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Interview with Otyg (Mattias Marklund)

by Richard Stuart

You told me in a past email that you used to play in a Black/Death Metal type band called 'Blackburning Evening' with Vintersorg (vocals, guitars) and Stefan (drums). Why did you start playing Folk Metal, and how did you meet the other musicians which now make up Otyg?

We played some really technical and complicated music with BBE, kinda like Deicide´s second album "Legion" but with a little touch of black, and for some reason it didn´t feel right. There was this artificial touch to it, probably caused by an urge to make the songs faster and more complicated.
There are bands who can produce a genuine feeling though they play grim like hell, the point is that we couldn´t create that feeling with BBE and naturally the will behind the project slowly faded away into oblivion...
Towards the end of the BBE era Vintersorg formed a black metal band called Vargatron ("WolfThrone"). The lyrics where in our mother tounge and the music had that scandinavian-pagan-black feeling.
The step from Vargatron to Otyg isn´t a small one, but it´s smaller than it would be from BBE to Otyg. It would be a leap!
In the spring of '95 Vintersorg, Stefan (BBE & Vargatron drummer) and I formed Otyg. It came kinda natural when we "fooled" around with different riffs while rehearsing one night. None of us where total strangers to swedish folkmusic, and we instantly knew that this was our "thing".
The BBE basist wasn´t in on it, so first we had to find a basist. This was solved quickly 'cause we shared rehearsing studio with a death band called Obscured, and the frontman Daniel Fredriksson (a talanted and well-schooled musician) was introduced to the idea. He joined us instantly.
We also needed someone who could handle the violin, and Fredriksson mentioned a lady named Cia Hedmark whom he knew from music school. He asked her and she agreed to check it out. I personally thought that she would turn her toes around the second she saw and heard us, but I proved to be dead wrong. She was familiar to the darker sides of metal, and understood what we were doing and she joined. Lucky for us Cia also used to sing in different Jazz bands so we didn´t just get a violinist, we also got a competent female vocalist.
Vintersorg wrote tunes and lyrics and we recorded three demos with about 10 songs each. We got hooked with Napalm and here we are today.

What do 'Otyg' and 'Alvefard' actually mean?

"Otyg" is a collective name for all the dark creatures that dwells in the scandinavian folklore and "Älvefärd" would be something like - The journey of the elves - in english.

Was the band Storm an influence? There are definite similarites in terms of the 'Folk Metal' style you both play. (I happen to think Otyg are better though!!) Are you influenced more by Folk music or Metal?

Yes, one could say that Storm initially influenced us, but we have never had plans about making Storm part II. Personally I think that there´s a big difference between Otyg and Storm, the similarities lies within the fact that we play in the same genre; Folk Metal.
It´s probably because the genre in it self is so new and that it contains only a few bands that some people say that we sound like a copy of Storm. But if they listen a little bit closer they are bound to notice the vital difference.
I would say that our influences probably are little bit more of Metal than of Folk. The Metal will perhaps feel more present on our next album.

I like the front cover of the album. Can you tell me more about it? What's the significance of it?

It´s a painting by Thedore Kittelsen, a norweigan artist who was very much into the scandinavian folklore. In fact, all the artwork contained within Älvefärd is painted by him.
We felt that the picture of some elves (or faries, i don´t know the eng. name for it) harasing an old troll kinda fitted very well to the songs on 'Älvefärd'.
On our forthcomming releases we´ll surely use more of T. Kittelsens amazing work.

Have you ever played live?

Yeah, we´ve had some gigs but not as many as we´d like. This summer we lost two festival gigs due to the naziphobia that infests our country. It´s really stupid because we are a NON-political band. Surely we, as individuals, have political opinions but we keep them to ourselves.
Any swedish band that have the slightest "viking" sound undertakes a risk of being marked as blood thirsty Nazis, and to be boycotted from CD stores, gigs, etc.
And they say it´s a free country, where poeple can have opinions about anything they want. It´s sick!
Otyg sounds a little different live than on 'Älvefärd', it´s more metal to it. Live, we have a line-up that consist of; 2 guitars, bas, drums and violin. Fredriksson (bas) also adds background vocals, naturally Cia (violin) also sing live when she doesn´t play violin. The flutes are excluded, because it aint really that much flutes in our songs and it would be a crowded stage to have flute live.
The 14th of nov we have a gig in Stockholm. Check it out!

What would be your 'Desert Island Discs' (i.e. 10 favourite albums?)

1. Danzig I-IV (in no perticular order .... )
5. Vintersorg - Till Fjälls
6. Bewitched - Pentagram Prayer
7. Ulver - Bergtatt
8. Covenant - Nexus Polaris
9. Hedningarna - Trä (swedish folkmusic)
10. Danzig V

What do you think of religion? For instance, do you (the band) consider yourselves Heathens, Pagans, atheists, agnostics etc? Do you think musicians should 'preach' about their personal beliefs?

To make it easy I would say that Otyg are, as a band, Folkloristic-Antichristian-Heathens, and we (at least try to) create that atmosphere with our music.
I don´t have a problem with bands preaching their beliefs. In fact I think that it´s important that bands have something to say, wheter it´s of an religious state or political state. I have a choice as a listener not to buy christian music or bands whos beliefs I loath. No one can force me to listen to shit I don´t like. And as long as we have that liberty muscicians can preach about anything they want.

When is the next album due, and how will it differ to the debut?

We are aiming at recording it in late November or early December. If everything goes according to our plans, it´ll be out in January or February '99.
Our new songs have more work put behind them and there might be more metal feeling in them. We still have about the same amount of swedish folkmusic influence, so you´re still gonna hear that it´s Otyg. Vintersorg´s vocals will probably be even better, becuase when we recorded 'Älvefärd' he suffered from a strange throat sickness.
The album will be called 'Trollslottet' which would be something like - The Troll Castle - in english.

Would you consider having English translations of your lyrics in the CD booklet with your next release?

No. It would be nearly impossible to have them translated becuase many of the words Vintersorg use in our lyrics doesn´t have a word similar to it in English. Even some swedes, especially those who are urbanized, can´t understand our lyrics.
We´ll never translate our lyrics, but perhaps there´ll be some short explanation of what the songs are about.

How popular would you ideally like the band to become? Do you think your style of Folk Metal has the potential to appeal to a wider audience than 'just' the underground Metal scene?

We´re perfectly satisfied with our 'popularity' as it is but I wont deny that it would be allright if we sold more albums. But I don´t think that you ever gonna hear much of Otyg when you turn on the radio or switch on your TV. Allthough we have some ballads, we´re not a commercial band.
I think that Folk Metal can appeal to wider audince than Black Metal or Death Metal because it´s not as extreme in the beat and in the vocal parts. People who listens to Rock can easily appreciate Folk Metal, because it´s not so complicated and not so difficult to get a grip on.
But I don´t think (and hope not) that Folk Metal can reach beyond Rock, it´s just to primitive.

Any final comments?

Yes, I´m sorry to say that our drummer, Stefan Strömberg, have left Otyg. We have rehearsed with a new drummer, Fredrik Nilsson, and it seems to work just fine.

Tracks Of Creation May / June 1998
Copyright ©1998 Borcek
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