#Heljarmadr 🇸🇪 #Interview

8 min read

Heljarmadr (Andreas Vingbäck) is well known for being the vocalist of Dark Funeral and Grá, where he also plays guitar and keys. Today I want to ask him a few things about Grá, the Black Metal band that he founded in 2010 to spread a bit more of Swedish icy darkness and death worship across the world. They are releasing their 4th full-length album in the near future, and Heljarmadr agreed to answer my questions about it, and a few more personal ones.

Hi Andreas, thank you for taking your time answering this interview. How are things with the new album from Grá? Can you tell us some news about it?

Heljarmadr: Hello and thanks for the interest and support, we are still in the process of recording. All drums are done and most of the guitars are done, today we’ve been doing a couple of guitar solos and by the end of March we will record vocals and bass. We have rented a cabin in the woods to get the peace and quiet we want for the last pieces of the album and our ambition is that when we return the cabin keys, we will have everything ready for mix. Stay updated on our socials for more information as we move along.

For those who are not familiar with the band, can you tell who are the other members in Grá?

Heljarmadr: Well I started Grá back in 2010 together with Dimman, the current line up aside from the two of us are bass player Vediger and guitarist Maugrim.

When was Grá formed, and who was with you at that starting point of the band?

Heljarmadr: I just answered that 😉

Personally, I think that singing in Swedish adds an extra layer of “authenticity” to your music. Will the upcoming album from Grá alternate this language with English, as you did in your previous albums?

Yeah there will be an even mix of English and Swedish also on the new album. For me it is the music that decides which language it wants to be written in. I rarely know beforehand which songs will be in which language, that’s something that just happens along the way. My gut feeling tends to prove wrong with this once I sit down and start putting words to the music, loads of songs I have been certain would be in English ends up in Swedish and vice versa. There’s actually one song that has lyrics in both (and I alternate between languages when we do it live), that’s ”Where Shadows Dwell” (2014) and ”Där Skuggor Dröjer Kvar” (2015). Same song, same lyrics, different languages.

Which are the future plans for Grá? Maybe you have some upcoming gigs in sight?

Heljarmadr: Right now we have only 3 bookings for 2022, as our UK tour got cancelled due to covid. We have a gig in Stockholm in March, a gig in Gothenburg in April and a festival in Czech Republic during the summer. All details and links can be found at the bottom of our website www.grahorde.com or through our social media channels.

Now, going to the origins… Which was the very first band you were in?

Heljarmadr: It was actually the current Grá bass player Vediger who invited me to sing in his old band “Symphony of Malice” back in 1995. He was a drummer back then and we were all very angry kids. That one demo we made never really got anywhere though. I would say that coming from the very north of Sweden (above the Arctic Circle in a town called Malmberget) didn’t do anyone any favours back before the days of the internet so most of those tapes and releases are hidden in obscurity.

At which point you decided you wanted to create your own music? And how did it become a reality?

Heljarmadr: After that first band ”Symphony of Malice” was disbanded, me and my cousin Niklas (RIP) started ”Diabolic Lust” (1997-2006) and that’s when I started writing riffs and composing songs. We managed to borrow and steal some basic equipment and got ourselves a rehearsal place in an abandoned old supermarket, rebuilt into music rooms by local musicians. That whole building (and most of the town Malmberget) has been torn down to give room for the evergrowing mine.
If you find Malmberget on Google maps you will see a big hole to the right of the town, on the left side of that hole is where I started my musical endeavours in the mid 90’s.

You also have another project under your name, and you released your first song (and video) by the end of 2020, “Transcending into a God”. Can we expect more music from Heljarmadr in the future?

Heljarmadr: ”Transcending into a God” actually has its origins in a song I wrote back in 1998, in that place which is now just a big black hole, I’ve been trying to rewrite it into Grá throughout the years but it never really fit so I figured I’d give it a life of its own. I am actually working on a full length ”Heljarmadr” album, to be recorded after the Grá album is ready and sent to be manufactured. I’ll be bringing my friends Dennis Ekdahl (Thyrfing) on drums and Natt (ex-Dark Funeral) on guitars with me as the basic line up.

How is your creative process when you write your music? And which are your sources of inspiration?

Heljarmadr: This is one of those questions that is almost impossible to give a decent answer to. Sometimes I get an idea when I’m taking a shit, other times when I’m buying groceries, perhaps during a forest walk or while sleeping. Basically ideas can come at any time, and for me rarely when I try to force them.
I see some bands put out new music annually as if it was an assembly line thing. I’m not like that. I need time and more time to create a song or an album. That’s why there’s always a couple of years between releases.

As a young metalhead, which bands were you listening to in your teens? Are you still listening to them?

Heljarmadr: Oh yeah, I listened a lot to bands like AC/DC, Accept, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Raven, Black Sabbath, and so on from the heavy metal scene. Of course more brutal stuff from the Thrash, Death, and Black scenes too obviously. Sodom, Destruction, Sepultura, Slayer, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Crown of Thorns, Edge of Sanity, Dissection, Decameron, Mayhem, Emperor, Enslaved, Gehennah, Gorgoroth, Dark Funeral, Marduk, Varathron, Necromantia. The list could go on forever but those are probably the ones I listen to the most, even to this day.

Of course I must ask you about Dark Funeral new album. How happy are you with the result? And how have you seen the reception of this album by reviewers and fans so far? Must have been a hard work to reach here from your previous release, almost 6 years ago… 

Heljarmadr: The new Dark Funeral album ”We Are The Apocalypse” will be released on the 18th of March and we are damn proud of it. We have been working very hard and we feel that it is a natural follow up to our previous album ”Where Shadows Forever Reign”. Reviews have been pretty great so far and reactions from fans and friends too. We are looking forward to unleashing it and to finally be able to bring new music to our live shows. By the way, don’t miss out on the release gig on April 16th! It’ll be with a live audience AND online streaming.

How do you see the underground Metal scene nowadays, more concretely the Black and Extreme Metal genres? 

Heljarmadr: It seems to be alive and well from what I can tell. As I’m diving deep into my own musical adventures, there’s not so much room for keeping track of what others are doing but there are certainly a lot of bands out there these days, holding the banner high.

Do you listen to some “modern Metal bands”, or are you more into the classic ones? Can you name some of your favorite bands?

Heljarmadr: I think I am kinda frozen in time when it comes to what I listen to for my own pleasure. I still prefer the bands that I listened to when I was young. The two best albums of 2021 in my opinion were by Cannibal Corpse and Necromantia.

Any “musical guilty pleasure” that you can confess?

Heljarmadr: I feel no guilt when I’m listening to good music, only pleasure. People seem to be surprised when I put on some Supertramp, CCR, The Doors or Willie Nelson. Good music is good music, regardless of genre. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably noticed a lot of stories on there with old rock music added to it.

Do you have any special memories from a gig that you can share with our readers? An emotional moment, a funny one…?

Heljarmadr: There’s been many amazing moments, as well as horrible ones from shows around the world. That’s what makes being a live band so unique I guess, you never really know what’s going to happen.
We’ve met a lot of awesome people and made friends everywhere but when it comes to those special moments, what happens on the road, stays on the road. The best stories are told around the campfire among friends with a cold beer, not in magazines.

What does Metal music mean to you in your life?

Heljarmadr: As a genre it has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment and listening pleasure, as a community it is often a safe bet to at least some quality in a person. At least you know they care about something and are quite passionate people. And lastly, from the perspective of a musician it has provided me with a whole world to live in, in some ways. Eternal gratitude to all of you out there supporting my endeavours and those of my bands.

Many thanks for your time, Andreas, wishing the best for you and your bands. Is there anything you want to add?

Heljarmadr: I think we have covered quite a lot of ground here. Thanks for the interesting and a bit different questions than interviews normally have.
Lots of new music coming out as said, make sure you all follow the pages and so on to get notified when there’s something new to tell. Cheers! /Heljarmadr

Check out Heljarmadr’s music in his solo project and his bands in these videos:

Heljarmadr personal sites
Official site

Official site

Dark Funeral
Official site

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