Hi Niklas, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions. We won’t keep you too long. Congratulations on the release of ‘Varg Utan Flock’, I really enjoyed the album. Before we start off, how have you been?
How I’ve been? Well, not too good to be perfectly honest with you. As always when in the process of releasing a new album things get very, very chaotic, and no matter what one learned from the last time, there are always new strange obstacles popping up from places past unheard off. I am however very content about the peak I managed to reach with this new album of mine and it honestly feels I have somehow rekindled with my past and made things even worse yet still authentic. So, all in all, I guess things are heading in the right direction, yet, we’ll just have to wait and see how long it will take until I manage to ruin things again.
Your music has always been focused on showing the dark sides of life, with melancholy, pain and anger put in the spotlight. It gives your music a unique sound. How do you channel all these emotions into what’s essentially a 41-minute slice of life?
41 minutes of concentrated negativity is not that easy to achieve to begin with, as the things I put myself through when writing is often so overwhelmingly horrible it takes very long until I am able to focus again. Mind you, everything I have ever written for this ill child of mine has been written out of genuine contempt and not seldom self-created situations of immense darkness and danger. This method is probably why my art differs from most others who merely pretend to absorb the void. I live in the midst of it and always have, although things have definitely gotten more severe during the latter years compared to what I endured in my past.
Do you feel that with every album it gets harder to channel your emotions, or do you find it gets easier?
As said, I always work from a genuine situation, and no matter how bad it gets I somehow always find a way to avoid drowning in that pool I must swim in. Yet, obviously it’s not easy, especially the older I get to not fall for the temptation to just give in. But my faith drives me, and my own well-being always comes in second. You’re welcome.
You guys have been incredibly consistent during your career, and ‘Varg Utan Flock’ is no different – everything that makes Shining Shining is here. How was the writing process different from ‘Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends’?
Very different. I left Sweden behind and went on a sort of pilgrimage throughout Europe, searching for a new home. And whilst I was travelling and staying one week there, a month there, I sat down quite frequently with my guitar and just wrote. Normally, I create an album in my mind, book a studio and then start to write things down and the pressure and stress somewhat gets me going. I am however glad things changed this time around as I was truly in need of a change in scenery and mind.
’Jag ar Din Fiende’ features a solo by the illustrious Andy LaRocque of King Diamond fame, who also helped you mix and master the record. You guys worked together on ‘Redefining Darkness’ as well. How has that relationship evolved over the years?
Surprisingly good! Andy and I have become rather close since that first recording and I am doubtful I will ever work with any other producer than him for any of my future albums, if there are any. This is the third time around we record with him and apart from him being a fantastic producer who genuinely likes what we’re doing and always comes up with ideas etc. The facilities itself are perfect for me as I always live in the studio when recording and staying a month or two at some half-assed metal studio would never work. He and me have kind of the same fetish for cleaning and having things neat.
Personally, I feel ‘Mot Aokigahara’ is one of the most captivating songs you guys have ever written and it’s the perfect closing song on the album. What can you tell me about the writing process for this one?
I can’t. But thank you, it turned out rather captivating in the end yes.
’Jag ar Din Fiende’ was the first single you guys put out back in September 2017. What made you choose this song as the first thing that the fans should hear?
The song itself, lyrically speaking, is sort of a statement that just needed to be brought forth as soon as we possibly could, thus ending up as the single. Also, I think the song has every little thing that makes Shining what it is musically, so therefore it was more or less an obvious choice when Season Of Mist wanted to release a single before the album.
Are there any personal favorite songs for you on the album, or do you feel they are all equal?
It’s impossible to say, but I do feel that ‘Gyllene Portarnas Bro’ was an achievement as I had been writing that song in three different parts, stretching over a period of almost eighteen years. So, it felt quite good to have that part of my life done and dealt with.
I don’t want to take up more of your time, thanks so much! Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Thanks for your support and make sure to check out our web shop as we have just recently released the fourth edition of ‘When Prozac No Longer Helps’ that includes all new lyrics translated into English for those who seek wisdom. See you soon…