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 Morten Interview with Heavy Metal Blog

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PostSubject: Morten Interview with Heavy Metal Blog   Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:34 pm

The latest release from the Norwegian gothic metal band Sirenia is The 13th Floor. It’s the first album featuring new female vocalist Ailyn, who was selected after an extensive worldwide search. Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Morten Veland gives us the scoop on the new album, the singer search, upcoming tour plans, his relationship with former bandmates in Tristania, and several other subjects.

Give us a preview of The 13th Floor.

Morten Veland: When it comes to the song writing for The 13th Floor, it has been done in the same way as every Sirenia album. I am still the composer of the band and I work alone when it comes to the composing aspect. The reason for this is that I write more personal stuff when I write alone. My experience over the years tells me that this is the way that works best for me. Composing is an intricate process that demands 100 percent of your dedication, focus and skills. Just having another person in the same room already compromises my focus.

This time I really wanted to make a diverse album that kind of reflected what we have done musically so far. I mean that there is material on the album that has strong parallels to what we have done on all our previous albums, in addition to some new stuff that the listeners might not have heard from Sirenia before. There’s a lot of variation in there, and it feels like taking three steps back and one forward in the same time.

My personal opinion is that there should be stuff on The 13th Floor that will please all our fans, whether they prefer At Sixes And Sevens, An Elixir For Existence or Nine Destinies and A Downfall. Furthermore, it’s also important for us to deliver better song material and better productions from album to album. We work hard to constantly improve ourselves as a band. I feel that we have achieved our goal this time as well, and my personal opinion is that The 13th Floor is Sirenia’s strongest album to date.

I know you don’t to get too specific regarding lyrics, but does the story continue the general lyrical themes of previous Sirenia albums?

I’m still writing about the same themes as I’ve done over the years, although I always try to improve my way of writing. I am still writing about life in general, especially the darker aspects of it. I mostly write personal and indirect lyrics. I like to disguise them with a lot of symbolism and metaphors. I like to write my songs in a way that the listeners have to use their brains to figure out the deeper meaning behind it all.

It’s been out for a couple months in Europe. What has the response been so far?

So far the response has been really good, both from the media and from the fans. I’ve seen a lot of people referring to The 13th Floor as the strongest Sirenia album to date.

What are your expectations for the U.S.?

I don’t know honestly. It seems that the interest overseas is growing with every album. But as we’ve never toured the States yet, I know we can’t expect too much. But we’ve wanted to tour the U.S. for a long time and I hope we’ll be able to do so very soon.

Take us through the process you went through to find a new female singer, and how Ailyn got the job.

We began searching for a new singer in November 2007. This was a process that took some time, about six months. We got a lot of applications for the singer’s position, more than 500 this time. So we definitely wanted to take our time and make sure that we made the best possible choice. We received applications from more or less all over the world, but at some point we decided that we had to focus on the singers from the EU region, due to practical reasons obviously.

When we began going through all the applications there were certain things we were looking for in a new singer. Obviously the most important thing is the voice. We wanted a great voice that matches perfectly with the band’s music. We wanted a singer with a great voice span, experience and with the capability of using her voice in various ways, always serving the song material in a best possible way. The singer also needed to have the skills and abilities to portray the feeling and atmosphere in each and every song.

Another thing that was important for us was to have a new singer that was dedicated and willing to give the band a high priority, and to put a lot of time into the bands activities. The personality is extremely important, we obviously needed someone who gets along very well with the rest of the band in order to make the cooperation run in a best possible way. And the final thing we were looking for was a singer with a cool image. This is important for every artist, especially if you are the front woman of a band. We have found all these qualities in Ailyn and we are positive that we made the right choice.

How does she differ from past Sirenia female vocalists?

I think she has her own sound and style, but like all the other Sirenia singers she is a modern style singer, not a classical one. She is definitely the singer with the biggest voice span and in my opinion the most complete singer in every way.

What are your upcoming tour plans? Sirenia hasn’t toured a whole lot during your existence compared to some bands. Do you plan on doing more touring in the future, or are there job and other obligations that limit how much you can go out on the road?

Morten Veland: We will start touring Eastern Europe in May, and then we’ll do some summer festivals and tour southern Europe. We are really motivated to tour a lot these days, so we’ll tour wherever we get the opportunity to tour. Hopefully this will include North and South America as well, although there are no specific plans at this point. Nowadays there is not much holding us back so we’ll play whatever show is thrown at us, as long as all practical and financial stuff is taken care of.

You just started using a live bass player. Did you sequence the bass live before, and why did you decide to hire Kristian Olav Torp?

In the past we were using a sequencer bass, but in the future we’ll try to use a session bass player for some shows. We would prefer to have a steady bass player in the band, but so far we decided not to due to financial reasons. Kristian O. Torp did a few shows with us so far, and maybe we’ll use him for some more shows in the future.

How did you get started in music?

In 1992 I started my first band together with a friend of mine. We used to call ourselves ‘Uzi Suicide’ at that time, but never released anything under this name. I’ve always been into music and always wanted to play in a band, but ’92 was the year I finally bought my first electric guitar and realized my dream.

Was there a song or album that inspired you to want to perform music?

In the very beginning I was really into Guns N’ Roses and Alice Cooper. Tthe albums Appetite For Destruction and Trash inspired me to get started. Melodic rock at its best in my opinion. So this was the kind of music we were performing at the start. A few years later I discovered the UK gothic scene, with bands like Sisters of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim and The Mission amongst others. I was really drawn to the melancholic and dark atmospheres they created with their unique style, and so I got inspired to take my own music in this direction.

When did you decide music would be your career?

I decided when I was 14 years old, then I began saving up for my first electric guitar. I had an acoustic guitar from before, put it was really crappy and almost impossible to play.

What have been the high and low points in your musical career?

I think the high points must have been to perform at Graspop Metal Meeting on the same bill as: Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith and Heaven and Hell amongst others. Regarding the low point I am not sure, there has been some over the years.

Do you feel any sense of competition or rivalry with your old band Tristania since you’re aiming for a lot of the same fan base?

No, not really. To be honest I am not too concerned with what Tristania or any other band is doing. I focus 100 percent on Sirenia and my own projects.

Are you in touch with any of your former bandmates?

Yes, Bjørnar Landa and Kristian Gundersen are still some of my very best friends. And I see them quite often, especially Kristian who is living in my neighborhood.

Who are some current artists you admire?

Leonard Cohen and Nina Persson.

What’s currently in heavy rotation on your MP3 player/CD player?

A lot of older stuff like The Doors, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Black Sabbath.

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