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Interviews : “It’s truly our privilege” – An interview with Ihsahn (Emperor)

By on January 29, 2019

Emperor. The name says it all. Black metal royalty. The undisputed heavyweight champions of the Scandinavian movement that continues to inspire musicians whose craft is dedicated to the left-hand path.

Vegard Tveitan ply’s his trade under the Ihsahn pseudonym and is the visionary behind Emperor. Tveitan also enjoys a superb solo career. A cast of willing musicians have of course contributed to Emperor’s outstanding legacy; however, the marriage of the bands brutal metal onslaught and majestically vast, classically inspired keyboard arrangements can be attributed to Ihsahn’s epic vision.

For the first time in the history of the bands almost 30-year existence, they are playing three shows across two cities in Australia.

“It’s truly our privilege. For Emperor to go to Australia has been in talks for a long while because we were never there. And since we’re doing very, very few select shows in these periods where we do live shows, it’s important for us to try and cover new ground and try to reach out to where we haven’t been”

Despite the lack of a touring presence, Australia has been strong territory for Emperor. The shows in Australia will feature a performance of the classic Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (’97) album in its entirety. Ihsahn has been here many times in solo guise so he must have an awareness of how revered the album is according to Australian audiences.

“I like to think I have a very healthy relationship to all that because at the time that it came out it was very welcomed among extreme metal fans. But it was still such an underground phenomenon. I remember Metal Hammer and Kerrang UK, they absolutely slaughtered the album… you know, ‘it was pretentious piece of crap’. So much of the major media later on, I’ve seen In the Nightside Eclipse (’94) and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk sit back to back with the first Black Sabbath album, like most important blah blah blah. So, I’ve kind of seen from both sides of the spectrum how people or (how) the music scene kind of changed their attitude.”

Expanding on the subject, Ihsahn acknowledges the reasons that fans continue to be drawn to the Emperor catalogue.

“The fact that we were uncompromising, always. That communicated to metal fans who were drawn to this music because they want something for real. They don’t want the old soft music. They want something that is raw and real and not created to sell or anything like that. To see that our very selfish and overblown teenage egos… all that we put into it… so uncompromisingly, what it has become, what it is… to see people have that relationship to it.

And one more from an outside perspective too. It’s kind of humbling to be able to be part of that and to have that common experience with playing these songs live and kind of getting that feedback from an audience as well.”

Catch Emperor in Australia for their exclusive shows in Melbourne and Sydney this April. Tickets on sale now via Soundworks Direct.

April 2nd – Sydney, Metro Theatre
April 3rd – Melbourne, 170 Russell – SOLD OUT!
April 5th – Melbourne, 170 Russell – NEW SHOW ADDED


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith