VICOTNIK (DøDHEIMSGARD, VED BUENS ENDE)
Part 1: An Odyssey Of Lost Teeth
Story online since: 08.07.2007 / 09:52:39
As I don’t really believe that I could actually come up with an introduction as interesting as the man I’m about to introduce to the avant-garde hyper famous hall of music, I had the idea to let his own friends speak out. Vicotnik aka Viper aka Mr. Fixit aka Osama Bin Askeladden aka 498 aka Vicon-Tiki has been around for at least fifteen years, and throughout his multiple projects and personalities, he obviously carried a strong artistic statement up every musical scene’s tiny asshole, whatever impact that might has had. Ved Buens Ende, DHG (Dødheimsgard), Endwarfment, Aphrodisiac, <CODE> and Den Saakaldte represent some parts of his past and present catharsis. Nevertheless, my only true concern, during our written conversations, was to give him an opportunity to freely think through his own mindset. I can therefore only hope that you’re all going to enjoy the final transmissions. Directly from outer space, please welcome Mr. Fantastic Deceptionist, the great Indian psychoterrorist Yusaf Parvez...
The man is uniquely intelligent. – Carl-Michael Eide
Vicotnik, a remarkable friend and individual… Always manages to surprise you either with his ways or his creativity in music. Clever as hell, devoted in everything he is doing…Definitely one of the most interesting, in every way, people I have ever met and an honor for me being his friend! – Michael Sykelig
Yusaf is a visionary in the true sense of the word…He has a singular dedication to his music, and an unflinching desire for it to be the best it possible can be. When he plays you a new riff, you can instantly recognize his trademark sound and style, but despite how familiar you are with that style, you will never fail to be amazed by the new and unconventional ways he contorts the strings to fit his purpose. He is one of the few musicians I believe has truly crafted a world of their own and no one can touch it. – Andy Aort Mcivor
Vicotnik is stubborn as fuck!!! – Apollyon
When I met Vicotnik in 1999 his arm had been bandaged. I asked him what happened. He replied that one day he suddenly thought that his arm shouldn’t belong to him anymore. So he tried to smash it. – Christof Niederwieser
Well, I’ve known this character for about fifteen years now, and what can I tell you, Yusaf has been a good friend, probably the closest thing I have to a brother. He’s a very reliant person, always there to back you up. He’s most honest and doesn’t necessarily say exactly what you wanna hear in a troubled situation, but you get to hear what he means is right. He’s a stubborn man and probably the most enduring bastard I’ve ever known ha ha! Think I haven’t seen him submitting to anything without giving it all his best. He’s a man with strong characteristics, and a will of his own!!! He tends to become a bit unstable in some situations (especially the alcoholic-influenced ones), he’s a bit moody, and you don’t always know where he’s at or what he is thinking. Anyway, I sincerely love him and wish him only the best. – Bjørn Aldrahn Dencker
Well hi there, Vicotnik! Congratulations for your killer comeback within a sometimes excessively much sterile metal scene, Supervillain Outcast is for sure an amazingly refreshing take on Black Metal! You must be aware that truckloads of people have been impatiently waiting for DHG to give them a new blast, because as we all recognize it, 666 International had a huge impact on everyone involved in appreciating Black Metal’s historical evolution back in 1999. It has been such a long time since your last musical appearance as DHG, and I would like it if you just tried to introduce us to the realm of these seven years that went by in between the release of 666 International and your actual state of mind regarding music. Basically the question burning on everyone’s lips is: in retrospect, why in the hell did it take so long to bring this new album to a life of its own?
Hey man. Cheers for the praise. I was not very happy when I read your first question (laughs). If I ask you what you believe is the most frequently asked question nowadays, what do you say? You guessed it, this one. Nevertheless, I will do my best to venture down this road once again. I started planning this album already when we were in the studio recording 666 International. Some songs in some form or another date to back then.
After touring in relation to 666 International, I went to Spain to either finish writing the new album or drink my self to death. I went far south and rented myself a little house. As I was sitting outside my door, drinking bottles of wine with braids in my hair, the Spanish kids ran by me pointing and laughing. This appealed to my sense of cosiness, so I put myself to the abuse everyday. I also tracked down a place the locals referred to as a really bad neighbourhood. So every night around eleven or twelve, I filled up my pockets with all the money I had and ventured up and down the neighbourhood. It soon became clear to me that these criminals and robbers thought I was CRAZY, and therefore did not touch me. Other nights I ventured down to bars where the macho men and the bimbo women were courting each others and I pretended to be homosexual, grabbing the guys’ asses, and asked if they wanted to spend some time with me. This did not really sit well with the guests. Funny enough, I was never asked to leave and I never got kicked in the ass, they probably thought I would like it. One day, I was standing in the shower and brushing my teeth, and I could feel the teeth bending backward. I stopped brushing and tried yanking my teeth with my fingers. It turned out every single one of them was barely sticking in my gums. It was time to go home. I had in fact been able to create something of a blue-print for most of the songs.
Well back home, I started gathering people to get them involved, and for a long time it was only me and Czral whom rehearsed. Members came and went as we went along and in the end we had our guys. In 2003 I believe, we entered the studio to record our mess. Here everything started going wrong, both technically and with the line-up of the band. Half the band suddenly left and left their work for me. It was like having a birthday inside a straight-jacket. Here started the real process of finding a new vocalist, getting new lyrics, making effects, editing, recording, mixing, etc… Then I believe I took a pause while working with <CODE>, and I now and then worked as a studio engineer. But I have more or less worked with the album since we entered the studio to now. It’s very time demanding when you have to learn the things you are going to do. The time spent though, gave me the opportunity to get a new band on it’s feet and rehearse simultaneously as I was working in the studio with various things. In the end, I’m very happy with all our efforts and I’m very proud of the album.
Now that was a mind-trip! Back in 2003, many fans were shocked by what appeared to be some deeply depressing news. Your all-time colleague and only original line-up member, lyricist and vocalist Aldrahn, suddenly left the building, and so did computer mind Zweizz and experimental drummer Czral. What went wrong between yourself and these high-quality, really unique musicians, since we all can appreciate how essential their roles were in the shaping of 666 International?
I want to point out that Zweizz was never the computer mind in DHG. He did not make the effects on 666 International; he played the synth and the piano. The guy responsible for the effects on 666 International is Ginge from the Elektro act SUBGUD. Seeing Aldrahn leave was definitely the hardest of the three. I had felt for many years that I kinda made music for me and for him. Aldrahn is still on top of my list of friends and I am sure we will do something in the future as well. He quit because he was to become a father and could not be so devoted to the band anymore.
Now, some years later, it’s been proven that his exit was not really necessary. On the other hand, I think that all of us guys that have held each others hands for the last 15 years made a wise decision to let go. I believe we all benefited from this, and as a result of it we can become better artists and performers. Czral had been my main cooperation partner since the Ved Buens Ende days, so the desire to break free from each others and develop on our own was really strong. Zweizz was more a result of a mutual decision. He wanted to start making songs; I did not want to compromise my life’s work for something I probably wouldn’t like. So that one was not very hard. One has to remember as well that DHG had not really been a band since we rehearsed for Satanic Art.
666 international is mainly my musical catharsis. I wanted to rid myself of every theme I had made that I could remember and did so. This is mainly an album that came out of the close work between myself and my producer at the time, Bjørn Boge. Of course others contributed as well, but as for the hard work, sleeping, eating and shitting, that’s me and Boge. Aldrahn contributed a lot in the sense that he performed well and wrote the lyrics. He is one of the best vocalists this scene ever nurtured. Zweizz biggest contributions are the piano interludes; all the synth and piano in the songs were either arranged by me or by the producer.
666 International is a constructed idea. I am its father, but it has a life of its own.
Alright man, thanks for clearing up this issue. Would you then mind revealing to us who are the new DHG band members, in regards to personal anecdotes, to their musical talents and to their particular personalities? I would think that you have chosen each one of them for specific reasons; could you then please expose at least some of these reasons?
The single greatest thing with these members is that prior to joining the band they were like the biggest fans. The practical value of having members that love the band is that it’s really easy to pull in the same direction. The guys I have been playing with in the past are all great, but they were very conscious about their own careers. Picking the new guys was really easy because of the fact that I’ve known most of them for a great number of years prior to them joining.
When it comes to anecdotes, I am not sure if it’s fair of me to put my members in a predicament. We have seen each others in about every fucked up situation you can image. A year ago or so me and Kvohst were trashing around the apartment, when my heart suddenly acted up, and as I thought I was dying, Kvohst was running around not knowing how to handle it. He is a British guy, so he didn’t even know the number to the ambulance. I imagine how useless he felt, running around with the phone in his hand, while his band mate was getting less and less conscious. The world really gets small in a situation like that.
The members involved right now are Kvohst on the vocals, Thrawn on the guitar, Clandestine handling the bass, Darn playing drums, Jormundgand taking care of the synth and of course yours truly.
Well, how do you personally comprehend your musical evolution within an important metal sub-genre such as Black Metal, which has now become kind of a trend in many over-intellectualised indie magazines and so-called experimental circles? Do you think that you belong to any scene at all, or in other words, are you consciously contributing to the establishment of one particular musical ideology? Your first two albums were obviously connected to old-school black thrash metal, whereas with Satanic Art and 666 International, everything became much more blurred and abstract when it comes to genre aesthetics. What is now DHG’s artistic agenda?
Opinions in that sense are not very important to me. Even Black Metal will die, but then there will always be all the old albums, so the spirit of Black Metal will never die. There will always be good music around. What I do hope though is that people know what they are doing and why they are doing it, that there is some sense of honesty to their craft. I don’t get mad if some band from the underground scene makes it real big. It’s basically none of my business. I try to be conscience about myself, I try to grow, improve on all levels and basically lead a beneficial life where pre-ordained dogmas or principals have no value unless they are my own. The same way it’s not really interesting either to throw my wisdom upon the world, so to speak. I think people will benefit more to listen to their hearts than to listen to me. I have chosen to have my contact with the outside world through music. It’s not to prove a point; it’s just putting my experience into a kind of endless format. As to what I hope it achieves? I hope it inspires people to create, to be better people, to take better care of themselves, to get more in touch with suppressed areas of their emotional life, or something completely different: basically, what I hope to achieve is up to you…
Our artistic agenda will always change, like human beings change. Even though we don’t want to, we do. So since Satanic Art we have become more blurred for the reason that we have become more organic in a way. It’s not just infantile fantasies or metrological report of some kind. It’s a whole life inside our records. Even the old albums are records of life, in a simpler, more one-sided sense. All my albums tell me something about myself. I have faith, I think anyone would benefit of having a belief system. It cannot be for selfish reasons generated through fear, redemption, hypocrisy, career, etc. Faith is not about getting, it is about achieving. Faith has to be the model for your personal ideal. I cannot understand all the interest people put into other people’s life, don’t they find themselves interesting enough? For me, I do want people to be close to my music if they feel it, but I have no desire about them obsessing about me.
I think there was a scene once that sort of shared ideals, or to be more eloquent, a scene where you shared a lack of ideals. I mean come on, all of us were just kids, and let’s face it: we weren’t much different from any other teenagers growing up at the time, except that we had somewhere to vent our desires and our frustration. This argument is thoroughly strengthened by the fact that if you go take part in the Black Metal scene here in Norway nowadays, you will quickly see that it’s all about spending time together and the shared interest in the music is what draws the people together.
When it comes to me personally, I did not start to listen to Black Metal and then got interested in the occult. The passion was already there. I have also grown up with many different religious paths around me as I have an Indian background. This is why Black Metal put my butt in the seat as soon as we were acquainted, because the flare for the contents in Black Metal already resided inside me.
Now let’s talk about DHG’s sick-to-the-bone literary homemade library. Aldrahn's lyrics and performances on 666 International were basically all over the place and quite out-there, so to speak, absorbing elements from mythological narratives as well as taking kind of a post-modern twist on absurdist poetry - in one word, it was downright unique. What about Kvohst's writing and singing, and how would you say that they are directly connected to the music found on Supervillain Outcast?
I think Kvohst writes a lot better technically and in a much clearer narrative. It’s easier to write in an absurd fashion, because you are not really revealing anything. "Gobbling numbers to safety, aerobatic stance un-blurred. Focus rendering motion, tears cracking strong hostile limbs." I am basically talking about eating breakfast and training, who would ever think that? It’s easy to hide the fact that you don’t have much on your mind if you write in a way that in the end is 100 % up to the interpreter. I am not saying Aldrahn has nothing on his mind, but artistically Kvohst’s lyrics suit me a lot better. Because it’s not about shying away, and at the same time they are kind of written from the viewing point of the observer. I think it becomes a bit bogus when your genius is dependent upon other people’s interpretations. I feel our lyrics now have the edge they previously missed.
His performance on the album was kind of a three way effort, Aldrahn’s obviously, but also our producer and my own. 666 International was not a rehearsed album, it was a plan and a vision I had, which I put into commission with contributions from friends and a whole lot of work together with my producer. I needed a kind of catharsis, getting rid of all the material I had collected over the years. It’s kind of like a crossover between music and cabaret. So Aldrahn’s lyrics worked like hand in glove. But this time around, I wanted to take a big step to the next level.
You were saying that with Supervillain Outcast, you had to learn everything "technical" from scratch, including programming, sampling, making effects and so on. Listening to the way you present Black Metal, I get the feeling that you're a fan of many other forms of music, like for instance techno, noise or whatever. I also know that back in '96, you took part in the dark ambient noise band Aphrodisiac. Therefore I'm curious to know if that's a kind of musical output you'd like to explore once again, now that you can more thoroughly handle electronic devices.
I was a little bit learned on the making loops and effects bit. Not much but a bit. On the other hand I knew nothing about being an engineer and there is really a hell lot to learn. Yes, I do listen to a lot of different forms of music. In my estimation you only have good or bad music, I am not that genre-oriented. Different genres emphasize different emotions. What happens with me musically is nothing I really plan. We just have to see what I jump into. Right now there is a lot going on though, and I think in relation to doing my very best, I have to stay concentrated on the tasks ahead. Aphrodisiac was making insane music without rock-oriented music instruments, and it was a great dive into the sordid psyche.
In a previous answer, you mentioned that your interest in the occult was already there, even before you discovered Black Metal as a musical form. Let's guess that this interest has ever since then very much expanded in space and time. At the present, what do you mean by "occultism" - is that some kind of a life philosophy connected with any known or unknown traditions in particular? And how is your definition of occultism affiliated together with your musical impulses?
When I previously said occult, I used it as a general label of anything being related to spiritual phenomenon. I was brought up in a Muslim family, and in this day and age Muslims are probably the group of people whom take their faith the most seriously. My upbringing was subjected to all the Muslim traditions and customs. I was even supposed to marry my cousin. For most people subjected to this, it’s natural just to adopt the belief system of your father. But for a small group of people this upbringing creates quite a strong consciousness from a really early age. Not far into my existence I came on odd edge with my family. Being on my own opened even more doors in my mind. I think all the situations that put you at risk in some way, either physically or mentally, are the most beneficial. Faith-systems are a God ideal that’s theoretically you, if you fulfill your potentials and live in order to reach your capacities. Finding your own nature is a lifelong dedication. In order to do so you have to emancipate yourself from basically everything you know and start redefining, using yourself as the tool to do so. True religion does not concern everybody else, true religion only concerns the man or woman who subjects him/herself to it.
I do regard myself as a Satanist; this means that I support self-indulgence. I seek for personal truth and freedom, simplicity and efficiency. It’s merging your soul with life’s fabric. It’s a system of representation. We create our own damnations and rewards. When I became an outcast, the world suddenly expanded. I made two decisions concerning the years ahead. Number 1 – Get acquainted with the world’s vast portions of philosophy and religion. That’s the best way to understand our history as well. In other words you dive into all the world’s opinions and see that’s basically what the fabric of the world is – opinions. Number 2 – Was subjecting myself to every kind of subjective experience I could think of and later view them both objectively and personally. All kinds of situations were interesting, even the ones that did not benefit me materialistically or in some other form. The dirtier and darker the experience, the happier I was. Processing information in every thinkable angle and at the same time living it; it’s kind of being an observer of society. Not in a critical or naive way, but just observe to become more knowledgeable and powerful. Of course all this is very general, but so is the question.
click here for the second part of this interview