Welcome, I found Vargrike’s music on the internet and I liked it. This is a fresh new band/formation, this is why I’d like you to tell a few words about how you formed. How did you contact/connected Velsingard? What were your ideas/concepts?
Velsingard: Originally Bál and I were not really aquatinted, however I was a fan of his band not knowing it was him, and it appears he knew of what I do, but not knowing it was me. I hope that makes sense. It’s a big world and a small world at the same time. I had these the songs for the first Vårgrike album, however I really didn’t plan on finishing the Vårgrike album at this time, but after I considered how perfect Bál’s vocals would fit, I knew that I had to approach him about doing this. Honestly I didn’t have much hope that he would, but I felt it was a good choice. To my surprise he loved the songs. He took my concepts and had a beautiful set of lyrics and Vocals done within a week. Honestly this was the easiest experience that I’ve had working with someone else thus far.
How would you describe music? What are the values behind it?
Velsingard: I believe most would consider Vårgrike as atmospheric black metal, however each album will grow into its own sound. There is no set perimeter, except for maintaining a cold atmosphere. There will be occasional folk instruments, however not enough to consider it folk metal. I would like to experiment with the sound and maybe add some technical aspects as long as it does not take away from the cold atmosphere.
What’s the topic of your songs, what the songs are about? Why did you choose this topic?
Velsingard: The concept of Vårgrike, I believe has formed into a story about one man’s journey. It will take him many places, through darkness and light, through mountains and valley’s. There will be times of peace and hope and times of war and suffering. There is a story that has been started and the story will continue on the next album “A Vereségben”. Why I chose this conceptual direction, I do not know. I was just very drunk one night and asked Bál if he could write this story.
Útkereső is your first release (debut album) which was released in August, this year. Did you get the attention that you expected? What’s people’s opinion about your album?
Velsingard: I was extremely surprised and excited about people’s reaction to this album. I was very reckless with my production because I wanted to keep it as true to the original emotions as I could. In this, I was a little concerned that people might not think the production quality is that good, however I haven’t heard one negative comment yet. I should remember that this is Black Metal and I mainly have been producing Melodic and Technical Death Metal where there seems to be more unrealistic expectations with production quality. This is why I have chosen to focus more on black metal because I have room to write more organic and emotional music.
On the 10th of September, Útkereső will be released by Black Winter Productions physically. Could it be more valuable for the past itself that it won’t only be available digitally? What will be the number of copies?
Velsingard: I am very happy with how this album has been received. Sales have been better than expected, and I have already had to place a second order of physical copies for a few distributors. So far all sales have been in Europe, Scandinavia and South America. None in the US yet. I take that as a great compliment.
You two have other bands as well. Is this the time when you begin to walk on a different path? How artistic was Vargrike compared to BÁL? When did you find out that you want to make something like Vargrike?
BÁL: Yes, my other, one-man-band called BÁL is pretty different from Vargrike’s image. Basically, Velsingard found me on Fiverr because he liked my vocals. These 4 songs are totally his merit, his excellence, I wrote all the lyrics with my style, based on his concept, and recorded it on the sketches he sent me. After this happening, he formed everything as he liked and this is the final form and I must say he’s god damn talented. Vargrike and BÁL are 2 totally different things, I don’t want to compare them as you can’t compare salt and pepper, these are 2 different things with different goals, characteristics. I’d never thought about, I’m going to be an equal member of Vargrike when I worked for an order back then, so this was a surprise for me. After the release has happened, he wrote me a message again with all the consequences. I thought a little bit of help is needed because the EP (Útkereső) was released as it’s originated from Hungary and Vargrike begun to spread as a Hungarian band despite I’m the only Hungarian member (not even a founding member) of the band. A few guys wrote to Velsingard in my language, but as we know, Google Translate is not the best choice for fluent communication, so I thought I’m going to help him, if this all has happened like this. Today, I’m thinking about myself as a proud member of Vargrike and I’m doing my best to behave like this but I still think all merit goes to Velsingard and it’s going to be like this in the future. These are his ideas and I help him to put them through himself.
What will be the future of Vargrike after this release? How different the new songs will be?
Velsingard: As I mentioned earlier, the story will continue on the next full length album called “A Vereségben”. Our character reached a level of transcendence but now he has to return to his body with his new knowledge so that he can journey home to where his land and people have been destroyed. He will wrestle with God and Demons. At least that’s my idea so far. Bál is actually the story writer here, so I know it will be great. There have been a few songs started already but I have many other projects so it may take a while. I can say that the new songs are sounding much more epic so far with a more clear vision and purpose of how they should sound.
Your talent is indisputable and I think you are interested in more stuff. Could you tell me more about yourself?
Velsingard: Thank you, yes originally I grew up in the Thrash scene of the 80’s and as things evolved in the late 80’s we had the birth of Death Metal and it was an exciting time. My first band was a Death Metal band in 1992 and we were interested in only 2 things, becoming as Technical and Brutal as possible. No emotions and absolutely no melody. I was completely unaware of the Black Metal scene that was growing, and when I did finally hear black metal I was not interested at all. Eventually I did start incorporating melody in the music I wrote and around the same time, many other death metal bands did as well, as we all know this is now known as Melodic Death Metal. This is important to note in regards to my evolution because soon after this I went many years without playing guitar or writing music. In this time, around 17 years ago I found the band Naglfar, and even though I didn’t listen to black metal I fell in love with the wide range of emotions they were able to convey through black metal. The fact that they were melodic was the key to gaining my interest. After that I started listening to mostly black metal bands, having become completely bored with death metal. Eventually when the time came that I decided to start playing again in 2017, I also decided to write another album for my Melodic Death Metal band. However when I started writing again, it became apparent that all those years of Black Metal definitely influenced my writing. I wasn’t trying to write black metal, it just happened no mater how hard I tried not to. Eventually after writing 40 songs I finally had enough songs that legitimately sounded closer to melodic death metal for the album, However they still had a little black metal bleeding through. After the release of that album I planned on using some of the other songs to form 2 completely separate black metal bands, because this is my passion now. One of them being the band Virtue of Decay which will be more of a lo-fi, older black metal sound as it did in the first album “Only now you fear the cold”. And the other band is Vårgrike, in which I want to explore more of the atmospheric side of black metal.
How most of the people could find the appropriate way in your opinion? Why isn’t it successful for most of them?
Velsingard: Honestly it could be the mistake most bands make, in that they want to copy what has been done before. I am absolutely guilty of this. Back in the day I tried to copy Amorphis, Bolt Thrower and Hypocrisy. I absolutely failed in sounding like them, but what I didn’t appreciate is how that was a good thing. Maybe my band didn’t sound like them but my band sounded like nothing else. So now that is what I really appreciate about those old albums I did. In regards to black metal, I feel as though I am an outsider, and I was honestly not trying to write black metal, I just wrote what came from me in an honest way, so in this regard I do not look at my self as a black metal musician. Maybe that is the secret. Black Metal music will represent who I am as a person, and now that I have this outlet, I can also go back and write more technical death metal, which will represent who I am as a guitarist.
I’d guess you listen to similar music as yours, music with the same stylistics as yours. What’s your opinion on the evolution of Black Metal? What do you think about how diversified/multifarious/complicated/extensive BM became now?
Velsingard: This is actually the reason why I love black metal now. It seems to be the only music where there are no rules and we have absolute freedom. Unless you’re one of the true Kvlt guys. For me, we are living in a renascence of black metal. There are so many beautiful things coming out of Europe especially Eastern Europe, and Sweden. So many bands are taking this old thing and reinventing in so many amazing ways. I am very excited about the scene right now, especially with how many of these bands are one man bands with a single purpose a pure vision.
I’d say, today you can find a lot of interesting, exciting bands in the scene, more interesting ones than in the past, in the old times. Maybe this style/scene evolved the most than others. What are your views about this?
Velsingard: I agree 100%. As I said before so many good thinks happening right now. I think it has a lot to do with most of them being one man bands with the ability to record in their personal home recording studios. Even many of them that look like a full band for the most part, those are the live session players. The reason why I think this is good is because each band can now have one clear and specific vision. I think having many members in a band can water down the music with compromise and you can end up with a generic version of what could have been. Where as a one man band, you can select who you work with and work with only those who enhance your music making it much better than before, not watered down. At least that’s my opinion, based on my experience being in bands.
Thank you for your answers. What would you note for the people who read this article?
Velsingard: I would just like to thank everyone who gave Vårgrike and this album a chance. Thank you for all of the kind words and support. As an outsider I have felt very welcome. There is much more to come and I am no where near being finished. Thank you.