DATE OF INTERVIEW:
10th February 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: The new album, ‘World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud’, is absolutely fantastic. Did you have any particular goals for the music when starting the creative process for this one?
LAZARE: Yes, we set out to merge metal with other musical expressions with an emphasis on world music. The main goal was to make this work as instinctively and as seamlessly as possible, and it is from that basic attitude that ‘World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud’ was born.
(Lazare on new album track, 'Bububu Bad Beuys')
"If that’s not Techno Metal Chicken Madness, I don’t know what is…"
Interview by Mark Holmes
The Linear Scaffold (1997)
Albums & EPs
For the past two decades, Norwegian duo Solefald have eschewed trend-based ephemera to pursue their own unpredictable and innovative musical path. And, in 2015, they remain the sonic iconoclasts for which they've become respected and renowned, with the release of new album 'World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud'. A characteristically diverse beast that combines elements of metal, rock, jazz, pop, techno, ambient, etc. with world music infusions, it's also their most accessible work to date. Accessible, that is, without compromising their innovatory prowess. One half of the duo, Lazare Nedland, enlightened Metal Discovery on Solefald's intentions with the new album...
Solefald - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2014 Jørn Veberg
Official Solefald Facebook:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
Pills Against the Ageless Ills (2001)
In Harmonia Universali (2003)
Red for Fire (2005)
Black for Death (2006)
The Circular Drain (2008)
Norrøn livskunst (2010)
Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord (2014)
World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud (2015)
MD: ‘Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord’ was released just three months ago, so with two releases that close together, was it important for you to keep them as discrete entities seeing as the music on each has its own unique vibe?
LAZARE: Yes it was, because they juxtapose each other in a whole lot of ways. Nord is the cold one while Sud comprises a lot of heat. They both come off as somewhat experimental, but in very dissimilar ways, so we decided to split them as we thought that would serve the material.
MD: Many of the songs on this new one are coloured with various world music influences, so is the prefix of the album’s title, ‘World Metal’, supposed to be indicative of such, or is there any other intended meaning behind that?
LAZARE: It’s a cosmopolitan album including a lot of different musical expressions and ideas. One of the red lines is world music in all its shapes and forms, but we also lean on techno, dubstep, jazz, pop and so on. The album title is meant to serve as an indication of what you’ll experience once you listen to it.
MD: The new music’s still what could be called avant-garde but I’d say in a slightly more accessible way this time around. And there’s quite a big, epic feeling to most of the songs too. Do you regard the album like that; a good balance between the epic, avant-garde and accessible?
LAZARE: I think the accessibility is closely related to the production of the album, and the fact that we work a lot on our hooks. Jaime Gomez Arellando at Orgone Studio did an amazing job when it came to bringing our multifaceted expression into a coherent, organic sound. He really worked wonders with our material.
MD: It’s also, perhaps, your most rhythmically diverse album to date, in terms of all the varying percussion, so did you focus more than normal on diversifying the percussive elements within the compositions?
LAZARE: Yes, in many ways we did. I spent a lot of time writing the drum patterns and programming and sampling beats in order to have an excellent rhythmic base, and Baard Kolstad worked his magic in the studio, refining the basic ideas and making them exactly what they had to be in order for the album to work well.
MD: You’ve described the first single from the album, ‘Bububu Bad Beuys’, as “Techno Metal Chicken Madness” – can you elaborate on that description?
LAZARE: That’s what it is. I mean, just listen to it. If that’s not Techno Metal Chicken Madness, I don’t know what is…
MD: You end the album with ‘Oslo Melancholy’, and the general feel of that song could almost act as a segue back into ‘…Kosmopolis Nord’, as if going full circle, I guess. Was that the intention there?
LAZARE: We wanted the album to end in a calm fashion that clears the air for the listener to try and digest everything s/he has been presented with during the course of 50 minutes.
MD: Although Solefald’s a duo at core, I gather you’ve once again utilised the talents of various guest musicians on the album… is it ever difficult in delegating parts of the creative process to other individuals; I’m guessing there must be a lot of trust you’re bestowing in them?
LAZARE: Absolutely, however, all the songs already exist in pretty elaborate demo versions when we bring them in, so it’s mostly about refining the individual instruments. They have a great impact on the final result, though.
MD: The production’s great – a nice balance between clean digital and raw analogue sounds, which lends itself well to the different aspects of the music; kind of mixing up the old with the new. So rather than just attaining a great sound, did you see the production as a vital element of the album’s overall aesthetic?
LAZARE: Yes, we worked a lot with the production, and I guess we gave Jaime a few more grey hairs in the process, but the result was pretty much exactly what we were aiming to achieve. A balance between analogue sounds and organic instruments, and a coherent expression that made room for all the elements without having to sacrifice any of the punch and attitude. Jaime delivered!
MD: You came over to High Barnet, London, to mix the album at Orgone Studio – what drew you to that particular studio for mixing purposes? I gather there’s a lot of vintage equipment there?
LAZARE: I had heard and thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the albums Jaime had done before we entered Orgone, and I was very keen on the idea of mastering to tape for a deeper, more complex sound. We spoke with him, and immediately hit it off, so we just went for it. It turned out to be a very good choice.
MD: Certain bands have been regarded as ahead of their time, then the world’s eventually caught up with them, and their music becomes more widely accepted in some kind of subgenre branding. It seems the world has never caught up with Solefald, though, as you’ve always remained a genuinely progressive band and unclassifiable. Does it make you proud that you’ve managed to maintain and sustain that level of esoteric appeal?
LAZARE: In a way it does, even though we never really set out to be esoteric. We always did what felt natural to us, and what feels natural to us, is to keep moving. To keep exploring.
MD: You’ve always challenged people’s listening sensibilities through your music, but do you also try to challenge your own compositional parameters through your creativity?
LAZARE: Yes, and I’m glad you’ll never get to hear the experimentations that didn’t work out.
MD: You surprised every Solefald fan across the globe in 2012 with your first live show since 1998, and then played even more shows the following year, but did you initially have any apprehensions about propelling Solefald back into a live context after so many years?
LAZARE: Yes, I was always afraid that we wouldn’t be able to recreate the Solefald magic on stage, as our music is such a layered and, at times, complex one. I held back for many years because I didn’t see the possibility of making Solefald shine live. But when we finally went for it, we had the support of our excellent musician friends of In Vain, and they helped us pulling it off. I’m glad we did.
MD: Can we expect more live shows this year?
LAZARE: We certainly hope so. We haven’t booked anything yet, as we both have rather busy schedules with work and our other bands, but hopefully you’ll be seeing us on stage sometime later this year.
MD: Choosing a setlist from such a vast back catalogue of never-before-played-live songs must’ve been a something of a headache?
LAZARE: It is. The discussion never ends.
MD: Talking of your back catalogue, I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘Neonism’ as it’s when I first encountered your music, back in 1999. I think it’s stood the test of time too. Out of interest, how do you regard that album now?
LAZARE: I still consider it some of our best work, and easily our most radical effort. I’m proud that we were able to release an album that still stands firm sixteen years later.
MD: The remixes of some of your tracks on ‘The Circular Drain’ are amazingly inventive takes on the originals, so can we expect another project along these lines in the future?
LAZARE: I don’t know. It was a fun project, but the way things work these days, the electronics are very much incorporated into the basis of our musical expression, so I don’t really find it necessary to do a separate electronic album as of yet.
MD: Finally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Solefald, so do you have plans to celebrate the occasion in any particular special way?
LAZARE: To us, ‘World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud’ feels like a celebration in itself, but maybe we should step it up and mark our 20th anniversary by releasing our very own single malt whisky? That’d be something, right?