Interview by Miriam C.
Interview Shape of Despair, in particularly the talented singer Natalie Koskinen, feels like crowning an old dream. I’ve always considered the Finnish quintet one of the most underrated doom metal acts so it’s time to shine some light in this eternal darkness and give to their fourth album “Monotony Fields” the place that deserves.
Hi Natalie, first of all welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you?
Hey You, nice to do interview with Femme Metal Webzine! I´m doing just fine, thanks for asking.
We’re here to discuss with you new album “Monotony Fields”, out now via Season of Mist. When you started to gather your first ideas for this record and can you give us more insights about its lyrics?
The first ideas were born few years ago, when Jarno and Tomi starts to composing new songs for Shape of Despair. I think that Jarno actually did have something already before we found Henri. Jarno, who is a mastermind behind SOD, is very precise person when it’s coming to his music. Every note and sound is carefully planned and implemented. As you can guess, it´s really long process. Little by little we’ve got first demo-versions and then it was Henri’s and mine turn. All lyrics of “Monotony Fields” were made by Henri. He did great job as a lyricist and as a singer. These stories in Shape of Despair are made from our thoughts, negative things in life, sadness and desire for another world, which is of course different to each person. The whole album is a slow trip to innermost.
If we put aside the compilation “Shape of Despair”, the EP “Written in My Scars” and a split 7″ with the Portuguese band Before the Rain we must date back to 2004 for the full-lenght “Illusion’s Play”. Why it passed so much time since your latest release?
It’s been a long and rocky road for us. There is no specific reason for our silence and at the same time there is a many reasons for that. We needed to find a new male vocalist. After we’ve got Henri in our circle, we started rehearsing and work on a new stuff. All of us are involved in other bands (Finntroll, Impaled Nazarene, Throes of Dawn and so on). It took time because of that too. Shape of Despair has never been one of those bands who spit new albums out every year but now we have ready album in our hands and we are very happy with that.
Finally, after almost 10 years, you’re back with “Monotony Fields” that introduces Throes of Dawn‘s Henri Koivula as the new vocalist of the band, would you like to tell us how Henri got involved with SoD back in the day?
We knew Henri for many years. He told Jarno that he like our music a lot and if we ever gonna need a male vocalist, he would like to try. At that time Pasi was in a band, but few years later things changed and Jarno contact him. We had a few options, but Henri was the one who suits us best.
The more I watch the cover album, the more I feel that in the painting there’s someone trapped, maybe it’s a personal interpretation. How do you think about it? Also how the cover get intertwined/connected with the lyrics inside? In addition, can you tell us more about its author?
This is exactly how I feel about our cover art. There is a lost soul, who is desperately trying to find a way to get to another world, another dimension. This is what our music is all about on this album. So yes, there is a straight connection to our music. Artist behind this art is Mariusz Krystew, our longtime friend from Poland. He is the one who did all covers for SOD, except the first one “Shades of….”. Normally Jarno send him our songs for upcoming album and Mariusz starts to do his magic. So far he knew exactly what we wanted. Brilliant dude indeed!
“Monotony Fields” marks the new deal with Season of Mist which you have already collaborated with them years ago. How do you feel to be back to found (again) a steady home? Also what’s happened with Spikefarm?
Feels good to be a part of a Seasons of Mist-family. We’ve been more than satisfied with them and hopefully our relationship gonna be long time. There was some changes inside Spinefarm corporation and we didn´t manage to get agreement with them. But I believe that things are going exactly how they should be going…..So here we are under Seasons of Mist label, which is much better choice for bands like us.
In SoD’s official biography that Season of Mist has made available for the press, it quotes both the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl with “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer… his unique opportunity lies in the way he bears his burden” and the Swiss philosopher and poet Henri-Frédéric Amiel with “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering”. How this two authors and this quotes get contextualized in SoD‘s music and lyrics?
Well, I think that all these feelings and clouds of suffering around our music are sealed quite well in these quotes. After all, there is no life without suffering.
Natalie you’re quite a prolific artist and beside being part of SoD, we can find you also in the bands Jonne and Depressed Mode. For what I know Depressed Mode’s last release was “…for Death…” in 2009 and Jonne‘s S/T album in 2014, how did you got involved with these projects and would you like to give some updates about it?
I’m not really sure what is gonna be with Depressed Mode, since it’s been a while when I was in touch with DM guys. Actually, now I’m lying, I saw one of them last week accidentally. He was busy with his other band Mors Principium Est and I don’t know about the rest. I got in touch with Ossi via email about Depressed Mode many years ago when I’ve heard his demo in one band-site. After a while, he asked me to join him in that project and as result we recorded together “Ghosts of Devotion” (2007) and “…for Death….” (2009). Well, instead about Jonne I ended up in it accidentally. I was not supposed to sing there at all, but as you probably know, most of these things starts when you are drunk. We were at Jonne‘s place, barbecuing and having few beers with friends (ok, lot of beers). In the morning he said that “We have to record your vocals on my solo- project” I was laughing at him and “Are you serious? I have terrible hangover” And here we are, hahaha. I like to work with Jonne, even the music is totally different from Shape of Despair, I must say I really enjoying it. We have played few shows with Jonne-crew and we did receive offers about European tour and other gigs but things are difficult, since we have members from Korpiklaani and Amorphis and both bands are quite busy. I believe that someday it might be possible to do short tour with these guys. You will hear about Jonne in the near future, we already working on a new album. Besides these bands I took a part as a guest singer in Before The Rain from Portugal (“Frail”), Evadne from Spain ( re-recorded song “Awaiting”) and the latest one is Paara, black-metal band from Finland. I had great opportunity to work with many very talented musicians and I am very thankful for that. Hopefully things are going that way and there is more to come. Music been my passion since I started to study it when I was 5-years old.
Probably I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to own The Mist and the Morning Dew‘s demo and I’m dying since ages to ask any updates to Jarno about this fantastic band, what its status’ Is still active?
Jarno: True, we made only those few demos and Vendlus released this demo as an EP later on. Do you have the first demo or this Vendlus version? This band haven’t made anything after that demo and i’m pretty sure it stays that way. There is nowadays so little time to focus on this band as there are many others in line at the same time. I’m nowadays working on something else instead of TMATMD, it’s an project i’ve wanted to make after I left Rapture. There are some so called left-overs from that period of time but also shaped into nowadays creations and ideas. I hope we’ll release some demo material about this soon since it’s sounding quite great.
As mentioned before in 2011 you have released a split with Before the Rain on Avantgarde Music on which you have published a cover of “Estrella” by Lycia. There’s a specific reason of why choosing this song?
Not really…. It was Jarno’s idea to cover that song. We all love Lycia, great band indeed! They have this very atmospheric mood in their music which suits us as well. Great song and I love Tara‘s voice.
As tradition wants, as soon as a band releases a new LP it’s quite obvious that it follows a promotional tour. Are planning on doing this? Have you already planned a full EU tour?
Not at this moment unfortunately, some of us are not able to do tours. Personally I do hope that someday it will be possible. Next Shape of Despair‘s show will be at Dark Bombastic Evening, Alba Iulia, Romania. We also playing at Dutch Doom Days XIV 2015 Baroeg Rotterdam Netherlands, Finland and Belgium.
So we’re at the end Natalie, I hope you enjoyed my questions. Just greet your fans and our users @ Femme Metal Webzine. Thanks to you again!
Thank you for this interview and thank you all who listen to Shape of Despair. Hopefully we will see somewhere at our shows!
Photos by Henri Koivula