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Interview – Ellende

After the release of Ellende’s excellent second album, Todbringer, we have decided to ask its main brain, L.G, some questions. Many thanks to him for the time he took to answer the questions. Thanks to you as well, reader, for reading the very first English article on Heiðnir Webzine !

Hi and thanks a lot for giving me your time for this interview.
Hi and no problem !

Can you introduce Ellende’s project for unfamiliar readers ?
I’m L.G., founder and songwriter of the Austrian project Ellende, and I take or have taken part in several other projects in black, death metal and rock.

It has been three years since the release of Ellende, your first album. How has your view of the project’s music changed between Ellende and Todbringer ?
As I was in other musical projects before I founded Ellende, there are a few principles I have adhered to since. I take the time I need and I’m not afraid of using somewhat exotic instruments for black metal, as long as it fits. I also don’t play live shows that often; it’s mostly if I’m asked, and I try to keep everything special. I don’t play in my hometown too often either. And I avoid other things I didn’t like musically from previous groups.

The other thing I hate is to not improve and to stay in one place. There are bands doing the exact same music and sound over and over for years because it worked fine in previews releases. Todbringer is more aggressive and somewhat more mature in sound in my opinion. The first song release “Verachtung” was chosen to destroy expectations, but I expected way more disappointment to be honest. If I have the feeling a song sounds good and feels refreshing, then it seems like the right direction and I’ll release it. I don’t make use of everything I write, I’m abandoning more and more material and I try to achieve a more natural production when it comes to the sound.

There is a stunning emotional aspect in your music. What are your main influences ? Do you have specific influences in literature or art in general ?
Thank you. And yes, there’s a lot of inspiration that I consider indispensable in art and literature. I tend to get a lot of inspiration from traditional art techniques, because I myself love old landscape paintings, for example. There’s a sort of idealism and beauty in untouched nature and a kind of spirituality lacking in abstract modern crap.

As for literature, there are some essays about existentialism and ideas you usually don’t want to be confronted with, and this is where it gets interesting for me. I was finally able to put some spoken song into Todbringer, something I wanted to do for a long time but didn’t quite know how to incorporate into my music. And more of a funny thing, there’s this female jazz singer I saw on TV. She said something like “Doing songs about love is the worst. It’s like eating away at yourself, who cares? I wrote a song about this guy. When he cried, even his mother would leave the room because he’s so ugly.” I had to laugh of course, but it’s somehow very nicely encapsulated.

How did you work to compose Todbringer ?
I always try to experiment with different ways to create an album. This time, I had already recorded preview songs at home about one year prior, and I worked a lot with that material. I improved it and changed it even before I actually started to book the studio sessions. This way, I was able to make those songs more detailed, to get a more accurate understanding what it should sound like and what it needs. Since we never rehearse any new songs until they’re on a release, they have the opportunity to ripen and that helps me in understanding my music.

We can hear a lot of influences from many black metal genres in your music. How do you classify your music ?
Actually, I don’t like to classify very much. People often see the world in black and white, and need a label for every band. If you really need a specific genre, I would say Ellende does experimental jazz hyperdrone. Or just black metal.

You are also a member of Svarta, another Austrian black metal band. What can you tell us about your role in the band ?
They asked me to play their live-bass a few years ago and we developed a close friendship, so I was more and more involved in writing the bass lines and being a consistent member of the band. Other than that, I’m not involved in the songwriting or anything else. I also play drums in the solo project of Ellende’s live guitarist Dinko, which is kind of a desertrock – doom project, and this is somewhat a similar approach, but Ellende is and has always been was my primary focus, my own dictatorship [laughs].

Do you feel particularly concerned about politics or religion ? Is that reflected in your music ?
Yes. Misanthropy is the one and only conclusion when it comes to our species. Ellende is a lot about the destructiveness, hate and mutism of the mass, and the beauty and love of the individual. Going back to nature is a state of mind that is strongly driven by the acts of a collective that is in a way uncontrollable, very negative and depressing. You could say it’s a sort of misanthropic pantheism with a healthy and honest understanding of our uselessness in this universe.

It starts with morality. Considering our way of life from old rotten doctrines instead of being good, because that’s the best way to live together. Preparing yourself for a life after death, and obeying someone who might not even exist. With laws created by people that are long dead instead of enjoying life and taking full responsibility for your actions. Wolves and sheep. The idea alone that there’s a life “prepared” and “only for us” makes me shiver at the incredible arrogance towards other living beings. On the one hand, we’re now exploring the universe’s mysteries and there’s an elite group delivering knowledge of what could happen here and around us, and on the other hand there’s people polluting the earth, abusing power and even killing each other because of their imaginary friend. And what comes after death. Maybe nothing.

What is your current vision of black metal ?
To be honest, black metal has somewhat lost some of the charm I found in it about ten years ago. I somehow feel very nostalgic for the “earlier stuff” and don’t understand most of what’s going on nowadays, even if this stance on the subject hasn’t brought me nothing but friends, and I don’t know if I’m exploring enough. On top of that, there are some really great bands, most underrated and unnoticed by this so called community, but that’s completely normal I guess.

In fact, I find myself being more conservative than I thought I was. For example, growing as a band, using real amps, recording an acoustic drumset and a somewhat not synthetic-from-the-can-sound are what I appreciate the most. At least I try to achieve that myself without the quality getting shitty. And black metal shouldn’t be philanthropic and welcoming, at least for me, that’s just as awkward and weird as white metal.

Do you have already new projects for the future ?
Actually, I wanted to lay all musical projects down after releasing Todbringer. I’m at my final year of my master’s degree in architecture, and recording music, drawing designs, the production plus sometimes working two jobs besides studying is kind of too exhausting and not possible anymore. Then there’s always this aspect of bearing the financial risk associated with a tour and everything related to Ellende, and I don’t want to pay musicians for nothing either, that would be stupid. So maybe finish my education first to have proper financial support and then everything will get easier, who knows. But I’m scared that if I start to abandon music I’m going to go insane, so I’ve already started writing new Ellende material, just for kicks. And there’s some gigs and the next Europe tour coming up, we’re really excited!

Thanks a lot and take care.
Thanks man, I enjoyed it. All the best to you and the readers !

Interview by Maxime.
Translation by Marianne.

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