Midnattsol has been riding the waves of symphonic, gothic, folk, and power metal since 2002. With the band's 16th year, they will be releasing their fourth album, The Aftermath, out May 25th through Napalm Records. While there has been lineup changes in the past, this release brings on possibly the biggest change with Liv Kristine joining the band to share vocals with her sister, Carmen Elise Espænes. I recently got to to send Carmen a few questions about everything you need to know about Midnattsol in 2018. Enjoy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
Carmen: Thank YOU for doing this interview and for your support, it means a lot to us! :)
For those that may not be familiar, how did Midnattsol begin?
Carmen: The band was founded in 2002 by our ex-member Christian Hector and I. I had just moved to Germany and had a huge wish to write songs together with other ones. Christian had many connections and friends in the business and contacted the first members of the band. We wrote the songs for our first album «Where Twilight Dwells», and to our huge surprise, Napalm records was at once interested in giving out our album, and from then on everything went very fast. Album, tour, concerts, interviews – suddenly I didn't recognize my life hehe! We got such overwhelming feedback from fantastic fans all over the world! And now, soon 4 albums later, many of our fans still support us, even after so many years, which are very grateful for.
With the band’s fourth album, The Aftermath, coming out 25th through Napalm Records, how does it feel to finally get this album out?
Carmen: I can`t describe how happy we are that we finally made it to finish the songs and bring out the new album! Thanks a lot to everyone who supported us through all these years and never gave us up, that means a lot to us <3 It is always an exciting time when you have the songs finished and are going to release them soon, you have this special feeling in your stomach and just want to show them to your curious waiting fans hehe ;) We are also proud of the fact that we are going to release a limited edition of vinyls. Hope the fans will like that too!
How did the songwriting process begin for The Aftermath?
Carmen: In fact that the song writing process was very inefficient. We had so many ideas and couldn't finish the songs, because we focused on different things and musical directions. We also had different ideas how the songs should be written. Huge private changes in our lives such as getting children, building houses, new work etc didn’t make it easier. All in all, the years went by, but luckily, our keyboarder and organizer Daniel early 2016 said: "Guys, now we need to finish these songs, it`s now or never!" And then we started going through all the material and ideas that we had (which were a lot), decided what we wanted to use and rewrite, and we wrote some totally new songs as well. And the process went very well this time and made a lot of fun! :) It`s cool to think about the fact that we are able to write songs together, even though we live in two different countries!
Of course with this new album, also comes an addition to the band lineup? How did this come to be?
Carmen: When it was clear that it was only Daniel, our Guitarist Alex and I left in the band, we needed some more musicians. Daniel asked his good friend and skilled Guitarist, bassist and producer Stephan if he wanted to join the Midnattsol family, and he fortunately wanted to and started straight away writing songs. Suddenly out of the blue my soulmate and the best sister you could imagine, Liv, called me and asked if she should join the band. I was so surprised and of course I wanted to, it was like a dream coming true! She has such a beautiful voice and been in the business for ages now hehe ;) It`s also great to have Michael Kapelle stepping in as our session drummer for the upcoming release shows in May, we are very grateful for his effort!
With that, how has the fan base been receptive to the news?
Carmen: Oh the response has been absolutely overwhelming! Stephan crossed our way before, so the fans know him already a bit, and the news that Liv got in was more than a good one, that really made the day for many fans. A lot of fans have written to us during these years that they wish that we two sisters share stage again, that we sing more Norwegian songs together, and also that we should do a whole album together. Now their wish finally came true! :)
How was the recording process for The Aftermath? Did it go smooth, was there any hiccups along the way?
Carmen: The recording process was completely different from the others, because we did it ourselves this time. Most of the time it was absolutely great. It's so practical and great when you have children, and you can go to your studio for a few hours instead of being away for days. It was also a total new experience to have the chance to record something many times till you were satisfied. Unfortunately, my daughter was a long time at the hospital, so for a while I couldn't record that much. But I decided that I wanted to make the best out of it, and with such understandable band colleges, we made it together. Of course, as it often happens, in the end it was a bit exhausting and we had to work many nights as well in order to get it finished. But as you can hear - it worked!
Upon many listens, I can definitely hear more Atmospheric and Folk elements shining through The Aftermath, compared to earlier albums. Was this intentional or did that come about naturally?
Carmen: I totally agree! There were folk elements on the other albums as well, but on our new album «The Aftermath» I definitely think it`s even more, and this is a direction where we definitely are heading more and more. I feel inspired by folk songs and tales, and I love learning more about the earlier days. We didn't have any restrictions when we were writing the album, just total freedom to let the creativity flow, so we sang and played things we haven`t done before. That was a fantastic feeling, I really loved writing the songs together with the other ones.
I also love how well paced the album is from top to bottom. The Purple Sky is a great opener, and Forsaken is such a great album closer (also included the bonus track Eitrdropar a completely solid emotional closer on those version of the Aftermath) how hard was it to decide the track order of the album?
Carmen: Wow, thank you so much for the compliments, glad you like it! :) This time it was not very difficult to decide the tracklist. There was only one song that I can remember, that we talked about, and it seems we finally made the right decision.
The Purple Sky and Herr Mannelig have been released as singles. How was it decided upon these two songs to represent the album in single form?
Carmen: To be honest, it was a bit harder to make the decision about the singles. We thought that many songs would be suitable as singles, especially the final song «Forsaken» or the folky song «Syns sang» would also be worth as singles as well. Finally, we agreed with our record company to take» The Purple Sky» and «Herr Mannelig». The fans can at least listen to «Forsaken» in our teaser, and who knows, perhaps we manage to make another video, in one form or another ;)
What has been the reception to the new songs so far?
Carmen: Both singles, «The Purple Sky» and «Herr Mannelig» are so far very well received by the fans. The album is varied musically; besides the a bit darker and more complex singles, you have emotional ballads like «The unveiled truth», folk songs like «Vem kan segla», «Syns Sang» and «Eitrdopar», and also more midtempo songs like «Ikje glem meg» and «The Aftermath» and last but not least an instrumental song. We hope you like the new songs!!
So what is next for the band?
Carmen: We are preparing for our two release shows on the 25th and 26 of May every spear minute hehe. We are so looking forward to it! Afterwards, we will continue the promotion process, perhaps rest a little bit, and then we are very eager to start writing new songs again. The goal is to make the next song writing process the shortest one in Midnattsol`s history ;) Next year, we want to present our new CD at festivals.
With being able to promote the new album in a live setting, what should people expect from an upcoming Midnattsol show?
Carmen: Both sister together in one show, together with great songs and a great line up....our record label calls it pure magic and depth - that we want to reach! Last but not least we want to have lots of fun together with our great fans, and perhaps enjoy a beer or two together afterwards J
Has there been any recent album releases you have enjoyed?
Carmen: hehe, in my dreams, right now I am only listening to our songs and the songs we are going to play on our release shows! I know it sounds weird, but as a full time teacher, mum to three children and a big house, I don`t have any spear time besides the music. I am also listening a lot to some folk and local songs I a going to perform this Saturday at a birthday party, for example the British folk song «Drink to me only with thine eyes» and a well known song here in our district called «Tirna Noir».
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan, it was awesome to be able to ask some questions and help promote The Aftermath coming out on May 25th. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Carmen: Thanks to you too, once again! One of the goals of this album is to bring out an important message, we have to wake up before it`s too late! I feel that we are heading in a total wrong direction. We are destroying ourselves, other people, the nature, the animals – the whole earth, and are focusing on our looks, material things, power and money. The cover, the title and the songs are connected together as in a circle, and should remind us of this message all in all together. We think that there will be consequences of our actions, we can`t continue like this forever!
Midenattsol- The Aftermath is available May 25th through Napalm Records