2019 had a very strong start when it comes to metal, with many promising new bands debuting in the early, frigid days of this year. One of my favorite projects that I got to discover is definitely Kaleikr, an extreme metal band from Iceland. Their debut came out in February on Debemur Morti and it’s an album no one should sleep on. I also reviewed it and you can check my thoughts on it here. Now I am happy to present you an interview with the band, the gives a bit of insight about their identity, about their new release and about their future. Enjoy!
Hello! I want to thank you that you agreed to answer a few questions for Blessed Altar Zine. Could you please introduce yourselves and your respective roles in the band?
My name is Kjartan and I play the drums in Kaleikr alongside guitarist and vocalist Maximilian.
Do you two have any sort of studies in music?
I personally don’t really have any experience with music studies and always describe myself as self-taught. Maximilian is currently in jazz school furthering his music theory.
How did Kaleikr come into existence? What is the idea behind the band?
So back in 2016, we set out to create something we felt was closer to our musical vision. Prior to that, we had been in a black metal band called Draugsól and in addition to some personal differences we put Draugsól behind us and formed what is now Kaleikr.
What does Kaleikr mean and why did you choose this name?
Kaleikr is the Icelandic word for chalice and we felt it would make a great name for a band as our idea is that the chalice takes the form of whatever you pour into it. It’s a vessel.
Your sound is complex and it’s clearly a mixture of different sub-genres. How did you create it? Also, if you were to describe your sound, how would you do it?
We try not to label our music too much or define it as that creates the inevitable box around your musical style and we really don’t want that. Having said that there are some obvious influences present on the album but it’s really just a melting pot of what we have listened to and loved in music up to this point. We love progressive rock and other various types of music and have strong roots in black metal and death metal.
Heart of Lead is an outstanding debut. Could you tell us a bit about the title of the album and the theme you chose?
Heart of Lead is about profound emotional pain. It’s a portrayal of sadness, despair, and mental fatigue. The title is a reflection of this pain, describing that seemingly unbearable feeling when your heart sinks into your chest from despair.
When you decided you wanted to start writing music for this record, did you set out to write about that subject or you came up with it along the way?
It kind of came naturally through the music writing process. We create the music first and write lyrics and themes from what we feel both from the music and writing process.
This release is not just a handful of songs tossed in. It’s an entire journey and this is not something that just happens without putting some thought into it. Could you please describe your creative process?
We did demos for a few songs in the beginning where we jammed riffs and ideas together. This was also done to find a certain initial sound and served as a structural basis for the whole album. After the demo process, Maximilian would come up with whole song structures on his own and write everything down. I’d then take each song and add drums and percussion to that. If something didn’t fit we changed it. This process took probably around a year of back n forth. Lyrics would then be added later on after the songs where complete.
The album is not extremely long, but it’s not an easy one to digest. It has an evident emotional weight to it and listening to it multiple times in a row is not a simple task. Why did you choose to make it this way?
It’s funny you say that because we have described this feeling ourselves before where we can’t really go back to the album twice in a row unless with a break in between. It has an emotional heft to it. We didn’t really set out to create an album that’s very hard to digest multiple times in a row [laughs]. It kind of came naturally through the process. We are dealing with heavy subject matters and the music itself is very emotional as we are emotional people.
It may be a bit too early to think about this, but what direction do you have in mind for new music? Do you wish to build on the ideas we saw in the album or do you plan on taking a whole different path?
We have already started experimenting with new material and it definitely has a unique sound to it. We will always strive to create something straight from our hearts and as we keep evolving as human beings our music will too. But we also have strong roots in certain sound styles so that will probably always be there in some form.
Your debut came out on a fairly big label. How did you manage to get signed to Debemur Morti Productions so early in your career?
We were extremely lucky to have good people around us and our album producer/engineer Stephen Lockhart had connections within the label basically. We saw the label as someone who really understands our vision and we felt right at home with them. We are very grateful to Debemur Morti for picking us up and believing in us.
After a strong start, what does the rest of 2019 hold for Kaleikr? Do you have plan on touring?
We have started preparing our live act and it’s going very well. We will be performing our first show of the year in june during Ascension Festival in Iceland. We are currently looking into possibilities of more shows and possible tours to support the album but nothing locked in place yet.
Thank you again for answering a few questions for us and I wish you a great year! Any closing words?
We are humbled and very grateful for the success the album has proven to be and please keep a lookout for more Kaleikr in 2019! Thanks for the interview!
Interviewer: Metal Gentleman
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