SKÁLD – An Interview with Justine


Interview by Miriam Cadoni

Photo by Die Frau

The French revelation SKÁLD is back with a brand new album full of history and mythology. The follow up to the debut album, “Vikings Memories” released via Decca France in October, has just kept up with the expectations by enchanting the listeners with outwardly chanting and their magical instruments composed by shamanic drums, talharpa and jouhikko. The next recommendation is stay tuned and read this amazing interview together with the singer Justine. Enjoy!

Hi Justine, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how this precarious and strange period is treating you?

Hello! First of all thanks for asking! I’m okay despite those stressful times, I try to stay optimistic so it doesn’t hinder my creativity, we all need to keep our head up high. We don’t know yet when we’ll be able to play live again, we’re moving forward very slowly so in the meantime let’s try to take care of ourselves.

First of all, for who’s not familiar with Skald would you like to tell us how everything began?

SKÁLD is a vocal group with two very distinct tones of voice: Pierrick has this very low voice while I’m the lead female voice. We’re both inspired by world music vocal techniques, especially Norse, but also from typical Mongolian voices. Pierrick and I have known each other for quite a long time now and we were together in another project when he met our composer Christophe Voisin Boisvinet. Together they had this idea to create a vocal project inspired by the Norse myths and Pierrick naturally asked me to meet him and to join in this unique project.

SKÁLD is a cinematic musical experience, it invites the audience to look into the ancestral spirit of the first Norse tribes’ legends, with quite the music to back it up with percussions, shamanic drum and old instruments such as the lyre, the hurdy gurdy and other string instruments. It’s quite hard for me to label our band but if I had to really describe our music, I’d say through our two voices and all these instruments around we try to recreate what was the old North, its nature, its myths and the way people used to live in harmony with the elements back then.

 At the beginning of October, you have released your second full-length “Vikings Memories” via Decca Records France. What can you share about its general album production?

The “Vikings Memories” album has indeed quite the story which makes sense especially during these times. We were almost done with the album when we were put on lockdown for two months, which totally ruined our momentum. During those long months at home, we worked on nurturing our creativity as much as we could, keeping in touch with our public through songs we recorded at home. Needless to say the lockdown had a dramatic impact and no one knew how it would end.

But then we all got back together in Britain after the lockdown, in a land filled with stories and energies, by the sea, with all the feelings we’ve been through like doubt, fear and loneliness, the need to be with each other and sing again, talk about what matters to us. I think you can feel it when you’re listening to the album, the emotions and the moods are everywhere and explicit in our voices, it gives this unique and intimate feeling to the album. With“Vikings Memories”, we come back and we now sing about the Norse people as a whole, not only the Vikings era like we did, we invite you on this trip to even further times.

I’m also aware that your debut “Viking Chant” was focused on the terrestrial elements of Earth and Fire, while now it is dedicated to the water only. How this sole element was able to inspire an entire album? In particular, which was the starting point for musically and lyrically building everything?

That’s correct! In our lyrics, we talk about maelstroms, gigantic waves sailors had to fight when they were embarking on their raids. Water is the main thread of this album, but we also deal with nature as a whole and the relationship between nature and the old Norse people, their fears about climatic phenomena and the respect they had for all the elements.

Interview by Die Frau

According to the press release “The music once again tells a story: a saga of the people of the North and their relationship with nature and the ocean”. Can you offer us more details about the story featured in “Viking Chant”?

Beyond myths, we also try to shed light upon forgotten stories, warmth, cold, light and dark, the big dramatic changes, the submerged lands after ice melted. Like the rich lands of Doggerland, swallowed by the current North Sea. Dealing with these subjects (climatic catastrophes, swallowed lands, exodus, tidal waves…) is a way to draw a line between the old North and our current world.

We are a sick society where we consume more than we should, creating way too much waste and directly taking part in global warming and the rise of sea level. Back then, the Norse people had to face the same issues as the ones we’re dealing with right now, no matter what were the reasons, it’s pretty clear, history repeats itself. But there’s also this big message of hope, a new light coming from the dark like aurora borealis.

In order to promote your new album, your first single and video “Fimbulvetr” was released back in August. What insights can you share about the song and video itself?

Our first single “Fimbulvetr” is about a three-year long winter, an unprecedented catastrophe dramatically marking the tribes of that time. It’s a good way to open the album, a sort of wake-up call, a way to get into the themes of the album. In the clip, you can see a child finding a runic stone referencing the omens of the Rök stone found in Sweden, its runic words suggesting the fear among the tribes who may have to face a new phenomenon like Fimbulvetr, which created famine, sickness, forced people into exodus and was even the death of some tribes.

Both you and Pierrick Valence, the other half of the duo, closely collaborated with the producer Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet. Which role plays Christophe in SKÁLD?

So, Christophe writes the major part of our lyrics and music. He’s putting a lot of work into the words and the sounds. In our songs, every instrument is picked depending on the message we want to give and the atmosphere we want to create around it. We have a lot of different instruments and a lot of skilled musicians on this album.

Our two voices come on top of that to add the final touch, evoking as much as possible the ancestral North. Christophe brings an idea and we all work on perfecting it, giving it life. He perfectly knows how our voices sound and he knows how to best utilize them, refining them to carry strong emotions.

Considering all these numbers like “100 million streams, 45 million YouTube views and 80,000 album sales”. Did you expect such feedback from both the media and listeners?

I would never have imagined the band would meet such success, it’s quite the gamble for a French band to sing in old Norse about the forgotten myths of that period. But I think many people need to get back to their roots, a way to think and approach life closer to nature and this is the message SKÁLD wants to get across.

This story is bigger than simply an era or a race, it’s everybody’s story. The climatic catastrophes creating exodus are echoing through our modern society. An ending cycle, creating a new one. Some people will listen to this album to disconnect from their daily life and we get a lot of messages thanking us for this feeling of evasion, happiness, SKÁLD provides.

What the future holds for SKÁLD and how the pandemic impacted your original plan?

Today music is at risk, the live culture, supporting our album live, became something really complicated because of the current state of things. Nonetheless we still need to share things with our fans! Creating videos, giving them new original content and new music is a way to stay close to them while we wait to get back on stage, or at least to have some answers about what’s to come.

So, Justine, we’re at the end of the interview. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Merci beaucoup.

Thanks a lot for the interview and to the readers, also thanks to everybody who’s listening to us or who will find out about us! Thanks to the fans who keep buying music, CDs, merchandising, helping saving culture and music in the process. We’re really looking forward to getting back on stage with you in clubs or at festivals, we hope you’ll like this new album! We really appreciate you guys giving us feedback on our social media so don’t hesitate!

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