Formed in 2014, Minneriket is a one man band (Stein Akslen). One year later he released the first album in 21st of june. We asked some questions to know more about this entity and what is behind it.
BRS – Hello Stein, tell me what is the meaning of Minneriket (Memory Realm) to you?
Stein Akslen: When making Vargtimen with Minneriket, it was important to me to start entirely from scratch. Back to the birth of Black Metal, and what I enjoyed in the genre when I first discovered it. So it’s a rough album, both in songwriting and production. That way, going all the way back to square one, I’ve been able to let Minneriket take on a life of its own, evolving how it sees fit. The idea with Minneriket is both a nostalgic and introvert endeavour. The name is taken from a limited print-on-demand book I released several years ago, consisting of lyrics, visual art and a translation of the old Norse poem Vǫluspá I made. Working with this, I made a litterary piece in nine parts titled Minneriket pt. I – IX, where parts of the poem Minneriket pt. I also made it into the lyrics of the track «Hjertets løyndom» on the Vargtimen-album. In a way, Minneriket is the name I have given to this transcendent realm where my inspiration and creative fuel comes from.
BRS – Normally it’s difficult for a band to release the first álbum one year later of the formation but you are a one man band and did it. Was easy to produce this album?
Stein Akslen: I started the first recordings for Vargtimen January 1st 2014, and released the album Summer Solstice 2015. Most of the material on the album is music and lyrics I had been working on for quite some time before that too, without the possibility to record it how I wanted. Since I did all compositions, recording and mixing myself it took quite some time, but I already had most of the material ready in my head, I just needed to get it out… Recording and producing an album is always hard work and dedication, but working on my own in my own pace felt right, so yes, it was fairly easy to bring this forth.
BRS – You play in three more bands of Norwegian Black Metal (Blodsgard, V0id&Khaos and Vakslen). What are the differences between these bands?
Stein Akslen: Blodsgard is true Black Metal, emotional, epic, in-your-face and hard-hitting. For our debut album Monument my colleague Rex and I worked for five years in studio to create the perfect Black Metal album, and I say we succeeded. V0id&Khaos is a Dark Ambient-project consisting mostly of just synth and field recordings from different outdoor places, like forests, rivers, and I even did recordings inside a bat cave. In Vakslen I collaborated with V of Morgh from USA, it’s mostly a black’n’roll or punk project, full of attitude and arrogance. So all my bands, including Minneriket, is channeling different aspects of myself, and I need to keep it separated to not dilute what I wish to present.
BRS – I’ve started to read a book about Edda Poem’s and I read some of the lyrics of the album “Vargtimen” that are in fact Edda poems. Tell me about your interest in this and why you’ve choosed that poems.
Stein Akslen: Yes, I translated a few stanzas from the Edda poem Hávamál from old Norse into modern Norwegian for the track «Fra Yggdrasill». «Å følge spor» also contains a line from Grímnismál. I’ve studied the Norse traditions for many years, and this has inspired all my creative outlets. It serves as the basis for the entire concept of Minneriket, Minneriket itself is this old Norse dimension that I find important to keep alive and connect too, and that’s the groundwork I put down for this band. I always need to have certain references to the old Norse symbols and worldview in what I create in order to make it come full circle.
BRS – Some Norwegian Black Metal bands like very much their ancestor culture. For what I saw, you are one of them. Is it so important to you to talk about it in your music?
Stein Akslen: Yes. And no. It’s not really that simple. I’m not looking to promote any kind of culture really. But when I write music, I need to use a language that I myself can relate too, something that is both honest and beautiful at the same time. So I use the images of the old Norse, the runes, the elements, the nature and the gods in order to express myself. It’s images that feels very natural to me.
BRS – Tell me when you start to make part of Norwegian scene and why?
Stein Akslen: I started making music back in 2003/2004, mostly ambient dungeon-synth related music. My first official release was the demo Solve et Coagula with Blodsgard in 2011 and later the debut album by V0id&Khaos, the same year. I don’t consider any of my bands as a part of any kind of scene though, I’ve always done everything the hard way and everything by myself or with a close group of colleagues.
BRS – The sound of this album is ambient black metal. Who are your influences in this peculiar genre?
Stein Akslen: Without a doubt, Burzum is the best music to come out of Norway since Edward Grieg. The simple, pure melancholy and perfect atmospheres both in the Black Metal and Ambient albums have influenced me a great deal over the years. Burzum and the early albums by Mortiis/Vond is what inspired me to start making music all those years ago.
BRS – You’ve released a special limited edition of this album in tape, that is sold out. Tell me more about this version and I want to know if you like the special edition’s too. Tapes will again have their place in the sun?
Stein Akslen: The limited box set was sold out almost instantly. It consisted of the album on cassette tape, a lyric sheet/poster, some bones, bone dust, graveyard dirt, feathers and hand carved wooden runes, all packaged in antique wooden boxes. In this day of digital music I think it’s important to be able to offer something truly special for the fans, to make the listening experience more personal. Music, and Black Metal in particual, should be a very personal experience for the listener, and I find these kinds of relics to enhance that. I’m a collector myself, so it’s basicly just me envisioning what I’d like to have myself.
BRS – Do you trade nowadays? What do you think about the differences between the trading in nowadays and the trading in the 90’s?
Stein Akslen: No, I don’t. I love discovering new and underground music, and I try to support independent artists whenever I find something I really appreciate, mostly on vinyl and tape, but I’m not into trading. Earlier you had to trade to discover something new, but today the Internet takes care of that.
BRS – Are the zines, important to a band like Minneriket or to the underground black metal?
Stein Akslen: I think the zines have a solid tradition within Black Metal, both the old school paper zines and the more modern blogs and whatever people use. These dedicated people are part of what made Black Metal what it is today. Black Metal is both big and small at the same time, and it lives only in the hearts of those who create it and spread it. When you deal with underground Black Metal, whether as an artist or as a fan, you stand alone. And your dedication to the art is what keeps it alive. That responsibility is something both artists, fans and listeners should be proud of.
BRS – I’ve found Minneriket at facebook. I use this tool to found new bands or bands that I don’t know and to know what’s happen in Norwegian Black Metal scene because I’m interested in these genre. Do you think the same or do you have other thoughts about the social media?
Stein Akslen: I absolutely agree. Social media, and the Internet in general, is the new underground these days. Sending MP3s is the new tape trading, blogs and webzines are the new fanzines and social media is the new flyers. That’s mostly how I too, discover new music.