Do you see much similarity—musically, thematically—between Belus and new album Fallen?Varg Vikernes: Yes I do. Musically because it’s still Burzum (…) and thematically because to some degree Fallen deals with the same subject, only it’s not in a mythological context, and on a personal level.
I know you didn’t see Belus as black metal. But since I forced you to classify it, you labeled Belus heavy metal. Still feel that way on Fallen? I know you’ve gone back to Det Som Engang Var more so than Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Filosofem for inspiration.
Varg Vikernes: Yes, very much so, and I see the debut album and Det Som Engang Var as heavy metal too… for that sake.
Vocally, some of the songs (“Jeg Faller”, “Valen”) on Fallen remind of English post-punk bands. Did you have that scene in mind when writing the vocal lines?
Varg Vikernes: Pardon my ignorance, but I have never heard or heard about English post-punk before. I will Google it and see what that is… (later) Ah, well I do like The Cure and New Order, and Depeche Mode too, if we can put them in that category too. I didn’t have this scene in mind when writing the vocal lines, but I am certainly inspired by it.
But I also hear post-punk in the music. “Budstikken” feels like a metallic version of Belgian outfit The Names or the production aesthetic of Asylum Party. Am I close or way off the mark here?
Now, I haven’t heard about any of the bands you mentioned here, but I think we can say the bass lines on Fallen are inspired by The Cure, but also Belus. I wanted to do something more with the bass this time, because I liked it when I did on Belus (on “Glemselens Elv”), and I guess when anyone do that it will in any case remind us all of The Cure and similar bands.
You’ve had a lot of criticism for changing the Burzum logo on Belus. You changed it again on Fallen. What does the logo mean to you?
Varg Vikernes: Burzum is a name, not a logo. To stress this I used Times New Roman for Fallen, and I am perfectly happy about that. If anyone wants to buy an album because of the band’s logo, or indeed if anyone wants to not buy Burzum albums because of the Times New Roman ‘logo’, that’s fine by me. I want the focus to be on music, and not some ‘fancy’ logo.
Does it really matter what people think of the logo?
Varg Vikernes: Nope. Although I do like to wake up all those who think of Burzum as some sort of static black metal entity, unable to change or evolve.
What’s your interest in William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s art?
Varg Vikernes: He was an exceptionally skilled painter, and he painted classically, but beyond that I used (a part of) one of his paintings, Élégie, only because it was the best for the concept for the album. I know many ‘got stuck’ in Theodor Kittelsen’s art for 15 years or so, and thought of this as being about as ‘Burzumic’ as you could possibly get, but I may add that didn’t have a relationship of any importance to him either.
How is the production on Fallen different? Seems more distant.
Varg Vikernes: It is clearer in the sense that you now can actually hear what I am playing, and it’s heavier in the sense that the bass and drums are more dominant that they used to be. What else to say? You tell me what’s different…
Do you believe every man gets what he deserves? I’m referencing the song, “Enhver Til Sitt”, here.
Varg Vikernes: Sure, but I am not saying we are all ‘good’ or ‘evil’ men who all get a reward for being ‘good’ or punishment for being ‘evil’ or anything like that. I am just saying that we harvest what we sow; and remember that pain and suffering can make you stronger, and joy and happiness can make you weaker, so what is good for us and what isn’t isn’t always so easy to determine. What is more important is that we accept our destinies, and even when in pain and suffering, even when everything is going down the drain, you tell yourself that there is no reason to complain. Face life – no matter what it throws at you – like a (pagan) man, not like some (Judeo-Christian) pussy, kneeling in front of their false god begging for help every time they face some adversity.
Do you think Burzum is a singular entity? I mean, every day bands are recording music, releasing music, and playing music. Do you feel part of that or disconnected from it?
Varg Vikernes: Some musicians make and record music, other musicians play in a band… I just make and record music and I don’t feel a part of anything in any music business.
Burzum.org has two gateways. One in English and one in Russian. In interviews on Youtube, I’ve heard you use Russian expressions. What’s the relationship between you, Burzum, and Russia?
Varg Vikernes: You could call me a Russophile, but how can I not be when they have made the best film ever (“Stalker”, by Andreij Tarkovksy), the best music ever (Tchaikovksy and Russian folk music in general), the best book (although I am not going to give you the name of that one…), the best rifles (the AK-series), the best off-road cars, both civilian (Lada Niva) and military (UAZ-469), and mire too. Russians are also generally speaking more enlightened than individuals in ‘the West’. I also like the Russian no-bullshit approach. Anyway, that’s not why burzum.org has a Russian gateway as well. It does because it is run by a Russian… Also, my Russophilia is not the reason I know a few phrases in Russian. That is simply because the Norwegian prison system had its share of Lithuanians, Poles, Chechens and other East Europeans (not too many Russians though, contrary to popular belief), and they tend to speak Russian better than English or German.
** Burzum’s Fallen is out April 5th in the U.S. on Candlelight Records USA. Pre-order it here.