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Interview: Sirenia

by Marin Soldatic

Everyone has something they are passionate about. For some, existence would almost be unrecognizable without those said passions, and for Norway’s Morten Veland, music is the pulse of life. Drawn into the art of song composition, by the age of twenty, Veland was already well on his way toward fame in the European Metal scene with the formation and development of his band Tristania.

Considered one of Goth Metal’s most important acts, after years of hard work and devotion, Veland was faced at a crossroad to move on or give up his musical dreams. Unwilling to give in, Veland found his new music in the form of the Symphonic Gothic Rock band Sirenia. Sustaining a career with Sirenia for over fifteen years now, Veland still has as much desire to craft music today as he did when it all began. Recently we caught up with the multi-talented songwriter and band mastermind to talk about their new studio album entitled “Dim Days of Dolor”. What we talked about, check out in the interview below.

Hi Morten, for a start can you tell us something more about new record?
I think it is a very strong and diverse album. Most of it was recorded in my own studios, like we have done on the last 5 albums. We also recorded some parts in Sound Suite Studios in France, like always. I still write about a lot of the same things as before, however I try to renew myself from album to album in the way that I write the lyrics. After writing more than 100 songs over the years it gets harder and harder to find new things to write about. I have been writing a few songs about Norse mythology lately and that’s something that I did not write about in the past. We have done some remarkable changes with this new album. The most obvious difference if ofcourse 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 have 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. Furthermore 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.

Also on this album you have a new female singer, but Emmanuelle is not unfamiliar name for Sirenia fans. How did you decided to take her as a main vocalist and was it hard for her to switch from background vocalist to lead vocal duties?
We have been working with Emmanuelle since 2003, so we go back a long time and we have worked a lot together on every Sirenia album since then. I have always been a fan of her voice and loved all her performances with different bands she’s collaborated with over the years. She is a very diverse singer that can handle a lot of different styles, be it classical, opera, modern style, rock, jazz – whatever really. She is very good at interpretating the songs and putting a lot of emotions into her performances. She is also very serious about her work she has many years of experience as a professional singer. Furthermore Emmanuelle has a very nice personality, and she really got along well with the whole band from the very beginning.

She is opera trained vocalist. Do you plan to use her opera singing abilities more in the future?
She is using her opera abilities with the choir, so we already have a good portion of that element in our music. On the other hand if one of the new songs calls for some opera lead vocals as well, we have the full possibility to do that now. It is a privilege to have a so talented and diverse singer as Emma on our team.

What are your personal favorites from the new album?
I really love all the songs on the album, and I think that each of them has earned its place. So picking just one favourite is obviously a quite difficult task for me. But songs like “Treasure n’ Treason”, “Goddess of the Sea” and “Dim Days of Dolor” are amongst the favourites for sure.

Your favorite Sirenia song?
Difficult to say, again. But if we judge by popularity, I think that “The Path to Decay” is probably the most popular song I ever wrote. The fans seems to really love it, it is easy to tell by the numbers of views on youtube and also by the crowds reaction when we perform it live.

What does the album title means?
I never liked explaing or interpretating my own work, it does not feel right. It is my job to create music and the listeners job to interpretate it, just like with any other form of art. I think I would instantly remove all the magic behind the songs if I were to reveal the meaning behind them.

What are the lyrics about?
I more or less write about the same themes as before, so I guess the biggest change for me is that I always try to develop my style and way of writing. Some albums I have written more direct lyrics for, while others are very cryptic so to speak. I always look for new subjects to write about too, but at the same time I need to write about things that is meaningful to me as a song writer, and the themes needs to match the feelings and atmosphere in the music.

Who did an album cover and what does it represents?
Gyula Havancsak has made our two last album covers, he really did an amazing job. He were able to catch that particular feeling and atmosphere that I was looking for in a cover artwork. I find both of these artworks very epic and haunting, they trigger something very strong in me, and that’s what art is all about to me. His work is so detailed and deep. In the past we have worked with several different designers though. But I really think that we have found that perfect partner for design in him. He is really able to make covers that reflects the feelings and atmospheres in the music.

Are you planing to do a bigger tour to suport the album?
We just finished a European tour. Next up is a tour through Central and South America in March, then in May we will tour Noth America. In september/october we will head out on a new big European tour. In the summer we plan to do some festivals too, so we have a lot of things planned for next year. I am sure that 2017 will be a very exciting year for Sirenia.

Who are your favorite musicians/bands?
There are many, but to mention some of my favourits of all time: Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, The Sisters of Mercy, The Fields of the Nephilim, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey, Metallica, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and so on.

Next year it will be 15 years since the release of your debut album. Are you planing to do some special shows or something to celebrate it?
We have a lot of shows planned for next year, but no plans for a special event of that kind of sort. We have been thinking a bit about doing a live dvd soon. So when we find the right occasion, we might put that idea into life. It certainly would be about time, as we have not released an official dvd yet.

Where do you see Sirenia in next 15 years?
Not even sure if I am still alive then. Rock musicians do not tend to live so long, with the exception of Keith Richards.

Why should people buy new Sirenia album?
Why not? Haha… Well, I think it is a great album that has a lot of different elements in it. I think most people that are into metal and rock or symphonic stuff can find something that they like on this album. I really think that the album is worth checking out.

Is there anything you would like to add, maybe something you were never asked but want to share it with your fans?
I would just like to wish our fans a merry christmas and a happy new year! I hope to see you on tour next year. Cheers!

Thank you for the interview and whish you all the best!
My pleasure. You’re very welcome.

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