Okkultokrati interviewed: Black reign
After having received and listened to their black demo tape and later on their first “proper” release, the vinyl 7” EP Knarkskog (Swedish/Norwegian for «Dope Forest»), my expectations to Oslo based quartet Okkultokrati were in the skies. Listening to commercial radio all day in the car or at the office, Okkultokrati’s music has an almost cleansing effect on your body and mind – they represent the other side of the Norwegian music scene, the flipside of the coin. On the Norwegian Constitution Day, the 17th of May, the band released their debut album on the eminent Fysisk Format label. At the same time, the guys have started a label of their own, specializing on the cassette format.
Okkultokrati’s guitar player is Pål Bredrup, and through heavy e-mailing we got to the core of their music.
It’s not long ago I first got a hold of your demo tape, then your 7”, and now you are releasing your debut album, No Light for Mass – are you guys a disciplined bunch when it comes to writing songs and recording?
Black Race, aka Notodden’s Lost Son, is unstoppable on writing songs. We do have bad periods, and we do have good ones, but we never dry out.
Where did you record No Light for Mass?
We recorded the album at Caliban Studios with Ruben Willem (Haust) as our technician. We recorded the whole thing in 24 hours.
What kind of feedback have you gotten on your 7”?
Well, we got good response at Aversionline. I don’t know what people in general think, but I don’t think they hate the thing. I think people’s opinions will come into the light when our album’s released, when there’s more meat to the bone and shoe polish in the arm pits.
Okkultokrati got signed pretty fast...
Lilla Himmel and Fysisk Format knows the music scene. I think Fysisk Format is the best record label in Norway, and Lilla Himmel is with us on the vinyl version release. We know the guys at Fysisk Format well, to say the least, and we’re pretty jolly, but it never went withough saying that our next release would be on Fysisk Format.
Fysisk Format was originally pretty hardcore oriented, but they’re starting to get diverse acts, now, like Nils Bech.
Some of Norway’s best bands are signed to Fysisk Format, and we treasure the company. The Nils Bech album is OK. The world certainly needs more auteurs.
A while ago you got a new bass player, Boris. Has this brought along any nice surprises?
More English, more groove. A great guy and musician. No hard feelings towards Virgintaker [the band’s first bass player, -journ.] and his next of kin.
Yeah, because of Boris we all talk more English.
You have plans of touring in the near future?
We sure hope to do that. Norway disappoints, so we hope for Europe. We’ll be ready to play as soon as I finish my exams in the end of May. We’ll be ready to play selected venues in Norway.
People just can’t seem to pin Okkultokrati to a certain genre. Punk, crust, black metal, True Norwegian Metaphysical Black’n’roll. Big words about something that’s pure and raw in the first place, or what? Or are there more to your lyrics than one can make out by just listening to your songs?
Well, yeah, we live and learn off each other, but we fill our own forms. No birds dress in abandoned feathers, and no worms crawl into cast-off skins. Standing alone, you get a new creative universe. You should definitively buy the 7” and read the lyrics if you want to penetrate our astral minds. Okkultokrati is hard, heavy and fast, all at once. We’re too heavy for the punks and too little conservative for the metal heads. Unfortunately, punks and metal heads are too narrow-minded. The music scene in Norway is a sad place.
Not that sad, is it?
The music scene is great and lousy at the same time. I rarely go to concerts. I think it has to do with the fact that you start to know the people in the scene, and the magic in not knowing too much about your new favorite band kinda disappears. I like to fantasize about how things are connected. When things get too real, they also get boring. If you can name cool bands for me, be my guest. I have yet to discover really cool bands, well, apart from Drugged SS, that is.
If you’re in constant opposition to everything, how do you relate to the punk scene and the metal scene, for instance?
Our relationship to the outer world is really simple: We play, record and release material, and that’s that. If you enjoy it, you can become a part of it, and if you think we’re way off, you can go and see Kvelertak. We never wanted black metal fans, although Lars Sørbekk of Vomit at times is our biggest fan.
Changing the subject: A friend of mine thought the sleeve for the limited edition of the Knarkskog EP was the best sleeve he had ever laid eyes upon: corpse paint and Selbu mittens.
We had the vinyl, but not the sleeve when we were on our way to play at this necro party in Telemark. So we hand-made thirty copies we sold there, and we felt the picture kinda fitted the release. Virgintaker took the picture, by the way. The Selbu mittens and the grocery shop in the background is a representative cross-section of Norwegian metal.
Where are you based anyway, Oslo or Notodden? I noticed the etching on the Knarkskog vinyl, Telemarken 4 ever..?
We’re based in Oslo. Telemarken 4 ever is just Black Race’s reminder that he’ll one day return to the county where he was born and raised.
I saw some photos from a concert you played in a barn or something, was that the infamous black metal artist Ildjarn I saw at one of those photos?
We played at Ildjarn’s necro stage in the woods outside Akkerhaugen. We didn’t really talk much, he’s a reserved kind of guy, but he drank beer for the first time in a long, long while, and he was happy.
What can you tell me about your own label, Ormeyngel? Do you have a fixed release schedule?
We take an active part in our own releases, even when other labels have their say. We want to use Ormeyngel to present music by bands that doesn’t necessary live here in Oslo. Drugged SS are the only ones so far that have proved themselves worthy, but we happily receive tips about black uncompromise punk from the outskirts. Drugged SS made contact and sent over some songs. We really liked it and told them to send over what ever else they got. Ormeyngel will, in general, release albums on cassette.
The artist Sebastian Rusten has given Okkultokrati a very distinct visual language, so to speak. Is he going to join the team for releases on Ormeyngel too?
Black Quisling made the Drugged SS cover art this time around, but we don’t exclude chances of Rusten making cover art for bands other than Okkultokrati, it’s up to the man himself. We hope to be able to use his services for a long time, I don’t see a reason for anything else.
You play in both Okkultokrati and Haust. You see any upcoming concerns in where to put your energy and focus, both bands with releases just around the corner?
Pål, aka Black Race aka Black Clad Figure, wants to create ugly rock. If it’s with Haust or with Okkultokrati doesn’t really matter.
Ormeyngel is now up and running. The Drugged SS tape (I hate what you think about my life) is ready for order, so is Nekropsalms by the Kolbotn-based death metallers in Obliteration — an album praised here on Nö Music. Ormeyngel will also, according to plan, release Haust’s new album, Powers of Horror, in due time. Who the fuck said cassettes were dead? And also: A great display of encouraging decentralization of the Norwegian music scene, Drugged SS being form Setesdal.