Wardruna - 30/12/2008

WARDRUNA, the project led by former GORGOROTH drummer Kvitrafn (who also played with SIGFADER, JOTUNSPOR and DEAD TO THIS WORLD), will release its debut album, "Runaljod - Gap Var Ginnunga", on January 19, 2009 via Indie Recordings. The idea of WARDRUNA began to take shape in 2002 as a project where founder and main man Einar Kvitrafn Selvik could work with a musical expression and instrumentation very different from what his involvements in various metal bands would allow. Naturally, it also became a place where his passion for and practice of Norse paganism and runes could be combined with music.

In the spring of 2007, the project started to attract attention after it was featured on the soundtrack of the widely publicized "True Norwegian Black Metal" documentary about Gaahl (TRELLDOM, GORGOROTH, etc.) by Peter Beste and Vice Films. Despite the fact that the band has not released any product or performed live, WARDRUNA has garnered a respectable and surprisingly diverse following.

Nearly six years in the making, WARDRUNA's long-awaited debut album is the first part of the planned "Runaljod" trilogy which will musically interpret the runes of the elder futhark. This highly visual music is hard to place into any specific genre, and there isn't really much to compare it with. The style can perhaps be described as a curious blend of folk, world and ambient music, but without being limited by the sometimes restricted scope of these genres.

"Runaljod - Gap Var Ginnunga" has a very profound and unique sound that consists of a wide array of instruments, some of which are rarely used. A few examples: deer hide frame drums, mouth harp, goat horns, lur, Hardanger fiddle and tagelharpe ("viking fiddle"). Sounds of more unorthodox ‘instruments’ like trees, stones and fire are also incorporated into the music, and it's all topped off with powerful vocal performances from no less than three vocalists.

The upcoming album entitled ‘Gap Var Ginnunga’ will be the first in the planned Runaljod trilogy that will interpret the runes of the elder futhark. The subsequent albums will be entitled ‘Yggdrasill’ and ‘Ragnarok’. Each album will feature eight runes, but not in accordance with the order of the three aettirs (families), which is most commonly used. ‘Gap Var Ginnunga’ will feature the following runes:

·      Hagal,

·      Bjarkan

·      Thurs

·      Jara

·      Laukr

·      Kauna

·      Algir

·      Dagr

The album was produced and engineered by Kvitrafn himself in his own Fimbulljóđ studio. Many of the recording sessions were executed outdoors at carefully selected locations with instruments or natural sounds that are relevant to the different runes.



It appears there is much to talk about and Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, founder of Wardruna was available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com


First of all, how are you? And congratulations on your new album ‘Gap Var Ginnunga’ which will be released in Europe next month, of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.


Kvitrafn: I am doing fine thank you. Things are a bit hectic these days but I guess that’s a good thing!


Wardruna was originally formed in 2002. What led to the creation of the band?

Kvitrafn: The idea of Wardruna began to take shape in 2002 as a result of me working more intensively with both runes, shamanism and shamanistic techniques.

I wanted to do something more in line with my own personal beliefs and heart and I felt that it was about time somebody dealt with these themes more on their own premises and with both hands and a more ritualistic approach. The first recording for the album was actually done early 2003 and Wardruna has since then slowly developed into the musical expression that I have been seeking.


What does Wardruna mean?

Kvitrafn: Wardruna can be translated into "guardian of secrets".


The music of Wardruna is based on interpreting the runes of the Elder Futhark. Why the desire to interpret runes? Is this a common way of dealing with runes?


Kvitrafn: No it's not very common to deal with the runes in this way, which I felt was also a good reason for pursueing this "need" I had. Sadly, knowledge on runes is a rarity in these parts so it's pretty much a DIY process taking on a project like this. Using these strong "charged" symbols the way I do, I have found them to be a very good tool to understand and shed light on many apects of the ancient nordic naturebeliefs and on the secrets of the runes themselves. This has been a huge passion of mine since I was very young. The more I work with these themes, the more profound the insights get.



Why were these particular 8 runes chosen for the first album? Is there a logic behind this choice?

Kvitrafn: The runes are divided in a pattern that serves the main purpose and concept of Wardruna and the whole Runaljod trilogy best - sowing new seeds and strengthening old roots in a cultural, musical and cultic context. They are definitely not chosen by coincidence. Apart from the runes themselves, this album is about creation and sowing a seed or starting something new.


You stated that the recording took place on locations that are relevant to the runes. Could you give an example?

Kvitrafn: Time (specific dates, season, time of day), location, elements/instruments are all things that have been thoroughly worked out in the conceptual work. For instance standing in a river when singing about "Laukr" (the water rune) or Playing on birchtrees on "Bjarkan" (meaning: Mother Earth, Birth, Birchtree) during spring time. Recording on winter solstice "Jara" and "Dagr" on summer solstice.


Could you elaborate more on the concept of seiđr and galdr, as they are probably unfamiliar to many people but central to the music of Wardruna?

Kvitrafn: They are both ancient Norse techniques of doing spells or incantations, even prayers etc. Seidr is most often refered to as an oracular technique but galders can also be of this nature as well as have many other forms. These days there are many theories on how and what seidr and galders used to be in ancient times. Many of them are very colourful and seem not very reliable. Sadly, the sources are sparse on details but they all include things normally ascribed to the ways of shamans and such. Maybe someday I will write about my own experiences and work with these things but not at this point.


What is the link between the 'magic' of  seiđr and galdr on the one hand, and the interpretation of the runes on the other hand? How do these relate to each other and why are they used (or perhaps even necessary) to interpret the runes?

Kvitrafn: This is a huge question that we could probably talk about for along time without getting close to a specific answer. The links are many as are the reasons for integrating these themes in the songs of runes (runaljod).

The runes are not only about the futhark signs. There is immensly much more to it than that. They are profound insights - hidden or secret which the word rune also translates into. The mythology also speaks on numerous occasions of the link between these things. My approach to this is of a shamanistic nature, as are the art of seidr and galdr as well as runes which then of course makes it only natural to integrate this in Wardruna.



Is the use of seiđr and galdr still active in Norway or has it become a more obscure artform?

Kvitrafn: It is still of the obscure sort I´m afraid.


I assume Lindy Fay Hella was familiar with the concept of seidr as she does the female vocals on the record. How did you get her involved and what does she normally do music-wise?

Kvitrafn: She was not familiar to the concept of seidr but to other similar techniques. I had known Lindy for many years and had wanted to work with Lindy for a while given her unique, fantastic voice. She liked my concept and was very enthusiastic when I proposed the idea of working together on this. She is a very experimental artist and has a broad spectre of genres and musicians she has worked with.


Yggdrasil and Ragnarok (the concepts, not the bands) are pretty well known throughout the metal community, but I think Gap var Ginnunga (or is it Ginnungagap?) which relates to the album title is not. Could you explain the concept in short?

Kvitrafn: Ginnungagap is the great holy gap in wich the world is created according to Norse mythology. It is where Odin transcended to or became at one with when he hung himself in Yggdrasil for nine whole nights, gaining the 9 great galders and the knowledge of the runes.


In what way are the three concepts of Yggdrasil, Ragnarok and Gap var Ginnunga related to each other as they form the Runaljóđ-trilogy?

Kvitrafn: I feel that they are good images and have a  symbolism that fits well with the Runaljod concept. "gap var Ginnunga" is the first album and the creation of the new seed. "Yggdrasil" is the second album and the growt and strengthening of the seed. "Ragnarok" is the third album and the transformation of the seed.


Will Yggdrasil and Ragnarok feature the same kind of music as Gap var Ginnunga in terms of ambient/folk/worldlike music, save for different runes?

Kvitrafn: There will certainly be difference and progression throughout the trilogy but they will all, to a certain degree, follow the same concept and instrumentation.


Will there be more music after the trilogy or is the work of Wardruna done after the 3rd album?

Kvitrafn: Most definitely! I have tons of thoughts and ideas that need to be done.



Is the music completely developed and rehearsed or is it more naturally conceived?

Kvitrafn: No, as I play most of the instruments myself that would be very difficult.

Most of the music is an envisioned idea and from then on it is, depending on how clear the idea is, about experimenting until I get the right energy. Some of the songs are more time consuming than others.


Are the recording-sessions carefully planned? As there are also 'forest-sounds' a careful planning seems difficult. Did that also influenced the long gap in time between the creation of the band and the first album?

Kvitrafn: Some of them are planned to a certain degree but mostly only to the extent of where, when and what do I need to bring. The biggest difference with a more conventional recording process is that this is much more time-consuming. All the outdoor recordings are of course less convenient and there are many obstacles that you normally don't have to think about, but basically the recordings are carried out just like a normal indoor recording. Micing up trees, stones etc. as well as regular instruments.

The main reason why it has taken so long is that it has taken a long time to get all the equipment and instruments I needed. It also took a long time to find the right way to do it. Having such a huge respect for the themes I am working with here I certainly did´nt want to push ahead without it feeling totally right.


You use many authentic musical instruments, are they still in use and being produced these days or are they hard to come by?

Kvitrafn: There are not many people using them. Some are more rare than others but luckily there are still a few people who make them.


Is the 'sowing new seeds, strengthening old roots' slogan interpretable as a means to let people once again enjoy the sound of old Norse music and culture?

Kvitrafn: The slogan has many different layers but the core of it is the importance of moving forward instead of backwards to create something new. Not forgetting our roots of course. A tree with no roots will surely fall.


Why did you choose Indie Recordings as your preferred label of choice?

Kvitrafn: The people at Indie are very professional and likeable and they understood the concept immediately. They had the same views as I did on how we should do this. I also naturally like the fact that they are based in Norway.


When can we expect 'Yggdrasil'?

Kvitrafn: I hope to have it finished by spring 2010. At the moment we are working on a live production so there is not much time for composing now. The first confirmed live show is a special feature at the next Inferno festival in april.


Thank you for the interview, the last words are yours.


Kvitrafn: Thank you! Please visit http://www.wardruna.com for music, info and news!

Til árs ok fridar!

-Einar Kvitrafn-



Members and Collaborators:

Kvitrafn (Einar Selvik) - Founder of Wardruna, writes all music and lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments

Lindy Fay Hella - Vocals

Gaahl – Vocals, Conceptual contributions

Hallvard Kleiveland - Hardanger fiddle


Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga (2009)