Gaahl Hates Your Sweatpants
The Former Gorgoroth Front Man Yaps Fashion and Boyfriends
Photos by Inma Varandela
Wynjo Photos Courtesy of Dan DeVero
You remember Gaahl. He’s that skinny, long-haired Norseman we’ve featured on and off for a while now, particularly in the VICE documentary True Norwegian Black Metal. He was the singer of Gorgoroth, once the scariest band in at least all of Scandinavia.
He went to prison a couple of times for violence and cases of ritualistic torture and was condemned by no less than the pope in Rome. (These things should be ringing some bells.) He’s the one who, amid impaled sheep heads and crucified models, would bellow, scream, and gargle to massive crowds as hundreds of gallons of sheep’s blood spilled all over the place. And then, in Bergen, Norway, he was crowned Gay Person of the Year in 2010. Riiiiight, that guy.
Today Gaahl is reserved, bordering on refined. A while back he was found admiring a runway show for a fashion line he co-owns, sitting front row, sipping expensive Italian red wine, and staring affectionately as his then 19-year-old boyfriend, Robin Jakobsen, skipped down the catwalk in colorful androgynous creations with funky Ibiza house music blasting from all sides. This side of Gaahl sounded interesting to us, but when we asked to reinterview him about clothes for this issue, we weren’t at all sure how interesting it might be to him. We were worried we might annoy him. But what we discovered was the earthly personification of Balder, the golden Norse god of happiness and perfection. Over three bottles of very fine wine we had the following conversation.
Vice: You seem very much at ease, happy even. In what ways do you channel the more intense side of your personality now that Gorgoroth is done?
Gaahl: I’ve got my method. Ninety percent of my artistic expression is not perceptible to the world.
What’s the vision behind Wynjo, the fashion label you started with your ex-boyfriend, Dan DeVero?
Really, I’m not a designer. It was Dan’s idea, Dan’s vision. I’ve pitched in, given a friend a hand, but only financially. I function more as a channel for others. Dan and I haven’t spoken about this for some time. It’s not the planet I’ve been on lately. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a fashion show.
Do you have faith in the project?
Absolutely. It will turn into something, Dan’s a resourceful character. He is very creative—sometimes maybe even too creative.
Where does the name Wynjo come from?
It’s Norse for “the road to happiness and perfection,” but it can’t be properly translated into today’s language. In Norse, happiness and perfection denotes the same concept.
Does that make sense to you?
Perfection gives one joy.
You’ve said before that “clothes make people.”
Seeing ugly people puts me in a terrible mood. I’m grumpy that way. Aesthetics are important to me.
Do you mean people in ugly clothes?
The worst thing I see are people walking around in sweatpants. If you’re going to be part of society, you can at least dress properly.
Have you seen people wearing OnePieces, those all-in-one jumpsuits?
I’m convinced that the creator is laughing his ass off as we speak.
I take it you have a preference for simplicity.
By stripping things down to the bare essentials, the expression gets stronger, more vivid. Camouflaging anything by using too many details is a sign that it’s not good enough. Simplicity makes everything intrinsically cleaner and more beautiful.
Are we still talking about fashion?
I’ve always dressed in plain-colored clothes, keeping a strict style. Ever since I was a kid I never wore anything but mono-colored sweaters.