by Anabel DFlux
– Sr. Photojournalist —
After an incredible photo shoot in the gorgeous Santa Monica mountains in California, senior journalist Anabel DFlux interviewed Melodic Metal band Valkyrium. A very peaceful, quiet, foggy day- there could not have been a better day to spend with this incredibly talented group of musicians, just as amazing on the inside as they are on the outside. The group spoke to Anabel about its newest release, Reign Til Runa, the band’s formation, and the musical ideology.
Hardrock Haven: Hi there! Thank you for chatting with me today. How are you all?
NIKKI: Hey! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We are so excited to share our music with you.
JENNY: I’m great and am looking forward to this interview. It’s a pleasure to be here.
WILLIAM: Feeling good and stoked to do this interview.
JUSTIN: Good. Thanks for having us and letting us share our music with you.
HRH: Tell me about your band. What does your band name signify to you?
NIKKI: It mainly signifies the calling of our ancestors to celebrate the essence of our warrior spirit. The Tree of Valkyrium is an ancient relic from earth sought after by many brave warriors to gain its powers of wisdom & immortality. Legends say the Valkyries have kept it hidden away because of the dangers it could possess in the wrong hands. Many have lost their lives trying to find it but none have succeeded. The tree has a consciousness of its own appearing only to those of its choosing. Its roots grow deep into multiple dimensions where energy is gathered from the cosmos and released through its branches and leaves.
JENNY: Our name Valkyrium is derived from the term Valkyrie, which is a female warrior figure in Norse Mythology. This is supposed to greater symbolize the universal warrior spirit within all of us throughout many different traditions and belief systems. We remember our strength and wisdom that was passed down from our sacred ancestors. The tree depicted in our artwork which is a powerful emblem that is supposed to connect us to a higher source of spiritual elevation. The branches draw in knowledge from the universe, the trunk acts as our physical human form, while the roots ground and center ourselves to the ancient wisdom of the Earth. So there is a constant ebb and flow of energy within our essence that bridges the above and below.
WILLIAM: The band name signifies everything as mentioned by Nikki along with embracing various spiritual, mystical, and forbidden topics that relate to the arrival of the new age as well as multi-cultural forms of paganism.
JUSTIN: It’s a sacred name with deep meaning. We are passionate about songwriting. Our writing style reflects this as well and many of our songs are based on mythological themes and the warrior spirit.
HRH: How do you describe your music to people? What image do you think your music conveys?
NIKKI: I would have to say we sound very melodic with a dark twist. Our music conveys the image of magic, mysticism and the different trials we face together in the real world where the extreme and serene coexist.
JENNY: I would definitely have to agree with my other band mates. Our music is a perfect blend of yin and yang, or a light and darkness co-existence. We have heavy riffing, killer leads, and growing on one end, while the other side is a balance of beautiful clean harmonies, emotional, and progressive elements. Our lyrics tend to make the listener go deep within themselves and pierce through the veil of reality into a realm of magic. Seeking the mysteries if you will.
WILLIAM: I prefer to describe the band’s music as Mystical Pagan Metal since we like to incorporate the mystical pagan path along with Black Metal, Death Metal, Opera (vocals), and Progressive Metal.
JUSTIN: A unique blend of dark, melodic, progressive and heavy that takes you on a journey. We are influenced by many different styles of music. We don’t sound like many bands in particular but there are some familiar sounds and styles within the music.
HRH: Why did you decide to play the genre or genres you do?
NIKKI: I have always been a fan of heavy music. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of different genres of music. All of them inspire me in many ways but Heavy Metal has always been an outlet for me and allows me to express myself to the fullest extent!
JENNY: I was brought up with classic rock and old school Heavy Metal thanks to my parents, so I naturally gravitated towards the various elements of Metal music. To me, I thought that this style of music was an escape and unique outlet compared to everything else in the mainstream market. Plus I wanted to challenge my musicianship with an analytical, complicated, and technical approach. However, I still love and appreciate the colorful array of different music out there.
WILLIAM: Black Metal, Heavy Metal, and Death Metal has been the core to my metal influences. When I walk into a store like Amoeba those are the albums I am there to buy. It is like switching from a beer to a shot of whiskey. Once you gain a high tolerance towards heavy metal your thirst can only be quenched by nothing more than sheer brutality, intricacy, darkness, and mysticism. Metal is like any other addiction…you can only want more.
JUSTIN: Metal does not have many boundaries and it allows the expression of many different emotions and playing styles.
HRH: Tell me about your upcoming album! What is the concept of this album, and what was the recording process like? What inspired this artistic endeavor?
NIKKI: This album was inspired a lot by mythology, magical folklore, and personal experiences. I feel like approaching each other from a place of perfect love and trust is what inspired our endeavor along with listening to each other’s ideas for the songs. We wanted to stay true to ourselves while exploring our sound at the same time. We spent countless hours in the studio recording and re-recording our songs as we developed, produced and mixed our material. I really wanted to create something different and I think we accomplished that. Coming from different backgrounds of music makes such a fun and really interesting chemistry. It’s easy to be inspired when you have an awesome team with you who share similar visions. Teamwork makes the dream work.
JENNY: Personally, making a full-length album was all new to me. I wasn’t quite sure how the whole process of composing an album worked until my other band mates helped show me the way. Most of our time was spent in the studio with my dad and producer David Day. I helped him with a lot of the recording, mixing, and mastering phases. Nikki and I did numerous vocal takes over the course of time to make sure we were putting our best work out there. Guitars and drums were done at another studio by Jeb, who is a fantastic sound engineer. We worked extremely hard to ensure that our final product sounded pristine, and it wasn’t always easy the whole way through. The concept of our album is centered around a lot of pagan ideas and mythologies. We also added self-awakening and enlightenment concepts in there as well which ties together with our mystical theme. This project took 3 years to complete but I enjoyed creating a masterpiece with everyone’s chemistry and diversity. Overall, we can agree that we wanted to do something completely unique and original.
WILLIAM: The recording process was a 3-year process which I’ll never forget. The concept of this album revolved around seeking the mysteries of the forbidden truths that lie buried within history. It was very much introductory towards what the band portrays and the interlude towards many other chapters within the future albums to come. Going back to the album recording process, we had the drums and rhythm guitar tracks recorded at a studio owned by a sound engineer named Jeb while the rest was recorded at the band’s home studio (David Day Productions studio). We spent as much time needed to ensure the quality of the album was met and at a professional industry standard. There were times when we had to drop certain riffs, solos, or vocal parts only to replace them with more intricate melodic ones. The artistic endeavor was highly motivated by our passion towards creating a new sound within metal in which we feel we have successfully achieved. Originality was our main goal.
JUSTIN: A lot of the themes on this album revolve around the magic and mysticism. The recording process went well, it was a bit tedious getting the overall sound right. The music was inspired by our creative and musical goals. We wanted to do something different from traditional Metal.
HRH: I hear Paganism plays a key role in the music. Can you elaborate on this?
NIKKI: Absolutely, Paganism is the celebration of Polytheism. We believe the idea that “everything is separate” is an illusion and strive for bridging the gap between the dividedness the state of our world is now in. Our musical lifestyle is sacred to us it has nothing to do with who or how you worship anything. We are simply a group of free spirits who honor our ancestors in sacred ways by standing in UNITY to bring awareness to others, inspire people to follow their dreams and promote peace, love, and healing.
JENNY: It’s certainly not what society makes it out to be. We celebrate Polytheism, which means that we honor and respect different gods and goddesses throughout a plethora of belief systems. Not just that but it’s a mutual understanding of oneness. I agree with Nikki on the idea that we should not feel separated due to opposing morals. The point is to recognize the sacredness in every unique tradition and discover the same patterns in every story. Music is a universal language, and we intend to spread healing, unity, and inspiration through its voice.
WILLIAM: We are in full support towards traditional paganism because it embraces true Polytheism. The belief in more than one God is essential for coexistence in which we all should respect each other’s Gods. It is understood by many that there are both creative and destructive Gods that exist within Polytheism….in which both should be equally acknowledged. This can be seen within many other religions that have a negative and positive God like beings since it represents the quality of life in all its forms. Without the negative, there can be no positive, and without the positive, there can be no negative. This harmony is known as natural balance.
JUSTIN: I believe that it is a good thing to be inspired by and our music tries to send a positive message.
HRH: Music video plans?
NIKKI: We are definitely talking about putting a music video together in the near future!
JENNY: Yes! We are definitely aiming towards a music video that tells a story, takes you on a journey, and presents all of our mystical themes in a cohesive art form.
WILLIAM: We have talked about it and are looking forward to it. I’d say it should be aimed for production within the upcoming months. I’ve seen a few of your videos and definitely considering about hitting you up on that.
JUSTIN: Yes, definitely.
HRH: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration?
NIKKI: I gather a lot of song inspiration through nature, traveling, and meditation. I love connecting with the earth and journaling my adventures. Often times through reflection I find myself putting it into music somehow. I really like to go with the flow, feel it out and just see what happens.
JENNY: I usually gather inspiration from personal experiences that have happened to me in the past and present. I also like to do a lot of deep thinking within my surroundings. Spiritual enlightenment, mythologies, and even the metaphysical concepts of the universe really intrigue me. Whenever I find myself reflecting on something significant in my life or the world around me, I try to capture those moments through songwriting.
WILLIAM: I tend to gather my songwriting inspiration by wanting to write music I feel should be expressed at this moment in time. It has been a long-time belief of mine that it is the responsibility of all musicians to create music that captures that specific moment in time. This way when people listen to the music it will one day bring them back to the brutal nights of Metal that is existing as of now. To express new sounds of music within Metal is my ultimate goal and motivation. If people only knew how deep music affects all matter itself on a geometric frequency level, then they would see that there is more sound that what people hear. It’s music that can bring forth the magic that lies hidden behind human eyes.
JUSTIN: I get my inspiration from the past, future, life experiences and personal views.
HRH: Any upcoming shows we should be at?
NIKKI: March 3, 2017! We will be performing at the Stardust Club in Downey, Ca. Follow us at www.Valkyrium.com to stay posted on upcoming shows.
JENNY: We will have a show on March 3, 2017, at the Stardust Club in Downey, CA. We are also planning out more shows for the year, so stay tuned for more details. Follow us on Facebook, Reverbnation, and check out our website like Nikki had mentioned.
WILLIAM: Exactly what Nikki said. We got a show in Downey thrown by Black Metal Knights Productions. Special shout out to our friend Peter aka Swartwoud Lord Ogun and his company for the support \m/.
JUSTIN: March 3, 2017, at the Stardust Club in Downey, CA and we are working on some other shows.
HRH: Describe your show visually.
NIKKI: A lot of people have described our show as a mesmerizing experience. Very exciting and full of energy.
JENNY: There is certainly a lot of diversity and excitement that goes on during the shows. People have described us as being different and refreshing to hear. Whenever I look out into the crowd everyone looks intrigued and seem to be observing the music. Nikki and I like to dress up and wear pagan themed attire. William and Justin hold it down with the heavy metal look. We are looking to add more theatrical attributes in the future.
WILLIAM: Our show is visually intriguing as well as something new to the metal scene. We tend to keep our stage appearance as eclectic as we can. You will often find us in leather, boots, and all black attire. After every show, we tend to leave the crowd curious towards the next show.
JUSTIN: Energetic and exciting, we will be adding more to the visual part as time goes on.
HRH: How would you define the word “success”? What are your long-term career goals?
NIKKI: My definition of “Success” is putting out a piece of art that touches people’s life in a positive way. If the song touched you and made you feel something, I did my job. I hope to travel with the band and bring our music to different parts of the world in order to promote peace, love, and healing through the power of Heavy Metal.
JENNY: My definition of success is being able to contribute a piece of art to the world. Success is seeing the emotion and positivity that our music brings to people. Being able to inspire others, and have them relate emotionally to our songs is amazing. In the long run, I will always continue to make music no matter what. It’s my outlet, it’s in my blood, and I will always express myself in that fashion. Traveling and seeing the rest of the world is certainly a goal I would love to achieve with this band.
WILLIAM: Personally I’ve always defined success within music as writing an album that will pass the test of time. My goal is for the music to be successfully heard all over the world in which the fans would sincerely enjoy. It’s all about creating art that will one day carry on your vision even after death. It’s like leaving your mark on the world in a never-ending echo within time and can be revisited within the mind and soul.
JUSTIN: Creating impactful music that is exciting and profound musically. Spreading a positive message and reaching as big of an audience as possible.
HRH: Which famous musicians do you admire? Which have you learned from?
NIKKI: This is a tough question for me. There are so many great musicians I look up to… I guess one of the biggest influences on me lately is the band “Opeth.” I have been in love with Mikael Akerfeldt’s writing style and musical approach since I was a kid in High school. I loved the diversity he and his band continue to offer after all these years. “Opeth” really helped me have faith in my vision and inspired me to look deeper while not being afraid to think out of the box and experiment with our music.
JENNY: My list could be endless really. There are so many famous musicians and bands that have inspired me and continue to do so. From the classic rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Yes, Led Zeppelin, all the way to Cliff Burton, John Myung, and Geddy Lee. I also used to play a ton of Disturbed on bass when I was growing up too. For vocals, I love James Hetfield, Lajon Witherspoon, Cecilia Bartoli, Simone Simmons, and much more.
WILLIAM: My biggest influences on guitar has always been Galder/Silenoz (Dimmu Borgir), Yngwie Malmsteen, Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Gian Pyres (during the early days of Cradle of Filth), Fabban/Alex Noia/David “Set Teitan” Totaro (Aborym), and Terje “Valfar” Bakken (Windir).
JUSTIN: Any musician that is for the music and that is great at their instrument. As far as drummers: Lars Ulrich and Mike Portnoy are who inspired me to play drums.
HRH: When did all of you begin playing music?
NIKKI: I began playing music when I was 13. I mostly learned how to play guitar on my own. I have always loved to sing to my favorite songs. I would come home from school and lock myself in my room and just pluck away my guitar until it all started to make sense. I have always had a deep passion for music since I was a little girl. Music is, has been and always will be a part of me. Every time I pick up the guitar I learn something new. The learning never ends. I enjoy growing with it.
JENNY: Well first I began playing guitar when I was about 8 years old. My Grandma bought me a pink guitar for my birthday. Then when I went to middle school I joined the concert band and played percussion for two years. At 12 my dad bought me an Epiphone bass for Christmas, and from there I just fell in love. I played bass on and off for about 5 years, learning classic Rock cover songs, metal songs, and even joined the jazz band in high school rocking those groovy lines. In my last year of high school, I decided to pursue singing officially. I joined the women’s choir as a soprano. Then when I went to college, I took a vocal technique class for baroque music and that’s when I really learned how to sing opera. The semester after that class I took chamber singers and sang as a mezzo-soprano.
WILLIAM: I started playing music at age 7 and picked up the guitar at age 13. Playing guitar opened up a new world towards my ears in which I could play along with my favorite artists from my cd collection. During high school, my number one goal was to start a band and play any show I could. As the addiction towards guitar grew so did my hunger towards more intricate music to play … henceforth the metal. I played my first gig at age 16 and never stopped to this day. It is the passion I’ve dedicated much of my life to and will never stop. It’s like breathing, can’t go without it.
JUSTIN: I began playing drums at the age of 16. I am drawn to the power and energy that the drums project.
HRH: Any last words for your fans before we conclude this interview?
NIKKI: I just want to say thank you so much for all of your support, patience, and encouragement. I appreciate each and every single one of you. Mighty hails to you sacred ones \m/
JENNY: Thank you so much for your support and love. You guys strive us to continue making music. It’s been an honor sharing our experiences with you.
WILLIAM: Just wanted to say thank you for this awesome interview and for shooting such phenomenal pictures. You’re the best and thanks for giving us the opportunity to work with you.
JUSTIN: Thank you for your time and support.
Connect with Valkyrium here:
Be sure to catch their upcoming concert on March 3rd at The Stardust Club in Downey, CA.