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Geen enkele innovatieve artiest kan zonder zijprojecten: de zogenaamde zijsprongetjes waar men een andere kant van de zaak kan belichten zonder de hoofdband geweld aan te doen. Zo ook Oystein G. Brun (bekend als mastermind van Borknagar) en Mr. V (oftewel Vintersorg). Onder de naam Cronian brachten zij al eerder het debuut 'Terra' uit, nu houden we het lichtjes fantastische 'Enterprise' in onze handen en contacteerden we Oystein G. Brun om wat meer te weten te komen over zijn samenwerking met Vintersorg in het project/band Cronian.

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Since this is the first interview with you on behalf of Cronian, I would like to start at the beginning. Of course your works with Borknagar and Vintersorg do not need introduction. But it was an amazing coincidence that both of you were thinking of a side project in the same vein. Can you tell us about these early thoughts that led to the birth of Cronian?
Well, Mr V and me were good friends and shared much thought regarding music before he actually joined BORKNAGAR. Actually we were talking about doing a project together the first time he visited me in Bergen. At that point it was nothing more than a vague idea and we were really busy with our respective bands (BORKNAGAR and VINTERSORG) so we kept the idea in hibernation for some while, so to speak. But since that time we have shared musical visions, ideas and even some musical samples in order to locate and find the musical expression we ended up with. We just felt and still feel that we have some musical encounters that we have to process in some or another way. Beside both me and Mr V. have always made allot of music that haven't really suited BORKNAGAR nor VINTERSORG so we felt it was the most fair thing to do for ourselves and of course our fans to do something more with this material…….

Why did it take five years before starting things up?
As I mentioned above we used some time to evolve and sharpen our expression. We didn't want to rush anything and avoid becoming a secondary BORKNAGAR or VINTERSORG clone. We wanted to establish a new musical foundation that were able to stand on own feet. Obviously CRONIAN has some elements from our respective bands, anything else would be impossible, but still we think CRONIAN is something really special and has a life of its own. We are proud of that!

In 2005 you finally had the time to focus on writing songs for the debut 'Terra'. Please tell a bit more about these first compositions? How did you work?
The first song we wrote for CRONIAN was the song 'Cronian' (what a surprise!!) and that song somehow established a musical direction to go. I don't know how it really came about, but the song was a result of many musical discussions and we started to send songs and fragments of songs back and forth and little by little we ended up with a nice bunch of songs that we felt had the same vibe and somehow were linked together as a greater whole. Both Mr. V and I have our own respective home studios so we basically worked at our own place, sent material back and forth and obviously spoke allot on the phone. Speaking for the both of us I really think it turned out to be a very enjoyable, effective and creative way of working.

Why did you choose the name Cronian?
Actually we first named the project (at that time we thought of it as a project) ION. But as the things evolved we came to a point were we thought that the name ION was a bit too weak somehow and didn't really suit the musical concept it had become. So we decided to call the project CRONIAN. Again this was a name that we took from the very first song we wrote. And the name CRONIAN just suited the whole musical concept perfectly nice, that's all really….

Can you go a bit deeper into the lyrical contents? Is there a huge difference between 'Terra' and 'Enterprise' on that matter? Can we speak of a concept?
'TERRA' and 'ENTERPRISE' have much the same lyrical framework so to speak. But with ENTERPRISE we wanted to incorporate aggressiveness towards the general exploitation of this mother of all- planet earth. We have definitely not turned political in any means but this time around we just felt that we had to give something back to the Nature and as a band our best tool is to get things in an earthly perspective and make people reflect about the future. 'PROJECT HIBERATION' and 'DEPORTATION' are songs that have a very clear message in that direction……..

Will lyrical themes be split up for every band/project, just like it is on the musical level? I mean, Borknagar about nature and mythology, Vintersorg mostly cosmology and Cronian human extremities? Or do I see it a bit too separated?
Both me and Mr. V have always used the nature (in all it's forms) as the playing ground for our musical endeavours in respective bands and certainly in CRONIAN as well. Obviously we have a different perspective on things for each band, but there is certainly a solid link between the bands. I think that CRONIAN is generally less philosophical that BORKNAGAR and VINTERSORG, and is more straight on target so to speak. On TERRA we focused allot on human extremities and near death experiences in an individual context, but with ENTERPRISE we have expanded this focus to deal more about civilizations and the human race vs. the Nature. The great problem for the last thousand years has been the fact that mankind have distanced itself from the nature more and more………that is one of the great failures in the history of mankind!

How can we see the link with the artwork of Marcelo HCV and who is this artist?
Marcelo's artwork is just phenomenal when it comes to making a visual expression of the music. We have worked closely the last couple of months to get the cover and lay-out together in a most represent able manner. It looks so great; I can assure you about that! Marcelo is a true magician when it comes to understand our visions and to make it real. All he needed from us in order to make the cover and lay-out was a couple keywords and the album title, he worked for some days and he hit the target at once. Check out his site and you will understand what I mean:

I see a bit of the interest in cosmology in that artwork as well, or am I wrong?
It is definitely a part of the package but not the main issue so to speak. I think one of the negative sides with the metal scene is the fact that many bands tend to have a very narrow expression when it comes to lyrics. With CRONIAN, as well as our other bands, we try to bring things into a greater context. To me that's more interesting and I like to believe that fans also like that….

What are in your opinion the biggest differences between both albums on the musical side?
This time it feels a bit more complete, secure and right on target. On the debut we were a bit more in the searching- mode in order to establish a sound. This time around we just felt more focused on the musical visions we had with this album and I think we have succeeded. ENTERPRISE turned out as a nice complete circle with sharpened edges.

'Terra' was released by Century Media, now you changed to Indie Recordings, the fine expanding new label. Can you tell us about the label issues?
Several reasons for that really. I have been working with Century Media for quite many years, over ten years actually. By all means, it's a great label in many ways. But as the BORKNAGAR contract ended with Century Media and we signed a new deal with Indie Records, it felt really nice to have all my projects on the same label. Beside Century Media is a big label with high focus on commercial interests, touring and so on. After the release of the debut both parties basically realised that CRONIAN and Century Media wasn't the best match around. Touring is out of the question for CRONIAN and CRONIAN is not primarily about gaining huge success and so on. So we mutually agreed to end the cooperation after the debut. I am very satisfied with that as Indie Recordings is a great label both for CRONIAN and BORKNAGAR.

band imageCan you go a bit deeper into the recording process of 'Enterprise'?
We recorded everything in our respective home studios. I wrote the basic structures of the songs and recorded the guitars in my studio. Andreas did the bass and vocals in his studio, and finalized the programming. When the material was complete we did the mix and mastering in Ballerina Studio.
I think it is a perfect way of working. There are no obstacles when it comes to budgets, travelling and so on. We can just sit in our own “safe” environment and make the best out of things. Even if Mr. V is located 1500 kilometres away from my place, the cooperation works perfectly as far as I am concerned.

Did you do the mix and mastering at Ballerina Studios or an extern producer?
Yeah, we only did the mix and the mastering of the album in Ballerina studio. We produced the album ourselves, as we basically always do. To me it is something completely wrong to let an “outsider” produce an album for us. It's almost like building a house. When it is all done you don't let the painter choose the colour……..

What can you achieve and use in Cronian that would not fit in your main bands, which are quite known as innovative outfits as well?
First and foremost the great musical collaboration that the two of us have. Both BORKNAGAR and VINTERSORG have been around for quite some years now and even if we want it or not there is some sort of expectations towards those bands, both from ourselves and our respective fans. But with CRONIAN we have a musical playing ground that has basically no boundaries. For us it is an endeavouring source of creativity, inspiration and challenge. Beside, I really think the CRONIAN material has a nerve or a life of its own that deserves to be materialized through a different channel than our respective bands.

Will Cronian remain a studio project or do you hope to play some songs live (even with your main bands maybe?)
No, we are not planning to do anything live. CRONIAN is solely about making great music that has some sort of profound impact, but CRONIAN is not some sort of easy entertainment. And we'll keep it like that, at least for the next years to come…

We all know that Cronian's music is not so easy to describe because it is a blend of many things. Well, can you give it a try to explain your musical achievements?
The main thing we have achieved with CRONIAN in my point of view is a unique musical blend of metal and cinematic music. With that I hope and think that we are bringing forth some music that has a visual or dreamy aspect, but still has a very serious side to it when it comes to attitude towards nature and so forth. I hope the music appeals to emotions and to the adventurous part of the human mind as well as the (maybe forgotten) respect toward our Mother Earth.

When listening to 'Enterprise' a kind of vintage warmth struck me (also caused by the use of Mellotron). I guess you have been keen on listening to seventies progressive rock?
Yeah, allot! Progressive rock and all the bands within that scene have so much to offer when it comes to inspiration. Some of the prog rock might be hard to digest for some, but amount of brilliant musical ideas, learning and visions within that segment is huge…….
Also Mr. V is a huge fan of prog rock. As you might know he has a project going called Waterclime which is prog rock anno 2008 at its finest, I would say!

But 'Enterprise' also includes a metallic heaviness which is rooted in your blackish roots. Can you tell a bit more about this background of both of you…
Yeah, both of us have been into the scene for quite many years now. Personally speaking I started out trading tapes/fanzines already back in the late eighties. So you know, metal is rooted in my spine so to speak. Even if I listen to allot of different music I always come back to the metal at some point. Metal just has the energy and passion that is impossible to find any place else. In the early nineties I started out being a death metal musician (Molested) and later on it evolved into BORKNAGAR and later CRONIAN. So I have basically been through it all, seen people come and go and a scene that have changed radically the last 5-6 years (much because of the internet).

What kind of music do you like to listen to these days?
All sorts of music really, no limits. These days I listen allot to PINK FLOYD (I basically always do that…hehe…), the new album of ULVER(which is truly a masterpiece!!) and the latest WOVEN HAND (that man and his views is way more scary than the blackest black metal band. That man promotes “true evil” with prime excellence!!). But as mentioned above, at some point I always get back to some real metal…hehe…

What are the plans for the near future with Cronian?
Do a huge amount of interviews and promotion I guess. And I have already started to write the third album which I hope we can release sometime in 2010. It will be great, both to work it through and get it out as an album!

Can you shine a light on the contemporary activities in the Borknagar and Vintersorg camp and on the other projects one of you might be involved in (a LOT, I know hehe)
BORKNAGAR is currently rehearsing for a one off gig in Oslo next month. Apart from that we are working on a new album. It will be a massive release, I can assure you that!
As for Mr. V, I assume he is half way through new records with VINTERSORG, WATERCLIME and he has a new project going called GRAVISPHERE. We are both constantly working on music; in some or another band/project. So you haven't heard the last from none of us….hehe…

And to occlude: to which music adepts the music of Cronian will appeal in your opinion? To which segment of the metal audience may it be recommended?
I think this album might be some kind of ear candy for those who love to stretch out in a dark room listening to music on headphones. The music demands something from the listener and those who spend the time to get into the album will be rewarded with a nice musical experience!

I totally agree on that and wish you great times with all of your musical endeavours…
Thank you for your support and kind words…

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