Here is an interview I had with Jens Ryland about Borknagar. Was my pleasure having this interview.
Greetings Jens. First thank you for accepting having this interview. How things are going?
Good morning, it’s Monday morning here. I’m just in at my office and got a cup of coffee here that is lifting my spirit. All well!
Now starting to talk about Borknagar, the band was founded around 1995 by Oystein Brun and you have joined the band in 1997, same as Ics Vortex.
Øystein started working with the material for Borknagar in 1994, but didn’t gather the musicians until 1995. The first album was released on a small underground company, and then Century Media showed interest and Øystein made the move. With the second album CM asked Øystein to do a tour and he made the transition from being a studio project into a band. So he called me summer of ’97 and more or less asked if I was available for a tour later that year. And here I am. A little later Garm also decided that he wasn’t able to support Borknagar as a full time member and he asked us to talk to Vortex.
The 10th album entitled ”Winter Thrice” came out this year. Where the recordings took place and how it went?
The album has been recorded on several different locations and in several periods, so there’s no focused studio time. We haven’t been in a studio with the whole band since we recorded ”Empiricism’’. All of us have home studios now.
For the tracks 2, 6 and 8, there are two guest vocalists. Can you mention who are they?
Garm from Ulver was the original vocalist in Borknagar and he appears on 2 and 8. We also have Athera (Chrome Division, ex-Susperia) who is ourstand-in live for Vintersorg appearing on nr 6 Erodent on a small passage.
I’ve seen that reviews started to be on. How are these reviews? Also, who made the cover art for the album?
The reviews so far have been very inspiring yes, it seems like we have done something right. The reviews also like the cover art work which is done my Marcelo Vasco, our Brazilian brother.
In the early years Oystein was ”tired” to have another band which was going to be Black metal, he wanted something more melodic and progressive, so this is what Borknagar is.
Borknagar was founded in the transition period between the first wave and second wave of black metal. Øystein was inspired by the first wave, but went on a different direction with Borknagar. I wouldn’t say this is very unusual, all the bands that started in this period still have strong identities and don’t follow a set path.
Tell me which is your favorite Borknagar release and which album do you think had a more ”succes” to say so?
I can’t say I really have a favourite, all the releases have their own flavour and chain-of-events. At this point we know that ”The Olden Domain” was the album that made the big difference, and it’s also connected with all the concerts we did after that. ”Empiricism’’ is the release that has sold most albums I think.
As I know you left the band in 2003 but you got back in 2008. Was it just a break?
In 2002 we realized that we were not able to make it as a professional band and Øystein declared Borknagar to be a studio project again, as it started. I had spent a lot of time trying to arrange tours and gigs and were completely burnt out. In 2003 I left and quit everything I had to do with the music business, started a company in construction. But already after a year we received the first festival offer and Asgeir called me up and persuaded me to do it so they wouldn’t have to get a new guitarist, so I did. Then there was the second one in 2005, third in 2006 and after that I sat down with Øystein and simply agreed that I was back in again. In this period they released ”Epic” and ”Origin” which I didn’t play on, but I joined as the work began on ”Universal” in 2007.
Who mainly writes the music and the lyrics in the band and what are you guys inspired to create Borknagar’s music?
Øystein writes most of the music. Lars have contributed with one song pr album since he joined and Vortex now have 3 songs to his name over the years. The lyrics are mostly a mix of Øystein and Vintersorg. Inspiration is life and nature to put it short.
You are going to tour aswell promoting the new release, I have seen some dates confirmed.
The only confirmed dates at this point are the summer festivals, but we are planning an European tour in April, let’s see if we can make that work. After that we have some ambitions, but no direct plans yet.
As the other members are/ had been involved in other bands, do you take part into other music projects?
No, I’m not involved at this point with anything else. I get my creative outlet through work more or less. I’m an Entrepreneur.
Beside music, what other hobbies do you have?
I have kids hehe. No seriously, they take up much of my time and attention, so it’s not like they’re a hobby… I’m also a gamer and have been for a long time. I play Minecraft with my 6 year old, I just introduced my 11 year old to MMO’s, now we’re playing Star Wars; The Old Republic, and I enjoy EVE Online as my leisure time.
To quit this interview, how do you see Borknagar fans and what message do you have for them?
I try to keep in touch with our audience through social media and I find that people are generally dedicated, cool and open minded. Borknagar isn’t a FOTM band, it takes some effort to get into. And I’m still thrilled when I meet new people that turn out to be long time fans!
It was my pleasure talking with you Jens. Thank you again for your time. Hope to see you soon!
Thank you too!
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