From the ashes (Anders Hidle/Vibeke Stene)

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From the ashes (Anders Hidle/Vibeke Stene) Empty From the ashes (Anders Hidle/Vibeke Stene)

Post by Talantless on Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:12 am

Since the interview doesn't just focus on Vibeke I just posted it under Tristania Area. Hope that was the right thing to do.

Released back in January, “Ashes” has yet to wear off on this reviewer and recently TRISTANIA fan. The album unites something unique, a refining blend of rare avant-gardism and Modern Gothic Metal that sounds new and fresh, I can’t think of one band celebrating a style that’s so perplexed yet so atmospheric. This interview was planned back in December last year in cooperation with guitarist and song writer Anders Hidle. Once I had finished my review on the album I immediately mailed him and female vocalist Vibeke Stene some questions in search for more knowledge about this album. Due to their busy schedule and having just returned home from their first leg of tours, the intie naturally had to be postponed several times, which is understandable but here it is finally, enjoy!

Hello Anders and Vibeke, what’s up then?

Anders: We’ve just come home from nearly 2 months on tour in a row, and it has been a blast. First we did a European thing together with NIGHTWISH (combined with a few headlining shows), and then we did our first Norwegian tour ever in companionship with GOTHMINISTER, before we ended the whole thing in Latin America – supporting KREATOR. It was three really good tours for us, and I think we have done some of our best shows ever in this period. Currently we are preparing for the summer festivals and we are working on the songs for the upcoming album – scheduled for 2006. It always an exciting process to start working with some simple ideas and see the songs take shape from there.

Seeing now that you’ve been exceptionally busy with touring for some months or so, it must be an obvious affirmation of demands from people that want to hear your new material on the stage don’t you think, how’s the crowd reacting to the new songs?

Anders: The crowd seem to respond very good to the new songs, and songs like “The Wretched” seems to become one of the live favourites already. No matter what album we are promoting at the time and no matter whether we are supporting another band or being the headliner ourselves, we always like to have a setlist that is a mix of the whole TRISTANIA history where all the albums are represented. So far from “Ashes” these songs have been included in our live set: “Libre”, “Equilibrium”, “The Wretched”, “Cure” and “Circus”. For upcoming tours we will do some of the other ones as well. Some of the mentioned songs will be replaced by other ones from “Ashes” and some we will keep in our set, I guess. “Shadowman” and “Bird”, for example are obvious choices that we have to do live at some point. “Endogenisis” will be a real challenge (technical stuff and different tuning etc), but we hope to do a decent live version of that one as well.

But let’s talk about “Ashes”. I guess you must be tired of hearing this but how hard was it to continue without Morten, many saw him as a key figure/mastermind in the formation you know…

Anders: For us creative-wise it wasn’t hard. Einar and me had been working together on songs for some years when the departure with Morten took place. We did 2 songs on “Beyond the Veil” together and by the time of the split-up we already had the majority of the “World Of Glass” material ready. The differences between him and the rest of us had become too big, and it needed to come. Looking back at everything today it’s easy to see that it was the best solution for both parts; he is doing what he wants to do and we’re doing our thing.

You still keep in touch with him, any thoughts on SIRENIA?

Anders: Some of the TRISTANIA members are keeping in touch with him (I don’t live at the same place as him, so I don’t see him very often). SIRENIA is not something I listen to myself, but I’ve always regarded Morten as a very talented guy – both as composer and musician. We’re glad that he is having success with SIRENIA.

Though I’ve been exposed to TRISTANIA many times, I’m still new to the band, but I can tell that “Ashes” doesn’t sound stereotyped in any way, not in the production sound, vocal changes or atmosphere, how do you see the album now that some time has passed since it’s release?

Anders: We are very pleased with it, and for us it was the perfect next step. Compared to our previous releases “Ashes” is a bit more straight to the point and a more stripped down (not in terms of softer but in terms of not adding layer on layer on layer). It shows a total new side of the band, yet still sounding like TRISTANIA. Production-wise it is also something new. As the songs were taking shape, we realized that we needed to record somewhere else than in Sound Suite (where the 3 former albums were recorded). Our choice fell on TopRoom in Norway, and we co-produced it with Børge Finstad. For this song material that turned out to be the perfect choice. What we intended to do when we started the recordings was to record the songs with dynamics and an organic touch, and it worked out very well, I think. Even though there was a quite long break between “World Of Glass” and “Ashes”, the creative process went more natural than ever this time. We never discuss which musical direction to go and such before a composing process, but just make music that we would like to listen to ourselves. The biggest strength of “Ashes” for us as a band is that it’s more than ever a result of teamwork. The whole band has been much more involved in this one than what have been the case on our previous albums, and I think that is the main reason why these songs seem to work that well live.

The title, does it point at burned bridges of the past, shedding the old skin off to welcome renewal, or did you just want a simple title hehe?

Anders: Not at all. Personally I don’t see any contradiction between “Ashes” and the early era, but I see a natural development that has continually gone on from album to album. I think all our albums are quite different from each other, and this is the way it should be. Quite often I talk to people who see us live who are saying that this natural evolution is even more obvious when they are attending our concerts and we mix old and new material. “Ashes” is by no means a concept album, but there is a red thread going through the album. We wanted a simple word that somehow summarizes what we feel that the album is about, hence the title “Ashes”.

I enjoy every track on the album but “Shadowman” has turned out to be one of the best Goth tunes I’ve heard for some time, can you tell a bit more about the birth of this timeless gem?

Anders: As with most of our songs, “Shadowman” started out with a basic idea (the guitars in the refrain), and we build the whole song from there. We made the basic structure of through jamming and recording, and when the first version of the arrangement was ready the singers got involved. Østen deserves a lot of credit for this one, as most of the vocals actually are a result of his improvising sessions. It turned out very nice, and I’m looking forward to do it live.

From what I know you haven’t worked with three vocalists before, how did you arrange them? Feel free to add your view on this one Vibeke.

Vibeke: Actually TRISTANIA has always worked with at least three vocalists. Østen has always been represented on our albums, but earlier as a guest singer. He became a regular member of the band after the “World Of Glass” recordings. Usually the vocal arrangements are being shaped through experimenting on rehearsals through a process where the songwriters and the vocalists work together.

The second notion most reviewers lean on is the dominant guitars, which is kinda atypical in this genre as keyboards, electronics or strings usually have a bigger part to play. Was this a conscious decision taken before writing the material for “Ashes”?

Anders: As mentioned earlier we don’t make decisions like this before the song writing, but the answers usually come quite natural while working on the songs. I guess one of the main reasons for the guitar being this prominent is that very much of the material is composed on guitar. Songs like “Libre” or “The Wretched” are very guitar based songs, for example. Another important thing is that we intentionally avoided to add layers on layers this time, but concentrated on the elements that we thought should carry the different songs. Hence, there is more space for everything – and it allows the dynamics in drums, bass and guitar to be more prominent. This way we managed to get the aggressiveness and the edge that we wanted to achieve.

You and Einar write most of the stuff, do you write separately, I know for some people it works better that way.

Anders: We usually start out separately, when the basic ideas are being made. For example, at this phase of the composing of the next album we are currently making ideas and e-mailing them back and forth to each other. When both of us feel that we are going somewhere with an idea we come together. Through jamming and pre-production the songs are taking shape…slowly. We’ve always been experimenting a lot and trying out many different things, thus the creative process that lies behind a typical TRISTANIA song usually lasts for a long time – often for years (we actually started to work on some of the ideas for songs on “Ashes” before “World Of Glass” was recorded).

I heard that Einar wants to stay home and not join you in touring activities… how’s that going to affect your stage sound?

Anders: As some of our songs are quite synth-orientated we have to use a hard-disk recorder to reproduce this live (as with the choirs). Off course we would prefer to have a synth player on stage, but it’s difficult. With the extra session live guitarist we are already 7 people on stage, and it’s also a question of money. At the stage we’re at now we really can’t afford to bring a session keyboarder as well. That being said, there’s not much different in the way it sounds (except that we are not playing the most synth-dominated songs live without a live synth player). We are also skipping some layers of keys live that are not prominent in the sound. When Einar was touring we still needed to use sequencer in order to reproduce the different layers (as he has only two hands...), so the main difference is visually. In total I think it works fine having the keys on HD recorder. A synth tone is a sample in the first place (with guitar it’s something different – because it’s impossible to play a song exactly the same 2 times, and it’s about dynamics). At the moment we are doing it this way, but who knows what will happen in the future.

I noticed that you’re not even responsible for any of the lyrics on “Ashes”, how deeply are you involved in the song writing sessions?

Vibeke: Anders and Einar are the songwriters of TRISTANIA, and Østen is writing most of the lyrics. I contribute with constructive criticism and vocal lines.

How does it feel, now that you’re on tour, to be the only woman aboard? Are you totally ok with this crazy wildlife, if not, how do you cope with it?

Vibeke: I’m very much used to be the only woman on the tour bus, so that’s no problem. To me touring is not about a crazy wildlife, but hard work! I concentrate about taking care of my health and my voice, so I don’t party as much as the rest of the guys. They join me if they want to take it easy.

Ok, I’ve been meaning to ask you some questions about your voice and life in general. First off, how did you get into music, who were inspirational sources that got you into singing, furthermore how did you end up in the band?

Vibeke: I grew up surrounded by music and so I’ve always been singing. I started taking lessons when I was thirteen but now I prefer to be my own teacher. I met the band during my first year at high school. I met them first through a friend and later during a music contest. I joined TRISTANIA for the first demo and since.

So what makes up a normal day in the life of Vibeke Stene, and what sort of hobbies do you have in life?

Vibeke: I’m up early in the morning to get to primary school, where I work as a teacher in all subjects. I also do TRISTANIA accountings. Beside this I like to read, knit, watch a movie, to cook and spend time together with friends and family… regular stuff.

What’s your view on Metal bands with women as front figures, does it increase the potential and marketing of a band if you have a good looking lady in the middle of five serious looking guys?

Vibeke: Some people check out music if they think the performers are good looking. Personally I think that women can make Metal more exciting and interesting and in that way be a door opener to the Metal crowd. Women in Metal can make casual people get interested and curious about Metal. At the same time it can also be a challenge for the crowd when it comes to accepting that Metal is not only about trash.

In closing Anders, are there any other plans made for TRISTANIA in 2005 besides intensive touring?

Anders: As mentioned we have started to work quite a bit with the new material whenever we’ve got time between the tours and festivals. Also we are planning the next promo video from “Ashes” – “Libre”. We will record it in May in Sweden, and it will be directed by Mats Lundberg. I’ve read his manuscript, which is great, and we’re really looking forward to that one. I think it can turn out very nicely.

Ok then, thanks to both of you, glad you could join in and enlighten a new fan, you have the last words!

Anders: Thanks to the people who are supporting TRISTANIA, hopefully you are enjoying “Ashes”! Join us on our forum:!

From the ashes (Anders Hidle/Vibeke Stene) Smart10
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Post by The Key on Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:27 am

I'll read it soon.
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Post by PaleEnchantress on Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:07 pm

she's so sweet

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