“I always wanted to be a metal vocalist but I finally realized my voice was not up for the task” – Interview with Evan from Symphony of Sweden

If you like your music soft and fragile then probably Symphony Of Sweden is not for you (on the other hand, if it would be the case, you probably wouldn’t be here). Coming from the North of Sweden with winter and ice bears all over the place, the music is the other way around. Grand and epic with huge arrangements, the missing link between pop and metal! Add the powerful voice of Linus “Lee” West and the creative talent of Pontus “Evan” Hagberg you will have a concept that brings you on a journey from here to eternity. Welcome to the musical world of Symphony Of Sweden! We will introduce the band in a two-part article series – check out our first interview with Evan (keyboards, background vocals, producer), who also talked about his past as a pop musician.

Beginnings:

As it happened we lived in the same small town up north in Sweden and Lee had its own little service point, betting shop, tobacco store nearby which also happened to be my local service point where I go to get my parcels. So after saying hello to each other for a couple of years but without knowing each other, so to speak, there was one day I had a parcel to get – which obviously was music-related as you could see a synthesizer picture on the box. Lee asked me if I also was into music. “Yes, I am,” I said and Lee replied, ”Music is my life” and looked me straight into my eyes. Wow, this guy really means it, I thought!

So Lee told me he was a singer, and looking at his tattoos on his arms I thought it must be in a slightly harder realm than I had been into, but if so it was a great thing as I had become really tired of my own voice. Looking for a stronger, higher, and more powerful voice I thought Lee would have the perfect voice, without even hearing it!

Photo: Martin Van Destru
Photo: Martin Van Destru

So I invited him to my studio and when he showed up a couple of days later, he had found one of my instrumental tracks on Youtube and sang it with a new melody on top and lyrics for me in the studio, right there when he just arrived! I was blown away, and a week later we had our first ever track produced and completed. Scream out for something!

We have seen each other for several years, but have known each other for less than one and a half. As soon he sang his first two words in the studio I wanted to work with him! And as Lee is haunted by melodies and lyrics torturing him every waking hour and maybe in his sleep as well, he really needs a person who can help him to organize and arrange the millions of ideas flying into his head and mind.

Behind the name:

Lee had an idea to have Symphony in the name as we both liked huge and epic arrangements. I had an idea of using my favorite word fire, and Symphony Of Fire would have been really cool but maybe a little bit cheesy, so it actually took a few months before I got the idea to add Of Sweden to the symphony, Symphony Of Sweden! It will give the impact of quality and a good and established brand somehow. (smiles)

Inspiration:

We are definitely inspired by life itself, many lyrics are based on true events, as they say in the movies! The sunset, the bright stars in the dark sky. The summer wind. The thunder and lightning. The power of love. The power from within your own heart. We try to stay completely away from politics. It is already said and done back in the 60s and 70s for good. Music should be everything but politics.

At the moment as we are not allowed to play live, we have plenty of time to work on new songs and for many of the new tracks, we are working with a great super talented metal guitarist to add more power and metal to the sound!

We are also working more closely with our drummer on the new tracks. From a technical view, we have invested in a lot of analog gear and trying to stay away from using plugins which are sounding way worse than their real analog counterpart when speaking of EQ and dynamics. We are trying to make the best album ever released both sound-wise and music-wise! If we then end up with the second or third best album ever, we should be proud anyway.

“Under your spell” – the story behind Evan’s pop career:

My first introduction to music was the Iron Maiden The Number Of The Beast album. I actually wished for a drum set from my parents that Christmas but I got a Casio Keyboard! So that led me to electronic music instead, like Depeche Mode.

However, I always wanted to be a metal vocalist but I finally realized my voice was not up for the task, so I had to sing in a more standard pop-way and so I did. I had some airplay on Swedish radio with some tracks, but it never took off outside Sweden or not that much within Sweden either, to be honest, however, I was in Sweden’s biggest tv-show called Melodifestivalen one time and it was a lifetime experience of course.
As then I started to get a bit tired of my own voice, so I was looking for another singer to start a new project with and my vision was initially to sound more like Imagine Dragons than metal, but we ended up as the missing link between pop and metal with our album Inner Demons. The next album will definitely be more metal though!

Photo: Martin Van Destru
Photo: Martin Van Destru

Football & healthy lifestyle:

Yes, I still play football but in low divisions far-far away from the Champions League. (laughs) I never thought about a football career as in very early ages I was pretty sure I would become a pop star! When I was 9 or 10 years old, I draw pictures of myself being on a huge stage with a great audience in front of me! I have also always loved big stadiums and have been dreaming to perform in stadiums. I have performed for 20.000 people a couple of times but only in indoor arenas or in open-air, like beaches and city parks. Still waiting for my first outdoor stadium gig!

Lee is not drinking alcohol at the moment, at least that is what he tells me. (laughs) Due to his voice. Alcohol is not great for your voice.

Lee is also very much into eating the right stuff and not too much and at the right times. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t eat cookies or cakes at all, never. And not very much alcohol either. I did one summer. I had to go to the hospital for heart trouble! (laughs)

We have just started the band so not that much fun has happened yet, the fun things happen on tour, right? Let’s wait a year for this question and we could write a full book of fun facts! (laughs)

Fun Facts

Cover photo: Sophie Knapp

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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