Right from the foreboding beginning of 'The Ghoul' to the last notes of 'Free Me Of The Sun', your album gives me goosebumps and manages to captivate me without pause. Somehow I feel completely at ease when I listen to the dark riffs and clear vocals, which is perhaps a bit strange because the title 'Free Me Of The Sun' radiates something very dark and forlorn. How did you come up with this title and what does it mean to you?
The album was named after the song 'Free Me Of The Sun' which, in fact, was the last song we wrote before going to the studio and it is also the last song on the tracklist. Somehow it sums up all the emotions present in our music and offers some closure with the very last words spoken on the record. The lyrics describe a peaceful passing, knowing that you will not feel the warmth of the sun ever again and instead accepting the cold but calm moon to take over as your guide in the afterlife. There is also a contrast of emotion – the song's intro is sung by me (Ema) with a calm and soothing tone representing the calmness of death. When the tempo escalates we hear Nina's scream which shows us how desperate she is to cross over to the other side. In the end my voice joins again in the melody of the solo as a release of emotion. The entire album has some of this communication between our vocals but nowhere as emphasized as on the title track.
Just as with your EP 'Inan', 'Free Me Of The Sun' has a very distinctive and "warm" artwork, it looks like some kind of invitation into your world of doom. Pictures you keep staring at. Can you tell us more about the artist?
The artwork was hand drawn and painted by our incredibly talented drummer Mihaela. She has been the sole creator of Mist's artworks and graphics since the very beginning and it is amazing to have somebody from within the band who truly understands the idea around the band and music. It is her visual interpretation of the title and she imagined waves of emotion and blood drowning the woman in the depths of the rest of her life, saying farewell to the sun and accepting the moon as her savior in the afterlife.
And how does designing art like this work? Do you give the artist a general idea of what you want? Or a very detailed one? What is the process a drawing goes through before the band decides it is exactly what they want?
We always trust Mihaela to do the graphics without any beforehand ideas or opinions from the rest of the band whatsoever – it is the best way not to limit the artist and it has always produced the most amazing art.
Your music sounds very familiar but also very fresh, as if you have taken certain influences and then made something entirely your own out of it. Your influences are pretty clear, and I very much like that, but how does this process work? How do you take music you like and turn it into something your own?
There are certainly some strong influences but I believe we found our own style very early with the demo and it progressed from there at its own pace. We are not looking to be special or the best – we just want to put ourselves and our hearts out there and this is our way of doing so.
A thing I love is the way the vocals are used. For instance 'December' has some very interesting vocals: a spoken passage and a bit where Nina sings high and someone else is countering that in a much lower voice. It breaks me down to tears. To me, as someone who does not have a lot of knowledge about singing, it seems a pretty difficult thing to decide how you are going to use which instrument. What DOES the songwriting process of Mist look like? From scratch to full song.
What you hear in 'December' are actually two different voices – Nina's lead and my backing vocals which offers a darker contrasting side to the storyteller. Our songwriting starts with the lyrics that either I (Ema) or Neža bring to a rehearsal with a vague idea of the melody and feel in mind. Sometimes that idea also has a riff behind it, other times it's just words on paper that have no musical presence yet. Usually Blaž already comes to rehearsals with some riffs in mind whereas I mostly follow the inspiration given by the song as it starts to progress. Many of the songs are mixes of both our riffs and Neža also often finds an idea in her head which we then translate into a guitar riff. Drums follow to spice things up and finally Nina finishes it off with her amazing vocal presence. It's all very organic for us, never planned or written in advance without working with the rest of the band. This is the reason some of our songs are written in one evening while others can take months to evolve – that is just the way we like to work.
What I would also like to know is how you as persons developed, musically. What music did you use to listen to as kids and what was the moment in time when (and how) you discovered metal?
Looking back we all started listening to rock and metal at a young age and of course went through many phases of different bands and genres. For me it started when I joined my first band in primary school – we played some covers like AC/DC and Deep Purple but we also made our own music from the very beginning and I think it had a great influence on my songwriting later with Mist, especially the emphasis on backing vocals which I became familiar with at that time. We all had different music tastes when we came together as a band but there were some common favorites in heavy and doom metal so it came naturally to play that kind of music together. We all contribute to the songwriting process one way or the other and the songs are never 'mine' or 'yours' they are always 'ours', they belong to Mist.
A couple of songs on 'Free Me Of The Sun' are quite groovy and seem to break with the stereotype of classic doom metal. For instance 'Altar Of You' and 'The Offering' have really rock 'n rollish beginnings, it (among other things) sets you apart from the average doom band. Was this done on purpose?
I like to think that not many things about our music are done on purpose and we don't pressure ourselves to be more doom or less. To be honest we do like the faster and more upbeat rhythms now and then since they are also fun to play live – the energy in those riffs is just a bit more intense.
Everything on this album seems to connect: the strong vocals, the drumming, the repetitive bass and guitaring. It all sounds very interactive, as if Mist is a band that was meant to be. How did such an interesting group of unique persons meet?
It started out as one of those crazy drunken ideas on the night Mihaela (drums) and Nina (singer) first met at a concert and realized they both want to form a band – and so they did. A few months later we had our first rehearsals and the rest is history. We never had any great expectations or huge dreams to make it big, we just wanted to play music for fun and hang out. What came out of it has been incredible and we never expected it to grow so much and gain momentum like it did. The journey has been amazing and I think our laid-back approach also benefits the energy that surrounds the band.
You are not afraid to use strong song titles! I love titles such as 'Altar Of You', 'Disembody Me' and 'Demonized'. They leave a lot up to the imagination. Do you come up with titles like this because you know the metal community appreciates them or do you not care and just use the titles that you want?
Some of the songs dictate the title like it was meant to be but for others it's a matter of finding a short description or a part of the lyrics which describes the entire song and the title comes last – even if it's months after the song was written.
By the way, speaking of 'Disembody Me', somehow this song gives me the idea that it is kind of a tribute to Danzig (reminds me of their song 'Mother'). Was this done intentionally?
I see what you mean but there is no connection to the Danzig song. The mother character appears in connection with others in the protagonist's life (''mother, lover, daughter, stranger'') and is detached from the theme – used more as a bystander than an active character like it is in 'Mother'. I think a mother is one of the deepest characters in one's life so it comes as no surprise to see it used in songs again and again.
You are not unfamiliar with touring and performing. I have seen some of the live footage and I was wondering if you can tell us about some of your bad live experiences as well as some of your good live experiences. Any memorable moments?
We have had our share of experiences playing live and unfortunately some of them have also been not so pleasant. I would not wish it upon anyone to experience the sexist and distasteful remarks we sometimes hear at our gigs. The bigger issue is actually responding to these comments since anything you say back reflects on the band and can trigger rumors that we are rude or conceited when we are just trying to stand up for ourselves. We have much better experiences playing abroad than we do playing in Slovenia to be honest, but even here this is a very rare incident. 99,9% of the time however we have a blast, make friends and enjoy ourselves immensely, so we regret nothing whatsoever!
You are the first band from Slovenia I have heard of, and it makes me wonder, how is the music scene in your country? Is metal a normal part of life or is it mainly underground?
We have a lot of great bands considering how small our country is and it is a very connected scene where all of us know and support each other. It is also interesting that because there are few doom bands and practically none in our particular genre we get to play with different bands from heavy, thrash, black, death metal. Since we are all fans of all those genres we enjoy those shows a lot!
I read Catholicism has had a huge impact on Slovenian culture, but you seem to have forged your own ideas and here and there in your songs I hear things that remind me of paganism. What IS your vision on religion and faith and how does it influence your music?
Religion is present in Slovenian culture but it is not as involved as you would expect. We were all brought up in non-religious households so we are quite detached in this matter but we most definitely do not support the church as an institution. In our lyrics you can get some hints of occultism and paganism but we are not eager to explore them further, rather just use them to assist the story or theme of the song.
Are there any other Slovenian bands that are less well known that we should keep an eye on?
There are so many great bands I hope I can remember all of them! Here are some of our favorites from the metal scene: Hellsword (black/heavy), Teleport (cosmic death), Metalsteel (heavy), Eruption (heavy), BattleX (thrash), Black Reaper (thrash), Within Destruction (deathcore), Jegulja (stoner prog), Chains (doom), Dekadent (black)...
Finally, thanks a lot for taking the time to answer these questions and thanks, again, for 'Free Me Of The Sun'. If there is anything you would like to say to our readers please feel free to do so!
Thank you so much for the amazing in-depth questions and for your support! We will most definitely continue on this path and hopefully have more releases for our fans in the years to come.