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)