Norwegian Shining are currently doing the final touches to their upcoming new album. Jørgen Munkeby shared some details with us… read on in order to find out.
How complicated is it having the same name as another Nordic band? Are you often mistaken for them?
It’s not complicated at all. We’re very different as people, and our music is also becoming more and more different, so it’s not something that will bother anyone in the future.
And we are very seldom mistaken for the Swedish band.
What’s the worst situation regarding this that ever happened to you?
I can’t really think of any situation that has been a problem.
For those that still confuse you and Shining from Sweden… what’s the main difference between the 2 bands?
Then I suggest that they just look it up online. There’s lots of music and videos there by both bands.
You labelled the band as Blackjazz. Is this the best definition?
The label “Blackjazz” was very fitting for the music we’ve been playing since we released our album of the same name in 2010. Our new album, though, that comes out in late September this year, will not have many jazz elements in it, so the term “Blackjazz” will probably not be very fitting anymore.
How do jazz students get together to play metal? Is Shining a dream come true?
I grew up with metal music when I was a kid, so it was very natural for me to be playing metal.
How did the idea of incorporating sax into metal come up? Did you think it would really work? What was the first reaction you got? Were fans shocked or pleased?
I started playing sax when I was nine years old but didn’t really listen to jazz at that time. The music I loved the most was Pantera, Entombed and Sepultura, so that’s the music I started playing my sax to. But I guess it took about 20 years for me to really figure out a good way of combining sax and metal.
On December 18 the band posted that the new album is the best recording you’ve ever done. What can we expect of it? What surprises have you got for us?
First surprise: There’s no sax on the record at all! Second surprise: It’s full of great songs! And I mean songs, the kind that you can sing along to.
So, the comments saying that there won’t be a saxophone in this album are true?!
How did the idea of doing a Patreon campaign come up? How are we supposed to know the details if we don’t sign up? Is this fair?
I’ve always wanted to be able to make unique and special stuff for our fans, but it’s also very expensive to make great stuff. This Patreon campaign makes us able to create cool stuff for our most enthusiastic fans. For instance, we just sent out glass and metal plaques diplomas for everyone that has been with us for a year above a certain membership level. I love that stuff! But members also get special behind the scenes footage and documentaries and other exclusive glimpses into the inner workings of the band.
The details are all laid out on the front page of our Patreon site: www.patreon.com/shiningnorway. So, there’s no surprises there!
You started writing for the new album in December 2015… why is it taking so long then?
It’s been taking so long because this time we’re making another big change in the music, and that takes a lot of work and a lot of experimentation. The new album is the best one I’ve ever made, but it’s also the hardest one that I’ve made, and the one I’ve spent the most time on.
“International Blackjazz society” is one of your best albums. Will the one be able to surpass it? How much pressure is on your shoulders right now?
I definitely think the new one is even better! But I’ve also managed to get in the mindset of thinking that we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to win, so that takes a bit of pressure off.
Does the album have a title already?
Yes, it does! The title will be announced in a few weeks!
What kind of lyrical themes will you deal with this time around?
The lyrics are very much about human emotions and problems this time. There’s a lot of songs circling around the concept of death – either dying yourself, or the consequences or emotions left by others dying. And there are songs about just wanting to fight and fuck and have a good time.
How fun was it participating in Leo Moracchioli’s metal cover of “Careless Whisper” by George Michael? What do you think of the original song?
I loved doing that song with Leo! He’s a great dude! I also love the original version by George Michael.
Is there any other song by a non-metal artist that you’d like to cover? If so, which one and why?
I’d like to cover Adele’s “Someone Like You”.
When you played at Trolltunga… was your heart pounding fast? Was the adrenaline rushing faster than usual? How was the experience?
It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I think I was high on adrenaline for about a week after that show!
Do you have to make many arrangements in order for the songs to “fit” in a live environment?
The newer songs we write are usually written with the band arrangement in mind, so that makes it easier to adapt it to a live version. On the newest record we’ve actually recorded all the songs live in the studio, everything except the vocals, so it’s going to be even easier now to make it work live.
Munkeby has doing some shows with Emperor, Ihsahn… what’s the priority? Shining’s new album or playing with legends? What do you learn from these experiences?
I love working with these people, and I learn a lot from it. But my main priority is always Shining.
Have you ever wondered what kind of a job you would have in case you weren’t a musician?
Yes, I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve never had any other job than being a musician, and I’m very happy about that.
What music inspires you? Who are your favourite musicians/bands?
I get inspired by a lot of music, but I guess these are some of my favorites throughout the years: Michael Brecker, John Contrane, Olivier Messiaen, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Brad Paisley, Muse, and Biffy Clyro.
Munkeby has collaborated with many known musicians (Ihsahn, Marty Friedman)… how important are these collaborations? Do you keep on growing as a musician?
It’s important for me to keep learning and developing, and such collaborations are definitely a way of doing that.
Is there an artist you’d like to work with for some reason? If so, which one and why?
I’d love to work with any great artist! I guess a few examples would be Muse, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson and Dave Grohl.
As an artist you look at the work you’ve done and think of ways it could be redone. Is there a Shining track you’d redo now if you could?
Yes, there’s often stuff I think I would have done differently now, but that doesn’t mean the tracks are not good. That’s also part of the reason I make new music and new records – to try to make even better stuff than I’ve already created.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned in these years working in the music business?
That the music business is not the reason I started making music. It’s the music itself that was the reason.
The Black Metal genre is much more open-minded now than it was 20 years ago… do you think it is good or bad? Should genres evolve or remain true to their roots?
Everything should evolve!
How active will Shining be in 2018? Many gigs or will you only play after the release of the new album?
We’ll start touring after the album comes out in September, and then play as much as we can in 2018 and 2019!
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Interview by Sónia Fonseca