Sirenia Interview

Sirenia

Napalm Records

Sirenia’s latest album Dim Days Of Dolor is their first with new vocalist Emmunelle Zoldan, who replaced Ailyn. We caught up with band founder/songwriter/male vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Morten Veland, who fills us in on the vocalist change, tour plans, the status of his other band Mortemia and other subjects.

Chad Bowar: What led to Ailyn’s exit,‭ ‬and how did you decide on Emmanuelle as her replacement‭?
Morten Veland: Sadly, Ailyn was not able to do a good job for the band any more,‭ ‬so we had no other choice than to end the cooperation.‭ ‬Our other option was to end the band,‭ ‬but we thought it was a bit too early for that still.‭ ‬We experienced a lot of problems the last‭ three‭ ‬years and we could all see this situation with Ailyn coming from miles away.‭ ‬Actually we were expecting her to leave at some point,‭ ‬rather than slowing the band down and causing lots of problems. That would be the honorable thing to do.‭ ‬She has health issues that makes it impossible for her to do a good job for the band,‭ ‬especially touring had become a huge problem over the last few years.‭ ‬

She does not want to talk about these problems and I totally respect that,‭ ‬so I won’t go into any details about it.‭ ‬I just find it really disappointing that she publicly stated that we fired her,‭ ‬but at the same time she did not say the reason why.‭ ‬That just makes all the band members look like a bunch of assholes that fired her without any reason whatsoever.‭ ‬The fact is that we had all the reasons in the world to end this cooperation.‭ In fact, most bands probably would have done so‭ three‭ ‬years ago.‭ ‬

We wish her all the best though,‭ ‬and we are grateful for the good years we had together as a band.‭ ‬When we searched for a new singer the choice fell on Emmanuelle right away,‭ ‬because she is such a diverse singer.‭ ‬She can handle all kinds of techniques and styles.‭ ‬We have worked with her for more than a decade,‭ ‬but mostly with her being a part of the choir.‭ ‬I have always been a fan of her voice.‭ ‬I always loved her voice and felt sure that she would do a great job and fit well into the band.‭ ‬

And as expected, the recordings turned out fantastic.‭ It was also a great learning experience for both of us.‭ ‬So I feel sure that we will even improve our cooperation even more in the years to come.‭ ‬She added a lot of diversity to the album.‭ She is making great variation with her singing which is a huge step forward for us.‭ ‬I am already excited about writing new material for Emmanuelle’s voice,‭ ‬now that I have learned even more about her strengths as a singer.

How has the band’s sound evolved on this one‭?
We have done some remarkable changes with this new album.‭ ‬The most obvious difference if of course the change of singer.‭ ‬Emmanuelle has added a new sound and touch to Sirenia’s music.‭ ‬The diversity is bigger than before,‭ ‬and I also think that the performance level has been raised a lot.‭ ‬

Furthermore, we have changed mixing and mastering engineer for this album.‭ ‬We worked with Danish producer Jacob Hansen for the first time.‭ ‬I think that he has really perfected our sound and taken the band to new heights as well.‭ I also think that the song material is really strong and diverse,‭ ‬and there is some cool new elements on the album that have not been done in the past.‭ ‬I feel quite sure that the Sirenia fans will really appreciate this album.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of producing the album yourself‭?
The biggest advantage I think is that I am not fighting the time in the studio.‭ ‬I have my own studio and am free to take all the time that I need to get everything perfect.‭ ‬Working with other producers in other studios always was a battle against the time and the budget.‭ ‬Now I can feel more free.‭

‬Doing everything alone might have its downsides too,‭ ‬so it has always been important for me to include other producers as well,‭ ‬especially for the mixing and mastering sessions.‭ ‬It is good to have a fresh pair of ears coming into the project and adding his touch and bringing new thoughts and visions to the table.

Is there a lyrical theme or thread running through the album‭?
All the songs on the album were written individually, so there is no specific theme or concept behind them.‭ ‬My lyrics were always leaning towards a dark and melancholic expression though,‭ ‬so I guess that might be the red thread of all my albums actually.

How much attention do you pay to reviews‭?
Not much, to be honest.‭ ‬I always find it interesting to see what impression others have of my work.‭ ‬But music is an individual thing and a matter of taste.‭ ‬What is correct to one person might be wrong to the other.‭ ‬There are no rules in music,‭ ‬it all comes down to personal preferences.‭ ‬If Ozzy Osbourne or a musician I highly respect would have given me some fine compliments on my work that would mean something.‭ ‬

If a total unknown guy writes some lines about what he thinks about my work,‭ ‬that might be interesting to read,‭ ‬but it means nothing.‭ ‬What really means something to me is when fans tell me that a song had a huge impact in their life.‭ ‬When one of my songs are used for a funeral or wedding,‭ ‬that means something to me.

What are your upcoming tour plans‭?
We will start touring Europe the‭ ‬10th of November,‭ ‬really looking forward to that.‭ ‬We have more projects in the works for‭ ‬2017,‭ ‬which I am sure will be a year when Sirenia tours a lot more.

Any chance of a North American tour this album cycle‭?
Yes,‭ ‬I really think so and really hope so.‭ ‬2017‭ ‬might very well be the year that Sirenia finally comes to the US.‭ ‬So I encourage the US Sirenia fans to stay tuned and check in on our website for updates regularly.‭ ‬After this tour in Europe,‭ ‬fixing a US tour is priority number one.‭ ‬We also have plans for other places.‭ We want to tour a lot this year.

Sirenia have never released a standalone live album or DVD.‭ ‬Any plans to do so‭?
Yes,‭ ‬that’s true.‭ ‬Good possibilities that we will do that now as we have a singer that sings really great live.‭

Will there be another Mortemia album‭?
Hopefully there will be.‭ ‬I do not have a deal for Mortemia right now and I am not sure if I want one.‭ ‬I think the next plan for Mortemia is to release a digital single next year.‭ ‬I actually have a lot of ideas for Mortemia.‭ Now it is just about finding time to put them into life.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies‭?
I used to collect XO cognacs for several years,‭ ‬but I have given up on that by now.‭ ‬I like to make my own wine and brew my own beer.‭ ‬I also like to go fishing and to take long walks in the forest and mountains.‭ ‬I really love nature,‭ ‬and the further away from people the better,‭ ‬I love untouched nature and wildlife.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation‭?
Been listening a bit to the new Leonard Cohen album lately.‭ ‬But the last‭ ‬25‭ ‬years I always spent more time making music than listening to music.‭

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote‭?
Dim Days of Dolor is out the‭ ‬11th of November,‭ ‬make sure to check it out.‭ ‬And check in on our websites every now and then to stay updated on our touring activities.‭ ‬Hope to see you all on the road soon.‭ ‬Cheers‭!

(interview published November 10, 2016)

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