Interview with Morten Veland (Sirenia) <¬-- Add fancyBox -->
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Interview with Morten Veland (Sirenia)


24/05/15 12:16PM

Hello, thank you very much for taking your time to speak with us today. How are you doing? How did you find your journey to the UK?

Morten: Ah, it went fine. We had a little delay on the flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham, but apart from that everything went really fine, really smooth. So yeah, we arrived here yesterday a bit late, I think around midnight somewhere so yeah, got a night of rest and today we are ready for the festival.

In 2009 you played Femme Metal Festival alongside Delain and many others. How does it feel to be back in the UK making another festival appearance, especially as a headline act?

Yeah, it's very cool. It's been some years now since the last time we were here, 4, 5 years I think or something. I think that the turnout tonight is much bigger, that's very cool for us, and I've been noticing in the last years that it seems that the interest for Sirenia has been growing in the UK over the last years, for us that is very cool, very positive and we hope that it will enable us to come back more often also to the UK to play more shows.

Tayla: We can definitely hope that.

Sophie: I think that's true, I think that Perils Of The Deep Blue did really well here, a lot of people I know really liked it.

Morten: Yeah, I think we got a lot of positive feedback for that album actually so, it was a bit cool. I tried to continue a little bit down the same path with the new album. I hope that the fans will like the new album as well.

Speaking of the new one, that was released yesterday. Can you tell us a little about the writing process and the story behind the record, or how it came about?

I think that the composing things for me is like an ever on going process. I'm always writing songs, writing ideas, riffs and stuff. So it's not something I really stop with I just, keep on going but, obviously after we finished the previous album then I can turn my main focus on the next one and, yeah, so that's what I did and you know, it's been like a process for more or less two years. It went pretty much as it usual. You know, it's the seventh album we make now so we have a little bit of experience, so, we pretty much know what to hopefully.

Speak of sevens we have a question relating to that, because there is a lot of symbolism in Sirenia's music surrounding the use of the number 7. The bands name is seven characters long, the band is on its seventh album, previous songs have had sevens in the title i.e. Seven Widows Weep, Seven Keys And Nine Doors and the new album cover features seven ravens, seven snakes, a scythe in the shape of a 7. In Judaism, the number seven serves a general symbol for association with G-d, the number represents the covenants of holiness and sanctity; seven-branched menorahs were used in the ancient temples. Essentially in Judaism the number seven is the divine number of completion. We are quite curious to know, what the symbolism of sevens means in reference to Sirenia's music?

You're not the first one to ask about that [laughs]. Yeah, there is, you know, when I try to write the lyrics I want there to be something about the lyrics that makes people think. I don't want everything to be obvious, like, you hear the song and immediately you get everything and the whole meaning and I want my lyrics to make people stop and think 'What is it he is really talking about here?', 'What does he mean with that and that?'. So, I use a lot of different elements in my lyrics to achieve that goal and numerology is one of the things. I write my lyrics in a way that it is more indirect, it's not really plain and obvious everything and it's something that I want to achieve and for me if I would explain it afterwards. To me it would be like tearing down something that I spent two years building up in a way and it will also remove everything, that kind of magic with the lyrics and people – if I said everything, you know, what it means and so on, then there wouldn't be anything more for people to think about or wonder about or anything, so, I always choose to not speak so much about my lyrics and rather leave it up to the people.

Many of the lyrical themes in Sirenia albums cover mental ill health. In the UK at the moment – as I am sure is the case in many other countries - we are fighting against the stigma often attached to mental ill health. What are your thoughts on the use of music to talk about things like mental health, and is there any hope that music can help change our social attitudes towards rarely spoken about issues?

I think that music is a good tool to talk about anything really, whatever concerns people or whatever they want to talk about. I don't think there should be too much limits, I think people should feel free to talk about everything and with Sirenia's music it's also important for me to write lyrics that match the feelings in the music, that they combine in a good way. For most of the cases the music is quite dark and melancholic, and so I obviously have to focus on the darker aspects of life and mankind and these things to write about things that fit with my music or my conversations, so, that's what I end up with and it feels like the natural thing for me to do with my musical project or with my band but then again there's thousands of different styles and people are more – in other bands – might be more into political things, or religious things or whatever and everybody can write about the things that they are into and the things that they want to get across and stuff.

Do you take inspiration from books or movies? What is your favourite art form apart from music?

Yeah, I was reading a bit more in the past I think. Also, movies I don't watch so much movies anymore but, I think Edgar Allan Poe I have to mention him. He's inspired me a lot since the beginning. In other artists, I also may be have to mention Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen just great song writers I think, really cool lyrics. I think that's basically it. With movies, you know, every now and then I've seen some nice movies and that can also be something that can inspire to write music or lyrics and so on but, at least in the last years it was not like a big source of inspiration, I think I watched may be in the last couple of years just 4, 5 movies or something, it's so little, I don't find time for it. I make other priorities, to put it like that.

You’ve recorded songs in English, Norwegian and now Spanish with Ailyn – do you have a favourite language to work in?

Yeah, I think for me it has to be English because it's a good language to write poetic and it sounds good when you sing it. In Norwegian, for example, there's less words to choose from you know, in English you have for every meaning you have like a bunch of different words, you can always find the word that is easy to rhyme, or it has better sound to it or whatever it makes. So, to me it feels better. I only have two languages that I can choose from and Norwegian, of course - which is my mother tongue – I find it quite hard actually to write in Norwegian. There's a lot of consonants and a lot of words that doesn't sound so beautiful when you sing them. So, that makes it more difficult and also for every word, or for every meaning it's not like in English that you have tons of different words to choose from, from the same meaning in Norway, most of the time you only have one and if that doesn't rhyme or if that doesn't sound good you have a problem so, you have to rewrite the whole sentence or whatever. So, it is much harder to write in Norwegian I find but English is good. Spanish is also, I don't know how to... I understand a little bit of Spanish but not enough to write lyrics in Spanish, but it's a beautiful language with a lot of vocals, so obviously it's very good for singing and it sounds beautiful and everything, but for me it's not a possibility to write in.

Sophie: English as well, it's so worldwide, like everyone can understand.

Yeah, that's true. It's so much more worldwide, if you write in Norwegian there's like only a few Norwegians that will understand and the rest of the world will scratch their heads most likely, so English is definitely the better option.

Sirens are a recurring theme in your music and of course in the band’s name. What was it that drew you to the mythology of sirens?

In the past I was reading different mythologies, classic mythologies, Norwegian, Greek mythologies and it was one of those things that I find very interesting and it has inspired me over the years. So, it was just something that naturally appeared to me from the beginning actually and I think it's still sticking with me to this day. Every now and then I throw in some stuff there from mythology.

Sophie: Yeah, it works well with the female singer as well, it's kind of a bit like the siren and using her voice to attract people to the band. [laughs] That was terrible analogy, but that's kind of what I think of anyway.

Tayla: Drawn to the rocks, literally.

Yeah, it's true. I have always been inspired by that kind of stuff and so it's still feels natural to write about, and you know since even the band name is about sirens it's still a part of, or a natural thing for us to write about so to speak. But, on the other hand I have to try not to over do it and also, write about other things but, every now and then I fall back to the siren thing, so.

You can play many instruments as well as performing vocally. If you had to pick one to stick with for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?

I think it would have to be guitar, it's the instrument that I handle the best and I can express myself best on. I can play a lot of other instruments too, but not as good as the guitar so, if I had to only stick with one I would definitely go with the guitar.

Thank you very, very much for taking your time to speak to us today.

No problem.

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