Interview with Ville Sorvali of Moonsorrow
Moonsorrow is very different then other Folk/Pagan metal bands in the genre, while they may not be giving us happy drinking songs, they have a strong and very distinct appeal that has made them a successful band. Following the release of their last album "Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa" Moonsorrow has been quite busy! I caught up with Ville Sorvali prior to the start of this years
Metalheim Festival where we talked about their first Asian tour, the new album as well as some ideology and what the Moonsorrow concert experience should be.
So this is actually our first interview with Moonsorrow, so why don’t you introduce and tell our readers a bit about yourself, and the band?
I’m Ville with Moonsorrow, we play pagan metal and that’s about it!
Ok, great! So you just got back from a tour in Asia, where you were the first western metal band in Northern China, how did that go, any thoughts on that?
Hmm that particular show was very interesting because obviously they didn’t have any western bands, I don’t even know if they’d had Chinese bands. From the technical view it was very challenging, In the end everything worked well and the show was simply amaxing. Most of those people had never seen a band in their lives, at least if they didn’t travel outside their hometown. So they went absolutely nuts and managed to destroy the mixing desk as well.
Yeah by spilling beer. It was a really cool party!
Well that’s got to be a pretty good feeling though! Did you find there was a language barrier there?
Well they don’t speak much English and certainly not Finnish.
It was very hard to get anything done, in our Chinese crew there were two people that spoke English and that’s about it. All the locals only spoke Chinese, and we had to have everything translated when we wanted to speak with the locals.
O wow. It’s very complicated then. Well on the subject of language, since we are an American website, not too many Finnish speakers. Would you mind to tell our readers a bit about the concept of the last album “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa”?
Yeah it’s a concept album about life after the end of the world. And it’s a survival story, or a non survival story, because actually at the end everyone dies. It’s a fictional thing I had in my mind, what would the world look like after most of the people are gone.
And it does evoke that imagery! If we were to go through a few of your favorite songs on the album, what would they be about? Metaphors, symbolism and whatnot.
Hm. Well my absolute favorite it the last song “Kuuolleiden Maa”, it’s somehow very personal and it’s the conclusion of the story there is only one person left and he realizes what he has done. In the previous song he has killed a lot of his own group because they all went insane and he is the only one left and he just wants to end his life as well because he realizes all the atrocities and he is the last surviving being of the whole mankind, so there is no future anyway.
It kind of brings to mind, the Donner party? Have you heard of that? The pioneers that got lost and resorted to-
O yeah! That one. I remember, and actually not the name, but that was also some inspiration for me to write the songs, I was also thinking about that. The people first start just eating the dead ones but soon after that they actually start killing eachother.
Panic and fear.
Well, there’s the songs, but also there were a few guest musicians on the album, can you tell us about them and the situation to include them?
Yeah, haha! Who did we have? Ah, Olli (Vänskä) was playing violin. And all I can say about his performance is that it was so natural. I don’t know if he rehearsed but he came to the studio, listened to every part once and played it right after flawless. It didn’t take much time. And other guests were some singers for the choirs. Mathias (Lillmåns) from Finntroll, Jaake from Crimfall and Janne who is our live guitar player was also in the choirs. Who else. Can’t remember!
Well in addition to musicans there were a lot of interesting sounds on the album, is that something you always think about when you are writing?
Yeah, As we say, it’s not only music. We’re trying to create a movie without picture.
Everything has its meaning.
On the subject of meanings, brings me to a question I ask a lot of Finnish Musicians. What does being Finnish mean to you?
Hmm! Everything and nothing! Finnish-ness is deeply rooted in my personality, and reflects everything I do. I don’t know, its probably made me a bit stubborn and a bit careful with other people, Americans like you might think its antisocial behavior but it’s really not. I’m a bit more reserved, and that’s how Finnish people are. I think we have an interesting past and I really admire the fact that the ancient people really used to coexist with nature. I really don’t admire the fact that modern Finnish people are just following the ways of consumerism.
That actually kind of leads me to my next question, In your opinion why are people following more Pagan ways and ideals, and leaving these mainstream religions for a return to older ways?
I think it’s that we are at a turning point kind of. A lot of people are getting fed up with the ways of living that’s being taught to them. There are lot of people who are fed up with this whole life that is only built upon consuming. People want to find something more spiritual and people are also getting fed up with mainstream religions because they are starting g to understand that they are very restricting. A lot of people realize now that being the year 2011 we can explain almost everything around us, and we don’t need Gods for that purpose.
There is no mystery anymore.
Yes, there is no mystery anymore and people have to realize that God or Gods were only invented because people wanted to explain what is happening and I think in a way if human history were in any sense to be rational it was meant that the Gods are forsaken when science develops.
It makes some sort of sad sense! So far as Pagan metal, what would you say sets Moonsorrow apart from other bands in this genre?
Ah, the usual boring answer would be that we are not that happy. Of course we are
as people, but the music is just not. It’s a lot harder to I don’t know, dance. And it also could be a bit more challenging to listen to, it’s a bit more complex then most of the folk metal bands around. I’m not saying we are better, but we are clearly different. And we were just kind of put into the same category because back in the late 90’s there weren’t that many band anyways. No one talked about folk metal. There was Finntroll, Ensiferum and Moonsorrow. That was it at that time. And I guess people just want to see a connection, because there is a connection. But they want to label us, I don’t mind, but we are clearly not at all similar to Ensiferum for example.
Certainly not. What do you want people to take away from a Moonsorrow show, or album?
Merch! No but seriously, I hope people get a complete experience. Like sinking deep into the other world when they are listening to the songs and of course meet a lot of people who think alike. I hope- no I don’t even hope: I know no one will leave this hall disappointed.
That’s for sure! Well, I have to say kiitos for interviewing with us!
Rachel Pappila has studied classical music and folk music at the University level, and enjoys studying Folklore in her spare time. She is an avid metal and folk music fan lucky enough to be living in Helsinki, Finland. Currently, she has expanded her love of music to include photography and freelance writing. You can see more of her photography here or at liliumphotography.com.
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