Interview: Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg (Ulver)

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HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: November 2011. We had the huge luck and honour to talk with one of the greatest modern musicians: Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg of Ulver. Kristoffer is always more focused in creating music that doing public relations, so this interview he gave to us, is even more important for us. Ulver’s latest masterpiece is “Wars of The Roses”. Read below the very interesting things he told us few days before their Athens show in 26th November @ Fuzz Club:


Every Ulver album is different from the previous but you have never created a bad album. You are always evolving in different ways and sounds. What drives you to keep going, every time in a different path, always challenging the unknown?

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(Laughs) That’s quite a few questions in one. The sentence “you haven’t done a bad album”, is your words, not mine. What I think, is the challenge to change and make different things. To reach some very distant things, looking for new sounds. But ofcourse, it’s very enjoyable to create new music.


Ulver exist since almost 1993 and have 8 full length Studio albums and many many more EPs and side releases. Now it’s 2011 and you are still here, making awesome music.  Where do you see Ulver’s future?

It’s difficult to say which are the new things we will do. Our music and art is heading now out to the people as we tour, so that is our main focus. We will release an album with old covers and will do a show in Roadburn Festival in April next year, so this is what our near future is about.


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Was it a difficult effort to create “Wars of the Roses” album? You’re always trying to find new ideas, not to do the same things..

It’s always, I can’t say “difficult” you know.. These are your words that “you’re not doing the same things”. We are always trying to create new sounds.  I was much surprised to read some of the negative remarks that were made about “Wars of The Roses” ,that it was our first album that we didn’t do anything new.


(I interrupted him) No,no. I don’t think so.

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You didn’t, but some people did it. It was a strange way to sum it up, so it should have never been a balance.


You know some reviewers write reviews without having listened to the album.

I guess it’s very difficult and stressful to be a journalist, you have thousands things to do. You know what I mean. Unfortunately, we live in a very superficial world, especially with the Internet. You know, it’s very easy to throw out something, to spread a fire and things like that, the one website copies the other and everybody knows it the other day. I think it has good things and some negatives, everybody consider it great and I think it’s important, yeah. Some negative comments makes you think “Oh, what did it happen?” but I’m fine and I’m finding that a bit surprising that some people find “Was Of The Roses” as something a bit difficult. Ofcourse, some negative things help you more than if there were only people saying good things. That would mean that your music is always the same.


Is there any  specific concept behind “Wars of The Roses”  music and lyrics?

There are themes that I’m considering are all around us, not something special, just times and places historically placed, themes on songs that are like postcards in everyone’s lives. So, these are the themes in “Wars of The Roses”.


Is The Doors’ “An American Prayer” an influence for “Stone Angels” song?

Of course, I can’t say this. I love The Doors, but I can’t say “Stone Angels” sounds like The Doors. It ‘s something like poem, an audio book, not something like The Doors.


You toured for “Wars of The Roses” last spring. Are you satisfied from how the new songs behave in a live environment?

You don’t know. Some days you have a good gig, some other days you are not necessarily as good as some other days. There are so many things, so many lives, so many factors, a few other things, like how was our sound. You are living, you are traveling, there are so many things. You play 1,2,3 songs one day and you play the same songs the other day and they aren’t the same. These are some things that I have problems into a non-controllable environment.


Ulver two years ago, took the great decision to start playing live shows. How difficult was this decision? Were you afraid that some fans couldn’t understand where Ulver stand musically nowadays?

I think this is one among many other things. When we first started, when we decided to do gigs -to go on the road specifically- we faced that with some horror and ambivalent desire, the concert argument and it was a great thing, a very great experience, so we had to play quite a few more concerts. So, it was something like a good evil, you had to play them.


You will release a DVD very soon from your concert at the Norwegian National Opera. Did you feel uncomfortable playing there?

No, why I should be? What do you mean? I didn’t get the point.


It’s quite uncommon for the Greek standards a rock/metal band to play in The National Opera.

We aren’t a metal band. We used to be a metal band many years ago. For some reason, I find it quite uncomfortably to play metal now. Because many people did want to see us many years ago. This is a strange situation to deal because obviously we want to produce new things and some people are expecting us to return to old metal something, that it isn’t our place, our purpose, some different willings about our element where we are now. I’m the only member in the band from the old band, and I was quite young then. That’s only the same, all the others thing have changed.


Ulver will play next April in 1967 edition of Roadburn Festival. Do you feel anxious about that show? What exactly is the concept of 1967? I don’t understand.. Will you play any cover to “Interstellar Overdrive” (Pink Floyd’s song from “The Piper At The Gates Of Down” ?

Well, I can’t say what it’s all about.  I think this show will be a surprise, otherwise I will do spoilering.


I just don’t know the concept of that appearance. What is 1967 about. I mean will you play old psychedelic songs?

It might be (laughs). You have to keep guessing.
Which are the latest news from the Jester Records? Any new “tricks” ?

Nooo. Sadly, not. I’m so busy. I’ m just trying to survive and doing my own band, with that kind of logistics, being in a live band ofcourse, so I don’t have time to work with others. To put out their albums, to distribute them, to try to promote them, as albums don’t sell now, so it’s pretty much.. over for now.


Is it possible a new Head Control System album in the near future?

Not in the near future, but it’s not impossible.


Do your feelings (happiness,anger etc) reflect in your music or you travel in a different “mode” while writing music?

Good question. I think that on a personal level I’m definitely more colourful than our music. Some of our music is quiet. The things you live affect your feelings. I’m more colourful than others think.


I know you’re a big Scott Walker fan, like me. You have something in common: Both of you left a standard career in music, to do something a lot more experimental and adventurous. Do you agree with this opinion?

(Laughs) Certainly, I might not be compared with Scott Walker, so I take that as a compliment.


Yes, I did it.

I think to do what Scott did, you have to own a lot of “balls”, but I think it was for him very actual, I don’t think he did calculated things.


Yes, but for his fans it was a shock. He was in Walker Brothers and then we did albums like “Tilt” and “The Drift”.

Yes, but there are many routes, many avenues to take. I think some people try to search their own truth, no matter how far this truth will go them. While some other people are holed up in collective illusions or play games with something that works for other means. To do something you don’t feel, trying to simulate something because it pays your bills what you really want to do.


With who would you like to work with and never had the chance to do so? Except Scott Walker!

There are many people I’d like to work with. I just didn’t have some opportunities to work with some people that I admire. To work on some other things. Generally, I’m happy to be surrounded by really gifted musicians. It’s quite funny to work with some people that you really admire and we can kind of scratch out an invitation or to hit you the bell. It may be a privilege to be on. That is something fucking weird for me.


You have worked in many –successful- bands and worked with many musicians and in different musical styles. Do you feel satisfied as a person after all these projects?

I’m never satisfied with anything. In general level, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” as Rolling Stones say. There is an uncertain wide of achievement. But there is also an ambivalent thing when you say “Why I didn’t that good?” “I think this sucks”  and all that. I can say, I’m quite happy with some certain things I’ve done.


What music are you listening to this period?

I don’t hear any particular thing this period. Actually, I had some weeks ago , Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))) here and we were listening to old stuff, many things, Dr. John, anything, mostly anything.


What memories do you have from Athens show?

It was actually really great. We were surprised to see all these people who came for us.It was like playing a free concert with so many fans. I think now this might be an expensive treat for you. My memories from Athens are really good, we spent a couple of days, we tasted great foods, we went out. I don’t have anything bad to remember from Athens.


A huge “THANK YOU” to Kristoffer Rygg.


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