Sirenia's Morten Veland Explains "The Enigma Of Life"
Band Photo: Sirenia (?)
"The Enigma of Life" is the latest offering from Norwegian based gothic metal act Sirenia, which continues the band's trademark sound of mixing metal with gothic melodies. The album is also the second to feature Sirenia's latest female vocalist Ailyn.
In support of the release, Sirenia mastermind and song writer Morten Veland walked me through the creation of "The Enigma of Life" from beginning to end. He also discussed collaborating with Patric Ullaeus for the shooting of the band's latest music video "The End Of It All," as well as Sirenia's upcoming itinerary for festival season and the band's attempts to set up a North American tour.
xFiruath: When did you record the new album "The Enigma of Life" and what was going on during the writing process?
Morten: I started writing material for the album about two years ago. Writing music for me is a never ending process. I’m constantly writing new material, so already when we were finishing the previous album I was coming up with new ideas for this album. It’s always been with Sirenia that I am composing all the music so it was like that for this album. The entire process for the album was about less than two years. We recorded some parts in France. We recorded acoustic guitars and the French choir that has been recording with us since our first album there. The violins were done by Stephanie Valentin, who also did violins for us on our previous album. The rest of the material was recorded in Norway in Stavanger. It was mixed here but mastered in Finland.
xFiruath: How do you approach writing music and what do you normally do while writing?
Morten: Usually a song for me starts with a guitar riff. Usually I come up with the ideas on my guitar. I always have a guitar in my living room and very often I come up with riffs just while I’m relaxing or watching or movie or something. A good riff comes up and you just have to turn off the T.V. or whatever. I record the riff and look at it and see what I can do to improve it. I start doing layers and arrangements and coming up with new ideas that fit together and so on. Then usually I come up with the vocal melodies and the lyrics are usually the last thing I do.
xFiruath: What’s going on lyric-wise on “The Enigma of Life?”
Morten: I think I’m pretty much writing about the same things I’ve been writing about all along. I focus on the darker aspects of life. On this album it’s 12 individual songs and stories. It’s not a concept album or something like that.
xFiruath: Fill me in on the recording process for your music video of “The End of it All.”
Morten: We chose to go to Sweden, to Gothenburg, to make the video and we worked with Patric Ullaeus again, who did our last video. He’s a great producer and he’s been making videos for a lot of big bands. We are very confident in his work and we liked what he did with our previous video. We were totally into his idea and trust his work. We didn’t really ask any questions or anything and we just arrived in Sweden with our guitars and clothes and checked in. We had a short meeting with him and showed up at the set. We shot the entire video in one day and then we had one day extra to have some drinks. He’s a great producer and has a lot of experience, so he really knows his work and works very effectively. It’s a cool experience to shoot videos with him and it’s always fun.
xFiruath: What’s going on with your side project right now?
Morten: Yeah, I have my solo project Mortemia, which I released the first album last year. That’s something that lets me make music a little bit different from what I do with Sirenia. With our third album, I decided to take Sirenia in a way more melodic direction. I felt strongly there should be some changes. I wanted new challenges and to do certain things differently. I was more and more into melodic music. That’s the path we’ve been taking with Sirenia, but then after awhile I began to miss the old kind of music with a bit more intricate arrangements and the extreme vocals and that different expression. So that’s when I came up with the idea to form the project Mortemia so I could also put these ideas to life and express myself differently with another band. It feels really great now because I can work with all the melodic stuff with Sirenia and work with more extreme or old school stuff with Mortemia.
xFiruath: Where is Sirenia going out on tour and are you hitting any upcoming festivals?
Morten: We’ve already confirmed Wacken Open Air in Germany and Masters of Rock in the Czech Republic. We have some more festivals on the way we’ll announce pretty soon. After festival season we are likely going to tour Europe in October and then in November we head down to South America. We are also looking into the possibility of setting up something in North America, which may be by the end of the year or early next year, if it’s possible to do. For some reason it has been difficult to find the possibility to tour in the states and Canada. I know that the demand for this kind of music has been growing over there, but so far we haven’t made it over. I definitely hope we can make it over there with this album.
xFiruath: How have your tour dates been recently and have you had any interesting live shows?
Morten: We did a really nice South American tour and we also played in Romania for the first time, which was very special. We played a small town up in the Carpathian mountains. It was a magical place, it was like traveling to a totally different century. It was really beautiful and there were gothic old buildings. The festival itself was really good, there was like 10,000 people up there. It was pretty amazing.
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss?
Morten: I want all the fans in the states to know we are doing everything we can to make it over there for a tour. We’ve been wanting to do that for many years and we really hope it will be possible this year or next year.
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