A couple of weeks ago we had the oportunity to talk with Carmen Elise Espenæs (voice) and Birgit Öllbrunner (bass) of Folk Nordic metal band Midnattsol, that just released their new album The Metamorphosis Melody, and this is what they told us.
AOM: Hello Carmen and Birgit, thank you for access to this interview with The Age Of Metal
Birgit/Carmen: Hi and thanks a lot for the interview.
AOM: What is the idea or concept behind The Metamorphosis Melody?
Carmen: Like the title indicates and in deep connection to the cover, “The Metamorphosis Melody” treats the theme development, transformation or a change in some way or another, and it should be an inspiration to development, personal as well as globally. It wasn`t set up before we started writing songs, we just let the inspiration flow, and the interesting thing was that after a while I saw that it was the common overall theme throughout all the songs. It reflected our situation as band in a perfect way too, because Midnattsol has developed a lot since our last album Nordlys, both regarding music and the general atmosphere inside the band, also caused by the fact that Alex joined the band, it`s like we have went through a metamorphosis ourselves.
But still, it`s not to like a narrow seen concept, each song stands on its own, and we want that the listeners can interpret the songs by themselves and not reveal too much. What this development means to the individual listener, is up to them, it doesn`t have to be the same thing for everyone. For someone it`s perhaps just the wake-up call that something must change or happen. So at the same time as having this big red line floating through all of the songs, every lyric is about something else and is about personal experiences or thoughts that people can relate to their lives in some ways or another. You know, every single member of the band has also gone through a change in life the last couple of years regarding something else; love, death, personal developments a.s.o, which all in all have brought us to another stage in life so to say, which is reflected in the lyrics. I guess this is a reason why some of the songs are very emotional, for example “The Tide” , which tells about a band member being in the middle of an experience that changed this person`s life forever.
“Kong Valemons Kamp” is retelling the beautiful but also so sad Norwegian fairytale „Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon“ about a prince being transformed into an ice-bear by a troll hag, “Forvandlingen“ is inspired by the German book “Die Verwandlung” by Franz Kafka, which is about a young man suddenly waking up as a spider. and in „Poet`s Prayer“ you can notice our big frustration about the actual situation in the world today. Everywhere you look around there`s atrocity and destruction, we destroy ourselves, the animals and our valuable nature. It`s kind of screaming for a new phase to come, for a new kind of thinking.
The lyrics of “Motets Makt“ have connections to the old Nordic sagas and in “Spellbound” you will notice the inspiration of Nordic nature creatures like elves spelling you to unknown paths All in all, “The Metamorphosis offers a lot of variety both regarding the lyrics and the music, hopefully the new songs will give you something very special.
AOM: From your point of view, what is the difference between Nordlys and The Metamorphosis Melody?
Birgit: The “Metamorphosis Melody” is in general heavier, more rocking and powerful and our sound has definitely matured Compared to our two former albums “Nordlys” and “Where Twilight Dwells” we would say that the new album varies much more, which means we have a broader mixture of heavy, calm atmospheric and midtempo songs. Also if the songs are quite complex, they are more catchy, groovy and with more hooklines. What has maybe also changed is that we have much more typical traditional Heavy Metal elements. We really love the combination of both heaviness and atmospheric melodies. This has always been a typical element of Midnattsol, but is brought out even more this time.
The music that we make is also not that kind of music you listen to and immediately have in in your head, like a typical chart song which is often structured quiet simple. We often hear that you cannot explore all the details of our songs at the first listening, it takes a couple of passes to get into the music, but our fans tell us that even after years they never get bored of it and love it. We think especially “The Metamorphosis Melody” is an album which needs to be explored, where you hear an atmospheric melody here, a special drum beat there, a wonderful vocal or keyboard melody or groovy bassline in the background. On “The Metamorphosis Melody” we were not trying to make one chart hit, but a whole album which lets your mind flow and let you feel you the magic and atmosphere of the songs.
Though we had some manning changes in the band, it fits really perfectly right now and this could also be seen during the songwriting process. If we are together, we are “throwing” the rhythms and melodies to each other, someone is picking it up, changing it a little bit,…it´s just flowing. We also only take parts where suddenly all our eyes are shining, we have a simile in our faces and feel this magical atmosphere; then we know: “This part needs to be taken!”
AOM: How was the experience to going back in studio with producer Markus Stock?
Birgit: Different to “Nordlys”, where we have been at four different studios in three different countries, everything has now been done within the hands of Markus Stock at Studio E, from recording, mixing to mastering. We all think it was the right decision and we are more than happy with the result Markus Stock is an awesome producer and also a great guy! The production of “The Metamorphosis Melody” is very powerful, earthy and perfectly balanced between all the instruments and the vocals, and this is exactly what we wanted.
It was so exciting to hear the songs “growing”. You start with the drums, then guitars, bass and afterwards keys and vocals. So after each recording you hear a little bit more what the song will sound like. At the end when everything is recorded it feels like Christmas to hear the songs completely for the first time
It was a great experience to produce in different countries like at “Nordlys”, but we have also learned there, that it makes things more complicated – just think about the organization. But it´s a learning process and now we knew that recording everything at Studio E, where we have made very well experiences at “Nordlys” would be the best for us and the new album.
We also did it that way that during the recording process not just the one who´s turn it was to record was in the studio, there has always been at least one further member of Midnattsol in the studio, to give musical and mental support. This also made the whole recording process more pleasant, as you could always ask Markus and another Midnattsol member for a second opinion, or just have a barbeque together at the lunch break 😉
We have also released a little trailer on youtube which shows some excerpts from the recording during the song ”Kong Valemons Kamp”. There you can see that we really had a great time there.
AOM: Carmen recently was guess on the new Leaves Eyes album, are any plans for Liv Kristine to be a guess in a Midnattsol album?
Carmen: It`s of course a great gift to have the possibility to share something so beautiful as singing with your own sister, and it has been an amazing experience to sing some guest vocals on Sigrlinn on the new Leaves Eyes album and share stage with Liv on our tour singing Sigrlinn and Kråkevisa, that can`t be described with words. On the other hand, we have our separate bands, so it`s not like we are going to sing together on every album we make, nothing is planned at the moment
AOM: The band just got back from a tour around Europe with Leaves Eyes, How was the public’s response to the new songs?
Birgit: Yes, that´s right, we just came back from tour with shows in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. And I can tell you, we had some of the best days of our live and so many unforgettable moments, together with Leaves Eyes, Serenity and the fans
The audience was awesome and it was good to see, that they really loved the new songs. “The Metamorphosis Melody” has just been out for a few days, but some of the fans could already sing the new songs, others were headbanging, playing air guitar or just enjoying the music. It´s really interesting to watch everyone from the stage The stages have sometimes been quite small, but the atmosphere was always great wherever we played – and no one was throwing tomatoes LOL
When we have been on tour we also got the chance to talk to our fans and their impression about the new album and we have heard only positive feedback. This means so much to us, especially as we have spent every free minute with the band and walked around with a feeling of excitement for a long time until it has been released. We already knew that we, the band, were very satisfied with the result. But to hear this from the fans makes us more than happy
We even got presents on tour like flowers in the Netherlands or self-made lasagna in Italy; that was so lovely. It was wonderful to meet some of the fans again which meanwhile follow us for years.
To be honest, before the tour we thought: either we all hate us afterwards and split up or it will be just great and a wonderful experience. I´m happy to say it was the second option We came even closer together as a band and are ready to repeat this anytime!
AOM: Are any more touring plans for the rest of 2011?
Carmen: At the moment we`re super ready to play at another festival- this time at the Metal Fest in Budapest in Hungary, just in a couple of days, on June the 3rd We`ve just played at the Durbuy Rock Festival in Belgium, it`s a good feeling that we don`t have to wait that long before playing live again, right now it feels like we`ve done this for ages and I think we would get kind of depressed having to wait for months before rocking on stage again together hehe. It`s our first time in Hungary, we are so looking forward to meet our fans there, and have a beer or two with them after the concert . It`s also cool to meet our friends from Serenity again, which we had a great time with on our recent tour, they`re such cool guys! But there`s more, the next day, on June the 4th, we will play a headliner show for the first time in Vienna (Austria) at the Escape Metalcorner, which we can`t wait for, it`s great to have enough time to play a broader spectre of our songs!
We will also come back to Belgium a second time this year and have a reunion with the great fans and crew on Metal Female Voices Fest in October. Coming there is like coming to a friend`s house for us, we`re always met with a warm welcome and taken so good care of, and it`s so cool to meet the same people year after year. Last time we played there, in 2009, was such an unforgettable evening for us; it was on this concert that Alex became an official member of the band, and additionally we got more than surprised by the fact that we won the award “Best Hope” voted by the fans. The atmosphere in Oktoberhallen was fantastic, and now the fans have the possibility to relive the great happening, because for the very first time we offer a live DVD called “En Natt I Wieze”, which is part of the Limited Edition of „The Metamorphosis Melody“ and which our drummer Chris has been organizing for months now.
We hope to go on another tour this year as well, but nothing is set yet. We`ll keep you informed about our live activities on our homepage www.midnattsol.com, which recently had a make-over and is now online with a brand new look, so check it out and stay tuned! We`ll also keep you updated on our other platforms like our total new Myspace site, Facebook (where also some of the band members are represented) and Twitter. We are so excited about the fans opinion about our new album, so come and visit us and feel free to leave a comment or feedback.
Hope you have the possibility to come and see us live, we would love to meet you there.
AOM: What is the next step on Midnattsol career?
Carmen: Now at the moment we`re in a “playing live rush” and want to play live as much as we can and promote our new album, we just can`t get enough of it at the moment, our new songs make so much fun live and our fans are the best in the world! So a big goal would be to play on different stages all around the world, also outside Europe!
We have just found a new guitarist, after Daniel Droste left the band; the fantastic guitar player Matthias from South of Germany! After having been on tour with him a few days, we were overwhelmed over his personality and musical skills and were 100% sure that he is the right guy.With such a great line-up that we are today, we hope that we can stay in this formation, and are also slowly starting to feel the eager inside to write new songs for a fourth Midnattsolalbum, it`s so exciting to think about where it will lead us this time! We feel it in our fingers, feet and throats hehe
Another step would be to make our first video for one of our songs, we get the request all the time, so it would be great to finally fulfill the wish of our fans
AOM: Are any touring plans for the US any time soon?
Birgit: Well, so far there are no concrete plans to tour the US, even though we would really like to. But if I have learned one thing at Midnattsol that it is, that things can change very quickly So who knows, even if it´s not easy with six members that have a full-time job to get free at the same time, at least we hope that we will get the chance soon!
AOM: Carmen and Birgit, thank you very much and good luck with the new album and all the upcoming touring.
Carmen/Birgit: Thanx a lot for the interview once again, we wish you all the best for the future! We also want to thank our fans for the amazing support; hope you like “The Metamorphosis Melody” Stay Metal m/