Jacopo Prada


For the first time ever, Daemonskald, founder and member of SIG:AR:TYR, speaks to about his unique project, capable of unitying Viking, Folk and Ambient for a really surprising musical arrangement. Shortly after the relase of Sailing The Seas Of Fate, here are the impressions and views of the canadian singer...

J.P. - Hi Demonskald, welcome to How are you?

Daemonskald - I'm feeling great, and looking forward to this interview as this is the first one I have done for a European audience.

J.P. - First of all, which is for you the best genre to classify your music?

Daemonskald - It's hard to say really, I've had it called black metal, pagan metal, folk metal, dark metal, Viking metal, dark folk, ambient folk, and so on. SIG:AR:TYR started out as an all-acoustic guitar project which quickly started to drift by adding metal elements and so on. I think most of the music I will be doing in the future will be a mix of metal and acoustic moments, with lyrics that evoke pagan imagery. I think Pagan Metal would probably best describe its spirit.

J.P. - Are you happy of your last released or do you have some remorse?

Daemonskald - I am quite happy with how it turned out, but the only unfortunate thing I regret is that it wasn't released sooner because these ideas are about two years old, and with all the delays in getting it released, it is sometimes difficult for me to relate to those feelings I had when first creating it. So many changes in your outlook on life and your musical growth happen in those years.

J.P. - I know that The Stranger received great reviews around the world. How about Sealing The Seas Of Fate?

Daemonskald - It has only been released a short time, so the reviews are just starting to come in now. So far it has been very positive. I am most pleased when people really "get" what I was trying to do and what sort of spirit I was trying to evoke with the music and the lyrics.

J.P. - In The Stranger you played just acoustic guitar and keyboards. Why did you choose to play also other instruments in your last album such as bass, electric guitar and drums?

Daemonskald - It quickly became limiting to try and create the imagery that was going on in my mind with just an acoustic guitar. It really demanded additional instruments and more metal moments than what I had planned, especially with the "Viking" theme. There is still that acoustic ambience running through the whole CD, even with the metal songs. It would probably also get very boring to hear an entire CD of just the acoustic guitar, you need dynamics in there to really tell a full tale. The Stranger worked as an all-acoustic release because it was shorter, and was originally just a demo.

J.P. - It seems that you take great care of your lyrics, isn’t it? How did you find the inspiration to write them?

Daemonskald - To me the lyrics are just as important as the music that underlies them. I take great care in my lyrics, and to be honest, I usually create the theme and the lyrics of a song before the actual music comes about. I know that's backwards to how a lot of people do it, but I always work from a theme first, then the lyrics, then the music. I love to write, and it gives me a chance to try to put my thoughts and imagery of the song into words. Even with the lyrics of song, I usually create an accompanying commentary that goes along with it as well. Maybe that makes me long-winded, but it's important for me to try to get the full imagery across through all mediums.

J.P. - What is more important for a song? The lyrics or the music?

Daemonskald - They both go hand in hand for me. I do a lot of instrumentals too, so sometimes I even write "lyrics" or a "poem" that goes along with the instrumental, even if there is no vocals in the song. For "The Stranger" there was even a short-story that went along with title track. I couldn't fit it on the CD insert, so I had to print it separately and send it with the CD when someone bought it. Both the lyrics and the music should come together naturally to form a coherent, overall theme.

J.P. - I find the artwork of Sealing The Seas Of Fate really fantastic. Did you choose it personally or did you totally place your trust in Paul McCarroll?

Daemonskald - Well the artwork is a long story. The illustrations are actually by Gustave Dore, the famous 19th century French illustrator. Paul brought them together and designed the entire layout to make it seem like an illustrated book. Originally, a husband of a family member was going to draw original artwork for me, but he never finished, and they got divorced, so I only had a few rough sketches that weren't going to work. I decided to go back to the same style as The Stranger and chose a few pictures by Dore to represent the different songs. It wasn't my original intention, and it would have been great to have original artwork, but it wasn't meant to be. So Paul did a fantastic job with this design, as it really evokes the spirit of the music and the lyrics. I hope people don't get too upset that the pictures really have nothing to do with Vikings or Viking ships like the original artwork was supposed to, but the concept of a sea-faring quest is not limited to Vikings, and evoke other archetypal European myths and stories such as Jason and the Argonauts and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

J.P. - How did you work on your last album? Has it been very different as regards of the work done for The Stranger?

Daemonskald - I upgraded my original equipment, as The Stranger was actually only recorded with a laptop computer and a cheap PC microphone! So the sound is much better I think. It was recorded in pieces over the course of about a year, during which I actually moved residences twice which really was difficult. Then I had to deal with all the usual home recording problems such as noise, the sounds of cars and buses, neighbours mowing their lawn during guitar solos which I then had to redo! It was a real battle, but I made it through and finally finished it.

J.P. - Here in Italy Sailing The Seas Of Fate is not so easy to find in shops. Where can an Italian fan buy your last album?

Daemonskald - Well, it's definitely an "underground" release so it won't be in stores and it may be hard to find. I don't know of any Italian distros that may be selling it, but I am sure there are quite a few European based distros that can help. You can always order them direct from as well.

J.P. - You play a lot of instruments. Which is your favourite one? Which is the one you think you are more able to play?

Daemonskald - On Sailing, I did everything except the drums which are sequenced. I played a bodhran on the track Frost on Dead Leaves, which I don't really know how to play properly but thought I would try it anyway. My bass guitar skills are pretty basic, so the lines are pretty simple, same with the drums. The percussion in the metal songs is very minimalist and "Viking" metal, in that they emulate the sort of "rowing" drums that go along with a ship. The guitar is definitely my favourite as it is the most expressive, and that is the instrument I know best.

J.P. - Did you ever play live shows with some session guests? If you didn’t, wouldn’t you like to do it?

Daemonskald - Since SIG:AR:TYR is just me, I don't have a band and don't plan on playing live right now. In the future it might be interesting to get some session musicians and have an actual band, but I don't have time for all the things that go along with that, such as practices and arguments etc. This music is very personal to me, so I think it can only ever really be played by me. If I had a band, it would probably be a totally different project and I would still do SIG:AR:TYR on the side. This music would not translate well in a live environment where it would mostly be a bunch of sweaty drunk people! This music is mostly about reflection in quiet, solitary times.

J.P. - How do you feel in the role of lead singer?

Daemonskald - Not very comfortable! I've been practicing to do more actual singing on the next CD, as opposed to the spoken word and black metal type of vocals. I really want it to sound more organic, and while screaming works for some songs, I think some clean vocals are more appropriate for others. I think it's definitely my least favourite thing to do when recording, I would rather be playing the guitar.

J.P. - I find your screaming very good. Which are for you the best screamers? In the past?

Daemonskald - When I first started listening to metal, I mostly enjoyed the "real" singers, such as Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Geoff Tate etc. Later when I got into black metal, I really liked the screaming of vocals such as by Ihsahn on the early Emperor albums, even though it was harsh, it had a very far reaching quality about it. I'm going to try to avoid screaming in future works, but if it fits that particular song, I will use it.

J.P. - You have a nice and functional website. Who takes care of it?

Daemonskald - Just me, I do it all myself. I tend to keep things simple, and prefer substance over flash. I use it as a portal for my thoughts, and update it with articles on North European myths or whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time beyond just serving as an information site about the music.

J.P. - What about your My Space? Isn’t it a great way to contact people all around the world?

Daemonskald - I was a little reluctant at first to use it, but it’s a good promotional tool with the ability to host mp3's as well. I've met quite a few good friends through there so I can't complain. Not just fans, but other bands as well. It's a good networking site.

J.P. - Do you play in some other band or is SIG:AR:TYR your only musical project?

Daemonskald - No, this is the only project I have going on at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, if I did have a band it would be something completely different from SIG:AR:TYR, since it is my own personal project. If I did have a band it would probably be more rock'n'roll, something where I can put my mind on the shelf and relax, haha.

J.P. - Don’t you think that SIG:AR:TYR sounds a little bit strange for a band name? Maybe with another name you could have more success…

Daemonskald - They are the names of three letters of the runic alphabet (S:A:T). I wanted something unique for a name, and at first instead of using the rune names, I was going to use the actual rune symbols, but that is very common nowadays on metal albums. So I thought I would do something a little different and use the actual rune names. Its true meaning is a secret, but on an outward level, it basically means mankind (who dwells in Midgard) exists between and balances the forces of chaos and order. It is a bit strange, but not easily forgotten, and I think also represents the uniqueness of the music and the concept.

J.P. - Do you listen only to Metal or Rock music?

Daemonskald - I went through a long period, sometime after about 1995, where I couldn't listen to metal anymore for a few years. It was just so boring and no one was doing anything original or heartfelt. So during that time I mostly listened to classical, movie soundtracks (especially the work of Ennio Morricone and John Williams), and also just rock such as AC/DC, Deep Purple, old Scorpions, Led Zeppelin etc. One of the reasons for creating SIG:AR:TYR was to hopefully create something unique and original in the scene.

J.P. - Which are your favourite bands at the moment? And in the past?

Daemonskald - Right now, my good friend at Morbid Winter has me all into the Ukrainian and Russian bands such as Drudkh and Temnozor. There is some very heartfelt and original pagan/folk metal music coming from these areas. Primordial (from Ireland) are amazing and very original and emotive as well. In the past, Iron Maiden were always my favourites, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio, Helloween. Bathory's Hammerheart has a very special place in my heart, and was something that was very influential to Sailing The Seas of Fate. Later, when I got into Black metal, I really liked Burzum, and Emperor mainly. Burzum is very special and totally different from all other black metal because it goes beyond it, into dark archetypes of North European history, something I try to achieve also with SIG:AR:TYR.

J.P. - Did you like any Italian Metal band in particular?

Daemonskald - I am not too familiar with many Italian metal bands. When I think of Italy I always think of Antonio Vivaldi and Ennio Morricone!

J.P. - Do you feel being part of the Viking scene?

Daemonskald - There are all types of "Viking metal", many of it kind of silly with basically "drink some beer" and "swing your sword" types of lyrics and attitude, and others who take it more seriously and delve deeper into the North European pagan history and myths. For me there is really only one true Viking metal album and that is Hammerheart by Bathory. But there are other great folk/pagan/Viking metal bands out there who I think keep this true vibe alive, such as Falkenbach and Nachtfalke. Recently I've just heard Tyr from the Faroese islands who are very good.

J.P. - Do you read also books about Vikings and their culture?

Daemonskald - Every chance I get! Lately I've been mostly reading the Eddas and sagas, the original poetry and words, and not so much books "about" them by modern people. SIG:AR:TYR came about as I was undergoing some deep changes in regards to how I started to connect again to my North European heritage. So I am always trying to reconnect to that "Traditional" spirit of the olden times.

J.P. - Is there a real Pagan scene in Canada? If yes, how is it?

Daemonskald - I'm sure there is but not overly organized. There is more interest in this type of scene in Quebec. Things like culture and heritage are not emphasized too much in Canada, except for in Quebec. They are more used to preserving their culture in a country that seemingly wants to wipe away any thoughts of ethnic and cultural sovereignty. But I am sure there are people all over Canada who connect deeply to these old European ways.

J.P. - Do you practise a specific religion?

Daemonskald - I'm a very spiritual person, but it is not really organized or connected to any one scene. I wouldn't consider myself an Odinist or Asatru in that sense, even though I connect more with the gods of Northern Europe than anything else. I'm more into personal spiritual power, and that comes with deep explorations on your own, and not in a group setting. You do not gather in a group and "worship" Odin, you try to follow his example, his wanderings and deeds to become as him. But I do not underestimate the great power in the collective memory of a race of people who remember their divine origins.

J.P. - Is there a Pagan God who represents your personality?

Daemonskald - That's difficult to choose, I think if I had to select any Scandinavian character (not just a God) whom I admire and sometimes feel akin to is Egil Skallagrimsson, the Icelandic skald and Viking, an anti-hero with a poetic side. When he wasn't winning renown, adventuring, and killing people, he was writing poetry. But in his adventures, he resembles the god Odin.

J.P. - What do you think of Christianity and Christians?

Daemonskald - This is a tough one to answer. Some people may think that "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" is very anti-Christian, but it wasn't really meant to be. It takes place in a period of time in the late Viking age when Scandinavia was slowly becoming Christian and the old ways were being replaced. To me Christianity was a foreign interloper from the south that destroyed in the people's memory their true pagan and "northern" past. They turned their backs on their gods to take up the god of another. But as we all know, Christianity did win, and triumphed for many centuries. Now Christianity is dying out, and people are returning to their old ways again. However, the idea and values of Christianity as we know it were molded over centuries to be the vanguard of the expression of all the European peoples. So when we think of certain things as "Christian" values or morals, I feel that they are "European" values that would exist even if Christianity didn't exist. However, in these modern times, everyone has turned away from the things of the spirit, and have lapsed into a deadly nihilism. I don't mind if people want to be Christian or Pagan or whatever, as long as they connect with their spiritual side, protect their physical culture and heritage, and combat the growing threat of globalism, materialism, and enforced multiculturalism.

J.P. - When are you going to start writing new songs for the next album? Have you got already some ideas?

Daemonskald - I have some ideas ready, but I have not recorded them yet. I think the songs will be even more metal this time, but still with the acoustic-ambience throughout. The acoustic/metal moments will be more combined into each song instead of being separate pieces. It is tentatively called Beyond The North Winds, which is the literal translation of Hyperborea, and in contrast to the themes of water, snow, and ice of Sailing, it will be centred around the earth, mountains, and stone.

J.P. - Have you got other projects for the future?

Daemonskald - Nothing other than SIG:AR:TYR for now, it keeps me busy enough as it is. Beyond music, I am also a writer, and have been working on various fiction (fantasy and horror) and non-fiction writing projects.

J.P. - I think, time for us is over. Thank you for spending some time with us. We wish you the best for the future and we hope to see SIG:AR:TYR again soon. Skål!

Daemonskald - Thanks again for the interview, hail!

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