The world of Nordic folk, a subgenre of neofolk focusing on traditionalist Viking era music, has become one of the most involved and ecclectic styles in the folk revival. Part of the attraction has come from the romantic focus on Viking culture, usually ahistorical both on the left and the right. Many of these bands have found inspiration in Nordic pagan spirituality and traditions such as crafts and arts, but have had to fight to defend this culture from open white nationalists who use a “folkish” interpretation of heathenry to promote fascist tribalism.
Hindarfjäll is one of these Nordic folk bands, inspired by a huge wave of musicians out of neofolk and black metal that are drawing on these communal sounds. They have made themselves clear from the start, that they will provide no quarter to Nazis attempting to appropriate these traditions.
We interviewed Nils A. Edström from Hindarfjäll about how the project came together, why we have to stand against white nationalism, and how tradition plays into their songwriting.
How did Hindarfjäll come together?
I started Hindarfjäll with a close friend of mine, Elias Pettifor, back in 2015. We shared the same passion for nature, music and Norse mythology. As we’re both musicians we decided to try to make something together based on our interests. We only did one song together though, and that song is called ”Så Som Träden Viskar Hans Namn” which was the first song we uploaded as soon as we created Hindarfjäll’s Facebook page. Not long after that we got contacted by a festival called the Asgardian, arranged by Asatru UK, and we were asked to come and play. At that time Hindarfjäll was still a project, so we basically needed more people. I studied music in high school so it wasn’t hard to find musicians.
When we started to rehearse the songs, things started to get quite complicated. Elias didn’t show up and it was almost like he disappeared for some time. Eventually I decided to go anyway and find a substitute.
When we came home from England Hindarfjäll suddenly felt more like a band rather than a project.
I started to write new Hindarfjäll material with help from my best friend Samuel Tibell and all of a sudden the two of us became the core of Hindarfjäll. Today I see Hindarfjäll both as a project and a band. Samuel and I create the music and we get help from the others when we enter the studio or play live.
Were you inspired by other Nordic folk bands, like Wardruna?
I’m inspired by a lot of different bands and genres. It all started when I was 13 years old and listened to a track called ”Stenristarna” by Anders Hagberg. Not long after that I discovered Wardruna and other Nordic folk bands. The band that’s influenced Hindarfjäll the most is a band called Månegarm. It’s actually a folk/black metal band from Norrtälje, Sweden. They have a lot of acoustic songs and if you listen to that you can really hear that it sounds quite similar to our music.
How does Nordic paganism and spirituality play into your music?
Nordic paganism and spirituality is basically the core of our music. Without it we wouldn’t be able to create that atmosphere we make today, and that’s basically why I wanted to do this kind of music from the start. The music definitely has its roots in nature and spirituality. I won’t say that every song we make has to have something to do with Nordic paganism though, but every song is touching deep thoughts and questions.
Are folk traditions important when creating your music? Do you feel bonded to the traditions and cycles of the past?
I feel bonded to nature and all the different traditions that are connected to nature. We definitely get inspiration from old traditions and the old ways of thinking.
What do you think of white nationalists trying to appropriate heathen music and symbols? What should we do about Nazis trying to come into this music scene?
I don’t think we can or should do anything else than just show the world what heathenism is REALLY about. I believe in freedom of speech so I think it’s better to show people that Scandinavian traditions and music doesn’t have anything to do with hatred and racism. We need to be seen and heard!
Do you think it is important to stand up against fascism in the neofolk scene?
Absolutely. It’s a real shame that we even have to explain that heathenry and Nordic symbols doesn’t have anything to do with fascism. But I think it’s really important to do that especially in these days.
How does songwriting take place? Is it collaborative?
It varies, I wrote all the songs by myself until ”Sunnas Strålar” and ”Dolda Krafter”. That’s where Samuel came in the picture and we started to write together. You can hear that those songs are a bit different from the other songs.
What instruments do you use?
We use guitars, flutes, skin drums and mouth harp.
Who would you recommend fans of yours to listen to?
What’s coming next? Any tours, new releases, or side projects?
The debut album is in the making. We’re just waiting for our drums to be finished, then we’re ready to go.