First of all, allow me to show some gratitude to you for taking your time to answer this interview, so, thank you very much, I deeply appreciate this. Please, I ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.
145188: Thanks. And the same goes to you, thank you for doing this interview. I don’t know who I am nor why I exist. So if I should introduce myself properly I would introduce myself as a big questionmark, hehe.
Gabrielson: I’m not sure what you’re going for. I’m just another fuck up who takes out frustration with music and other forms of art…
You have just released what is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece. It would be hard to explain the music that Vanhelga plays, but, what I feel is that it’s an emotional, melancholic, depressive, insane state transmuted into music, and this, to my ear, causes eargams, so to speak. Can you tell us a bit about Längtan?
145188: Längtan is our third full-length and the first album (full-length that is; Gabrielson participates on the “Sommar” EP) that involves other members (not only myself doing everything alone). I carefully selected the members during the years to be sure they aligned with my own visions. For me personally, Längtan, was a natural progression for the band. We didn’t have any ideas or plans when we created it, we just let the inspiration guide us wherever it may take us. I think that is one of the things that make our music different; we don’t care about categories nor what other people might think about our art. And lastly I want to say thank you for your kind words and I am truly glad you enjoy our latest creation.
Gabrielson: Thank you. I’m very proud of how “Längtan” turned out. It is about our longing and love, for life, death, the next life, the next eon. Life is just another chapter of existence, darkness is just the “other side of the of the coin” of light. I reckon most people – maybe without knowing it – dismiss their negativity instead of embracing it. I believe the latter is important for personal envolvement.
It might seem like I’m “kissing ass” here, I am not, it’s just that I can’t stop admiring this album. I’m listening to it while writing this interview. I always try to understand what’s going on in a musicians mind, but, of course, most of the times it’s impossible. Please, let us know how can you create such an atmosphere that it’s desolate, psychotic and yet stunningly beautiful!?
145188: Haha, I don’t know to be honest. I like to think that art (some forms at least) goes beyond words. And even beyond the mind. Far beyond all logic. Art reaches deep into the unknown which can’t be described by words as words only limit the effort of correctly describing it. The moment you start thinking about music you (most times unintentionally) begin to limit it. To fully appreciate art you need to open yourself to the unknown, chaos and that which lies beyond all human logic.
Gabrielson: It is the result of the life I’ve been living.
I was reading an interesting and very favorable review on Längtan in which this reviewer only had, to his eyes, one negative aspect about this album, that it’s way too long. I respectfully disagree with him. You see so called full-length albums that runs less than thirty minutes. It’s rather disappointing and especially when you actually pay for the music. Sommar, for example, is an EP that runs over thirty minutes and Längtan over one hour. Is this something intentional?
Gabrielson: I leave this question to 145188, but regarding the length of an album – why not use up the space as long there is material that is suitable? Don’t get me wrong, I’d see it as pointless to just fill it with bullshit songs, but if they fit, they should be included….
145188: I agree. A full-length, to me, should be at least 45 minutes. Längtan was actually a lot longer from the beginning but we had to remove ~4 songs to make it within the range of the capacity of a regular CD. For me personally, Sommar could’ve been a full-length as well but it felt more natural to release it as an EP. And as you know by this point, I never go by logic when it comes to creativity, I solely go by instinct and feelings. When it comes to Vanhelga; nothing is intentional.
For quite some years, 145188 was the sole member of Vanhelga, it was a one man band. What lead you to decide incorporating new musicians on the band and how were they chosen?
145188: I wanted to take the music on stage and be able to perform the songs live. I think that the music can expand and open your senses even more when it is performed as a live ritual. To me Vanhelga is more than just music, it is a way of life. Or rather a philosophy if you’d like. The members was chosen based on different factors. I won’t go into details but I promise you that I would not let anyone that I think is “unworthy” soil my work.
When Vanhelga was created, was there some sort of goal? Something that you wanted to reach or was it a form of escapism from this mundane life?
145188: Both. Back in 2003 the goal was to explore and channel feelings that I, at that point, experienced as very painful. To channel these feelings into music. Nowadays I realize that these feelings actually are positive in all aspects. When I was younger I always had this silly dream of “releasing an album with a label”. So I guess you could say that was one of the goals as well back in the days, haha. Indeed, music reaches far beyond this mundane life.
Perhaps, in a way connected to the previous question, I’ve read an older interview with the band in which it was stated that the band’s name was about finding your own way, going against the stream and realizing that there’s no right or wrong in life. That you are the creator of your own reality. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Could you please elaborate for our readers a bit more about this and people that live in the so called dualism?
145188: This subject is really hard for me to explain in English because Swedish is my main language, so to speak. You might also need to study theoretical and practical philosophy as well as the occult to fully understand and embrace these ideas. But I will give it a try.
Unfortunately most people (living in todays society) are enslaved by it. From the day they are born; indoctrination starts immediately. Everything you learn and everything that you think have shaped you into “a person” comes from what other people wants you to believe. In order to become a “living person” (in other words; not enslaved) you need to forget everything you have learned, erase and destroy all your previous beliefs and laugh at them, as if they were some silly joke. You need to embrace death and chose death as your ultimate guide in life. Everyone dies. People that are afraid of death can’t live life to it’s full extent because they live in constant fear. Only a few persons manage to break free from the prison they are born into. These people gain the ability to create their own reality.
I often use the terms “right” and “wrong” as examples. People are taught that some things in life are “wrong” and some things are “right”. They don’t question it because they have been brainwashed with these categories and concepts since birth. Now, in some cultures, like in our society, it is considered as “wrong” to mutilate yourself. In other cultures, self-mutilation is someting very positive (for expanding your senses etc.) and something that everyone need to do in order to become considered as “adults”. Do you see what I mean? There is no “right” or “wrong” in life, they are just worthless concepts that have been invented/created by other humans. People who embrace and live by these values without questioning them are nothing but blindfolded sheep and I can only feel sorry for them.
Gabrielson: I believe everyone has the possibility to get closer to enlightenment, embrace and fuel the black flame within or whatever one would like to call it. One just have to be open to it. Not just accept things, but try to understand them. Instead of judging. However, I think it may be “easier” for some than for others. It may sound elitistic – it is not what I’m aiming at, but some people are just too comfortable in their rutines, rather than explore the inner self as well look outwards. I goes in both ways, you have too look forward, but also reflect over the past. Just as you have to take care of your inner temple (meditation and spiritual work, as an example) as well the outer temple (your body, the vessel of your soul).
After the sad demise of Lifelover, I believe that we needed one worth band that would represent this musical style. Not saying that the band is a Lifelover clone, which it isn’t at all, in my modest view, but do you see yourselves, in a way, representing the work started by them, not only for the music, but spreading more and more negativity through your art?
145188: No. There is no thoughts like that in the work that Vanhelga represent. As I said earlier, Vanhelga operates solely on instinct/feelings and not logic. Most people surely believes our music only spreads negativity. Me on the other hand, don’t believe in concepts such as “negativity” and “positivity”. To me Vanhelga is connected with what people like to call “positive” things.
Gabrielson: First of all, this is not Lifelover. Lifelover has been done, it was perfect, it can never been recreated.
Second, I know some people within the scene have an idea “if someone commits suicide to my music – wow – that would be kickass”. I dislike that way of thinking. I’d rather see someone listening to Vanhelga INSTEAD of taking his or her life. I’m not trying to drag people down, rather showing them my reality. I believe I have the right to do so. Nevertheless, if someone chooses to end his or her own life, it’s their decision.
As I type this interview, I got to know that H.R. Giger passed away. This really isn’t related to you, but he was such a respected artist that gained fame, against all the odds and tides, through the dark and obscure. What are you feelings and thoughts about this artist as well as his passing?
Gabrielson: I didn’t know him, so his death did not affect me on a personal level. It is always sad when a great artist dies, but he – from what I know – lived a full life. He is immortal through his work. I somewhat envy him for that. His work has always been a great inspiration for me.
145188: I enjoy his art. I have several books containing his art at home which I often read and get inspired by. To me it’s not something negative that he died. Like I said earlier, everyone dies sooner or later. Rather than mourning his passing I celebrate what he accomplished in life and wish him a good death. Death is only the beginning.
You’re going on a tour around Sweden in the next few days. Or well, depending on when you are able to answer this, the tour might have been over. Anyways, what can the attendees expect from Vanhelga’s live performance? Is Vanhelga a band that enjoys playing live?
145188: Total madness and chaos! Personally I enjoy playing live. I don’t know about the others.
Gabrielson: Too soon to tell… It will be our first live shows. Our rehearsal sessions have been awesome, so I hope the liveshows will be that as well.
This is the part where I always ask a few things about the personal life of the musician I’m interviewing. Nothing that would invade their/ yours privacy, of course. Well, some think that the music is the only thing that matters and not their lives. Well, I partially agree with them, but we always want to know a bit more about the man behind the music. Having that in mind, what are your favorite activities outside the music world? Anything that you’d like to share with us.
145188: Studying philosophy and occultism. Taking drugs and drinking alcohol. Self-destruction combined with meditation and rituals.
Gabrielson: I used to be into martial arts, but my training and exercise has been reduced a lot lately. I focus a lot on my spiritual work. I also read, write, watch movies as well as explore other forms of art to work with. Other than that, I mostly keep to myself.
And we come to the conclusion of this small “conversation”. One more time, I thank you for the time and answers and wish the best for the band. Please, do you have any last words for our readers?
14188: Thank you as well. It has been a pleasure answering your questions (I enjoyed them). Yes, to all readers I want to say: Embrace death!
Gabrielson: Thank you. Final words? Don’t be afraid to explore the darker sides. It’s always the darkest before the dawn. My point is that misery leads to positive things. As long you don’t give up.May 21, 2014