First of all congratulations with your fourth full-length album! I think you delivered again some very nice work and that Sirenia belongs to the top of the current true Norwegian gothic metal bands!
Thank you very much!
How are you feeling right now at the start of the release of your new album 'The 13th Floor'?
I'm feeling very well right now. We worked for two years on the album and it's always good when the end comes near. The last couple of weeks we could relax and do something else than recording the album and that was really nice. The next thing we will do is promoting the new album and we definitely will go on tour; we're really looking forward to share our music with the Sirenia fans.
You describe the new album as a release that takes the listeners back in time but also as the beginning of a new time for Sirenia. Can you explain this?
What I tried to explain is that the new album is really diverse and reflecting the things from what we did on former albums. Some parts of 'The 13th Floor' style can be related to our debut 'At Sixes and Sevens' and some to the 'Nine Destinies and a Downfall' album.
I think the first two albums are the more aggressive ones and the last two albums are more into a dreaming and lovely way; more and more classical influences, less screams and a more endearing voice of the new singer Ailyn. I'm I right?
Absolutely, but I think the new album is more aggressive than 'Nine Destinies and a Downfall'. 'The 13th Floor' has more in common with the first two albums, but you can also hear some new stuff. We are more and more focussing on the melodic aspects these days; we write shorter songs and we try to say something in three or five minutes and makes it all more intensive.
Did you already play some new songs live? Which ones did you play? Will you play the last song 'Sirens Of The Seven Seas' of 'The 13th Floor' live, because it contains a lot of choirs and less singing of you and Ailyn?
For now, we didn't play anything from the new album live, so we're really looking forward to it. Yes, we are using a lot of choirs in that song. So if we will play that song live there will be a tape playing with us for the choirs, along with other samples and the keyboard parts. For now we have a session bass player and we never worked on stage with a bass player, so that's a new addition.
On 'Nine Destinies And A Downfall you've added a radio-edit version of My Mind's Eye; will there also be a radio-edit song on 'The 13th Floor'?
Yeah, we will release our first single at the end of December; 'The Path to Decay' and there also will be a video clip of that song. This song will also be put on the limited edition of 'The 13th Floor'. We choose this song because it's very melodic, short and let everyone hear our typical nowadays Sirenia style.
Let's talk about the new singer Ailyn; her voice is a little bit more in the direction of Henriette Bordvik than Monika Pedersen. Was it difficult to find a singer that's approaching the former ones or is that not important in finding a new singer for Sirenia? Why or why not?
We always try to improve ourselves; we were looking for a singer that was better than the previous ones. When we started to advertise we received a lot of applications. We listened to all the applications and demos; we really wanted to make sure that we took our time in finding a new singer and made the right choice. Finally we choose five top candidates and we organised two auditions; one weekend in the studio for recording some old and new songs for finding out how it was to work with the singer in a studio. For the second audition we went to the rehearsing room and after that we rented a venue for pretending a real concert. So we could get an impression how the singer reacts on stage. We took some time to get to know each singer, because we really wanted to make the right choice. It was really important for us that she can show her passion for music and that she really want to spent a lot of time with the band.
I've read that there were 500 registrations for the new female singer of your band, is that correct? How many percent of these reactions came from singers in Norway?
Not so much actually; a very few. I can't remember exactly, but let's say around ten. It's very hard to find a good female singer in Norway who wants to sing in a rock or metal band. So we had to look outside the country. We received reactions from all over the world; America, Indonesia, Russia and even Australia. At some point we decided to focus only on the European countries; it's easier for us and easier for her if she wanted to move to Norway.
After so many member changes your band is on the right way of getting a steady line-up. Ailyn comes from Spain; is it not difficult to deal with this fact, because of the distance and getting to know each other very well to become a band is well attuned to each other?
It was difficult for us to find the right singer, but on the other hand we wanted a good singer so we didn't want to compromise in quality. All Sirenia members always lived spread; our previous singer was Danish. I live in Stavanger, Micheal & Jonathan living in Kristiansand and our new bass player lives in Oslo; so that is a lot of hours driving. Everyone practise alone and we often get together for a weekend or so. We got a lot of stuff done in a weekend and it still works after all those years.
Ailyn joined the Spanish x-factor and became famous in Spain. She is listening to a lot of different kind of styles in music, like R&B and Dance. Do you think it's an advantage to have a lot of different views and imaginations on various music styles so you can even sing better in a metal band?
Absolutely, it's important to be open-minded to discover your qualities. Abroad experience is good and it can help you to sing even better. She found out that she really likes to sing in a metal way, so that really helped her out with what she wanted to do.
You've worked with a lot of people; session members, guest members, the ones who helped you out with the recordings…..Is it not hard for you working over and over again with different people and how does this influence you're writing process? Did it change a lot the last few years?
From the beginning I always wrote Sirenia songs alone (and still do); it worked out very well for me and for the band-members. I write a lot of personal songs so it's really important for me being alone at that time. I've met a lot of people during the recording process, but it's no problem at all for me. I like to work with some great persons who can help me out with the recordings and the right balance.
You still have one session member; Kristian Olav Torp as a session bass-player. Why does he not totally join the band?
We don't see the need for it; we both like it this way. At the beginning of Sirenia we didn't use a bass-player live at all, because of the fact that there wasn't enough money for touring with an extra member. Some while ago we decided it was time for having a bass-player live, so that's why Kristian will join us on tour.
Can you imagine that there will be some more musicians who will join the band in the near future (like a keyboard player, a little choir or a violin player), so you can match more and more with all the things that can be heard on the CD?
No, we like it the way we are doing it right now. Maybe in the future, but I don't know…..
Talking about your writing process; did you finally reach the way you should have followed with Tristania?
It's a long time ago that I parted ways with Tristinia. At that point it was time for me to move on further and it was a process that took some time, but it really helped me when I started Sirenia. I didn't want to make a sound just like Tristania; it changed over the years, but of course I was the main writer of Tristania. It was a natural process for me that worked out very well.
Everyone is always asking you about your past with Tristania and how you've dealt with this; are you tired about all these questions or is it something that you have to deal with and cannot leave behind?
When I started doing interviews for Sirenia everyone wanted to hear both side of the stories about the situation of Tristania and sometimes I was really tired about it, definitely when I started to promote 'At Sixes and Sevens'. Nowadays there aren't that many questions about it, so it's okay for me.
I think the typical sound of the Norwegian gothic metal bands is more darker and less symphonic The differences, comparing to The Netherlands, can also be found in the female way of singing; the Norwegian female singers are most of the time no soprano voices at all, but more sweet and mysterious. What's your opinion on that one?
I think can agree on you with this; a lot of gothic metal bands from The Netherlands are mixed with some power metal influences. These days I'm not following the Norwegian bands that much, but indeed we have no soprano voices at all. So, yes I think you're right about this.
We already know bands like Sirenia, Tristania, Trail of Tears, Theatre of Tragedy, The Crest, Octavia Sperati and so on. Can you tell me which unknown gothic metal band of Norway we should check out and why?
Haha, the funny thing is that I have no idea. The last few years I only focussed on my own band and when I sit down and listen to some music I listen to music from the 70's, 80's and 90's. So I'm not that updated on what's going on these days. I tried, but it's hard to follow everything.
As a nick of time of 2008; how are you looking back on 2008 and why will 2009 be, besides the release of 'The 13th Floor', the year of Sirenia?
2008 was very chaotic in the beginning, because we had to find a new singer for the band. The rest of the year was very good; we were working on our album, now all is done and it's time to release 'The 13th Floor'. We hope that 2009 will bring some enthusiastic reactions on our new album and we'll definitely go on tour! So hope to see you all very soon!