Interview by Miriam C.
Apparently, 2016 marks the comeback (and reunions) of many many metal/rock bands and among these we should count Sweden’s Beseech. The Gothic metal band, after reforming in 2012 with most of the original line up, they’ve signed their record deal with Despotz Records, consequently publish the 6th album “My Darkness, Darkness” since 2005’s “Sunless Days”. Let’s read from one of the founding members, guitarist Robert Vintervind and the newcomer, singer Angelina Sahlgren, more about “My Darkness, Darkness” and their comeback. The 90’s are back!
The first thought that pops up in my mind is: why, after almost a decade, did Beseech decide to return on the scene?
Robert: Well, Klas did quit the band in 2002 after “Souls Highway” and started a new era in his music life, while Beseech and I continued in another direction for some years to 2006 when we put the band to rest. Although, Klas and I have always been good friends and after some years we started to talk about making music again (mostly when we were drunk), but not as Beseech. I think it was in 2012 that some new songs started to take form and we thought it sounded like where “Souls Highway” took off but in a new modern direction with some new elements. As founders of Beseech and the ones that made 95% of all the music through the years, we thought it might be the best idea to restart Beseech again as the soul and atmosphere was still in the music.
Are you still in contact with the past band members?
Robert: No not really, of course we talk and say hello if we meet as we live in the same city, but not more than that.
The band features, except for the old members you, Klas Bohlin and Manne Engström, a revamped line-up including 3 new members. When did you first meet them and how was this collaboration born?
Robert: Håkan, our drummer played with Klas in his past bands and was a natural choice as he’s a great person and skilled drummer who is able to put some more levels into our music. Then, Johan, the bassplayer was our engineer in the studio for the later albums we recorded in StudioMega/Fascination Street. Just like Håkan, he’s a great guy that also has a lot of technical skills which is a very important asset for the band sound, both in the studio and live.
Angelina did back-up singing for one of Klas‘s other musical projects and got recruited some time after that. Except for the female vocals she has also added a new level of visual and theatrical performance to the band that can be seen in the video, images and also live.
Following from the previous question, when did you understand that Angelina, Håkan and Johan were the perfect matches to fill in those ranks?
Robert: We felt from the beginning that it was a good match and always have a great time together when we meet and rehearse. It is very important for us to have this chemistry.
In particular, Angelina, what you can tell us about your musical background?
Angelina: I have a history in the musical theater genre with a college degree from the Performing Arts School of Gothenburg. Since my graduation, I’ve worked with many different genres like jazz and dark cabaret/burlesque in various show concepts and constellations. I’ve always had a longing for working with a band and exploring the rock/metal genre more so becoming a part of Beseech felt like a natural development of my career.
In this renovated line-up, why did Klas decide to focus only on his role as a singer?
Robert: Well, Manne and I are both guitar players so Klas chose to concentrate on his singing and performance on stage this time. Although, on the new album he plays a lot of the acoustic guitars so he hasn’t completely left the guitar playing.
Beside a new line-up, Beseech is coming up with the new album “My Darkness, Darkness”. Would like to tell us more about its genesis?
Robert: “My Darkness, Darkness” is a more mature and solid album that we feel sounds more like Beseech than ever! Feels like we got back to the roots in a way but with a modern touch. Also, the lyrics are more personal as we’ve grown older and passed through many thoughts and tough times.
After having released most of your discography via Napalm Records, “My Darkness, Darkness” is your first album released via Sweden’s Despotz Records. How did you manage to get a deal with them and how was the first approach with their team?
Robert: Well, we felt that we wanted to work with a label that is more personal and that understands Beseech as a band plus the stages in our personal lives. They are really great and one of the owners – Ömer – was a Beseech fan from the beginning. We feel that they put extra energy and heart in what they are doing for us.
As the press release states, “My Darkness, Darkness” “can be described as a continuation of their critically acclaimed album “Souls Highway”“. Which are the lyrical and musical peculiarities that your new upcoming album has in common with “Souls Highway”?
Robert: We thought from the beginning, as I mentioned earlier, that the new album had the same soul and vibe and feels like a logical follow-up album to “Souls Highway”. There are some similarities in, for example, how the songs are made and the personal touch in the lyrics. Of course years have passed, but in a good way, and we’ve matured as both composers and as humans.
I’d like to spend a couple of words about the artwork which, I think, suits perfectly the atmosphere of the album, but what’s the meaning of that girl covering her eyes? What does she want to represent?
Robert: You could interpret that cover in many ways and we may do it differently in the band as well. For me she represents the things in life you don’t see and what dwells inside a person. The eyes are a symbolic portal to the inner mind and when she has her hands in front of the eyes, this portal is closed.
“My Darkness, Darkness” was introduced by two singles called “The Shimmering” and “Highwayman” and about the lyrics Klas Bolin states: it’s “a theme of stories from a desolated borderland, where we live in symbiosis with the darkness and the light”. Could both you and Angelina be able to analyze the album’s general thematic by taking Klas‘s lyrics as cross-reference?
Angelina: The constant battle between light and darkness, good and evil, love and hate is something every living creature is dealing with. To me, “My Darkness Darkness” is trying to describe this state. Klas and I worked a lot with the dynamics of our voices in our sound to create the right atmosphere. Klas‘s dark voice contrasts my light, at times almost whispering harmonies created the contrast we were looking for.
Robert: It’s about contrasts in life as Angelina mentioned and situations that take life in other direction and form you as a person and the one you are. Of course there can be some songs that are outside the “theme” but overall it’s about this.
To promote “My Darkness, Darkness” you have also released a video taken from the single “Highwayman”. Would you like to spend a couple of words about its shooting and Albin Glasell’s direction?
Angelina: The music video shoot took place during a few cold December days in Varberg, Sweden. We scouted an abandoned old house by the ocean that had the right deserted and haunted feeling to it. The setting was perfect for the atmosphere we wanted to create and we were lucky with the weather as we worked with natural light. It was very easy working with Albin and we basically gave him free hands after a few inspirational brainstorm meetings. I did most of the styling myself and when it comes the theatrical parts they were mainly improvised during the shoot.
What are your next tour plans? Where can your fans catch you in the next days? Do you have any plans for a full EU tour?
Robert: We really want to get out and play but the situation for us is a little complicated at the moment. We’ve had to turn down most of the deals of tours/gigs/festival for different personal reasons but we truly love to play live and can’t wait to do it! It is one of the best things about being in a band and playing music! We hope to solve our situations and to get out on the road as soon as possible. Especially now since the album has got such good response!
So, Angelina & Robert, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Angelina & Robert: Thanks a lot for the interview and a big thank you to all our fans who have given us such great reviews of our new album. For all others who haven’t got to know us yet and want to experience a really dark and atmospheric album, check out “My Darkness, Darkness”!