Interview with Knut Hassel, aka “Tengil”, founder of KARMANJAKA and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
KH: We – KARMANJAKA – are an extreme metal band drawing on several sources for our music. There aren’t really any rules for what we do. It wouldn’t be metal if there were, would it? So, when we’re writing anything can happen! Some people think they can decide what others should do, or how they should sound, and we’re like: FUCK THAT! So as you can hear on all of our albums we draw from a very wide palette of influences when we make songs and put together a record.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
KH: There’s obviously alot of black metal in there. But we also have big chunks of classic power metal, death, and progressive metal. Then there are strands of seventies classic rock and prog. Last but not least I’m a huge fan of medieval music and classical music, so those are elements that I always tend to lean towards when writing. We’re also obviously heavily into the old days of our part of the world, Scandinavia, and the pagan times before Christianity was shoved down our throats by greedy kings sponsored by the even greedier bishops of Rome.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
KH: Back in early 2016 I became very tired of what I was doing musicly, and I started to long for doing really heavy, dark, and challenging “fuck all” music again.
I had had a stint with Swedish dark metallers DESTINY back in the early to mid ’90s and made an album with them that came out in ’98. And now I felt an overwhelming craving for extreme and dark, powerful stuff again. So I decided to record a self financed EP and started writing songs. Once I found myself in the studio I ditched my original plan for Karmanjaka to be a one man project, and enlisted Max Malmer (“Karm”) who was my studio engineer, for bass duties, then the other guys (Anton – “Orm”, Tim – “Scallagrim”, and Ville – “Grond”) came on board very quickly following the weekend sessions. Fast forward and we three years later have four albums out!
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
KH: Making dangerous and challenging music and spreading the pagan gospels.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
KH: The main songwriters for KARMANJAKA has been me and the other guitarist, Anton.
I mainly write anti religious songs, or songs rooted in pagan / viking themes. Anton leans heavily towards mythological themes, I think. Max so far has done two songs, for our earlier full length albums, but he will contribute more to our upcoming albums. Since we started our latest writing cycle we have been collaborating alot more, so now everyone is more involved in the writing process.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
KH: The internet is what is driving the industry now, so we have to use the different channels that are provided there. Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, various playlists are important tools, etc. Also our label will be a very important player getting the right connections for promotion and tours.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
KH: It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s there, the artists are getting screwed – like they were always getting screwed. The only difference is that there are other guys screwing us now than it used to be.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
KH: I don’t really have any wishes like that…. I only wish for the inspiration to write the best songs I possibly can, to please my own ego. If I’d have to choose one it would be Le Sacre du Printemps, by Stravinskij. I fancy the atmosphere he conjures up there, from subtle alluring danger, to outright frantic madness! It’s impossible not getting sucked into that hellhole of a composition once you start listening to it!
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
KH: People telling other people how to think or act, pretending to know everything and believing that there is a singular universal truth. That will be the downfall of mankind, mark my words.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
KH: Meeting someone that is profoundly (positively or negatively) affected by something that I wrote and recorded. Haha, when someone really dislikes a song of mine I snuggly think to myself: Yeah… Gotcha, fukkin bastard!!!
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
KH: We have just released an EP “HUGIN” and are also in the last stages of signing a record deal with Grind To Death Records! The plan is to release a full album next fall, 2021. The songs are in pre production and we will start recording proper sometime next spring.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
KH: Our previous four albums are available on Spotify and other digital platforms, and there are some lyric videos up on Youtube, etc.
Knut Hassel, aka. “Tengil”