Friday, May 31, 2019

an interview with Novarupta

Novarupta released a hell of a debut back in April; Disillusioned Fire is one of the best albums I've heard this year - a slow, chimeric journey into depression that features vocals from the best in the Swedish metal scene. The man behind the project, Alex Stjernfeldt, was kind enough to answer my questions in record time.

Dreams of Consciousness: Please introduce Novarupta - who are you, where are you from, and how would you describe the music you make?

Novarupta is a mix between band, art, collective and project. Everything intertwined, since the art surrounding the music is as important. The main constants in Novarupta are me (Alex Stjernfeldt) and Arjen Kunnen, so in that sense we are a Swedish/Dutch project - but we have people involved from all over the world, which means that there’s no boundaries. And it is the same with the music, but I guess that people like labels so we are some sort of Blackened Sludge with branches into many different genres. The point with the music is that it has to mean and say something, it has to be honest and true to ourselves.

DoC: What led to the creation of Novarupta? What did you set out to accomplish?

The foundations came when I left The Moth Gatherer. I was and still am suffering from depression and I needed a channel of creativity instead of going down a destructive path. I also felt like I had forgot why I began playing music in the first place, so I went back to the roots while carrying with me everything I’ve picked up and decided to create music from the heart and soul, not wanting to overthink/overproduce the sound that came out.

DoC: Which best describes Novarupta - a solo project with guest musicians, or a band with a revolving line-up?

Maybe a pretentious art and music collective with an open creative forum?

DoC: I'm interested in the writing and recording process for your album, Disillusioned Fire. When did you start working on it? Where was it recorded? How clear of an idea did you have of what the final result was going to be?

I think the production started for real in May 2018, and was written and recorded throughout the year at No Wave Studio in Gothenburg, with added studios for vocals, mixing and mastering; so it was a pretty slow process but with a lot of planning due to the fact that there’s eight different vocalists. To be honest, I did not have a clear idea of the sound, since I wanted it to be an open creative process for everyone involved and let them add to the sound. But in the end it turned out very organic and natural. Probably due to the fact that every discussion we had, either with singers or mixing etc, was very open-hearted and honest. The final result came out better than I could’ve hoped for.

DoC: The album has a number of prominent guests doing vocals (including Jörgen Sandström from Grave and Mikael Stanne from Dark Tranquillity). How did you choose the vocalists who contributed to Disillusioned Fire? Did you know all of them before working with them?

I think it all started when I met Claudio Marino (who I knew from before) at an Ulver show in Stockholm last year. I told him that I had started working on some new music and that it would be fun to have him sing on a song. From there it kinda snowballed. I got in contact with different singers I myself really look up to and love, some who I knew and some I got to know thanks to this. Even though the themes of Disillusioned Fire are bleak to say the least, the creation of the album was actually very beautiful, filled with friendship and love.

DoC:  The album kicks off with the song "Stones", which has Tomas Liljedahl of the mighty Breach contributing vocals. How did he get involved with Novarupta? Would you say Breach was a big influence for you?

Sometimes you stumble over bands that terraform the musical world around you, totally changing the way you look at and hear music, and yes, Breach for me is one of those bands. So it has been a life long dream to do something together with Tomas! We have mutual friends so I just went for it and asked if he wanted to do it! And the way ”Stones” turned out still gives me goosebumps thanks to his voice!

DoC: There's a very interesting video for "Stones". Who directed it, and what's the concept behind it?

It was directed by the extremely talented Mattias Christenson. I gave him some thoughts and visions I had of making a video showing the way mankind is our own destroyer, and how we reach a point of apathy where the world slowly spiral out of control while we just stand by and watch. So from those very minimal directions and thoughts he created 6 minutes of footage that truly feels in the very core of you. It is brilliant in my opinion.

DoC: What can you tell me about the lyrics and themes of Disillusioned Fire?

I think that the lyrics are as important as the music, artwork etc. Everything is needed to create the point of the album. And the lyrics are portrayed within a personal space void of light. They are telling stories of living with depression, personal struggles and the way the world looks. But they also carry the message that you are not alone, that there is a way forward and how you are stronger than you realize because you can carry on despite living with mental illness. I think and hope that everyone who listens to the album can and will read their own thoughts and feelings into the lyrics.

DoC: Given that you handled all the instruments on the recording, what are the chances of the songs on Disillusioned Fire being played live? Is touring something you're interested in for Novarupta?

Well, that is a question I’ve got a couple of times. I don’t think that the biggest headache would be finding a live band to perform the songs, I think it would be finding time in all the vocalists schedules… But who knows, one evening in the future all planets will be aligned and I somehow remember how I actually play the songs and Novarupta comes alive on a stage somewhere.

DoC: What's next for you?

The only way through life is forward so I guess that that’s the way I’ll head. Since Novarupta is a collective we’ll see what and who the future brings, but for the first time in a long time I don’t feel any stress. Hopefully there will be a second album, if it feels true to what Novarupta stands for and means.

For the moment I just feel so much gratitude towards everyone who has supported this album and for all the kind words it got! For those who wants to pick up the beautiful and limited white LP, head over to this link to place your order!

Novarupta on Facebook

Novarupta on Instagram

Disillusioned Fire on Bandcamp (through Suicide Records)

Listen to the Dreams of Consciousness Podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts

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an interview
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an interview
with Dreadnought