As I already wrote in my review for their second album “I Marors Djup”, the band Nattsjäl pleasantly surprised me by recording and releasing their second full length in such short notice. Nattsjäl is a band which doesn’t play in only one genre. They are already known for their diversity about which we will talk here the most. Their place of settlement is in a faraway Viking country of Sweden. Even if they don’t carry swords, as descendants of warriors they showed us how to fight for creativity and unique style, but they also stand next to the giants of pagan / black metal in Scandinavia. Even if there is a sea full of Viking / folk / medieval subject and band style they somehow managed to get out of clichés and showed us more. So, this time I am going to talk with the guitar player, Mr. Jonas Almqvist and I hope we will manage to get you closer to Nattsjäl’s work and plans.
Hi, Jonas! Welcome to Abaddon Magazine! I hope you are well and thank you for the opportunity to talk.
Hello Andjela! I’m fine and it’s nothing but a pleasure to do this interview with you!
First of all, I didn’t catch the translation. What does a band name mean and why did you pick that name?
It’s a merger of the Swedish words Natt =Night and själ =Soul so it means plain and simple Nightsoul. It’s from a song title from a song “Called Nattsjäl” drömsjäl i wrote for Månegarm back in the days and that my co-founder of Månegarm Pierre who now is in Nattsjäl as well did the lyrics to. I partly took the name because I like the title but also because it fits and resonates with me as a person. I have always been a night owl and hate mornings. The only time i feel really alive has always been at late midnight when everybody else is asleep haha…
Your new band Nattsjäl that has existed for already three years has many guest musicians. Can you tell us a bit about your collaborations with them and who they are?
I guess I just copy paste from the people that worked with us on this record. Sorry for being just a little lazy.
Jonas Almqvist: (founder and the brain behind the band Månegarm) guitar, lead guitar, harsh vocals, bass, composer of music and lyrics.
Pierre Vilhelmsson: (co-founder of Månegarm) lyrics media and composer, vocals.
Thomas Vikström: (known from bands like Therion and Candlemass): epic clean vocals and ideas.
Mr X: drums, studio recording, mastering, mixing guitar composing.
Other people that helped us out on this album:
Christian Vidal (Therion)
Ellinor Widefors: vocal coach, different musical projects
Stina Engelbrecht: professional composer and singer known from bands like Swedish Sarek
Jens Engelbrecht: professional composer producer and multi-instrumentalist
Ulf Karlsson: national folk musician Swedish bagpipe
Viktor Hemgren: former singer on the first Månegarm album
Mårten Svanborg: brutal singing
Cover art on all of the releases Kris Verwimp, well known in the genre for his excellent work.
There’s much to say about each person but there’s not enough room here for that. I guess google is our friend here.
For the next record I might have a few surprises up my sleeve as well but that must be a secret for now.
As we talked once over messages you told me that you live in different parts of Sweden. How can you manage to rehearse and to record music actually?
Not only that, but we also live in different parts of the world as well. Both Sweden, Spain and as for the latest record also Argentina. So, we don’t rehearse which is something I miss doing but we send files between us and record everything in our home studios. Then we put it together and mix it ourselves.
Since we are at the music subject, as we can hear on both albums there is actually a big genre diversity. So, can you tell me more about your influences personally and as a band?
Yes, you are correct. This is the beauty of working with people that can have different inputs to the music. Sometimes I have an idea in my head and then I get back the file and you get rewarded with a tweek or some idea and personal influence you didn’t think of. It’s very fun to work this way. My idea has been from the start to not narrow down to just a genre but to explore every idea that comes to mind and just go with the creative flow. I think you can say we invented a new category of music Buffe metal haha. But it also has to fit the Nattsjäl theme, so it has to be in the realms of the more dark and spiritual set of things. So, ranging from folklore to horror and the more extreme metal but also more hard rock parts it always has to have a more metaphysical theme to it to fit the realm of the project.
“… Of Chaos Supreme” and “I Marors Djup” are similar but we always have our favourites. To me personally, the second album. By your own opinion which one is better and why?
Well, the boring answer from a musician is that the latest album is always the best. If I have to say why, I guess we had a little more time to do things the way we wanted (even though it was nearly as stressful) and the production was better.
I hope the new album is getting good promotion. Maybe it’s too soon to talk, but how are fans responding to it?
We use metal devastation pr and against pr for the promotion. But this time it feels like there’s a lot more response already. And so far, very much great response. More playlists, more fans that reach out more followers on Spotify and social media etc. But since we released the album in the midst of the summer i guess we have to wait a little longer for mags etc to give reviews. So far, we have had your great review and two more that I know of which we got 8/10 in both.
Speaking of Sweden and your beautiful culture. Many songs are in Swedish, so tell me what is actually the main subject of Nattsjäl’s work?
Even when I started Månegarm back in the days I have always had a vision of incorporating nordic culture and folklore. It is something that has always been close to my heart. And also, Pierre has had a great part in weaving such parts into the metal universe we navigate in. Pierre also practised “forn sed” Or as true as you can call it in organized form. Me too but to a lesser extent. With Månegarm we were one of the first metal bands to sing in our native tongue and use traditional instruments. I’m not entirely sure here but we could actually be the first band using the violin in such a forefront folky role (my idea). With Nattsjäl we continue to carry the torch so to speak.
Your native language is effective and common in the metal world, but do you think it is important to sing in your language over such music? Is that also some way to save a language?
Yes, I think it gives a special feeling to the music when you sing in your native tongue. And I feel when I sing in Swedish, I can give the words more meaning and more punch and aggressiveness in a way.
Well, yes, I guess you can think of it that way. When everything gets more and more global, we need a common tongue to communicate. But to the downfall of maybe losing our native tongue a bit. So, in that sense it can be a good way to preserve and also share our culture to others. For my own part i like listening to songs in other languages even if i don’t always understand the lyrics it gives me more of a genuine feeling in a way.
I am going to use the opportunity for you to tell me more about songs “Vanvettets Lågor“ and “Vargmåne“? Especially about story behind lyrics.
I guess I was inspired by the times we live in with the war we have in Europe right now. These things are from a biological standpoint unfortunately understandable since warfare and fighting for territory and resources is deeply rooted in our DNA. But at the same time, it just feels so goddamn stupid that we have to kill each other when it would be so much better to trade and build a better future together. So, it is actually a folky metal antiwar and anti-corruption punk inspired song about the madness in this world.
Pierre: “Vargmåne” is a song about the pace and freedom that can be found in untouched nature, in places where you can be filled with its magnificence. Where you can draw strength and become part of the powers and energies that are present. Where you can also be united with like-minded individuals like a pack of wolves. To become part of the balance between night and day, light and dark…
Since I am on the subject, did some Swedish folk tales and legends influence the lyrics generally? Can you tell us some short, interesting myths about your people?
Pierre: I would say that most Nordic folk tales and myths inspire when working with text and music. It is who you are, and it is deeply rooted in our soul, regardless of what you work with, that is where inspiration has its source.
There are two versions of songs “I Am the Flame” and “Only Shadows Prevail”. Why is that?
This is the beauty of the project. I can do whatever I want haha. I wanted to try out my old friends Mårten and Viktor on some songs. First the thought was to do some dubts to the original songs. But it turned out they sounded so good, so we gave the entire song as a bonus track instead. Mårten is an old friend of mine who has sung in some death metal projects back in the days in which Crowley was the most famous. And Viktor was the singer on the first Månegarm record “Nordstjärnans tidsålder” I must say I am surprised by the two gentlemen’s performance. And they will come back on other songs in the future that’s for sure!
As I can see by looking into the artwork of both your albums, they are similar and, by the way, beautiful. Can you tell me about the inspiration for them and who is the artist?
Well, yes it’s as always made by the legend Kris Wervimp. It was Pierre who Introduced him to us after the first Månegarm album. And since then, he has done all the covers for Månegarm and now also for Nattsjäl. This time we give him free hands for the covers. We give him a song and a text and just let him use his inspiration to the fullest. It’s also him who has made the Nattsjäl logo.
You are a former member of Månegarm. Can you tell me did your previous work influence Nattsjäl’s music?
I guess you can hear some Månegarm in the songs but this time I am freer to explore different ideas that I never could have done in Månegarm. Whatever ideas that come up I go with them. So, I have a lot of plans for the future, and you will probably be surprised once or twice as the project moves on hehe…
Do you have some concerts in plan and where in Europe can we see you?
Unfortunately, this is just a studio project so far. Though I really miss being on stage and interacting with the audience. But as there are so many people involved and we live in different countries even, it will be very hard to work it out as for now. But I hope in the future we can do some gigs that would be so great!!!
Thank you for your answers and your precious time. I am looking forward to listening to Nattsjäl someday close to Serbia and if Gods permits, in Serbia itself.
I would really like that too. Let’s hope for that together then!