It has been a long 7 years since Denmark’s Sylvatica was making waves with their debut album “Evil Seeds”… and sadly soon after, they disappeared from the scene. With 2021 moving forward, so has the band with a return in a big way with their follow up “Ashes And Snow”. While the album has a tangible connection to the debut, it also is a massive reintroduction of sorts to their sound. Vocalist and guitarist Jarden Schelsinger took some time to answer some questions for us regarding the album, the comeback, the influences and a few other items of note….check it out…..
Congrats on your epic new album “Ashes And Snow”…how has the response been to it so far?
“It’s been amazing! So far people really seem to like it and the reviews have been very positive.
We have been super nervous about the response since we’ve made a slight change in style since our previous album. It would suck to have spent so many years and so much energy creating this album and people would have been like “man this is shit” haha. But man, people have been so nice and it really inspires us to make some new music as soon as possible. Epic!”
It has been 7 years since your debut “Evil Seeds”….what has transpired since 2014 that led to such a long time in between releases?
“Various things really. Things just take a lot of time and often it makes me crazy. First of all, we didn’t write a lot of music the first years after Evil Seeds. I just didn’t feel like I could come up with any riffs or melodies I liked. I guess it’s called ‘writers block’ or something, right? Anyways, eventually we had the 7 tracks for the album. But then I had to do all the midi orchestrations. We wanted to make it huge and epic, but I didn’t realize just how much work it required to make 60-80 track orchestrations for each song. The mixing process was also really time consuming. Besides that, all of us also have hobbies like daytime jobs and bills to pay.”
Have you found that the long time off has altered your sound (if at all) or your philosophy/direction on what Sylvatica hopes to do musically?
“Absolutely! Since almost the beginning of the band, our dream has been to write these huge cinematic style songs. The thing is that when we started the band each one of us had only played our respective instruments for 2-3 years. So even if we tried, we couldn’t make the style of music we really wanted. I remember we talked about having some orchestrations on Evil Seeds. I just had no idea back then of how to make it sound realistic. I think you can hear that on the intro of Evil Seeds compared to the stuff on Ashes and Snow. So that’s also a factor of why it took so many years to make this album. I had to learn how to make midi orchestrations from scratch. I am pretty proud of it even though you can’t hear half of the midi tracks on the album.”
Stylistically, I hear many different sounds/influences melded into your tracks… How would you describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard you before? Is there more than one genre or category you could place yourselves in?
“Our sound? On Ashes and Snow I would describe it as melancholic. Concerning our genre I am not sure. Back in the days I think I would describe us as Folk metal. Today I would say we are more Melodic death metal. Yet, we still promote us as both. Even though we don’t have bagpipes and all those kinds of weird instruments, I think you can still hear some Folk melodies in our songs. Folk metal is also a part of our legacy. Who knows, maybe we are going to add some more folk elements on our next album. But honestly, I really don’t care that much about genres. As long as the music is good, I’m happy.”
What bands/artists are your biggest influences? Is there one album/artist that you use a template for what you hope to do with your music?
“When we are writing music, we are hoping to get that “hell yeah!” feeling. If we just feel like “alright this riff is cool but nothing special” we are not going to use it. Even though it may take several months to write it. That is pretty much our template. We want to make music where everyone in the band has a feeling about it. Whether we feel happy, sad, jolly, melancholic doesn’t matter. As long as it wakes gives you a feeling.
About influences? There are a lot. It’s not a secret that we really like bands such as Wintersun and Kalmah. But we also draw inspiration from other genres such as black and folk metal. Especially the black elements I think you can hear on our new album. I remember I got some cool ideas for the album when I listened to Immortal and Dissection. But of course, we are trying to make our own thing even though I think everything in terms of music is made and done before. Now you just have to try to make it your own.”
How does a Sylvatica track take form? Are the lyrics/music written together or done at different times and then pieced together? Do you have subject matters that you always gravitate towards when constructing a track?
“When writing music, it’s pretty much just me with my guitar and a midi keyboard in front of my computer. Usually, I come up with either a cool melody or a chord progression I like, and I try to build something out of it. From there it’s just try and error. It’s not unusual that every single riff or section of the song has to go through at least 10 different variations before I am happy about it. Unfortunately the music isn’t really coming naturally to me as I know it does for some people. It’s just hard work, trying out a thousand things until I feel happy about it.
After that I record a demo of it and send it to our bass player Thomas. Then we discuss the topic. He always has some interesting ideas. From there he begins to do some research and comes up with these crazy cryptic lyrics you can read on Ashes and Snow.
When we hit the rehearsal room to practice, Jacques comes up with some cool drums, while Christian is making coffee, cleaning a bit and telling bad jokes. He also takes care of our live equipment. Perfect work distribution.”
You have opted for English lyrics…. do you feel this helps make the tracks more accessible?
“Maybe it makes it more accessible. That is not why we chose to do it though. If that was our goal I think we should have picked a different type of music to play in the first place instead of metal haha.
I just think it’s kind of like listening to your own voice on recordings? You’ll always be like “do I sound that stupid?!” That’s how we feel about danish lyrics in our music. It just sounds a bit off in our ears.”
What sort of practice and writing schedule do you have if any? How do your collective lives outside of the band impact your band obligations?
“It impacts us in all ways imaginable. We are living in three different regions of Denmark, far from each other and there are 5 children and a dog distributed among the members of the band. Some of us work on the weekdays, others on the weekends so it isn’t always easy.
But we strive to meet up one time a month. And when it’s happening, we are always having a blast.”
How do you feel about performing live and do you have any plans for touring this year?
“We love it! It is after all where everything comes alive. We can’t wait to start playing live again. We have some plans and announcements coming soon. Let’s see if the corona allows it. Fingers crossed!”
Denmark has a solid metal history…how is the metal scene there nowadays?
“I think it is going fine. I am really not that updated in that field. Compared to the other Scandinavian countries I think Denmark is lacking a bit behind. Where I live there are not many metal bands nor fans, and therefore not many shows. It’s different in the bigger cities though.”
How do most people find your music…. You Tube? Bandcamp? Spotify? How do you feel about promoting the project?
“I think it is primarily Youtube and Spotify. And of course Facebook where most of the promotion is happening these days. I don’t think any of us enjoy the promoting part. Acting fancy and making updates on social media isn’t really our thing. But it has to be done. And I also think we are getting better at it. But man, if we could avoid it, I think we would all appreciate it.”
Any music you have really gotten into so far this year? Any releases you are looking forward to?
“Nope. But I have been watching a hell lot of Star Wars.”
“Our new album Ashes and Snow have been almost impossible to make a reality. If you are reading this and like our music, thank you! If you feel like it, you can support us directly by buying merch from our bandcamp. If not, ‘I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.’”