Interview with Johan Hegg | By Shawn “Chaos” Gillingham
Johan Hegg has traversed the world many times over during his 24 year residency as the voice of Swedish death metal kings Amon Amarth. Most of us would find this schedule beyond taxing, but not Mr. Hegg; on top of an already demanding musical career, he’s not afraid to take on new challenges. In 2014, Hegg partnered with Grimfrost, a company dedicated to making and selling the highest quality Viking reproductions on the market, ranging from simple pendants to unique high-end axes. In addition to historical items, they also offer Viking inspired contemporary items.
Grimfrost’s goal is met through a combination of scholarly knowledge, expert crafting skills, and a lifelong connection to Viking culture. Hegg says, “We offer more than just products for sale. We like to think that we offer a lifestyle to the modern Viking. Here in Sweden, home of the Vikings, signs from our forefathers are visible everywhere. There are literally hundreds of runestones, burial mounds, and other ancient Viking sites in our midst. We are not able to share our wilderness or all the relics of old around the world, but we can try to pass on how our past and surroundings influence us in our lives as modern-day Vikings. Perhaps too it can inspire others in their own quest for how life should be led.”
With building a brand of any sort, a lot of stock goes into proper naming. Hegg explains, “There’s a couple of things that went into creating the name. First of all, we wanted something that was connected to up here in the North, Scandinavia, the cold of the North, and something that would describe Vikings and all that stuff. So, ‘frost,’ because of the cold and ‘grim,’ because Vikings were grim! There’s also a bit of wordplay in the name. I’m not sure if you have this in North America, but in Sweden, we have something we call ‘Rimfrost’ which is basically the frost that builds up on car windows and what we get on the trees when it gets really cold outside. Also, ‘grym’ is an old Norse word that means ‘mosque.’ It’s wordplay which ‘connects a few dots.’”
When Grimfrost began seeking a spokesperson, it’s as if they had a checklist: a 6’6” menacing Swede? Check. A recognizable face? Check. Someone with business acumen? Bonus! “A couple of friends of mine, [Arve and Sjöberg], asked me to basically be the ‘face’ or kind of like the ‘poster boy,’” Hegg says. “We started to discuss their ideas about the company and what direction they wanted to go. I had some ideas of what they should and shouldn’t do. I guess they liked a lot of the ideas, because they came to me a week later and asked if I was interested in becoming a full partner in business. I contribute a lot to Grimfrost, but obviously not as much as Arve or Sjöberg, because of the other work I have. I contribute a lot to the creative process. One example is the ‘Berserker’ t-shirt.”
Every good spokesperson understands the importance of endorsing their brand, but most are full of shit when they say they “use it everyday!” Hegg is an exception to the rule: “I was actually a customer before Grimfrost was founded and got both my onstage drinking horn and arm braces from these guys. We have such horns for sale now and then. Each is hand carved, unique, one of a kind, and takes a staggering 40 to 50 hours to make. That pretty much sums up our premium items. They require an incredible amount of time and expertise to make. You can’t get such items anywhere else. I also have the beard rings [and] beads. They are very cool! I also use our awesome beard oil to care of the beard, and I love it! I wish I could afford the ‘Genya’ axe! It’s super, super nice!”
To get a Mjölnir amulet or some lingonberry mead of your very own, head to Grimfrost.com!