Kvaen is a one man band hailing from Sweden, with a musical style that mixes Black Metal with Pagan vibes and Speed Metal. So you can expect their sound to be dark, intense, fast… totally relentless. Their previous album, “The Funeral Pyre”, was released in February 2020, and it was impressive, a great display of talent for a debut. Kvaen is going to release their second full-length album, “The Great Below”, on March 25th this year, via Black Lion Records. The man behind the band is Jakob Björnfot, and he kindly agreed to answer some questions for Blessed Altar Zine.
Hi Jakob, thank you for taking your time to answer this interview. Now that your new album will be released very soon, you must be excited about it… Are you totally satisfied with the result?
Jakob: Thanks for having me! I am very satisfied with the results, it took a while to get everything the way I wanted it in terms of sound, mix and master. However, we nailed it in the end.
As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, besides lyricist and songwriter… wow, you do almost all the work in your albums! How do you start with the whole thing? Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Jakob: I often start by writing some drum patterns in my DAW (Digital audio workstation) by using a drum machine. That’s how I start unless I already have riffs composed in my mind.
When I listen to your music, the words that come to my mind to define it are “wild” and “overwhelming”. Mostly because of those insane earworm riffs… Who is your biggest influence as a guitar player?
Jakob: When I started to get really serious about guitar playing my biggest inspirations were Shawn Lane, John Norum, Paul Gilbert, David Gilmour, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag to name a few. Now I have sooo many that I look up to. Some are even my friends nowadays which is weird but kinda cool!
Which themes do inspire you when you write your lyrics?
Jakob: I don’t think in terms of themes when I write lyrics, I write whatever comes to mind. Same goes with guitar solos, I don’t think in terms of scales or modes.
You had great guest musicians in your previous album, “The Funeral Pyre”: Sebastian Ramstedt, Perra Karlsson, Pierre Törnkvist, to name a few. Who have you recruited for “The Great Below”? It was easy that these artists said “yes” to collaborate with you?
Jakob: The guests on this album: Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Arch Enemy), Mike Wead (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Bibleblack), Sebastian “Batte” Ramstedt (Necrophobic), Angus Norder (Witchery, Nekrokraft), Nephente (Netherbird) and Vreth (Finntroll). Yes, it was very easy! All of them said yes almost right away!
The cover art of “The Great Below” is a fantastic painting done by Niklas Webjörn. It was you who had the idea of it, or the artist painted it freely?
Jakob: It was my vision but I couldn’t be more satisfied! Of course he had some ideas as well but the main vision was mine.
What’s the meaning of “Kvaen” and how did you choose this name for your band?
Jakob: “KVAEN” or Kvän is inspired from the people that lived here in the north of Sweden. They’re called Kväner. I suggest you go and read about them, very fascinating to say the least.
Do you dedicate a lot of hours a day to play your instruments and exercise your vocals?
Jakob: Guitar – yes!
Vocals – nope! I barely practice growl vocals anymore. I have found a style that works for me and I am not too interested in becoming a master of growling! Haha..
Is there any band of which you declare yourself a big fan?
Jakob: Too many to mention! But one band I really love is Pink Floyd.
Which bands or kind of music were you listening to as a teenager? Do you think that it helped to define your musical personality?
Jakob: Everything from blues, country to black metal. CCR to Bathory and beyond. And yes, it did. I got into black metal at the age of 14 but I had my main background in hard rock and more blues based riffing bands. I got introduced to the best by listening to stuff like Chuck Berry, Lou Reed and Creedence. I also think that’s the way to go: start from the very beginning and work yourself up, I think you’re gonna win more by doing that.
When did you realize that you wanted to do your own music? And how did you start?
Jakob: Since day one, I think. I have always walked my own path. I started writing riffs the first day I got my electric guitar but I focused mainly on writing lyrics. That seems like an eternity ago.
Any musical “guilty pleasure” that you can confess?
Jakob: Not really, good music is good music no matter what.
How important is Metal music in your everyday life?
Jakob: Well, I need metal (or hard rock) in my life in order to work. Even if I get tired of listening to it I still love playing it.
How do you see the Metal scene in Sweden nowadays? And how do you see Metal music’s health nowadays in general?
Jakob: The scene is quite strong with a lot of upcoming bands all the time! A lot of younger kids are also taking place on stages all around the country which is always fun to see new and fresh talent!
I think it’s the same there, quite strong.
Many thanks for your answers, Jakob, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jakob: Cheers and thank you! Be sure to pick up your copy of “The Great Below” today.
Interview by Sílvia
Check out the video for the song “The Great Below” and be prepared, for the new Kvaen album is coming on March 25th!
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