Photo by Jamie Hunter, from flickr
Erik Danielsson's a pretty serious guy. The frontman of legendary black metal outfit Watain is infamous for leading relentlessly intense shows, leaving audience members with lovely souvenirs like cow's blood thrown at them off stage. He's also known for presenting himself and the rest of the as band non-compromising, 24/7 Satanists to both their audience and media. So you can probably imagine that a dude who devotes his life to music and the devil wouldn't be the jolliest of blokes to chat with. We discovered that last week when we interviewed him over email about Music, Blood and Spirit, an upcoming documentary about his life and work made by Claudio Marino—a filmmaker who happens to be a staple in the Swedish black metal community. The film is the third in a trilogy about people who are 100% devoted to what society labels as unorthodox beliefs or lifestyles. Here's the trailer:
Dark shit, guys—so without further adieu, here's the fittingly dark chat we had with Erik Danielsson.
NOISEY: Watain is legendary for theatrical live performances. In front of a camera, though, did you feel like you had to perform, or is this a portrait of a more authentic Erik Danielsson?
Erik Danielsson: As “theatrical” as the live performances may seem to the uninitiated, they show a side of ourselves that is very real indeed. Unlike what you are saying, I have not spent the last 15 years doing something un-authentic on stage. If I had, that facade would most likely have crumbled a long time ago, like all things built on hypocrisy and deceit. In accusing me of being a charlatan on stage you place yourself among the vast herd of shallow-minded children that has no insight whatsoever in the sizzling furnace that animate artists such as myself and many before me. Perhaps you and your kin will find yourself even more confused and mislead after having seen the film that Claudio made, who knows? I at least hope so.
To what extent does your relationship with the filmmaker matter to you—as in, do you have to know someone quite well to open up to them in this manner?
A good relationship between the filmmaker and the person being filmed is quite beneficial for the purpose of a making a personal documentary. I really like Claudio's uncompromising attitude and work but as you can see from this interview you’re making here, I can also warm-heartedly share my thoughts with others as well.
How conscious are you of maintaining an image—especially for this documentary?
I am who I am and as far as maintaining goes that is all there is to it. The fact that people such as yourself find it impossible to relate to the parts of my Self that are being emphasized in Watain as anything more than an “image” says more about you than me.
What do you want viewers to walk away with after seeing this film, ultimately?
You’d have to ask Claudio that. This is not a self-portrait, he is the painter and I’m the motive.
Connecting with an audience via live performance or your music is arguably easier than being filtered through a screen—through the medium of film. Did you feel restricted at all by the filmmaking process?
Is it? I disagree. If “connecting” was the goal, i’d find that much easier to achieve within such a direct context as an interview - even more so when you have a moving picture accompanying it - rather than with an abstract, artistic medium such as music. People tend to interpret art in all kinds of ways, and they certainly do not always “connect” with it. However, most people do relate and connect with a “Fuck you!”, for example, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, as far as connecting goes, once again this is Claudio’s film and I was being interviewed and filmed without a specific, personal agenda. I did this because I like Claudio’s work and he asked me to participate, not because I felt the need to “connecting” with anyone. Least of all you.