This interview with Christoph Ziegler of the German ambient band Vinterriket was done through e-mail in January 2001.

Could you please tell us a little about yourself and the history of Vinterriket?
Answer: Hail Vincent! At the moment I try to get rid of my hangover from tonight's drinking party, he,he,... This is not good at the moment due to my exams wih my studies I'll have soon. But what the fuck! There are more important things in life... Okay, here we go: The VINTERRIKET- project was started around 1996/1997. I wanted to do something different and original. I am a very big fan of all this atmospheric- ambient- stuff and I had many ideas way back then (today too, of course,...). I started to compose a few songs, but the whole thing was not that serious. The old stuff was only heard by a few close friends and it seemed that they liked it, though the very very bad sound. I had no good recording- equipment. I lent the synthie and the recording-stuff from our local school, ha,ha,! Some of the old riffs you can hear in the first song of the demotape'2000 called "...Gjennom Tåkete Skogen", but of course a little bit different arranged. I even do not have these old recordings anymore. I lost them or erased them... I don't know. The whole thing became more serious in 1998/1999 when I got better equipment. It is a little bit more professional... The songs for the demotape have been finnished in late 1999. I recorded it during the cold months on the turn of the year 1999/2000. I released the stuff in a very limited edition (100 copies) to check the reactions from my friends and contacts around the world. The tape was published through my own little label NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS. I released the tape by my own, because the band was totally unknown at this time in the underground. The first edition was just for spreading the name of VINTERRIKET a little bit. Unbelievable but true, the tape was sold out within 2 or 3 weeks. Exactly at the same time when the tape was sold out I got an offer from my heathen brother Juris /BEVERINA PRODUCTIONS / Latvija to release the tape in a professional way in 500 copies. This was a co-operation of BEVERINA & NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS. The tape was also sold out within 2 months I think. Everybody who is still interested in the demo can obtain it as a Demo CD-R version now... In February/March 2001 there will be a brand new EP called "Det Svake Lys". It'll be a split release of NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS and NOISE, FILTH AND FURY PRODUCTIONS (Sweden). Also limited to 500 copies only! People who like the demotape will love the EP I think, because it is much more better, at least in my opinion. True- neo-classical, atmospheric, melancholic, depressive and dark synth- soundscapes (ambient). The EP will feature 3 new tracks. Also in February/March I'll have the re-release of the demotape out. This will be a split release with LEBZUL from Panama (great ambient- act!), limited to 200 copies and intended for collectors only. Both bands will contribute some bonus- songs. On the VINTERRIKET-side there will be a cover song of the mighty BURZUM ("Der Tod Wuotans") from Varg's famous "Hlidskjalf" CD'99. The other bonus song will be a never before released song called "Endzeit". This song is something special, because this time I use more drums/ e-guitars/ vocals! Besides this nothing is planned at the moment. We'll see what the future brings...

Could you describe the Vinterriket sound and the atmosphere you want the music to create?
Answer: It is not easy to describe the VINTERRIKET- sound... Some compare it to MORTIIS, others to new BURZUM, etc. I prefer to call the VINTERRIKET-sound as atmospheric, melancholic, neo-folkish, depressive and dark synth- soundscapes! I think the only parallel between BURZUM/MORTIIS and VINTERRIKET is that we all use synthies. But this is all! My sound is totally different I think. I am very influenced by the power and might of mother nature! VINTERRIKET- atmospheres vary a lot: From melancholy, misanthropy, fear, folk, etc.! Everything is very diverse I think... I want that the listener can drift into a dream-world, on a journey through the darkest and mysterious dimensions possible. Tadas from LEDO TAKAS Magazine/ Lithuania got the point: He wrote in a review the following: "At one point the music might seem warm and sunny, but then it turns cold and severe. Just like nature itself." This description fits very good I think.

You live in Germany but all your songs bear Norwegian titles. How come?
Answer: Oh, this is just because of my love to the norwegian nature and the language. I felt in love with the norwegian nature, so to speak, ha,ha,..during my trips through the cold north! Some of the new titles/ lyrics are entirely in german language. Maybe some lyrics will be in English or Latin or whatever in the future. I don't know. It depends on my mood. I thought the Norwegian titles would fit best to the atmosphere on the demotape. Why is BURZUM using German titles???? He's Norwegian. Just because he loves Germania and our language I think... I am of pure German blood and NOT Norwegian as some might think. Norway has a great nature, with majestic fjords, foggy valleys, monumental mountains and endless vast mysterious woods. As soon as my studies are over I'll probabyl move up in the north permanently. When the money is here, of course, he,he,...

Have you been playing live or is Vinterriket purely a studio project?
Answer: Nope, I have never played live, at least not with VINTERRIKET. VINTERRIKET is only a studio- project, because the music is not good to be performed live in front of many people with crappy sound in crappy concert-halls with many drunken Metal- Heads in it. VINTERRIKET should be listened to at home individually in order to catch the moods and haunting atmospheres. But maybe I'll play live some time, because on some of the new songs are many drums/ guitars/ vocals/ etc. But this depends if I'll manage it to find adequate session- musicians. But I think this will not happen soon. In my opinion live-music should be aggressive, straight-in-your-face and hateful. There is no place for moody, silent and calm VINTERRIKET-sounds...

Your favorite five bands ever?
Answer: Oh, this is a very difficult question and not easy to anwer. I have many many fave- bands, mostly in the Black Metal scene. But I cannot tell you 5 absolute-fave bands. I'd break my head the whole night, ha,ha,...

You are also the man behind the new label Neodawn Productions. Could you tell us a little about it?
Answer: Yes I am the man behind it! NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS was formed early 2000 when I released the VINTERRIKET demotape. My second release was the Demo "Love Letter" of CROWHEAD from Norge. This band is the follow-up of the SHADOW DANCERS and features Rym of the Norwegian Black Metal Horde RAGNAROK. They play a very original and diverse kind of "Gothic"- Metal. It is hardly to describe their sound. The Demo is still available in the form of a Demo CD-R. One should listen to it. I can say, it is very melancholic, sad and moody, with great clean vocals. NDP 003 is the Demo/Promo of the swedish band LEGION (ex- TYRANT) called "Bloodaeons". They play MARDUK/DARK FUNERAL/ SETHERIAL- like Black Metal but much more better than the mentioned bands I think: Hellish, furious, fast, hateful, apocalyptic Black Metal Art exclusively with top-sound and great booklet artwork incl. lyrics! But unfortunately the tape is sold out! All 735 copies are away! As I told you before, NDP 004 will be the 7"EP of VINTERRIKET called "Det Svake Lys", NDP 005 the split release with LEBZUL/ VINTERRIKET. This tape is the re-release if the demos of both bands with bonus songs. It'll be released by INFERNAL WORLD PRODUCTIONS (Panama) and NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS. Besides this I have a few other plans/ offers for the future, but nothing is sure yet. It depends on my financial situation. There will be new LEGION Logo-Shirts soon, too. Limited to 50 copies. The VINTERRIKET Logo- Shirt is completely sold out too! People should also ask for my free distributionlist or check it out on the link below. There are lot of great underground- items to be found.

What do you think about the following:

a) Black metal?

Too many bands around these days, too much shit circulating in the underground! Mainly I like the old Black Metal bands, but there are also a few newer great bands, like f.ex. SOLEFALD or WINDIR! I could write a book about this topic, actually. Too many stupid followers with only shit in their brains, too many pseudo- satanists and too many little kids running around with CRADLE OF FILTH shirts.

b) Power metal?

When I was young I listened to the old HELLOWEEN/ BLIND GUARDIAN- stuff. I grew up with all the great german bands like HELLOWEEN, SODOM, KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, BLIND GUARDIAN, etc. The list is long. Nowadays there are a lot of bands around copying all the old stuff, like for example HAMMERFALL. Recently I saw an Anti- HAMMERFALL shirt from a swedish record company with the erased HAMMERFALL Logo + "Fuck Poser Metal" on the back! That's cool, ha,ha, ;-)

c) Gothic metal?

I hate this kind of music, really! When I see all these Gothic- clowns looking like vampires... So stupid!

d) Death metal?

I lost my interest in this genre ages ago, though there are many good bands around today, but I've never been a real fan of it. Music must transform atmospheres and moods, but Death Metal is moodless and with no atmospheres. The technical abilities of some current Death Metal bands are amazing, I think! Besides this I am not into this horror- cannibal- slaughter- massacre thing at all.... The vocals are too emotionless and lack of expression. But this is just my personal vie. I know many people here who are only into this kind of music. In Germany Death Metal is very popular. We have many good bands, like for example FLESHCRAWL (hail!), PROFANITY, PURGATORY, etc.

e) Darkwave/ambient music?

Darkwave is nothing for me, but Ambient is very good. I like for example ARTHAME from Finland very much! In general I like all innovative, original and non-standard bands. F.ex. the new ULVER stuff, new DODHEIMSGARD, new COVENANT, new IN THE WOODS, etc.

What are your thoughts on mp3, Napster and the Internet as a way of promoting bands?
Answer: I think the Internet is a quite good "tool" to promote bands. I see no argument not to use it. I mean, it is here, and let's use it! Oh, maybe it is "untrue", ha,ha,... This is NO joke, I know some narrow- minded people in the Black Metal- scene who think so. I can say nothing about and napster, because I never dealt with it, sorry! Maybe I should in the future? We'll see... Of course the internet offers great possibilities for band- promotion. Just look at all these homepages. Puh, too much...

Do you have some musical training or are you completely self-taught?
Answer: I learnt all the instruments of my own! I never had musical lession. But I thought about it, in order to widen my musical horizon. But this is all a question of money these days... I learnt all the stuff from books and hard- training. My main instrument is the guitar by the way...

What do you do in your ordinary life when not composing music or working on your label?
Answer: Not much, ha,ha,... I am studying informatics, but this is quite stressy. Most of my time I spend on composing new stuff, NEODAWN and VINTERRIKET. I listen to a lot of music and I am reading different books here and there. So you see, nothing special. I also like to walk around in the nature and drink a few beers. I think I am a very misanthropic person and I hate all these big parties with lots of people and noise. Arrgh! It's okay to drink a few beers and discuss several topics with close friends, but most of the time I am at home.

What are your plans and goals for the future?
Answers: I have no special plans as I told you before. I'll see what comes. I make the music I like in order to express myself through this dark art. If people like it: okay. If not, I don't care! I make the music only for MYSELF, regardless of good or bad reviews. I hope to put out the debut CD soon, but that's far away at the moment. Maybe early 2001 or something like that. If there's no record-company interested in doing this, I'll probably release it through NEODAWN PRODUCTIONS myself. Maybe there will be another demotape or 7" EP first? I don't know yet. I am busy arranging new songs right now. I also do not know whether the future- stuff will be in the same vein as the old VINTERRIKET-stuff or if I'll do something new and different.

Any final words you would like to tell the world?
Answer: Thanx Vincent for giving me the opportunity to tell your readers all this stuff! All readers should check out for all the infos and news concerning NEODAWN & VINTERRIKET! Good luck for your magazine and all hail! Consume great swedish snus and drink german power beer!!!!

Links of interest:

Neodawn Productions