Interview: MYRIADS
Title: Varied manifestation of development

Myriads was formed in September 1997, in Stavanger on the west coast of Norway. Their music sounds pretty unique.

The very recommendable band comprises Alexander Twiss (clean-vocals, Death Metal vocals, electric guitar, and acoustic steel- and nylon-string guitars), Mona Undheim Skottene (vocals, main-piano and keyboard), J.P. (electric guitar, and acoustic steel- and nylon-string guitars), Rudi Jünger (drums and percussion), and Mikael Stokdal (harsh Black Metal vocals, keyboard and piano). 

Alexander and Mona played in Black Metal heroes Twin Obscenity from November 1997 until July 1998. They both contributed on the Twin Obscenity album „For Blood, Honour And Soil”, released on German Century Media Records. J.P. earlier played in a band with members now playing in Theatre Of Tragedy and 122 Stab wounds. 

Although Myriads’ music defies categorizing, the group would describe their music as a fusion between Metal and classical sounds. It also contains some elements of Folk music and has some industrial parts. Especially on their new album „Introspection” the lyrics are more heavily inspired by psychology than the lyrics on „In Spheres Without Time”.

At the time of the interview the whole band is very busy with the preparations for the release concert for „Introspection” at Dominion Goth Club at Hulen in Bergen on Thursday the 18th of April 2002. 

Alexander answers the questions direct from Trondheim, Norway.

Why we had to wait such a long time to an new album – what have you done the last few years?

„We have had lots of time to compose new material, but in Myriads we always want our songs to mature for some time before we are happy with them. This is important because many times new ideas to the songs can appear a long time after the songs were written. After our first album, `In Spheres Without Time`, was released in November 1999 on Napalm Records we had a release-party at Knaus in Studentersamfundet in Trondheim which was a great success. In the end of April 2000 we had a Norwegian tour with Atrox. We played at Custom Rock Bar in Oslo, Checkpoint Charlie in Stavanger and Dominion Goth Club at Hulen in Bergen. The Norwegian tour was also a success. After this we started writing new material and I began composing and arranging a male choir and string-sextet-parts for `Inside`. We wrote new material the whole summer and autumn, and Mona composed and arranged the string-sextet-parts for the song `The Sanctum Of My Soul`. I composed and arranged the string-sextet parts for the song `The Ascent`. In January 2001 we recorded a demo-CD with some of the new songs for Max/Napalm Records. Mona and myself gathered together and started rehearsing with the string-sextet and the male choir. After a month of rehearsals we entered the studio of Trondheim Conservatory of Music (MIT) and Roger Valstad did the recording of the string-sextet and the male choir in February. We then rehearsed intensively before we travelled to Tico Tico Studio in Kemi in Finland. Ahti Kortelainen was the sound-engineer in the studio. We travelled there because we had heard several bands which had recorded their albums and received great sound in Tico Tico Studio. We are very happy with the sound Ahti has given us on our album. In the studio we began by recording the drums, and continued with bass and electric guitars. The bass was played by Torp. Then we recorded the melody-guitars and continued with the acoustic guitars. We then recorded the vocal tracks. Mona and I did the clean-vocal parts which are featured much more on `Introspection` than on `In Spheres Without Time`. After doing the clean-vocal parts we transferred and recorded the piano and synth parts to the mix. Finally, I did the Death Metal vocals and Mikael did the Black Metal vocals. Ahti and myself mixed `Introspection` in the end of August, four months after the recording process. Petter Hegre (Tristania) took the promo-pictures in August, which in my opinion turned out to be very good. In January `Introspection` was mastered by Gøran Finnberg at The Mastering Room in Gøteborg. He has truly done a fantastic job with the mastering and it was great to have the possibility to co-operate with him. He has done an excellent job with the mastering of the last albums of Opeth, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. The front-cover was finished in December and the rest of the design of the CD-booklet was finished in the end of January. We all think Tor Søreide (the designer) has done an outstanding job with the front-cover and the CD-booklet. Emile Maximillian Ashley's front cover picture is really great. I think we all have developed as musicians and have worked a lot with all the parts of the songs on `Introspection` to make them as good as possible.”

Thousands and thousands of Gothic and Dark Metal bands worldwide – in which position between them all do you see Myriads? 

„In my opinion, on `Introspection` we have managed to create our own style of music. I feel that our music is hard to categorize, since it includes elements from many styles of music. The closest description would probably be a fusion between Metal and classical music with elements from industrial music and folk music. Personally I prefer bands who try to do something different and make their own style of music. I have always wanted to include a male choir and a string-sextet in our music, and on `Introspection` I finally had the chance to do this. I sing in a male-choir in Trondheim (TSS) myself, and have had much inspiration from this. Melody-lines have always been the most important element in our music and on `Introspection` this is more evident than ever. We have more diverse vocals than the most of Metal bands. Mona Undheim Skottene sings everything from soprano-vocals, to musical-like style vocals to black vocals! She now sings over 4.5 octaves (!), so this gives her the possibility to vary her vocals a lot. I sing clean-vocals and Death Metal vocals while Mikael Stokdal sings the Black Metal vocals. I have also tried to vary my own vocals more on `Introspection` since I now sing almost 3 octaves. I really feel that all our different vocal-styles helps us create our own identity as a band and gives variation to our music. You have probably also noticed that we have used the acoustic guitar, both steel string guitar and nylon string guitar, much more on this album than on `In Spheres Without Time`. This also separates us from many other bands. If you listen to the songs on `Introspection`, `Portal To The Mind` on `Introspection` is our longest track so far, lasting nearly 15 minutes! Still that track is one of my favourite tracks on the album. I feel that we have managed to make it so diverse that it doesn't matter that it is as long as it is. This is also the response I have received from others regarding this track, so far. I think `Falling In The Equinox` is our shortest track so far lasting nearly 4 minutes. I am very satisfied with the song `Inside`. It features Mona's and my own vocals together with a piano, a male choir, a string-sextet and an acoustic guitar. I arranged the string-sextet and the male choir ,and it was great to have the possibility to do this. We have kept this track as a contrast to the faster and more heavier songs like `Enigmatic Colours Of The Night` and `Miserere Mei`, which are the heaviest songs we have written so far. Compared to `In Spheres Without Time` we wanted to sort out the various elements in our music on `Introspection`, so it would be easier for the listener to find and understand them. The members of Myriads have all progressively developed as musicians, and the music is somewhat more technical now than it was earlier. Some parts in the songs are purely acoustic so the listener fully can absorb the acoustic mood, other parts are only with piano and vocals so the listener fully can absorb this. This time we also tried to include some industrial parts in our music, because we felt this was the right thing to do on these places. Regarding the length of the songs we always keep a song as long as we feel it should be. We don't have any kind of rule saying that all the songs should be long or short. I would say that our music defies categorizing, but can be described as a fusion between Metal and classical sounds. It also contains some elements of folk music and has some industrial parts. Another reason to buy `Introspection` is that the sound on the album is very good. We recorded and mixed `Introspection` in Tico Tico Sudio in Kemi in Finland. There are no studios in Norway that I feel would fit perfectly to our music. There are some studios specialized on Black Metal, some for classical music and some for rock, but no studios diverse enough to cover everything from Metal to classical music. Tico Tico Studio is such a studio, and Ahti Kortelainen which is the sound-engineer has worked with everything from classical music to extreme Black Metal. We travelled to his studio in Kemi (2000 kilometres!) because we had heard several bands which had recorded their albums and received really great sound in Tico Tico Studio. We are very happy with the sound Ahti has given us on `Introspection`. We also heard that Ahti was really nice to co-operate with it and open for many new ideas from the band in the recording process, so this was the ideal studio for us. Ahti is really strict regarding sound, which is perfect for us, since we also are strict regarding this.”

What are your favorite bands of today's Metal and music scene ?

„I am sorry, but I haven't had the chance to ask this question to the rest of the band. Personally I think there are many interesting new bands, but also very many bad ones as well. The bands that I like the most from the last decade is Opeth, My Dying Bride, Anathema and Dark Tranquillity. Recently I have discovered many great Progressive Rock bands from the seventies. My favourite artists from this period are Camel, Jethro Tull, Mike Oldfield (his first albums from the seventies) and Pink Floyd. I also like classical music a lot, and my favourite composers are Karl Orff, Beethoven, Verdi, Rachmaninov and Beethoven.”

Which were your early idols out of the global Metal scene and which have influenced Myriads?

„Rudi Junger, J.P., Mikael Stokdal and myself have listened to a lot of Metal from the 80's and this has influenced our music. We liked Metallica, so this is a band we all have in common. Mikael has a Black Metal background, while Rudi and J.P. have played in Thrash Metal bands for several years. Both Mona and myself have classical backgrounds and have played piano for many years, so this has clearly inspired us. I took lessons from a piano-teacher for 10 years and Mona took lessons much longer from her piano-teacher.In Myriads we all are very different as individuals who listens to a lot of different music, and I think this is the reason why our music is so diverse.

What you see when you look into the future of Gothic and Dark Metal ?

„Like I mentioned earlier, I don't like to categorize music, but I understand that this has to be done so people can get a clue of the music-style a band is playing. Regarding Gothic/ Dark Metal and other types of Metal I think it is important to create original music and try to make something innovative and new. The bands succeeding doing this will be remembered in the future.”

How far Myriads will go with their music ?

„Like I have mentioned earlier we have created many different types of songs on `Introspection`. `Portal To The Mind` is a long epic track with a lot of variation, it is sometimes very heavy and other times very serene. `Inside` features a piano, a string-sextet, a male choir and Mona's and my own vocals while `Falling In The Equinox` is a totally acoustic track. With `Falling In The Equinox` I wanted to do something completely different. I have always wanted to include a totally acoustic track on our album with no other elements than vocals and bass guitar, and this time we all felt that this song fit well on `Introspection`. `Falling In The Equinox` is clearly a contrast to the other songs on the album, but I feel it has the same kind of melancholy without having any distorted guitars. Like Gøran Finnberg at The Mastering Room said, this song together with `Inside` works as a resting place where the listener can relax before the next heavy song starts. Since our album lasts for over 74 minutes I think it is important to have such resting places so the listener doesn't get tired. The idea behind `Falling In The Equinox` is to show a life-span-perspective. The little child symbolizes how we in the beginning of life are well taken care of, but later have to manage totally on our own. Our lyrics are based on psychology, philosophy and dreams, with dramatical elements. On `Introspection` the lyrics are more heavily inspired by psychology than the lyrics on `In Spheres Without Time`. Mona and myself actually performed `Falling In The Equinox` in Vår Frue Kirke on Saturday the 16th of March. We simply did this to experience the great sound a church gives voices and an acoustic guitar. Before we entered Tico Tico Studio I bought a Gibson OF-100 acoustic steel string guitar which is featured a lot on `Introspection`. The new-price of this guitar is 44.000,- NOK (!), so I was really curious to hear the sound of it in the church! The response from the audience was great, and I also think a lot of people which don't listen to Metal wanted to check out `Introspection` after the concert. Just recently I bought a Matsuoka M100 acoustic nylon string guitar which costs 20.000,- NOK. The sound of this guitar is truly fantastic, and now Myriads have the perfect acoustic guitars for all our albums and possible concerts in the future! It is impossible to know everything that will happen with our music in the future, but we will not limit ourselves and try to be as innovative as possible. What is for sure is that we will always keep the Death and Black Metal vocals. We have already written several new songs and they are very dynamic and exciting to play.”

Are you guys satisfied with the work of Napalm Records so far? 

„Yes, we are very satisfied with the job Napalm Records have done for us so far. They have done great promotion on their homepage and featured `Introspection` as Album of the Month in February. They also had a feature regarding `Introspection`. Napalm Records have featured 1 page advertisements for `Introspection` in several magazines (Rock Hard, Scream Magazine and Monster Magazine) and this is also very good promotion.”

How is the band's name to understand? Do you want to target a myriad of fans with your music?

„With our band-name we wish to include myriads of elements in our music. Myriads is something countless and limitless, and this is also how we want our music to be. If more people get the chance to listen to `Introspection` than `In Spheres Without Time` this would be great. I think the songs on `Introspection` are more varied than the songs on `In Spheres Without Time` and also includes more serene elements. Hopefully this will let more people listen to our music than earlier.”

What exact does mean the title of the new album?

„You could say that the main theme on this album are issues dealing with the mind, soul and consciousness. Introspection is generally the act of looking inward. It's the examination of one's own mental experiences and how one strives to know one's own self. The lyrics on `Introspection` are more heavily inspired by psychology then the lyrics on `In Spheres Without Time`, but are also inspired by philosophy with dramatical elements. I study psychology first level at the university in Trondheim. I have also studied philosophy first and second level. If you look at the front cover it symbolizes the act of introspection. The man shows the concrete person while the reflection behind him is his soul. Another way of seeing this is front cover picture is that everything above the water is our conscious experiences while everything under the water is our unconscious experiences. This is based on Sigmund Freud's iceberg-example where all of the iceberg which is under the water symbolizes our subconscious experiences and all of the iceberg which is over the water symbolizes our conscious experiences. According to this example 90 percent of our mind is subconscious, and I really think this is an interesting and fascinating thought! For us, the lyrics are 50 percent of our songs and they have a very important role since they should infuse with the music and make a perfect unit. To fully understand our music they are vital, and they fortify our music and vice versa. I hope the lyrics can help other people understand parts of their selves that they maybe weren't aware of before, to let them find the sanctum of their soul. The song `Inside` shows a person striving to find his own self, but has complications doing so. `The Sanctum Of My Soul` is about two different views on the mind. One view is following Rene Descartes' dualism where the soul can exist separate from the body. The other view is based on Eastern philosophy where one can view one's own soul. `Portal To The Mind` is about the state one experiences between being awake and asleep. It shows experiences from nightmares and terrible manifestations and then glides into a trance-like state between dreams and reality. `Flickering Thoughts` is about a person believing that everything he does and thinks is correct, and doesn't want to listen to others. By following this rule he loses himself and glides into madness in the song `Encapsulated`. Still `Introspection` is not totally a concept-album, since some of the lyrics are about other themes. For example the song `Miserere Mei` deals with how weak we are compared to nature and nature's forces. It shows how important it is to not forget our origin, that we are part of nature and should try to not be scared of this but appreciate it. The idea behind `Falling In The Equinox` is to show a life-span-perspective. The little child symbolizes how we in the beginning of life are well taken care of, but later have to manage totally on our own. Our lyrics are based on psychology, philosophy and dreams, with dramatical elements. In general both Mona and myself are interested in metaphysical themes. We would like to express metaphysical topics because we hope we can open new worlds for the listener. I think it is important to not be too stuck to your daily life and routines. One should be able to view it all from a distance and think about one's acts and thoughts. I think it is important to think about topics like introspection, what dreams are, why we act like we do, what happens after we die, what is time etc. By thinking on such issues I believe we can live a fuller and richer life, and be much more cautious on our acts and thoughts, also towards other people.“

Funny question: is Pamela Anderson the woman of your dreams or do you prefer pure naturalness? 

„This was a unusual question! What I can say regarding this is that I have found my dream woman and life-partner, and that I will marry her this summer.”

What did you dream in your last nightmare?

„This was also a strange question! I think it was a dream I had where I woke up inside a fabric where there were many human corpses. These were taken care of by small children!”

Live gigs: how many have you absolved since the release of the debut album? 

„We have actually only had 6 concerts since the release of `In Spheres Without Time`. Those were the release-concert for `In Spheres Without Time` at Knaus at Studentersamfundet in Trondheim in November 1999, which was a great success. The next three concerts were parts of our Norwegian tour with Atrox in April 2000. We then played at Custom Rock Bar in Oslo, Checkpoint Charlie in Stavanger and at Dominion Goth Club in Bergen. The concert at Checkpoint Charlie was regarded as the most successful one at the Norwegian tour. Anders and Kenneth from Tristania attended to this concert, while Blasphemer from Mayhem was at our concert in Oslo. We played at the Dark City-arrangement at Blue Garden in Trondheim in November 2001. This concert was also a success. On Thursday the 18th of April 2002 we had the release-concert for `Introspection` at the Dominion Goth Club at Hulen at Bergen. It was a great success and we have never received a better response from the audience. We played for nearly 75 minutes. Actually the audience at our concerts vary a lot. I think this is because our music includes elements from so many music styles. Of course you have the typical Metal fans there, but we have experienced a lot of different people in our audience. Everything from men or women in their fifties to 18 year old people. There has also been listeners of classical music and classical musicians among our audience on our concerts. I sing in a male choir in Trondheim called TSS, and several members from the choir were at our concert at Dark City at Blue Garden in Trondheim on the 23rd of November last year. The audience Mona and myself experienced when we played `Falling In The Equinox` in Vår Frue Kirke in Trondheim was totally new for us. On this concert there were everything from old people in their sixties to small babies among the audience!”

What you need to realize mainly on the stage in the future?

„We really want to have the string-sextet and the male choir on a hard disc recorder on our concerts in the future. The best thing would of course to have been to have them live with us, but this is not so easy since many of them live in various parts of Norway. We also really would like to use more effects, pyro, flames and bombs live. This is too expensive for us to use now, but I hope we get the possibility to use it in the future!”

Plans for the future for Myriads and private? 

„Myriads' plans for the future is first of all to play at several festivals in the summer, and Napalm Records have said that they will arrange a European-tour for us in the autumn if `Introspection` will sell well. I also hope we can play in Germany. We will also have a Norwegian tour in the autumn and maybe we can have another acoustic concert as well? Like I mentioned earlier, we are very much looking forward to play live again! We are also writing new songs for our next album and have many ideas for several songs. I can say for sure that we want to have a string-sextet and a choir also on our next album. We will hopefully record the album during the summer of 2003. My private plans is that I will continue to study Psychology since I want to become a Psychologist working with children. Thank you for a nice interview! Hope to hear from you soon.”

© Markus Eck, 19.03.2002

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