'Till the Light Takes Us' Q&A with Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell (2023)

'Till the Light Takes Us' Q&A with Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell (1)

'Till the Light Takes Us' Q&A with Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell (3)

Aaron Aites e Audrey EwellsUntil the light takes uswas one of the most unusual appearances of theAFI FEST 2008held in Los Angeles in early November. In the words of co-director Ewell, the film is "a feature-length documentary that chronicles the history, ideology and aesthetic of Norwegian black metal - a musical subculture notorious for a series of murders and church burnings, as well as its unique musical ". is and visual aesthetics. This is the first (and only) film to truly shed light on a movement hitherto shrouded in darkness and hearsay, clouded by inaccurate and superficial portrayals.”

I had never heard of Norwegian black metal thriving in the early 1990s, but that didn't stop me from being immersed in - and greatly disturbed by - the bizarre and violent stories of some of the participants in that music scene as presented.Until the light takes us🇧🇷 There are murders (once a black metal veteran expressed his joy that Emperor Bård "Faust" Eithun murdered a gay man), suicides, rabid nationalism, anti-Jewish-Christian diatribes, anti-Americanism, church burnings, media sensationalism ,falseSatanism and, in my opinion, the widespread sense that we live in a very, very sick world - a world where violence and hatred are perceived as not only valid but desirable manifestations of dissent.

Aites and Ewell lived in Norway for two years to interview the main creators of the black metal scene in that country. As a result,Until the light takes usfeatures exclusive interviews with several musicians, including black metal figure Varg Vikernes (below, who is currently serving a murder sentence), who sounds like a cool, composed -- and hair-raising ideologue; rare footage from the early days of black metal's "Inner Circle"; and music from the likes of Burzum (that's Vikernes), Darkthrone, Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Sunn 0))), Thorns, Ulver, and Black Dice.

Aites and Ewell (above right) kindly participated in a Q&A session for the Alt Film Guide and explained their motivationUntil the light takes usand their attitude towards the cultural relevance of black metal. See below.

more information aboutUntil the light takes uscan be found athttp://www.myspace.com/blackmetalmovie.

Photo: Rico Gagliano (Filmmaker)

Where did the idea to make a documentary about Norwegian black metal musicians come from?

We were introduced to black metal by a friend (Andee Conners of Aquarius Records in San Francisco) and we were both really into it (almost obsessed). We've both worked in film and were in the early stages of working together on a narrative feature film. To answer your question, we really wanted to see a documentary about black metal, but there wasn't one. That's where the idea came from.

Was it difficult getting people like Varg Vikernes to open up to you on camera? at theUntil the light takes usThe interviewees don't seem to have any qualms about talking, just bragging about the crimes - some of them quite gruesome - that they or their fellow musicians have committed.

It was very difficult to get the musicians to open up to us. It took 8 months for Varg to be willing to meet us let alone attend. They were extremely careful (I'm sure you've noticed that Bård "Faust" Eithun is in disguise in the movie, this was at his request). And then, on top of the approach, it was about breaking all the posturing and myth-making that they are so proficient at. Yes, it was difficult. It took years. So we lived in Norway for about two years. It was necessary to get to the bottom of the deepest truths and the most complex emotions of the musicians. It was very difficult. At the same time, we were fortunate enough to befriend Gylve right away, whose story is, in many ways, the history of black metal and ties into all the broader themes we wanted to explore.

Would you say that the Norwegian media - acting sensationally, for example - accused the church arsonists of being Satanists and did thisklanglike Norway is under siege - did it help to create an aura around these young people as larger than life anti-establishment rebels?

Additionally, these seniors may have good English skills, sound coherent, and have quirky things to say about culture.colonialismit's the same. However, some of them also sound downright insane, at least to my ears - not unlike bigoted ideologues of all stripes. In an article for Moving Pictures, you refer to "purpose and intelligence" in both your language and your music. Could you explain this in more detail?

Obviously, the Norwegian media, but also the world's media, were involved in creating the myth of the evil and antisocial devil worshipers. I think the media have a certain responsibility to do a little fact-checking when young people make statements like yours. But this challenges the idea that there really is still a line between the news media and the tabloid utilizing a good story.

There was a lot going on in the world at the time these events unfolded. Globalization was really in full swing. The news really fell in the direction of tabloid journalism. The formula for commodifying all kinds of dissent seemed to have found its focus and recognized it as a kind of inevitability.

Noam Chomsky, who wasn't really someone we paid much attention to when we got interested in this story, but whose ideas influenced many of the people we visitedguerracaring, published three works in 1998:The culture of terrorism,language and politics, it is clear,Manufacturing consent: the political economy of mass media(with Edward Herman), all of which deal directly with the transpiring world factors that led to the actions that took place in Norway in the early 1990s, or which may help explain the media reaction to them.

A few years later, the venerable editors ofthere are baffles, a fantastic (if sporadically published) enlightened magazine, published a brochure calledMarket your dissent🇧🇷 In the late 90s and early 2000s, the likes of Thomas Friedman and Benjamin Barber put into words what Norwegian black metal exemplified in action: that the youth of the world, at least the part of them who lived in countries that allowed the luxury , were themselves very upset at the simultaneous homogenizing powers of the popular media, along with the dilution of any power the youth might have had to disagree. Because, at that moment, the message they received from the rise of global corporate hegemony and the consolidation of media companies sounded very similar to them: “Rebel. Please. We will only benefit from it. 🇧🇷

Youth, and especially this group of Norwegian musicians, felt deprived of their rights, which until then were considered practically aBom- Right given: to rebel, protest and, thus, try to change the public perception of what they were opposed to. With that weapon removed from their arsenal, and acting more out of anger than premeditation, they decided to protest in more extreme ways: engaging in acts of domestic terrorism, violence, and symbolic (and violent) acts of cultural recovery. Making music with the worst production values ​​all the time; an attempt to censure commodification, recognized as the enemy of change and personal power.

So yes, we see an intelligence and purpose behind their actions. Just understand that they were also very young, some as young as 13, and they lived in a very sheltered society where the line between activism and terrorism was surprisingly hard to draw. And if you've read Lyotard, Baudrillard, or other seminal postmodern theorists, you might marvel at the similarities in the texts of musicians (particularly Gylves and, more surprisingly, Eithuns) with ideas about a post-narrative world; a world without history, a world purged of its past, a world without roots, without a center and in change that makes those struggling to understand their place in the world with any cultural or historical context uneasy. This was the beginning of the era of alienation, at least for those who came of age amidst the global reorganization of power.

What was it like for you to talk to these men? Was special care taken not to judge the people you interviewed? And did you ever worry about how they would react to it?Until the light takes us?

It was very, very interesting to spend a few years in this world. We really didn't have to try hard not to judge. It wasn't something we were leaning towards. This is not how we face life. It's kind of the antithesis of an inquiring mind, which isn't to say we're amoral people. In fact, we are very moral and have a strong sense of justice and truth. The most dangerous thing is when they tell people what to think. If you give people the chance, we believe they will prove capable of analytical thinking. And we believe that makes the world a better place. Basically, we're just hippies with cameras and maybe a darker aesthetic.

Are there great female Black Metallers?

While there are no great female musicians in the scene (although some bands have had a female member or two), it's impossible to ignore the fact that there are also no images of sexualized women gracing album covers. This is a different kind of metal. It's not being propagated by the same rabid white men, who are generally of lower socioeconomic class, as metal in America. The anger is there, but the perceived attack isn't directed at his masculinity or his ability to thrive on a more educated, less hard-working playing field. It is by definition a more intellectual rebellion.

Is black metal still a fringe musical movement in Norway or has it become mainstream?

Black metal remains marginal and mainstream. It's not a group with a leader, dress code and set of rules. It's a scene – if you can call it that at this point – made up of individuals.

At the same time, black metal was largely co-opted by second wave bands who saw the media reports of satanic metal bands burning down churches in the name of Lucifer and created just that. We've already mentioned postmodernism - this is the perfect example of simulation and simulacra performed on a massive scale. Anyway, it quickly grew when the media got involved with the story. It's huge now, all over the world. The only point we want to make here is that it's a matter of opinion whether black metal is huge or the distorted image of itself that black metal has become is huge.

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