interview: Dawid Krosnia
‘…when people are real, they will remain real and the ‘not real’ people will eventually disappear.’
flyer: Hammer of Damnation
The Goat Tavern: Hi, first of all thanks for a accepting the interview Ishtar. Where do you live at this moment? Is it Sweden or Norway?
Ishtar: Thank you for the interest and right now I live in Sweden.
I think you’re originally from Mexico. What made you come to Europe?
Yeah that’s right. Well… it’s a long story [laughs]. I’ve met a Swedish girl long time ago, so yeah, that’s why I’ve moved.
Are you still together?
Yes, we’re still together [laughs].
Congratulation on your new compilation Helvetets Griftegård. It sounds like a pretty cool release, can you tell me more about it and why you decided to release it?
Well… there was one time when I was doing a bit of research about the distribution of albums in America, pretty much in South America and I’ve discovered that it wasn’t good, so after a while I thought about how to fix the problem. The thing is that people in that side the world don’t have sometimes access to music from Europe because to buy CDs or vinyls may cost a lot of money for the shipping. There was one time when a label contacted me to make a South American version of one of the Dødsfall albums, but at that time I thought it was not necessary. So this time I came up with the idea with to make a compilation to distribute our music in that part of the world.
This is an exclusive release for Brazil only, isn’t it?
Yeah, that’s right. I’ve contacted the label, Hammer of Damnation and talked to the guys and they were very interested about the idea, so the point of this is simply to promote more Dødsfall music out there. Brazil is a big country and they have a chance to distribute it quite well. So for us it’s a big advantage, that’s all.
Have you ever toured the South America before?
No. we have not. We haven’t actually played live a lot. We’ve only played a couple of times, twice in Norway and once in Sweden.
Is that because you just don’t like to play live or you simply haven’t got time to do that?
We enjoy it of course, it’s a great thing to do to play live but because of a busy schedule and a lack of time to do it, we don’t . We don’t really get invitations to play gigs or nobody is booking the band. I was kind of open for that three years ago and I was looking to play shows in Europe. I was thinking of four or five shows, just like a mini-tour but there is so many bands out there and the promoters are simply not interested. Recently, we’ve discussed a possible tour but to make it happen it takes a lot of time and money.
Dødsfall was supposed to play an exclusive gig in London, in December this year. Why was it cancelled?
We were supposed play there, we were excited for that but something in my private life came up, something unexpected and I’ve had to cancel that completely. It’s a private matter. I’ve had to talk to the organiser and tell him that I wasn’t complete sure at the time, it was 50/50 situation so the best thing to do was to cancel the show and maybe we can rebook the show for the next year.
I hope you’ll find the time to play in the UK soon.
We were really interested. England or the UK in general is a very good country to play live and I’ve heard there was a lot of people interested to see us live.
I have one more question regarding the new compilation, Helvetets Griftegård. The record contains a few songs from your first three albums plus four previously unreleased tracks. Where they recorded specifically for this compilation or were they songs recorded previously in the past?
They were recorded in the past. At that time, back in 2012 when we did our second album and we’ve had about 9 songs, I was inspired and wrote a couple more songs which were never released. I’ve also recorded two cover songs. I’m not into much recording covers but we just left them there in our files. We were invited to play on the compilation for Beastcraft and we did a different version of the Enter the Chasm song which we liked and is included in this compilation and we’ve also recorded a song from Ancient, Eerily Howling Winds. We are singed to Osmose Productions and our contact states that we’re not allowed to release any new music with other labels.
Dødsfall – Helvetets Griftegård (Hammer of Damnation, 2016)
So how did this cooperation with Osmose Productions come about? They’re are quite a big and respectful company. How many albums can we expect to be released by this label?
We are singed for two album and we have already released first one which is Kaosmakt. The second release with them is going to be the fifth one for us. So we still have one left [laughs].
Did you begin to work on the new material yet?
You know, when it comes to song writing, I start writing and I don’t stop until the album is done. The answer is NO, there is nothing written for the new album yet but there are plans, we’re talking about it and we will hopefully start in January with the song writing and we will probably record next summer or at the end of next year, because we have to book the studio, probably in Sweden and they usually ask to book it six months in advance. We would have to be very specific with the dates.
You keep referring to Dødsfall as ‘we‘. According to the Encyclopaedia Metallum, you are the only current member of the band. Could you tell us more about who is involved in your work right now?
That’s right, at this moment I am the only official member of Dødsfall. I’ve recently recruited a drummer but I can’t tell you who that is because we will make this public probably sometime next year. So this is exclusive for you. That’s why I refer to Dødsfall as ‘we‘, at the same time I will have to discuss everything with the label and tell them when we start working on the new material. In the end the label is the one who pays for everything.
In your short existence you’ve had quite a few line-up changes. Is there any reason why there is so many musicians coming to and going from your band?
You know, I don’t know, it just happens [laughs]. I’ve started the band by myself and I’ve got a singer, we just had a studio project in the beginning and then we couldn’t continue together because of the lack of time and because he was busy with his other band. I was left to look for the new vocalist and when we have released the first album, I met a bass player, I think he was the only bassist in Dødsfall. He’s from Stockholm and he was also very busy at the time. He had three kids, wife and a job. We’ve talked and he left the band [laughs]. It’s been pretty much like this really, people are too busy with their own stuff and they can’t continue. I have a good relationship with pretty much everybody.
Was is hard for you to start a black metal project in Scandinavia, coming from Mexico? You’ve kept yourself busy over the years in the Mexican underground so you’ve gained a lot of experience back home.
Yes, of course, when you go to the new country and you have to start from zero, you don’t know anybody and you start meeting people. It was like that to start with. The Internet helps sometimes to chat and meet new people, hang out in the local metal bars and visit some small shows. It’s been pretty much like that for me.
Does the way you write black metal music and feel about it differ from being in Mexico or the feelings and approach are the same?
I think it is the same feeling, I don’t really see much difference. I think that I’m more inspired now living in Sweden, it’s dark and grey sky all the time. And we’ve had some snow today [laughs]!
I’ve noticed that the Kaosmakt album the sound is different to whatever you’ve previously recorded. It has got this ‘thicker‘ sound, whereas all your previous records involve that traditional Scandinavian feel to it. Any reason why you’ve changed that approach? Will the spirit of this album continue on the future releases?
Yes. of course, I did it with the intension to offer something different because, as you say, the first and second album and the EPs have the same musical approach and the song writing is pretty much the same, the same patterns. That’s why we decided to offer something different. I think the outcome was very good, probably we will continue in the same way now until I feel I have to change something again but I will always play black metal. The basics will be there always.
I’ve also noticed that the logo and the pentagram you use in the Dødsfall promo materials is very similar to what you’ve previously used in your Mexican project Moonlight, was this a continuation of the visual side of things in Dødsfall?
I don’t know, I don’t think so, but yeah you’re right, I feel like I identify myself with the point of view about many things in general with Church of Satan, so that’s why I use the pentagram pretty much as a symbol. It’s connected with the music I write and it’s connected with my ideas. I did that with Moonlight because it was the same. I have been playing black metal for many years now. It’s not like a continuation of the musical style but mostly a philosophical part.
Could you call yourself a Satanist? What is your view on how people perceive Satanism nowadays?
I could say that I don’t want to call myself a Satanist but my ideas are very close to that. It’s pretty much the way I think but there is a couple of things I don’t agree with so I can’t say that I am a 100% Satanist. I think it’s great to be free and enjoy everything that is forbidden for religions.
Is there anything that is pissing you off in the current black metal world? There is lot of posers around!
You know, I can say that most of the times I ignore this type of people. I know who they are but I try not pay too much attention to them. I can say that when people are real, they will remain real and the ‘not real‘ people will eventually disappear.
What does the black metal mean to you as a person? How would you describe what it does to your life?
It gives me satisfaction, I fulfil some of my passions which, for example, is metal music and how I see the world. That’s something I feel connected with.
I’m not sure if you follow any new bands or music trends nowadays. Could you give me best five albums that influenced you in the recent years?
That’s a good question, it depends… If you mean black metal music I don’t have anything, because I can’t really get any influence from black metal or at least the new bands or the new albums. My inspiration has been always from the 90s. I’m close to 40 years old, so I grew up mostly listening to 90s stuff. That’s pretty much the main source of inspiration for me. I try not to listen to the new stuff because I don’t want to get influenced by other sounds, it can disturb my song writing in the future.
Do you listen to any other genres of music that have nothing to do with your black metal projects?
Well, thrash metal has always been a big part of the influences for the song writing for Dødsfall. In the early 90s, I’ve been always listening to the bands like Testament, Overkill, Sepultura, Slayer and all that stuff. Once in a while I ‘steal‘ inspirations, because there are specific albums I like a lot form that period. I also listen to some doom and death metal bands from Sweden and America, few English bands like My Dying Bride.
If you had to choose three the most influential bands that made an impact on you to become a musician, which ones they would be? Are you able to pin them down to just three best ones?
I think the band and album that made me to take a guitar and to learn how to play it was Master of Puppets of Metallica. That was at the beginning of my high school in 1991 or something like that. I remember listening to this album for the first couple of times and I was shocked with those songs. I wanted to learn my guitar. Second one was when I’ve heard the album of Sepultura, Arise. I think that made a huge impact on me too. The reason why Dødsfall exists is that I got influenced by black metal albums that came out in the early 90s like Darkthrone, Immortal and Emperor. The Blaze in the Northern Sky from Darkthrone could be the number three. This record made me to think to play this music.
Thank you very much for you time Ishtar. Do you have any last words? Can you make us promise that you’ll eventually play in the UK some time?
Once again, thank you for the interest in Dødsfall and I really appreciate the support from all the people, the ones that follow the band. I’m looking forward to play in London next year, I can’t promise it but I can do my best to make it happen because it’s been something we’ve been looking forward to. Let’s hope it will happen. It’s important for us to go to countries like the UK and Germany and others so we can show how Dødsfall sounds like.