Interview by Alessandra CognettaKari Rueslåtten is back and her new album “Time to Tell” has just been released through Despotz Records in March. Many of you will remember the Norwegian singer from The 3rd and the Mortal, but Kari has been releasing her own works for quite some time now and “Time to Tell” is yet another demonstration of her huge talent. It surely wasn’t unexpected news when, earlier this year, even Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) admitted her voice is among his favourites. We bring you this interview with Kari with lots of interesting details on her music, her musical collaborations and a few surprises. Hello and welcome to Femme Metal, Kari! It’s a pleasure to have you here and we’re really happy to see you’re back with a new album! “Time to Tell” is due for release on the 7th of March and it’s the first work after you took a break from music back in 2005. What are your expectations for this new phase of your career?
Thank you so much, Alessandra! Right now I am just so happy to be back doing music again. It has been so long, and I feel now that a huge part of me has come back to me.“Time to Tell” is an all-acoustic album and you said your aim was “to go back to the core of songwriting”. What led to this choice and how did you work during the composition to achieve this?
My belief is that if a song works with just the piano and the vocals alone it is a good song. Then you can put all kinds of arrangements on it, and it will still stand out. When I decided that “Time to Tell” would be an acoustic album, I knew that there has to be strong songs. You cannot start with a loop or a drumbeat as you would with programmed music. You need to start with the melody and the chords, and build the song up from there.I have to say, the album flows really well as a single piece, but each song still has its own particular identity. You showed your fans, through your Facebook page, some of the moments of the songwriting process, how you drew inspiration from the beautiful landscapes of Norway and from works of literature (I remember Emily Dickinson, among the others). How does this influence each song? Was there something in particular, a poem, a place, that inspired you in this or that song?
Thank you so much! I have always found inspiration in Norwegian traditional music and Nature. On some material it has shone through a lot – like on “Spindelsinn”, my first album. On “Time to Tell” it is there too, just as you say, I still find myself deeply inspired by the beautiful landscapes of Norway. This time, during the writing of “Time to Tell”, in particular from Mid-Norway. I have also read poetry, especially Emily Dickinson has really inspired me, but also the Norwegian poet Halldis Moren Vesaas among others. The way good poets can say so much, evoke so much emotion by just using a few words really touches me.The album was anticipated by the release of “Why So Lonely”, a beautiful acoustic cover of one of the songs from your early years with The 3rd and the Mortal and with an important guest on piano and keys such as Tuomas Holopainen. What led to this choice and what was the process behind the rearrangement of the song for you and Tuomas?
“Why so Lonely” has always been a special song to me. The song has lovely passages to communicate, both in terms of melody, but in the lyrics as well. I like the “folkish” feel to the melody, and I enjoy singing it. I decided to do a song from 1994 and The 3rd and the Mortal era, celebrating that it is now 20 years since I first started writing and releasing music. Also, I wanted to do a song from that period as a tribute to those who have followed my music since then. I met Tuomas for the first time when Nightwish did a concert where I live one and a half years ago. Then I wasn’t sure if I was going to make more music, but I found it really inspiring to talk to the guys and with Tuomas. Later, when I decided that I would do a new version of “Why so Lonely”, I asked him if he would like to do the piano, and he said yes. I am so grateful that he decided to do the piano and keys on the song; his contribution really lifts the song. He is such a talented musician, and it was a great experience to work with him. It is amazing how his musical signature shines through in the arrangements.You also had the opportunity to shoot a video for “Why So Lonely”, directed by Aksel Dalili. Could you tell us a bit about the concept behind it and the filming?
The video shooting was excellent. In many ways, the story in the video is just as it could have been back in 1994 when we first released the song with The 3rd and the Mortal. The concept of the storytelling might be summed up in despair and hope and love – also my passion for Nature and melancholic atmosphere shines through in most of the scenes I would say. Director Axel Dalili and his crew really caught the atmosphere of the song, and they were really dedicated and great to work with.The lyrics for “Time to Tell” are completely in English, but you have often composed and sang in Norwegian, drawing from both your linguistic and musical roots, like for the first full-length album of your solo career “Spindelsinn”, in 1997. How do you approach the songwriting when you’re using a different language and what do you think are the perks of each of them? What do they convey that is different from the other?
I don’t really think that much about language to be honest. I have always used English in my composing. “Spindelsinn” was the odd one out because of its Norwegian language. In many ways “Spindelsinn” is more of a concept-album – due to the fact that it was so highly influenced by Norwegian traditional music and Nature and I found that the songs really suited Norwegian language. But, the demos I made in the preproduction time of “Spindelsinn” were in English. Some of these songs can be found on the album “Demorecordings 1995” that I released myself before “Spindelsinn”.
One of the reasons that brought you back to music was the support and interest from your fans throughout the years and since your comeback was announced you have always been active and eager to share moments and memories with them, be it a song from the early years or a photo of the latest recording session. What do you think is the role that fans play in an artist’s career and any moment or comment you received from a fan that struck you in particular?
When I got on Facebook a year ago now, it was overwhelming the response I got from fans asking me when new music would be coming. That they had followed my music all this time and that my music had meant something to them – that was so inspiring!You have worked with producer and guitarist Jostein Ansnes for “Time to Tell”, but you’ve also studied production yourself for a few years before the release of “Pilot” in 2002. Knowing this, how did the two of you cooperate during the creation of the album? What does being a producer add to your experience as a composer and a musician?
Jostein was just really good to cooperate with. Thorough, firm and highly dedicated to the making of “Time to Tell”. We had a long period of pre-production in order for him (and the other musicians too) to understand the kind of musical-universe that I heard in my mind upon writing the songs. Having produced my two previous albums myself before, I find that it was quite hard to let go of the control of the production. But I think we found a way to work around it that suited us both 🙂The second single from the new album is “Wintersong”, a beautiful piece for voice and piano. Could you give us a bit of insight on the song and its meaning? Why did you choose this one in particular?
Thank you! 🙂 The feeling when you have discovered a melody that you really like, both to hear and sing, and that melody just opened a door in your heart – that’s when pure energy floats in. In these moments I can just work on the song for days on end – it just feels like a long lost friend that has come back, and that you cannot stop talking to each other. That was the case with “Wintersong”.You’ve never shied away from new styles and experimentation throughout your career, using your unique voice to leave your mark in so many different genres. What do you think an artist can learn from having such a wide experience?
That is so true, I have always sought new challenges 🙂 I guess testing out new ways just is how I like doing music. But, I have to say that right now I am just so pleased with the acoustic world, such as what you would find on “Time to Tell” 🙂 I think having an open mind towards new ways of doing things, new things to learn, is always important.I’m sure a lot of fans have already asked you or are curious to know: are you going to lend your voice to metal music again in the future, or collaborate with another artist from the metal scene?
Who can say what the future will bring 😉The release date for “Time to Tell” has recently been postponed from the 3rd to the 7th of March. Was there any particular reason behind this decision?
That was simply due to a technical question, for the release to better fit in with the promotion/distribution circle or schedule.You’re going to hold some live concerts in Norway after the release and hopefully in the rest of Europe, too (shout-out to everyone who’s interested in booking!). Is there anything in particular you’re rehearsing? What can we expect to see on stage? And is there any place you’d like to visit?
I will do an acoustic set, and I will most certainly play songs from all my previous albums as well as from “Time to Tell”. Hopefully we’ll get to see many different places, in Europe, but also other places like Latin-America would be great to finally visit.Unfortunately we have reached the end of our interview, Kari. Again, takk for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you all the best for what’s to come. If you want, you can leave a message to fans and readers right here.
Thank you so much for the interview, I really enjoyed it! Hello to all readers of Femme Metal – hope to see you at concerts soon, and do check out “Time to Tell” 😉 Best wishes from Kari