Interview date

23 Novembre 2010




Interview Morten Veland (by phoners)

What are the new goals of Sirenia with this new album?

I think it's kind of following the same feelings that we had for the last album. I started thinking about what we already have and perfect our sound and our style. Take this album one step further you know. I focused a lot on the melodic aspects again as we had on the two previous albums. No big changes in lead and female vocals because it's the main vocal in Sirenia. The vocal has still the biggest role in our songs. It's been pretty much about thinking about what we already had and working with it and tried to improve all the things.

As usual, you wrote everything on this album, but did Ailyn contribute to the vocal lines for example?

Yeah, usually, I come up with the songs and everything is ready. Then me and Ailyn go through everything, sometimes it worked perfectly and sometimes we thought we could find a better solution for this or that part. Sometimes, she came up with a new idea, Ailyn had an idea to make a change and we then we tried and when we found the solution we were both happy with it, we chose this solution. This is how we worked together on this album. For two songs, we have done Spanish versions too. Ailyn made the translation of the songs in Spanish and these songs will be included as bonustracks.

And did you discuss about the lyrics so she could easily feel what she was singing?

The lyrics have all been written by me. They've always had. But the good thing is that Ailyn really likes the music and the lyrics of Sirenia so she's very comfortable when she sings that. I'm really happy with the way she sings and I really think Ailyn has made really big steps with this album. She has been working really hard and improved herself. She has done a really good job with this album. With the vocals, with the melodies and her performances, it’s one of the things on the album which I'm happy with and I think we were able to take that step forward.

And as you are always writing about the same topics, how do you do to renew the lyrics? Did you think "I can't write this on this album because I've already done it in the previous one."?

Yeah, sometimes that actually happens! (Laughs). As I'm focusing on the same things, more or less, on albums, sometimes it's a bit difficult to renew yourself with the lyrics. Sometimes you have an idea and you think "ah, I've already used it before". I had to work hard to find the right or the best solution for a song. Yeah, lyrics are always... I need to spend more times for lyrics than I did before. A lot of the ideas have been used. With music it's like I have so many ideas and I don't have to time to put all of them into life. It took more time this time, I had to work harder.

I've noticed that your guitar solos are often the same than the chorus. Why do you do that?

Yes, it's something that I like to do. I mean the chorus is usually like the main theme of the songs. Sometimes there is a piano or another instrument that plays the instrumental part of the chorus. Sometimes I like to do it with a guitar solo. I take the chorus melody as a starting point or I use this idea and I build it in different way: put some harmonies on it, put some little changes and go from there. It's more like there is a main idea that goes through the songs. All parts are there for a reason. So for me, it's natural to do this that way. I also like very melodic guitar solos that get stuck in yout head. For me it's more important than showing everybody how fast I can play or all the technical things I can do with my guitar. I was never concerned by that. I try to focus more on melodies.

Some people reproach "The 13th Floor" for being too pop oriented for a Sirenia album. This one is less pop and maybe more ethereal and melodic. What happened?

I think it's definitely the most melodic album I've ever made. I've never worked so hard for the vocal melodies and everything before as we have done on this album. It's something that we really focus on since the very beginning, to compose material for this album. I think by doing my stuff, I've been able to achieve what I wanted to achieve on this album, especially the melodic aspects and also the vocals on this album. I hope the listeners will feel the same way, that they will discover it's a good album with very nice melodies. Hopefully they will think the same way!

Because of Mortemia, when you wrote "The Enigma Of Life", did you think about taking off the growls or you never thought about it?

No, I haven't thought about removing the growls yet. There were some parts, when I was writing the songs, where I wanted more intensity and some aggressive mess in few places, to have a variation in the album. I thought it was still right to have growls. So I decided not to cut it now, What will happen with the next album? I don't know. But mostly I think there will be some growls. I mean we've had growls in our music from the very beginning, and it would be strange to take all that away! But it's always hard to predict what will happen in the future. But I think there will always be some growls in Sirenia, just to have this element, this variation.

It's a sort of identity card for Sirenia, to have these growls with the female vocals.

Yeah I think it's an important part of the identity of the band. I mean the growls are not that important or used that often anymore, but still they play a part in our concept. It would feel a little bit strange to take it all away. It looks mostly like there will always be a little bit growls in Sirenia.

2008 was the year of stabilisation for Sirenia. Did it have any impact on you work?

Yeah, this is the first album with the same female singer and that feels really good ! (Laughs). It's like a victory in a way (laughs) to have finally found the right singer for the band. A singer that really wants to work with my music and wants to work in Sirenia. That's really, really good! And it has also been a very positive thing for me, when I was writing the songs because, from the very beginning, when I started writing, I knew that Ailyn would be the singer. And all the time, I had her voice in the back of my head and I was performing all melodies and ideas so they can fit to her voice. When I was writing material, I never had a kind of worry about "if I have to find a new singer, will she be able to sing this part? If this idea will work with her voice..." and all these things I didn't have to worry about anymore. I had a more relax feeling than before about the ideas. Also I had Ailyn available all the time to come to my studio so we could speak about the ideas and worked on songs, where it was working  and where we had to improve things and so on. The stable line-up definitely helped me a lot, especially regarding the vocals. This is one of the reasons that we have, or I think that we have improved our vocal parts on this album.

My next question will be in different parts. I will ask you to "sum up" your album, but with special things.
So, according to you, which song sums up the album best?

(Hesitant). (Laughs). It's a little bit difficult. I think all songs are different. There are a lot of different variations, expressions, atmospheres... Some songs represent new things, some songs represent typical Sirenia sounds... That's actually a difficult question to answer! Also, we have for example the song "The End Of It All" which, in my opinion is a song a little bit similar to "The Path To Decay" for example, and we have the song "Fallen Angel" which is a more typical song like "Lost In Life". I think there are songs that represent old Sirenia and new Sirenia and also for example, the song called "All My Dreams" is a song that is more industrial, maybe a little bit different in expression and different from what we have done before with the band. The title song "The Enigma Of Life" is a ballad and is also different from anything else that we've done with Sirenia. So there are lots of different stuffs on this album, so it's quite difficult to pick up one song ! (Laughs).

And if you have to pick just one word?

One word? (Hesitant) (Laughs). Maybe... melancholy. (Laughs).

And what about a colour for the album?

I would say white. It symbolizes snow and winter.

And a landscape?

A theme park or something like that! (Laughs).

I know you don't like to explain your title, I won't ask you to do it. But, to you, do we have to search for a meaning to what happens in our lives, or does it have to stay an enigma of life?

"The Enigma Of Life" is, I think, a very obsolete title. There are many enigmas in life. And what would be the absolute enigma of life, I think it's different from person to person, I think we all have a different opinion about it and so on... Usually, I like to write my title and my songs to maybe ask questions and describe feelings. But in a way it's often more to introduce things in different directions. I know some people see hope in my lyrics and some don't see any hope in the metal or in things like that. But that's more or less what I want, you know, to write in a way so you can interpret them in your way.

As you always have the same choir for your albums, have you ever thought about doing a special show with the choir for a release party, a DVD or for another occasion?

The thing with the DVD is something that we've been thinking about for quite a while and we want to do something special for that. I guess it's pretty much what we are waiting for now, the right occasion and the special moment. If we have to do a DVD, I want it to be quite special. So I definitely feel that the time is right now for Sirenia to do a DVD and hopefully, this is something that could happen in the near future!

Some people are still waiting for you to write songs like the ones you wrote at the beginning of Sirenia. Do you understand fans who are focused on the past and don't appreciate or understand the evolution of the band?

Yeah, it will always be like this you know! If a man was writing a music ten years ago, I think for most musician it's natural to evolve, to try to improve yourself. And also the kind of music you listen to and the kind of music you want to write are changing all over the years. And for the fans, it's changing too. The preference of the artists and the preference of fans might go different directions, and that's something that will always happen. Some fans can be really happy with the direction that the band takes and we get some new fans and maybe some old fans will be disappointed and appreciate more the style that the band had in the past. It's just natural and it's difficult to be always like this or that. I think in Sirenia we still have elements from our past and I think we will always have. I think we will never make a "At Sixes And Sevens 2" or something like that because I have never found any interest in writing the same album twice. It's more important to go forward and to explore and try new things and challenge myself, doing new things than repeating myself.

People describe you as an important composer in the gothic metal scene, saying you brought a lot to the style. How do you see your work? Do you feel the same or you don't see what you've brought?

I don't think I'm the right person to answer! (Laughs). I've been writing a lot of music through the years and I really enjoy doing it. I've always been writing the music I was into and writing from my heart and I've been putting one hundred percent into my music. That's pretty much all I can say! So then I think it's up to the others to say what I've brought or whatever. I don't really know, to be honest! (Laughs). But I know that we have some loyal Sirenia fans out there, I know that for sure. But Sirenia, in my opinion, never had a very huge success or something like this. One of many bands...

The end of the year may be devoted to the promotion of "The Enigma of Life". But what are your plans for 2011?

At the moment, we are looking into touring possibilities. We were really eager to tour a lot in 2009. We already have some festivals and some shows confirmed and we are having different touring plans also. I hope that we will be able to confirm or make shows official in the beginning of the next year. So we will keep everybody informed on our website about our future, more activities, concerts, festivals... But we are really motivated for touring in 2011!

As you are talking about touring, in March, you were saying that you wanted to form a band for Mortemia to go on tour. Do you still have this idea?

I'm still thinking about that, but to be honest, I don't have enough time to put this idea in life! Sirenia will always be my main band and my priority. But I'm still open to this idea and maybe Mortemia will play some shows in the future too, but it depends a little bit on different things and Sirenia is my main priority.

Do you have a last word for the fans of Sirenia?

I would like to say cheers to all the Sirenia fans in France. Hopefully we will be able to come on tour there next year. I would guess around spring maybe. But we will keep everybody informed!

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