With roots firmly planted in Nordic folk music, Garmarna creates their own sound, influenced by the rock tradition they've all grown up with. They ignore the unwritten laws of how traditional music should be performed; they know no boundaries. The music is half new - and newly-written - and half traditional with ancient instrumentation next to sampled drum-loops, suggestive mouth harps, tender violins and distorted guitars.
GarmarnaGarmarna started in January 1990, just a week after a performance of Hamlet which contained very strong, old Swedish music. Stefan, Gotte, and Rickard were inspired by the show, and they began searching for old tunes and instruments. After a year of playing together, just before their appearance at Sweden's biggest rock festival, Jens HÃ¶glin joined the band on drums. Autumn 1992 saw the band in the studio recording an EP. They realized that female vocals would provide a light contrast to the naturally dark moods of the music. Emma HÃ¤rdelin (a longtime friend of the band) guested on that record, then joined the band in early 1993, completing the lineup. The debut EP sold well in Sweden, and helped the band tour in Scandinavia.
The following year, the band decided to add samples and sequencers to the mix, giving the old tunes a modern musical foundation. Still, the heart of the music remains the harsh Swedish harmonies created by acoustic instruments, topped off by Emma's intense vocals. The album Vittrad ("crumbling away") was immediately hailed by the press, calling Garmarna "probably the best folkmusic band in Scandinavia." In the deep winter of 1994, Omnium released Vittrad in the US, with full English translations of the dark old songs and an extra track Kleveberg's Fire, pointing the way towards a new style of retro-futurist folk music (including samples from prehistoric Scandinavia.) The band made the cover of Billboard and the CMJ World chart.
Garmarna1996 started with a long German tour closely followed by the album Gods Musicians / Guds SpelemÃ¤n (named after a poem by Swedish poet Nils Ferlin.) The Swedish press went wild over it, the album made it to the Swedish sales charts, and it was released by Omnium in September 1996. Again, the band appeared on the cover of Billboard with rave reviews in Wired and Playboy.
Last year, in-between recording sessions for their new album, Garmarna toured with a 900-year old nun! Well not really, but they did a series of concerts in churches in the North of Sweden presenting their interpretation of the medieval works of Hildegard von Bingen, together with actress Felicia Konrad. It's not exactly a Hildegard von Bingen concert; more Garmarna's interpretation of her work placed in a 21st century environment. The reviews were great, the shows sold out and the audience was very enthusiastic. One local magazine gave Garmarna five beavers (!) out of five.
Now the band take a giant step forward with Vengeance, released by NorthSide on April 6th, 1999. It's truly a breakthrough record for the entire genre of Nordic music. This masterpiece brilliantly fuses the ancient with the modern, traditional murder ballads with rock and trip-hop production techniques, the transcendent with the subterranean.
Stefan Brisland-Ferner - violins, viola, hurdy-gurdy, programming, guitar
Emma HÃ¤rdelin - lead vocals
Jens HÃ¶glin - drums and percussion
Gotte Ringqvist - luteguitar, guitar, violin
Rickard Westman - guitar, e-bow, bass