Interview with Garm of

Ulver

 

The phone rings and he introduces himself by his first name, Kristofer, rather than Garm.  What follows is my best effort to pull together the conversation into an accurate and coherent whole.  Any mistakes or innaccuracies in the interview are mine alone.

 

CRITICALTOM:  I understood from the promo sheet that you haven’t done interviews before, but I’m sure that isn’t true because I’ve interviewed you before (www oocities.com/criticaltom_2000/garm.html).  Was that a misunderstanding or what?

GARM:  Not my first ever.  For this album I have only done a few so far.  In Europe we have to do all of our promotion work.  Here it is different.  There are people who do it for us here.

 

CRITICALTOMBlood Inside is unbelievable.  Did you have any idea how well it would turn out when you began work on it?

GARM:  Actually, no.  I think it could have been better, actually.  We could have released it a year ago, or we could have continued to work on it longer . . . It actually screwed us in head.  So we decided to release it now.

 

CRITICALTOM:  When you say it “screwed” you in the head, are you referring to the subject matter? 

GARM:  No.  We set a tone for the lyrics and felt very comfortable with them.  I think the lyrics came along quite well.  It was the music that was so difficult.

 

CRITICALTOM:  Do you feel that the music expresses deep inner feelings?

GARM:  Not really.  Music is a language.  It doesn’t transform emotions into music.

 

CRITICALTOM:  Despite the tremendous diversity of instrumentation Ulver has used over the years, there seems still to be a steady mood to the music.  How do you prefer to describe it?  Do you think the idea is kind of the same?
GARM:  Yes and no.  The same kind of heart is beating.  But you grow up and aren’t interested in the same things always.  

 

CRITICALTOM:  Is this a concept album of any kind?  Is there a unifying thread?

GARM:  A few key elements.  It’s kind of concentrated around several topics. 

 

CRITICALTOM:  Do you have a favorite song?  Why?

GARM:  “Christmas” is one of my favorites.  It’s powerful.  But also “Your Call” which is mellow.  These two songs are opposites.

 

CRITICALTOM:  Which comes first for you, music or lyrics?

GARM:  That’s hard.  In an ideal sense I would say words.  But sometimes the words are not finished before the music.

 

CRITICALTOM:  “Blinded by Blood” seems to be a particularly personal song.  Tell me about that.  What is the singing at the beginning?  Gospel?

GARM:  Yeah.  That’s something I found on the internet.  The vocals were just deep and emotional.

 

CRITICALTOM:  Do you write all the material, or do you collaborate?

GARM:  Definitely collaborate.  I just am the spokesman.  The other two don’t really like to talk about the music.  

  

CRITICALTOM:  Would you welcome comparisons between your music and that of Brian Wilson?

GARM:  Yes!  Smile was fantastic.  It is a great album.  The vocal harmonies are unbelievable.

 

CRITICALTOM:  Please tell me more about Pessoa from whom you got lyrics for “Christmas.”  Is this the Portuguese poet?  What makes him a Gnostic?  Does his acquaintance with Aliester Crowley interest you?

GARMReading.  Jorn was in Portugal writing and reading and he sent it to me.  I was interested in Gnosticism for a while, but it is pretty much a passing fancy.  My one real long-term interest is Blake.

 

CRITICALTOM:  When we spoke last (several years ago) you mentioned you were going to add orchestration to the Madrigal album.  Did that happen?

GARM:  That’s still in the works.  I don’t know when it will be finished.  

 

CRITICALTOM:  Do you know what is your next project and can you tell us a little about it?

GARM:  I am almost finishing up the vocals for a Portuguese band called Syndrome.  

 

CRITICALTOM:  Atheist or agnostic?

GARM:  I’ve lost all those labels a long time ago.  I’m just a negative person.  I am absolutely convinced that there is nothing at the end.  

 

 

 

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