We are proud to announce that legendary Norwegian experimental black metal artist, Ihsahn, is an Aristides Artist! Ihsahn’s sheer creativity and dedication to his craft make him the exact kind of player we like to support.
Aristides Instruments: A formal welcome to the Aristides family, Ihsahn. Tell us how you became interested in our guitars.
Ihsahn: First of all, thanks so much. I’m very excited to be part of this. So, a little while back I was discussing guitars with my friend, Mark Holcomb, and 8 string guitars in particular. Knowing that him and the rest of Periphery had probably tried out anything out there, it was interesting to have his input on this. Mark was really enthusiastic about Aristides and I got very intrigued by the innovation behind these instruments, so he put me in touch with Pascal who kindly offered to send me an 080 to try out.
A: What was your first impression? How did you put them to the test?
I: Picking up the 080 for the first time, I was immediately taken by the flawless craftsmanship. The finish (this model was an ivory white, satin with gold hardware), the fretwork, the balance and overall solid feel of every small detail! Playing it, I noticed the resonance and sustain and how there were no “dead” spots in any register. A very tight and distinct sound with great tonal variety in the pickup switching. At the time, I was preparing for a show in London, and even though I usually switch between 6- and 8-string guitars during a live set, rehearsing I found myself playing through the entire set just with the 080, as somehow the typical 6-string songs translated so easily to this 8-string. I ended up bringing the 080 to London and it performed beautifully!
A:You’re very loyal to your gear, and your guitars are an important extension of your playing. What demands do you have of a guitar and how does Aristides meet them?
I: Yes, I guess when I find a piece of gear I like and trust, I stick to it, as I like to think that with a solid foundation I can stretch my creativity further. At the same time, I’m always aiming to expand my “toolbox” of sounds, which is why I guess I picked up the 7-string, and later the 8-string, in the first place. New ways to challenge my playing and writing, skipping that muscle-memory element that inevitably builds up after many years with an instrument. Since my first encounter with the 080, I’ve also been privileged to play the 020 and the new 080S, with fanned frets. And this brings me to how I find Aristides so perfect for me. At the foundation, there is the craftsmanship and great playability that make my job easier. But beyond that point, I found the different models and slight changes in hardware to give me far more variety of sounds and textures than I had hoped for!
A: We’re very proud to hear they’ve been performing for you at the highest level possible. How has your experience been working with Aristides, so far?
I: Things have happened so fast and I’m already playing Aristides guitars exclusively live. All 3 guitars I’ve been playing so far have performed extremely well, getting complements from my sound-engineer for tone and punch. They also feel very sturdy and roadworthy. All in all you could say the instruments resonate very well with me, but just as importantly, so does the people involved. I think anyone who have dealt with Aristides have experienced the professionalism, enthusiasm and service, while maintaining a personal and easy-going tone. For me, this close communication is crucial.
A: Your latest album, Arktis, is slated for release in April. What can we expect from it?
I: I kind of set new parameters for myself for each new album. My previous album, Das Seelenbrechen, was all about spontaneity and improvisation, so with Arktis, I wanted to focus on more traditional song writing, trying to build each song from one particular idea and let that guide the arrangement and production of each song individually. Hopefully the end result is still a cohesive album, possibly even on the catchy side.
A: What’s in the works between Ihsahn and Aristides in the future?
I: At the moment, we are talking ideas and specs for particular live needs, but also have some ideas in regards to a studio workhorse! I can’t wait to start writing and recording with these instruments. As Pascal and I have discussed several times, the Arium as a material seems so stable and transparent, so even minor changes in design and hardware make a huge, controlled difference in tone. Hopefully I can learn and experience more of this on my forthcoming visit to the factory. I know all I’ve said here is basically an all positive rant, but in all honesty, I think I just feel very at home with the whole attitude of Aristides; challenging how we perceive the electric guitar, adding to it, but not sacrificing what we love about it. I mean, there are those who perceive greatness as something belonging to the past, and then there are those who cherish what is great and want to bring that into the future. As far as guitars go, Aristides are definitely part of the latter, and I’m going to tag along.