Mork - Interview
Norwegian black metal remains popular even 3 or 4 decades later, it's obviously one of the country's biggest cultural exports thanks to its rich catalog of great and well-known bands. Even though many may think that it lost its edge, I think otherwise. No matter how many bands come and go, there will always be a great deal of enthusiastic fans who enjoy this music and the youth is constantly inspired to become black metal musicians like their idols. One of those new generation Norwegian black metal bands that climbed its stairs to success, is the band Mork. Mork has been around almost 20 years since its foundation in 2004, with every new release they only seem to get stronger and probably for a good reason. Thomas Eriksen, the founder and creative mind behind the band, manages to maintain the creative spirit of Mork which still flows through every catchy riff and memorable song. Their music still holds up in my opinion, and even though it's a new generation band, it possesses the musical DNA of the bands from the 90's. I've decided to share a few words with the man himself, and enter the gray world of Mork.
Greetings Thomas, I wish you a warm welcome on behalf of the MetalBite crew! Your sixth album "Dypet" is coming out soon and there is such immense hype around it. How do you feel knowing that MORK has come a long way since its early days all the way here to see its sixth album being released?
Honestly, it is a bit surreal. I remember clearly the time I made Isebakke and stood there without a label, without a band and with just this raw idea in my hand. When I first got signed, then to the Canadian small label, I started getting a feeling of "shit, how far will this carry on?". And as a result of a busy mind always digging deep into songwriting and other Mork related stuff, all the sudden we are 10 ten years down the road, staring at the release of my sixth album. Now backed by a legendary label for years and seems to be growing slightly each year. I am grateful and don't take it for granted.
MORK has been a proud member of the Peaceville Records family for a long time. Will the band be staying under the label's roof in the future?
By today Peaceville has my entire catalog on their roster, which is a big showing of confidence and appreciation. They never question or try to have creative control, which results in me providing as honest and pure art as possible. It has been and still is an honor for me to work with them. We are currently signing a new record deal, so it will continue for some time to come.
"Katedralen" still remains the strongest album in MORK's discography two years since its release and although it was released when the COVID pandemic was still a big thing, has the album given a big boost to the band's popularity and was there a much bigger demand to see MORK live even amidst the pandemic?
Yes, the album has been a level up in many ways, as each album seems to have been since the beginning. A slow but steady increase over the years. It seems we do play a bit of shows and get some demand here and there, however I don't feel we play as much as I would have wanted. That's a hint to the bookers out there; reach out!
The Norwegian black metal scene has always been on the highest top more than any other black metal scene in the world, but a lot of musicians in the Norwegian scene claim that it has lost its touch or that it's no longer living up to its name. Do you think that is the case and can MORK be considered something of a revival within Norwegian black metal?
I used to say that the early scene consisted of young people who were all burning for an idea and image. Let that scene be what it was back then. After these kids grew up, the art lived on. That is what MORK is a result of, the art itself. I have no interest or intention of acting a certain way to be considered as "true". I let the music do the talking. And honestly, I can't say if MORK is a revival of Norwegian black metal or not, that is up to the listener. I just do what I do, which is creating my music my own way. It has become an essential and important part of my existence.
Your music sounds very much inspired by Norwegian folklore and nature. While listening to the music and looking at the cover art of each album, I can feel the atmosphere of Theodor Kittelsen's surreal art. What serves as your biggest inspiration of any form besides music that helps you create and shape the world of MORK?
It is simply just what comes out of my fingers and out of my mind. I don't have any specific influence, honestly. When creating the first couple albums I was very smitten with the atmosphere and feel that I got from Burzum and early Darkthrone stuff. But now in later years, MORK has become its own voice, in a way. I just follow whatever flow that comes to me at the moment. But, it is the thoughts that I have and how I see the world. My own demons are a sure influence.
I know that a lot of fans have been following your podcast show for quite some time, but how did you come up with the idea to start the podcast and how many people have discovered MORK through the podcast?
The podcast came along at the beginning of covid. It was when the first shows got canceled and the world shut down. I figured it was as good a time as any to try this out. At the time I was intrigued by the concept of it all. A relaxed setting over a coffee or a beer without any written questions and such. I enjoyed the chill atmosphere of the podcast format. I have more or less quit now, to be honest. Perhaps an episode will come along, but they aren't as focused as before. That is mainly due to world opening back up and I am busy with MORK. I have noticed that the amount of listeners grew significantly, and I suppose many of them had never heard MORK before.
Your first album "Isebakke" is turning 10 years old in 2023, looking back at that period and now, how do you perceive the band's natural progression since its release back in 2013?
Those exact words, actually; "natural progression". That is exactly how it has evolved. I am glad that I decided to let the art come spontaneously rather than me pre-deciding a narrow path of true black metal, or whatever. MORK has grown into an independent thing, in my eyes and ears. So much so that I have decided to start a side project, which will be unveiled later on.
Although MORK is one of the new generation Norwegian black metal bands, the songs clearly possess that musical DNA of the bands from the 90's. How do you approach your songwriting to create such an authentic experience without completely borrowing/copying styles of bands such as Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal etc?
Here we are getting back to the fact that I let inspiration flow spontaneously. That way I won't copy anything or anyone. That I hit the mark of sounding authentic, is more or less by chance. Though, sometimes I do audit myself if something feels too far outside what little perimeters I do have. Enough people copy and try to sound like certain things out there, I don't want to be one of those. Then it's not your sound is it?
Are there any interesting concepts you haven't explored before or felt that you haven't explored enough in the past but you'd wish to incorporate into the music of MORK?
Luckily there are many concepts and influences to be discovered. Let's see what they might be when I first stumble upon them.
I know that musicians are mostly proud of every new album they come out with, but some usually are mostly fond of their earlier stuff for personal reasons, so which MORK album holds a special place in your heart and for what reason?
I have to stand each and every album, so they are sort of my children in a way. I suppose it comes down to the circumstances that surround each album, that dictates which one that stands out. Isebakke was made in a void and later got picked up by a label which led to everything we have today. Eremittens Dal got me signed to Peaceville Records. Det Svarte Juv came out of a really dark period in my personal life. Hard to pick. All the albums are all part of the saga of MORK.
Thank you so much for doing this interview, Thomas. I wish you all the best with the release of "Dypet" and I hope to see MORK live on a European tour one day. Are there any final words you'd like to leave to all your fans reading this?
I thank you for your attention. MORK should do a proper EU tour. Hopefully a tour-booker reads this and can set the wheels in motion on that one. We are scheduled for a couple of German dates as well as the Brutal Assault in Czech this year. Hopefully the list will expand some. To any new listeners, I appreciate your time, hopefully it is something for you. If not, then that's fine too. To the ones already with us, forever hail!!
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