Wil Cifer of Soletron.com recently conducted an interview with EMPEROR frontman Ihsahn (real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Soletron.com: I know your latest album, "Das Seelenbrechen", was an intentional step away from your past solo albums, so how did you go about this?
Ihsahn: The previous album were heavy, with eight-string guitars and sax, so this time I wanted to stay inspired and out of my comfort zone and go about this like many of the artists I have had an admiration for who express themselves spontaneously. For the more metal albums, I have always worn so many hats on the production side of things, all the control leaves little space. So I wanted to go backwards, bring back the black metal atmosphere and try different musical forms. I wanted to explore different chord colors. I would go into the studio in the middle of the night with two lyrics and took them to the drummer and just picked up my guitar and improvised. It is how I imagine Diamanda Galas might create with some of her more vocal works.
Soletron.com: The title references the Nietzsche saying about "art of the ugly soul." Was this the theme for the album?
Ihsahn: That word is not a real German word. He put it together and I felt it summed up the feeling that comes from my inspiration. Perception synonymous with abstract, I crave it when I listen to music. To reach the place beyond perception where you lose yourself. That is where those happy mistakes come from, the ego is aside and it's nothing technical.
Soletron.com: So what was the lyrical theme for the album?
Ihsahn: I have always written personal lyrics masking them with grandiose images, to hide the personal, so it's open to interpretation, rather than leave myself naked. I think as I wrote more spontaneously, it came from a more personal state of mind. Someone who is smarter than me said, "All art is created from a place between megalomania and self-loathing." It's a roller coaster between the two and it hasn't gotten any easier.
Soletron.com: With the EMPEROR reunion coming in 2014, was this in the back of your mind or influence you at all when writing this album?
Ihsahn: This was finished before those talks came about, but I have always been reluctant to do EMPEROR. It's no secret I have been rather stubborn as I want my current music to be as relevant as what I have done in the past, though by embracing the attitude of not being in control it took me back to the place from when we were 19 and recorded "In the Nightside Eclipse". We just had the intense drive to create with having any experience, so it will be easier from that place to relate to old EMPEROR so that it can be performed with the needed intensity.
Read the entire interview at Soletron.com.