One of the saddest things about depression is how it cunningly and cruelly siphons away passion. In 2019 I found that I was gradually losing grip on all the things that had once meant so much to me. There came a point where I found it impossible to enjoy the music and art that had, in mere months previous, nourished my life.
Around springtime last year, I decided to try and fight to retrive what had been stolen. I tried to listen to music again, but I’d find that I’d get a minute or so into a track, and need to turn it off. It’s difficult to describe exactly what it was like, but listening to music became a painful experience. All of my old favourites, songs that had seen me through so much over the years, were inaccessible. And approaching something new…well, it was like I was being stabbed in the head when I tried to do that.
Unable to listen to music and feeling as if impassible mountains were being put between me and the metal scene, I decided to take another approach to keep in contact with that significant part of my life. So I started to work on creating my second battle jacket. (My other jacket was and still is in a wardrobe in Sweden.)
Having this to focus on meant that, for at least some hours during the day, I could momentarily escape my misery and hopelessness.
My other battle jacket is more or less a homage to Norwegian black metal (if we don’t count the Arckanum back patch and the Marduk and Nargaroth patches…oh and the Sargeist pin…I think that’s all there is on it that isn’t Norwegian, but I haven’t seen it in a while…)
I thought I’d try and do something a bit different with this one and have some patches and pin badges solely focused on the art of Theodor Kittelsen and John Bauer. Not only are they my two favourite artists, but the enduring presence of their art in the black metal scene is extremely significant.
My days weren’t made up of much back when I started sewing on my patches. I’d have the simplest of ‘to do’ lists which would look something like this:
- Get up.
- Sew a patch.
Sewing on a single patch could take me hours, but the quiet feeling of accomplishment once I was done was extremely special, especially because my days were so fucking stuffed with despair. Slowly, slowly, bit by bit, my jacket started to come together. I ended up with two patches left to sew on, Ulver and Arckanum, but for some bizarre reasons they were bastards to sew, so I left them off. As you can see, there’s still plenty of space and I’m hoping to fill it with band patches of projects I discover this year.
The Bands On My Jacket & Some Favourite Songs From Them
The Music Pin Badges
I had to have my own band’s pin badge on my jacket, didn’t I! I made it using Camaloon.
Pohjoinen Pimeys (Northern Darkness)
This was kindly gifted by my friend Phil who is the creator of Pohjoinen Pimeys, a hugely impressive and always inspiring project. He speaks about it here: ‘Pohjoinen Pimeys exists for the sole purpose of supporting (and honouring) the Finnish black metal underground. The objective is simple… To unearth and cast forth the very best these vociferous northern hordes have to offer – permeating your news feed with nefarious cacophonies old and new, as well as the latest news, interviews and reviews.’
The Art Patches & Pins
John Bauer Patches
The Bauer patches below were bought from Torvenius. If you happen to find yourself traveling in Sweden after this pandemic, make a beeline for Jönköping. There you’ll find Jönköping Läns Museum and the largest collection of his art in the world. I wrote an article about it several years ago. You can find it here.
Theodor Kittelsen Pin Badges
I also used Camaloon for these Theodor Kittelsen pin badges.
The Groke Pin Badge
Forever and always my favourite character from The Moomins, it only felt right that The Groke should have her place on my jacket. When I was a kid, The Moomins was on pretty much every day in our household. I was always waiting out for when The Groke would make an appearance. She would terrify and simultaneously thrill me with her presence.
The Wicker Man Pin
I also felt it necessary to honour The Wicker Man, and there was no better way to do this than with a pin from Torvenius.