Nordic Folk and Chocolate?
It’s always exciting to hear that one of your favourite bands coming back with a new album after a long time. I’m talking about Midnattsol right now, a band I really liked in the days of yore. The rest is the usual story; kid grows up, moves onto more extreme stuff and mostly forgets about the band that helped shape his early taste of (folk) metal. Then the silence has been broken. Midnattsol was back after 7 years and we were getting a new album. Was it gonna be any good? How much did the things change? These questions will not be answered here as this ain’t a review but whatever preview (prehear?) we’ve got so far suggests this one’s going to be a good one. So we took this occasion and did this interview with the frontwoman Carmen. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. New album “The Aftermath” has just come out on Napalm Records.
First off, congratulations! You’re returning with a brand new album after 7 years, having added new members to your ranks. How are you feeling? And what took you so long?
“I can’t describe how happy we are that we finally made it to finish the songs and bring out the new album! Thanks a lot to everyone who supported us through all these years and never gave us up, that means a lot to us <3 It is always an exciting time when you have the songs finished and are going to release them soon, you have this special feeling in your stomach and just want to show them to your curious waiting fans hehe ;) There are many reasons why it took so long, and it`s a bit complicated to explain everything in detail. But I would say that the main reasons are huge private changes in our lives such as getting children, building houses, new work etc and the fact that the song writing process was very inefficient. We had so many ideas and couldn’t finish the songs, because we focused on different things and different musical directions. We also had different ideas how the songs should be written. All in all, the years went by, and I started to focus on my other Norwegian band SAVN. But it was never the wish of ending Midnattsol, it is my musical baby and will always be, no matter what happens.”
Tell us about the creation process of “The Aftermath”. Did you all get involved in the song-writing? And did the addition of Stephan and Liv change the way you approach to things?
“Yes we were all involved in the song writing process. Everyone had basic ideas, and everyone contributed on the songs with their special inspiration and parts. The good thing is that we bring different influences, so that you have variation and not the same thing over and over.
Stephan has definitely played a huge role in this album, he started straight away writing new songs that in the end became ‘The purple sky’ and ‘Herr Mannelig’, that our fans already got to see and hear. He contributed a lot to this record with his guitar and bass lines, and produced, mixed and mastered our record. One can hear his influences in the songs, for example a bit darker and complex songs. We are really grateful for his work and friendship! When Liv said she was going to join Midnattsol I was totally blown away, it was like a dream coming true. She means everything to me, my real soulmate, and we all love her fantastic voice and creativity. She wrote the lyrics and vocal lines for the beautiful bonus song ‘Eitdropar’, and contributed on many of our songs. I think the ending of ‘Syns Sang’ shows how much freedom she was given, she let everything out. Our voices fit so well together I think, it makes the album even more special, more varied and more powerful.”
You’ve stated that this album has a lot of Nordic folk influences. While these influences have always been a part of your music, are they more present this time? If so, was this something you’ve planned going in or did it occur naturally as the songs progressed?
“Yes, there were folk elements on the other albums as well, but on our new album ‘The Aftermath’ I definitely think it`s even more. I guess this is a direction where we definitely are heading more and more. I feel inspired by folk songs and tales, and I love learning more about the earlier days. We didn`t have any restrictions or special plans when we were writing the album, just total freedom to let the creativity flow, so we sang and played things we haven`t done before. That was a fantastic feeling, I really loved writing the songs together with the other ones.”
As we’re on the topic of Nordic folk, I must say I really liked your version of Herr Mannelig’. You’ve made it into a great metal song while keeping its essence. It’s not a bonus track so I’m guessing it fits well with the other songs. What exactly made you decide to cover it for the album?
“Thank you so much, glad to hear you like it!! The idea of covering this song was from Stephan. He was totally excited by the melody of this traditional masterpiece and created our version of this song. As the instruments were recorded and we began with the voices it was clear: All fits so well together that we decided at once, this song has to be on the album.”
“When Liv said she was going to join Midnattsol I was totally blown away, it was like a dream coming true”
You’ve made your very first music video, which is really good, for ‘The Purple Sky’. Why did you choose that song? What does it mean to you?
“It was not so easy to decide the song for the music video, because we thought that many of the songs on the album would be suitable for a video. Especially the final song ‘Forsaken’ was a possibility. Finally we agreed with our record company to take ‘The Purple Sky’ for the music video. We think the message of the video “bury your ego – world could be a better place” is so important nowadays and we want people to wake up! This message doesn`t only fit to the video, it also fits to the whole album. It kind of symbolizes the whole album with the Nordic goddess ‘Syn’ on the cover, the message etc. We hope people enjoy it as much as we do!”
What inspired the ideas behind this album? Were there particular events that influenced the music or the lyrics?
“The album is inspired of our thoughts of the world and its people nowadays, it`s inspired by personal experiences of the different band members and by Nordic folk songs, tales, mythology and history. All the different band members have inspired the album with their special influences. We like that there is a variety of inspiration, so that not each song is alike.”
The lyrics of the ‘The Aftermath’ calls people to take action, to put a stop to their erroneous ways and try to remedy the damage they’ve inflicted on nature. At least that’s my interpretation. Do you think there is still time to undo our mistakes and more importantly do you think we are capable of that?
“You have totally understood it, I`m impressed!! You have a good interpretation ;) Even though it perhaps doesn`t seem that way, I`m a huge optimist! I have been an Expert in the last years being optimistic and make the best out of situations. My students got the question who they thought was the happiest person in the world. They actually answered “you Carmen, you are always smiling and trying to make the best out of things”. I really took that to heart afterwards. So Yes, I think there`s time to change, I think we still have a possibility to live on this earth for a long time. But: if we continue like this year after year, without thinking about our actions, without caring for other ones, the nature, the animals a.s.o. – then I don`t think there is not much good left on this earth in the end. I think that our actions have consequences, in some way or another. And I think we are Capable of it, the question is if the people are choosing to change, choosing to make the right decisions. I really really hope that we do! It`s something I have been fighting for since I was a little child.”
Back to more positive things, you’ve got a couple of release shows ahead. Have you got anything planned after those?
“We are so looking forward to the shows!! Afterwards, we will continue the promotion process, perhaps rest a little bit, and then we are very eager to start writing new songs again. The goal is to make the next song writing process the shortest one in Midnattsol`s history ;) Next year, we want to present our new CD at festivals.”
What would you dream tour line-up be like?
“to play with Anathema or Amorphis, that would be awesome! I have a huge crush on Vincent in Anthema, his voice is so emotional and strong! I have met both bands in person and given them Norwegian chocolate and our CD, so who knows, one day they want more of that chocolate hehehe ;)”
Judging by the songs you’ve released so far, “The Aftermath” is quite a strong album, both musically and emotionally. I know it’s very early to talk about it but what can we expect from Midnattsol in the future?
“I`m very flattered, so great to hear you like the album We have so many ideas and half – finished songs waiting for us to finish them, so you can expect an album in not suuuuch a long time hehe ;) It will be awesome to have Liv in the song writing process from the start and on more live shows, I`m so looking forward to make music together with her! I also get the chance to see her more then, it`s a win-win situation. I also expect us to do more concerts in the future as the children get older and also have more videos to show you!”
Thank you for this interview. Lastly, is there anything you’d like to add?
“Thank YOU for doing this interview and for your support, it means a lot to us! We really hope the fans like the new songs!! Stay tuned!! ”