December 14, 2017, gave fans the ultimate pre-Christmas surprise – Midnattsol added a second vocalist, Liv Kristine. Their fourth album profits massively from the addition of another voice.
The sisters took time to answer questions on the new album.
IMM: Carmen and Liv nice to talk to you again. Carmen, I spoke to you four years ago regarding the band SAVN on the debut album. Liv last time we spoke was two years for the Leaves’ Eyes Kings of Kings album and before that was for The Sirens and your Vervain album. I have been listening to the new album and is very, very good.
First question for Carmen is what does Midnattsol refer to?
Carmen: So Nice to speak to you again!! Thanx for doing this interview and for the support!! Glad to hear that you like the album, that means a lot to us ”Midnattsol” means ”midnight sun”. Midnattsol is a special Nordic nature phenomenon and there’s something very mystical about it. It gives a special atmosphere while looking at it, like an escape of the thoughts to another dimension. In the older days it was said that when the midnight sun shines, nature creatures like trolls and elves come out from their hidings. So it shines in a mystic time where the phantasm can go wild, like in many of Midnattsols lyrics. It`s a symbol of one of our big inspirations sources; the Nordic nature.
IMM: You both been asked many times to sing, perform and record together. Did you both decide it was time?
Liv: I remember a special appearance which I had with Carmen at Metal Female Voices Fest in 2016. That was after I had been forced to leave my own band, Leaves’ Eyes. Carmen called me to come on stage and it was a magic moment for me to feel her warm embracement and support. I can’t wait to play live with Midnattsol! It means so much for me to share the stage with my sister. All the guys in Midnattsol are just wonderful. Feels like a family. Freedom, open-mindedness in the band members’ artistic development, accept, the joy on stage and a good communication are to me feature that Midnattsol represents as a band. I appreciate that a lot. I feel such joy and a strong connection to my sister. Carmen will definitely join me on my upcoming solo album!
Carmen: I was so surprised and over the moon of happiness! To sing together with my soul mate, That is like a dream coming true! I`m so looking forward to the future. And now we get to see each other more than earlier, so cool! We also have so many possibilities together when it comes to the vocals! Our range of voice together is quite big, with Liv with her angelic voice reaching incredible high notes and my rather folky voice coming quite deep. I also think that our voices fit so well together!
IMM: Who decided on artwork for the album?
Carmen: This was a collaboration between Daniel and Alex. After it was clear that the title of the album is The Aftermath, Daniel had the idea to make a cover with Carmen as Justicia. The basic idea was great, but Alex said: We are a Nordic Folk Metal band: there must be something in Norse mythology. We searched and found the goddess Syn, who is now on the cover.
IMM: The musicians are Alex Kautz (guitar, Daniel Fischer (Keyboards) Stephan Adolph (Guitar). Who play drums?
Carmen: We planned the album with a session drummer. But as things sometimes go that just didn’t work as planned. So, in fact, we don´t have a drummer on the album and did this by ourself. For our release concerts next week the great drummer Michael Kapelle is going to step in, he has practiced so much and is looking forward to the shows.
IMM: The first song on the album and is “Purple Sky” with both of singing together. What does the song reference and where it was filmed?
Carmen: The song does not refer to anything special. The story could be transferred to many things. For the video, we have taken the story a little further and tried to incorporate the essence of the whole album. ”Bury your ego – the world could be a better place”!
Liv: The video was shot near Mosbach in a beautiful forest, moreover, nearby a river. We had the perfect weather (it was cold, foggy and rainy) and friends and family members of the band turned up in Wellington boots with umbrellas, sandwiches, hot tea and chocolate to help the best they could to make everybody feel good despite the chilly weather.
IMM: On “Herr Mannelig”, traditional Swedish ballad. Liv you sing on this one. What is the name and the song refers too?
Liv: I enjoy singing in all kinds of languages, and Swedish is a cool language, especially in folk tales and folk music. I like the raw metal sound of Midnattsol’s version of “Herr Mannelig”. I can’t wait to play it live!
Carmen: “Herr Mannelig” is a Swedish ballad about a female troll. She wants him to marry her and she tries to persuade him into doing so by offering a bunch of presents. However, he refuses as she is not a Christian woman.
IMM: And “Ikje glem meg”, “Vem kan segla” , “Syns sang” and the bonus track “Eitrdropar” is what language and meanings?
Liv: The lyrics for “Eitrdropar” are taken from Edda (K. Ødegård‘s version). I translated it into ‘drops of poison’. Eitr is a mythical substance in Norse mythology. This liquid substance is the origin of all living things: the first giant Ymir was conceived from eitr. However, the substance is supposed to be very poisonous and is also produced by Jörmungandr (the Midgard serpent) and other serpents. I find it highly interesting that poison is the substance of life in Norse mythology. Moreover, life and death are opposite states in the process of living organisms, as well as death can be seen as a rebirth. Most of us really start living in the here and now after we have experienced suffer and pain.
Carmen: Ikje glem meg” is a Norwegian song written in my dialect. I started to write the song after I had watched the news the whole day about the horrible and extremely tragic terror attack on Utøya in Norway, on the 22nd of July 2011, which came like a huge shock! It was first an attack at the government quarter in Oslo, and then at 17.21 the attack started on Utøya where lots of young people were gathered for a political meeting where they wanted to discuss how to make the world a better place. 69 persons were killed by one man shooting them. They tried to hide and some swam for their lives while he was shooting. Lots of civilians were risking their lives to save them with their boats. With this song meaning «Dont forget me», I want us to not forget the terror attacks that happened, I want us to think how this could happen and try to avoid such attacks in the future. It also means that we should not forget the poor Victims. In addition, it should also be the cry for help of the person who is trying to flee in the song: Please rescue me, don’t forget me. I can’t imagine how the victims must have felt, the panic, the fear, the pain – indescribable!
“Vem kan segla” is a Swedish traditional folk song that is very known in Norway. Both adults and children are singing it. I sang it my whole childhood and has always been one of the most beautiful folk songs I know. It has a special part in my heart, and I always wanted to make my own version of it. And now we finally made it! I guess people will hear that this song is close to me, I think you hear it in my voice and my emotions.
It`s great that I can show my children my version of the song, and they can sing it for their children again.
“Syns sang” – is a song with both Norwegian and English. Syn is a goddess in Norse mythology and is considered a goddess of justice, comparable to Justicia, and that is the woman on the cover (in our eyes ;)) She is not a very known goddess today, so it was so interesting trying to interpret ate her and find out more about her. It all ended with a song about her, hehe, and I love the fact that she is a strong powerful woman. She is pictured on the cover to remind us that our actions have consequences, that we cant continue like this forever. Its connected with the title and the songs as well.
IMM: When were the songs and recording started and how long did it take?
Carmen: Believe it or not, we started writing the songs many years ago. But the problem was that the songwriting process was very inefficient. We had so many ideas and couldn’t finish the songs, because we focused on different things and musical directions. We also had different ideas how the songs should be written. Huge private changes in our lives such as getting children, building houses, new work etc didn’t make it easier. All in all, the years went by, but luckily, our keyboarder and organizer Daniel early 2016 said: Guys, now we need to finish these songs, it’s now or never! And then we started going through all the material and ideas that we had (which were a lot), decided what we wanted to use and rewrite, and we wrote some totally new songs as well. And the process went very well this time and made a lot of fun! We didn’t have any restrictions when we were writing the album, just total freedom to let the creativity flow, so we sang and played things we haven’t done before. We really hope our fans like the new songs, thank you so much for supporting us through all these years and not giving us up, it means a lot to us!
Liv: Most of the songs existed as demos when I joined the band. The album’s title “The Aftermath” just blew me away as if that could have been the title of my own musical work. As I got to hear the songs in their demo version it was such a revelation. The message of the album brings my own experience during the last years to the point.
IMM: Who wrote the lyrics and the compositions?
Carmen: We were all involved in the songwriting process. Everyone had basic ideas, and everyone contributed on the songs with their special inspiration and parts. The good thing is that we bring different influences, so that you have variation, and not the same thing over and over. When it comes to the lyrics, I have written them, besides “Eitdråpar” that was written by Liv and the two Swedish traditional folk songs “Herr Mannelig” and “Vem kan segla”.
Liv: “Eitrdråpar” is a piece of music that I just thought initially would be lovely to sing on and to write lyrics for. I’m very happy about the result.
IMM: Of course the band will be performing this and Liv you will be with them for all shows across different European Countries? And performing songs from the previous albums too?
Carmen: We plan all this. But right now, only our 2 release gigs are safe. Maybe there will be something going on this autumn, but we sure want to play some cool festivals next year
Liv: Yes, a few songs from previous albums will be present on the setlist and I will join in here and there.
IMM: Liv, are their plans for The Sirens that features Kari Ruelsåtten (The 3rd and Mortal) and Anneke van Gierbergen (The Gathering) to record and perform again and another solo album? And reuniting Theater of Tragedy?
Liv: No, unfortunately, there are no plans for the Sirens. I’m in talks with Theatre of Tragedy, however, we haven’t come to a conclusion yet. It was good to gather up and just talk and drink coffee and give hugs. We will see what happens. “Aegis”, Theatre of Tragedy’s third album, was released exactly 20 years ago. I have a special connection to this release and I am forever grateful to Tommy Olsson who composed this masterpiece. I still listen to it and appreciate the fact that our fans also love it.
IMM: Carmen, maybe another SAVN album?
Carmen: Yes, actually we are soon finished with our next album! The mastermind Øyvind Lende has written almost everything on this album besides the vokallines and lyrics, we are so excited to soon be Able to finally show our fans the new songs!
IMM: Always good to talk to both of you and for the music you make. Thanks for your time. And hope you can come to North America.
Carmen: Thanx to you too once again!
Liv: Please invite us for some of your great festivals! Thank you for all your amazing support!