Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Myrkgrav was founded back in 2003 by me as a one-man black metal project with pagan metal influences. The first demo, 2004’s Fra Fjellheimen Kaller… landed Myrkgrav a deal with a German record label that released the debut album Trollskau, Skrømt og Kølabrenning in 2006. That record featured a more folk oriented sound and included some guest musicians, such as Sindre Nedland (In Vain, brother of Lazare from Solefald and Ásmegin) and Espen Hammer from Lumsk. Ever since then I’ve been working on the second full-length album, with a few smaller releases sprinkled in-between, such as the 7” vinyl split with Voluspaa, Sjuguttmyra/Ferden går videre (2011), the digital exclusive EP Sjuguttmyra (2013) and the new digital exclusive single Vonde auer. The newer material is far more oriented towards folk music and incorporates the Hardanger fiddle, Norway’s national instrument, performed by renowned folk musician Olav Luksengård Mjelva.
How would you describe your style? Which bands influenced your music?
I would simply describe Myrkgrav’s style as genuine folk metal, seeing as how the songs incorporate traditional folk instruments as well as melodies inspired by Norwegian folk music – all while maintaining a strong metal fundament. There’s also very little gimmicks, and you won’t see Myrkgrav succumb to the party folk metal that has been so popular over the course of the last few years. That’s not to say Myrkgrav is a project that takes itself too seriously, there’s plenty humor of both morbid and lighthearted nature in past, present and future material!
Seeing as how Myrkgrav is now a well-established project with an 11 year-long track record, it’s a little difficult to draw parallels to the sound of other bands, but it does at least fall somewhere between “traditional” folk metal bands like Vintersorg, Månegarm etc. and more contemporary folk bands like Fejd. On the first Myrkgrav album these true folk parts were less prevalent; in other words Myrkgrav has evolved more towards its own flavor of folk music – though the metal roots will of course always be there.
Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?
As the man behind the project I am of course the most biased person possible to explain why, so I’ll rather echo what Myrkgrav’s fans keep saying every time I release something new: they can’t wrap their mind around why Myrkgrav is still considered a “small” project. They think it’s worthy of being up there with major names like Falkenbach, Moonsorrow, Vintersorg, Týr and the likes. Realistically, a band with only one full-length record in its discography will probably never reach that status – however with the time I take to finish new releases and make sure they are as good as they can be, at least you know you’re getting something thoroughly thought through from start to finish. I ain’t one to skimp on quality control! Seriously though, anyone even slightly into folk metal will probably find something enjoyable on a Myrkgrav record.
What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?
The reception of Myrkgrav’s debut album actually exceeded all my expectations – it was all a bit crazy how much attention the project got following the release. Suddenly my record was in the best selling newcomer section at Platekompaniet – back then Norway’s biggest music store. After all was said and done I withdrew from the “scene” to focus on my health for a rather long time, and it’s been a struggle to get back out there with new material and spread the news of recent records due to a massive shift in the music industry (the fall of CDs and such) as well as the record label I was on ceasing to exist. Nevertheless, Myrkgrav fans, old and new, have always been super keen on new material although the wait is sometime quite painful for them, haha. All recent reviews of the smaller releases I’ve put out in the past few years have also been overwhelmingly positive, which certainly makes it a breeze to find reasons to finish up what upcoming material I might have.
Do you play live as well? How's your live activity so far?
Since Myrkgrav is a one-man project where session musicians all bring a very unique flavor to the sound of the band, playing live with different musicians would probably result in too many compromises and sacrifices of the band’s core sound.
I did however show up at the Ragnarök festival in Germany back in 2012 and did a meet & greet/listening session for upcoming material. That was an awesome experience, meeting the fans in the flesh for the first time. It was all rather bizarre actually, since I consider myself just an average joe that makes some music every now and then, while the people I met at the festival were dead set on the fact that Myrkgrav was the best thing ever and I was some folk metal god. It’s a good thing my feet are firmly planted on the ground, because I can see how being exposed to that kind of thing on a more regular basis will be detrimental to your perspective on what makes good music and not.
What should labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?
Labels should probably just forget all about Myrkgrav, as I am not interested in dealing with any of that anymore. Seriously though, I know for a fact that my project brings something to the table that you won’t find elsewhere – which I also try to make true on a more personal as well as professional level. I’m studying folkloristics at Åbo Akademi in Finland at the moment, which has really opened my eyes to everything that has to do with different cultural perspectives and cultural relativism, so I’m always happy to go in detail about everything revolving Myrkgrav, the metal scene, folk and popular culture – which hopefully makes for a forgiving interview object, haha. If you don’t understand Myrkgrav, I can probably fix that; all while letting keep your opinion on whether or not the actual music is any good. Have I blown my own horn enough now?
What plans do you have for the near future as a band?
Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the second full-length record within a reasonable time-frame, which will incorporate more what is already available as well as some new twists that are still on the hush-hush. Recently I also hired Metalmessage promotion to spread the word on the new Myrkgrav single Vonde auer, so right now I’m focusing on making Myrkgrav available to a wider audience than I could accomplish on my own. There’s lots of material already available for people to discover and hopefully enjoy – I just need to open the door to more potential fans before I set off to finish up the new album.
Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
All Myrkgrav material, past and present, is available for streaming at all the major streaming services, such as Spotify, WiMP, Amazon Music, Google Music etc. For those who want to buy the releases digitally (where they come with full-resolution cover art and the audio files are based off of 24bit wave masters), Bandcamp is probably your best bet: http://myrkgrav.bandcamp.com. The latest Myrkgrav news is always posted to my Facebook page: http://facebook.com/myrkgrav and more general information is available on the official Myrkgrav website: http://myrkgrav.no.