Lay down your souls to the Gods Rock and Roll, We recently caught up with Gofid a one man Black Metal wrecking crew from Cymru. We asked about his past, present and future as he builds his following of Black Metal cohorts and champions his country and music Ladies and germs we give you Gofid.
Tell us the background of Iselder and what inspired you to make recordings. What bands did you listen to growing up, and what/who made you pick up the guitar? Why forge ahead as a solo artist and not a band? Finally, what was the master plan for the Welsh song titles yet not necessarily singing the lyrics in Cymraeg?
Growing up I listened to the bands probably every young metalhead does. Bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, stuff like that. I had a friend who introduced me to bands like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse, and that solidified my love for the more extreme side of things. I didn’t know about black metal until I was around 16/17. I knew about bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth, but didn’t know what you’d catergorise them as. It wasn’t until I found a special issue of Terrorizer on black metal that I discovered bands like Mayhem, Emperor and Darkthrone, and from that point on I was hooked. I didn’t start playing guitar until a few years later, with the initial idea being closer to a traditional heavy metal band than what I do today.
The main reason Iselder is a solo project is simply because I couldn’t find like minded musicians who shared my passion for black metal, so I thought why not do everything myself? I had learned the basics from my time studying music technology in College to know how to go about doing it all. The early demos are.. let’s say awful, and it was an uphill battle of teaching myself how to play this sort of music whilst also having the urge to write/record something. The result would end up being most of the material you hear on my first full length, Dechrau. It’s closer to traditional black metal that what I write now, and whilst rough around the edges it’s something I’m still very proud of.
The lack of Welsh lyrics is simply down to my younger self not bothering to learn it. When I was younger I thought the language was close to dying, and I didn’t see why it was important that it thrived. Obviously my views have changed over the years since, and now I try to use the Welsh language in my music whenever possible.
You’ve released a few CDs and cassette tapes yourself what was the reason to go down that route and not seek out one of the specialist labels? Has there been any interest from any labels that specialise in Darker Metal?
I just didn’t want to wait around for a label to release my music, I thought why not just do it myself? I don’t really like not being in control of my music. With the latest album, Cynefin, I worked with a label to release it. Through all that time I just wasn’t excited to release the album like I had been with past efforts. Being hands off is not for me, and I learned that the hard way rather unfortunately.
On social media, you’ve mentioned putting a band together for some live shows. Has this progressed and have any rehearsals taken place? Other solo projects such as Hellripper have recently put together a band and hit the road is this something you wish to follow?
I’ve been wanting to put together a live band for Iselder for quite some time, but obviously things happen in life (which I’m sure we’ll get to) that you don’t expect. So far no rehearsals have taken place, but I can say that my good friend Neidr of Cwlt Draig fame will be taking up guitar duties. We initially started talking due to his interest in wanting to play live for Iselder some years ago, so it’s nice to come full circle and have him involved in that way.
I feel like it must be rather daunting for a solo project to take to the stage, and the hardest part must be entrusting other people to perform the music you’ve put your heart into. Hopefully all goes well when the time comes, and Iselder plays to audiences far and wide.
Do you think being so patriotic has hindered your reach in any way? Historically I’ve seen Welsh language bands who musically had a chance were held back because people in Wales couldn’t understand the lyrics let alone England, how important is your nationality to your music? Is there any way you’d compromise to reach a wider audience, therefore, enabling you to reach a wider audience?
It’s a funny one when I think about it. When I released “Welsh Nationalist Black Metal” the initial controversy that ensued was almost a complete surprise to me. For some background, the cassette release was limited to 33 copies on a white cassette shell, and for some reason people said that 33 was a reference to Hitler and “of course it’d be on a WHITE shell”. They didn’t like me using the word nationalist, nor did they appreciate my use of the Eryr Wen, ignoring the history of the symbol and instead comparing it to a swastika. So immediately I had people calling me Nazi and all that sort of stuff, whilst on the other hand I discovered I’d been blacklisted from a forum due to being a “traitor/infiltraitor” to the black metal scene for the quote on the inside of the j-card, which reads: “Being Welsh means belonging, feeling that we belong, whatever our language, colour or religion.” So on one hand, I’m apparently too right wing, and on the other I’m too left wing? I even had a guy ask for a refund for this very reason!
My nationality is very important to my music. Whether it be writing about the epic folklore, the history, or simply how I feel about my beloved country, I try to encompass as much of it in my music as I possibly can. Will there be times I sing about something else? Yes, but my primary goal is to promote Wales whenever I can. I would never, under any circumstances reach a compromise just for a wider audience. If being proud of my country disways you from listening to my music, so be it. I will never apologise for it.
What bands inspire you musically I don’t find your songs as extreme as some in the Black Metal genre therefore it’s way more listenable if you know what I mean, is this intentional or do you find you have to hold back to reach more people?
When I started Iselder, I was very much inspired by bands such as Tsjuder, Leviathan, and Xasthur. When writing my past few efforts I usually end up listening to bands outside the black metal sphere such as Crowbar, Acid Bath, and Mogwai. It’s not intentional at all to make more approachable music, it just happens. This could be from my limited ability to play guitar, as I do feel I can’t create as extreme music as I would sometimes like.
What bands are you currently listening to? there is a whole underground scene across the UK that I tapped into but there were only one or two that I found I even liked namely yourself and Hellripper and across Scandinavia the same.
I currently listen mostly to some bands I mentioned previously, but I’m always eager to explore new music. Lately I’ve discovered Nordjevel, who I think are fantastic. The UK underground scene is thriving. Even in Wales there’s more and more black metal bands appearing. I could be hear listing off bands all day, but Marwolaeth Records (my label) and Wulfhere Productions both have several compilations of UK black metal.
Do you find many people are shocked by your stance on Wales or aren’t people even bothered by the politics?
I think people are shocked to find politics in their music, but at the same time I feel people are dishonest when they stop listening to a band due to their political ideology. It’s not that they want to separate the art from the artist, it’s that they can look the other way when it doesn’t concern them. As soon as any band challenges them, they take offence to it and stop listening. This same person will no doubt go on to call someone a snowflake when they won’t tolerate a band’s racist nonsense, no matter how ironic that may be.
You came into some bother with a T-shirt you were selling what’s the story behind that?
The t-shirt was a parody based on the old “Burn Your Local Church” shirts, but instead of a church, it featured a burning cottage with the phrase “Burn Your Local Holiday Home”. Obviously it was a joke, but one morning I hear a knock on my door, only to find several police officers outside. Before I know it I’m placed in handcuffs, told that I’m being arrested for inciting criminal damage and arson, and placed in a unmarked police car on my way to a holding cell to await my interview.
They tried to pin me as some anti-English extremist, citing lyrics to the song Llosgi Bwriadol on of course the shirts. I had to explain the shirts were a parody, that the lyrics were inspired by historical events, and I even had to tell them why I use a stage name and wear face paint!
Fortunately after about five months, all charges were dropped. It was a very stressful time as you can imagine, and I was surprised by how much support I had received over that time, but of course you also had idiots saying I deserved it. Reading some of those comments hurt quite a lot, but luckily they were overshadowed by the support I was getting.
Is there any chance of your previous material being pressed on vinyl separately or as a compilation?
As much as I want to press older Iselder material on vinyl, I just don’t have the money for it right now. If a label came to me and said they wanted to do it, I’d be more than happy to work with them to achieve that goal. This is something I’ve been asked about in the past by people who like my music, but there’s no plans to do it yet.
What if anything are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on album number four. It’s been a hard process so far, as I don’t know what theme I’m going for. I’ve tried to come up with ideas and write music for them, but they all seem to fall flat. There’s a lot of care going into this album that perhaps I didn’t exercise enough on past releases. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something with everyone before the years ends.
You obviously are inspired by history and we have a rich history here in Wales that is set up for making great lyrics as equal if not better than anything dished up out of places like Norway. What would you say is the best lyric you’ve written to date?
I’m not sure what’s the best lyric I’ve ever written to be honest, and that’s a tough question to answer. I do think one of my best songs is “Fe Godwn Ni Eto”, so maybe that’ll have to be my answer.
And off he rose into the msity night upon a white stalion (although other coloured stallions are obviously available) We wish Gofid well and hope he can find bandmembers to join him in his persuit to play live and spread the work of Iselder. Get intouch with us and we’ll pass it on or go directly to the man himslef if you are interested. Diolch yn Fawr iawn brawd Gofid dymunwn yn dda i chi.