18 Aug 2022

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Ceolskog - Ceolskog Newsletter Interview

30 Jul 2016 // An interview by Shade

Ceolskog is the solo project of Adam Helliwell, a singer-songwriter/guitarist based in Hamilton. Ceol means music in Irish Gaelic, and Skog means forest in Norwegian. Adam is a self-taught guitarist, and studied music at Vision College where he took a vocal major. He didn't buy his first guitar until age 19, a year after he joined his first band.

The main genre of Ceolskog is folk metal, a cross between heavy metal and traditional folk music, particularly Celtic and Nordic (hence the name). Adam has a love of folk groups like The Irish Rovers, and classic metal bands like Iron Maiden. But Ceolskog also touches upon other genres. Classic rock bands such as Thin Lizzy also have a strong influence, and a pop element is there thanks to the influence of The Proclaimers. Romantic-era composers, particularly Jean Sibelius and Edvard Grieg, should also be mentioned.

Adam has recorded two albums in his bedroom, released in 2015 and 2016. Though far from professional, people are often surprised at what can be done with very little gear and lots of determination! Although Ceolskog is currently just a solo project, Adam is on the lookout for musicians keen on joining forces with him, so that Ceolskog can become a proper band, and play some epic gigs!

Adam answered the following questions for Muzic.net.nz

How did you become involved in music?

To be honest, I just wanted to be in a band. I can't remember why, but I did! So, when I was 18, I formed one with a bass player and a drummer I was friends with. Our first drummer was only 13 years old! I was the singer. A really bad one back then. We had no guitarist at first, but eventually we formed a full band that lasted a good three or four years. But it wasn't really the style I wanted to do, it was more of a fun pop/rap/rock sort of thing, but it had a touch of folk now and then, and even a bit of a metal flavour once in a while. That was Z Amigos.

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

Lyrically, probably Ancient Song, because I get to say a lot of things I would rant about in real life, but more succinctly and poetically! Musically, it would be Soria Moria from my second album, it's nice and heavy and tidy and epic. But the only song of mine I go back and really listen to for actual enjoyment is Trollmors Vuggesang, which is just my version of a Norwegian lullaby. I'm less critical of it because it's not really my own song, so I can handle listening to it! All the others, if I listen to them, all I can hear is what needs to be changed or improved on.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?

Hmmm.... folk, but heavy and in a nice pop format! I guess the label folk metal pretty much says it all, although most other folk metal bands go for a harsh vocal style as opposed to clean vocals. I usually just say Thin Lizzy meets Bathory meets Ensiferum meets The Proclaimers!

What can we expect to see from you in the next year?

Hopefully forming a new band, writing some new songs with them (it's lonely writing songs by yourself), and then Ceolskog's first gig! I haven't played a gig since February 2015, and my last IronStein gig was back in October 2014. So I'm low on the chemicals my body releases when I play a fun live show with a great bunch of people. Although those last two gigs weren't too successful.... but I won't get into that!

Have you got any tips for dealing with nerves before a gig?

No, I'm the worst person to ask! For every gig I've ever played, I've been on the verge of a panic attack! But I've always been in bands with good friends, who are supportive and encouraging. This is why I'm looking to turn Ceolskog into a full band – otherwise I'll never play live again! I've thought of doing acoustic gigs. At one point, I decided that I was going to play at an open mic night at Biddy Mulligan's. I practiced all week, and then went down there one night. I walked in the front door, saw people playing, and thought "I can't do this alone", so like a big chicken I just walked straight out!
Where do you get your inspiration to create music from?

Well, I get inspiration in several ways. I might just be reading a work of fiction, such as Tolkien, or a non-fiction history book, and be inspired by stories and events, real or fictional, from those. Leif Ericson, for example, is about an historical figure of that name, an explorer from Iceland. Fog on the Barrow-Downs is from a chapter in The Lord of the Rings. To be honest, I get my best ideas when I'm out hiking in the bush, or climbing a mountain with friends, or even just walking by the river early in the morning. Then I'll get a tune in my head, or some words. That's why I set a lot of my songs to footage of nature I've filmed when I upload them to YouTube. Sometimes I just listen to classical or traditional folk music, and think, that would sound good as a metal song, haha! So I've occasionally nicked a melody from a piece of music that is so old that's it's been in the public domain for a long time. The chorus to Ancient Song, for example, is just the melody from The Death of Åse, a piece from the Peer Gynt Suite by the 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.


About Ceolskog

Ceolskog is the solo project of Adam Helliwell, a singer and guitarist from Hamilton (formerly of IronStein and Z Amigos). Ceol means music in Irish Gaelic, and skog means forest in Norwegian and Swedish. The name also doubles as his hiking and nature-themed YouTube channel.

The primary genre of Ceolskog is folk metal, a cross between heavy metal and traditional folk music (particularly Celtic and Nordic), but also touches upon other genres, such as country rock, power metal and acoustic folk. Think of it like The Proclaimers meets Falkenbach meets Creedence Clearwater Revival meets the Viking metal albums of Bathory.

Adam is a self-taught guitarist, and studied music at Vision College where he took a vocal major. He didn't buy his first guitar until age 19, a year after he joined his first band. He has recorded four Ceolskog albums and three EPs in his bedroom, released between 2015 and 2022.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ceolskog


Once, Long Ago...
Year: 2018
Type: Album
A Comfortable Tree Stump
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Made In My Bedroom II
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Made In My Bedroom
Year: 2015
Type: Album

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