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Cornelius Jackhelln (Solefald)

Interview with Cornelius Jackhelln from Solefald
by Branislav Stanojevic at 20 May 2015, 10:49 PM

"The fall of the sun" - SOLEFALD is a Norwegian two-piece Avant-Garde Metal band, founded in 1995, drawing heartily on Black Metal musical motifs (though they prefer not such a label), and having released "World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud" earlier this year. Branislav had a lengthy chat with co-founder Cornelius Jackhelln about the band's new album, how their music is a grim satire of the world around them/us and connections between the musician and the fan.

At first, I want to greet your acceptance to share your story with us, our readers and staff; in the name of Metal Temple, thank you. Now, I will start this interview with simple task; please bring us the idea, the blacksmiths, and what should we know about “Sundown”?

Solefald is a Norwegian music project founded by Lars Are Nedland and I in Kristiansand in 1995. We devoured the primitive Black Metal of the time, and made our own counterrevolution by incorporating philosophy, poetry and visual art into the genre. Our band name is taken from a 1900 drawing from artist Theodor Kittelsen.

If someone would ask me to explain them Solefald, without doubt I would say “an experimental and innovative band from the cold North”. Would I be wrong and do you see yourself as an Avant-garde band? Do you, Mr. Cornelius von Jackhelln, see yourselves as guardians or a prophets; is Solefald trying to put out directions?

When writing the lyrics and developing the concept for «World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud», I was constantly reminded of Solefald’s beginnings: Back in the mid-1990s, we were really introducing Modernism with primitive Norwegian Black Metal on «The Linear Scaffold» (1997). With «Neonism» from 1999, we went postmodern. Take the lyric «Proprietors of Red» from the latter: It is a very ambitious band manifesto, feeding on images from WWII history and films by Stanley Kubrick - it clearly declares itself as visionary. So, we might be guardians of our own genre-defying niche, and to extent that music itself has prophetic qualities, prophets of Solefald only! We do not have knowledge that is denied to others. Still, the most suitable description of the band has to be PROPRIETORS OF RED!

I must say I really enjoyed your final work; a pure mixture of styles and shapes; I've seen so many excellent grades you've earned from many metalheads. Would you mind explaining me the whole concept of “World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud”?

Thanks a lot. «World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud» sees Solefald return to the South after a decade in the Northern hemisphere. The album harks back to «Neonism» with its use of different electronic and acoustic instruments, its wealth of voices, languages and references. It is an ordered entity feeding on massive chaos. The title can also have a philosophical meaning, i.e., that the album be an exploration of many different possible worlds. For instance, the joyful chaos of the Zanzibari village Bububu is contrasted with our lives in Oslo and Berlin.

My personal number one album by you is “Neonism” and I am quite fond of knowing the concept and your personal emotions towards that accomplishment? Do you put yourself, carve a little of your blood in every songs you made there?

«Neonism» was an extremely ambitious project at the time, with enough songwriting material for four entire albums. We traveled to Stockholm by train to record at Sunlight Studio with Tomas Skogsberg, and I guess we were a bit disappointed with the sound we got. The entire album was recorded on tape. I am still very proud of Neo, seeing it as an early accomplishment of our career. I hold it to be the first truly postmodern album to emerge from the Norwegian Black Metal scene!

Standing under the banners of Black Metal, Post-Black Metal, and I must say I found some linking to Industrial Metal, you've released numerous well-known albums; have you ever followed someone's steps? Have you shaped yourselves along with one's work you've been admiring at the time?

Before recording «The Linear Scaffold», Lars had Emperor’s «In the Nightside Eclipse» as his point of departure, whereas I had Cradle of Filth’s «The Principle of Evil Made Flesh» - that is where started, with cold Norwegian music and English Romanticism. I believe «World Metal» still carries echoes from our point of departure.

As one of your lyrical themes, you are using satire, right? It is kind of ironic to live in an era of freedom, in an era of free speech, and yet we see all the attacks on the same?! Do you think in this “world of democracy”  we are really free to judge, are we allowed to speak out our thoughts?

Our song «2011, Or A Knight Of The Fail» directly addresses the terror attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway in July 2011. I am sure you are familiar with the atrocities, where a Norwegian rightwing terrorist killed altogether 77 persons, most of them teenagers. He claimed to defend our Norwegian culture, but what he did was to damage it seriously - not only by the killing, but also by attacking the social glue of Scandinavian societies: Trust. Every terror attack is an attack on our constitutional freedoms, to move around freely and express ourself. I remember being very saddened by the attempts made by several Norwegian political analysts and politicians in the aftermath of the attacks, to limit our freedom of speech - it made me very mad, and I wrote a scathing autobiographical essay published in the newspaper Morgenbladet the week after, on July 29nd, 2011, called «Honour and Democracy». At some point in time, I held various paranoid prejudices against certains groups of people, and expressed them in part - now, should that bar me from having opinions today, or from expressing them? NO! Norway can be such a hypocritical place, with the Facebook flocks attacking the same poor fucker all at once. I really look down upon people prone to such group behaviour, and always have.

One thing that I am in urge of sharing is the list of musicians dashed through and still making marks in Solefald; Jens-Petter Sandvik, Tarald Lie, Sindre Nedland, Baard Kolstad, Alexander Bøe  and many many more (please don't mind me if I forgot someone); you have co-operated with many great artists indeed. Is it hard to maintain the right atmosphere inside the band, when see know there are lots of ideas and lots of different genres these folks are coming from and bringing back to your workshop? Do you see them as a friends of yours, of the band?

Solefald as a band consist of Lars and I, with several guest musicians on the stage and now also on the albums. They have revitalised our take on the music, and added a strong, vital dimension to it. Our band is founded on friendship, so it comes as no surprise that we think of all our contributors as friends, in one sense or the other.

Now, a question I've always wanted to ask a Black metaller; as one big, big fan of the complete genre sometimes I find myself questioning some bands' delivery. Understanding the raw emotions Black Metal is giving, I cannot deny that there are so many bands giving a too “trve” metal picture of themselves. Do you happen to share my opinion that making Black Metal should be a way to expression, a path of art, fulfillment and a personal ease?

I do agree that making music should be way to communicate one’s vision and content in sound, as an achievement aiming to be art. When it comes to primitive Black Metal being a way to personal ease, the answer is a definite no. Black Metal, that Solefald do not play, by the way, is an aesthetic path marked by war, torment, conflict and pain. We have never walked down that path, but instead chosen the path of poetry and philosophy - i.e., with a certain distance to the topics we address.

Connection with the audience; as long as I am about to speak of Metal, I think friendship between you, the guys from up on the stage, and us, headbangers below, is one of the most important things, along with personal message artists tend to send via music. Have you ever, Mr. von Jackhelln, “meet and greet” fans, listened to their stories and suggestions?

As Solefald have neither a website nor official videos, we are not really plagued by fanatics. I guess both Lars and I are quite forthcoming when meeting our fans. We always talk to them after our shows, and exchange with them - also at meet and greet sessions. However, I am a man from the old school by now, and I do not share the current conviction that an artist or musician should be available to his followers. If we want to remain alone and create in solitude, that would be a respectable option - but then Metal always seemed to be a social phenomenon!

In your everlasting career, you've been playing on many great fests, and side by side many great metal bands you preached your stories; Brutal Assault 2013 – Czech Republic is mostly surely one, and in my opinion one of the biggest festivals you were on. Could you recall of some others and would you care to speak out of you being there?

Brutal Assault 2013 was Solefald’s best gig so far - and our last! What a marvellous experience it was! I was quite let down by the tent stage at first, it seemed rather small and located on the edge of the festival site. But when started playing, the tent was filled with some 2000-3000 fanatics all syncing with us - one of those magical moments! Two other big festivals we have played, were Inferno (Norway) and Ragnarök (Germany) in 2013.

Now, having this opportunity, I'll ask you Sir Cornelius von Jackhelln the 2015 plans for Solefald; any live acts you're planning to have, maybe a new release? Give us some spicy details.

We shall play live again at Midgardsblot in Borre, Norway, on August 20th this year. It is a Metal festival held at Viking ground, with Viking camp by the sea and traditional Norse buildings. I can’t wait!

To conclude with my thanking for giving us you precious time, Mr. Cornelius, and my final question is your site of view towards today's Metal music in general. Do we need so many different genres\\sub-genres, so many additives and so many creations, or you're one humble being and you'll stick to your personal music and say “..everyone has his own path” ?
Thank you.

In these funny times, you find videos of 13-year-old kids playing games on YouTube, achieving millions of views - and old men like us, being spinned a couple of thousand times. I gave up understanding the media and the market psychology a long time ago. I guess we are all prophets trying to promote our own musical sects! So, we should be grateful for each and every follower we have.


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