Fawkes: You do PECCATUM along with your wife Ihriel. I don't know really but I think it is tough. I mean that all the troubles you face making music are currently appearing in your private life. How do you deal with that?
Ihsahn: There's no problem at all. I mean there is a reason we work together and this is our common goal musically. So there's absolutely no conflict or whatsoever. I must say that this is very constructive collaboration.
Fawkes: Some journalists still cannot decide who is whose wife. They say that PECCATUM is a project of yours and your wife, they say that HAGALAZ' RUNEDANCE is your wife's project too…
Ihsahn: That's not a case. There is misunderstanding between us. That is Samoth's ex-wife (Andrea 'Nebel' Haugen - F.) who does this project. I can understand why people mistake us both. There are two guys from EMPEROR and people do not definitely know who is who. I think that's why it happens...
Fawkes: Your town Notodden is very small. You with Ihriel must have been the most renowned couple there…
Ihsahn: I wouldn't say so. It's really small. About 12,000 of inhabitants. It's so local. You'll never become a prophet in your own country, they say. And especially, not in your own town. We're more or less left alone and just do the things at our own place so.
Fawkes: You say! Try ICQ search and you'll certainly find about fifteen young 'ihsahns' between 15 and 17 years old and all as one from Notodden…
Ihsahn: (chuckles) That's probably. You mean like e-mail addresses and nicknames on chat portals, that kind of stuff?.. I mean I'm missing your pointer (laughs)...
Fawkes: Don't mind! Thinking-a-telling, you know. Let's better talk on the newest PECCATUM album "Lost In Reverie". Is it a concept album as usual?
Ihsahn: Not really. It is strongly contrasted musically. Lyrically we've tried to create a red thread through the whole album but there is no concrete logical concept around it. This way "Lost In Reverie" is a gathering of surreal atmosphere we've tried to express on this album. There's actually very little concrete things, nothing is debated or confirmed there this way. It's more subtle and impressionist.
Fawkes: Haven't heard it yet, but I think it's both beautiful and complex thing...
Ihsahn: (chuckles) Oh, thank you!
Fawkes: Two previous albums you'd issued in a short period from 1999 to 2000. Why did recording take so long this time?
Ihsahn: We have been rather busy, you know. And still I've been working on this album, Ihriel has been doing her solo album in STAR OF ASH. I don't know have you heard anything about it in Russia...
Fawkes: Yes, I've heard about STAR OF ASH (ambient project - F.)!..
Ihsahn: Yeah? So she did that. Meanwhile I wrote the last EMPEROR's album. And the same time we've been building up a record label we have (Mnemosyne - F.). And also we've been much concentrated on a studio work in our own studio. It took quite a long time with this album also because we wanted to go in a new direction. We needed some time to distance ourselves from the previous two PECCATUM albums. We've been experimenting a lot. We've thrown away material for probably two albums, you know, in a process of getting forth the songs that are on "Lost In Reverie". We've been very thorough in everything during the making of "Lost In Reverie" and maybe that's why it has taken such a long time.
Fawkes: You've done a great work, but even more is still to be done, isn't it?..
Ihsahn: Yes. Everytime when the album is released we have to deal much with press but this time we're responsible for our own label too. It's a business perspective of things. It's a quite time consuming.
Fawkes: OK. But I mean that you're going on tour now maybe, no?
Ihsahn: Er, well, we have been getting questions and also offers for doing live shows already, but due to the complexity of the arrangements it's not a type of musical material that you could just bring out with a regular band. I cannot imagine that we can go out on a full two month european tour playing every day. If we go to play live, which we really consider, that will have to be a very big project on its own and probably it would be lesser show. There must be a big orchestra. Don't misunderstand me, I mean rather a big band with keyboardists and other men playing different instruments to be able to make it work.
Fawkes: So you want to say that PECCATUM is a studio project now?
Ihsahn: More or less. We're very occupied with doing studio work. But we are most looking for possibilities of performing this live.
Fawkes: Previously you've been playing all instruments on your own. But now it is said that Ihriel plays some instruments too. What ones does she play actually?
Ihsahn: She's always been doing keyboard parts and vocals. Also programming and digital patchwork. She's playing piano and guitar as well. We work together on everything!
Fawkes: But maybe there are some exotic instruments on "Lost In Reverie", aren't there?
Ihsahn: Originally, when we wrote material we used different samplers. We've got in pieces all percussive stuff, we were playing some flute and distorted that after. The album sounds very electronic and the most exotic parts are maybe the drum parts from Knut Aalefj?r, the jazz drummer. He played on some songs. He's an excellent percussionist!
Fawkes: What words applied to your music would be the best compliment for you?
Ihsahn: Oh, it's really hard to say. I suppose that the aknowledgements from fans are... Or you're taking something concrete like awards or something?..
Fawkes: No, no, you understand me right!
Ihsahn: Yeah?.. (chuckles) In fact, we are very proud of all the achievements we've made but of course they wouldn't happen if people weren't interested in...
Fawkes: OK. You've at least twice mentioned your own label. Tell me, what like the band must be in order to get surely signed with Mnemosyne?
Ihsahn: We aren't so necessarily decided upon genres. There are lot of labels already who appreciate average black metal or death metal. We wish to focus on the things that happen on a borderline of all that. There is crossover between metal influences and electronic stuff. Or industrial stuff, you know. Generally, it could be determined as innovative, dark and having high quality as well.
Fawkes: You mean those bands like ULVER?..
Ihsahn: Not necessarily like ULVER. That's an indie electronical way more I would say. When we're trying to aim on something in between that...
Fawkes: Well, maybe there is a one of already existing and renowned bands you would sign with great pleasure?
Ihsahn: (laughs) I wouldn't say from that point. We are hoping to get some demos soon. We already have people who sent us their stuff. We're just up to check out for whatever good that comes on our way. So, this way I couldn't name a particular band we would like to have. (chuckles)
Fawkes: I think that halcyon days have started out for Norwegian black metal. SATYRICON deal with EMI, DIMMU BORGIR get Samstidden Award, ULVER are the most wanted soundtrack writers in both Norway and Sweden. All seems like media have finally aknowledged your efforts...
Ihsahn: To some extent, I would say. I suppose this is more or less true. At many points original black metal has been the biggest cultural explode out of Norway. Norwegian media is picking up on it and giving it more publicity than before. I believe that extreme black metal bands from Norway still have to do fifty times more than regular rock and pop artists in Norway to get the same kind of publicity. We have some bands in Norway, you know, more in the rock/pop genres. They easily get two pages spread in our national newspapers for playing concerts for two hundred people. The most of original black metal bands did that very early. (chuckles) We played for two hundred people in London in 1993, after first EP with EMPEROR. It's not any fairness to it. It is also a matter of market as the actual sales happen out of Norway. So, obviously that general public in Norway is not interested in black metal.
Fawkes: C'est la vie... I've read somewhere that you've grown up on a farm...
Ihsahn: Yes, that's true.
Fawkes: Was it a cozy little house you called a farm or a real big farm, with pigs and geese?
Ihsahn: It is actually a big farm. It never had pigs or geese. Cows mainly...
Fawkes: Cows?.. Er... Do you like animals?
Ihsahn: If I like animals?.. Yes, of course!
Fawkes: Have you any?
Ihsahn: Yes, we have a dog.
Fawkes: A dog? A big one or a small one?
Ihsahn: She's rather big. It's an akita. Do you know this type?
Fawkes: I guess I know...
Ihsahn: It's quite similar to a polar dog. But not exactly the same. I think it was japanese national dog or something. She's a female and she's about a size of a grown shepherd, I think.
Fawkes: I know that any parents dream and see their child to become a lawyer, a dantist or a president at least. Whom did your parents want you to become?..
Ihsahn: I think I had no any expectations in this regard. I started playing guitar in very early age. I was 10 or 12. By the time when I was 15, I determined that this is what I want to do. And since then I think they expected me to become a musician...
Fawkes: Imagine, that the things turn out the way you have to teach children in a simple Notodden school. What subject would you choose to teach?
Ihsahn: I actually teach guitar in a musical school!
Fawkes: Do you?!
Ihsahn: Yes, I do. My pupils are primarily occupied in IRON MAIDEN and KING DIAMOND stuff, so we only teach metal generally...
Fawkes: Wow!.. Here, in Russia, if you go to the musical school, there's a tiny probability that you'll get a teacher you could learn from how to play heavy metal...
Ihsahn: (chuckles) ...Or even black metal, you know?
Fawkes: I don't even mind black metal!!!
Ihsahn: I must say, that this is a bit of coincidence so. If you think that in every Norwegian musical school the children learn to play heavy metal stuff, that is not the way the things go actually...
Fawkes: Have you already heard about the catastrophe in Korea?
Ihsahn: The train accident?
Fawkes: Yes, the train accident. Could you comment that?
Ihsahn: Er... but none really knows anything about it...
Fawkes: What do you mean, sorry?
Ihsahn: I mean that nobody knows how many people got hurt...
Fawkes: Our media says it is about three thousand people!
Ihsahn: Yes? It's terrible...
Fawkes: And what does make it even more terrible, that Korean politicians try to conceal the facts.
Fawkes: Imagine that you've been granted the omnipotency of God for five minutes only. What would you hurry to do?
Ihsahn: That's very hard question. I don't think I could answer. There would be a lot of things that would spring to mind, you know. There's so much wrong in the world, so much I disagree with. I don't think I'm right in everything. All people are justifying themselves. And even given both opportunity and responsibility it would be hard for me to make a big decision on behalf of everybody...
Fawkes: What do you know about Russia?
Ihsahn: Far too little. It's actually very close but so far away...