- - - - - -

Evig Natt Interview

Evig Natt Interview
May 14, 2016 (via Skype)

Evig Natt

2016 is shaping up to be a year in which long-dormant bands emerge from hibernation to introduce themselves to a new generation of metal fans. The Norwegian gothic doom band, Evig Natt (Norwegian for “eternal night”) returns from a six-year hiatus with their third studio album, Evig Natt. The album is something of a study in contradictions -- Kirsten Jørgensen’s clean vocals playing off against Stein Roger Sund’s growls, lush orchestral passages on some tracks with pared-down instrumental work on other tracks, hauntingly melancholy songs, and some might catchy choruses. Yet, despite the diversity of its tracks, the album hangs together as a cohesive whole, and reveals more of itself with repeated listens.

Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker rousted vocalist Kirstin Jørgensen for an early-morning chat about Evig Natt’s new album. Dive in for the exclusive peek at beastly musicals, what makes Kirsten feel most naked, the band’s upcoming video, and much more!

Sonic Cathedral:  Welcome to Sonic Cathedral, Kirsten! Evig Natt’s self-titled album came out in late March 2016. Would you tell us a little bit about it?

Kirsten:  Sure! It’s an album that has taken time. It’s an album that we’ve had a lot of time to tweak and to work with. But also, it’s a “we’re back” album, I guess. We have songs on the album that are four or five years old, and then songs that are a couple months old. (I’m not sure if that is recognizable on the album.) It’s a raw album and an emotional album, and it’s not very polished. <laughs> But with Evig Natt, not much really is anyway. It’s a diverse album, I’d say.

Sonic Cathedral:  When you were originally planning the album, the working title was In God I Grieve, which is one of the tracks on the album. Why did Evig Natt go with a self-titled album, which is more typical for a debut album than a third album?

Kirsten:  That’s true. Not a lot of people have picked up on that, wow. <laughs> As I said, it took six years for the album to actually start and finish. During the process, we changed a bit as well. In the end, with the songs that we wrote and decided to put on the album, we didn’t feel like In God I Grieve was the right title. It does describe a little bit of what we talk about and how we feel about religion, but it’s not descriptive of the album and the feel of the album as a whole.

The album is more about the emotion, the feel of things ... and I know it’s a bit cliché … but also about how life is treating you. We wanted for people to make up their own minds and to just listen to Evig Natt. Without a title track, there are no perceptions when they put the album on. It has been so long since we released an album anyway. “Where do we go? What do we do now?” It is like we are starting from scratch again, in a way. We aren’t really, because obviously we have lots of people keeping an eye out for us, waiting for us, and always staying in contact. That is amazing! Still we kind of felt like “oh, we’re back to scratch again. We’re this tiny band, but we’re just going to release this album, and have people decide for themselves what to name the album.” Maybe that’s why.

Evig Natt 

Sonic Cathedral:  On the album there are two songs (“Stille før Stormen” and “Svartsinn”) in your native Norwegian. Lyrically or vocally, do you tap into something different when you use Norwegian, rather than English?

Kirsten:  Yes, definitely. There are so many dialects in Norway that it’s a bit funny. I live on an island, and you can go from the south tip of the island to the north tip … and it’s not a big island … and you have differences in the dialects. I think that has a lot to do with the geography of the country. We have mountains separating us, but not on this island though. We were separated into different societies on different mountain tops, if you like, so they developed their own twangs all over the country.

We are a coastal town on an island, so we’ve had a lot of influences coming in with the shipping industry, and have a very “singing” dialect. People think we sing and ask questions all the time when we talk. It’s like: “It sounds like you’re constantly asking a question.” So it kind of feels natural to use my Norwegian dialect on our songs, if it flows. It is difficult to write in Norwegian because it makes me feel very naked. Our language is not very floral, and it’s direct and full on. Obviously, if you’re a really good poet, you can play with all the words. But when I write, I write what comes from the heart, and I write what is in my mind. It just goes down on paper as is.

A lot of the lyrics are very personal, so that’s why I don’t always write in Norwegian. But as I said, my dialect works really well with songs and music. Sometimes, it comes natural. I’ll start writing and think: “Oh, this is a Norwegian song!” <laughs> So, that’s what happened with “Svartsinn”. It’s an expression that means you’re in a very dark state of mind, like depression. The line just came to me, and it was like: “Oh wow, I didn’t think this one would be Norwegian, but obviously it is.” Norwegian is very different than English -- it’s full on, it’s naked, and you can’t hide behind picturesque words. English is a lovely language because you have so many escape routes.

Sonic Cathedral:  I’m surprised that you feel more naked and vulnerable writing in Norwegian, when the vast majority of listeners don’t understand it. I would think a lot more people understand your English lyrics.

Kirsten:  Of course, and that’s a very good point. I guess it feels very personal using my native tongue, although my English lyrics are just as personal. I am always describing some life event or someone who is very close to me or something that happened in my life, so you can actually learn a lot about me if you analyze the lyrics. Obviously, I do sugar-coat some things here and there. But the start is always something from me, and then it develops. I really like writing in English, and I didn’t think I would ever write Norwegian songs. But then it just happened, and they are songs we’ve had a lot of positive feedback for as well.

We don’t always put out translations -- we have with some lyrics, but not all. People seem to like them. Even though they can’t always understand the words, I think they totally get the emotion in the song though. Words are one thing, but when you let people in on what you really feel, it can get intense. Maybe that’s why. I have never thought about it in the way that you asked the question, because most people obviously don’t understand what I’m singing about.

 Evig Natt

Sonic Cathedral:  If memory serves, you met your husband Tom at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Would you tell us about your experience studying music in the UK? You were very far from home, both geographically and culturally.

Kirsten:  Oh, I’m going back now! <laughs> I have maybe not always been different, but I’ve FELT different. I have a few really good friends who are very close to me, and I could probably count them on one hand. They know me better than I do. I come from a very, very small town, and obviously I’m going to stand out when I walk around town like the Woman in Black. I kind of had my gothic period, where I always dressed in black and had a little coffin for a handbag. I was like “grrrrrr”, being the mad little girl. <all laugh> So people look at you differently, and I felt different. I didn’t quite fit in at school either. Well, I blended in, was social, and enjoyed being out with people; don’t get me wrong. I don’t know if you can relate to it, but something was kind of different anyway.

Sonic Cathedral:  Absolutely.

Kirsten:  That kind of continued throughout my entire school time, even in music college where I thought: “Oooooh, a lot of like-minded people; I’m going to thrive here!” But it still felt like it was just me against the world. I guess I have a huge interest for metal music and rock music, and most of my classmates didn’t get it. They did their folky, funky, jazzy thing, and I was set on my metal/rock thing that I wanted to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate my music college education because I got to do all the classical training. To have that in my luggage is obviously gold. It developed my technique singing-wise, but I was like: “Why do I have to sing just classical songs, and do all this shit. I don’t want to do this. It’s not me!” <all laugh> My teacher wanted me to sing “I Feel Pretty” from some fucking horrible musical.

Evig Natt 

Sonic Cathedral:  <laughs> The image of you flouncing around singing that beastly song is pretty hilarious!

Kirsten:  Obviously, I protested, and I did my band instead. The person who did my exam gave me a higher score on the things that were mine than on the things that weren’t mine, which was very satisfying for me. It gave me a hint I should trust myself more. I took a year off, did my own thing, and then applied for the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts … ugh, that’s a mouthful … and got in, after auditioning first.

When I went from this little island and landed in Liverpool, I was scared shitless. <laughs> I was this little farm girl, if you like. (I don’t actually live on a farm, but the city people all call us “farmers”.) I felt like I came to this huge metropolis of culture, art, dirt and crime, where I couldn’t understand a word of what they said because they speak Liverpuddlian. <speaks gibberish in a British accent> They “sing” like us western Norwegians … they really do sing like us … and sometimes they have the same words too, but I was like: “Whoa, how am I going to make it through here? How is this going to go?”

I moved into my little student home with my flat mates, went to uni the first day, and during that first day in LIPA, I finally understood that I could do my own thing here. I could do exactly what I wanted to do, and my classmates did not necessarily need to be like me. I felt like I had all the opportunities in the world to develop and be the artist I wanted to be. No one was going to hold my hand, and guide me through uni. You have to do your own thing in LIPA. In addition to the set curriculum, you had to figure out what kind of path you’d want to go down. LIPA had so much to offer, and I wanted it all. I wanted to play in a band; I wanted to record; I wanted to go out and play gigs in Liverpool. So, this whole new world opened up, and I settled in a bit.

Quite randomly, I met [my husband] Tom. In Liverpool, you even have clubs that play metal, and that was TOTALLY new to me. Here, you don’t get that kind of thing. Obviously, we have pubs and things playing rock music, but you don’t get huge clubs that are just metal, where you can go dancing to metal. It was just this whole new world! I met Tom, who told me that they were auditioning singers. He didn’t actually say “oh, you should try out”, but I was like: “You should try me. You should have me try out.” He was like: “Well, yeah. We could do.” <laughs> I was like: “I’m really good. You should have me, you should try me.”

 Evig Natt

Sonic Cathedral:  Good on you for being bold!

Kirsten:  I decided to not bring my Norwegian shyness -- it won’t get you anywhere, and no one is going to know what that’s about in England anyway. Don’t go there, and say “sorry” for being there. Just go there, and say that you can do shit. Say that you’re good at what you do, and maybe it will get you somewhere. So, I told Tom: “Well, I can sing. I’m a good singer, just try me out.” A few months went by, and Tom contacted me about a try-out. My metal band journey started there, and it’s just continued from there on … well, with me and Tom and school-wise. I started Evig Natt with Stein right before I went to uni, and we were still a studio project at the time working on tracks when I was home during holidays. We didn’t have a record contract yet then, so I was more active with Reism in Liverpool at the time.

During my time in Liverpool I realized that it’s okay to be myself and to sound like me. I decided then that I wasn’t going to hang out with all the Norwegian people and speak Norwegian. (I can do that when I’m home in Norway.) Instead, I wanted to meet new people, play in a metal band and write my music -- not twiddle about on stage singing “I Feel Pretty”. I have always been open-minded to being part of other projects like blues, and jazz, and all of that, but I always fall back into the metal thing because that’s what I love. I guess when I moved away, a whole new world opened, and I grew an incredible amount. I guess I grew up a little bit … even though I’m not AT ALL grown up. <all laugh>

Sonic Cathedral:  Did you struggle at all with the choice between staying in the UK or returning to Norway?

Kirsten:  Yeah, I did in a way, but I also saw that I was not happy there anymore. I missed having my network of family and friends. I also saw that we had great work opportunities at home. In LIPA you usually have that little protective bubble around you and lots of talented people right there at your disposal. It’s so easy. And then when you graduate, you’re left to your own devices. Still in Liverpool, and I had to find a job to make a living and continue developing as an artist on my own. I did that -- I played a lot of gigs, and traveled around with Reism. But in the end, I felt like I wasn’t going to settle down in Liverpool, and I wanted to have a base of my own where I could work from. I felt like I was kind of wasting time in Liverpool in a way, and things were starting to happen with Evig Natt back home too.

If we got home, I could find … or rather, we could find, because obviously I had Tom by then … we could find better jobs, and continue Reism in Norway. There is just something about this place that I really missed, and I didn’t have any friends in Liverpool anymore. Everyone had moved away, and started on their own little paths. So, I felt like I had to come back home, and surround myself with friends and family again to feel like I could continue with me and my music. I guess I felt a bit uprooted in Liverpool in the end and wanting to move on.

A year before we moved home … and maybe that is what triggered the whole thing as well … we were invited to play the Karmøygeddon Festival with Evig Natt. My drummer, Harald Magne Revheim, is also one of the people who organize the Karmøygeddon festival, and they were lacking a sound engineer. He had heard that my boyfriend was a sound engineer, so he was asking: “Could you just bring him over? We can see if it all works out, and if he’d like to help us and work the festival.” I was like: “Yeah sure, that would be great!” So we went over for the Karmøygeddon festival in 2008.

Tom worked the whole festival, and they had never been so pleased about a sound engineer before, so they said: “We’re going to have to have you back next year too.” The guy they hired to do all the sound for the festival said: “If you ever decide to live here, we’ll definitely sort you out with work. Don’t worry about that.” We saw it as an opportunity for us to move to Norway because we could definitely have a better quality of life here and still do music.

I mean, it doesn’t matter where you are today, if you want to do music. The world is so small with all the social media, internet, and travel opportunities. So we saw that we had an opportunity for a better life here. Tom is thriving in his work—his living is being a sound engineer, and he was struggling in Liverpool because the pay is so bad. You can’t live off it, and you have to have several other jobs too.

 Evig Natt

Sonic Cathedral:  Speaking of festivals, how excited is Evig Natt to be at this year’s Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium?!? Yay!

Kirsten:  Exactly, YAY! We are really excited, and are so much looking forward to it. It is going to be amazing. We have wanted to play this festival for sooooo long. Metal Female Voices Fest is the biggest and best when it comes to showing off the women in metal, and it is such an honor to get picked amongst all the talent out there. I have to hand it to the festival organizer Helcanen Val and her crew for putting on this gem of a festival with such great success year after year. I can appreciate how much hard work goes into it, and without this festival, I think us women, rocking out in the metal scene, would have a harder time getting heard. So, it’s just an awesome festival for us to do.

Evig Natt will have the opportunity to show everyone who we are and what we do. I’m not sure everyone realizes what Evig Natt is about, and we really want for people to know who we are and that we’re here. We’re like; “Try us out! We want to show what we can do, and that we CAN do this if you just give us a chance.” So, we are really excited. This is the biggest thing we’ve done so far and we’re so pleased with that. It is just going to be amazing! We’re all like “woo hoo”!

Sonic Cathedral:  With three full-length Evig Natt albums, how are you going to choose your set-list for Metal Female Voices Fest?

Kirsten:  We are going to have to start seriously thinking about that because our songs aren’t the typical three-minute songs. Some of them are long works, so it’s really hard. We have been out on our Facebook page, asking our listeners, fans, and friends: “If you could put together your dream Evig Natt set-list, what would you like us to play?” Then we can play what people want to hear ... but everyone seems to have their own set of favorites. There are a couple of songs that seem to be all-time favorites like “Nemesis of Heart”,” Darkland” and “How I Bleed”, so that part is easy. But then, it’s just so diverse of what people are saying they would like to hear. I’m gonna take that as a very positive thing. But asking our listeners and fans has given us a little pointer in what direction we should go.

It’s hard because we have three albums; our songs are five, six, seven or ten minute songs even; and we can’t just choose whatever we want from all the albums. I think we need to focus a little bit more on the new album. Hopefully, maybe just maybe, MFVF will ask us to do some acoustic songs on the Friday. We would LOVE to do that. We could play a whole other set of songs in that setting, but we’ll just have to wait and see if we’re invited for that.

Back to the core of your question, I think we’re going to have to play a couple of new songs; we’ll probably throw in one from I Am Silence, and maybe one from Darkland as well. There are some songs that we can’t not play.

 Evig Natt

Sonic Cathedral:  From the standpoint of being a metal fan, which bands are you especially looking forward to seeing live at MFVF?

Kirsten:  To be honest, there are a lot of new bands to me at the MFVF this year, which is exciting. I have seen Tristania before, and they’re amazing live. I’ve seen Leaves’ Eyes, but that’s changed, so it will be cool to see Leaves’ Eyes now and how they are going to do. I am excited to see Liv Kristine’s set. I haven’t seen her as a solo artist, so that will be very fun and good to see. Then, I’m just going to enjoy watching and meeting a lot of new bands that are not known to me yet. Hopefully, I will just explore and find new favorite bands.

I love metal bands with a female voice, but recently I’ve mostly been listening to the males and their melancholic doom or heavy, hard music. Lately, it’s been Rotting Christ, Swallow the Sun, and those kinds of bands, and so I haven’t really explored the women of metal that much the past few months. Does that sound really wrong?

Sonic Cathedral:  Nah. MFVF will be a perfect opportunity to discover some new bands to fill your iPod and fall in love with. Today is the first day of filming for Evig Natt’s upcoming video. Can you give us a sneak peek?

Kirsten:  I can definitely tell you about the plans for it. We are going to film a video for the song “Wildfire” off the new album. It’s probably the least metal song on the album, but it has this exciting lift in the end. We just felt like it would be a good song to move forward with, and to film a video for. Again, it’s a very personal song to me, and I wrote it about someone that I love. Obviously, not in a husband/boyfriend way, but someone who is a really, really good friend of mine. It is someone whom I wish all the best in life, and when something finally works out for that friend, you’re just really happy and pleased that it does. I wrote the song from my friend’s perspective and tried to express the longing for something/someone this person had in his/her life. I guess that’s the basic storyline.

We start filming this evening and are filming throughout the night. We want to do something else with the video. We are not going to have the “band lined up in the forest playing” thing going. It is going to be a story about someone who is searching for something. In the end, they might find it, or they might not find it. It is the audience’s “job” to figure out what they think about it, and what conclusion they draw is their own. It might have a Nordic feel to it, and I don’t want it to be polished or glossy. It is not going to be a video of me going “oooo oooo ooooo” in the camera. It is going to be a soft and darker video.

We just want to challenge our fans a bit: “Oh, what’s that? How can I interpret that? What happened?” I want for people to think for themselves. I don’t want the video to take over the song; I want the song to be the main thing. This might sound wrong as well, but we’re just going to put some nice imagery with it. People can listen to the lyrics, make up their own minds what it means to them, and draw their own conclusion about what happens in the end. They can get their imaginations going, and make up their own story. I just like to have them involved. It is not going to be a full-on band video. We’re trying something different.

Evig Natt 

Sonic Cathedral:  I look forward to seeing the “Wildfire” video. Kirsten, thank you for getting up at the crack of dawn to talk with Sonic Cathedral!

Kirsten:  No problem at all. I’m wide awake now!

Many thanks to my metal brother Eric Eaton for introducing me to Evig Natt’s music!


Photo credit (live and promo pictures): Jørgen Freim

Evig Natt official site: http://evignatt.com
Evig Natt on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/evignattband