Heathen Harvest: Can you discuss how Arditi came into being and who the founding members are?
Mårten Björkman: Arditi was founded by Henry Möller and myself, Mårten Björkman, in the late 90's. For some years Arditi existed only in our minds and in the odd recorded song that never was attempted to get published, until we recorded ‘Unity of Blood' and Arditi finally got the proper attention from us.
HH: Can you explain what the name Arditi means or what significance it has for you?
MB: ‘Arditi' is the plural of the Italian word ‘Ardito' which means hardy, brave, intrepid etc. We found this a very suitable name, and it is also very easy to remember. Very few non-Italians speak Italian and would probably associate it with words in languages they know, in which case it does not hurt that 'ardis' means ‘arrowhead' in Greek, ‘ardere' means ‘to burn' in Latin and that the English language has words like ‘ardour'.
HH: Arditi is a name that was taken by elite Special Forces combat troops in WWI who were often glorified for their bravery and heroism. What relationship does the bands name have to these Italian fighters and how has the band been influenced by the Italian Arditi special fighting forces?
MB: Of course that was also not a lightweight factor when deciding on our name. Arditi was the nickname of the Reparti D'Assolto, elite units in the Italian army that took on close to suicidal missions for Italy in both wars. They suffered something like 90% death tolls. Living in an age when no one believes in anything the thought of volunteers signing up for something that carries a one-in-ten chance of survival is very inspiring.
HH: Can you explain the previous musical experience of Arditi's members prior to forming Arditi?
MB: We both had other bands before Arditi. Henry has been in Puissance since they started and that band is still very much active. Before Arditi I was the vocalist of various metal bands, most noteworthy Algaion with who I released a number of CD's between 94 and 97, Octinomos with Fredrik of Puissance and a project called Weltmacht (No relation to the American Black Metal band) which seems to have come back to life finally.
HH: What was the initial founding vision of Arditi?
MB: Even though there was not anything bad about Puissance or Algaion, there was no room in any of those bands for either of Henry or me to express the interest in futurism that we both shared at that time. We wanted to create a project that concentrated solely on the principle that conflict is the most important aspect of human life.
HH: How did the band feel particularly inspired or drawn to the post-industrial music scene and to Martial Orchestral music in general?
MB: Choosing this line of music was not so far fetched since this was music we were already involved with at the time we started Arditi. As stated, Henry had been in Puissance for years, and we both felt that this line of music is among the most suited to combine serious issues with enjoyable listening.
HH: Are there other bands within the post-industrial music scene that have had a direct impact on the formation or sound of Arditi?
MB: Of the formation of the sound of Arditi yes. We would not even try to deny the fact that we are influenced by bands like Blood Axis and Der Blutharsch. I am sure that in some form or the other we would still have created Arditi even if music was not an option, but the existence of the bands mentioned, and others with them, makes it clear that industrial music is a good form to express certain things that is hard to express in writing and still be able to reach people.
HH: Are there artists or writers that have directly inspired or influenced Arditi?
MB: I have of course already mentioned the Italian Futurists. When I first discovered the writings of Marinetti this was an experience that I have still not gotten from any other author since his approach was so totally different from any other author I had read before then. There are a lot of authors that I appreciate, and can still read with pleasure, but not that has inspired me in the making of Arditi-material the way that Marinetti , Papini et alii has.
HH: Arditi explores the musical domain of war inspired Martial Orchestral music. What is the band member's personal interest in war and human conflict?
MB: I believe that “war and human conflict” is the most stabilizing factor in the world today. I am sure that it is unavoidable that some people will think that we are so concentrated on war simply because war is harsh and leads to the deaths of thousands and thousands of people but for me it is not like that at all. Firstly, war and conflict helps people who normally do not think any further than what is on TV the coming hour to concentrate on what is important, who they are and what they want with their lives. In other words, war is an edifying experience for those who live through it. Secondly, war and conflict is the most important factor to counter globalization, the greatest of all threats to mankind in our age. For the last half century we have slipped towards a one-nation society that in my eyes will inevitably lead to the downfall of civilization. By sharpening our swords on our enemies we create an environment where this is not likely to happen.
HH: Can you explain how this interest in war and human conflict is translated into the music of Arditi?
MB: This is hard to explain but I think, and hope, that listening to our music will in some way be suggestive to the listener and make him dream about how the order of things could be and that we do not have to endure the dulling misery we live in now.
HH: Do your albums have specific themes? If so could you please discuss the specific inspiration and theme of each of your releases?
MB: I believe that our albums to date have had generally the same theme, and I think this theme is quite clear.
HH: Arditi debuted on the post industrial scene in 2002 with the 7" vinyl release titled "Unity of Blood." Can you discuss the title of this album and what meaning the title holds for you?
MB: I have already said that in order to go on, human life must be much more about conflict and that we will not survive unless we stick to the trenches, this would completely lose its point if it was each man for himself, which is the very negative consequence of the current order that we want to avoid. The most obvious alternative to each man for himself is uniting in clearly defined groups and luckily nature has already done this job for us.
HH: Unity of Blood inspires thoughts of collective unification around race or bloodline. Is this the intended impression?
MB: Psychologists say that people unconsciously choose pets that resemble themselves. How odd is it then, if you are prepared to fight something to the death, to march alongside people who resembles you?
HH: How did Unity of Blood sell and what kind of feedback did the band receive?
MB: Unity of Blood was limited to 500 copies only and was never intended to be reprinted. Those 500 were not hard at all to get rid of even though it was our first release. I guess it helped to have been in bands before Arditi.
HH: Marching on to Victory was Arditi's first full length CD released in 2003. The title of the album is unabashedly militaristic in tone. Did Arditi have concerns of coming under attack by left wing censors given the albums title, artwork, song titles, and music?
MB: We did not think so much about that even though it has of course occurred to us. Those things are extremely hard to predict since the level of tolerance varies so greatly from country to country. Our native Sweden is very intolerant so I guess we figured that if it is ok here it's probably ok everywhere. Also the “left wing censors” are generally people who are mentally deranged and therefore could attack something they do not like with full force and let something else, that could well be much “worse” in every relevant aspect, go unnoticed just because they are impulse driven creatures that are not governed by reason. They are also gregarious which means they are more likely to waste their energy on something that is already “outed” as horrible.
HH: Was there a response from left wing extremists or efforts made to censor the album and / or efforts made to constrain sales by anti martial music proponents?
MB: Not so bad with our first releases. Small releases of industrial music does not get that much attention so we passed pretty much unnoticed to those who were not interested in finding out about us. This of course changed when we were about to release ‘Spirit of Sacrifice' on a bigger label and they sent our information packages and stuff to the media in several countries. Predictably the Germans did not seem so pleased.
HH: Arditi's next release titled Religion of the Blood was released in 2003. Can you comment on the title of the album? Is it implying an association between race and religion or is it implying an association between armed conflict and religion? Or Both?
MB: Actually neither of them. It is more of a combination of the original nature of religion as well as the original meaning of the word “religion” which stems from a latin word that means ‘holding together'. Initally religion was not about if God (or gods) existed or not, or what God wants from us or anything like that, but only a matter of which god protected whom and by that both a source of division between group and group, and a source of unity within the group. Because of this I always call myself a Lutheran even though I by all relevant means is an atheist, I do not believe in God, I believe in myself being a part of the Lutheran world. This is a troublesome definition though since it is so easy to misunderstand and misuse, and it relies only on historical circumstances. Blood is a much better and stable rule.
HH: In today's self righteous political and religious environment such commentary seems risky. Is Arditi immune to criticism and do you see your artistic rights as being above reproach?
MB: I do not believe in artistic rights like that. I can understand that a lot of people will disagree with what we say, and they are welcome to settle those problems with us but we will never claim they have no right to hate us since we are artists, just like I have the right to physically settle my disagreements with people I do not like. I think that the very existence of “get out of trouble free”-cards is a threat to society wherever they may occur. As an artist you are literally in the line of fire and you are responsible for that you do since your work is something that influences people.
HH: United In Blood was the next album to be released in 2004 and was split release with the Swedish band Toroidh. How did Arditi come to work with Toroidh?
MB: As said before, Henry is also a member of Puissance, and the guy from Toroidh is also a member of MZ412, and Puissance and MZ412 used to be on the same label, Cold Meat Industry, so they have known each other for years and years. Since we are quite close in music and spirit cooperation between us seemed nothing but natural. Apart from that I really like the way this album came out.
HH: Can you discuss how composition and recording occurred between the two of you?
MB: Almost all the composition and recording occurs in our homes. We have both all the necessary equipment at our homes and we both use the same software. I like this method, of recording whenever you feel like it, is a lot better than the method I knew from Algaion, of going away for two weeks and do nothing else than record.
HH: What drew Arditi to the compositional style of bombastic and martial orchestral / ambient music?
MB: This was not exactly a hard decision. We like this kind of music and happen to be good at making such music ourselves.
HH: The latest Arditi output is Spirit of Sacrifice which was released at the beginning of 2005. How has Arditi grown and evolved from Unity of Blood to Spirit of Sacrifice?
MB: I think that the years that have passed since our start has rendered us both more technically competent and more focused on what we want. Also the relative success of our previous material has given us more room to work with now.
HH: Can you discuss some of the challenges the band has faced from inception to the latest album?
MB: I seriously do not think that we have had any challenges in that sense. Of course we have made not so good decisions when choosing labels that go bankrupt before they release anything, and there has been delays in releasing things and so on, but not a challenge in the sense that we were worried about our continued existence. This is a positive consequence of not being a band that rehearses three times a week and prays to discovered by a major label every day. We know that our material is strong enough, and we are very confident in that we are going in the right direction.
HH: Are you comfortable having your music described as bombastic or martial?
MB: I have no problem with our music being described as martial, after all we do describe ourselves like that. I have never liked the word bombastic, and in fact I have never heard that word used to describe our music. Bombastic, though it sounds nice, is a “bad” word, it is properly used to describe something that is “inflated”, apparently grand but without content (bombax means cotton in Latin)
HH: Do you see it as a necessity that Arditi creates an emotionally engaging listening experience?
MB: It certainly helps but it is hard to define a necessity. It is nevertheless something that we continually strive to achieve.
HH: The music of Arditi invokes feelings of strife, oppression, and resistance. Is any of the music of Arditi influenced or inspired by specific historical events?
MB: We generally try to stay away from specific historical events to avoid being associated with the political ambitions of others. Arditi is about the spirit of war in general and not about particulars like Serbia's rights towards Croatia or whether Vietnam should be one or two countries. I would personally have no problem to make theme albums taking sides in specific conflicts but I do not think that this should be made with Arditi for the reasons I just named.
HH: Is the music of Arditi inspired or influenced by current events?
MB: In some sense it is inspired by current events in general but it is not like I read the paper one morning and see that Condoleeza Rice said something and then run into the studio boiling with inspiration. It is more like I see the necessity of my convictions in relation to what is generally happening in the world and this of course wears off on Arditi even though particular events is never there in clear print.
HH: Is the music inspired or does it reflect the bands political opinions or views on world affairs?
MB: I do not see that Arditi so far has reflected any current world affairs in particular. We both have a cemented interested in politics and we follow world affairs closely but as I said in the previous questions we have not thought that Arditi should be an instrument of propaganda for any political agenda.
HH: Does the music of Arditi contain a spiritual or sacral message or influence that you can discuss?
MB: Definitely not sacral, and not spiritual in any metaphysical sense and I suppose that was what you meant.
HH: Does Arditi intend that your music or specific songs communicate a decipherable narrative?
MB: Specific songs are like that yes, and some are maybe not so easy to get. Since we use both words that are sampled and songs that are spoken by band members. Some of the samples are extremely hard to get the words to, and some are in languages that few people understand. The meaning of the samples are not that we literally want to confer to our listeners what the people we sample had to say, but just to have the samples carry their spirit onto our material. Then there are songs the words of which are spoken by ourselves and the words of those are probably more easy to understand.
HH: Does the music contain a personal narrative that can be understood by the bands members but is not necessarily meant to be shared with the audience?
MB: Not in the songs themselves, but as I said, you would have to be pretty cultivated to recognize all the voices in our songs. Also, some of the spoken words are in fact written by people that we could just as well have sampled, we are probably also the only ones that recognize ALL our imagery and the thought of how much energy someone would have to put into finding out which is which and what is what is of course quite amusing, but this is probably the closest to your question we will get.
HH: What impression do you hope to leave with your audience?
MB: I hope that would be clear by now. We hope to change the way people think, and encourage those who have already came to the necessary insights.
HH: The music and imagery of Arditi seems particularly Eurocentric. Can you comment on this observation?
MB: We are both Swedes so it is quite natural to concern ourselves with our own cultural environment. When we think of things it naturally comes in the setting of the northern protestant countries, and there are so much to choose from when it comes to inspiring persons and conflicts around here that there is really no need to look that far. It would make absolutely no sense for us to make use of imagery from the conflict between Hutus and Tutsis.
HH: How much of Arditi's music is created with samples and electronic devices and how much of the music is recorded from acoustic instruments?
MB: All is samples and electronic devices. None is recorded from acoustic instruments, voice not counted.
HH: Can you discuss how a typical Arditi song is composed or created? What is the creative process like and who is involved?
MB: We make most of the stuff on our own, in the beginning we sat down and made stuff in unison but since then we have worked on our own until each song is virtually finished. The typical Arditi song is created at Henry's place, by Henry.
HH: Has the band found support and enthusiasm for their music in Europe and beyond?
MB: Maybe not so much beyond Europe and North America, as you said Arditi is quite Eurocentric so I do not think we would be understood, and thereby appreciated, so easily in Africa or South America. We also have no ambition to be appreciated in every corner of the world. If we would be invited to play in healthy countries we would accept, and we would never play in countries we do not approve of.
HH: Do you feel as if living in Sweden lends you more artistic freedom than say living in an eastern European country?
MB: I really don't think so, Sweden is not as free as you could imagine it to be, in fact it is probably all you thought it was not. Sweden like many other western European countries has zero tolerance against even discussing many issues, including many of the issues that we have included in Arditi, like proposing war just for the sake of the edifying nature of the war experience itself. Ideas like that are more welcome in Russia than in Sweden. Overall I think that the term freedom is used quite carelessly. Freedom only in the sense of “freedom to vote” like we have in Sweden is worth nothing. I admire the Russian countries for many things, like political stability, law and order, isolationist foreign policy et cetera. I believe that Belarus and Russia are the healthiest nations in Europe today, and practically every country in Europe are in better shape than Sweden is.
HH: The artwork that adorns each Arditi release has a peculiar consistency. Who is responsible for the artwork?
MB: Actually different artists have made the artwork for the different albums, and some of them we created ourselves. The artwork for “Spirit of Sacrifice” was made by SECT.
HH: The artwork on each album also reflects strong notions of militarism and organized militaristic glorification. Can you explain what inspires the images that accompany the music?
MB: Practically all the artwork are not drawn by ourselves but merely chosen by us so it is not so much about what inspired the images when they were made as it is about why we have felt those images being suitable to accompany our music. Art with strong notions of militarism are abundant if you only look back a little in time.
HH: Arditi seems much focused on each release being packaged and presented artistically. How involved is the band in the CD artwork and packaging?
MB: We are very involved in that and we always have the last word. Henry, who handles all contacts with the labels, is close to paranoid when it comes to keeping all that power in our hands which is an excellent trait of his. We have been doing music and putting out recordings for so long that we do not share the desperation to get published at whatever price that many new bands suffer from. We know that if this label do not let us do this, some other will.
HH: How important do you see the artwork being in communicating the bands vision?
MB: Quite important indeed. Probably more important than in other lines of music. That day will never come when an Arditi-release just have a plain photo of the members on the front and the song titles on the back.
HH: Has Arditi played live? If so how does your music translate in a live concert?
MB: We have not played live until now but I suppose it is likely that we will do that sometime. As I said we are not desperate to get out and play and we have turned down every offer we had to this day, but if we are offered to play under circumstances we can accept and in the right part of the world, arranged by people whose intentions we approve of, then we would do it, we would never play just for the sake of it. Our personal fame are of very little importance to us.
HH: Are their any other artists in the post industrial music scene that Arditi would consider or desire working with?
MB: Of course there are, but listing them here would be like placing a personal in the paper so I pass on that one.
HH: Has the band begun recording new material since Spirit of Sacrifice? Have plans been set into motion for any future recording?
MB: “Spirit of Sacrifice” was completed quite some time before it was released, due to numerous label changes, so our next full length CD is already recorded and will be released by Equilibrium Music of Portugal some time the coming fall. Even before then there will be an EP released by Eternal Soul.
HH: Is there any thing you would like to share with Heathen Harvest readers in parting?
MB: I believe most have been covered in the 45 questions above.