SEIDEMANN – 1349/Svart Lotus Interview – part 1

SEIDEMANN – 1349/Svart Lotus Interview – part 1

1349 live at Inferno Festival 2019
Photo by Storm -Live Pohotography

Before 1349‘s majestic performance of pure Black Metal immersed in aural hellfire at this year’s Inferno Festival in Oslo, I got the pleasure to interview Seidemann (bass). This is the first part of the interview, in which Seidemann presents insights about the creative process behind the band’s latest EP, Dødskamp, which was a musical interpretation of a work bearing the same name by the famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, and an in-depth talk about Seidemann‘s band Svart Lotus. It also contains information about what to expect from the new 1349 album, news about other musical projects, and information about future plans when it comes to touring and the releasing of new material.

How was the process of writing Dødskamp that was inspired by Munch’s art, in response to a challenge by the Munch Museum? How to translate art into music?

When it comes to inspiration, so it comes from all sorts of sources, but it is mainly taken from Munch’s work that is in vein of 1349. We got all this Munch art, many different paintings. We had to look at them and choose one. Basically we could pick one, and the guitarist Archaon-who writes the music mostly- decided upon upon a painting called Dødskamp. Because it was the one that inspired him the most and made him want to write a song.

I did the same as well. So when both Idar and I had written the lyrics, we decided to merge them into the song. He had written the lyrics in English, and meanwhile I had written them in Norwegian. So I ended up writing two versions: I translated mine to English first and then translated his to Norwegian to fit my own lyrics. In the end we gave these to the vocalist and he thought the English version was the easiest for him to sing. So this is why the song’s title is in Norwegian but the lyrics are in English.

I looked at all the pictures and sort of wrote whatever came to my mind because all of Munch’s paintings have a certain spirit. They transmit a feeling of agony. The anxiety, the psychological turmoil, the alienation, the feeling of being an outsider. All these are basic human emotions, and in a Black Metal context particularly they are pretty basic, because we are alien to this normal society. You don’t even have to play Black Metal, you only need to listen to it and find that there are still people who think that because you do that, something is wrong with you. Even though Black Metal is a part of Norwegian culture, people here still associate it with the Church burnings that happened some years ago, and that’s what sticks. It is by no means mainstream here, it is still a part of the undercurrent. It’s an annoying part of the subconscious for most people.

How did you come up with the idea of creating Svart Lotus?

In December of 2011 my father died suddenly, one week before Christmas. Suddenly I inherited this house in the mountains. I had to empty it out and decide what to do with it and with my life. So I decided that I would at least try to go where, in the middle of the mountains, there’s absolutely nothing to do. No music scene, nothing. I still wanted to go there and see what that could give me, in terms that I still would have a house and I could build a studio in the basement.

Finally I bought an acoustic guitar I could use to write music in the house because I wanted to write an album. I wanted to find out what I could do. I wanted to find out what’s inside me that is not 1349. Because I’ve done 1349 for over 20 years. I wanted to see what else was coming out.

For a long time it was just me recording demos while playing the acoustic guitar pretty badly, because I did not know how to play guitar since I’m a bass player. As time went by I suddenly realized that it was probably time to get a band, so I met some local musicians. Soon after, I started jamming with the drummer and I suddenly got inspired by this. Eivin is a really good drummer. So suddenly after all this I had an EP ready.

I recorded it, I released it on my own label, and I even printed out some vinyls because I had some money left from my father. I even did some shows, and so I set out to write the whole album.

For me it is important for Svart Lotus to be considered a band and not just my side-project. Because you know with 1349 for a long while people said, "You know it is just Frost’s side-project. It’s not a band." I mean what the fuck? For a long time we were a band and then he joined us. It’s not like he came to us with the idea. We started it and he joined us. So I didn’t want the same to happen to Svart Lotus. They are great musicians and I do not want them to disappear in the shades because I play in 1349. I chose these guys because they are great people and I want to play with them. Svart Lotus are a band and they are my brothers in arms. They are with me on this and they deserve the praise and the glory for what they have done here

How is the sound of Svart Lotus compared to that of 1349?

Svart Lotus is such an expression of me, and me alone. It’s everything that’s in my head, and I mix and match everything I have been listening to since I was a kid. For example, I still think at the age of 40 that Celtic Frost is the best. But I never only listened to metal

1349 is very strict and set. There has to be a certain kind of very dark coherence. It is exclusively Black Metal in many, many ways. It is true that there are certain variations within Black Metal, but it is Black Metal only.

When I was composing Stemmer fra Dypet, I was listening to a lot of film scores, videogame music, ’70s prog, Doom, and lots of depressive things. I never felt like I was going to make a song that would sound like Celtic Frost, but when I felt that something was good I’d use it, something that would work pretty well live. What I do is to let things flow. Everything is a reflection of me and it is egotistical in that sense. Meanwhile 1349 is a reflection of us that results in a 1349 kind of spirit. But this is just me and I do what I want to do, which is liberating and scary at the same time.

1349 live at Inferno Festival 2019
Photo by Metal Exposure

Could you describe Svart Lotus’s sound to those who have not had the pleasure of listening to it yet?

Someone said to me that Svart Lotus sounds like Gubbe Metal, which means metal for old men. It’s very introverted, dark, doomy, ’90s Black Metal with some really weird shit thrown in. It is pretty introverted stuff, low frequency. It’s pretty much of a reflection of me and where I was then, and where I’m kind of going, in addition to all the influences that I have in me and do not necessarily show in 1349. I wanted a place to take those out. If I want to do more progressive music or Doom I can just do it. I can play out all these things that are inside me. The result of it was Stemmer fra Dypet. It is the album we released last year. I considered it an expression of the voices in my head.

Svart Lotus has been influenced by all the music I grew up with. I grew up in the ’80s with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest like everyone else, and I was lucky enough that I found Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, and all that kind of stuff. Towards the end of the ’80s I got into Possessed, Morbid Angel, Bathory.

Afterwards in the early ’90s someone gave me a tape, a typical cassette, and it said Burzum on it. Once I listened to it I wondered what the fuck was with the vocals and I couldn’t stop listening to it. The vocals were a total mystery to me, but the songs were amazing. So I realized that this was not just about the riffs but more about this feeling. A feeling that is almost impossible to describe in a coherent way. A feeling that is my definition of Black Metal and that made me realize that it was that what I wanted to do.

I visualize the Svart Lotus sound as a journey through a dark forest in winter. There’s snow and you are surrounded by tall trees, mountains, everything shrouded in darkness.

If you look at the EP, the first song is called "Ferdamann", which means traveller, and the last song in the album is called "En Ferdamann Krysser sitt Spor", which means a traveller crosses its tracks. I repeat the riff from the first song in the last one because it’s a journey. There’s a story in there and it’s a journey from this weird travel in the woods and in the mind, and then you come out on the other side crossing your tracks, ready to move on. Ultimately that’s what is going to happen to Svart Lotus too. Once I’m done with the 1349 album, I’m going to write the next Svart Lotus album because this journey has already started in my mind, I’m ready to go there.

Why did it take so long to release the first EP?

So long is a relative term because, yes, I moved back in 2012 and technically started what would become Svart Lotus, but it didn’t take its full form in the very beginning, not until composing the EP. Svart Lotus didn’t find itself as a band until I started with the EP because by then I had found the guitarist, the drummer. I did the bass on the EP apart from one song, and ultimately I found a better bass player to record the album. But when I first got a clear idea for the EP then it took me a year to complete it. It was 2015 and I found the name Svart Lotus.

There are only four songs on the EP. There are two Norwegian songs on side A and two songs in English on side B. The ones in English are the first ones I wrote, they are from 2013. They have an acoustic feeling in them. Those are more me, and then you get drums. But the other two songs are more group-oriented. I then had other musicians who understood what I wanted to do, and the composition process was quick.

You also have to consider that I’m working full-time as a psychiatric nurse; 1349 has been touring; and I was in Den Saakaldte until 2016. So if you think about it, Svart Lotus came to fill the void that was left when I quit Den Saakaldte. I used my energy on Svart Lotus instead.

Why did you choose to release the album yourself given the fact that you have contacts and could probably have gotten a label to release your EP?

I’m sure if I’d been a businessman I’d have done it, but I’m not. I’m not into the business side of it. I didn’t even look for a label because in my head this was very much my stuff. It was so close to me and so personal that I didn’t see why anyone would really want to listen to it or release it. The other fact is that I want to control it because I’ve been in the music business for a while and I’ve been fucked over a lot. All sorts of shit happens when you do not pay attention. So I decided to do it myself and have full control. It would be all me.

What’s 1349 doing now? Are you writing new material?

At the moment I’m totally immersed in 1349 as I have to, because technically we’re going to the studio right after the Inferno show. We are recording a new album. I’m an old guy and I have to do one thing at a time. So I always focus on 1349 100% when I have to do that. Mainly because of the drummer situation there will be periods of time when 1349 is inactive. So I have had time left and I’ve been playing with many other bands over the years. But since I moved away from Oslo – it was 7 years ago or so – I withdrew from almost everything. I quit almost all the bands until it was only 1349 left.


About the sound of the next 1349 album, is the song "Dødskamp" a good sample of what’s coming?

Dødskamp was inspired by Munch and that’s the focus, but it has the typical 1349 elements. The sort of folky intro. Even though the album is going to be in the vein of that, I think it is going to turn out pretty different.

The main thing with every new 1349 release is that we have to top what we have done before, otherwise what’s the point? Take Motörhead, they made lots of albums that were the same. They are good though, but that’s the easy approach. We want to challenge ourselves. We can’t just pour out mediocrity and believe that it would give anyone something.

We are egotistical in the sense that we do 1349 mostly for our own enjoyment. We are a neutral group of 4 people, who are not very similar or very compatible, in one room, and what comes out is the Aural Hellfire that is 1349. I think it comes out despite of who we are, not because of who we are. We merge all this together and magic happens.

We always have this high ideal of being better. We strive to be better. We have never been afraid of doing what it takes to be better. The first releases we did were kind of in a row – Liberation, Beyond the Apocalypse, Hellfire. You got three in a row, the triple thrash treat. And just when you think you know what the band gives you, here comes Revelations, and some people’s reaction was like "what the fuck are you doing?" The answer is that we do whatever the fuck we want.

We learned from Revelations just to take away the blast-beats and discover what’s left of 1349. It’s the dark atmosphere, it’s weirdness. Then, when we were done exploring that, it was easy to bring the atmosphere and weirdness back into the blast-beats, and you get Demonoir and Massive Cauldron of Chaos where we had realized the weirdness is great, the blast-beats are great, but remember when we did all the thrash stuff on the other albums, so we need to do that, that was fucking killer, but we need to do it better. So now you just have to wait and see what we are going to do next.

Do the expectations of fans concern you this time around? Is there any particular attention given to it?

We are concerned about our own expectations because like I said it has to be better than what we have done in the past. But if we were concerned only about fans’ expectations we would have done the blast-beats shit forever. I think that with this particular Extreme Black Metal that 1349 are doing – even though it’s a beautiful thought – being concerned about the fans is unrealistic, because we all have to work somewhere else which gives us the kind of beauty of being free musically.

Music is not giving me any money. It’s not like if I write catchy shit then I can live from it forever. I mean it’s Black Metal; it doesn’t matter how catchy it is, no one is going to listen on a large scale that matters enough. So we can be thoroughly honest. We can show what we can do and the expectations of others are not really relevant, and that is the way Black Metal should be. It should be internal; it didn’t get to where it is now by worrying about what other people would think about it.

When can we expect the next 1349 album to be ready?

As far as I know it will be ready by late fall, probably October or November.

1349 live at Inferno Festival 2019
Photo by Storm D-Live photography

What about the tours?

We are going to tour the US in November most likely. We are doing the US this fall and then Europe probably next year. Things might change though, but that’s the plan we have at the moment.

How about the drummer situation? I saw you with Dominator in The Netherlands. Is it going to be like that if Frost can’t tour?

We have drummers we use when Frost is busy so he will continue with us, but he is busy with Nordjevel.

…and Myrkskog

I really hope Myrkskog release an album soon. But they have discarded like 3 or 4 albums already. We in 1349 try to push ourselves harder, but the guys in Myrkskog do not know when to stop. They are always wanting to do things faster and more technical. But I love Myrkskog because they are fantastic and super intense. They never let go, never let down. It must be tiresome, but it’s fantastic. That spirit is indomitable.


Are you currently working with other bands/projects?

As you might remember, in the late ’80s there was a band called Mortem. That was Steinar Sverd from Arcturus. Mortem was the band before Arcturus. You might also remember Marius Vold, who was the vocalist of Thorns for a while, and Hellhammer. Somehow I’ve insinuated myself into this crowd and the debut album has been recorded. So it is the reunion of these guys, and fortunately I’m going to there playing bass. The album will be out sometime this fall.

The album was finished around the time 1349 started really going to the studio, so it was a bit stressful. It will be out on Peaceville in the fall. Some shows are planned as well. It is interesting because Marius, the singer, he kinda left the metal scene in the ’90s. After Euronymous got killed, Marius left totally. So he sings like it’s 1993. He is fantastic. No one sings like that anymore. He has this old school, ugly thing. It’s hard to describe. Steinar is playing the keys and the guitars on the album. Hellhammer on drums, so again I’m lucky to be there.

Another supergroup, that’s cool!

Then Svart Lotus are going to be doing some gigs as well, some with Mork and some festivals. Both Mortem and 1349 are going to do some festivals. We are confirmed for Rockstadt Extreme Fest.

Anything else you would like to add?

I hope to see you guys on the road with whatever band I’m with, and stay metal.