Everyone is aware of the fact that the Scandinavian Black Metal scene is one of the best… and now another debut is about to stir things up again… Nachtlieder are about to release their self titled debut and you’ll be surprised to hear that this is mainly a one musician band, a female one with more power and strenght than most men around!
What led to the creation of Nachtlieder?
I was at a point where I had played in bands for a couple of years and it was not enough for me anymore. I wanted more musical challenges, compose and arrange. It was a natural step.
The name of the band translate to "carols” in English. Why have you chosen this name after all , not to mention the fact that it is a German word and you’re Swedish?
Not exactly "carols”. Directly it translates to "songs of night”, Gute Nachtlied means "lullaby”. I don't really remember why I chose this name actually. I'm not German, I don't even speak German but I think it's a beautiful language. And I think it all boils down to that. My view on lyrics for example is that it's just like music, it has sounds that go more or less well together and that we might associate with certain things depending on context and our own references. Nachtlieder's association with lullabies creates an eerie feeling in my opinion, I like the contrast between this comforting word and the destructive music. But most of all I just think it sounds beautiful.
You’re basically a sole member cause you play all the instruments apart from the drums… is it easier for you to work "alone” or didn’t you find the right musicians to help you out?
It's definitely easier to work alone. I mean, this was the sole idea behind the project. But the difficulty to find people that you can work with is definitely one reason to why this didn't become an actual "band”.
Nachtlieder has been around since 2008, however only now are you releasing your self titled debut. What caused the 5-year delay?
If being alone allows you to be free in your creativity, the downside is that you don't have any people to help you out with all of the other stuff that comes with playing in a band and releasing albums. But I'm still glad it took so long. It allowed me to mature in my writing and certainly to create a better debut album.
Your bio states that you have been balancing between dream and reality… what does this mean exactly?
You know that nightmarish feeling you get sometimes when you wake up in the middle of the night and don't know if you're still dreaming? It happened to me once and the next morning I realized that "shit, this is what I want my music to feel like”. But yeah it has a deeper meaning too. I write about things that goes on in everybody’s heads, but most people would never ever do in their real lives. And I write about other very real things, but twist them into morbid fantasies. I guess I mean that the world is never just in black and white, or something.
You deal with themes such as violence and fairy-tales… how can themes so different be put together and create such powerful music?
That difference is what makes it exciting! When we think about horror we are more likely to find the small anomalies frightening, rather than obvious monsters or blood and gore. In my case I think the more "innocent” elements highlights the aggressive and destructive ones. It's all about balance. But it's not like fairytales are 100% innocent in the first place. Take Little Red Riding Hood for example. It's a story about a little girl who gets murdered by being eaten alive! That's pretty morbid.
What inspires you to write your lyrics?
First and foremost, the music I write the lyrics for. But when I get stuck I find inspiration in a lot of things. Novels, movies, other songs... I tend to for example read a book, make my interpretation of it and write lyrics based on that interpretation mixed up with words from a good song I overheard on the bus... I don't consider myself a lyricist. At all.
How long did you take to write the lyrics for the debut?
That's impossible to answer since the album contains material from almost five years. But lyrics is not my focus, so let's just say "not very long”.
The debut self titled album includes eight tracks… did you use all the ones you had or were there some songs left out?
Dear me, there's a TON of material left. Most are songs that I just wasn't satisfied with, but also really good songs that just didn't go with the tone of the album. One reason that I started my YouTube channel was that I thought it might be a good place to share this "leftover” material. But then you still have to record it properly and bla bla... I haven't got to it yet.
"Nachtlieder” has been released by Unmerciful Death Productions. Why this label?
It was the first one to offer me a deal, hahaha. No, really, I wouldn't have sent them a demo in the first place unless I liked their approach. UDP releases metal bands from all over the world and you're likely to find something interesting in their catalogue. Rod, who runs everything, is one of these people who works really hard and makes who knows what sacrifices to run this goddamn scene. Hats off and standing ovations.
Do you have a special place where you need to be in order to get creative?
No. I need a guitar, electric or acoustic. Preferably I'm alone, and things are always better with a cup of tea.
You cite desolation, loneliness, misanthropy and nature as your influences. Are you really a misanthrope?
I recognize this from The Metal Archives and this is not actually something I wrote, hehe. But to answer your question, no I'm not a misanthrope. But that doesn't mean I can't express misanthropic things in my art. It's that "dream and reality” thing again.
Being only you and your drummer, are you planning on promoting this album live? Have you found the session musicians to do so?
I'm growing more fond of the idea of taking this project live, but I think I need to find people who are willing to be a driving force to the live band Nachtlieder if there will ever be such a thing. I don't think I'm dedicated enough myself to invest all of that time finding gigs and making tour arrangements. I get my rush from composing and recording, and that's where I put my hard work.
Supposedly you sound like Mayhem, Slagmaur, Jarboe, Dodheimsgard, Aosoth… why have you decided to highlight these ones?
Simple. These are bands that have either heavily influenced me or bands that I just like and feel I share musical elements with.
How’s your relationship with Swedish black metal bands? Are you familiar with Veronica Setterhall, a metal musician who has been involved in many projects, namely Mother of the Hydra which is a project you recommend in your reverbnation page. Have you done anything together?
My relationship with swedish bands? Not good, I'm not actually very familiar with the swedish scene at all. But I know V though we never met in person. We were involved in a distance collaboration, called Styr, with a drummer from Portugal who asked me to join on guitar. But the progress is/was slow because of, well, life. The project isn't really in my hands, but I hope we can get going again in the future. It's a different, quite relaxed, way of making music and I like that. V is obviously a very talented and multi-faceted musician, I admire her a lot!
Which band(s) triggered your interest in metal? How old were you when that happened?
I was 13 or 14. Through internet forums Tool led to My Dying Bride which led to Opeth. A few years later I got into extreme metal through that usual entry-level stuff. Swedish bands like Naglfar, Dissection and Mörk Gryning. And I do own two Cradle albums, haha. My serious interest in Black is fairly recent though. I was over 20 and I started to get passionate about it at the same time as I started to write my own music.
Considering the huge number of metal bands in Scandinavia, are children motivated and pushed into playing an instrument from an early age?
I think so, at least where I grew up. Taking music lessons at community music school was pretty cheap, and I remember the music school in my town often visiting my regular school for kids to try out instruments. I took violin lessons from age eight to ten (and then I quit playing for some incomprehensible reason). But I think the rock tradition with for example guitar playing is more carried out in families perhaps. Most people I know have started playing in their early teens, so did I.
What do you reckon of all the Scandinavian black metal bands that have spread the word worldwide… do you think these "commercial” acts have helped or damaged the whole scene?
Either, I would say at first. But thinking about it I guess even commercial bands help the scene as a whole. The thing about them is that they are accessible and they can reach out to people who never even knew such music existed. And some of these people will become dedicated fans of the underground scene. We all need to start somewhere and when you don't have people in the scene around you, Satyricon can serve as a step in the right direction.
Both, definitely! You can easily separate these individuals by listening to their music. Strive for fame = less focus on music = less interesting music. ;)These days it seems everybody is in a band and some musicians play in more projects than they can remember… do you think this happens for the love of music or the love of fame?
Do you think being a female metal musician these days is easier than it was back in the nineties? Have you ever been prejudiced in some way or form for being a woman?
When I was in a Death band we played a lot live and I don't think I can remember a single gig without... incidents. I've encountered everything from straightforward "you're a girl and that means you suck” to subtle things like surprised reactions when people realize that I'm in the band. The most common thing was neglect though. People not shaking my hand after greeting my male band mates, things like that. Maybe I was "just” a girlfriend or something? Even if I had been, who treats a person that disrespectful? This only happened to me and the only thing separating me from the others was my gender, but readers can feel free to draw their own conclusions.
I don't know if it's easier today, but with Nachtlieder I've recognized a trend where people point out that I'm female and see it as something positive. I absolutely have nothing against that, on the contrary, but the fact that there is "resistance” is in itself a sign of that there also is something people want to change. Even you felt you had to ask me this question, and I absolutely don't mind answering it. Women won't be neutral in the scene until this ends, but I don't think we're there just yet.
Please share a message with Pest’s readers. Cheers!
Humble thanks to the readers and collaborators of Pest for your invaluable support of the underground! Thanks Sónia for your time. :)
Questions by Sónia Fonseca
Answers by Dagny Susanne