Black Hat Society: Interview with Hauk Heimdallsman and Karin Dell
This is the third time that I have interviewed Hauk Heimdallsman. The first time was for my Samhain 2008 issue of ACTION and we talked about his background and a Heathen folk metal band. The second time I interviewed him was for the Yule 2010 issue of ACTION. He was working with Skaldic Hearth Kin and we were talking about creating an album of Wassail songs. I also interview Karin Dell , the other half of the Black Hat Society.
Hauk has very eclectic tastes in music. He has classical orchestration training. He can play a variety of different instruments, is a sound engineer professionally as well. He likes to blend a variety of music styles. He is also a song writer and a singer. Just don’t try to fit him into a neat box, because he won’t stay there.
Christopher: I recall hearing that you have been doing some serious sound engineering for a variety of people. Can you mention a few of them?
Hauk: I’ve been freelancing at a couple different studios lately, as well as working out of The Nest, my personal studio. I’m currently co-producing the new album for the Pirates Charles, and I have a few artists in pre-production right now. I’ve also been working on a few films, doing post-production and sound editing. Nothing major, but a few name actors here and there.
Christopher: Have you done any musical scoring for any projects?
Hauk: I’ve scored one feature film called Ru and a few short films. Ru has been screened at a few nationwide festivals; it’s doing nicely.
Christopher: You are also married now?
Hauk: Yup! Best decision I ever made.
Christopher: Karin could you tell us a bit about how you came to become a musician, your training, and how you came to play the fiddle? Do you play any other instruments?
Karin: I come from a very large musical family and music was a big part of life for me growing up. Name an instrument and someone in my family plays it. I initially wanted to play the cello, like my mother, but she suggested I pick up the violin when I was about 8 years old. My aunt lent me one of hers and I started playing around with it and never looked back. I’ve had maybe a handful of lessons but I’m mostly self-taught and learned from example by those around me. I played a bit of viola in middle school but my love is the fiddle.
Christopher: How do you keep up the energy?
Karin: I don’t really consciously push the energy. There’s something inside of me that just takes over when the music starts and I lose all inhibition and just go with it. I couldn’t hold back even if I wanted to. It’s the only time I can really let go and truly express myself. There’s no feeling like it in the world.
Christopher: How did you end up working with Hauk?
Karin: I met Hauk through some friends at a local camp out about 4 years ago. They heard he was looking for a full time fiddle player for the folk metal band and brought him over to me. We had a conversation about his music and he sent me some files after the event. He came over to my place and we jammed a bit on them and he asked me to join the band. I’ve been working with him since then.
There’s not really anything specific I’m looking to get out of working with him other than making good music and having fun. We have a great connection writing music together and I have a lot of fun working with him. Music is my passion and his as well so it just works. I hope people enjoy listening to our music as much as we do creating and performing it.
Christopher: What is Black Hat Society? Do you have a webpage for it?
Karin: I think what we are trying to do here is hard to classify. Black Hat Society is a bit of country, folk, blues, rockabilly, doom, rock, and metal all thrown together. We’re outlaws, not the good guy, not the bad guy, but rather people driven by what’s right in our hearts. It’s real music, made by real people, and not just some formula put together purely to be marketable. We’re telling ghost stories, love stories, political stories and real things that people can relate to. I hope people can relate our music to their own personal stories, make them think about what is going on in the world around them outside their smart-phones, and have some fun!
We don’t have a website yet but we do have a Facebook page. I believe a website is in the works though right Hauk?
Hauk: I do hope to get a formal website done at some point, but right now we’ve just been focused on recording and writing new songs.
For me, the concept of the Black Hat comes from old Westerns where you could always tell the good guys and the bad guys apart because the bad guy always wore a black hat. That changed a lot when Clint Eastwood did Sergio Leones spaghetti westerns. There came a point where you can’t tell anymore just by looking. Things stopped being cut and dried.
It’s the same with life. We no longer have heroes and good guys. We’re all in the same boat trying to survive. I think that’s reflected in our songs; we have a bit of country, a bit of rock, and bit of doom, a bit of this and that, songs about freedom, about love, about the dead rising. When you capture a bit of western America in a song, you really capture more than just a story. You’re capturing freedom, hope, fear, and that spirit that just won’t quit.
Christopher: Why and when did you start putting it together?
Karin: We started working on this about a year ago when the folk metal band became defunct. Hauk wanted to do something different and asked if it would be something I’d be interested in. He showed me a few songs he’d been working on and I easily had ideas of my own that meshed with it. Once we started the music just exploded out of us.
Hauk: About two weeks after we released Anthems for an Age Arriving with the folk metal band, my grandpa died. Grandpa had always told me I needed to make a country album and for the next few months after he died, all I did was play my acoustic guitar and write country songs. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened.
From this I had a lot of good ideas and some half finished songs, and I knew it was not something for the old band. I played some of the songs for Karin and she immediately filled in the gaps. It was like it was meant to be. We’ve been working on these songs for about a year now, and we’ve got a lot of songs on the way.
Christopher: What are some of the musical influences for the type of music Black Hat Society does?
Hauk: We did a show back in April where the MC asked us to describe our sound. I rattled off a few different band names that he’d never heard of and finally got him to understand when I said Willie Nelson meets Megadeth. A little bit country, a little bit folk, a bit of metal, a bit of punk, a fair helping of doom, and some prog thrown in for good measure. I guess if you had to use a genre descriptor, it would be Alt Country, or Outlaw Country.
Christopher: What about your musical influences in developing your own style, Karin?
Karin: I have a variety of musical influences from across the board. I was surrounded by music growing up and learned early that a specific genre doesn’t necessarily mean good music. For me, passionate music is good music. The bands that you can just tell really love doing what they are doing and really believe it in.
My hugest influences are Murder by Death, Hank III, Vivaldi, Corelli, Led Zeppelin, Guns and Roses, early Metallica, Black Sabbath, Hank Williams, Charlie Daniels, Opeth, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphy’s, Bob Dylan.
I’m also greatly influenced by those legendary lead guitar players like Jimmy Page, Randy Roads, Jimi Hendricks, Brian May, and Slash to name a few. My brother Chris is gonna be one of those someday and playing music with him gives me massive ideas. I like to think my style isn’t really a fiddle style, I’m more of a lead guitarist with a different spin.
Hauk: I do guitar and vocals, although for recording I also do some bass and banjo.
Karin: Hauk and I co-write the music and I play the fiddle and do a bit of backing vocals.
Christopher: What kind of instruments are used?
Hauk: For live shows, I usually just have my Gretsch 5120 and my Taylor 314. In studio though, I’ve been using a variety of guitars- 7 strings, 12 strings, banjos, a lot of slide guitar too.
Karin: My fiddle is an A.R. Seidel. The strings I use are the Pirastro Violino line. I’m still experimenting with pickups. Haven’t quite found the one yet.
Christopher: Where are some of the places that you have played?
Karin: We’ve played mostly bars and a few coffee shops. Recently we played what was basically a 4 hour jam session at this amazing bakery in Woodland Hills called The Baker. It was tons of fun and we got to play around with some fun covers. Their bread, pastries and food are to die for!
Hauk: The Baker was a lot of fun. It was nice to just sit back and jam. We’re playing Fresno in a couple weeks at the Mia Cuppa Cafe.
Christopher: Have you a schedule set up and where can people find it?
Hauk: It’s all on the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/blackhatsocietyband
Christopher: What kind of Gigs do you play and how can people arrange one for you?
Hauk: Coffee shops, bars, clubs, festivals, rallies, fundraisers for animal shelters, bar mitzvahs, you name it, we’ll play it.
Christopher: Do you have an album out yet?
Hauk: Not yet. We’re aiming to release our first album by the end of the year though. The working title is This Machine Kills Fascists.
Christopher: So what plans do you have for the future? Is there anything you have not done in music that you would like to try?
Hauk: I think we’re doing it right now.
Karin: Right now we’re working on recording our first album. Our hope is to get this done by the end of the year and out there and start touring. I’d love to play a huge music festival. I’d also love to do a European tour.
Hauk: Touring is a definite must. The future will come as it will. For now, we’re just making the music we want to make.
Christopher: Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
Hauk: We’re playing in Fresno on November 8 at the Mia Cuppa Caf. Be there! And check out the Facebook page for all the latest studio updates! Let us know what you think too? I could care less what the industry hotshots have to say, but you better believe we care about the fans.
Karin: I hope people like what we are doing and come out to see us play. We love making music and want this to be interactive with our fans. Don’t be shy and have a drink with me after!