Let me show all my cards before you continue reading: I had the honour of interviewing three of my preferred Norwegian female vocalists of all time: Liv Kristine, Kari Rueslatten and, now, Vibeke Stene. I tried to do it twice, years ago, but it couldn’t happen.
Veil of Secrets is the perfect excuse to talk to a woman as kind as charming, and she’s that so, that Vibeke is very receptive to discussing other matters oblivious to his new band, such as Tristania and her activity in the theatre.
By Marc Gutiérrez
EMPIRE MAGAZINE (EM): How are Asgeir and you? Are you sane and safe from the Covid-19?
VIBEKE STENE (VS): We are safe and healthy, thank you. We enjoy a very cold winter as the snow brings light to this dark season. Ice on the waters and snow in the fields gives lots of possibilities for outdoor activities that makes us get through the restrictions due to the pandemic, a lot easier. Most time is spent indoors though, where we among other things rig in our studio to work with new material for Veil of Secrets.
EM: Now ‘Dead poetry is finally available. Are you satisfied with the reasult?
VS: Yes, me and Asgeir found a common expression we both love and want to keep. We created what we like, what pleases us, what we wanted and what we needed and stuck to the organic sound that makes that special vibration to us. I think Dead Poetry presents thorough and solid compositions.
EM: DoesI God of Atheists to Veil of Secrets have something to do with it?
VS: No. God of Atheists and Veil of Secrets are two separate projects. God of Atheists is Asgeir’s project which I guests.
EM: Firstly God of Atheists seems to had some great collaborators as Ihsahn, ICS Vortex and Trym. What happened with these guest appearences?
VS: Yes, it’s a nice bouquet of good and profiled musicians to God of Atheists. I wish for the project to get in port.
EM: Why did you choose Crime Records to release the album? With Asgeir background and your own, no biggest labels were interested in your project or maybe you wanted amore personal relation with the label?
VS: When none of the major labels showed their interest in our production, we found very good reasons for a cooperation with Crime Records. We communicate very well.
EM: What and how did you feel singing Doom Metal again?
VS: Our doom is guitarbased and strict but with a melodious contrast. It’s dark, sad and melancholic, but sometimes there’s a bliss of anger, light or even hope. We only use strings and drums and it gives the music it’s heaviness. We try to create an effect that crunch a little, that touches our inner strings. This doomed landscape allows me to express what music is to me and in me. It’s in the doom I relax the most and therefore have the most freedom to express myself as I wish.
EM: How was the composition process? Did Asgeir all the music and you wrote all the lyrics?
VS: When I got skeletons for a song from Asgeir, I listened until the music had become a part of me and while listening I formed a construction of the song. I always think my work should complete the songs. The mood Asgeir’s compositions set me in pretty much decides which melodies and style I choose, combined with the lyrics of course, that I find soothing.
EM: Why did you left your musical career back in 2007 after ‘Illumination’ saw the light?
VS: Well, I needed to rest, had to get used to silence, to be alone and not dependent on others and find back to my roots after many years of exposure.
EM: I think ‘Dead poetry’ sounds like Doom Metal in the 90’s. Is this the spirit you wanted for your album?
VS: Yes, I think Asgeir was influenced by Candlemass to make his doom before I proposed to him for a collaboration with his material as a basis. You can also find the link to this early doom when you look to the artwork of Dead Poetry.
EM: I think ‘Dead poetry’ is better every time you listen the album. Maybe is not an easy album, at least for me. Are you agree with me?
VS: Thank you, I’m glad. We wanted this; a product you need to listen to again and again.
EM: I think the best part of the album are “Meson” and “Entirety”! What an amazing way to close the album!!!
VS: Yes, Entirety is a depiction of finding good and what good to come. Both the music and the lyrics were made when me and Asgeir had decided to work together and it’s pointing forward to what comes next, how we work and what’s important to us in creating music.
EM: Now with Covid situation is really difficult to tour but would you like to do it? Would be any chance to meet you on stage when Covid alarm goes away?
VS: It is an essential part of being an artist, to convey live and feel the nerve that’s created on stage and between the artist and the audience. I really hope we get the chance to take VoS live!
EM: Is there any chance to play any stream concert to support the release of the album?
VS: I don’t think a stream concert could hit the nerve and I’m afraid we wouldn’t have the budget to arrange a production good enough.
EM: What happened with Tristania? Why did you left the band?
VS: I wanted to go back to Tristanias roots, not always hunger for new directions and experimentation. It was not always easy to cooperate on such a basis and not seldom there was an aspect of unprepared material when entering the studio. I mostly interpreted what others had composed, and so it ended up pretty stressful sometimes.
But Tristania was my life for ten years. The band was sort of my family and every choice of direction I had been taken, was due to the band. So when I left the band I was both revealed and afraid, and anger and sadness was never far away for many years. But I never regret my choice, I’ve always been proud of my strong will and my power to implement what I’ve decided.
I remember the feeling the day I knew that time of fear and anger had passed. What a relief! It felt so peaceful. I wish all my former band mates all the very best.
EM: I think you did important apparitions in the theatre last years as ‘Skammes Gissel’ (2015) and you did a monologue (2018). What can you tell me? Are you still playing in theaters?
VS: I have participated in four plays and if I get the chance to work in the theatre again, I will do so. I love to act and work in the theatre. It’s another way to play your body and voice as an instrument.
In three of the plays I’ve collaborated with the same screenwriter, Kai Erland, a friend of mine from my neighborhood. I first got very interested in a story he told me about a woman who fell in love with a german soldier here where we live, during the second world war. After the war she was punished by the locals and her hair was cut off and she left her young son to escape the mob. When she returned to our little hometown she lived the rest of her life with these traumas, in shame, locked in her house. I got fascinated by Erland who had placed a window in the middle of his living room, where he wrote down the story while looking through this window. We brought it to stage as the central prop to this claustrophobic play.
In another play by Erland, we portrayed the topic of child sexual abuse and in Kvinnemonologene by Stine Sandnes I did the monologue of a gothic girl. Kvinnemonologene is a play put together by several monologues based on Sandnes interviews with women. The monologues address different aspects of being a woman in today’s Norway, put up to make people reflect on the reality of others.
EM: A few years ago Liv Kristine + Kari Rueslatten + Anneke Van Giersbergen did a special tour together. Would you like to be part of a reunion like this one as a originators of a scene with some of these ladys?
VS: I honestly do not know. It would depend on the musical basis.
EM: Do you want to add something for your fans all over the world?
VS: I really hope that you stay safe and healthy, that you share your time with someone you love, that you dare and are able to stand up for your rights and that you get the chance to fulfill your dreams. I hope that you’re able to listen to Dead Poetry again and again and that it somehow touches you, that I may see you at a concert in the future and I hope I can bring you more music in the years to come.