OAKENSHIELD interview (English edition)

Spanish edition: http://issuu.com/empirezone/docs/empire__18

EMPIRE MAGAZINE: What’s different in Oakenshield’s universe since 2008, when you released your first album “Gylfaginning?
BEN CORKHILL:
Hello Marc. Things are very different now from how they were when the debut was released. I have now finished my university studies and am working full-time, and many new and interesting things have happened in my life since 2008. As far as Oakenshield is concerned, things are well and truly back on track and looking forward to the future.

What’s your opinion about “Gylfaginning” now, four years after its release?
It’s still my proudest achievement in life, but obviously hindsight is a wonderful thing and when I listen back to it there are aspects that I’m not too sure about. I still think the songwriting is good, but the production sometimes makes it a bit hard to listen to, for me at least. Back then I had no idea what I was doing in the studio, but I think as a whole the end result was quite good considering.

I think your voice is darker now than it was before. Do you agree with me? If so, could you please tell me why is that?
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘darker’. If you’re referring to the black metal rasp I use, I think you’re right that it sounds different to the debut album. On “Gylfaginning” the harsh vocals were slightly growlier, but that was just my technique at the time. In the last four years my vocal performance has changed quite a lot, and I think that’s just come through in the new songs as a progression of technique.

Moreover, I think “Legacy” is darker and harder and not only when it comes to vocals. What do you want to express in this album?
Although the arrangements are generally quite large and use heavy instrumentation, they are slightly more stripped back on this album than before. I think these tracks sound more like a metal band are playing them, rather than just many layers put together in a studio. It wasn’t really a conscious decision as such, just a part of the natural course the music took as I took more influence from different genres on board.

The lyrics in “Gylaginning” are inspired in the first book of the Edda Prose, what are the lyrics in “Legacy” about?
The lyrics on “Legacy” are all based on the same theme, which is the invasion, settlement and integration of Scandinavians in the British Isles during the Dark Ages, and what impact each of these had on British history, culture, language etc. They are a mix of my own prose and passages from other sources such as Icelandic sagas, English ballads and works of fiction. Various sources were used, and all song subjects are based on historical fact, with some embellishment of course.

Oakenshield is a “one man band”, where you play all instruments except for violin. Has it been the same in this recording?
Yes, I recorded all the instrument and vocal parts with the exception of violin, which was performed excellently by David Denyer.

Which style are you fonder of playing: Folk Metal, Viking Metal, Pagan Metal, Ambient Metal…?
That all depends on what you consider the parameters of each of these subgenres to be. I like to think that Oakenshield is folk metal, but takes elements of different styles such as black metal, folk-rock, doom, melodic metal etc. I have no desire to try and fit into any one genre.

Heavy Magazine wrote the following about your music: “Falkenbach playing music with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson”… What do you think about it?
I think it’s nice to be compared with two great artists, although I’m not sure how much of Jethro Tull’s influence came through on “Gylfaginning”. That seems to be a very well known description of the Oakenshield sound – I’m not sure why it’s such a popular quote, but I suppose it’s praise at least.

I interviewed you in 2008 about “Gylfaginning” and you told me that you don’t listen to Viking Metal, but I’m sure you know some bands of the scene. Could you please tell me which are your feelings about the bands you know and listen to?
I don’t recall ever saying I don’t listen to Viking metal, perhaps you misread something I said. Especially in 2008, I was listening to folk metal (or ‘Viking metal’) almost exclusively, and was familiar with many bands in the scene. These days I still listen to a lot of bands from that genre, but I also listen to many other genres and more diverse bands that I have discovered over the years. Everything from black metal to post-rock, and some other more commercial music in between.

In an interview with “Dark Festivals Magazine” you stated that “Viking/Folk Metal isn’t a passing fashion, and it isn’t novelty music”. Do you still think the same?
I still think that, and what I said in interviews back in 2008 came true, in the UK at least. The folk metal craze died and people lost interest. So what we were left with was a handful of bands who were still dedicated  and passionate about the genre. That was a good thing in my opinion, because a lot of metal fans over here were only interested in war-paint and jigging, whereas the bands were a lot more serious than that. The UK scene become intertwined with the black metal community, and people’s tastes began evolving into the more ‘serious’ side of music. Europe seems different from what I see on the internet; there is still a big passion for the genre on the continent which seems to have spread to Eastern Europe and the USA. Communities like the Sword Chant forum are helping keep people’s interest, which is great.

Is there any chance that we ever enjoy your art on stage?
So far, there are no plans. There’s always the possibility, but as it stands I simply have neither the time nor the money to get a live band together.

Any further words?
Thanks for the interesting interview and continued support. All the best with the magazine, and to the readers: cheers for taking the time to read this!

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