Peccatum Interview
~interview by Eric Rasmussen

Ihriel of Star of Ash and Ihsahn of Emperor are the brains behind Peccatum, and they were kind enough to provide us with some insights into Peccatum’s peculiar brand of dark music.

Eric: Peccatum is popularly known as Ihriel’s band; is there any basis for this? Do you work on the project evenly, or is there a clear “band leader”?

Peccatum: We are unfamiliar with this opinion. In Peccatum we both equally share responsibility, work and input. For Lost in Reverie everything is so co-written that it is hard to sort out who had the different original ideas for themes, arrangements, instrumentation and so on.   

Eric: You create some really neat jazz atmospheres on Lost in Reverie, which admittedly surprised me. Are you fans of jazz? What inspired you to incorporate jazz percussion into Peccatum?

Peccatum:  Not necessarily in general terms. Within some genres we are more fascinated by the sonic potential, rather than the musical expression. For this album we wished to have a very versatile drummer, and with Knut Aalefjær and his experiences from the Norwegian Philharmonic Orchestra, several jazz-acts and contemporary performances, we got just that.

Eric: When you write songs, what do you typically want to communicate to your listeners? Are you seeking to establish a particular kind of atmosphere or mood?

Peccatum: All  music is also about communication, though we do not pick the counterpart (listener) in advance. With this record we kind of worked our way from scratch with applying various writing techniques as well as locating and following three guiding stars; the dreamy and ruthless movement of water, Theodor Kittilsen’s “Svartedauen”( the black plague) and French Surrealism. All felt well suited to underline as well as build the dreamy and decadent claustrophobic and unpredictable atmosphere we wished to create with “Lost in Reverie”. In many ways it paints the beauty of the mad, the contagious and the invisible.   

Eric: Are you planning to tour with your new material? Is it possible that Knut Aalefjær would tour with you?

Peccatum: We have no immediate plans to follow up this release with live performances. This is merely due to lack of time with building a new label as well as pursuing new musical challenges. On the practical side we would need to hire quite a few session musicians in order to get this show on the road, and that in itself is quite a big project.  However, we’ve already had some offers for concerts, so we might want to follow up on this at a later point.
Eric: Ihriel, has your Star of Ash project significantly affected the way you view Peccatum’s music? How do the two projects differ?

Peccatum: All musical work will leave you with new experiences, and so was also the case for me with Star of Ash. One of the things I learned most from was not thinking traditional band constellation, but independent songwriting, which in turn opened new possibilities. The two projects differ obviously musically, but also in what they wish to achieve. Star of Ash is in many ways more resigned and at ease, while Peccatum reach for darkness and aggression. 
Eric: Ihsahn, your clean singing is more expressive on Lost in Reverie than in anything else I’ve heard you do. How have you developed your voice since your time in Emperor?
Peccatum: Simply by random, chance and what I aim to express – different music generates different singing. That’s said, production-wise this album is also more intimate, leaving the voice more upfront in the mix.

Eric: What drives you to fill your songs with such bleak and desolate lyrics?

Peccatum: It’s all from the heart.

Eric: There is a genuinely creepy vibe to many of the tracks on Lost in Reverie, and the artwork/packaging with the CD seems to capture this feel beautifully. Who did you work with for the art, and how do you go about transferring sound to images?

Peccatum:  Thank you. We are very happy with how the artwork turned out this time. The greatest step forward for us was not only to work with the right people (art/fashion photographer Siren Lauvdal and the designer duo Trine and Kim), but also to take control of all aspects concerning the final result of the album. With music being a very abstract art form, the visuals on an album becomes its clothing and how you’d like to present and elaborate it. 

Eric: Are you both currently involved in any other projects? How do you manage your time between Peccatum and your other work?

Peccatum: Time is something we really should have more of, so it comes down to coordination and priority. Sometimes one outlet has to be kept on hold in order to push another forward. At present we have quite a work load with both Peccatum and Mnemosyne Productions. In addition to this Ihsahn is writing material for his forthcoming solo-album.

Eric: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans? Parting words of wisdom from Peccatum...

Peccatum: Thank you for the interview Eric, and greetings to all dark music lovers with these words from the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin:

“The subjects of my work are not freaks, degenerates of the grotesque. They are us”.

Be sure to check out our review of Lost in Reverie for more information!

Peccatum is:
Ihriel - Vocals and instruments
Ihsahn - Vocals and instruments
Knut Aalefjær - additional percussion

Peccatum - Official Site:

Mnemosyne Productions:

The End Records (US):