[Today, we sit down for interview with Norwegian musician, Runahild. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practices, her calling as both musician and a photographer, and her upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Runahild: I feel you’re putting the words right when you say “intuitive and eclectic.” I have a special bond to the old norse magic called Seid, but at the same time I feel my spiritual path is free. I also take inspiration from other nature spiritualities around the world, as well as from other individuals sharing theirs. But first of all, it comes from myself and my own experience of it. I personally believe that our sense of spirituality comes from within and that we all have our own way to connect to it. We are all born from the same universe and made of the same stardust, yet we are all unique in infinite ways.
ev0ke: You founded Eliwagar in 2006 as a heathen folk/folk music project. How do you define heathen folk music, and how does it differ from other kinds of folk music?
Runahild: Mostly, what I mean by heathen music is music dedicated to a heathen spiritual worldview. In my case, my dedication to the Norse gods and spirits. From my point of view, the difference with other kind of folk music is simply the spiritual direction … but it has given less and less meaning to me to define my music based on a specific, defined type of spirituality.
ev0ke: In 2016, you ended Eliwagar and began to release your music under the name Runahild. How did you come up with the name “ethereal folk,” and how do you define it?
Runahild: The term “ethereal folk” came to me exactly because I felt I wanted to get out of any kind of defined spirituality and just use a neutral word, which would nonetheless keep a spiritual feel. “Ethereal” sounded just perfect to me, in matter of meaning and energy compared to my inspiration and the kind of soundscape I compose.
ev0ke: You are skilled in the use of the lyre, zither, langeleik, drum, and other instruments. Are you professionally trained? Did you teach yourself? Work with small groups of fellow students?
Runahild: I don’t master any of the instruments I play, nor have I learnt any of them in a professional way. Except for the flute which I learnt at school and a few drum kit lessons, I have taught myself all the instruments I play and I usually learnt them because I wanted their sound on my music… So, for example, for the upcoming album I am working on, I have rehearsed a lot on the violin so it could feature on two songs. I am not very good at following routines, so I have never rehearsed frequently on any instrument. Instead, it can become intensive rehearsal when needed, and always for the purpose of recording. When I created Runahild, I decided that this project would be dedicated to express emotions, atmosphere and energies to keep an intuitive flow.
ev0ke: Which instrument would like to learn to play, but have not yet?
Runahild: That would be the cello! I already own one and started to practice on it many years ago, but I live in a tiny cottage now and I cannot have it here at the moment. We are working on building an extension for the home/studio though, so when that is done and ready to move in, I will start rehearsing it again. This instrument definitely demands much more work from me to be played well, so I will just have to be a bit more clever with a routine … but then again, I really want it on future songs, so it will be worth the work.
My friend Gustav plays the Indian instrument called sarangi and we already plan to play together to keep the motivation and inspiration up.
ev0ke: Some of your work is born of drum and song circles. What do you find so inspiring about that environment?
Runahild: What is truly inspiring from such circles is the energy within it. We all sing and drum from our hearts and souls, we bring our own rhythms and songs into the circle, and although it is all improvised in the moment, it creates very harmonic melodies and intense energy … it feels transcendental. Everyone gets tuned to one another in magical ways and we all feel connected.
ev0ke: What advice can you offer to other solo artists? Mistakes to avoid? Things they absolutely should do?
Runahild: That’s very hard to say … my view is that every artist has their own path to follow and their own experiences to go through. I don’t really believe in mistakes, just ways to reevaluate ourselves to come closer to what we truly want to do and how we truly want to express ourselves. Success and failure are really just a question of perception and what we as individuals define them as. What may seem like a failure may just give you what you need to grow, and success can just mean that your art made a difference in somebody else’s life … even if it should just be your own. Keep following your heart both when it is hard and when it is rewarding.
ev0ke: Where can listeners find your music?
Runahild: All my albums are available on most digital platform like Spotify, iTunes, et cetera. If you want to order physical copies, you can order via my official website. My latest album Seidfylgjur is being released with Grimfrost Records and can be ordered directly from their website. My four albums prior singing with Grimfrost are also available on Bandcamp.
ev0ke: In addition to being a musician, you are also a photographer. I imagine that you go for long walks through the forests and mountains of Norway. Do you set out to take a particular photograph or just go with the flow? Have you ever been surprised by how a picture turned out?
Runahild: I live within nature so I have a constant source of inspiration right out the door. I also love travelling and discovering new landscapes, as well as wandering in known ones. Sometimes, I go for specific atmosphere or ideas, although quite often I end up with completely different pictures than the ones intended. That was the case when I was going down to the lake one misty morning to capture that moment when the sun would pierce through the fog. But the fog was thicker than I thought and while waiting for the sun to shine, I got much more fascinated by the patterns of a spider web covered by morning dew, connecting the whole forest. This inspired the video for the song “Wyrd” on top of a series of photographs. But most of the time, it is nature showing me her magic and beauty and I just follow her flow.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
Runahild: I am also part of an electronic project together with my friend Gustav which is called Astralseid. We are releasing our debut digital album on May 7, 2020. The idea with this project is to free ourselves completely, artistically-wise. We both come from a background of playing mainly acoustic music, but we both love electronic music as well, so we just want to write our own and work with sound just as we wish, with no limit.
We also have another project that isn’t directly music related. We are planning to open for retreats in our homes in nature. We wish to invite people into our world and share our knowledge of how to live off nature. There will also be drum and song circles. We are looking forward to the exchange this will bring. We can all learn so much from each other by sharing of ourselves with one another. Now, the way we live is quite primitive for the western world we live in … so people who want to come will need this inner call to reconnect to the earth essence in a raw way.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her works can be found there.]