by Niklas Göransson
Songs of doom from northern soil; multi-instrumentalist V Einride – creative pulse behind Norwegian black metal band Whoredom Rife – reveals the formula behind his psychotic productivity, and explains what distinguishes them from contemporary peers.
– Our debut album, “Dommedagskvad”, contains a blend of old and new ideas. Some of the material has been with me for a long time but it wasn’t until a few years ago I finally decided to use it in my own band rather than contributing bits and pieces to other projects, as I’ve done in the past. I bought the necessary studio equipment and then spent some time familiarising myself with it. Once operational, I began by recording ideas that turned into songs, which then turned into the EP and subsequently our new album.
Do you ever rehearse what you’re working on with session musicians?
– No, it goes straight from creation to recording; everything is done in my home studio. I work on ideas until they eventually become songs, then track every instrument in a pre-production. After learning the material, K.R records his vocals. Eventually – once Rune Stavnesli (Stavmix Studio) has put his magic on them – what was initially a demo ends up as the released product. Thus far, we feel that this is the most efficient way of working.
Being able to competently operate not only the requisite instruments but also studio equipment must be unparalleled in accurately capturing one’s initial vision of the music.
– It is indeed a privilege to be able to do most of the studio work myself and not depend on others for productivity, though I must mention that K.R is involved throughout the whole process. He gives excellent counsel and keeps me grounded when I’m feeling overwhelmed by creativity. Not to mention his vocals, which are obviously an integral part of our sound.
The sentiments conveyed by these vocals have yet to be determined, as I was unable to find any lyrics. A few titles on their 2016 EP, “The Worship of Idols Instead of God; Idolatry”, refer to Norse spirituality, whereas the debut appears to have a slightly different conceptual orientation.
– WHOREDOM RIFE is spiritual music with spiritual lyrics comprising of both the Left-Hand Path and pagan mythology – primarily Norse, since we feel very connected to it. There are a number of reasons for not printing our lyrics, ones I won’t be getting into right now but rest assured that we do have a plan. Our music and lyrics go hand in hand.
The artwork is quite striking, what does it depict?
– Do I really have to explain the album cover? It’s quite obvious.
Admittedly, I’m no theologian but I can’t say it’s immediately clear to me. I’m taking the liberty of throwing out a guess here; the proverbial Lamb of God slain in the midst of various diabolical mischief, presumable converging into some manner of aesthetic anti-Christian statement.
– The idea of God in general frightens me – be it Jehovah, Allah, or Jesus Christ – they are a threat to the individual, they are enemies of nature. Just look at history. The reason for using biblical symbolism is because Norway is Evangelical Lutheran, which makes it relevant for my cultural context.
Preparing for this conversation, I inspected WHOREDOM RIFE’s Facebook page and was quite surprised to notice the announcement of their forthcoming album “Hymner av Hat” – not even four months after the release of “Dommedagskvad”. That’s quite an impressive pace.
– The next record literally picks up where the previous one left off; once “Dommedagskvad” was sent off for mixing and mastering, I immediately began working on new compositions and it just poured out of me. One idea led to another and they all turned into something useful. We now have an entire album’s worth of new material nearing completion. The difficult part will be figuring out what goes where – undoubtedly a luxurious problem to have. The new material will be darker and more repetitive, yet undoubtedly still WHOREDOM RIFE. We hope to release it early 2018.
By the sound of it, V must either possess extraordinary creative capabilities or an almost deranged work-ethic. Possibly a combination of both.
– Producing new music isn’t especially hard, it’s coming up with quality material that’s the real challenge. Sometimes it feels like pure luck when things fall into place, other stuff needs a lot of attention and hard work. I’ve had a very productive period for a while now, and I hope it continues. I’m a relative newcomer in composing music so I don’t have all the experience in the world but I’m certain that, as far as productivity goes, taking your ideas seriously is essential. Priority is key. I changed my life around for this, to be able to focus.
Would you say that you’re mentally present and conscious at all times during composition, or is it more often the case of a flow state?
– I’d say I’m always present and highly conscious – listening with all senses, so to speak. But it’s definitely an ‘in the zone’ type of thing’; tunnel vision. I always try to follow my instinct and not work against it, this is the most important factor in making music flow naturally.
I’ve noticed how the drums are V’s instrument of choice when WHOREDOM RIFE perform live, leading me to suspect that percussion is his foremost musical discipline.
– I never even considered another position for live performances – I wouldn’t feel comfortable anywhere else on stage and most certainly not with another drummer, unless it was Jeff Porcaro (TOTO) sitting back there. Hell, I’d probably be picking on him as well. The way I see it, WHOREDOM RIFE is my domain and the drums are my throne. I have little need to be in the spotlight anyway.
V adds that playing drums on his own songs with a full band is an entirely different experience compared to what he’s done in the past.
– It grants me more freedom in some ways, but as a songwriter I want to keep it strict and limited – resulting in an interesting conflict. This has definitely helped me grow into a better and more musical player, I also have a far better understanding of what other musicians appreciate in a drummer.
To the best of our knowledge, the drum was the first musical instrument invented by humans. It’s been used by virtually every known hominid culture for a great variety of purposes – everything from ceremonial spirituality to festivities and warfare. I’m curious if V has any interest in the practice beyond artistic output.
– Everything has a pulse, and we know rhythm can actually increase or decrease heart-rate – that’s extremely powerful. I’m intrigued by this more so than the drum’s actual history, but there’s obviously a connection between the fundamentals and ways of utilising percussion for artistic output. They didn’t start with flam-paradiddles in the early days of drumming, to put it that way. It was a tool, and still is.
When you begin forming ideas for a song in your head, do you envision it more as rhythm or melody?
– Most of the song-writing happens on the guitar, so that’s where my focus goes automatically. Come to think of it, I actually adapt my drum patterns after the music once its blueprint is done. I can’t say I have a clear vision about the music before I write it – it usually starts with a riff or two and from there it’s a trial-and-error sort of thing.
WHOREDOM RIFE seem to be have garnered a fair bit of positive attention from the core underground, something which rarely happens with Norwegian bands these days.
-I’d certainly hope it’s because of musical qualities and not something else. I have strong opinions about song-writing as well as a powerful sense of purpose, which I’d like to think is reflected in my work … it is to me at least. If someone truly believes in what he or she is expressing, it will reflect in their performance and thus the whole experience. Even as a listener, I tend to gravitate towards the significant – regardless if I agree with the message, I still appreciate the sound of passion. I’d rather listen to a soulful love-song than black metal bands with no substance.
What do you think separates you from most of your contemporary peers?
– Dedication. We’ve devoted our lives to this, it’s our main priority. My life literally revolves around WHOREDOM RIFE – most of my conscious time is spent doing something band-related. My mind is constantly working, even when I try to take a break, it’s almost involuntary. I’ve set my ambitions very high but at the same time I’m being realistic. Knowing why we’re doing this is important too, it has to feel right; there’s simply no point otherwise. Right now, we’re enjoying some momentum both within the band and the people we work with. We’ve already succeeded, regardless of external factors.
I first heard WHOREDOM RIFE a few days prior to this conversation. The Spotify album I was listening to while writing ended, following which the streaming service began playing random songs from bands in the same genre. “Gitt til Odin” from the EP came on and within seconds I knew it was from Norway. As I’m sure most black metal purveyors will acknowledge; just as there are distinct Hellenic and Polish sounds, there’s also an unmistakable atmosphere of the Norwegian variety.
– I know what you mean; monumental, proud and majestic – yet malicious, hateful and dark. It’s a wide range of feelings compressed into one. It becomes profound, powerful and evocative – like a wholeness and void at the same time. Truly unique. I believe the key lies in the artist’s expression, and how efficiently it’s conveyed. Like how ’good’ dance music urges people to dance, for instance. If you manage to capture very specific atmospheres in your composition, chances are listeners will sense it too. To me, that’s what constitutes success.
How do you approach interpreting this through music?
– I don’t necessarily believe I interpret anything, I just know – I feel it. There’s an instant realisation when I have something, and then I work on it. I elaborate and over time I get better; I explore the guitar for sounds and compile pieces of music out of them.
I noticed how some people use terms such as ‘nostalgia’ when speaking of WHOREDOM RIFE – referring to their ability of channelling the aforementioned Norwegian sound. Hence, I’m curious if paying tribute to and reminiscing the metal heritage of his countrymen is one of V’s incentives.
– I don’t mind being called nostalgic, it’s true in a way but the thing is; I don’t think there were that many great releases in the supposed ’golden age of black metal’ to begin with. It yielded a few masterpieces, surrounded by massive amounts of generic crap. And when most of the good bands either quit or changed their style, there were even less quality releases and significantly more below-mediocre shit.
The genre hit puberty, he explains, and this signified the end of authentic excellence.
– Apart from some of the legendary releases, the music never attained full potential. Musically, there was lots more that could’ve been done – and this is why the idea of WHOREDOM RIFE was conceived. I wanted to listen to some real fucking music again. I thought to myself; if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. So, I lit a torch that had almost faded and made music I myself wanted to hear.