A journey to the underworld – Interview with ’Járnviðr’

Our first ever interview is going to be with Járnviðr – a neofolk music collaboration between the Italian artist Vindur and the Finnish artist Amanda Aalto. Járnviðr released their first EP in early 2020 which consists three songs that together tell a tale about a shaman’s journey to the underworld and back to the world of the living.

How was ’Járnviðr’ born?

V: Járnviðr was born from the encounter between two artists, Vindur and Amanda. I, Vindur, in particular, asked Amanda to participate in this project. I noticed our affinities and towards the pagan Nordic world, with different ways of interpreting this reality, but which when merged together give a unique musical experience.

What does ’Járnviðr’ mean? Is it Old Norse?

V: Yes, it is Old Norse and it means “the iron wood”. In Norse mythology Járnviðr is a forest located east of Midgard, inhabited by troll women who bore giantesses and giant wolves.

What musical instruments and elements does your music have?

V; I mainly use percussion, keyboards and electric bass. But I also add elements of electric guitar. I prefer the search for evocative sounds. I love to create atmospheres. I really like artisan percussion, or tribal shakers, which can make the right pagan atmosphere.

A: As a singer I like to experiment things a lot and with this EP I definitely found some new aspects about my voice. Vindur’s music sounds always very magical to me and I try to keep that atmosphere going when it comes to my vocals.

What made you want to start writing nordic influenced folk music?

V: Literature in the first place, I love to read the ancient Nordic Sagas. But my direct experience in the woods and long walks in the mountains are also very important. places where you can experience ancient Nordic knowledge firsthand.

A: For me writing this kind of nordic influenced folk music is a way to connect with the past, with the nature and with my ancestors. Most of all I feel connected when I write music like this. I don’t think about it too much, it just kind of happens. Probably like things happen in the nature – all elements there are in a perfect kind of a flow together. I’ve always been interested in ancient things and mythologies, so I guess it’s kind of natural that I ended up writing this kind of music in the end.

What kind of things inspire you when writing songs?

V: I am inspired by many things at once. Especially traveling, getting to know new places and different people is a great source of inspiration. the world is full of both suffering and beauty. This mix is my mood that makes me create.

A: I love that phrase ’the world is full of both suffering and beauty’ – because it’s true! I have this thing that I use music as a way of dealing with my (mostly) difficult feelings and that is one reason for my lyrics being mostly quite dark. With this EP I wanted us to tell a one specific storyline through all the three songs, a story about a shaman who needs to enter to the world of the dead to help some one and then come back with some answers to provide. So I took a lot of long walks in the forests, listened to the wind in the trees and made some pretty long journeys inside my mind.

Do you have a specific way of writing songs or does it vary?

V: I have no fixed patterns. I can start from the lyrics or from the music. Freedom to follow your instincts is my strategy.

A: I can totally relate to this. Every song is a different kind of a journey.

Is there a certain theme from where your lyrics are born?

V: The main theme is a spiritual journey that leads us to reconnection with the earth and finally with ourselves. We were born from the earth. Maybe we have forgotten our deep connection with nature, in my opinion this is an error. Our music wants to bring you back to this ancient connection.

A: This is very much true and I do agree with Vindur. Like I said before, the theme of our EP ’Manatar’ is a shamanic journey between two worlds but it’s also a story about nature and how important its’ role is in our lives. But I don’t know what our next lyrics are going to be about, we’ll just have to wait and see!

What bands and artists have influenced your music?

V: My musical training was born from black metal of the 80s. But I have followed with pleasure the birth of important Nordic folk bands such as Wardruna, Myrkur, Forndom, Nytt Land, Sowulo… Moreover I am open to many different types of music, without prejudice.

A: With this project I think main influences for me have come from bands like Heilung, Nytt Land, Wardruna, Skáld and so on. I have listened a lot of different kind of music during the years, from metal to whatever, and I think all genres have influenced me one way or another and made me the songwriter I am today.

How do you feel the dark folk music and neofolk music are doing today? Are there enough platforms to showcase this type of music online?

V: Today the panorama of this musical genre has greatly expanded. Many very interesting realities were born that make dark folk music alive. I don’t think there are many platforms dedicated to this genre. It would be a great luck to have a space for this kind of music, like this site!

What is coming next, any upcoming releases?

V: Yes, we plan to return to the studio in late autumn, or winter. We feel the need to create new musical experiences. Stay tuned!

You can find Járnviðr’s music on…

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/79fgbG0rWKCi5Ua5OmVkCA?si=DSrJwIX0TqOF4b7CjjiO5w

Bandcamp: https://jarnvidr.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jarnvidr

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