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A conversation with Andreas Hedlund AKA Mr. V is always an engrossing happening. Just as in the music of Vintersorg, we notice the wealthy intellectual approach of the man, but also the genuine passion for music and nature and a kind of respect for primordial powers. We have to wait a bit longer for the fourth album from the cycle of ’Naturbål’. This time the new compositions had a nearest approach to the debut album ‘Till Fjälls’ and consequently Mr. V started to consider them as twins of this highly recommended debut. We talked with him about his long recovery after a serious accident, the making of ‘Till Fjälls Del II’ and life in the middle of wealthy nature.

By: Vera | Archive under black metal

Hi Andreas. How are you doing?
I am fine. Much working hours every day. I am still a teacher, but I am also working with computers in the classroom. I try to develop programs for youngsters so that working with computers becomes a kind of gaming for them...

That is a lot of modern stuff in comparison with the sometimes archaic phrases you use in your lyrics…
Yes indeed, but that is not a contradiction to me. I work a lot with computers, also when I make music and record my albums.

First of all I want to say that I felt so sorry to hear that you had a severe accident in November 2014. How are you now? Did everything went well and did you recover in the end?
Not totally recovered. I have come to the kind of ‘end of the road’ when it comes to recovery and putting myself together again let us say. I am not going to be better than I am right now, but I can do my daytime job, I can do stuff with my family and I can record music. In the end it is fine. I will never be fully recovered. I have my ear damage, in the beginning I was deaf on one ear, but they did some surgery and they could fix it a bit. So I am hearing quite okay now on that ear as well. I try to cope with that. It is a bit of a hurt sometimes, but it is fine. Also I am getting used to it. I do not have any other option.

What surprised me: Before there was a cycle of three albums with nature elements. Is this a break from it or can we consider this album as the fourth of that cycle?
No, there is a kind of break in the cycle, but we are going to continue to do the fourth album as well. Initially we thought to do those four albums in a row, but then this idea came up and I thought: ‘Wow, this kind of sounds like the old stuff, the ‘Till Fjälls’ album. We had a lot of conversations about it. We were thinking: ‘what shall we do? Shall be put it out?’ But we just came to the conclusion that we had to follow our hearts, so we did this album and then we will do the fourth album of the four elements cycle. Later on.

Ah that is one thing we had to put straight: so the water theme is waiting for the future….
Yes indeed. I already have all the songs, we just have to record them. We don’t have to rush stuff, but I have a lot of songs for that album, so it will turn out well I guess.

This time there should be no scientific lyrical themes and music-wise it is also a bit more accessible I think. Do you agree with that?
Maybe. It is hard for me to tell from the inside. Every album is like: this is where we are at this point in time. But when I started to write songs for this album I felt like it was going to be a bit more straight forward, that is true. Not that time signature versus singing back and forth, I think we have done that on the three albums before this one as well, but there is even more a kind of folk oriented flavour. It is just a natural procedure. I don’t think too much when I write a song. I go by heart, I go by passion and see where it ends up. This time it ended right here and we were satisfied with it. We did not plan that much, we did not have a kind of masterplan like ‘okay, we have to do ‘Till Fjälls Del II’. It has to be very similar to the ‘Till Fjälls’ debut album. It just went in that direction. Not to copy the first one, but to make a continuation of the first one. We are nearly twenty years later, so it is a different thing, but with similar atmosphere. There is a kind of bond between the albums I guess.

Yes, also in the lyrics you sometimes refer to your first album, isn’t it?
The lyrics are very much a celebration of the beauty of nature, not that much about this scientific approach, but of course I always try to write interesting lyrics. A kind of analytic stuff. When you see nature and you see your surroundings and what’s going on, I totally feel the greatness of it but also that human beings are not really treating our mother earth so well. So all that kinds of stuff, but not any politics.

Indeed, you are surrounded with so much nature that it must be an ongoing source of inspiration for you…
Yes, it is so natural that I don’t really think about it. It is not only a source of inspiration, it is just there. It is my life and how I am. I have been growing up here, so I don’t really think about it much, but when I write lyrics it mostly turns out that way.

And the fourth song is about the mountains in all seasons. Is there a season you like the most?
(thinks) I don’t know. Here where I live the seasons are very clear. The summer is very sunny, the winter is very harsh. There is much distinction between the seasons where I live. When it is Autumn, you really see Autumn. I live in the North in Sweden, but when I go South in my own country, I see the seasons are a little bit more alike. Spring, Summer and Autumn kind of float into each other, so it seems. Of course the Winter is colder and sharper, but it is very hard for me to just pick one season as my favourite time of the year. I really love all of the four seasons and they all have their own identity and I really like them all. If the seasons all have a distinct character, it is clearer to see the evolution of nature around you. You feel the high clear air coming out and are closer to nature than when you are living in town.

Some things in nature – as you say in the seventh song ‘Tusenåriga Stråk’ – are really ancient. Are there archaeological sites or old places you ever visited that made a big impression on you?
I don’t have this list of ‘most wanted interesting place on earth’ and stuff like that. I am totally interested in the historical side of humanity, what people have gone through and done with their lives throughout history, so it is of course interesting to visit the historical places and I don’t mean just in my country. I have been travelling with the band and with my family, it is always nice to visit places with historical value. I don’t really have this just one spot. I have not been all over the world. I have not been in Asia, so I missed out a lot of stuff there I guess. That is one side of it. But also nature itself is kind of great when it comes down on historical places, when you see how it has been shaped by time and tide. So I try to find these small spots where ever I am, even in my own country or abroad. Sometimes it is just coincidence when you stumble upon something. One thing leads to another, you start to read more about it and end up with lots of information in the best case.

band image

I see that, in addition to Mattias Marklund, the bass player Simon is still with you…
Yes indeed. Simon is now a full member of the band. We came to the conclusion that we are going to have him every time we are going to record an album, so why not just have him as a member in the band? That’s nice. Now we are a trio. Three guys and we have this really nice chemistry, we know each other very well, it is local, so we have known each other for years…

Another thing we should mention is the return of female singer Cia, from Otyg and she also sang on ‘Till Fjälls’, the first album…
When we were going towards the end of the recording and we felt like: okay, this is going to be ‘Till Fjälls’ part two, and we were kind of closing the circle, we thought it would be nice to have her sing on one or two songs, just to make that link to the past. Her voice is really nice and adds something to the song, but also to close the circle as we were doing ‘Till Fjälls Del II’. It turned out really nice and well and we are all satisfied with her performance. It is a perfect way to end the album and that is kind of the last song on the album as well.

And the lyrics of the eighth track ‘Allt Mellan Himmel Och Jord’ should be very poetic, isn’t it?
Yes and I guess a lot of my lyrics are kind of poetic in a way. I write them more as poetry than as music lyrics. I really like my lyrics to stand for themselves, you have to read the lyrics and find their own identity. You should not need the music actually, but together they should form the perfect combination that I aim for. So I really spend a lot of time writing the lyrics. I am not just putting some words on the paper in a hurry, because I need some words somewhere (chuckles). Yes, I guess all lyrics have a kind of poetic approach.

Then we also have the EP with four songs as bonus, but these were songs you never released before, isn’t it?
Yes, correct. These are songs that I wrote kind of before Vintersorg was Vintersorg. The band before that, we did not do that much with the band, but we wrote a lot of songs. Some songs survived to the very first Vintersorg EP, but I had all the other songs on tapes – the good old tapes you know (laughs) – I think it was just by coincidence that I found one of those tapes somewhere. I checked it out and I liked the songs. It was never recorded professionally, it was just rehearsal stuff. What I did was trying to record them and showed the other guys in the band. They liked it, so we did record it. It was kind of lovely to have this material as a bonus on this album. We are returning a little bit to our roots with ‘Till Fjälls Del II’ and having those old songs as bonus EP makes sense. And I think the songs turned out great. I think they are a little bit harsher and rawer in a way. I am really happy that I just found that tape one day!

Weren’t you aware of its existence anymore?
Yes, but I have been moving around, making my family and things like that. So it’s been years ago and I was not really aware of it anymore. I thought those tapes were gone. I also wrote new lyrics, because I could not hear what I was singing (laughs) and some of the arrangements are changed, but the essence and the melodies have remained the same.

You have a new live line-up. Does it mean that you are planning to play some concerts?
We did one concert here in Sweden and at an indoor festival, House of Metal here in the wintertime. There were local bands, but also Anthrax was playing. It was a kind of new start. It was long ago that we played live – twelve years to be honest - so it was an international audience. I was kind of struggling during the gig with my ear damage, it was not easy to do, but I managed to do it. It was a nice way to understand my own abilities. Can I do this stuff? Shall I do it again? Probably. So we are talking about doing more shows, but we did not take any decisions yet.

What about the planned Otyg album? Is there still activity on that front?
(chuckles) Yeah I wrote the songs back in 2012 I think. So I have this kind of demo recordings of the songs, but so much other stuff was happening since then, so we have not really done anything with it. We should totally do it one day.

But in the meantime there has been a Borknagar album, ‘Winter Thrice’ in January 2016. What are the plans with Cronian?
Cronian is still alive. We have not done anything in a couple of years now, like three or four years. We have not quit the band or anything, but Cronian has always been that kind of band. It is just me and Oystein. Now and then we are making an album. Sometimes it takes two years, other times it is four years. We do it when we have the time and the ability to do it, there is no rush. Hopefully we can do something more in a not so far future.

And Waterclime? What are the plans?
(proud) That album is actually done! It took ten years (laughs). I started in 2007 and it was put on rest for a while due to activities with the other bands. It has not been priority, but I have a lot of memories on the songs. Maybe it will only come out digital, I don’t know yet.

This time the artwork was not done by Kris Verwimp, but by Marcelo Vasco. Is there a reason for that?
No. It was just more like taking a break from the four element cycle. For the fourth album I would totally like to work with Kris again. We are very satisfied about the three albums he did with us and hopefully we will return to work with him again. For this album we just wanted to do something differently, because it does not belong to the four cycle albums.

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