Seven years after their last release, Midnattsol are back. “ The Aftermath“ is their reflection on what happened in all those years, on their maturation in both music and personal life and – at the same time – introduces the new band members who fortify the spirit within the band. For the first time the Espenaes sisters are both full members of the same band and this is something we can only celebrate. And for the first time in Spain, we bring them both together in this interview.
By Marc Gutiérrez
Translation: Marc Gutiérrez / Anna Finke
Interview Spanish edition: http://empirezone.es/2018/05/18/entrevista-con-midnattsol-version-en-espanol/
Reseña de “The aftermath”: http://empirezone.es/2018/05/15/midnattsol-the-aftermath/
EMPIRE MAGAZINE (EM): It’s been some months since our last interview. How do you feel? How are things going at home? I know that you are a new woman with a new life, that you are your own boss now and that you have finally found TRUE love!
LIV KRISTINE ESPENAES (L): Thank you, my family is doing really well! When doors have to close, many more will open. Leaving past behind, however, learning from experience has always been my path, moreover, I have found strength and clarity for myself day by day since I had to start all over again 2,5 years ago. Life hasn’t been better and I embrace every day whatever it adds to my diary. I pay more attention to my own inner voice and needs. I have a much stronger voice now, I am my own boss, and I wish to share my experience with others. I am working on a work shop to help and inspire others to strengthen their own voice and to open up for new possibilities in the here & now. It was time to realise that I actually have to put myself first and that it’s ok to say “no” sometimes. My family have found a new home and yes, I have found true love. For me, and the man I will share my life with, true love is anchored in friendship, a positive feeling towards life in general, some shared interests as well as a common perception and understanding of values, worth, freedom, honesty and empathy.
EM: Let’s talk about Midnattsol since this project is the very first one with you and your sister. Yes, you performed together on stage and she did some contributions for Leaves’ Eyes but Midnattsol is a real project. How do you feel about working with your sister in the same band?
L: Since we performed „I Am Free“ on stage in Wieze, MFVF 2016, we both knew that the future will bring more possibilities for us as sisters in music. That was a magic moment. Carmen said on stage, introducing me, “Remember, Liv, you are always free!” I was moved to tears. It is a revelation to join Midnattsol and Carmen and I have always given each other strength and security. As I heard some of the new tracks including lyrics of “The Aftermath” in Autumn 2017, I thought “I wish to be a part of this”. The album had a very important message for Carmen and also for me personally. Whoever hurt others intentionally will have to take the consequences of his misdeeds and criminal or bad acts. Moreover, I believe in Karma and Karma is everywhere.
EM: Where do you feel more comfortable while singing? Is it gothic music as in Theatre of Tragedy, more epic music as in Leaves’ Eyes or more folk as in Midnattsol?
L: I love the freedom to move within the whole spectrum of music! It’s all about freedom in creativity and finding the right expression. Next to my own bands, you have heard me performing music by Louis Armstrong, classical compositions of Ave Maria and Pie Jesu, as well as doing duets with various artists and bands from John Kelly, Maite Itoiz, Tanzwut and Cradle of Filth. I just want to feel comfortable when I sing, with what I sing and with whom I am working.
EM: Midnattsol have always had only one vocalist, Carmen. Why did you choose to include a second voice in the band?
L: We have different singing voices, however, we complement each other in a way that only sisters can. There is that special energy.
EM: Midnattsol were on a hiatus for more than five years. What happened? Were you having personal problems or maybe some musical differences?
CARMEN ELISE ESPENAES (C): First of all: Thank you so much Marc for doing this interview, your work and support mean a lot us <3 There are many reasons and it`s a bit complicated to explain everything in detail. But I would say that the main reasons are huge privat changes in our lives such as having children, building houses, new jobs etc and the 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 different musical directions. We also had different ideas on how the songs should be written. All in all, the years went by, and I started to focus on my other Norwegian band SAVN. But it was never the wish of ending Midnattsol, it is my musical baby and will always be, no matter what happens. I can’t describe how happy I am that this is now the past and that we finally made it to finish the songs and soon 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!! [infobox title='LIV KRISTINE'] I love the folk sound on “The Aftermath”! It is delicately present and underlines our love for folk influence and cultural heritage (...) Folk tales is something that is very important in Scandinavian cultural history. And yes, it is also a part in Carmen and my heritage.[/infobox] EM: Maybe Folk elements are more present than ever with songs as “Herr Mannelig” o “Eitrdropar”? Do you agree with me?
C: Yes I agree! There were folk elements on the other albums as well, but on our new album «The Aftermath» I think it`s even more, and this is a direction where we definetly are heading more and more. I feel inspired by folk songs and tales, and I love learning more about the earlier days. I think the song «Forsaken» is also quite folky, and this is my absolute favorite on the album. It was written by our Guitarist Alex , who also loves folk songs.
L: I love the folk sound on “The Aftermath”! It is delicately present and underlines our love for folk influence and cultural heritage, however, it is not always constantly dominant in the sound of every track. Folk tales is something that is very important in Scandinavian cultural history. And yes, it is also a part in Carmen and my heritage. We were born at that place named Hafrsfjord where it’s said and written by Snorri Sturlason that Norway was united for the first time by Harald (I) Hårfagre in the year of 872. “Eitrdråpar” and “Syns Song” are two songs for which Nordic mythology plays an influential role.
EM: “Herr Mannelig” is a very popular song for a cover… In your opinion, what’s special in the Midnattsol version of that song? Haggard, In Extremo, Tibetréa, Alsuna, Othalan all did a cover in the past…
C:EM: What can your fans expect from “The Aftermath” and what was the first feedback from the fans?
L: The feedback from the fans has been overwhelming! After the loss of my own band, Leaves’ Eyes, which is unfortunately not in my hands anymore, I couldn’t feel more at home joining Midnattsol. The “Aftermath” has a fine and important message and a very special and good energy, and our supporters all over the world seem to recognise and appreciate this. We feel a strong connection to our fans and their voice and opinions are important to us.
C: 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. 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.
Musically you have emotional ballads like «The unveiled truth», folk songs like “Vem kan segla“, “Syns Sang“ and “Eitrdopar“, darker and more complex songs like “The purple sky“ and the cover “Herr Mannelig“, 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!! ☺
EM: There are folk elements on the album but I think this album, at least the four songs I’ve been listening to so far, is more melodic than “Nordlys” but maybe it is the logical step forward from “The Metamorphosis Melody”. Do you agree with me?
C: Yes I agree with you! Beautiful melodies are the most important for me when it comes to music, in order to feel the music, what it is really about, the message, the atmosphere aso. It makes me so happy when ideas of touching melodies come up, then I really feel alive.
EM: For the very first time Carmen and you are together on a magazine front cover. What does it mean to you?
L: Norwegian Metal sister power! I actually went to the kiosk and bought three copies of “Orkus“ for my family.
C: It means indescribably much to me to be on the cover together with my soulmate <3 I think that represents our love, musical and personal connection and sister power, and I guess I will frame it when I get a copy of it ;) [infobox title='LIV KRISTINE']Thinking back, my solo albums have been a medium for me to communicate about my own experience, dreams, hopes, ups and downs etc. in my life. When I sometimes sing or read my lyrics today, I realise how direct they are. They surprise me, even if I wrote every word myself at some point in my life history, because they are unpolished and raw from the soul. My expression has become more direct album by album.[/infobox] EM: Are you planning a tour with Midnattsol? At the moment you have confirmed only the release show.
L / C: We are working on it, especially shows at festivals. It’s not that easy to organise with kids and fulltime jobs besides the music, but as the time goes by, it will be easier. We are so looking forward to the upcoming shows – finally we can meet our fans face to face and show the new songs!
EM: It seems that 2018 will be one of your best years in the music industry… The album with Midnattsol, solo shows and maybe your solo album. Can you give us and your fans some more details about your schedule?
L: Absolutely! It’s only a few days until the Midnattsol album will be released. My demos are ready to be recorded, I will release my sixth solo album as soon as my record label is ready. I can’t wait to play these songs live and to get my new songs out to my fans. I have some upcoming shows for Russia and Europe later this year. I’ve also had interesting enquiries concerning duets. More good news: This year The Sabbathian will release their album, on which I am joining my friend Anette in duets.
EM: What about your new album? At which point of the process are you now (recording, writing lyrics, working on demos…)? Please tell me something that you haven’t told to the media yet.
L: As mentioned above, I have my demos ready. It will be a pure metal album, following in the veins of „Vervain“, however, some tracks will be heavier, some more doom oriented. I love doom metal, I love strong melodies, I love the freedom to let the energy flow in the vocal arrangements. My new compositions offers a lot of space for magic, dream-like vocal lines and the build-up excellent tunes. I have some special guests in mind, so yes, there will be duets. Thinking back, my solo albums have been a medium for me to communicate about my own experience, dreams, hopes, ups and downs etc. in my life. When I sometimes sing or read my lyrics today, I realise how direct they are. They surprise me, even if I wrote every word myself at some point in my life history, because they are unpolished and raw from the soul. My expression has become more direct album by album. I am lucky to have found a way in processing my emotions and inner voice through music and painting. I encourage everyone to express themselves through art. This will strengthen your inner voice. This is something I would like to tell you about and share with you in my future work shops. I welcome you all to join in!