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Interview with Sirenia (Morten Veland) | “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”

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Good evening ladies and gents I’m archangel and tonight on black velvet radio we have the privilege to host Morten Veland, the mastermind behind Sirenia and we are going to talk about the newest release at the beginning of 2021 hopefully a better year from 2020 for everyone. Ladies and gents the new album from Sirenia “Riddles, Ruins and Revelations”. Hello Morten how you doing?

Morten: Hello I’m fine thank you and, how are you?

Oh, I’m fine, how are things going on Norway?

Morten: Uh, it's yeah I think pretty much the same as in the rest of Europe I suppose, you know we're still struggling with the pandemic up here, having all kinds of regulations and restrictions and all that, that kind of stuff so, I think we're pretty much all fed up with the whole COVID-19 at this point and unfortunately it seems like it's gonna stay with us for a while longer so I guess we got to be a bit more patient you know before we can finally get back to living our lives in a normal manner again.



Well, we hope everything goes well. So, 10th studio installment for Sirenia, the title “Riddles Ruins and Revelations”. How you, and the band feel?

Morten: It's a mixed feeling actually a little bit you know bittersweet in a way, it always feels fantastic to have finished a new album and it's an exciting period you know right before the release and all, but this time it's kind of mixed feeling due to the pandemic and that we are not able to go out on tour. Normally when we release a new album we set out on tour to promote the album and, you know, it's always very exciting to play the new songs for the fans and after such a long time in the studio and working, we always really look forward to the touring part where we can finally get out from our studio and start traveling and playing and all that, and for now that is not possible, so, yeah we basically just have to take care of the normal promotion and crossing our fingers that things will get into a normal shape as soon as possible so we, and everybody else out can start touring again and start going to concerts again.



So, correct me if I’m wrong. If I remember right the album is due to release February the 12th

Morten: yeah, that's correct.




Okay, as you said we are living on strange times so, it was difficult for you to make the album? Did you had any postponed dates for the album?

Morten: yeah we were supposed to start our recording sessions in March in 2020 and just a few days before Emmanuelle was supposed to travel to Norway to start her vocal sessions, then pandemic broke out, and the travel restrictions came, so her flight was cancelled and she wasn't really able to come back to Norway until the middle of August so, it was you know like (the album) postponed more or less six months and in this whole period, it was really really difficult to plan anything, as we didn't really know what was going to happen the next week or so, and we bought her new flight tickets a couple of times, and they all got cancelled, and so mid-august then she was finally able to start vocal recordings. In the meantime, I was recording all my parts here in Norway and the other guys were recording their parts in Finland and in France so we kind of had to improvise a bit and try to find solutions as we went along to make everything work out but, in the end, we were all happy, we were able to complete the album and we feel really really happy with the results.


Okay I’m not gonna lie to you I never heard very much of Sirenia, or very fond of female fronted symphonic metal not because it's bad, but there are so many bands playing this genre and you have to make something really unique to stand out, so, when they informed me about the interview, then I made my search for Sirenia and I admitted I was starting to hear “Riddles Ruins and Revelations” with a grain of salt. And boy the kick on my face from what I heard was fierce believe me, and I’m still counting my teeth. Now, what do you believe about that?
I like the album, and did you believe that this genre that you serve, it has a little bit of fatigue in a way?

Morten: I started in this genre in the mid-90s you know in 1994-1995 and at this point there were basically no bands, there was I think paradise lost and you had fear of tragedy just started up and probably knew maybe one or two more bands in the genre but that was it you know, I didn't know about any other bands at that time and seeing over these 25 years that the genre has grown into something very big there's so many bands out there now and as you said it's probably getting harder and harder for bands to stick out and to do something unique and original. That is something that has been important to us the whole way trying to release albums that are unique and typical Sirenia, we like to stay true to our basic concept try not go too far away from it, from album to album, but in the same time it's also very important for us to bring new things to the table with every album and this last album “Riddles Ruins and Revelations” is not very symphonic I’d say.



In my experience, as I said I’m not very experienced on that kind of genre that's why I’m saying I’m sorry, the album it was beautiful but I think that kind genre of that bands there is a fatigue and that's why I was surprised beautifully hearing your album. it was something fresh and I think many tips of the spear of the album is the vibe of electronic elements that you had. It was something not very typical, I liked it, it had that kind of in-your-face kind of attitude on that genre

Morten: yeah I mean that was definitely a kind of direction we wanted to take with this album you know the symphonic elements has kind of been with us since the start but on some albums it was strong and on some albums there was hardly symphonic things at all so it's something that came and went with us from album to album and with this new one we didn't really focus much on the symphonic part, but as you mentioned we focused way more on electronical elements and we also tried to use the keyboards in a different way and bring in a bit more retro sounding keyboard sounds and I think a lot of the keyboard work is actually quite inspired by the 80s actually.



Also, something that I noticed is that the album, the vibe of the album is more straight forward than symphonic and it was something fresh and yeah, I really and I think not only all the band members had something to give but I believe Emmanuelle was also one of the tips of the spear that you have. it has a very unique sound, a very unique voice that really stands out on the album, and I really like that.

Morten: Yeah, I absolutely think so too. and she's a very diverse singer too you know. she can sing rock metal, typical modern sounding styles, she can sing classic opera and she can sing even jazz if I asked her to, you know she is been educated for I think seven years or so, and she's been singing in the French opera for years and years so she really has a lot of experience and a lot of education and yeah, she's absolutely fantastic singer, for me as a songwriter it's amazing you know to have such a singer in the band whatever I’m composing, she has the ability to sing it so it gives me freedom so to speak when I’m composing, I can go in whatever direction I like and Emmanuelle will always be able to follow up on that



So, we can say what is the direction of the new album in comparison with the previous ones we said about the more straightforward style I noticed the electronic vibes is there anything else that you believe that you wanted to express on that new album

Morten: I think the biggest changes with this album compared to the previous one for example I’d say is that, the previous ones were way more symphonic and the new one is leaning more towards the electronic elements and retro sounding keyboards so, to speak, and it's not that heavily symphonic orchestrated, there's a few elements here and there you know which is a little bit symphonic but not really much compared to previous albums, for example so, that's I’d say that's the biggest difference. We really try hard to come up with, something fresh and modern and new with this album.


This time, as I searched, it was the first time that you produced, mixed, and mastered the album by yourself for Sirenia, but not the first time entirely. I think the first time was with Mortemia, right?

Morten: Yeah, I’ve also mixed produced and mixed Mortemia album I didn't master it though it was mastered in Finrock's studios in Finland, but I also I mixed, I never mastered before, but I mixed a few albums before and with the producing part it's something that I’ve been doing for a longer time you know, the two first albums I was a co-producer and from the third album and on, so basically the eight last albums, I’ve been producing on my own, so the producing part is where I have the longest experience.



So almost 10 years had passed since the first time you've done that. Do you believe that there was a challenge now? we can concern about that you've done that on a period of a pandemic?

Morten: Yeah I mean the mixing part is something that I’ve been working with the last 10 years on and off and to some extent, in the last couple of years I’ve been more and more interested in that part and working more and more with it, but I still wasn't really sure whether I was gonna mix on my own for this album or wait for later, but when the pandemic broke out and everything turned out the way it did and everything got so complicated and you couldn't really make plans for anything, then I thought, “I guess this is the time, it's the best way to go”, to do it myself.



Okay let's talk about the artwork it's more or less the as a signature for Sirenia this kind of artwork but I believe it's that the new artwork is heavier and darker, it's like “Dim Days of Dolor” or like “The Seventh Life Path”. some words about the artwork?

Morten: yeah, it's the same guy that had done all the three artworks that you mentioned, Gyula he has been working with us now for quite some years and in total he did the last four albums for us and so we feel we have a really good cooperation going, I think he really understands what we're looking for and usually when we start out with a cover, I just have a basic concept for the artwork, a basic idea of whatever direction I want to take the artwork and so on, and I just present my idea to him and he starts developing and bringing in his own ideas and so on, and he's working with it and then we communicate bit back and forth, and we always seem to end up with really nice artworks that we are really happy about, and he is also really happy about so, it's really nice cooperation and I think he's really the right guy for Sirenia.



One of my personal questions. Something that I noticed when I was searching about Sirenia, I noticed the debut album the title of the album “Sixes and Sevens” and then I noticed it on some of the albums like “Dim Days of Dolor”, “Arcane Astral Aeons” and of course the new album “Riddles Ruins and Revelations”. Every word in the title has the same letter. It's something that you like to do?

Morten: yeah, a lot of people have asked me about whether there's a connection between the albums or so, with the titles but actually it's just they're all individual titles and there's no like deeper connection in any such way it's just you know one of my preferences with making the titles. I like an album title that clings very well and that has a deeper kind of meaning to it, a typical a title that the listeners would have to think a bit about, to try to understand what really lies behind the title and these alliterations, is something that I’ve been using quite a bit, in my titles and also numerology for example and some of the other album titles.



So, what other things Morten likes to write about in his songs?

Morten: I’m mostly focusing on darker stuff, darker aspects of life and mankind in general and basically the things that happen around me, that is not of the uplifting kind of stuff and writing about it is one way, to kind of get it out of the system but also, you know it comes quite natural to write about these things because the feeling and the atmosphere in our music is quite dark and melancholic and dramatic and so on, so we need subjects that fits really well together with the atmosphere in our music.



We have two videos for the promotion of the new album the one is “Addiction No.1” and we have a visualizer and official audio for “We come to Ruins” some words about that? I believe “Addiction No.1” is about gamble, I think?

Morten: Yeah “Addiction No.1” was our first single and it's about addiction in different forms and most people can relate to it in one way or another either by their own experience or by people they are connected to people they know or so on, so it felt natural to write right about that subject on this album and “We Come to Ruins” was our second single and u it's I would say maybe a song that is a bit more typical for Sirenia so to speak, the first single was very, very, different and compared to everything we did before, it was a very different song and the second single was more probably typical for our sound, even though, we did the song in a kind of renewed and modernized way and I believe there's coming two more, two more videos, one video that is going to be released right before the album, and then there will come a fourth video a little bit after the album release.



Morten do you like making covers? I think you know what I mean…

Morten: Covers it's not something in my entire career I did with Sirenia I did two covers and I believe I did one cover with a different project that hasn't been released, so, it's not something I do very often but if I find the right song then I really enjoy doing a cover version of it, for example the song we choose on this album the “Voyage Voyage” a hit song from the 80s. First and foremost, you know I’ve really been a big fan of this song since it was released back in 1986 and first time I heard it on the radio i was really fell in love with it, probably because the kind of melancholic feeling there is to the song, it's a minor based song and so, I really kind of fell in love with, the whole feeling of it and I’ve been a fan of the song ever since, so, it felt natural to do a cover version of it and also, you know this album being so inspired by the 80s in many ways it would also fit really well to do a cover version of a song from the 80s.


Well, it was funny because something that I like to do when I’m preparing an interview, writing the questions is listening the album to take inspiration about and as I was writing I heard the song it was like “hey I know that song and I was like oh my god it's a cover” and it was like “oh my god it's beautiful” and it was a very fitting for Sirenia to make that cover it's just like one of your songs and it was very very beautiful and very fitting for you.

Morten: Thank you, I mean, that's what I like you know, when I do a cover version of a song, I like to take a song from a completely different genre and then try to turn it into a Sirenia song or to put our stamp and our sound on it and from hearing that song of over the years I developed some ideas of how I could really imagine this song sounding in a Sirenia version so, at some point I just decided to go for it.



Okay let's talk about something that we are living now. the consequences of COVID-19 from the start of 2020 to the music industry and not only, affected many bands, labels, and releases of course, what is your plans for supporting “Riddles Ruins and Revelations”? Any Tours in mind with all this situation concerned? I believe some of your tours has been postponed for later dates.

Morten: Yes, I mean all of our plans pretty much for 2020 and also for 2021 has been put on ice and for now, it just it doesn’t seem, realistic that we will be able to tour until probably by the end of the year or something like that. I hope it will be possible, sooner but it seems that the COVID-19 will stay with us for quite some time I’m afraid.

How are things going in Norway with the pandemic?

Morten: it's going a little bit up, we had a wave where things were getting quite bad but now the numbers are going down again so, I think at the moment it's a positive trend. There are some outbreaks in some cities and so, it's a little bit hard to say, we also got the U.K. mutated version of the virus which is spreading really fast we got that in the southeast of Norway now so, we don't really know how that will develop there will be a third wave now or, if we will get control of it.



Hopefully if everything goes well and, COVID-19 give us some slack, do you believe that we will see Sirenia on the summer? Well, I know it's difficult.

Morten: Yeah, I mean, I really hope so but realistically I’m not sure if that will be possible. It seems like with the vaccination programs things are moving quite slow and there’re delays with the deliveries of the vaccine and so on, and god knows how long this whole process will take so, it's not looking too optimistic right now but I definitely hope that we'll be able to start touring again by the end of the year or at least beginning of 2022.



A few months ago, I read an article about the difficulties the American venues have. Maybe one third of them will close due to coronavirus do you have the same problems in Norway?

Morten: I am not sure how the situation is. I know that a lot of venues are struggling and a lot of venues are receiving support from the government so, i hope as many (venues) as possible will make it through the crisis but yeah, it's quite tough you know, and if this is going to last for even one more year then I really don't know. I'm quite sure that the venues are really dependent on getting support from the government to make it through this crisis.



Let's talk about your other bands. we will ever see something like a new material for Mortemia or maybe Tristenia?

Morten: I believe because I’m actually working on some new songs at the moment due to the COVID-19 situation I have more time for writing now so at the moment I’m spending my time composing some stuff for Mortemia so, I don’t believe it will be possible to hear new Mortemia stuff this year.



What other bands are you listening this time around what other bands Morten listens to?

Morten: It really depends a lot and I listen to a lot of bands and different genres, a lot of stuff from the 80s and early 90s, I like from the bands there are actual from today, I’ve been listening a little bit lately to Five finger Death punch and but not so many new bands to be honest, mostly it's older stuff from the 70s 80s and early 90s.



As a kid what were your heroes that influenced you to become a guitar player or making a band

Morten: I think in the very beginning definitely Alice Cooper and Guns and Roses were you know my kind of idols at that time, when I was uh 13-14 years old and wanted to start my own band so I believe those two artists was probably the biggest inspiration for me to buy a guitar and start practicing myself.



Any memories from the first time you went on stage? Any funny memories you know, moments?

Morten: I can't remember it you know, um, I believe it was in 1990, 91 or 92, it was a quite small venue local venue here in Norway and mostly just remember we were all really nervous you know for going on stage it was like you know, extremely nervous so that's pretty much everything I can remember from that show.



Any memories from the worst or best show that you had?

Morten: We've had some really nice shows. We've been very lucky to play several big summer festivals in Europe, back in Open Air (Festival), we played a couple of times and Graspop, Metal Meeting, Summer Breeze Open Air, and so I have really great memories for that and I don't really have much bad memories there's sometimes it occurs that we have some technical problems and that can always be really frustrating when you're on the stage and you're doing your best, giving everything for your fans and then a technical issue starts to occur with, like for example power supply problems in the venue or something like that is can be very frustrating.



Any last message to your fans?

Morten: Yeah, I would like to say cheers to all our fans in Greece, with Sirenia we have been there two times we played and both times was a fantastic experience and we really want to come back as soon as possible and hopefully the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control quite soon so that we are able to come back again and play once more.



Morten thank you very much. The new album from Sirenia the 12th day of February. Morten thank you very much.
Morten: It was my pleasure thank you.








Chris Mouskos, Tasos Zervoudakis

Black Velvet Radio

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