When you watch a video clip or listen to a song on your streaming devices, you only witness the finished product. When you visit a concert or a festival you witness the live music and the stage performance or your favourite artist! But before all that can be enjoyed, there are a lot of things taking place to make it all happen. Artists, musicians, bands, venue directors, they all have their own story to tell!
Music comes to us in all shapes and forms possible. A wide range of musical styles are presented to the listener on a daily bases and with services like Spotify and Deezer, music is within reach for all. Metal music in general uses a lot of influences from other genre’s, but some genre’s themselves are fairly close related to metal music.
One of those closely related genre’s is Ambient/Folk music and one of the leading country’s in this immersive style of music, is Denmark. A country known for their stunning nature, wide views and roaring Viking history. Artist like Danheim, (part of) Heilung and Fuimadane.
In this series I’m going to talk to several different people, to find out what the stories are behind it all! From a “big shot” artist, all the way to promotion and record companies. In this episode Jon Skarin, the founder and mastermind behind Fuimadane. An Ambient/Folk project originated in Denmark, that has firmly established himself as a leading factor in ambient music.
Hi Jon, First of all, thank you for taking the time to do an interview with Maizter Underground! We truly are honoured to have you here! How are things in beautiful Denmark?
Hii Patrick and Maizter Underground ! Thank you for your kind words, and thanks for doing this interview with me. Things are well in Denmark. Its summer and I love this time of the year , where everything is in bloom – the nature, the smells, the bugs, the birds. I simply love it.
Before we go into the music part of your life, what can you tell me about yourself? Who is the person Jon Skarin?
I am mostly a jolly person, with a childish spirit and mind. Just turned 39 years old this year, and my fiancé Sandra, with whom I have been with for 15 years, we have two kids with: Bjørn who is 9 and Røskva who is 7 years old. Due my mental illnesses I’ve been a stay-at-home dad, which has turned me into a bit of an introvert and makes it hard for me to keep a job or complete an education.
For me, the first encounter with you as a musician was when I learned about Fuimadane. I’m a metal head to the bone, but I really appreciate different styles of music as well. So when I came across Fuimadane I was intrigued to say the least. Before I want to know more about that, what does your name mean?
As you might know, Fuimadane is an abbreviation for “Fuck You, I’m a Dane”. The reason for that is simple: I’m a third Russian, which has lead many people in my life, especially during my school year, say that I cannot call myself a Dane. I got fed up with hearing that kind of reasoning for years and years on end. I’m done with letting others define what I am or what I am not for me. So I said “Fuck you, I *AM* a dane!”. Though it was originally intended to be a name I used just for fun, over the years it really proved to be the kind of art I wanted to make – one that says “Fuck you, I am what I am and you cannot define it for me.”
You recently released several albums. As well as a new album named Baráttan við Myrkrið you released two album containing (earlier released) single’s. How come you released three albums in one year?
As mentioned before, I suffer from mental illnesses, and one of the reasons I turned to music is because it is like medicine for my soul and catharsis for my mind. Occasionally the struggle in my mind lets me spiral into a manic state in which I find no other relief than to create a lot of music to sooth the voices in my head. I that time I push myself to release as much as possible to express myself and my inner struggles in a non-verbal way. The things I struggle with are not always the same, which is the reason the music I create has wildly varying genres. As you can tell, the audience might be overjoyed that I am releasing 3 Album within a year – for my state of mind that tells a completely different story.
Vinnask Til is your most recent release. What can you tell me about the album and the way you work your way through creating an album?
For most of my released albums, there is no silver thread. Only the title of the album, which I try to find after I have created at least half the tracks I intend to put on that album. The concept stage is a complete mess of ideas that I try to solidify when I am struggling with my mental health again.
I usually compose a rough concept of a track and let some people I trust listen to it, that is usually Kessir (who is also part of Fuimadane). They often give me feedback like feelings or imagery the track evokes in their head. Often times I change or add elements to the track which enhance or amplify the imagery or feeling they described, and we find titles together that match the concept. Some Tracks are a little too out of context for input from Kessir, however. The track “Bevar Kastrup Skøjtehal” for example might be one such case, where the track deals more with something that affects me personally. At the time of creating the Album, they wanted to close the Kastrup Skøjtehal Iceskating Rink, which is a place one might say I basically grow up in. The voices heard on that track are recordings from people fighting to keep the rink open, and I felt that the least I could do to support those fighting was to compose a track, in hopes that their voices would get heard and amplified.
In the end, once we have found a suitable name for the album and look at all the finished tracks, Kessir and I try to find the “common ground” these tracks all have. In Vinnask Til (meaning “holding out”), the common ground we found was “standing your ground firmly and waiting for better time”. Hence the Cover depicting a woman in the dead of winter, with spring on her throat – she is holding out in the dead of winter and singing of spring.
The music you compose as Fuimidane is “labelled” as Dark Ambient/Neo Folk. For me as a fan (and believe me, I am a huge fan of your music) the music you make takes me back to ancient times and ancient folklore. And although the music is instantly recognisable as Fuimadane, the instruments and sounds that you use, are not always common use in music. Can you tell me something more about how you come certain sounds and how you incorporate that into your music?
I use instruments from all over the world, but mostly instruments and percussion that are commonly found in Neo Folk, Dark Folk, Ambient Folk and other kinds of Nordic/Medieval European Music Genres. I combine them to a track and add my own personal touch to it, and let my background in electronic music, electronic elements and effects with basic arrangements flow in there as well. Apart from the instruments, I also use my own recordings and vocals, or samples from other performers. Kessir also does field recordings sometimes which I have used and manipulated and added to some tracks. Besides their recordings, they have also done vocals for tracks before, such as “Stefna” or “Tunrahï”.
You don’t perform live shows as far as I know. Does that have a reason?
While I wish I could perform live, but unfortunately the mental struggles make it impossible for me to perform in front of a live audience, let alone organize an event like that. I have, however, considered the possibility of doing online performances. Let’s see what happens in the future J
On social media you share quite a lot of your personal life that includes your family. You are open about having mental issues, and you are not afraid to open up to the world. How come you decided to do that?
At first I wasn’t quite sure whether or not to share my personal life, especially in regards to my children on social media. My original thought was that people are following me for my music, not for me as a person, so I don’t want to spam them with my personal life. However I have noticed that people are quite interested and even invested in little tid-bits about my personal life. It is something not every music artist does, and to me personally it feels like growing closer to the audience that way. Due to some difficult situations I have faced in the past where people have threatened to harm me and my family, I also felt I needed to let the audience know that I am alright when there has been a gap in communicating with them for a while.
On top of that, as I mentioned before, “Fuimadane” means “Fuck you, I am who and what I am”, which includes my struggles with mental health. Having a mental health issue has always been a Taboo in the past, something that needed to be hidden or silenced. But that’s not what I am about. I do not exist without it, and it would be a lie to portray myself as such. Maybe it started out as me posting about my mental health issues publicly to get it off my chest, but many people have come up to me and let me know that they appreciate that kind of openness about me and that I do not hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. And it feels great to be that kind of beacon for others, and maybe inspire others who grew up with the stigma of keeping mental health issue on the down low to come out and talk about it, maybe even find help for it. If my struggles and my willingness to share them can help just one person, then I want to believe that it’s all worth it.
If you are willing to… What can you tell me about your mental health issues and how they effect your daily life as well as your life as a musician?
I suffer from paranoid Schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. Apart from those I also suffer from diabetes and a few other physical health issues, which contribute to the mental health issues on top.
My struggles with my mental health issues started when I was a kid, and have only evolved since then. As I said, mental health issues have always been stigmatized and needed to be kept hidden or silenced, or go completely ignored. As such, I did not have the vocabulary to describe what was happening to me or what I was going through, even as it got worse in my teenage years. How could I tell people that I was hearing voices that were shouting at me when no one was there? Or the constant feeling that people around me could hear my thoughts? I did not get any support from my family, who had no understanding of mental illnesses. Until one day I was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt. Only then, and after spending about half a year in the hospital, did I get a diagnosis – I had Schizophrenia.
The diagnosis was devastating, and accepting that truth was very difficult. But now I was finally able to put words to the struggles I was facing, find help, information and understand my situation. Finally I had – not solutions, but at the very least – answers to my struggles, and a name to call it by! The diagnosis saved my life, in quite a literal sense as you might imagine.
What part does music play in your general well-being?
Music to me is like a medicine for my mind and extremely important for my well being. When I started composing, I was suddenly able to evoke feelings or moods in people through my music. I was able to “communicate” what was going on within me without words, which completely blew me away. It’s quite possible that my years of undiagnosed mental illness without the words to describe it contributed to this. Music enabled me to express myself in a way that went much deeper than words. That is why it is so important to me.
Next to being the mastermind behind Fuimidane, what other (musical) paths do you walk?
When I started creating music, I’ve mostly worked with electronic music. I started composing music myself in the early 2000’s, with help from my first computer. Many different projects and ideas that dated from way back then and which were mostly in the Trance and Dance genre eventually ended up being reused in Fuimadane tracks. However, when I need a little break from whatever genre we want to lable Fuimadane as, I also create music under the aliases “Smaasten“,”Jon Skarin“, “Dj Klapstol” or “Nin Sjarok” (an anagram for Jon Skarin). The later are works as a DJ, where I mix tracks I dig, mostly from the Organic House genre.
2023 has arrived. Do you have any plans or upcoming releases that we should know about?
I’ve already released a few new tracks in 2023, which are a part of “The Singles part three”. I mostly started making single tracks because I recently switched from a Windows system to Ubuntu and was still trying to figure out how to work with this new setup. Hence they are available as “name your price” on Bandcamp. I’m already working on the eleventh track, out of twenty. When the twentieth track is complete, I will release it as an album on Spotify, iTunes etc. So watch out for the singles I’m currently releasing one at a time.
Finally, is there something you want to add or disclose with the readers?
Everyone have their own story, fights and battles in their lives, but I hope that someone might draw inspiration from my story or music to apply to their life and turn their situation into something positive. And remember to tell those people in your life who try to define your life for you: “Fuck you, I am what I am”.
I couldn’t agree more Jon! Live the life you want with respect for nature and those around you!
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for this interview! It means a lot to me, that you are willing to talk this openly about things that are part of your daily life. Talking about difficult struggles, can help lift negative stress and create understanding in your surroundings. But above all, it can help to steady and organise the mind!
Next to all this, I want to thank you for all the music you create and share with the world. Your music has become a “safe haven” for me, when my head takes over reasoning 😉
On behalf of everyone at Maizter Underground, I want to wish you all the best and luck with all the things and projects in the future and we all keep a close eye out, for anything new that will be released!
Mental Health issues are a serious condition that have to be taken serious. Life can be hard at times and feelings can go their own way. We (Jon Skarin and Maizter Underground) feel it is very important to tell this story and to make people aware of the fact that mental health issues can be a part of your life no matter what the background is. We sincerly hope you enjoyed this read as much, as we enjoyed making it. If you recognise yourself in the things being said, or if you face any other mental health issues, please know that you are not alone. When you need help, please contact a doctor or professional near you. Next to that we will list some website’s where you can learn more about mental health issues and how to get help! And most importantly: mental health issues are NOT a joke! Its very serious and it can ruin people’s lives. A random act of kindness can make a difference, be nice to the people around you, and give love, trust and comfort to those who need it.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:
World Health Organisation:
Mental Health U.K.:
Swedish National Health Origanisation:
Danish National Health Organisation:
To make sure you won’t miss anything FUIMADANE announces or releases, make sure you follow them through the following links!
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FUIMADANE PLEASE CLICK THE FOLLOWING PLAYLIST!