Hello Alex, I am really glad to feature your story at Dark Folk Nation so a big thanks for making this happen! Would you like to tell us a bit about ’Herknungr’? Is ’Herknungr’ a one man project or a collaboration?
Herknungr is a one man UK Viking/Germanic project started by Alex McCree in 2018. I started writing nordic music in 2016 under my name but production wise, it wasn’t the best.
What does ’Herknungr’ mean? Is it Old Norse?
Herknungr means ’Warrior King’ in Old Norse, there isn’t many sites to clarify this but it’s got a nice ring to it.
Do you have some specific instruments you use when writing music for ’Herknungr’ or does it vary?
I would say it does vary, you have the usual use of the tagelharpa or horn running through a lot of the songs. I use a lot of sounds such as animal sounds, human shouts / breaths and nature and distort / twist them into something different. I am trying to be a lot more organic in future, to try and get more of an authentic sound but I use a lot of VST’s like Danheim’s Asgard sampler or Eduardo Tarilonte’s Dark Era.
I do like using plucked lyre’s and intend to buy one in future. I like using animal bones too.
Some of your songs are quite experimental, how are these ideas and soundscapes born? Do you find it difficult to put them from a thought to sound?
You are right that I have the sound in mind and try and come up with a soundscape that is somewhat very close to it. It can be difficult,there’s a lot of free stuff out there you can find and manipulate it to the songs. There’s a myriad of resources out there now and it’s amazing what you can find.
When it comes to writing songs do you have a certain pattern of how to do things or does it vary?
I definetely have the pattern in mind and sometimes there’s an alteration midflow. Like exaggerating / extending a bit of tagelharpa / jouhikko in the song a bit more, if it’s too short. Giving it more of a atmospheric or synth bridge between instrumentation parts with percussion. Little decisions like that.
What emotions would you like your music to pass onto your listeners?
A high level of intriguing wonder and a sense of strong musicality I think. I do have a bit of a mysterious sound for the most part. Listeners get a huge sense of atmosphere and nordic / germanic instrumentation, you can go on a trip with it and sounds other worldly.
Your music seems to be mostly influenced by the old nordic and the viking culture. Are there some specific themes from which your songs are born?
For sure that a lot Poetic Edda like Völuspá has influenced the project, the stories behind each rune and each nordic god. There is usually a lot of war themes in a lot of Herknungr songs. A lot of ritual / shaman aspects of norse paganism are considered for a lot of compositions too. I do like using a lot of battle themes in percussion, such as Son’s of Ragnar. I’m into a lot of Anglo- Saxon culture as well, which UK is known a lot for and where I’m from. I’m really getting into slavic paganism and Suomenusko recently also.
Have you done any collaborations? Any collaborations you would still like to do?
I have worked with both Vidarr members Corey and Arn but each member on different songs and was fun. I would love to work with a lot of the people who have released stuff on Fimbul like Fuimandane, Rúnfell, Munknörr or Heldom. I really like Nemuer too.
The ultimate dream of working with Danheim, Heilung or Wardruna as they are a lot of people’s idols.
You have released a good amount of material so far. Are you working on some new material as we speak?
Yes I am currently working on a new album, it will be a continuation of the ’Herknungr’ style in terms of experimentation with sounds and nordic instrumentation. I really like a lot the percussion I’m using in this new one and tagelharpa. I used to use metal string ones but got a horse string one now. There will be more collaborations in future too.
Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?
Just be nice to everyone and help people and then people will help you out too. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it and everything is accessible. As long as you have vision, everything else falls into place and doesn’t have to be expensive.