Posted by Nick Skog on Thursday, November 8, 2012 Under: Hypnotic Dirge Records
*Originally published February 14, 2011
Below is an interview I conducted with Bjørn Tunsberg, a staff writer at 'The Inarguable Webzine' as well as a friend of mine. Thank you to Jon and Bjørn for setting this up.
How are you? It is an honor to have you speak with us!
Hi Bjørn, It's nice to talk to you again as well.
What made you want to start this label?
I started Hypnotic Dirge out of the relatively simple idea that I wanted to be in control of my own destiny when it came to releasing my music under the moniker 'Ancient Tundra' when that project was active. Writing this now in 2011, this feels like a long time ago, as I was 18 at the time and things have changed with the label and in my own life quite a lot since then. Over time, the work with the label overtook my desire to continue writing new music for the Ancient Tundra project, and at this point I am taking a pretty long break from music to focus mainly on the record label as well as other creative mediums such as photography or video projects whenever possible. Actually the label has become much more of a full-time thing then was originally intended. Some people might be able to balance running a label and a full-time music project at the same time but I don't think I'm one of those people. Not at the moment anyway, especially with university also taking a large chunk of my time!
Can you tell us about what your label is about?
Hypnotic Dirge Records aims to release emotional music within the metal genre. That sounds like a really broad generalization, but I feel like that is the best way to put it. By emotional music, I do mean "emo", nor do I mean "depressive black metal." It's not like there is anything wrong with Depressive Black Metal and in fact I have realeased some albums in the past that could be defined as such, but as a whole, the genre is way too restricting, so I don't like to define Hypnotic Dirge as having any specialties within any particular genre. Real art is meant to break boundaries, and not fall within a "safe zone" so I just want to keep releasing music that I feel deserves an outlet for as long as possible.
Tell us about the bands on your roster.
The active bands on Hypnotic Dirge Records at the moment are Exiled From Light, The Foetal Mind, netra, Ekove Efrits, Funeral Fornication, Astral Luminous, Neige et Noirceur, Old Forgotten Lands, and One Dark Curse
The roster has actually thinned out quite a bit lately due to the fact that there will not be any further Ancient Tundra, or Winds of Sorrow albums, and it's likely going to be quite a while before there are any new Exiled From Light, or Astral Luminous material, and also because of the fact that Immundus has moved on to Quartier23. Actually at the moment, for the first time in a while, I'm in a position where I am able to accept 1-2 new bands onto the roster so I am slowly going through demos, and listening to new ones even though I'm relunctant to make decisions since roster space is limited due to time and money restraints. (I just want to be sure I make the right decisions seeing as I'm only able to add a couple bands) I'm particularily looking for a couple of already established bands that are looking for a new label as was the case with Ekove Efrits whom I signed earlier this month.
Going back to your original question, I think every band on the roster brings something fresh to the label as a whole. netra, and Ekove Efrits - the two latest signings on HDR are both extremely unique and interesting projects and both of them represent EXACTLY the kind of music I want on HDR. Not in the sense that I want every band to sound exactly like these two, but in the sense that they are both unique projects who convey real emotions without being restricted by genre bariers.
What do you hope to accomplish with your label?
Keep a steady release schedule for years to come, Watch and help the current bands on the roster grow and develop, slowly find new and interesting additions for the roster, contribute whenever possible with videos, photography, and maybe the odd music project, and above all NEVER make any money from the label for personal things. Always feed money from sales back into new releases and merchandise, and never comprimise artistic integrity for fancy looking pieces of paper with official looking designs on them. Asides from that, no major plans and goals, don't look too far into the future!
What are your favorite bands on your roster?
Right now, I'm really into netra. I got a demo from that project back in June this year I think and I've been listening to the album pretty steadily ever since. I have probably heard it well over 50 times by now, and I have not gotten sick of it. The project has been active since 2003 and finally the debut album was released on December 16th in 2010. It's been nice to finally get this album out and hear what the press and listeners have had to say about the album that I fell in love with when I first received the demo. Generally, it's been about 95% positive, with one person in particular calling it the album of the year. Steven (of netra) and I worked pretty closely for a while in preparing things for the release of Mélancolie Urbaine, first on creating a music video for the track 'La Page' which is online now, and also on a promo video for the release specifically which was a lot of fun to shoot and edit. It's definetely an interesting project, and netra's music gives me a lot of inspiration for videos as well so I feel pretty close to it at the moment!
Another project that I'm really into at the moment is the latest signing to HDR, 'Ekove Efrits' which is a black metal band from Tehran, Iran. I'll be releasing his latest album 'Conceptual Horizon' this summer, and it's such a fantastic album. I've been listening to that non-stop over the past month as well. (There's also 3 songs from this album streaming on the Ekove Efrits page on the HDR website, so I encourage people to go there and have a listen for themselves)
Funeral Fornication, and Old Forgotten Lands are also projects I'm listening to a lot lately, as they both have fantastic new albums coming out this summer on HDR.
In truth though, I like all of the projects which should be pretty obvious since they are on my record label. There's also the latest album from The Foetal Mind which was released in December 2010 which has a lot of really good songs on it.
Tell us a little about yourself as a person.
What would you like to know? I'm going to university at the moment, so I'm unemployed which is nice as it gives me plenty of time to work on the label and deal with school stuff but it also has some downfalls as I know longer have extra money to throw into the label like I did a couple of years ago. I'm living off of student loans at the moment, and spending some of the government's money on printing CD's and the rest of it on food, and coffee! Usually I might have more exciting things to say, but for the past 3-4 months I have been pretty antisocial. Not to be cliché or anything, but a lot of times, I really don't like people very much.
My main interests lie in music, film, photography, philosophy, and (pseudo?)intellectual discussions. I fucking hate shopping malls, jersey shore, business, politics, and the fact that my personal information can now be found with a simple google search! (oops)
(I get the feeling that I'm signing up for an online dating service with all of these I like/I hate answers. haha)
What does the future hold for HDR?
Actually, 2011 is pretty up in the air at the moment in some aspects. However, I do plan to release the new Funeral Fornication, Old Forgotten Lands, and Ekove Efrits albums in the summer of 2011, and hopefully two or three more albums in the second half of the year. I think an album by Neige et Noirceur, and/or Astral Luminous may be ready by then and if not, I'm sure there are other options. So in that sense, my plans are not concrete yet, and rightfully so as it's only February now, so there's lots of time for things to change. Also in 2011, I do plan on finally releasing some new t-shirts on my label including a Funeral Fornication T-shirt to go along with the Pandemic Transgression release, a netra T-Shirt, and also the first ever Hypnotic Dirge Records T-shirt. Hopefully I'll have enough money through sales to make all of this happen!
Also in 2011, I'd like to make some time for a trip to Quebec in the summer, as well as giving myself a bit more time for photography, and video projects while deciding what I want to take in school in the future.
Also, I do have plans to open a blogsite for lay down my ramblings including essays and discussions on philosophical, social, and anti-economic subjects with literary, historical, and philosophical connoctations which I have written in the past year or so. While this is not really connected to HDR in any way, it's something that I have in the works which I hope to have online soon, as I've been pretty interested in such topics as of late. One of these essays was made available on the free HDR compilation album 'Melancholic Epiphany (The Trance Formation is Shattered) which was released last November and has lots of really cool stuff on it, so I encourage peopel to download it if they have not done so yet. (You can find the link on the downloads section of www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com
Generally though, the future is in the air. We'll see what happens!
Thank you for talking with us! Do you have any final words?
Thanks for the questions Bjørn ! I'd like to encourage the random passer-by reading this interview to take a few moments to go to www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com and browse around. There is lots of additional information about the label, the releases, the bands on the roster, a moderately extensive distro section, some streaming music and videos, and free downloads!
I don't like to end this with a cliché, but I feel as if it's neccesary... Please support the music you listen to, as it is becoming extremely hard for small labels to stay afloat, and this affects artists too. I get a lot of worthy demos on a regular basis but I am unable to add any new bands due to a lack of funds. If this happens with a lot of record labels (which it does, as I have had conversations about this) then a lot of worthy artists can not get their music printed on a physical medium. If Justin Bieber can sell millions of copies of regurgutated formula pop music, surely real artists conveying real emotions can sell 100 copies in order to break even on costs and keep physical releases alive.
The more people buy CD's, the more I can release in 2011.