Interview with Brynilde


Below is our interview with singer/songwriter Brynilde, whose enthralling new album The Sound of the Winter Sun showcases an eclectic, melodic sound.

Your new album, The Sound of the Winter Sun, presents an emotively engrossing blend of new-age, folk, and rock. The sound is full of mystique. Is there an overarching theme within the album you would like listeners to be aware of?

The overarching theme is to break free. To Break free from emotional triggers, toxic behavioral patterns, and limited perceptions of reality… To write my lyrics, I dove deep into the darkest corners of my mind and tried to be completely honest to myself about all my fears. I tried to deconstruct my belief and examine my understanding of reality. Once you dug up all the dirt, you get freer and freer.  Facing the dirt is painful and it is meant to be painful, otherwise there are no transformative process. Only then, you can flourish as you really are and see the world after removing the filters of your biases and false assumptions. I wrote about the dirt but also and mainly about the light. There is a progression in each song and in the overall album. The last song of the album is “I see beauty”, of course 🙂 because after digging all the dirt out, you removed the dark filters of your mind and your perception changes, you see beauty.

My lyrics are metaphorical because it is my way of processing deep and complex emotions. I believe that metaphors speak directly to our inner self, bypassing the rationale mind and resonating directly with our intuition. It goes straight to the roots of our emotions. I hope that the metaphors give enough mental space for the listeners to hear what they need to hear at the moment they listen to the song and hope each metaphor can resonate with a specific element of each person’s life. For example, you don’t need to understand rationally or concretely what I mean by “reaching the world of the three suns”; we all have a different definition for this “perfect” world that we want to reach. In that same song, I mentioned the different challenges that Hecate asked me to face, like “getting a blessing from lands far away”, each of these missions correspond to concrete steps I had to do in my life to reach my goal. We all have a goal, a vision, a purpose, this is the three suns, and we all have challenges that we need to face to materialize our vision.

Another example, when I wrote “I will cut my hands and they will grow again”, I think we all, at some points, have to make sacrifice and learn to let go, so we can make space for new opportunities and move closer to our dream. I hope that the listeners can see immediately what it means to cut their hands. And they should not be afraid to do this sacrifice, because the hands did grow back at the end of the song! 🙂

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express this because it matters to me that the listeners can find a way to relate to the songs in a way that is unique and specific to their life.

The tracks on the album tend to grow structurally from lusher contemplation into riveting, intricate heights. Has your music always been embracing of patiently unfolding soundscapes and song structures?

You’re right, all my songs tend to have a progression starting with simple patterns, with often only one instrument, and evolving towards complexity. I did not do that entirely consciously, though. This is just my way of expressing the transformation of the mind that I described above, i.e., the development from dark to light or dirt to beauty. Each of my songs starts with a challenge or a struggle. It evolves differently depending on the song but there is always a happy ending 🙂 The progression towards the complexity of structures and patterns represents this blossoming of the mind that leads us to see the richness and beauty of the world. 

Have some of your passions — like Buddhist philosophy, world mythologies, and psychology — made their way into your music creation process?

Yes, absolutely. I am a passionate person. My passions are my drivers and they feed my creative process. My goal in this album was to be as honest and as authentic as I could. Psychology made its way into my music through the multitude of Jungian symbolisms (per the psychologist Carl Jung) in my lyrics. Also, writing the lyrics and composing the music is a cathartic process; it was my personal psychotherapy. I am a spiritual person and a Buddhist practitioner. This theme is very present in my songs. Buddhism is about deconstructing our beliefs to understand the nature of reality and develop our full potential. This is this process that I tried to express in my songs. It is also comparable to the Alchemy process, an old operative wisdom. The alchemy process requires to go through a metaphorical death to be reborn in an indestructible body with an immortal mind. Alchemy is an art that is poorly understood by modern western society but is still practiced nowadays, in Tibetan Buddhism, for example. I am interested in comparing the different spiritualities, mythologies, and religions and see their common messages. This is the theme of the song Echos de Tonnerre (Echoes of Thunder), which I wrote in French. I made references to different mythologies and spiritualities. In each chorus of this song, there is one sentence taken from the poem “Thunder, Perfect Mind” from the Gnostic scriptures of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. These manuscripts date from the 2nd to 4th century, CE. They were discovered in 1945, in Egypt. These manuscripts are a historical treasure, that force us to re-evaluate what we knew about early Christianity.

I’m strikingly reminded of Kate Bush, especially on tracks like “I See Beauty.” Did she have any influence on this sound?

Thanks for asking this question because this comparison to Kate Bush has been a huge mystery to me! I have now heard so many people telling me I sound like Kate Bush, and I have no idea how is it possible since I have never listened to Kate Bush. The first time someone told me that, I had to google “Kate Bush” to remind myself who she was. I knew the name but I had no idea what she was singing. I then recognized “Babooshka” and Wuthering Heights” but that was it. I am very flattered to be compared to Kate Bush because she is a very talented artist with an amazing voice. But I admit that it was not the type of music I have ever listened to. Weirdly, the similitude extended to the choices of titles. As I dug up about Kate Bush, I found out that she had an album called “the Red Shoes”, which is the title of one my songs. I felt it was almost spooky! Was I visited by the same Muse as her :)! That’s the only rational explanation 🙂! I admit I was very surprised and confused by the melody and music style that came out of my mind. I am a huge fan of progressive metal. I have been listening to Dream Theater for 25 years. And yet, my music does not sound prog metal at all. I still don’t understand how it happened.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music? 

I do not have a specific process or ritual. I am very attentive to moments of inspiration, though. When I feel like it is bubbling in my head, I run to the piano. If I am not near a piano, I am going to hum the melody while recording on my phone. Sometimes, it feels like a wave of ideas rushing in my mind and I know I need to sit for a few hours and record or write down. I often have a tiny notebook with me; I like writing things down as soon as an “interesting” idea crosses my mind. These sudden bursts of inspiration are the exciting and mesmerizing aspects of the creative process. Then, follow the hard work! This is the step during which I need to build up the song from the initial inspired melody or theme, adding all the other instruments and sound effects. It is much more labor intensive and can last days or weeks. It is a fascinating aspect of the creative process too, but it is very different than the magical inspiration that comes on its own. 

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

I used to listen to music every day. But strangely, since I started to compose music, I stopped listening to music. I found myself enjoying silence a lot! I rarely listen to music, now. However, I love paying attention to soundtracks when I watch a movie or a TV show. I think there is nothing more powerful than a beautiful scene accompanied with the perfect song to create a strong emotion. Movies are often the way I discovered new artists. I remember watching the movie “The Tree of Life”, by Terrence Malick; the scene with the photos of the universe and the gorgeous soprano voice took my breath away. I then discovered that the song was Lacrimosa by the artist Zbigniew Preisner. Magnificent! 

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

Oh, that’s a fun question! There are so many incredible artists that I can see myself enjoying collaborating with many different people. I believe that it is a very enriching experience to work with others. I would enjoy learning how other musicians experience the creative process. A few years ago, I would have told you that my dream would be to collaborate with musicians from my favorite band, Pain of Salvation, a Swedish prog. metal band. It turned out that my dream came true! The producer of my album is Leo Margarit, the drummer of Pain of Salvation 🙂 I feel unbelievably fortunate to have worked with Leo, who is not only an incredibly talented musician and producer, but he also has the most delightful, brightest, and wisest personality. He is extremely conscientious and meticulous in his work, and he also has highly intuitive artistic skills. I am very grateful for this collaboration. Now, since you said I could choose even deceased people, I let myself go wild with something completely improbable and choose Johann Sebastian Bach. 

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist? 

The most satisfying part to me is the mystical experience of the creative process, at least this is how I experience it.  I like the freedom to be open to whatever comes. I feel very lucky to be touched by inspiration, through an experience that seems magical to me. My job is just to stay connected to the messages from the Universe 🙂 As a scientist by training and profession, I spend my time following precise rules, protocols, and rational steps of thinking, which I enjoy because I have a systematical way of thinking. But sometimes, I need to let go of all these rules and protocols. Being an artist allows me to do just that. Anything goes, I do whatever I want, whatever I feel! I love that! No rules! Well, there are music theory rules of course, but I don’t have much knowledge of music theory, so I never felt constrained by it! For better or worse…LOL!

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

We live in a world with a massive amount of information, coming from everywhere, anywhere. I believe excellent musicians are hidden in this amorphous mess. Artists need to be versed in social media to get some visibility. For me, the biggest challenge is to navigate this social media jungle. I feel like a little dinosaur in this area. I created an Instagram a couple of months ago, so I am 10 years behind. and after creating the Instagram account, I was told I need a TikTok 🙂. I am not made for this world. I am so grateful for press releases and interview opportunities like yours 🙂

What’s upcoming for the project?

I do not have any concrete next steps for now. However, my dream is to have one of the songs placed into a movie soundtrack one day. I was very excited to have the song “Priestess or Shieldmaiden” placed into the Spotify Lord of the Rings Soundtrack for a couple of months 🙂 I recently reached out to local movie directors. Fingers crossed!

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

Send your music to [email protected].

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