HARMDAUD – Interview
THROUGH THE CRACKS OF REALITY – AN INTERVIEW WITH HARMDAUD
Following the release of the exhilaratingly epic opus that is "Skärvor" by the melodic Swedish black/death metal act HarmDaud earlier on this year, Eternal Terror Live simply had to have a chat with the mastermind behind it all, i.e. the hugely talented Andreas Stenlund. We touched on its history and releases, the creative processes, how the human condition serves as a source of inspiration in terms of lyrics, and a number of other interesting things. Read on, folks, and do not forget to check the aforementioned record out ASAP.
Greetings Andreas, thanks for the taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions of mine.
Andreas: Hi Jens! No problem at all!
For those out there who are unfamiliar with HarmDaud, could you briefly outline its history and touch on its two releases and musical style?
Andreas: Sure! The idea came to me around summer 2016. I had a lot of ideas that did not fit into the thrash-style of TME which I also sing and create music for. So, I started compiling those ideas for a couple of songs, and I thought to myself that they turned out quite good. I shared them with a couple of friends and they thought the same. After like six months or so, I had written the songs for the first album ("Blinda Dödens Barn"). In spring 2017, I teamed up with Mr. V for the mixing, mastering and producing-part of the album, which was a really good move for HarmDaud since Mr. V´s ideas about the sound as well as his orchestral and musical expertise add an extra dimension to the sound and songs. He sort of completes the vision. The first album was a self-release in 2017, and after some time I got picked up by Art Gates Records who released "Skärvor" in February 2019.
I love the way in which those grandiose and sweeping melodies are coupled with aggressive outbursts as well as those beautiful passages that reek of deep-seated longing and melancholy. Where did the idea to create this particular brand of music come from and do you recall who or what initially inspired you to launch HarmDaud?
Andreas: Well, firstly, I´m glad to hear that! This is kind of the aim and something that the listener shall feel as well when they listen to the albums!
I grew up with the late 80s and 90s Swedish black/death metal music, so those bands from back then and the style that they created are deeply rooted in me. I tend to end up with these more melancholic tunes during the creative process. I listened a lot to bands like Cemetary, Katatonia and My Dying Bride back then as well as black metal such as Dissection, Emperor and Old Man´s Child. So, what comes out from my mind tends to be a combination of black metal and more melodic slow tunes. I tend to just follow along and go where the music takes me.
As to the themes and motifs of the compositions (musically as well as lyrically), could you elaborate a bit on the significance and meaning of these? As you know, I was quite thrilled with "Skärvor" and how the words and the music complemented each other and went hand in hand so beautifully. I get the impression that the lyrics are hugely important to you. Song titles such as "Kraft" and "Koloss" are also hugely evocative.
Andreas: Yep, the lyrics are a really important part of HarmDaud. Normally, I write the songs/melodies first and then the lyric/theme comes out from that. However, I have not written all of the lyrics myself. My brother, D. Stenlund, wrote two texts for "Blinda Dödens Barn" and four for "Skärvor". I think that both lyric-wise and song-wise, having a guest writer for the lyrics adds extra variation to the album, mostly because you force yourself to think differently in terms of song rhythm and song composition with other lyrics than those that you write yourself. But as you say, all the lyrics revolve around the darker parts of existence.
In line with the previous question, what exactly inspires you to write and compose songs for HarmDaud? Anything specific or perhaps a multitude of different things? What about things that you encounter in everyday life?
Andreas: I´ve always been fascinated with all the parts of our existence; what makes us human and how the mind/soul or whatever you call it fits into this. Also, how different people/cultures cope with those existential questions that without doubt will come to every person sooner or later. So, the lyrics touch on this kind of stuff and explore partly the thought patterns that arise. But, it´s also about loss, sadness, darkness and in some way hope (if that exists). My brother´s lyrics also usually revolve around those themes, though perhaps from another angle. However, that´s part of HarmDaud; to open your mind and not to lock yourself in any special "cage" or style.
I was curious as to the name of the band itself, i.e. HarmDaud. What exactly does it connote or mean? And what does it mean to you on a personal level? It sounds to me as if it hearkens back old Norse runes or scriptures, but I could be wrong about that 🙂
Andreas: You are right about that. It´s an old Norse word. It can mean different things depending on the context in which it is placed. It can mean "sorrow’s death", "death of sorrow" or for example "death by sorrow". I thought it fitted well into the overall idea and spirit of HarmDaud when I picked it.
Have you ever toyed with the idea of expanding the line-up and perhaps performing live? Does the idea of composing and recording material for HarmDaud on your own and then involving others as session live members appeal to you at all?
Andreas: Time will tell! But, I have ruled out the idea. I play in another band called TME with a bunch of much more talented musicians than me, ha-ha, so to gather a session crew for concerts would be absolutely possible.
Speaking of which, was it always the intention to launch the band as a one-man project without any restraints or compromises? Personally, I have always been attracted to the idea of the lone musician battling with his epic musical visions and making them come to life, not unlike a writer or an author, if you will.
Andreas: I would say yes, that was the intention. I find the writing and creative process quite nice when I have the chance to do it on my own terms and in my own time. Don’t misunderstand though, I really enjoy playing in bands, playing live, creating music together and hanging out in the rehearsal venue, but for HarmDaud the process works really well and I can have those late nights and early mornings where everything is quiet and you are alone with your thoughts. With that being said, Mr. V plays a big role in completing the picture and vision, but the early creative process, the ideas and the painting of the tones come slowly and in solitude, which is part of HarmDaud.
Are you involved in other bands or projects these days? Anything exciting on the horizon in terms of upcoming albums or EPs?
Andreas: Yep, I sing and write part of the songs for the thrash metal band TME. I also sing in Gravisphere, which is a band me and Mr. V have together. Regarding Gravisphere, we may have exciting news to share in the near future.
What was it like to tour and perform live with Vintersorg? Do you have fond memories of those gigs that took place back in 2001-2002?
Andreas: It was really great! We did what I think were like 40 shows during 2001 in Europe but also USA and Canada. We were like a bunch of friends traveling around, drinking beer and Jägermeister and playing metal together. I mean, what can be better when you are in your early 20s ha-ha!
If you are back home and want to kick back and relax, what kind of music do you immerse yourself in?
Andreas: Lots of different kinds! But right now I´m spinning albums by Panphage, old Tiamat stuff, some Kreator, Feral, Summoning and Behemoth.
Thanks once again for taking the time to answer the questions above.
Andreas: Thanks for the great questions!
Any final words to our awesome readers?
Andreas: Keep it metal and horns up! Your support is what keeps the scene alive!