provoke the feelings I had back in the 90s when I was listening to old British doom gothic death metal records.
You have been recording a lot since Owl started, especially recently. Do you spend a lot of your time on Owl, or is the time you spend just really productive?
When I enter a writing mood it all happens really fast. I don’t work too long on songs. When I start, I finish it and that’s it. I don’t want to be too perfectionist and kill the feeling by hearing it too often.
When I heard that The Last Walk would be one 25-minute song, I was amazed, but then I realized that you’ve recorded long pieces before… in fact, Into the Absolute was full of pretty short songs, based on your other work. When you work on songs, do you piece different ideas together, or do you write them from beginning to end?
It differs. With longer songs I have a rough framework which I extend. Shorter songs I write from beginning to end.
What are you enjoying most about your writing/recording as Owl?
Absolute freedom. With this kind of music you reach out to people who are simply cool, who appreciate strange stuff and true emotions. There are not many in this world and that makes it very special.
Is your label Zeitgeister working the way you hoped it would when you started out?
Definitively. I’m very happy that we have created something unique. We are a bunch of friends who do this, who make music and release it. We are independent and we don’t have to play a silly game about chumming up and success. We want to be found and if we will be forgotten, we don’t care. What matters is the attitude towards life. Most people want something and that’s the killer of all fun. I see many people who quit music, because the circumstances are so bad. I think they just don’t love music enough. Maybe they loved the dream about making a living from it or become famous. But this is more basics stuff and not what music is about. Music is not about the journey outwards, it’s about the journey inwards.
Would you like to take Owl’s music to the stage in the near future?
Maybe. Not yet. I want to keep the dream alive and take it easy. First I want to release some more music. The next album has already been written. I just have to find the right time to record it.
For more of Kolf’s work with Owl, Gruenewald and Valborg, check out the Zeitgeister Bandcamp site.