Interview with Eilif Gundersen
Eilif is a talented horn player and musician from one of the most Influential and Popular bands of our current times Wardruna
1.So, its great to be able to talk with a member of one of the best bands of the heathen/folk music genre today.
Wardruna is one of our personal favorites,
Can you tell us How did you got the opportunity to meet up with and join this amazing group? I did look back and see that you do have experience in music long before joining Wardruna, how did you come to meet and become a member?
Thank you for nice words.
I played with Wardruna for the first time at the Inferno festival in Lausanne in spring 2013. Einar made a call and asked if I wanted to join in for this special occasion: he needed a musician playing lure ("neverlur") and rams horm ("bukkehorn"). I listened to the music - which I didn't know in advance, checked my calendar and called back and said: "YES".
I have had a dream for many years to make "large format" music based on the possibilities and limitations in these old instruments and mixing old and new. I realized that Einar already had done it, so it was just for me to join in. The musical and social match was good and I played one more time with Wardruna at a viking market in Bergen in may 2013. The connection was made and late in 2013 Wardruna offered me a permanent place in the live band. Of course I accepted.
It is interesting that you use the word "heathen". I suppose you mean "an individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Muslim; a pagan". For me, Wardruna is about roots: our norse identity, history and culture and not so much about religion. I have always had an interest in history and, for example, read the whole "The Sagas of the Viking Kings of Norway"
(Heimskringla) by Snorre Sturlusson when I was about 10 years old. That was a long winter
2.So can you tell us a bit more about your past? When did you first become interested in becoming a musician? Where you involved in any special schooling or musical practice?
As many other kids in Norway at that time i started in a marching band (norwegian: "skolekorps"). That was in 1967, I was 11 and had been waiting "all my life" to start playing a real instrument. My father played, my uncles played and my older cousins played blowing instruments. At last I received my first trumpet. I grew up on a farm and on the country side in those days these marching bands acted as the music school in the society. But I also had listened to the traditional norwegian folk music - mainly the hardanger fiddle - on the radio since I was 7-8 years old. It was so strange and fascinating. Nobody I knew liked this music, but I did.
3.I know that you play the horned instruments such as the Bukkehorn and nevelure, and I also know that your band strives to use rare custom made instruments, can you tell us some other instruments you have played in performances,? Do you have any personal favorites?
Every instrument has its own personality and voice. I have of course used - and still uses - the trumpet or the cornet or the flugel horn or the tenor horn in other kinds of music.
In folk music and folk music based projects I have, during the years, used occarinos, bone flutes, shalm, drums, bullroarer, stones and ice-instruments etc. depending on mood and message. In Wardruna i use the bronze lure, lures, rams horns, willow flute and finger hole flute at the moment.
It is hard to pick a favorite, but maybe the large "bukkehorn" is on top.
4.Can you tell us about some of your personal favorite songs you perform in?
This is really a hard question. The music must have a meaning for me and I always tries to convey it to the audience. In Wardruna it is of course fun for me to play "Tyr" or "Runaljod" because of the loud energy, but I also loves the small and simple melodies on horns or flutes as in "Wunjo" or "Raido". And the same is on the trumpet if I am playing in a symphonic orchestra, big band, soul band, brass quartet, trio or whatever. I am not able to choose between "Birdland", Shostakovich 5. , “Think” or "So what". I can reveal that there is a solo CD: "Sådagen" ("Sowing day"). You can find it on Spotify, Wimp and similar services. Anyone who buys the CD will get a special 32 page booklet in addition.
5.So in your personal time what music do you prefer to listen to?
What are some of your all time favorite musical artists that inspired you throughout your life and career?
I am not listening to much music, When I am driving, I often tune in to a radio station that I expect to surprise me. Listening to music is quite demanding, so sometimes silence is best.
The first LP I bought to myself was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana brass. I have a collection of The Beatles singles - I think I played "Hey Jude" for a whole summer. When I discovered ELP (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) it was a shock. Miles Davies! And the great folk music singers and musicians of Norway and Sweden.
6.So i know that wardruna has performed in some amazing places, Can you tell us about any historical or favorite places you have been to perform?
7.So I was excited to hear Wardruna is coming to the U.S, I unfortunately have not found a way to attend,,how do you feel about the tour?, have you been to the U.S before?
I went to the U.S. for my first time with Wardruna last year. We played at Faeriworlds in Oregon and that was nice. This time it is at tour with four concerts which has expanded to six in U.S. and Canada because the venues has been sold out. I look forward to play for these audiences - and to meet people.
8.Recently Norse/folk/pagan genre has really taken a big popularity in the U.S. had a lot to do with the Vikings tv series and recent movies of course, but anyway a good friend Antonio and I a recent friend of yours as well, have been trying to create a community and website where we can help promote and connect artists with fans and help create places and venues for artists to showcase their talents,, this interview is an example of what we want to do..reach and connect with people,
What advice would you have for an upcoming artist or musician looking to start a career?
In your experiences, What is the most difficult, and best part of being a musical artist?
An advice could be: "be in the right place at the right time with the right people". But this is hard to plan.
Be true to yourself and your music. It may take many years to build a career.
It can be hard to make a living of being a musician. But you need a home and you need money. My wife and I have four children and I have always earned money in one way or another. Travelling must be agreed and planned with the family. And then comes the best part: playing music you love arrive to an audience who wants to hear that music.
9.So in your career have you got to meet any other great musician or artist that you personally look up to? and is their anyone that you still would like to meet or see perform today?
Oh yes - and that list is long, counting folk musicians from different countries, jazz musicians, classical musicians and so on. But I am not able to point on one. It is always a pleasure to listen to good musicians and even more to play with them. Good musicians who makes others good.
10.So I Know Einar, Linda fay, and the others of wardruna have a great passion for what they do, from your perspective how would you describe what you see from the other band members around you? Can you share with us what you think makes wardruna so special?
You said it - the passion. A collective desire to create magic at each concert. And that is quite simple and at the same time quite demanding with this music. There is also a common interest in Norwegian tradition and older culture. But in addition, everyone brings in their knowledge and background and respect and listen to each other.
I just want to Thank you again for taking the time to participate in this Interview and let the fans and followers out there get to know a little more about you, we look forward to your future performances !
Follow and support Eilif and Wardruna at this link
Also follow Eilifs Solo projects on spotify at this link