Interview with Mikołaj Poplawski vocalist/guitarist for Kromheim and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
MP: To us Kromheim is a continuation of the Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal bands that were releasing their material at the end of the 90’s/early 20’s with the added Viking Metal element on top. We definitely wanted to bring back the ‘death’ elements within the ‘melodic death metal’ genre as much as possible while maintaining the epic atmosphere with straightforward melodies.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
MP: Kromheim was originally established in 2020 as a solo project from Warsaw, Poland but now it is based out of London, UK. My adventure (Mikołaj [vox/guitars]) in music started with me picking up the guitar when I was a teenager and teaching myself how to play while listening to bands like COB, Kalmah, Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquillity etc. From there on I played in various bands, most notably Gravastar, where I met Sotiris [current Kromheim guitarist] and Duncan [current Kromheim bassist].
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
MP: My 2 main biggest influences that made me pick up the guitar and start creating music were Peter Tagtgren [Hypocrisy, PAIN] and Alexi Laiho [Children Of Bodom] – the emotions that their music evokes simply made me want to start creating something of my own. From a more personal standpoint, songwriting has a therapeutic effect on me and I guess that there’s also the desire to leave something behind for the next generation of metalheads. As for lyrical themes, Kromheim is mostly centred around Norse culture and Viking raids which goes very well hand in hand with either the fast or epic elements that we like to write.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
MP: That’s a very good question and I’m not sure I have a straightforward answer. My biggest desire is to deliver the best piece of music I can come up with at a specific point in time. I’m also very keen on picking up bits from different genres, experimenting with them and mixing them in the hope of creating a sound for Kromheim that will be its own.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
MP: Number 1 would definitely be getting the Kromheim concept off the ground and continuing the project all the way to this LP release. Number 2 would be supporting Wind Rose with my previous band Gravastar in London.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
MP: We do indeed live in a phenomenal time where the barriers to entry are quite low cost-wise – all you really need is a guitar, an audio interface and recording software. And it’s fantastic because you get to hear so many new bands (that play really honest non-commercial music) that otherwise would’ve never made it through a label’s door back in the day (especially extreme metal bands).
As for promoting music, at the end of the day it is really up to the fans to decide which bands they want to follow. With the democratisation of access to advertising (e.g. social media) the space is indeed getting crowded but back in the day the problem was the other way round – only the big bands could get on MTV or the radio. We personally want to make sure that our followers are included on this musical journey of ours as much as possible – this for us means a fair amount of vlogging.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
MP: Kromheim only stopped being a solo project a few months ago and we’re still completing our line-up. Once we have everyone on board then we’ll mostly kick-off with some gigs in London.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
MP: Again, wide-spread access to music is a phenomenal thing and the fact that streaming platforms pay artists royalties is already a good start (albeit $0.004 per stream won’t make you a millionaire). There’s also no point in reminiscing about times when physical CD’s/cassettes were indispensable because those times simply won’t come back.
Outside of gigging and selling merch, the ‘modern musician’ needs to think outside of the box and be a marketeer, designer and PR story-teller all in one if they want to have a shot at succeeding financially. Personally I love looking at what YouTubers do, how they diversify their streams of income and of course, how they cater to their community – because treating your fanbase right is the single most important thing as a musician.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
MP: Probably ‘Heroes to us’ by Kalmah – that song has the most kickass melodies while maintaining a proper heavy and epic atmosphere.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
MP: Maybe the fact that there is no serious competitor to Spotify yet – this unfortunately allows them to charge $0.004 per stream which is nowhere near a fair livable wage – per 10,000 streams for example you will receive $40 but in order to get to that amount of streams you will have to first spend a fair bit on promoting your music, so anyone even knows you exist. So fairer royalties would be on my wishlist for sure.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
MP: We are currently busy with the release of our first LP ‘Journey To Divinity’ which will be out on the 17th of February. After that we’ll probably look to start booking some gigs in and around London.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
MP: We are mostly active on Instagram [IG: @kromheimofficial] where we keep everyone up-to-date on what’s happening and if you’re interested in our music/merch then head over to our Bandcamp page [www.kromheim.bandcamp.com].
Band/Artist location – London UK (formerly Warsaw Poland)
Facebook – You Tube – Soundcloud – Bandcamp – Merch – Twitter – Instagram –
Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – TikTok – Withkoji – Lastfm –
Check our page for Kromheim