TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This e-mail interview with Marcus Hammarström from the Swedish one man band Elvira Madigan was done by Vincent Eldefors in November 2003.
After having spent some time in local metal bands Ethnocide and Andalucia, Marcus Hammarström decided to form his own solo project in 1995 under the monicker Elvira Madigan. The concept was easy - to combine the best of visual and audial arts and create something out of the ordinary. After two releases on his own label Northlore Records he has now signed a deal with new-born Swedish label Black Lodge, in-house label of one of the biggest music stores in Sweden, Stockholm's Sound Pollution Records. Marcus took sime time to answer my questions.
Hello, how are you?
Hi! I'm fine!
I'm taking a break right now and diving into these questions of yours.
suppose You've heard the expression "management by fear", well I am
currently "mixing by rage"!. A rather unscheduled mixing session have
sneaked into my agenda (remix of the album "BlackArts" in honor of the
rerelease on Black Lodge) and one song just won't come out right! I
listened to it a thousand times by now and I just hate it!!
It has now passed two years since the release of "Witches - Salem
vs 2001), what have you been up to during this time?
Oh! I'm extremely happy You ask me this. I know it might seem like I
been doing nothing, when it is actually quite the opposite. So much has
happened these last two years that I'm not sure where to begin! As I
just finished recording "Witches - Salem (1692 vs 2001)" in December
was completely burned out. So I realized I needed some sort of break.
Instead of not just doing anything I decided to record a covers album
songs I knew would fit the Elvira Madigan agenda. It was the perfect
opportunity to also reload my batteries for the next original album I
currently recording which is going to be a huge concept and the biggest
journey of art I have ever embarked on. Now, the covers album was
in january (although it still awaits it's release), and after that I
my studio completely to accomodate my current recordingsessions. During
this time I've been very busy promoting and making props for my
I finally got around to do. My negotiations with other record companies
take up much of my time. So basically, we have two new releases to look
forward to with the first one beeing "Angelis Deamonae - Wiccan
the awesome covers album!
How come you have now decided to leave your own Northlore label
sign with Sound Pollution's label Black Lodge?
Well, it's because of many things really. As I am writing this I
signed their deal to be honest since we are still negotiating the terms
future releases. We have already taken care of the albums I have
myself "license-wise", so as soon as we reach an agreement we will
to release that covers album.
I have given this matter a lot of thoughts and weighing things agains
eachother trying to find pros- and cons- to signing a normal record
And if I get my terms through then I feel it would be better for Elvira
Madigan and myself in many ways. I get full distribution, they do all
promotion and pay for it as well and they also take eventual financial
as that is the way record deals are formed basically. I get less for
copy sold but on the other hand, I will hopefully sell more. I am a
stubborn individual and I'm sure the guys att soundpollution have
that already and my terms for signing away Elvira Madigan mostly
the fact that the artistic freedom must never be compromised upon. Now,
can of course not really discuss every point in the deal but if I can
sure Elvira Madigan still will become as I want her to - or even better
more funding then I find it to be benefitial to sign a "normal" deal.
people who run Black Lodge and Soundpollution are truly devoted to what
do and do it because they love Metal and not because some slick suite
upstairs runs everything and that's really important. They are really
guys indeed and do respect my oppinion. So I have no problem in letting
Northlore Records stay dormant a while to see where I might head with
As far as I can see, both parties really want to do this and really
each other and that is very important to me. And besides, it enables me
work completely devoted to the art and music and not having to set
time for trying to find space in media and other practical matters of
running a record company that might consume a little too much time.
Before forming your solo project Elvira Madigan you played bass and
in a heavy metal band called Andalucia, could you tell me about it?
the band formed? How come you split up in 1995?
The band formed in 1992 if I'm not mistaken. I'm a little bit uncertain
about time here since we started out jamming in the drummers basement
for fun and everything sort of evolved without anyone knowing it into a
where we all dreamt about "making it big" (and before that me and one
guitarists jammed for quite some time just the two of us). We were all
individuals with far too different views on where we wanted the band to
so in retrospect those dreams were kind of futile. The drummer liked
bands" like Warrant, LA Guns and most cheesy eighties (early nineties)
rock, one guitarist was into Kiss and AC/DC, the other guitarist wanted
to focus on thrash and I was hellbent on Yngwie Malmsteen at that time.
weren't much into compromise and we couldn't seem to find that fifth
to be a singer. So after a while I picked up the microphone in order to
try to get us somewhere after having rehearsed for a couple of years. I
ended up taking the role of band-leader since I had the most musical
and represented a sort of "middle ground" in this ocean of different
Soon my own ego got a little too big and the band split up in 1995
having just played three gigs. It was a period consisting of more
than was needed with meaningless discussions beacause of hard headed
as well as a lack of interest from some. I was pretty down for a period
because I had really hoped Andalucia to be that vessel in order for me
a professional musicial one day and suddenly I had nothing. But it
be the very best thing for me since I had my own personal revalations
that. I just tore every composition apart and kept the best riffs, I
away all the lyrics which I felt lacked in originality. I gave up my
juvenile dreams and locked myself in with my art and just poured
into what is now Elvira Madigan. So one can say that Elvira Madigan was
after the fall of Andalucia, but one can't really compare them both
they approach music in a completely different way.
Did you record any demos? If so, when and what were they called?
No we didn't record any demos that were intended for sale. As soon as
split up though, the "thrash" guitarist and I thought it would be nice
document the songs we had so we started recording them with drummachine
my Madigan Studios which I had just recently bought back then. We
all the tracks on tape and most of those who were recorded didn't get
finished. But I'm not sure whether it is much to hear. It bares little
resemblance to Elvira Madigan although my riffs can be spotted here and
Who were the other members of Andalucia besides yourself?
There was a drummer called Oskar, one guitarist called Roberth and one
called Joakim. Roberth was replace by a guy named Fredrik. These
not active musically today (and by that I mean playing in bands or
in order to record). They all persue different things today, so I need
list their full names (I actually don't know how they feel about that
honest, so it's best to play it safe). The only ones I keep contact
the two initial guitarists since we were friends before Andalucia.
Before Andalucia you played in a local death metal band, what was
name of the band? When was it formed and when did you split up? Did you
It was a band I joined after their current bassist quit. It was called
Ethnocide and we played basic death metal with a little more emphasis
Concerning live performances we did play a few of those. Can't quite
remember how many, but Death Metal was new during this time and small
here and there were quite frequent although most of them were and youth
clubs where alcoholic beverages were not sold, but strangely that
matter much to the crowd at that time! It was a great period indeed
one went all over Stockholm to bang heads to garage acts. I remember
in particular with Ethnocide where we jumped in to replace Opeth who
support act to Agressor of France (this was before Opeth hit it big).
Did you record any demos? If so, when and what were they called?
We went into a studio to record a demo but it had to be rerecorded
of some technical difficulties and before we went into the studio
quit. So they did in fact release a demo without me and when they
quit is information I unfortuanly do not have. I didn't keep contact
the other members after I decided to split. I departed from that act
I didn't feel I got even 10% of my ideas through but mostly because I
weren't really part of their group of everyday friends. I felt it was
to at least spend some time together outside the band just hanging out
whatever, but we didn't. Maybe the other members did - that I don't
but as soon as I quit some of the members wanted to "burn bridges" to
mildly so there was no interest whatsoever to keep contact. Extremely
ridiculous if you ask me. It would've been nice to hear that demo they
out since I had a few details of my own (such as riffs, a bass solo and
lyrics as well).
I don't know what the demo was called or if it even had a title. [Editor's comment: the demo was called "Tearful"]
Who were the other members of the band besides yourself?
I don't recall all of their names, but none of them are active
today (that I am aware of). One guitarist had a porta studio at the
was part of the band, where he recorded techno. Since that is an area I
no interest in whatsoever I can't tell whether he is active in that
not. As far as I know, he might even be the Britney Spears of Techno!
It sounds a little as if You're hoping to fish up any names one might
of in the metal of today (seeing as you asked the same question
Andalucia). That period in the early nineties spawned quite a few acts,
even though we all shared the same gigs and shared drinks as well, I do
unfortuanly not have any contact with the fellow bands of that time.
remember playing "Master of Puppets" with the drummer "Equimanthorn" of
Funeral at our common school, and bands like Amon Amarth and Opeth all
from the same basic area and were people we shared gigs with or who had
same associates. But as I said eralier, I have no contact with them
whatsoever today. After schools out alot happens I suppose...
Why did you choose the name Elvira Madigan for your solo project?
It's a neat name! I am a sucker for band names who don't really mean
anything or that is obviously not in English. "Tiamat" and "Hexenhaus"
both extraordinary names and I just stumbled upon Elvira Madigan
in the past (I can't give You a precise moment unfortuanly). But since
Elvira Madigan was to feature songs in Swedish in the beginning it felt
stupid to have a band name in English and since I would devote the
to art regardless of genre it would be stupid to have a typical dark or
destructive name. Elvira Madigan suits me better than I could ever have
hoped since it actually turns out to sound better in English now that
are taking off a little bit more.
Many people, including myself, have made comparisons between your
and Cradle Of Filth, are you afraid of being classified as a Cradle
are you proud of this comparison?
I do strongly believe that people in time will come to recognize the
difference there is between me and Cradle of Filth. I do understand
people need to have reference points to describe something that is
relativiley new by saying "oh, it sonds like this or that". It is just
way one communicates. I suppose teh comparisons spawns out of the fact
I use my vocals the way I do that people draw lines to Dani's throat,
that I can accept. But I am starting to get a little bored when people
that Elvira Madigan is very much like CoF musically as well, because
I disagree. I do for one thing not even consider my music as Black
Not becuase it hurts me in any way, but because it is unfair to the
that really play Black Metal. I have no interest in the Cradle of Filth
horror or "borderline to the disgusting or tasteless" image they covey.
focus on art and do things that are far more emotional to anything
Filth represents. I do songs that might not even be considered as Metal
all! I have more blues and AOR influence and work more with Folk as
be honest, if people would compare me more to Blind Guardian then I
feel that to be more normal! It's all due to my vocals having somewhat
the same range as CoF and also because I am fairly new and CoF has
quite many albums.
I like to compare this situation to what Crimson Glory went through
releasing "Transcendanse" in -89 or -90. Queensryche had released
"Operation:Mindcrime" and everywhere Crimson Glory went they had to
that they sounded just like Queensryche. Looking back at the two acts
it is obvious that they sound quite different.
Where do you find inspiration for your music and lyrics? What do
in everyday life when not composing music for Elvira Madigan?
I draw inspiration basically everywhere. Now that Elvira Madigan has
quite a few songs released and recorded it is easier to draw
from oneself at a larger extent than before. But if I get a kick out of
particular band at a certain point in time it might very well spawn
something "simular" in Elvira Madigan. Say that I listen to
"Subway to Sally" and gets blown away by it, then it is quite likely I
on Folk melodies while writing, and the same goes for Slayer or
might trigger a nerve within focusing on more extreme and fast music. I
suppose I am more or less unaware about the huge impact Blind Guardian
on my writing regarding structures and such. Even though they are
huge, they do really deserve it.
But as I said, alot of inspiration might come outside of music as well,
as long as it tickles some creativity or emotions within. I might play
Playstation 2 RPG (Role Playing Games) from Japan and just go nuts! I
read a good Manga/Anime Graphic Novel, poetry, folk lore or study art
Brian Froud or get sexual stimulation (ehh... let's just leave it at
and Elvira Madigan might be infected graphically, lyrically or
conceptionwise. It is rather sad to say that practically everything I
some reference to Elvira Madigan! And as a fellow Swede I take it that
understand how our cold winters breathes stimulation into writing this
of dramatic emotional music.
How did you first get into music? Do you think you could ever live
I got into listening to music through Saxon and Pretty Maids. Taking up
bass in the late eighties was prompted by inspiration from Steve Harris
Cliff Burton. From there a cascade of different bands and musicians has
helped me evolved inspirationwise. Kind Diamond, Iron Maiden, Mekong
Magnum, Marillion and Hexenhaus are all acts that has helped me broaden
perspective and dive deeper into music.
Could I ever live without music? No. I could never live without it. And
sure it sound just as cliché as when every other person says it. But
is for me the ultimate art and the ultimate way of feeling. And I
do without either feeling or being creative. Before music I have always
highly creative. I never played sports in any way when I was a child
spent my time drawing, writing stories, building lego, collecting and
painting figures for Role Playing Games (although I never played real
and just dreamed myself away. Music is the ultimate form of expression
it just burst out of every pore of mine so whether Elvira Madigan sells
not, or if I am even allowed to release my music in the far future - I
always make music and listen to it. It's rather wonderful how something
sound can send shivers down one's spine, leave one ghasing or just feel
burning off all ones energy in a total frenzy of headbanging and
airguitaring in the living room wouln't you say?
What are the nearest plans and goals for you?
Nearest plans are to finish with the remixing of "BlackArts" that I am
currently doing in honour of the rerelease on Black Lodge. And the next
is obviously my top priority. The next CD will be fully concpetual with
story told much like a King Diamond album or a Rock Opera. Rock Operas
mostly concepts that fail lately and that is pretty sad. I really hope
will be able to tell my story so that anyone who hears the album will
understand it and care about it. It will be entirely in English since
wather stupid to change language in the middle of a tale. I do have a
working title for the album and that is "Regent Sie" but as far as it
to new releases then I suppose the covers album I mentioned earlier is
card worth focusing more on. I promise, this covers album sounds just
an Elvira Madigan release and not like any other covers album out
has instrumental songs and is highly dramatic and emotional. It
among others a trilogy by Chris DeBurgh about armageddon where I sing
my normal singing voice practically throughout the entire songs.
Deamonae - Wiccan Aftermath" also features tracks by Nordman, Toria
Scorpions. A coverimage by Luis Royo will also be an issue.
Other than this I have small plans here and there but my plans always
to change along the way so less told about those, the better.
Have you ever thought about taking Elvira Madigan live and assemble
full band line-up?
Yes I have thought about it. It is of course highly possible to play
songs live but at this current situation it is not something that will
happen in the very near future. One would have to gather musicians who
devoted enough and when it comes to a drummer, he will have to be quite
skilled if it should work.
Any final message to our readers?
Yes, sure! I'd like to give my honest praise to You Vincent! I'm
grateful for all those reviewers who have supported me from such an
stage! I could never have dreamed I would be treated so kindly after
deciding to go my own path. This also goes for anyone who have send or
to send me emails through the elviramadigan.com site. I always read the
comments and I do reply to them as well. Heck, it's the least I can do!
Thanks a lot for this interview and good luck with Elvira Madigan and
everything else in the future!
Links of interest: