Lars Emil Måløy of DODHEIMSGARD and IF NOTHING IS talks new music, boutique bass pedals, attention to detail, and tourbus ground rules.

Lars Emil Måløy is a talented composer living in Norway and is involved as bass player in the avant-garde-for-want-of-a-better-word-for-it extreme music scene that evolved from the more progressive end of 90s black metal bands from that country. But, you may just know him as the guy in Dødheimsgard who has an orange face, and is always smiling! Well, here is he is at to tell you all about his role in that band, his original band INI, how he got into music, new releases, staying off the beer, and about taking your time to get things just right…

What was the first experience that you remember shaping you for a life as a musician?

I come from a home with a lot of music, both with playing and as a general interest. I was introduced to a lot of jazz and prog rock, so I guess that must have laid the foundation. But it was first when I got introduced to metal and bass playing in my early teens that I really wanted to do music. It sparked a fire in me that I hadn’t felt before.

Did you always want to push yourself, or were you surrounded by so many talented people you were simply forced to get better?

I used to practice between 4 and 7 hours every day on bass when I was younger. I couldn’t even go to our cabin without bringing my bass, so I guess that laid the groundwork. I was just really into bass. Then I had bass as my main instrument in high school, where I was studying music. Nowadays I tend to focus more on being creative on the bass instead of trying to break the world record for notes per minute. Now I try to change things up with bass playing for instance, be it in playing more complicated or trying to restrain myself if the music demands it, or trying new approaches like playing with an ebow or cello bow.

Norway and Britain are both protestant countries, yet so different. Artists in Norway seem to be encouraged, and avant-garde music is popular. ( In England, though, ( especially England ) artists are seen as the scum of the earth… )

I guess avant-garde music is more accepted now than before in Norway. But then again avant-garde is a pretty strange word to use for a music genre. So I guess the music within the limits of what’s considered the avant-garde metal genre has had time to be accepted, but new and really avant-garde music that makes people scratch their heads or get pissed is perhaps the true avant-garde, but then again is not accepted by the masses.

Or perhaps you have a country and western scene I don’t know about?

Yeah, lots of great country and western music spring out of Norway, believe it or not. I have a friend that just released an amazing americana album, and she’s starting to become really popular worldwide. I’m a big fan of country music myself, but I don’t listen so much to it these days.

From ‘A Umbra Omega’ by Dødheimsgard. A classic.

How did you join Dødheimsgard?

Back in 2010 the drummer of If Nothing Is, Vegard told me he had seen an online article from Vicotnik where he was offering to work on other people’s music. So I sent him a song from If Nothing Is. He was really intrigued and wanted to make samples and FX for it right away. After that I started to travel from Trondheim to Oslo where he lived, to sit and watch as he was working on music, to learn the craft from the best source imaginable. We became good friends and kept in contact for many years.

Then some time before the A Umbra Omega album was done he called me and wanted to ask if I would want to consider joining DHG on bass and play on a couple of tracks for the upcoming album. It was a no brainer and a dream come true, so I answered yes and started to consider moving near Oslo. I rehearsed the bass like crazy again and started to record for the new album and learn old DHG songs. I already knew all of the old songs by heart, so it didn’t take long to learn everything, and after that I was traveling by airplane to Oslo for rehearsals for my first DHG gig at the Inferno Festival. Some of my best friends from Trondheim were in the first row, and I could really feel the music, so for me that was an amazing gig!

Dødheimsgard live

Dødheimsgard gave me some otherworldly chills while listening through their albums in my youth. One of my favorite bands for sure and a band that opened up a whole new way of looking at music for me. So imagine how amazing it was to be able to work with them, first with If Nothing Is and then as a full time member of Dødheimsgard. I’ve been in Dødheimsgard for about 6 years now and we’ve become a really tight knit bunch. It really feels like a band and not like a project, like many bands can end up feeling like. I think it’s thanks to us being on tour many times and seeing ups and downs together. We’re working on new stuff with DHG now and I can’t wait for that to be released!

What’s going on with INI?

There’s a lot of stuff happening in the If Nothing Is camp as well nowadays, so I’m working really hard to manage time as best as I can. As we’ve just signed with Dark Essence Records, we hope that will help us to be more productive and hopefully play live shows again soon. Being in DHG and getting a stable life on all fronts has taken quite some time, but we are eager to get stuff done again with INI. The physical re-release of the first album released digitally in 2015 is about to hit the stores at the time of this interview, so that’s pretty exciting! It has new artwork by Ulf Simon Lindgren (Pentakkel on Instagram), a good friend from way back and the artist we want to use for future releases as well. You can by the way turn the booklet or LP around to get the old artwork, so that’s some neat fan service! It has a new mix by Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen (from the band Vulture Industries) and new mastering by Herbrand Larsen. Both fantastic people to work with, and they understand this kind of music.

The whole re-mixing process in a way saved me from going further down a negative path that I had started to wander. I have done many projects lately that have a big following, and I had the last say in everything on those projects. That became a downward spiral for me as I was overanalyzing every little detail. Then this re-release project came along and all decisions from the release in 2015 were up for debate again, and I obsessed over every little detail, and that led to much anxiety. Bjørnar, who did the new mix, was really understanding and great to work with from start to finish, but I started to understand that I needed to handle such emotions in a better way. Then I started reading up on why the brain works the way it does and how to recognize and better handle such thoughts. I found a way that worked for me, and now everything’s back to normal.

So now the next album for If Nothing Is has hit its last stages of development and has a deadline in a not too distant future. Can’t wait for that album to be out! I think it will be right at home with some listeners, and probably piss a lot of people off, so that’s what we’re aiming for, hehe.

Album cover art for the re-release for If Nothing Is

Do you make music every day? What do you use to write stuff and capture ideas?

No, I don’t find the inspiration for making music every day, but I play music or work with music in some form every day. Most ideas I just capture on my phone and upload to an idea bank I have in the cloud, be it while I play the piano, guitar, cello, synth, some flute or some rhythmic instrument etc. But when I work on ideas and find their potential I use the program Ableton Live. I loooove that DAW! It inspires me just as much as any instrument does.

Do you ever think about how your music is received? Would you be crushed to find out that I listened to INI in my workshop whilst carving a spoon from a piece of ash? A very relaxing hour it was too, I might add.

Hahaha, yeah the music is perfect for carving spoons from ash! But I actually never think of how people will experience the music I make for If Nothing Is. The only goal for me is to have chills when a part or song is just perfect for my ears. But yeah if people get some positive or negative emotions from listening to it, that’s great!

I’m guessing you might be particular about your bass sound and signal flows. Are you an equipment nerd?

I want to say yes, but I’m more into just finding a great sound for my bass and then get on to being creative. I love my Kemper amp, as it has great sound without needing a big ass rig with a great room and amazing microphones. I also use Darkglass pedals, a pedal by Trondheim Audio Devices and some pedals by Strymon. I’m precious about getting the right sound right into my DAW, as I am fed up with re-amping or doing things over because of bad sound. But then again, bad sounding amps and stuff have character, so if there is some musical reason to record with bad sound I’ll do it. I’ve done that a ton for the next If Nothing Is album, like recording in mono on a phone and transforming it into a beautifully strange stereo sound, or sending a signal through some bad equipment to give the sound some unique character. So I love good sound, but that’s not always the right answer for every part of a song.

I tell my first daughter that the moment she was born I changed from becoming a general pacifist to being fully prepared to kill. Did you feel yourself change when you became a father?

Yeah definitely! Not in the same way as you described, but I’ve changed a bit as well. More of everything is perhaps the main thing. So more love, more concern, more order, more multitasking, more joy, and so on.

Do you make any kind of living from music?

I do music for my full time job as well, but in instructing singers to localize songs for TV and stuff. I also make soundtracks for short films and sound design/music for audiobooks now and then. But with the music I do for the bands I play in there is hardly any cash to talk about. There’s a lot of cash going out though, for artwork, mastering, equipment etc.

Do you recognise yourself from the old black metal days? What would you say to yourself?

I wasn’t around in the early BM days, but I try not to forget who I was as a youth. You know, youthful determination and the whole «not caring what anyone thinks of me and my music» is a great feeling. I remember learning from a guy who played with Satyricon that you should always think you’re better than everyone else on the inside, just don’t tell anyone. I think that’s a great way to keep the confidence up. I know I’m not better than everybody else, but just tapping into that feeling now and then I find to be really healthy mentally.

I saw you with Dødheimsgard in Camden just before Covid struck. How did that tour go?

Oh, that was an AMAZING show! One of the best of the tour! Also, playing with the incredible Matt Jarman from England live on stage was great! He had learned all the songs by himself and just showed up to play with us for the whole show. I remember the audience being bat shit crazy! I also met a Norwegian friend called Enok Groven, who I’ve made a short film soundtrack with called Ragnarok. Fun fact time: the amazing Aldrahn, former member of DHG was a part of that soundtrack as well, doing vocal growls, playing didgeridoo and some ethnic percussion. That tour was perhaps the best I’ve been on. The whole gang on the bus was a great bunch of guys! It was also the first tour where I played the piano live, as well as bass. Those piano songs are really tricky, so even though I knew them incredibly well before we went on tour, the nerves of playing the piano songs that everybody in the audience knew so well made me do some minor screw ups. After some concerts I found the solution though, and that was 3 units of beer and playing The Witcher 3 on Switch before every show. It took away the nerves and the playing went fluidly!

I have to go on stage? Ok….FINE!

I had a terrible hangover the next day, at the William Blake exhibition I was barely able to stay awake. Are you interested / involved in visual art?

I really like sound installations, and I don’t mind experiencing some visual art as well, but I don’t seek it out that often. Nowadays I don’t know where that would fit into my tight schedule, but perhaps in the future I will find more time for it. I went to see the art exhibition of dead bodies called Body Worlds some years ago, and that was really an amazing experience! So I love many forms of art, I’m just too short on time to experience it that often.


How are your hangovers these days?

I don’t find time for hangovers, haha. Last time I was shitfaced must have been years ago. On tours I don’t mind a good party, but I try to stop before it ruins the next day, both for us and the audience.

What would you say to any young person wanting to become a musician?

Do it! It fills your life with purpose and you won’t ever be bored again (but you’ll probably be short on time and money), because every time you’re about to feel bored you can just pick up an instrument and step into another world. At least that is how it works for me.

As I didn’t know much about you I watched Marlon Crudo’s video interview where Vikotnic described you as the only ‘normal’ member of the band, and you didn’t like the chaos of touring.

Yeah, I pretty much make sure everyone keeps away from drinking themselves to death, and don’t fly away on a mission to get booze right before the bus is about to leave. I’ve been on some chaotic tours, and I don’t fancy it. I drink on tours as well, but I tend to avoid being so drunk that I won’t remember the songs on stage the next day. So now we have some ground rules that make sure everyone is on top of their game for every show. It’s not fun to go on stage knowing half of the gang is having a bad hangover and the show might be a mediocre one. That’s not fun for us and not fun for the fans, so we tend to avoid getting into that kind of situation nowadays.

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