by Niklas Göransson
Unbaptised children in unhallowed ground – Mylingar is a Swedish black/death metal band serving as the musical medium for earthly convergence of otherworldly terror.
– Our decision to create the “Döden” trilogy was taken pretty much from the band’s conception. Once the “Döda vägar” EP came out in December 2016, we’d already finished our debut album, “Döda drömmar” (2018), and started recording its successor – the recently released “Döda själar”. The trilogy is a definitive whole which should, to ensure an optimal experience, be listened to from start to finish. We believe the natural musical growth between releases follows a visible line, a staked-out path for us to traverse. It’s no coincidence that “Förlusten”, the trilogy’s concluding track, features musical elements from all three releases. It’s more bombastic and expressive than the average MYLINGAR track; the cadenza of our aria, if you will.
The first thing which struck me about “Döda själar” was the production – tastefully raw and filthy yet still heavy as fuck. My nameless interviewee explains that this is the result of first self-recording on analogue gear and then sending it off to Belgium’s HHStudios for mixing. I’m wondering if their sound derives from an intuitive plug-and-play spontaneity, such as how bands like RIDE FOR REVENGE operate, or if they had precisely this in mind from the get-go and then planned accordingly.
– The truth about the production is somewhere in-between; everything was meticulously calculated beforehand but its execution had a very natural flow, none of which felt as if it was coming from ourselves. This has been a recurring and highly important factor in MYLINGAR since the very beginning, we’ve always mentally distanced ourselves from the creative process. Call it a form of meditation, if you will, or an altered state of consciousness – the immediate consequence being this perception of MYLINGAR not having been created by us, but that it’s something deep inside we’ve found a way to let out. In this sense, the beast that is MYLINGAR exerts more control over us than we over it. Listening to a finished track, once all pieces of the puzzle are finally in place, time and time again we’re left with feelings of awe and surprise over how we could possibly have created… this.
MYLINGAR‘s approach to intuitive composition, where it’s more the case of receiving music as opposed to actively writing it, sounds like something I often discuss with musicians – creation through flow states. Many artists have stated that much of their finest material came about during moments of being so immersed in the creative process they have trouble remembering it afterwards.
– Yes, this certainly sounds familiar. However, we always remember the creative process as it works in a very energising way. Whilst recording we are conscious, lucid, and sober; always leaving room for improvisation and unplanned composition. It was clear to us from the very start that this had become a ‘habit’ without precedent. Some musicians say they can flip a switch in their heads when recording, whereas when we sit down for a MYLINGAR session it’s as if we don’t even have to manually hit any buttons at all. We’re there, in that zone, instantly and effortlessly. There’s no grand searching for a flow, vibe, or dynamic – it just IS. I suppose some people would call it instinct but I’m not sure this adequately defines the phenomenon.
Do you ever feel as if there’s any kind of supernatural influence fuelling this compositional trance?
– Musicians often like to delve into these esoteric notions but they don’t feel especially applicable to us. It might actually be due to this question we’re forced to ‘dissect’ what we previously referred to as ‘the beast that is MYLINGAR‘; it’s certainly a collaborative beast. If there really is something supernatural flowing through us, then it must have found a way to feed into everyone involved. But, were this instead to stem from inside our subconscious, it also appears to be ignited and charged in unison rather than individually. The question remains open, and perhaps this is our essence; the mystery of this band is still very much a mystery to us as well.
Since there are neither lyrics nor past interviews to consult, the entire project is indeed a mystery to me. For instance, I have not the slightest idea what MYLINGAR’s thematic concepts are – or if they even sing in Swedish for that matter, since I’ve been unable to make out a single word. The only available clue is the band name, which comes from Scandinavian folklore. Mylingar are ghosts of unwanted children, babies born out of wedlock and the like, who’ve been abandoned and left to perish in the woods; dying without being baptised and left to rest in unconsecrated soil, therefore barred from entry through the pearly gates.
– The thematic concept is exactly what the band name dictates: the unexpected haunting of unbaptised children who attach themselves to your back, demanding to be buried in hallowed ground. As they grow ever heavier, failure to comply will leave you crushed into the soil under their tremendous weight and pressure, then killed in a rage. It’s precisely this emotion we feel our music should convey, something which has now been fulfilled in the “Döden” trilogy – channelling inner emotions into MYLINGAR and exploring themes such as death, delusion, misanthropy, rage, dualism, loss, despair, etcetera.
What little information I had beforehand pertained to MYLINGAR having been created for the distinct purpose of evoking discomfort and unease. Upon its formation, the members agreed that anything conceived through a mortal mind would not be sufficiently dreadful – hence this egoless approach of theirs.
– This is what led to the removal of our selves from our actual intentions, and the result was “Döda vägar”. In our eyes, the essence of underground black and death metal should be this sense of discomfort, to whichever extent. However, most things have already been done in the genre and people in general are numbed both by society and its endless reiterations of ‘shocking’ music. While I wouldn’t say we have any intentions of shocking anyone, it’s the failure of music to do precisely this which truly boosted our fires. As Underground Soundscapes, the label that released our EP on cassette, described us: ‘Devouring and haunting, inconvenient and disturbing.’ We can feel this sense of dread by pushing ourselves – mentally as well as physically – over personal, psychological, and societal boundaries. This discomfort led us to produce music which didn’t, and still doesn’t, sound like something we created ourselves.
I usually don’t bother reading reviews but, in this instance, the dearth of information left me with little choice. As it happens, perceived senses of discomfort and unease were reported in just about each and every one I came across.
– It’s quite entertaining to see how exceedingly poetic people become after listening to MYLINGAR. There’s a beautiful sense of irony in the fact that something so objectively ugly drives people to such lyrical and even elegiac write-ups. But yes, the reviews have made us feel as if we succeeded in our intentions to some extent, and that people actually understand how this is not merely music but something one must fully relinquish one’s self to.
I have little interest in speculating about anyone’s identity, but I’m a bit curious from which generation these musicians come. Judging by the music’s energy, my guess would be that its flames are fuelled by youth.
– As ever, you’re welcome to make assumptions but they don’t really matter. It should be clear at this point in our conversation that MYLINGAR is not a human artefact. Really, it feels to us like the farthest thing from being human. I suppose we could come up with all kinds of mysterious reasons but the truth is simple – MYLINGAR has its own identity and we are but its carriers. It would serve no purpose whatsoever to reveal who we are, or whether we’re young, old, experienced, have played in many bands or not, and so forth. In the end, the message MYLINGAR brings has the same meaning for everyone, be it on the creating or receiving end: there is no hope for any of us.
But why bother creating profound art only to herald a lack of all meaning?
– From our personal viewpoint, as the individuals involved with MYLINGAR, the project has always been about ego destruction; leaving every humane element behind when dropping the needle on one of our records and inviting the maelstrom. As such, we urge also our listeners to set aside all they think defines them as individuals; we believe this to be the state in which one becomes fully susceptible to the destruction of one’s own will, desires, emotions, as well as both psychological and biological urges. The vehemence and violence of our music overthrows every notion of what makes one human. By choosing to set aside the ego – whatever that might mean to someone… their desires, convictions, life choices, or all of them combined – one creates some sort of void in the self. It can be compared to meditation in some sense but instead of emptying one’s self just for the sake of it, it’s primed to take on more of what our music has to offer. In the absence of any notions of a self, violence can be so much purer; more overwhelming, uncanny, and anomalous. Furthermore, if asking ‘Why?’ can be justified from a philosophical point of view, one could do the same for the question of ‘Why not?’.
Are you ever going to perform live?
– There were some talks about perhaps performing live on a more intimate festival, where we would’ve been the last name to be announced. However, for reasons beyond our control, the entire fest was cancelled and we have since shelved our live plans. Bringing our music to the stage is not a priority at this point. If and when we do, it’ll have to be perfect according to our personal standards. It might happen, it might not – time will tell. Regardless of circumstances, it’s never going to be easy to recreate the processes during which the albums came to be, so we’ll allow ourselves to be picky and cautious in our choices of live appearances.
I can’t help but wonder what MYLINGAR in concert would’ve looked like, had the festival not tanked; if they were planning some manner of obscuring stage attire.
– There were a few options for ways to conceal our identities, but this thought-process never reached the final stages. Nowadays, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to come up with disguises that are neither generic nor overused. But yes, we would’ve made sure that also the live focus had been on our music and the enactment thereof – not on whoever happened to be performing it. Just as during the recording process, we’d be mere vessels.
What’s up next, another concept series or a stand-alone release?
– Hard to say at this point. We’ve already recorded a few tracks meant for the follow-up but, for the time being, the trilogy will be allowed to rest for a bit. After all, these three releases followed each other in swift succession so there’s absolutely no need to push out the next one as fast as possible. Naturally, whatever new music we do release – be it in another conceptual series or a stand-alone output – will be different yet the same, all in accordance to our natural evolution. As previously explained, there’s little to no control beforehand as to what the material will sound like. We might be able to steer the concept, push it in some directions but, in the end, MYLINGAR will be MYLINGAR; deciding its own fate rather than being commandeered by us.