Therion vocalist Linnea Vikstrom is releasing her solo debut Live In Space under the moniker QFT, which stands for Quantum Field Theory. Vikstrom fills us in on the record, her love of physics, whether QFT will be playing live, the response to Therion’s latest album and other topics.
Chad Bowar: Why was this the right time for your solo debut?
Linnea Vikstrom: It all came together extremely nicely in terms of timing. I have been thinking about doing some sort of solo project for many years and I have had loads of ideas as to what I would have wanted to do. But this idea of recording an album live and having the concept about the universe, science and space stuck with me for a long time, much more than all of those other ideas so I felt like I had to go for it. The initial idea was to do an EP, but thanks to Despotz I had the possibility to make it a full length album. I’ve also become a much more mature the last couple of years, both musically and as a person.
Describe the songwriting process for Live In Space.
It’s different from song to song. Some were written beginning with the production and building the ladscape with all the instruments, adding melody and lyrics afterwards, while others were melodies first and production after.
How did you go about putting your band together?
It was no question as to who I wanted to have on the album. I simply asked them and they said yes, and I was really happy that they did. We have a history of doing a bunch of cover gigs together, and there has always been a certain type of magic surrounding this constellation and the fact that we had the possibility to capture that magic on tape is fantastic. I can’t wait until our audience get to experience that magic firsthand on stage.
How did you decide to work with producer Lennart Ostlund?
We got to talking about the project and my idea before it was decided to be a full length album. We worked together on Therion’s Beloved Antichrist, him as a studio engineer and me as a vocal producer. He became interested when I told him about the project, and the fact that he was beginning to build his new studio came together beautifully. We were the first ones to record on the wonderful vintage desk that he had installed with also was a great honor. I mean, he’s worked with Led Zeppelin and Abba, so that he wanted to get in on my project was also a huge honor.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I would say when we were recording the song ”Light Speed.” We did it with a click the first few takes but for some reason we didn’t get the groove and the feeling that we wanted. We tried it slower and we tried it faster but it didn’t ”stick,” sort of. I then decided to try it without the click and that’s when it finally happened, the feeling and the groove. Another memory would be when legendary drummer Roger Palm popped in the studio. He’s the drummer on some of Abba’s biggest hits such as ”Dancing Queen” and ”Mamma Mia.” I must say the heart rate increased a little when such a legend enters a room!
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
I would say it’s quite classic hard rock music with some spacey ambiance and feel. Sound wise it’s very naked and you can really hear that there are real human beings playing the instruments.
Give us a brief synopsis of the lyrical concept.
We tried to make most of the songs as scientifically accurate as possible while still making it sound good and singable. It’s sort of a manifestation of how I have come to understand these concepts. But it does not apply to all songs. For example, ”Aliens” is just a sci-fi story and the song ”Time” is about what I want time to actually be, and the frustration and sense of how tiny we all are when looking at eternity.
What inspired your interest in quantum physics?
I wish I knew what exactly made me interested in the subject. I guess the fact that it’s so extremely difficult to understand makes me want to understand it. Thanks to educators on the internet these subject are made possible to grasp a little better for the uneducated such as myself, even though I won’t ever be able to fully grasp it if I don’t get myself a proper education in the field.
Does The Big Bang Theory TV show (which features several physicists) air in Sweden?
It does! I’ve seen a few episodes. It’s not really my kind of humor, but I have seen it.
How did you decide to cover Bjork’s “Joga,” and how did you put your own spin on it?
It’s one of the best songs ever written and I’ve always wanted to sing it. I think I managed to produce it in a manner that both paid homage to Björk’s original version and to also stay true to the QFT sound. She is a great inspiration for me as an artist, singer and as a person.
How did you come to sign with Despotz Records?
An’R Ömer Akay saw me perform at the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise when I did an all-star jam together with members from Anthrax and Testament, among others. I already had the idea and was just about to start making my EP, when he contacted me and wanted to sign me to the label.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Goal number one is to get out and play the songs live, but I try to have as few expectations as possible. I will work towards my goals and try to make QFT a force to count on in the rock and metal world.
Do you have any plans to play live?
Yes! We are working on making live performances, but I can’t reveal anything quite yet.
Would opening for Therion be a possibility?
It’s not in my plans right now. I think it would take away from some of the magic to open for your own band. (laughs)
Speaking of Therion, was it more challenging to record Beloved Antichrist than a typical Therion album?
This was the first album since Sitra Ahra which I’ve been a part of. In Sitra Ahra I was just a singer, but with Beloved Antichrist I was also a vocal producer for some tracks, songwriter and arranger, and I also helped transcribe sheet music for the singers. So it included more responsibilities than I’ve had with Therion before. It’s was a great experience!
What has the response to the album been like?
We’ve had great reviews and the audience seem to really enjoy it. It goes back to the earlier Therion roots with I think really resonates with the fans.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I think we covered it all!
(interview published May 4, 2018)