“We always try to bring something new and fresh to the table with every Sirenia album” – Exclusive interview with Sirenia

I was really excited when I heard that Sirenia will drop out a new album. It’s not a secret, that I’m a huge fan of the band, and I took every opportunity to see and hear them live. However, it seems that I won’t have this chance anytime soon, but the new album definitely compensates me. Riddles, Ruins & Revelations dropped out exactly one week ago, and prior to its official release, we had a chance to chit-chat with the band about the new album, and Morten even answered some questions sent by our Instagram followers as well. Get ready and dive into the magical world of Sirenia!

Riddles, Ruins & Revelations is Sirenia’s 10th studio album. How do you feel about this milestone?

Morten Veland: It feels great to have finished this album, especially considering the situation that we all find ourselves in at the moment. At the same time, it is very frustrating that we are not able to go on tour and promote the new album live. After a long studio session like this, we are always craving to hit the road and play concerts. It always feels great to add brand new songs to the setlist as well. And it always feels great to meet up with our fans and crew again.

When I was listening to your new material, I felt that this is very diverse compared to your previous works. Was this intentional, or in other words: how much was it a conscious decision?

Morten Veland: We always try to bring something new and fresh to the table with every Sirenia album. And so far I feel that we have been able to do so, in my opinion, every Sirenia album sounds different and unique. The new one is definitely no exception, I think we have made an album that sounds quite different from any other band out there today. At the same time, we always try to keep the basics of our musical concept. We always want the listeners to hear that this is Sirenia.

I wanted to do a comparison, and after Riddles, Ruins & Revelations I listened to Sirenia’s very first album, At Sixes and Sevens. Morten, I definitely noticed that back then we heard much more of your vocals, and on the new album I barely heard your voice. Is there any specific reason behind that?

Morten Veland: The growling vocals have been a part of our music from the very beginning, on some albums it has been quite dominant, and on some albums quite absent. It has differed a lot through the years, from album to album. The 2 first albums definitely had a lot of my vocals, and on the last releases it has been less it seems. I always add the type of vocals that feels right for the music, the vocals need to serve the song in the best possible way.

When exactly did you start to work on Riddles, Ruins & Revelations, what was the biggest challenge, and how much did COVID-19 affect the working process? 

Morten Veland: I began the writing process for the album right after we finished the recording sessions for Arcane Astral Aeons, and the composing and writing process went quite smoothly this time as well. It was in late March when we were about to begin the recording sessions for the new album that things began to become complicated. Just a few days before Emmanuelle was supposed to fly into Norway to record vocals the pandemic hit with full force in Europe, the travel restrictions came into action and her flight was canceled. We re-booked it several times, but it always ended up being canceled again, then she was finally able to come to Norway to do the recordings. After the pandemics broke out it was really hard to plan anything, we never really knew what the situation would be like the next week, so it was challenging to adapt to the situation at all times. In the end, our album was postponed for something like six months. So it definitely feels great to finally release the new album.

Basically, you are a pretty active band, you were almost always on the road… How do you cope with the current situation? 

Morten Veland: It is hard and frustrating, that’s for sure. It feels like we are robbed of a huge part of our lives. Can’t wait to finally be able to tour and travel again.

Nils, if I know well you’re working as a nurse. How was the last year for you, how did you keep successfully the balance between music and your civil work? And how does your cat, Tobias cope with the fact that you spend more time at his house?

Nils Courbaron: Yes, you’re right! Before becoming a professional guitar player, I was a nurse in a surgical bloc full time. 2020 was a chaotic year for all of us. When the current crisis hit, I made the choice to go back to work at the hospital in the intensive care unit. Honestly, in the beginning, every day was a mess… Nobody knew how to manage the infected patients. For the first two weeks, the health advisors said something which became the opposite thing to do the two weeks after, etc… It was really stressful.
I contracted COVID-19 in April but I “only” lost the sense of smell and taste, which is horrible for me because I love food, (laughs) but I mean when you compare to the people on ventilators who spent 2 weeks in a bed in the intensive care unit, it was ok.
Besides that, I tried to keep posting as much as possible, videos, songs, pictures, etc… Without touring, social media is the only place for an artist to keep sharing his stuff with the fans. I made some cool collaborations with artists around the world that you can see on youtube and started new projects. I’ve to say that I’ve been very busy if I did it with success… I don’t know, tell me your thoughts. (smiles) Let’s hope that 2021 will be better. I can’t wait to hit the stage again! 
I think Tobias was really happy to spend more time with his favorite slave. More food, more hugs, and playtime! What else?! (laughs)

Which song was emotionally and/or technically the toughest one and why?

Morten Veland: We always put the same kind of dedication and effort into all the songs, I can’t recall any songs sticking out or being harder to produce than the others.

Emma, this is your 3rd album as the lead singer of Sirenia. How do you feel about that? And what was the biggest challenge to you during these 5 years? And what was your very favorite moment?

Emma ZoldanI feel very excited about this new album release. That’s an album I love a lot, probably the one I love the most among all Sirenia albums, for its variety and its new artistic direction, more fresh and modern. We have taken great pleasure to make it and we can’t wait to finally share it with our fans. The biggest challenges for me have been to preserve my voice while touring, to face lack of sleep or viruses sometimes, to resist physically to a hard pace of work. My favorite moments have definitely been interacting with the crowd on stage everywhere in the world, traveling, discovering new countries, different cultures, environments, food, spending nice moments on tour with the band, and make friendships with the other bands on tour.

I noticed that there’s a cover song on the new album. Why did you choose to cover Desireless’ Voyage Voyage?

Morten Veland: It is one of my favorite songs from the eighties, and probably one of the songs that we have played the most on our tour bus over the last 4-5 years! It felt natural to do a cover version of it at this point. I also could easily visualize how to put Sirenia’s sound and stamp to the song.

What was the main inspiration when you were working on the new album?

Morten Veland: Life in general and the Norwegian winter has always been my biggest source of inspiration.

After the first song from your upcoming album, Addiction No. 1 came out I saw very mixed reactions in the comment section about the new sound.

Morten Veland: We made a very unfortunate mistake and put the wrong audio master to the first digital release, so the audience got a wrong first impression of the song and album. We have now exchanged to the correct master on all tracks, and we can’t seem to have noticed any complaints after that.

Questions from Instagram:

@perilsofthedeepbluesea : How did the lack of choir impact the writing of the album? Did they find a workaround?

Morten Veland: We decided to go with Gregorian choirs on this album, we also added some backup singer type of choirs which can be heard on songs like ‘Addiction Nr 1’ and ‘Downwards Spiral. Furthermore, we did some classical multilayered parts with Emmanuelle, which has a choir vibe to it as well. As this album is not so symphonic as many of our previous albums, we did not feel the same need for choirs on this album either. But there are possibilities that the choir will be back in the future.

@klaus_tv : Where are you inspired to create the touch of the band with those harmonies & melodic sounds?

Morten Veland: I love to compose and arrange songs, it is pretty much what I have dedicated my life to. Working with melodies and harmonies is something that I really enjoy and find very interesting. The arrangements of our songs are something that we put a lot of thought into. All the songs might not seem that complicated at the first listen, but as you dive into the songs more deeply, there are plenty of details to discover.

@monsterican.dream : Hey, what’s up Sirenia? Your debut is always in my heart!

Morten Veland: Hey! For the moment we are mainly busy doing lots of promo work for the upcoming album. We are very pleased to hear that our music is special to you. Thanks a lot for your kind words. (smiles)

@p.gjaalken : What kind of music y’all offering?

Morten Veland: On the new album, we mix electronic elements and different retro synths with our typical form of metal and rock. We have tried to create an album that sounds modern and somewhat inspired by the eighties at the same time. In my opinion, it is still a typical Sirenia album, but it is still different and unique compared to all our previous albums. This is basically what we aim to achieve with every album we put out.

Interview by Afrodite Szeleczky
Photos by Richelle ter Heege
All rights reserved

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