Nattskog, mastermind of Garden of Eyes, answered some questions about his new release, Boomhammer, and his whole career as musician.
Hello and first of all, thank you for your time! Would you mind introducing yourself and the band Garden of Eyes please?
Nattskog (everything): Greetings! I am Nattskog, the sole member of Garden of Eyes! I play Death Metal in the old school vein (more on this later) and you can also find my musical works in various other projects such as Sykelig Englen, Hexivoid, Ritual Flail and so on.
Where does the name Garden of Eyes come from, and what link does it have with your music?
Nattskog: The name, as with all things such as sounds and lyrics draw inspiration from the lore of Bloodborne (the video game) with its Lovecraftian Horror settings. A Garden of Eyes is a creature featured in this game, adapted from the Mi-Go in Lovecraft’s works. The link, of course is a strong theme that runs deep in everything relating to the band.
Your new EP, Boomhammer, is about to come. How does the composition process happen?
Nattskog: Boomhammer came about when I was simply jamming some riffs and then a cascade of ideas across the Death Metal spectrum came into life. This song and the b-side track Saw Cleaver (taken from our demo compilation CD, where it was a bonus track), together make a powerful sound and represent two of the finer weapons in Bloodborne.
What does inspire you to create music and lyrics?
Nattskog: The music is simply my adoration for classic Death Metal from the 80s and 90s, especially the Swedish and Finnish bands but also some Death Doom and bands like Autopsy. The lyrics, as I mentioned earlier are all taken from the cosmic lore of Bloodborne and its subtle yet grotesque aesthetics both visually and thematically suit the music perfectly.
Your sound is obviously anchored into Old School Death Metal, but with a mix between Swedish and Finnish influences. How do you create your own sound?
Nattskog: You said it perfectly, those sounds are the heart of Garden of Eyes! I have always loved the Swedish guitar sound with a Boss HM-2 pedal that sounds like a chainsaw, it fits Death Metal like a glove. I also found Finnish bands older and newer have such a melancholic and funereal atmosphere that perfectly suits the visions I wish to conjure up, I create my songs from jamming riffs that suit these moods and criteria and feel very natural and good to play.
What do you use to record your sound? Instruments, softwares…
Nattskog: Okay so I use an Ibanez guitar for rhythms and a BC Rich Mockingbird for leads (due to its smoother tone and mine having a Floyd Rose bridge). I play through a Boss HM-2 and MXR Carbon Copy for pedals into an Orange head, this through a Marshall 4×12 cabinet for maximum death-noise! To record, I use Logic Pro as a software, nothing fancy, I am no producer but it does the job.
Your compilation, released last year, is called Eldritch Death Metal. What does this name mean?
Nattskog: “Eldritch” means sinister or ghostly, often used in the context referring to HP Lovecraft‘s work, and in turn Bloodborne. I think our style of Death Metal is certainly sinister and ghostly with a blend of aggression and graven vibes, so it suits the sound and theme beautifully. Plus I think it is a striking title.
You were involved in many projects before, from one-man bands to projects with other musicians, does it change anything for you to create music alone?
Nattskog: Indeed, I have a lot of ideas and creativity that I needed to experiment with for myself and also enjoyed unleashing these various Heavy Metal styles. I am passionate about many types of Metal and feel no use in limiting myself. Garden of Eyes I think is the natural culmination of all of the elements that are best in each that makes it now my main priority. The main reason for me often being solo on records is my dislike for people being around me too much, but things like my remote location in a rural area also play a part. When Garden of Eyes takes the stage I hope to have like-minded maniacs delivering the music alongside me though.
You also run a label called AHPN Records. Is it your main activity, or do you also have another job?
Nattskog: AHPN Records is essentially a single place to have and sell all of my music, rather than a typical label. Usually other labels are responsible for my releases (such as Ancient Entity Records for Boomhammer). My main activity is Heavy Metal, from my bands to labels and also doing reviews and zines, Heavy Metal is my life, all day and every day.
Do you remember the first time you picked an instrument up? When and how was it?
Nattskog: Okay, this might be a surprise, in middle school I played clarinet. I chose this instrument as it was the most dissonant option and foreshadowed the uncomfortable sounds I wish to create. Around age 7-8 I got into Heavy Metal and needed to play guitar without question. I found it immediately became an extension of my body and I have always played with honesty and very naturally.
I know that the Covid crisis postponed and even cancelled a lot of things, how did it affect you personally?
Nattskog: Only Sykelig Englen out of all my bands has been a live unit, but Garden of Eyes is now setting up to hit the road as soon as we are ready to deliver the best version of ourselves that fans deserve. I have a void in me that misses playing live with extremity and I am doing all in my power to crush stages and headbang with the Metal maniacs once again! Personally, I live a very isolated life anyway so little change occurred, in fact I quite like the quietness it provided. But the effect on me as a musician and a fan too are undeniably negative.
Even if unfortunately the future is uncertain for now, do you already have plans for the EP release, or even for the band’s next steps?
Nattskog: The EP will be unleashed on May 7th via Ancient Entity Records, who also pressed our first tape release, so it is a real homecoming and pleasure to work with Rafal again! Aside from this, I want to get our live members into a rehearsal space and ensure they are prepared to deliver carnage to stages alongside me.
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Nattskog: I like to think my music is exactly what I want to hear, such as a combination of my influences, aesthetics and overall feel that is just right to my ear. Of course I am very pleased so many Death Metal fans also seem to really enjoy it, as long as it feels natural to me and sounds killer, I am happy.
Do you have hobbies aside from music?
Nattskog: I love nature, so hiking is a large part of my day-to-day life as is reading, with my firm belief that knowledge is much like music ability and should always be improved as much as possible. Otherwise I enjoy normal things like horror movies and blasting records all day!
Do you consider playing live? With Garden of Eyes or another project maybe.
Nattskog: As I mentioned I have only played with Sykelig Englen, a band I had as a teenager prior to Garden of Eyes and guest appearances with friends bands. Garden of Eyes is now my primary vision and is determined to become a live unit too.
Does Brexit change anything for you? About music, your personal life, or maybe anything else.
Nattskog: For my own bands I have been able to send physical music and merch to Europe and outside of Europe too which was my main concern, so a relief I can operate as normal. Personally, I am not remotely interested in politics but the prospect of bands not playing here and labels unable to sell music to us in the UK is a very worrying one. But I know Heavy Metal will conquer all difficulties, it always does!
Maybe you already heard about the french Metal scene? Do you know some french bands?
Nattskog: I do not know many French Death Metal bands, however Black Metal bands such as the Les Légions Noires bands, Feigur, Cenotaphe, Deathspell Omega and Necrowretch for example are fantastic! France has some killer bands, that is for certain! Also trad Heavy Metal like Herzel is great too!
What if I ask you to compare Garden of Eyes’ music with a dish? Which one would you choose and why?
Nattskog: Feasting on a rotten corpse as celestial slime spews from the bite marks, while a fetid odour fills the air with the stench of death! As for me, I love Indian food.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Garden of Eyes and three other bands!
Nattskog: Now that is a superb question to get my brain into overdrive! I think for a headliner I would love to play with Dismember (as Entombed is sadly no longer a choice, RIP LG Petrov). For fellow supports, my friends in Crawl (Sweden) and Grave Miasma (UK). This would be an unholy gathering of diverse sounds with a shared purpose of delivering true Death Metal madness!
That was the last question for me, thanks a lot for your time! Last words are yours!
Nattskog: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about Garden of Eyes! It is a pleasure to spread the cosmic parasite to minds in France and beyond! Hails to the true Metal maniacs reading your interview and yourself for asking me interesting questions that did not waste my day! May you find your worth in the waking world….