Gofid (meaning sorrow) plays extreme metal with Welsh song titles under the name Iselder (meaning depression). His work attracted attention this month when he covered Dafydd Iwan’s cultural anthem Yma O Hyd- parallel.cymru went to find out more!
First up Gofid, what is your background in metal?
I first started listening to metal when I was about eleven years old, slowly getting in to classic bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. In my teenage years I had a good friend who introduced me to the more extreme side of things with Cannibal Corpse and Slayer, which forged the path for me to seek out the most extreme metal I could find. At sixteen I discovered bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Gorgoroth, and it’s all been a passion of mine ever since.
I understand that you’re not fluent in Welsh, but you’re keen to use the language- what is the appeal for you in this?
As a Welshman I feel as though it’s my duty to promote and publicise our nations heritage whenever possible- be it the language, history, or folklore. I believe that doing this will not only encourage people to learn more about Wales as a whole, but possibly help us thrive in the future and help keep the culture alive.
Your current release is a recording of the unofficial Welsh-language national anthem Yma o Hyd by Dafydd Iwan- why cover this?
The idea to record it had been on the drawing board for a few months now, as I felt that there hadn’t really been a Welsh metal band to release a song relating to the history of the country itself. It felt fitting to release it ahead of the new album in light of the renaming of the Severn Bridge into the now “Prince of Wales” Bridge. I’d like to think of it as a form of protest, and I hope Dafydd Iwan catches wind of it and is proud that his message is being heard by a new generation of proud Welsh people.
Your music released as Iselder is you performing vocals, guitar, and bass with drum machine software. Do you have your own studio, or do you record and produce everything at home?
Everything is recorded at home, as Iselder is a deeply personal project of mine. A Welsh promoter once greatly insulted me by telling me that they’re not interested in “bedroom bands”, so I’ve made it almost my mission to prove that I don’t need them. But other than that I don’t think I’d ever ask for help with the recording/production side of things. The only things I use are my instruments and the recording software on my computer. It’s also handy to do everything myself, as this lets me avoid dealing with people (aside from a very tolerant wife who sleeps on the sofa when I decide to record at 3am) as I often like to work alone and prefer to keep my independence as an artist rather than relying on others. This means my music is entirely my creation and my vision and is not muddied by the input of other voices.
These days independent creators have to responsible for the marketing of their work and development of their careers, and not be reliant on a publisher/label/agent/manager/producer to do those tasks. Do you have any tips for other independent creators in Wales?
The biggest tip that I can give is to hone your craft and develop your own sound. Don’t try to be another second wave worship band, unless that’s what you really want to be. The world doesn’t need another Burzum or Darkthrone. What it needs are original bands to make their mark so that the scene can flourish and continue. There’s a few bands I could name that don’t really offer anything new, and instead rely too much on the achievements of others for their success, imitating them to such a degree where I could easily confuse the two and personally that doesn’t appeal to me.
You can often find blogs and such that would be more than happy to review your music, and it’s easier now than ever to sell your music online through Bandcamp and other such sites. Never ask for anything, never make excuses, stand your ground and do what you want to do.
There are a lot of guitar-based rock and indie bands in Wales, but not many metal bands. Are there are any other Welsh metal bands that you listen to?
There are quite a few bands from Wales that I listen to- the most well-known being the death metal band Desecration. But as for smaller bands, I’d say the death metal trio Sepulchre are a must to see live. Other than that you have black metal bands like Ghast (who were featured on Fenriz of Darkthrone fame’s radio podcast), Coedwig Machen, Lleuad, and Merciless Savage. All distinctly different from each other, each bringing their own twist on the genre.
I listen to Emperor, Satyricon and Darkspace a lot; in terms of extreme metal, what bands do you enjoy listening to and who has influenced your style?
I listen to a wide array of bands nowadays, so it’s hard for me to pick out a select few who have influenced my style. I’d definitely say bands such as Satanic Warmaster, Tsjuder, Leviathan, and Nargaroth were big influences when starting Iselder, and they all definitely had a hand in shaping in the music you hear me playing today. The influences definitely come out more on the upcoming album than they did on the last, but aren’t comparable in any way. I don’t want to be Wales’ version of Mayhem, or Gorgoroth, or Burzum. I want to be Gofid, sole member of Iselder, and be at the forefront of Welsh Black Metal.
I’d like to think of the Yma O Hyd cover as a form of protest, and I hope Dafydd Iwan catches wind of it and is proud that his message is being heard by a new generation of proud Welsh people.