Photo by Julie Pike www.peppercookies.com
Anyone backwards enough to still claim that girl vocals have no place in metal never heard Runnhild Gammelsæter. Way back in 1995, at the tender age of 16, she provided ruinous voice to groups like Thorr’s Hammer, of which Sunn0)))’s Greg Anderson was a member.
Equal parts Diamanda Galas and Darkthrone, she can currently be heard on the killer first album from Khlyst. She is really clever and pretty and speaking with her made me feel crestfallen and embarrassed by my own shallow existence.
Vice: Where does a super-intelligent teenage girl from wealthy Norway fit into stupid macho metal?
Runnhild: In Norway, the metal people aren’t white trash. Like the drummer of Satyricon, he studied physics at university. And they all come from totally rich homes, it’s like upper class. But I wasn’t actually into metal, I was into doom and gore, English bands like Carcass and Swedish Grave. The Khlsyt thing, people call it “art metal” or something like that.
Male metal lyrics are big on Norse mythology and Lucifer. What inspires yours?
With Khlyst the lyrics are really different, but that was also what James Plotkin [the leader of Khlyst] wanted; Norwegian lyrics, that was his thing. When you make music with vocals that are not English, people don’t recognise the words, so the vocals become more like an instrument. Obviously with Thorr’s Hammer, you can’t hear what I’m saying, but I am actually singing something, and I did write lyrics. But Greg was obsessed with Norway and still is. His wife is half-Norwegian or something. He actually wanted to have a Norwegian flag on the cover but I was like, “No, no, no—that’s like Nazi, that’s not what I’m into at all. The lyrics are just about trolls!”
Burzum’s Varg Vikernes was quoted as saying: “Most [of the] smart women are busy getting an education, the generally more stupid women get most of the children, and as a result of that the whole species is getting dumber.” As someone with a PHD in neuroscience, would you say this is fair?
Obviously I don’t agree with that at all. It depends on how you look at what’s smart and what’s dumb. People associate higher education with being smart but higher education often leads to women not having children because you’re in school until you’re 30 and then you want to have a career instead of being at home with kids. And the women that don’t have an education have children earlier, so they have more children. I know a lot of very smart people who don’t have an education and I know people who are very educated who are very dumb.
Khlyst’s Chaos is My Name is out on HydraHead Records.