Around the end of last year (November 4, 2014, to be exact) Valhall drop a tape, called “Leaning on Shadows”. What a relief it has been to finally have the opportunity to listen to such a symphonious miracle…
It is more than we could have hoped for, and I would expect nothing less from the #Neo-Folk #Bloodwave Viking Witch Collective V▲LH▲LL. None of the instruments try to out do the others. From tiny twinkling chimes, which are encapsulated by the throbbing gargle of synths & bass on the verge of blowing. The scope is epic, but can be focused on its own certain perfect subtleties. It leaves a very minimal feel, but pay close attention as not to miss the intricacy laid before you.
The dynamics are easy to recognize in each part, it makes for a perfect listen each time around.There is an absolute absence of monotony with this release from these two secretive, powerful dark electronic Neo-Folk conjurers. The album offers such a variety, because it doesn’t try and do too much. The realms introduced with each track can range from the sounds of an undead marching band, to Hansel & Gredle running for their lives all the while the witchy narration beckons and warns danger is most certainly lurking just around ever pine and shrub – sometimes we do find ourself riding along a river with foggy figures stalking us as we venture further down the V▲LH▲LL path..
NN: Its great to have some new material from you guys, can we expect more in the near future ?
V▲LH▲LL : Thank you. We are very happy with the album and the welcome it received. We also have a very supportive label in Artoffact Records. We will follow it up with a remix release but we can’t really say anything about in what form it will come yet. It’s still in development. We’ve also started working on new tracks for our next V▲LH▲LL album and there will be something dropping on a compilation soon.
NN: What story is the latest album supposedly to tell ?
V▲LH▲LL : We write each song as a short story or the soundtrack for a mental image. Our inspiration is often mythology, theology and above all duality. Good and Evil. Gods and Mankind. Male and Female. Transience and Agelessness. In particular we are interested in Norse mythology (Valhalla translating into V▲LH▲LL in Swedish might be a giveaway there) and many songs are set in a folk tale/legend/Viking environment.
NN: I was really excited by the teaser trailer last October, for this album, I was hoping there would be some more visuals releasing as well to compliment the album – Might that be a reality ?
V▲LH▲LL : That will definitely come. We are working a lot with visuals which we incorporate in our live shows. The videos we’ve released for our tracks so far have all started out as our concert background projections. We have some ideas we want to try and we’ve also been in contact with some video artists that does amazing stuff. We’ll see where it leads.
V▲LH▲LL : Really cool! It was at the Kuudes Aisti Festival, in Helsinki. We saw a lot of great concerts that weekend. We went to see all those shows of course and hell those people know what they are doing. Light Asylum is one of our absolute favorite bands and they sure know how to capture an audience. Probably sharing the bill with those people was one of the reasons why that was one of our best gigs so far. We had a quite a big audience, really professional sound and video technicians (projecting our visuals on 18 (!) screens behind the stage) and we got so much love from everyone during the show and afterwards.
NN: To be witness to your Neo-Folk influence, which has become such a staple on your music – is quite sensational. It works so well, especially in dark electronic setting – where is there style derived ?
V▲LH▲LL : We listen to a lot of different music genres as anyone with a genuine interest in music should, and neo-folk is a style that really can capture your interest and awake your imagination. We felt there was a natural connection between the theme (and sound) of our music and folk/neo-folk and wanted to see if we could incorporate it into our thing. Hearing some noisy electronic sounds in neo-folk isn’t that unusual so we thought we should put some elements of neo-folk into our noisy electronics. We love experimenting with sounds. Our productions often start with finding an interesting sound that naturally transforms into a song. We had songs on the album that had acoustic guitar as foundation as well as just violins or some random noise loop or an analog synth bass line.
(M▲D0NN▲ – “FR0Z≡N”, Ice Covers The Landscapes Of Our Souls Mix by V▲LH▲LL)
NN: Just a little bit ago you were a feature guest on Textbeak’s radio show, how was the experience, what can you tell us about your song choices, what sort of story are you trying to tell, in comparison to any other(s) you have told as a duo or are telling currently ?
V▲LH▲LL : Yes it was great being able to do the Textbeak guest mix. We put some time and effort into our mix and wanted to do something more than just playing a bunch of favorite songs. The mix ended up packed with our own edits of tracks. Almost every song had layers added to them or was mashed up or altered in some way. We even made some new remixes just for that. This was our second guest mix ever and the first one touched on the same idea, but we didn’t mess with the tracks in it. We made electronic passages between the tracks instead. So what we really wanted this time was to put our signature on everything we played. We wanted it to flow naturally and it’s a more or less seamless mix. We also did an intro that we are going to develop and keep as an intro for future mixes as well. As for the choices of songs we blend genres a lot but tried to keep it organic in its progression. We didn’t want people to go “What’s this? This doesn’t fit in here!” but rather “Whoa cool! I wasn’t expecting that.” It was a great experience and we had a lot of fun working with it.
NN: Why remain shrouded in the shadows, keeping your identities while your music illustrates how luminescent you both are?
V▲LH▲LL : Oh thanks! …and you actually kind of answered this yourself. We want the music to speak for itself. With our songs telling tales and painting images of strange lands and beings we feel no need to put a light on our personas. Let us be a part of the mystery. As long as we are just V▲LH▲LL we can put on any mask and become anything we feel like. Everything we say or do will be just as real, or unreal, however you want to look at it.
NN: We recently spoke with a pal of yours who goes, by ViatataiV, whom said he has a remix of one of your tracks dropping soon – How far do you all go back ?
V▲LH▲LL : We have a lot of contact with people within the witchhouse/post-witch-whatever community as well as outside of that and collaborations and remixes has been a huge part of the appeal of this “genre” from the start for us. Friendly open minded people with a love for dark electronics seemed to come from everywhere to hang out in the shadow of the witchhouse umbrella. We’ve made real friends with some and have huge artistic respect for many of those people. We started this interview by touching on the subject of our upcoming remix release and ViatataiV is one of the people we got to know, through soundcloud if we remember correctly, when we started asking some people if they were up for remixing something from our last album. We had some great remixes sent to us and a few (M‡яc▲ll▲s, Trip Cults and a couple of other) can be streamed on soundcloud already.
NN: Can we expect any tour dates this year ?
V▲LH▲LL : We do not have proper tour planned. We will however play concerts as often as possible. We are going to Moscow and we are discussing terms with promoters for some other shows in other countries as well. We can’t wait to play the songs from the album live. We always work a lot with our show and aim to make it as much of an experience as possible for the audience. We play a lot of live synthesizers and other stuff live and have video projections for our songs to make it a visual experience as well. Of course we also do live vocals and try to give as much of ourselves as we can to the audience. Sometimes we also summon ill willed demons and spirits that feast on the souls of the crowd, but we aren’t really allowed to talk about that part of the deal.
NN: Anything you would like to say to your fans ?
V▲LH▲LL : Well let’s finish this as we often do. We want to thank everyone who supports us in whatever way you do it. You are all amazing. Secondly you should buy our album if you haven’t already. There is a limited edition set containing a cassette with two exclusive tracks (15 min long. One on each side) which is what you should play if you ever feel like making a deal with those demons we mentioned. There are a few copies left of that set so get it over at stormingthebase.com before it’s lost forever, like tears in rain. Third and perhaps most importantly demand that your local promoter/event/club/festival book us. You have our permission to scream, yell and make threats.
We really hope to see you all at a V▲LH▲LL show in 2015!
TOWERS FALL taken from the V▲LH▲LL debut LP “Leaning on Shadows” out on Artoffact Records November 4th 2014 as digital download or CD. Also available as very limited fan pack with CD+cassette and large size patch.
Order fan pack here: www.stormingthebase.com/v-lh-ll-leani…bigram-patch/
Order regular CD here: www.stormingthebase.com/v-lh-ll-leani…n-shadows-cd/
Get the Digital album on Bandcamp here:vlhll.bandcamp.com/album/leaning-on-shadows