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Oystein Garnes Brun (Borknagar)

Interview with Oystein Garnes Brun from Borknagar
by Freddy Cai at 30 April 2009, 8:12 PM

So here we have three things that almost everyone should be aware of sweet Norway: Salmons, Forest and most traditional, Black Metal. BORKNAGAR is certainly among the third category. This, however, doesn't mean everyone is aware of this band. Being one of the most under-rated Norwegian bands, BORKNAGAR has been offering their tunes consist of Black, Folk and Progressive for 14+ years, the band has managed to successfully take the term of Black Metal into a deeper abyss during the past decade. Now, with 2 previous members coming back to band (Jens Ryland on guitar / Erik Tiwaz on bass),and signing up the new label (Indie Recordings), BORKNAGAR is ready to strike again with their whole new album Universal.

Hi Brun,how're you doing these days? Feel so great to interview with you.

I'm doing and feeling great, since this is the first time I'm interviewed by a Chinese professional, (hehe) thanks for having me.   

 First of all, how is it going with your upcoming new release Universal? Have all the members entered the studio finishing the recording process by now?


This time around everything seems to go perfectly as scheduled. By now, basically every recordings are done except from some of the vocals. That will be recorded during the next two weeks and in the end of April we'll gather the whole band in studio to start mixing the album. So, unless anything comes up the album will be completely finished by the beginning of May. Also I would like to say that the production of the album has turned out nothing but amazing. The production will be so fuckin' great and we are all really excited to get the album completed and finally release it. Musically speaking by far the best thing we have ever done and I am sure our long-term fans will applaud that as well!

How many tracks do you plan to put into the new album?

That's a bit unsure at the moment. In total we have recorded 10 songs but we don't going to put all those songs on the album, at least not in the first edition. We simply have too much material and in our opinion the album will be too long. So most likely we'll release a special edition of the album as well with the extra songs later on. Anyhow, the new album will probably consist of 7- 8 songs of metal that only BORKNAGAR is able to conceive. haha…

What does this new album mainly talk about? What are the themes and concepts and philosophy in it?

Well, we keep it within our own traditions. Lyrically we pretty much project the same passion for nature as before. For us the nature is the perfect scenery for us to express ourselves as you in nature find a reference point to everything our existence is about. On the new album there is no real concept more than the fact that we continued as mentioned. To me concept albums tend to limit the expression, I don't like that too much to be quite frankly. But on the new album the whole perspective is slightly different, mainly because we all evolve also as musicians and persons but the core is still there. The title for the new album is UNIVERSAL, a title I think reflect the character of both the music and the lyrics. As an example we have one new song called Worldwide which lyrically deals about the principles of nature. No matter what we believe in, no matter what culture we comes from, color of the skin we have and no matter what we might believe what we are- the principles of nature will always cross our path and takes its toll. The truth of nature is constant and we are just striving to evolve and understand our surroundings.

Generally speaking, from where did you get your inspirations to create this new album?

Generally speaking I draw my inspirations from everything. Everything that makes an impression, good or bad, in the end culminates to the music and lyrics I write. More specifically I would say that I find allot of inspirations from books, movies, my kids and my third passion in life- walking in the nature. Of course my family and my music come first. When it comes to musical inspirations for specifically this new album that is actually the earlier BORKNAGAR albums. For this album I really wanted to get back to the feeling in the mid and end nineties.

Do you consider yourself as an extreme sensitive and emotional musician with serious attitude that is responsible to display the dark sides of humanity?

Well, I consider myself as a sensitive person but not fragile. In order to make this kind of music that we are displaying I has to have some sort of profound connection with my inner self as well as my surroundings. I am a kind person that philosophy allots about things happening around me but that is what makes my life inspiring enough to make music. In the world today it tends to be allot of people that just go around themselves, just acting and reacting. I feel sorry for those and from that perspective I can understand that many seek or create a religious delusion in order to feel there is a purpose in life. And in my point of view religion is the true evil in the world that in the end of the day stir and stimulates the dark side of humanity. In our music we don't project religious criticism in a direct manner, but more try to make people think for themselves, free from the religious bonds that tend to mentally enslave almost the whole world. There are really better things in life than old scriptures of fiction, dogmatism and superstition.

Music-wise, I bet you'll be truly sick and tried and upset to be asked labeling your music whether it's Black or Progressive or Black-turned-Progressive or whatever, so I'm going to ask it this way, what do you think BORKNAGAR is most capable of to listeners within its music?


To stir a huge variety of emotions! I think that is one of the great qualities that we have as a band. From my perspective, there are many bands within the Metal scene that sounds somehow to narrow. Some bands provoke your aggression, other bands gets you to feel sad and so on. With BORKNAGAR, at least judging from the feedback we have got throughout the years, it seems like we stir all kind of emotions. Some feel empowered, some angry, some sad, some nostalgic and even some writes me that BORKNAGAR has made them find a reason to live. So I firmly believe that we are a band that appeals to a huge part of the human emotional spectrum, so to speak. And we never bring forth any conclusion, we keep the lyrical content open for the listeners to judge and put their own value into the music.

Do you mind if fans still come up to you saying that BORKNAGAR is a Black Metal band?

No, not at all. Sometimes we are called a prog-metal band and things like that as well. As I just recently said, we tend to have an approach so that people can make their own interpretation from. Some seems to focus on the black side of the band and call us black metal, some seems to focus on the progressive side of the band and call us a progressive band. Throughout the years, all this is really a kind of interesting social studio- to me it is completely obvious that peoples actually absorb music in a different ways. Almost as if some peoples in musical terms are colorblind and some is not. Quite interesting actually and I accept all kinds of views of our music. Our job is to make the music, to tag the music is the fans, record company and journalist's job to do. I leave it like that haha…

As the former and main member in the band, what do you think was the most unforgettable experience or era for BORKNAGAR?

I have so much passion towards my music that each and every album release always turns out as a peak. But when it comes to a specific experience that must be the US tour we did with EMPEROR in 1999. I don't really know why, but I just have so many good memories from that tour. Second to that I must admit that playing in front of 70.000 peoples at Wacken a couple of years ago really was a great experience!

Does the word borknagar have any special meanings?

No, not literally. It is actually a constructed name and does not mean anything. But it definitely has symbolic value for us and has a very Nordic sounding approach. I always wanted to have a name that was neutral and didn't limit the band in any way. When you see the name, the only associations I would like you to get is our band. That's it really.

How did you make up your mind becoming a professional musician? (Was growing up and being a metalhead your biggest dream as a kid or something later happened affected you)

That's a long story! But I really got into heavy music in a very young age. I guess I was about 7-8 years old when I really got the music under my skin, so to speak. On the other hand my father had a huge collection of LP's, mainly Rock/Hard Rock, form the sixties and seventies. I can still remember waking up to BLACK SABBATH, PINK FLOYD and so forth almost every morning. So you might say that music has always been a huge part of my life. As I grew older my passion for music increased and at some point in life I just realized that I had to make some music myself. I remember watching some old metal videos on TV in the late eighties and it just came to me- I have to do this. Guess, the usual story. And so the ball started to roll. I have never planned to become a professional musician and actually I still not regard myself as that, but with hard work and many years later I have achieved much more than I ever dreamed of. I am thankful for that, but it has certainly been a long way to go!

How was the cooperation with Century Media and why changed it to Indie Recordings?


Overall the cooperation with Century Media was good, we achieved allot together throughout the years. But when we fulfilled our 6 album deal with them we just felt the urge for a change. We simply wanted to climb another mountain this time around. So, when Indie Recordings contacted us and gave us a proposal that was way better in all terms, the choice was really simple. And Indie recordings have so far proven to be a very professional label and we have a very good friendship with all the staff at the office. Besides, it is a really pleasure to have a partner here in Norway, to actually be able to go down to the office, take a cup of coffee and talk business. We are very pleased with the cooperation so far; there is no better label around for the moment being!

We all believe that every art form is related to another, so apart from music, what else are you into in your daily life, like cinematography, photography, literature etc.?

Well, I try to spend as much time as possible with my kids. I have a 7 years old girl and a 1.5 years old boy that means everything to me. Apart from that I do the usual things I guess- read books, watch movies and spend quite allot of time in the nature.     

Please describe BORKNAGAR in your own words.

For me BORKNAGAR is a musical playing ground where I can challenge myself, express myself and fulfill my musical visions. I feel that we have managed to create an own musical universe, where we are the gods of our own existence. For me it is all about pleasure and personal fulfillment but we are lucky enough to be in a position where also other people seems to enjoy what we do. To me that is a gift, even though it sometimes is a long and steep way to go!



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