Q1 – Stein Akslen, please tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? When and how Minneriket was born? And what does Minneriket mean to you?
A1 – Nothing special really, just a regular bureaucrat trying to make the ends meet. Luckily, since Minneriket isn’t a touring act, I can combine keeping a regular job with working extensively on the music and still have some spare time for other hobbies.
As a musical outlet, Minneriket was born out a desire to create something truly personal. Just take pieces of my heart and soul, bottle it up, drive it through the grinder and see what comes out on the other side. When you’re thinking beyond blood and flesh, what are we really made of? Memories. Experiences. Feelings. I am the sum of all my parts, and my body is a vessel to experience the external forces while at the same time it is a prison for the mind obeying the laws of both science and morality.
Minneriket became kind of an “what if”-project, pure expressionism. What if I go this way? What happens if I push this button? There’s no agenda, no ideology, not doctrines, no orthodoxy. Minneriket is the inside and the outside, the energy I’m feeding of, the logos and the pathos. If the Gerasene demoniac was Legion, then I am the Devils Gaul.
Q2 – What can you tell us about the story behind the name; MINNERIKET?
A2 – It translates into “The realm of memories”. Originally it was the title of a book I published, containing a translation I did of the old Norse poem Voluspå, a commentary and some other art pieces. Just a small, print on demand thing. It started as a lyrical project in nine pieces back in 2006 I think. Parts of that work went into the early Minneriket lyrics.
It’s… I am Loddfavne of the songs, and Minneriket is the well of Mimir. It’s Hlidskjalv, it’s Yggdrasill, it’s the Irminsul where I built my vision. Something personal, something close, while at the same time something general, collective, something we have in common. A core of being.
Q3 – Since your latest single; SORG OG SAVN, how is the feedback so far?
A3 – Mostly positive in my experience. Some mixed feelings of course, that’s natural seeing how it differs from previous work, but in general I think most listeners will see the complexity in it and the beauty between the lines. It might not offer the catharsis you’d expect, but the serenity of the soundscape hopefully speaks to people.
Q4 – What can you tell us about the thematic/lyrical approach in “Sorg og Savn”? What were the main influences? Are there any differences from the previous release in terms of writing?
A4 – It translates to “Sorrow and yearning”, so I guess it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s a song about loss, while not in the traditional way. You need to let pieces of yourself go. Take one step outside of your sphere, carve the edges off what you see, squeeze what’s left into a diamond and trust the process. None of us are the same person today that we were yesterday, and the song is about accepting this change, while shedding light on how it is okay to mourn the death of yourself.
The funny thing with words are how they can tell you everything, but still not make any sense. How the words I use might alienate you or make you relate. You never know. Two people reading the same words will have different experiences. On the one hand I try to write in general terms, making the content accessible to the listener, but on the other hand what I write about is so personal, so… close to the ego, I just can’t wrap it up in general terms. It’s kind of screaming in your face, while also maintaining a poetic descriptive distance.
Doing some parts in English and some in Norwegian gives it a different flair. Even though the meaning is the same, you experience it differently as a listener. I worked a lot with that approach, how to translate a feeling into the art I present.
Q5 – Where did you record the song? Who produced it? And how are you feeling about the outcome so far?
A5 – It’s been recorded all over the world! Haha. I have my home studio where I’ve recorded all demos, etc. Guitars and lead vocals have been recorded here. There’s a lot of session musicians featured on their song which has recorded their parts on their own. Australia, England, Latvia, Russia, Venezuela, Chile… Some field recordings are done in nature. I did the production and mixing myself once all parts where done, and had it mastered in Chile.
I’m very satisfied with the outcome, and the greatness of it all. Sorg og savn is a taste of the upcoming album, and doing a full-length album of this grandeur has been exciting work.