Interview with Trepaneringsritualen (Breathe, Then Die)

Photo by Richard K. Szabó. Logo added by Deaf Sparrow from original source.

We’ve been on such a dark kick recently.  We like it dark, darker than Goth, darker than black metal.  So dark we tread places few will go because you’ll be tagged as ‘outsider’ by anyone.  No one will accept you, everyone will fear you.  One of our more recent listens involved an awesome piece submitted to us via Malignant Records, a split LP featuring Trepaneringsritualen, a Geatish death/dark industrial act from out of Sweden.  After this first exposure, we took the time to listen to more of his work, and then received another release, and then eventually his most recent work from Cold Spring, who’ve we’ve been friends with for quite awhile.  Not with benefits, of course, and by that we mean the benefit of a positive review.  Like always, if we don’t like it, we say it, no pandering.  But we like this guy here, we do, a lot.  Seeing some of his live images and some videos, we figured we’d give him a quick note to see if he wouldn’t mind an interview, and here we go.


Deaf Sparrow – What kind of background do you have in music, if any (classical piano, earlier bands, etc.)?  Seems like a lame place to start, but we’re totally lame so let’s start there.

All sepia photos by Andrea Petrovičová.

Trepaneringsritualen – Music has always been my main focus, from when I was a kid. Tried my hands at various instruments, but I am not very good at any. I did Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words for ten years, before retiring that moniker in 2010. Aside from T × R × P, I am currently involved in synth pop duo Soma Sema, as well as doing the odd remix, and occasionally collaborating with others in one-off projects

DS – So tell everyone a little about how TRP started and why, if you don’t mind.

T – That’s obscure even to me, it was never a conscious decision on my part. I’ve never questioned my creative impulses, and that has always served me well. T × R × P just needed to be unleashed upon the world I guess.

DS – Oh, an esoteric one, eh?  We like that.  Well, regardless of the why, assuming it will never be known anyway and taking it as an impulse, what was the first true TRP release?

T – Ritualer, Blot och Botgöring, a cassette released by Harsh Head Rituals in 2008. It has since been reissued on vinyl by Strömkarlen and Verlautbarung, and I am putting the finishing touches on a CD version on Infinite Fog.

DS – When did you start performing live?  Was it an esoteric nothingness from which you sprang, much like your sudden decision to create your music?

T – In 2010. The first ritual was at the Norberg Festival in Sweden. I’ve done close to 40 since then.  Editor’s Note: We’ve placed the video of this event for you below, but be careful!  Make sure your speakers are down lower, this will really blast them to pieces:

DS – Wow, yeah, hahaah, that’s some serious power there man, Jesus.  Considering you hit the ground running with weapons flailing left and right, it’s obvious you’d eventually get involved in releasing your material.  When was the first TRP professional release?  I mean, of course, some sort of separate thing on vinyl, cassette, whatever, not including compilations.

T – The first factory manufactured release was the Deathward, To The Womb 10” on Release The Bats. That was in 2011 I think.  Editor’s Note: According to the Bandcamp link below it was 2012.

DS – Great stuff.  Looks like that was one of the last releases they did, seems they ended the label in 2012.  So, for live performances, do you tie in any visuals via video or do you perform any live rituals to go along with the sounds? Detail some of these if you don’t mind.

T – I try to build as much of an atmosphere as possible, with whatever means I have at my disposal. Projections are part of it, and I work with lighting and fog when I can, as well as scent (rotten blood, mildew, and incense mostly). I believe it’s essential to attack as many senses as possible, overload the audience and disorientate them. I believe this is essential to make them more susceptible to communications from the other spheres.

DS – Awesome, yeah, I get a sense from the live footage I’ve seen that you have this excellent, modern, technological presence that assimilates actual ritual process and makes it something new.  If you ever tour, you better believe I’ll be there.  Some of the pictures I’ve seen look intense.  Now let’s move on to your most recent work, which we just reviewed not that long ago.  What was the conception behind your latest work for Cold Spring in particular, which just came out this year?

T – For once I actually did not set a specific theme or concept for the album, so thematically it’s quite wide. It deals with everything from the dual nature of divinity, betrayal and madness.

DS – I appreciate a theme, but I felt this one represented you in a more general sense, which is nice to have for a sound like this, get away from that usual consistency to something with overall variety.  I see you’re also involved with some other projects.  In particular I found Soma Sema very interesting, really enjoy that kind of dark, brooding electronica with pop influences. Can you tell me your involvement with Soma and DLSODW, which you talked about earlier? Really digging Soma, listening to “Artificial Heart” right now, this is something I’d even review for the site.

T – Soma Sema sort of represents my pop sensibilities. Different music for different moods.  Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words was my attempt to come to terms with certain aspects of my personality. It was a very solipsistic project, very much about ME. In the end it just got too personal, I couldn’t deal with it anymore and it stopped serving its purpose.  I’ve worked with so many people over the years, and I have taken something away from all of them, so it’s hard to single out anything specific. The last couple of years have been pretty hectic with my own stuff so I haven’t had all that much time to work on outside stuff. But I recently contributed vocals to a Blitzkrieg Baby song, and I am working on a few projects right now, one with Joachim Nordwall of the Skull Defekts, and one with my friend Dag Rosenqvist, who works under his own name. I will also contribute to the next Hadewych album, and I’ve been talking with Sutekh Hexen about doing a proper collaboration.

DS – Man, so many things to listen to now, thanks for that, or not, hahahaah.  So wait, ahhaha, you don’t even remember how TRP actually started?

T – Well, it’s more than I can’t explain the impetus. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened because it had to happen. Call it fate or destiny or whatever.

DS – Back to your live presence for a bit.   I’m aware of acts like Kristus Kut that get involved totally in live sex ritual performances and sexual imagery, things like that. What kind of crazy ass ritualistic death have you bled upon audiences, maybe involving literal blood?

T – A T × R × P ritual typically involves loud sounds, a choking stench of rotting blood and mildew, and what ever extra-dimensional presence I manage to channel. They are rarely specific or tailored to achieve any pre-set goal. What happens, happens, and that’s the way I can keep it interesting to myself.

DS – Channeled chaos, nice, always welcome.  So these visuals you’ve used, do you make them yourself or have you sourced them from obscure films and such? Any details on that?

T – It’s a mixture of found sources, and animated sequences.  I try to stay away from too obvious sources, but I think any connoisseur of obscure religious films will be able to spot them. I am always looking for good source material, focusing on ritual in all its various guises. I am especially keen on getting clips of the Sanch procession, crucifixions, Day of Ashura and of course anything on Trepanning.

DS – Talk to me about Beläten, your label.   I know I reviewed one of your cassettes recently, so I’d like to hear more about it. When and why did you start the label? Do you intend on cassette-only releases?

T – Beläten sort of just happened to me two and a half years ago. I’ve done labels in the past, but I had been out of the game for three-or-so years when I suddenly got the urge to put out a few titles. From there it’s just rolled onward. I’m currently working on getting the first vinyl release ready for production, Veil of Light’s debut album. I expect it to hit the streets late September/early October.

DS – Awesome, glad to talk to you, it’s been a pleasure.  Speaking in general, now, I’d like to give a major thanks to Thomas Ekelund for taking the time to talk to us here about his projects and work, it’s been a pleasure and truly awesome speaking to someone with such a heavy hand in dark industrial.  Much appreciated!

T – “oh sacred mouth!…who buried you in ashes”  Here are some upcoming rituals for your readers, if interested:

September 21st, Incubate Festival, Tilburg, the Netherlands
October 17th, Endorcism, Berlin, Germany (with Wolvserpent)
November 15th, Moscow, Russia (with Brighter Death Now, Deutsch Nepal, and Raison D’etre)
December 6th, SE:UK Industrial Alliance, London, UK

And some forthcoming releases:

One Hundred Year Storm (with Sutekh Hexen) 2LP on Pesanta Urfolk
Split (with Body Cargo) Picture disc LP on Autarkeia
Ritualer, Blot & Botgöring CD on Infinite Fog
+ a few more reissues in the making


Interview Conducted by Stanley Stepanic