– Hello, thanks for taking your time. How is everything doing right now into the GRÁ’s camp? What’s keeping you guys busy?
Good evening Sergio and thank you for your interest and support! Tons of things keep us busy as always. Prep work for gigs, plans for future releases, photo sessions and so on. Usual band things I guess.
– First off, would you please make some history of the band (as well as the reason behind the band’s name) for all those who may not be familiar with you yet?
Well, to put a long story short. I (Heljarmadr) was working with Dimman on the Cursed 13 album (Triumf) and came into a writers block. We’d invested in some studio gear to make better pre production demos and wanted to try it out. Since we didn’t really get anywhere with the Cursed 13 songs we just started to jam whatever came to mind and very soon we had four songs written and recorded. That became the debut EP (Helfärd) and that’s where it started. We initially named the project Nauðr (“necessity”, since it was a means to get out of the writers block) but as the whole thing grew we decided to go for Grá, which is a Scandinavian cross-over of the word grey. We though it held the perfect symbolic value since it represent the “between”, the transition. And the lyrics for that first EP were all about the transition between this world and the next.
– Last December you released your newest album, entitled «Ending». How has its feedback been, both from the fans and press? What were your expectations on this opus?
The fans seem to fucking love it! The press has been mixed, some really loved it, others didn’t understand it at all. We’ve gotten the best feedback in Scandinavia actually. Maybe we hit some nerve in the Scandinavian soul. The final outcome exceeded our expectations. We couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished!
– Now that it has been some months since it came out, is there anything you would change about it?
– The album mixes an old school basis with a really wrothy atmosphere. What do you want to convey with the ambiences on your music and what does inspire them?
We wanted to make a diverse album with lots of nuances instead of just repeating ourselves throughout the songs. The foundation is old school black metal but in our own way. The songs were written over a two year period and countless of demo songs in between were just thrown away as they didn’t fit or were good enough for the album. The atmosphere comes from within.
– To make these elements shine production is an important part, and you’ve got here a really good one. Would you mind to tell us how was the production process like and who handled it?
I did everything in my own studio, from the recording up to the mastering. It took almost two years to complete but we have recorded all the instruments in separate sessions with some time in between, not to rush the result. We’ve also scrapped a whole lot of songs and riffs throughout that period, replacing, improving, until it felt perfect. I’m not a professional schooled studio technician at all so what you hear is the result of my trial and errors over the years. Since the beginning I’ve been doing all the mixing and recording for Grá and after my own personal taste. I suppose you can hear the improvements for each release as I have adapted new techniques, improved my arsenal of equipment, knowledge and so on. I have not really tried to sound like this or that but focused on what sound best represent what we are doing. The music inspired the sound and since I have had the opportunity to control it all the way from the song writing up to the mastering, I think of the sound as an instrument in itself. I have done some work for other bands too with mastering and some mixing but I don’t have the time to go full scale. It would be interesting to work with some bands at some point but it has to be 100% right. Both the timing and the music.
– In fact the mood feels quite depressing and dark. Does somehow reflect your personality and inner feelings?
Of course it does! I guess that is one of the things that draw people into the black metal culture/scene/whatever. People with happy brains make happy music 😉
– Anyway lyrics are in Swedish, which I think fits your music perfectly, but I would like to know what do some lyrics on the album deal with and where do you draw inspiration from to write them.
Yes they are in Swedish and I enjoy writing in my native tongue as it allows me to really explore the words and their meanings while being in 100% control. We actually included English translations for all the lyrics in the booklet of the CD so anyone who is interested should get the physical copy and read for themselves. Inspiration comes from everywhere but the lyrics for Grá have always been about death and the passage from this existence to the next so that’s been my frame for this album.
– You manage to get a really nice balance between Black Metal aggressiveness and hatred with more agonizing mid tempos. Is it easy to get a good contrast, without letting one aspect diminish the other one?
It comes natural for us I guess. Some of the fastest riffs also have pretty slow drums which is also a way to get a good drive to the riff. Dimman is really good at finding good rythms and variations. We’ve been working very much with that too, the blast beats should only be used in the right places and sometimes a slow beat can feel more intense if the guitar or the vocals is driving the song forward.
– All this about «Ending» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Epic, Scandinavian, Dark.
– You are hailing from Sweden, and in fact all Scandinavia has always had a really good Metal scene so, when it comes to releasing albums and having success, is it easier being from
Scandinavia, as there’s more interest or rather the opposite, as there’s a lot of bands?
I don’t know. The most important factor is the quality of the music I think. If it’s shit it doesn’t matter where you’re from. I suspect that the Scandinavian work ethics and discipline makes us focus more on what we create rather than being part of any social groups. More rehearsing and improving and less time spent at the pub or other social gatherings. Also we have quite difficult weather here which makes us spend more time indoors. I don’t think that’s the whole answer but I suspect there might be some truths to it still.
There are good bands from all over the world coming now so I don’t think that it’s an advantage anymore to be from Scandinavia. The world is shrinking, for good and bad.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
To keep the ball rolling. We would like to book more shows and get out a bit more but in the mean time we keep looking ahead and will start writing new material again shortly.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Did you know that 10000 years ago the Stockholm area was just a bunch of small islands, recently covered by the inland ice? It was inhabited by people already though. Our history didn’t begin with the vikings but a large part of our soul ended with Christianity.
Thank you for your time and interest!
Viva España, viva Escandinavia!