The spiritual side of sexuality – interview with ’Nebala’

Picture by Espen Winther

I am really excited about this interview with you Jonas and to hear the story behind ’Nebala’s music, so thank you so much for making this happen! How’s it going?

Fine thanks! And you? 

I’m good, thank you! Would you like to tell us a bit about ’Nebala’? Is it a band or a one man project? 

Nebala is both a one man project and a huge collaboration. 

The first music for Nebala, melodies, beats, vibes n such, came to me sometime in early autumn of 2019. I’ve since allied myself with philosopher Naina Gupta, old Norse religion specialist Mathias Nordvig, a slew of talented singers and musicians and composer/producer Sebastian Gainsborough to shape the content and music of Nebala.

You have just released your three song EP called ’Lustuz’. Is this your first release under the name ’Nebala’?

Yes this is the first release, before Nebala I was performing with Heilung since their first concert in 2017. I left the ensemble in November 2019 to do Nebala.

I remember reading somewhere that the lyrics in ’Lustuz’ are written in some rare old language. If so, what is this language and how did you learn about it?

The language of Nebala is essentially Proto-Norse. So it’s the oldest of the Nordic languages that scholars have a grasp on. The language is found on runestones, bractaetes, bones, wood etc from northern Germany and Scandinavia. So almost all of the lyrics are set in this language and the reason is, that we when working with the texts, wanted to create a sort of, ritualistic feeling to the words, so we thought to use this language in the same way that older languages are used round the world, only for the expression of something religious or ritualistic. I can mention examples such as Sanskrit, one of the oldest known languages, which in India, is not spoken among people on the street, but reserved only for rituals, reciting of mantras and such like. Aramaic among Christians in the Middle East, Latin in the Catholic Church and so on and so forth. 

Is there a specific storyline that goes through the whole EP?

I’m glad you asked. Yes there is. 

All the music revolves around the subject of sexuality. There a lot that can be said about this subject from a philosophical, spiritual and also mythological point of view, but if you don’t mind I’d like to start with the more personal reason for choosing this subject. 

I basically had a few experiences, which I won’t go into details about, that’s to personal, hahaha. However; these experiences completely overturned what I thought I knew about sexuality. I realised the importance of relating to sexuality in a healthy and yes, in fact spiritual way. The way we are relating to sexuality in society today seems to be quite empty and based on two positions, no pun intended, only. Either sexuality is hidden away and riddled with shame and guilt or conversely we are overexposed to it in purely carnal sense, on billboards, in entertainment, adds, and yes this translates into how we interact with each other as well, female and indeed male self esteem being entirely based on how we can present ourselves, superficially, in the most alluring way in order to win the favour of the others gaze. I’m off course not saying that there is anything wrong in making an art piece of oneself, this is I think a natural tendency and a creative one, which I think is awesome, but if it is not accompanied with an understanding of what sexuality and intimate, sensual relationship are and can be, it becomes shallow, objectifying, violent and devoid of substance. 

Hence, through these experiences of mine I got completely absolved in the subject of sacred sexuality and started looking for ways of expressing these ideas. I knew already, at least on a cerebral level, about how sexuality was treated as a spiritual subject in places such as India, where for instance kundalini yoga is all about transferring sexual energy into a positive creative force for the benefit of the entire universe. I was therefore convinced that these ideas had to be found in old Norse religion as well, as there are so many similarities between the religions and spiritual practices of the old world. 

Through various discussions with Naina and Mathias I defined three main subjects to explore in the creation of the music. 

Lustuz: desire, longing, and the need for sharing each other’s darkness to fully merge sexually in total mutual vulnerability.

And as you know Lustuz is the name of the first Ep. 

Laþu: sexual tension, mutual objectification, and unfulfilled sexual longing.

Woþuz Alu: sexual release into absolute subjectivity and mergence, transcendence, and an explosion of the cosmic creative force.

And to be clear it’s not like there is any clear message with the music, like, have

More spiritual sex or something, it’s simply an artistic exploration of sacred sexuality, people can digest that in whatever way they want. 

I could speak endlessly on this topic but I hope this sort of answered your question for now. 

How is your music born? Do you have a certain way of doing things in songwriting or do you like to experiment things?

I love to experiment, but I also like to make strict frameworks and dogmas for myself. I feel, it sharpens the mind to say, ok these three elements you can work with and you have to come up with a way to get to your destination using only these. In some way this pushes the mind to maximum creativity. It’s a bit like, why is Batman such an infinitely more interesting character than say Superman, because the faacking guy ain’t got crazy otherworldly powers, he has to make due with what he’s got and just a butt load of decisive death defying determination. That is how I like to do music these days, using almost only percussion and vocal, with the odd wind and string instrument here n there, but mostly these are used for effect rather being carrying pillars of the music, otherwise if I can hit it with a stick, it’s not invited to the party, so to speak.

In your music there are many layers of different kind of percussions. What kind of percussions can we hear in ’Nebala’s music?

So there’s everything from framedrums, various temple bells from around the world, Tibetan singing bowls, an old polish bombshell, that was very random but ended up having a central role in one of the songs on Lustuz, and a layer of significance relating to the song even, which shall remain a secret. A bit of lyre and tagalharpa, which are the sort of quintessential Nordic folk instruments, however when I use these I want to mix it up a bit, so for instance I’d tune the lyre in and Indian tuning or tune the tagalharpa way down so it gets a more effecty feel, rather than just using these instruments in the way a straight up folk musician would use them. It’s a kind of conversation with the instrument where I go, “yes I know you can do all these marvellous things,  but, what else have you got”.

Your music has a very trance like shamanic feel to it. How important it is for you to create these kind of shamanic of atmospheres?

That is very important. The music is heavy with all sorts of textual and conceptual significance which can be explored in a very cerebral way, we are working on releasing a lot of extra material about the subjects and concepts that we explore through the music of Nebala. However; at the end of the Day, its Music, and it should be able to be enjoyed entirely on its own merits. What I mean to say, is that the listener should be able to simply put it on and feel connected to it, without knowing what it’s about or anything. Therefore I’m very happy to hear you say that, that is what you get from it! 

Do you play live shows?

Not yet, but as soon as the situation allows, oh yes, this will be played live! 

Have you done any collaborations or are you planning to do any in the future?

I love collaborating. On Lustuz for instance you can hear on the track Blotha Hunaga Bolanan Alu, the voice of Katrine from the Norwegian band Kalandra, singing backing vocals. Visy from Seidrblot also came by the studio with various instruments and Also played on a few tracks. And on subsequent releases I plan to have more different people gracing the tracks with their particular skills etc. Also beyond Nebala I’ve been asked to come do some stuff on people’s music, but I can’t reveal any of that yet. 

What is next for ’Nebala’? Can we expect new music any soon?

Yes the next Ep Laþu will be released later this year.  And a complete album is set to be released in early spring next 2021

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

Yes, The world is full of Magic.

You’ll find ’Nebala’s music at:

https://nebala.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/nebalamusic/

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