Interview by Miriam C.
Interviewing Kari Rueslåtten for me feels like talking with an old friend because when I read her words, taking trip down memory, in my mind pops up the first time that I’ve listened to “Tears Laid in Earth” and when in 2014 she announced that she was coming back with a brand new solo album called “Time to Tell”, I was really excited at the idea to join her in this new musical journey. Now, we are here to promote her second album “To the North”: that’s simply another milestone in her 20-years-long career.
Hi dear Kari, how are you? I hope you’re really fine!
I am fine thank you so much, exciting days now releasing a new album!
On 23rd October you have released your 6th studio album “To the North” via Despotz, what you can say about its lyrics and thematics?
The first thing I made for this album was the title – “To the North”. I wanted to make this album a soundtrack to the north. I have always been inspired by Norwegian folk-music and Nature, the darkness and melancholy of the dark, deep woods, but also the beauty that surrounds it all – I find melancholy to be very beautiful. This has always been a part of my inspiration when writing songs, it is in the core of my song writing, and so also for “To the North”.
If “Time to Tell” was an all-acoustic album, completely stripped down and with an essential sound on the other hand “To The North” draws fully from album like “Spindelsinn” with a more darker edge. What led to this choice and compared to your previous full-lenght did your process of composition has changed?
I wanted “To the North” to be a follow-up album to “Time to Tell”, but to go further, pushing the musical expression wider, also pushing the singing and the overall vibe more towards its limits. Together with producer Jostein Ansnes and the musicians we aimed for the musical expression to be darker and heavier than “Time To Tell”. To me, it felt as if that was what the songs and the lyrics craved for this time. Also, I find as you mention “Spindelsinn”, that “To the North” is more clearly folk-inspired, as was the case with “Spindelsinn”.
About “Spindelsinn”, if I’m not mistaken, it’s your only album in your discography that features only songs written in Norwegian, do you have any plans for a follow up?
Yes, that is right “Spindelsinn” is my only album sung in Norwegian language. It felt like the right thing to do when I made it considering how deeply it was inspired by Norwegian Nature and folk music, it can almost be considered a concept-album. Since then, my songs have been written in English, and I am happy with that, but who knows for the future 🙂
Besides Norwegian and Celtic folk music, in the press release you mention artists such as Loreena McKennitt, Tom Waits and Emmylou Harris. How these artists inspired you during the creation of “To the North”?
These are three very different artists, but to me they all have one thing in common – their music simply give me a feeling of being in a good place in my head where I’d like to stay for a while. They inspire me by how they make the melodies, lyrics and arrangements interact with each other, creating an atmosphere that for me as a listener invites me to another world.
Your new album was introduced by the single “Turn, Turn, Turn”, a fantastic cover of the US rock/pop The Byrds. Let me tell you that you have a really fine taste in music but it’s quite peculiar as a song because, and I’m referring to your youngest audience, they don’t know the band. There are any specific reasons behind this choice and how was the process behind the rearrangement?
Thank you so much 🙂 This song was chosen to be the main song for a big festival called Olavsfestdagene in Trondheim where I live. The overall theme for the festival was “time” and this song deals with time in a fine way (A time for everything, and how we are all bound together in the circle of life). The director of the festival asked me if I wanted to do my version of “Turn, Turn, Turn” for the opening ceremony. It was a huge honor and of course, I said yes. This was just in the middle of the recordings of “To the North”, and the song had so many elements that really suited the songs I had already made for the album. So on the last day of the recordings, we made the version and we ended up putting it on the album.
You had also the chance to shoot a video for “Battle Forevermore”, produced by Grethe Borsum. Could you like to tell us a bit about its filming and behind the main concept?
The video for “Battle Forevermore” was shot early one morning in a closed pavilion surrounded by lovely trees and flowers. We wanted to grasp the early hours of the day and make the video in one shot. By shooting it all in one take, we felt that we could better transfer the nerve of the song onto tape. We aimed for a video that was pure and not too much going on, simply a singer singing the song, telling the story with expressions in eyes, face and body.
You have recorded “To the North” in Liverpool at the Grammy Award winning Parr Street Studio and you have opted for a live recording session. What prompted in choosing this facility and recording method?
I was a bit nervous when we first arrived in Parr Street Studios, thinking about all the great albums that had been made there, like for instance Coldplay’s “Parachutes”. But, it was such a relaxed atmosphere, so I calmed down quickly 🙂 The relationship with the musicians developed in a great way, they were all so warm-hearted towards the songs and embraced the songs in a wonderful way. By recording everything live you get an instant feeling of the arrangements and the songs, and it gives a special nerve to the tracks.
I would like to remember that “To the North” is your second album after your musical comeback last year and the reaction from the press was overwhelming, taking a trip down memory lane how the music business, from your experience, has changed?
Yes, the reception of “Time to Tell” was amazing 🙂 How the music business has changed – I would say that the biggest change from my perspective as an artist is social media. Social media offers a unique chance to talk to people all over the world at the same time. It brings everyone closer to each other than what was possible before, when I started out in the nineties. Now, you can create communities across boarders – to me this is vital as a musician and artist. It gives me a lot of inspiration to be able to communicate directly with people who care about the music I make.
Not so long ago, I got a glimpse of a special photo with you, Tuomas Holopainen and your former mates of The 3rd and the Mortal on his official website. Far be it from me to sound like an annoying snoop, but have you ever thought to have a reunion with the band? In addition, almost 21 years ago “Tears Laid in Earth” was released and since the original (and only edition) is getting rare nowadays, was it ever in your plans to re-release it?
He he, good question – yes it was a wonderful moment there, and I thank Tuomas for giving all the guys in The 3rd and the Mortal an opportunity to see each other again. But, no – sorry, I do not think there will be a reunion, but one should never say never of course 😉 I don’t know if there are any plans of a re-release of “Tears Laid in Earth”, it would be a good idea though 🙂
During the past summer, you have toured with The Sirens along with Anneke van Giersbergen (ex The Gathering) and Liv Kristine (ex Theatre of Tragedy). Do you have any long-term commitments for this project? Are you planning any special release?
The Sirens is above everything a live-concept, were we play songs from our past bands and solo-careers, and some new Sirens material too of course. We don’t have any release plans for now, we are all busy with other projects and focusing on our solo-careers. But, we have had so much fun together on tour, so I hope there will be more possibilities to play together in future.
For what I get you’re planning a solo-tour in order to present your songs (and your past hits) to a wider audience. Do you have any idea of when this will happen and being a solo artist what are the difficulties that usually you have to face?
Yes, I am planning a solo-tour this autumn and going into next year too. That will be great, I am so looking forward to playing the new songs from “To the North”! And some old songs too, as you mention 🙂 we go to Norway, Germany and The Netherlands this autumn, hopefully we will come to Italy early next year, we are looking at dates there now. All tour dates can be found here. My solo show this autumn offers an intimate atmosphere and closeness to the audience, playing at smaller clubs.
Difficulties as a solo artist – well there are both advantages and difficulties. One advantage about being in a band is of course that you don’t have to worry about hiring musicians to play with you and pay their fees. But, I like the freedom of being a solo-artist, of being able to choose my own musical expression.
So, Kari, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again and lots of love from Italy!
Thank you so much, and thank you for the interview! I really enjoyed answering the questions.
Dear everyone, thank you so much for reading this interview! I hope you enjoyed reading it, and also I hope you have time to listen to my new album “To the North”, and hopefully see you at a concert in Italy very soon! All the best, Kari!