Unique festival digs deep into the art of Norwegian black metal

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Norway isn’t exactly lacking for extreme metal festivals these days, but even by the high standards already set the announcement of BlekkMetal, a once-only non-profit event taking place at Bergen’s USF Verftet venue on November 13-15 this year, is a bit special.

The brainchild of one of the most respected artists in the extreme metal world, Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, whose work has graced Burzum’s best known album sleeves, Satyricon’s first album and created the logos for both Immortal and Enslaved, BlekkMetal is both a celebration of the roots of Norwegian black metal and a tattoo convention, as she puts it, “a look back at what were, what happened and what inspired the beginning of the scene known as True Norwegian Black Metal and a tribute to those times!”

Conceived as a small but intimate even, BlekkMetal will host 16 tattooists with strong connection to the metal scene, a series of talks, live interviews and panels dedicated to the birth of black metal’s second wave, and 10 Norwegian bands formed before 1994.

The bands confirmed so far are: Enslaved, Taake, Hades Almighty, Aeternus and Helheim. The confirmed tattooists are: Uncle Allan (Conspiracy Ink, Berlin), Phil Kyle (Magnum Opus, Brighton), Welt (Yama Tattoo, Rome), Trine Grimm and Nick Morte (Lucky 7, Oslo), Jon Clue ( East Side Ink, NY) and Dagfinn Bjelland (Karma Tattoo, Haugesund).

Below we spoke to Jannicke about what is sure to be one of the most unmissable and resonant events on 2015’s metal calendar.

Can you say a little bit about your background, and how you started working with the likes of Burzum, Enslaved and Immortal?

“I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and loved metal since Anthrax was introduced to me in the mid-80s. Living in Bergen and being a part of the young and very small metal scene, hanging with friends who after a while formed bands like Burzum and Immortal, it just fell to me to make logos and covers for them. This spread beyond the city limits of Bergen and soon I was making cover art for Satyricon and logos for Enslaved and Øystein’s [Aarseth, aka Euronymous’s] Deathlike Silence Productions. We all knew or knew of eachother back then, so it came naturally.”

What was the starting point for the festival? Did you feel there were areas that other festivals had overlooked?

“The idea started as a tattoo convention, but quickly got angled at black metal, since we’re in Bergen, Norway, after all. And all festivals these days compete in being the biggest and largest etc, but black metal in those early 90s were not concerned so much about that. The ambition could be there, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the huge interest black metal would get later. We were a small scene, and focusing on the early years, I wanted the festival quite small as well. 500 tickets will be sold, no more. Downsizing will give this event the right mood and setting, and hopefully the focus in BlekkMetal will be the music, the people behind it, the art and not so much on murders and church burnings. BlekkMetal is meant as a tribute to the start of the Norwegian Black Metal Scene.”

The talks and seminars look like they’re going to be an important insight into the birth of black metal. For people who can’t make it to the event, are there any plans to record anything for posterity?

“As of now there is no such plans, but of course your question gives food for thought. We’ll look into that later, although my first response will be that we won’t.”

Bands like Enslaved have changed style significantly a lot since their early days. Will they be playing special sets of early tracks, or is the festival also celebrating the development of Norwegian black metal since the birth of the second wave?

“That remains to be seen, but I can say that the event focuses on the early days. The bands will be free to do as they like, so it depends on what ideas they have, we might get surprises along the way. Some new, some old…”

For those not in the know, can you give a brief insight into some of the tattooists, and their relation to the metal world? Will people be able to get tattooed by them at the event?

“To answer the last question first, yes, people will get the chance to get tattooed for sure! The tattooers will use one day to work on bandmembers, but the two remaining days will be for regular customers. In fact, we encourage as much!

“The tattooers are all connected to the metal scene, either by style, being bandmembers themselves or by living the life of metal. Tattooers like Uncle Allan, Phil Kyle, Dagfinn, Welt, Nick Morte and Trine Grimm are all deep into black metal and are great at what they do! We will release more names further on, and present their work also, together with more bands. But we’ve downsized metal and the convention, so no more than 17 tattooers will work at BlekkMetal, and the band count will be even less – a small, real and different kind of festival. Oh, and it will only happen once!”

Give hails to BlekkMetal’s Facebook page here!

BlekkMetal is co-arranged with Bergen Backline and Let’s Buzz! tattoo studio

Can you say a little bit about your background, and how you started working with the likes of Burzum, Enslaved and Immortal?

“I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and loved metal since Anthrax was introduced to me in the mid-80s. Living in Bergen and being a part of the young and very small metal scene, hanging with friends who after a while formed bands like Burzum and Immortal, it just fell to me to make logos and covers for them. This spread beyond the city limits of Bergen and soon I was making cover art for Satyricon and logos for Enslaved and Øystein’s [Aarseth, aka Euronymous’s] Deathlike Silence Productions. We all knew or knew of eachother back then, so it came naturally.”

What was the starting point for the festival? Did you feel there were areas that other festivals had overlooked?

“The idea started as a tattoo convention, but quickly got angled at black metal, since we’re in Bergen, Norway, after all. And all festivals these days compete in being the biggest and largest etc, but black metal in those early 90s were not concerned so much about that. The ambition could be there, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the huge interest black metal would get later. We were a small scene, and focusing on the early years, I wanted the festival quite small as well. 500 tickets will be sold, no more. Downsizing will give this event the right mood and setting, and hopefully the focus in BlekkMetal will be the music, the people behind it, the art and not so much on murders and church burnings. BlekkMetal is meant as a tribute to the start of the Norwegian Black Metal Scene.”

The talks and seminars look like they’re going to be an important insight into the birth of black metal. For people who can’t make it to the event, are there any plans to record anything for posterity?

“As of now there is no such plans, but of course your question gives food for thought. We’ll look into that later, although my first response will be that we won’t.”

Bands like Enslaved have changed style significantly a lot since their early days. Will they be playing special sets of early tracks, or is the festival also celebrating the development of Norwegian black metal since the birth of the second wave?

“That remains to be seen, but I can say that the event focuses on the early days. The bands will be free to do as they like, so it depends on what ideas they have, we might get surprises along the way. Some new, some old…”

For those not in the know, can you give a brief insight into some of the tattooists, and their relation to the metal world? Will people be able to get tattooed by them at the event?

“To answer the last question first, yes, people will get the chance to get tattooed for sure! The tattooers will use one day to work on bandmembers, but the two remaining days will be for regular customers. In fact, we encourage as much!

“The tattooers are all connected to the metal scene, either by style, being bandmembers themselves or by living the life of metal. Tattooers like Uncle Allan, Phil Kyle, Dagfinn, Welt, Nick Morte and Trine Grimm are all deep into black metal and are great at what they do! We will release more names further on, and present their work also, together with more bands. But we’ve downsized metal and the convention, so no more than 16 tattooers will work at BlekkMetal, and the band count will be even less – a small, real and different kind of festival. Oh, and it will only happen once!”

Give hails to Blekkmetal’s Facebook page here!

BlekkMetal is co-arranged with Bergen Backline and Let’s Buzz! tattoo studio