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Rúnahild - ''Making this album has been profoundly healing for me''

Of Darkness And Light is the superb new release from Rúnahild. It is a beautiful, powerful yet also vulnerable journey of personal tales and newfound inner strength that is inspired by the natural and the deeply personal, that is captured by both the traditional and modern sounds that are unbound by any genre. Haunting, honest, and unmissable the textures and emotions are captured by her stunning vocals and hidden subtleties. It is a brilliant cohesive work of art.


Rúnahild ‘’This is definitely the most conceptual album I have recorded so far. I only compose music when I feel inspired and compelled to write music, it is like an inner drive. The songs came to me one by one, but I didn’t decide beforehand how this album should turn out in the end, it just sort of came to life by itself. I don’t steer much my inspiration, apart for setting an intention for each song I work with. So to me it sounds a bit difficult to define whether it was an easy or a hard process, it just is and manifests itself. Of course, some songs always require some more work in the mixing and mastering process, but that is just a part of writing music really.


''An intimate journey and your relationship between music and emotion. Music has always been my way to work and process my emotions. Last year, I started the process of getting diagnosed with autism, which has taken me on an intense inner journey revisiting countless memories and gaining a whole new understanding of how I have experienced life all along now that I can see everything through an autistic lens. It also only deepens my understanding of how I have been using music partly to regulate my emotions. I cannot count every time I wrote a song from a place of deep sorrow and darkness within me, and composing has been my medicine. From the moment I feel inspired, it feels like my whole essence is shifting and that music is allowing light to enter and show me a way back to life.


It is also an album of healing and discovery. A continuing journey. 


‘’It feels like every of my albums is a part of my healing journey, always spiraling deeper within my unconscious. This part of the journey is about self-acceptance. Realizing that some parts of me which I thought were broken and needed fixing actually are intrinsic parts of who I am, and that instead of trying to change them, I need to reclaim and integrate them. There is profound healing in coming home to one’s core energy. I have worked several years on healing myself and yet this self-acceptance has been the most powerful experience so far. It feels like I can truly allow myself to breathe again.


The transcendence of Otherworldly. Is the universe something you think about often and your place in it?


‘’I’ve always been fascinated by the universe and how it works, both from a scientific and spiritual perspective. I like to think that the universe is conscious through every single life form and that the way each individual experience life adds up to one another and creates a complete picture. There are infinite ways for life to manifest on this ever-expanding journey. And we all belong as who we are, for each of our stories is a manifestation of the universe.


The beautiful subtleties within it. Combining the traditional with the modern beats.


‘’When it comes to music, I don’t think I have ever done anything the traditional way to be honest. I have always taken a personal approach and since I am mostly self-taught, I never learnt any specific skills either. I have always followed my inspiration and how music makes me feel. When I compose, I seek a state that I experience as trance-like, if a song doesn’t take me there, I won’t be working on it further. Usually the trance-inducing feeling comes right from the birth of a song, but I also sometimes play music just for fun though these ideas don’t lead to songs. With this album, I have been very inspired by the vibe of electronic and downtempo music. I started writing music first on the keyboard back in 2006, so for me it is also like coming home to the instrument that initiated my music journey.

The elements of darkness and light. Is it the beginning of a healing process "longing to be free"? 


‘’Darkness and light are part of the same and one isn’t without the other. I don’t see neither darkness nor light as inherently “bad and good”, they are just opposite and complementary energies that compose life as they contrast each other. In the context of this album and the self-titled song, the darkness symbolises our vulnerabilities while the light symbolises our strengths. To me, darkness is a place of rest, nurture, and withdrawal where we hold space for ourselves and recharge. While the light is the outward, active, and shining energy when we are being productive and by being, so we engage and give our energy to the world around us. But the point is, we are all our own mix of darkness and light within, and we all have our individual vulnerabilities and strengths. I feel it is easy to dislike our vulnerabilities and only celebrate our strengths. I can at least speak from my personal experience, but before knowing I was autistic, I thought I had to fight some of my vulnerabilities, and I had to transform them into strengths instead. In the same time, I have always been very aware that my darkness is where I draw my innermost inspiration from, so I have never wanted to lose it either. My darkness is what fuels my light and my light is what heals my darkness. The lyrics line “longing to be free” refers to embracing and accepting both darkness and light, and in the process of doing so releasing myself from this inner fight that could never be won by either one of these energies, because they are both intrinsic parts of me and one isn’t without the other.


Is that how you move past pain and sorrow?


‘’In a way, I think it can help. Again, I can only talk based on my own experience, but realising that some of my vulnerabilities are what makes me me and not something dysfunctional that needs fixing helps me accept myself. A lot of my pain and sorrow come from a feeling of being outside from the world and disconnected from others. It is how I have always experienced life, like being behind a veil, I can see on the other side, but I can never cross this veil, I’ve got to exist from behind it. I will never have a neurotypical brain, and my failure at achieving that have been probably more painful than the feeling itself.

‘’But that said, I think we need to differentiate between what makes us us at our core, who we are born as, and what has become us based on traumas and trauma response. Experiencing traumas can rewire our brains, and this is a whole different subject that cannot possibly be written down about in just a few words here. But while healing traumas is definitely a part of this album’s journey, what I realised was that, for example, I didn’t start having social difficulties because I was traumatised (as I previously thought), I had social difficulties from the very start but I eventually got traumatised as others rejected me and ostracised me because of it. I socialise differently, this is a part of me I am now accepting and celebrating. However, the social anxiety disorder I have developed because of the world’s response to it is something I do want to heal eventually because it isn’t who I am, it is a trauma response.


Your recent diagnosis has greatly influenced this work but also your dreams.


‘’I had this dream one night that I was being chased by a woman in a red dress. And at first, I was very scared of her and I tried to escape. Every time she’d be close, I’d hear this same melody played on the piano again and again. Eventually, I surrendered and let her find me. But when she finally found me, I got chocked that she was actually super relieved that I let her come to me again for she truly had been longing for this moment. I do like to interpret some of my dreams when I feel that there is something more to them, and this dream was one of those. To me this woman dressed in red represents a straightforward, vibrant, passionate and free energy that stands into her energy without shame.It is common for some autistic people to learn to mask their autistic traits as we realise this is what society rejects in us, so as we result, we can end up hiding and repressing parts of us. For me, dreaming this woman is about unmasking my authentic self and heal from the shame, to walk a life in harmony with my inner nature.


Creating a sense of peace within the turmoil.


‘’Yes indeed. Life is challenging for all of us, but when you try to live it from a place that isn’t even aligned with your actual energy, it is only going to get significantly much harder.


The gorgeous beauty of Mirror of the Soul.


‘’Mirror of the Soul is about how everything connects and that we are never truly alone as there is always some elements within nature that reflects our inner self.Again, prior to getting diagnosed, I seriously thought something was inherently wrong with me and I felt incredibly alone in experiencing life this way. Then at the heart of a depression wave, a stoat had found its way into my cabin, and we got to stare into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. And in that moment, all my sorrow dissipated because I realised the stoats are also loners just following their own path and there was nothing wrong with that. That was the enlightening moment for me when I realised (although it was far from the first time I suspected) that I might be on the spectrum and an intense year of research started, followed by seeking a formal diagnosis. The point is, there is of everything in nature and there is a place for every species and for every individuals within a species. There are plants, like the fire lily for example, that only bloom after a forest fire, and that are entirely reliant on those fires to bloom. Maybe some of us feel like we only truly thrive in certain environments, but this is where we shine, and alternatively where we might just be needed. There is wisdom in learning from nature because we can find reflections of ourselves within her and remember we are worthy as who we are. This flower that only blooms after all else dies and before it is all reborn again doesn’t need to be there all the time, but just at the right time when no other plants produce nectar. So, to me it shows it isn’t about how productive we are, it is about who we are, and the fact our society tends to value individuals based on their productivity instead of their identity is definitely part of what is dysfunctional about our whole system in my opinion.


The beauty and sorrow of Sjelefred and its sonnet of passing.


I wrote Sjelefred (peace of the soul) as I was grieving the passing of my dog Frigga. It was really a dark time for me, and I felt like I lost all sense of direction, like I was just completely numb and devastated. I wrote this song to release my emotions, to sing her passing away and to sing how much she’s been loved and always will be within our hearts. It took a few takes to actually record this song without my singing being interrupted by tears, but it was a part of the process to hold space for my sorrow. It truly helped me on my grieving journey and from then on, I started to slowly reconnect to life. So, the name of this song reflects both Frigga’s soul being at peace and my own soul finding peace with her passing away.


When you were making this album, did you feel that you had created something extraordinary?


Making this album has been profoundly healing for me, but I think I would have a hard time defining anything I do as extraordinary as it is really relative. It has been an amazing experience for me, and I can only hope it will resonate with other people as well.

The gorgeous physical release planned. A perfect companion with your own photography and inner thoughts? 


‘’I have dreamt of releasing a book with my nature photographs and some of my writings in so many years… but I never had the inspiration and I just procrastinated on it. Then suddenly, around this winter solstice (2023), I realised I already had a few texts that I could gather together, and I had a lot of photographs taken over the past 14 years. But I still struggled with how to proceed, so I talked with my partner, and he suggested I break it all down into separate steps, so it doesn’t become too overwhelming, hence leading to procrastination. So, I first gathered my most favourite nature photographs. Then I gather the texts I already had. Then I worked on the text I had ideas for but still had to write. It all escalated rather quickly from there, where the texts would align with the songs from the album. Then I would compose new songs based on written texts that didn’t have a song to mirror them and it all got magically interwoven. I am just incredibly happy with this whole production, I never thought I could achieve something so tight knitted together and I am beyond thankful for this flow of inspiration.


To those who are suffering or misdiagnosed. 


‘’It is important to seek the right help, seeking professional counselling as well as reaching out in online communities for example. Take the time to learn about yourself and dive into research if you feel compelled. There are indeed a lot of misdiagnosis and misinformation still unfortunately. I think in the end, you can also trust yourself to know how you experience the world. There is no harm in trying to accommodate yourself either way whether you have a diagnosis or not, does some certain accommodation make your life easier? Then just apply them in your life as you see fit. You can learn a lot from online communities where people share their experiences and tips or sometimes seek advice and understanding. It truly helps to realise we are not alone, even if we still have to go through life on our own and find our own path, we can be inspired by one an other and we can support each other even when we would otherwise be complete strangers living in different parts of the world.


Final thoughts.

''Thank you so much for this invitation to share my inner world and inspiration behind my music and my new album, and many thanks to everyone who is supporting always! It means more than I can possibly express in words.


Top 6 albums of all time. 


I really can’t pick 6 absolute top albums, so I will just name 6 on top of my head (in no particular order):

Dead Can Dance - Spirit Chaser

Wardruna - Gap Var GinnungaPink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Carbon Based Lifeforms - Derelicts

Hagalaz Runedance - The Winds that Sang of Midgard’s Fate

Eivør - Room

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