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Omit - Interview

Interview with: Cecilie Langlie
Conducted by: T.V.

From Oslo (Norway) comes the amazing female fronted melodic doom metal trio Omit. The members are vocalist Cecilie Langlie (Skumring, Havnatt, Vagrant God, Dævvskævv), Tom Simonsen (Skumring, Havnatt, Vagrant God, Dævvskævv) on guitars, bass and drums, and Kjetil Ottersen (Diagnostic, Vestige Of Virtue, In_zekT, Vagrant God) on guitars and keyboards. Omit formed back in 2009 as a collaborative project, but this soon led to the completion of a longer-than-average album, and the critically acclaimed, debut double album entitled Repose, which was released in 2011. The second full-lenght, Medusa Truth Part 1, came out in November 2014 through their own label Secret Quarters Records. Now, on 13th April, Omit has released the highly anticipated third full-lenght, another long running gem titled Medusa Truth Part 2. The music for Medusa Truth Part 2 was written in 2014 and early 2015, but since the Omit members were also busy with other musical projects during this time, the recordings didn’t get started until 2017. The recordings were completed over a few sessions in the last half of 2017 and got set for an early 2018 release. The Medusa Truth albums are a series of albums that attempt to portray a sequence of events in the period of a person’s life. Both parts 1 and 2 deal with a certain series of events, in six parts - or chapters if you will - spread across two full-length albums. The music of Omit continues to evolve with the release of this latest album. Medusa Truth Part 2 certainly contains the heavy, melodic, orchestral and dynamic type of doom metal that Omit have become known for. I've talked with bands vocalist Cecilie Langlie about things concerning the new album, about thematics, existentialism, influences, about their other projects and bands, future plans and much more. Omit's music is a must for those who like unique and well done female fronted doom metal with interesting twists.

T.V.: First of all congratulations for the new album! How do you feel about it now that is finally released?
: Thank you so much! It feels great, and I really hope that people will enjoy the album. It took a bit longer than expected to get it released, but I am so proud of the result.
T.V.: Yes, it comes out almost four years since the release of Medusa Truth Part 1. Tell me, what was the reason for such a delay in releasing it, because as I understand most of the work for it was done soon after the release of the previous part?
Cecilie: The delay has been due to several reasons. First of all we are busy with a lot of other projects, and have released other albums and EP's. In addition to that, I have been really busy with taking care of my family (my dad had to amputate his leg last year). So, even though a lot of the music and vocals lines were ready, we could not find the time for the final recordings in the studio. But I am glad we didn't rush things, and took the time needed for the final recording of the album. I personally think it sounds great. I am rarely satisfied with my own performance, but this time I have to say that I am.
T.V.: I understand and I'm sorry to hear that about your father. Even though that on the first listen and look (the title and cover artwork) everything seems pretty similar to the part I, I'm interested where do you see the main differencies between two albums?
Cecilie: The cover itself is of course similar since it is a picture of the same tree, but for part 2 we see a winter scenery instead of autumn. But the rest of the artwork is very different. Part 1 had pictures from the eastern part of Norway (more lakes and forests), and part 2 from the northern part of Norway (more open sea and mountains). And it's autumn versus winter. Musically, part 2 is more classical and a bit less experimental than part 1. Part 2 has got a lot more solemn sections with only a few instruments and vocals. There is also a more romantic and more dramatic feel to the vocals, if you ask me. When it comes to the lyrics they have also evolved into something far more disturbing and depressing.
T.V.: Yes, I noticed a lot of classical and also symphonic elements added into the picture. As you mentioned the lyrics, tell me what's the message behind them, and are all of them a part of a big thematical concept?
Cecilie: Yes, the lyrics are a part of a thematical concept. All our lyrics, from Repose until Medusa Truth Part 2 evolve around  existensialism. The feeling of being lost in a meaningless and absurd world where no God exists. Either you find your life's purpose or you don't. Finding that purpose is all up to you. And if you don't find your purpose, life might not be worth living.
T.V.: Pretty philosophical themes. Are you interested in existential philosophy maybe?
Cecilie: I think I speak for all members of Omit when I say, yes we are. Kjetil is the one mainly writing the lyrics, and he does a great job of portraying the inner dialogue and thoughts of a person having trouble finding meaning in life.
T.V.: Ok, back to the album. Three lenghty songs, only one under 20 minutes, yet you managed to make it quite dramatic and dynamic somehow. Tell me, who's the main man behind compositions and can you explain me the process of songwriting in Omit?
Cecilie: I am glad you feel that way. We never plan how long a song should be, we just do what feels natural. We make music we like, and sometimes that turns into an 8 minute long song and sometimes a 30 minute long song. Tom and Kjetil create the main frame of the songs by sending the music back and forth between them. For Part 2 Tom has written most of the basic guitar parts of the songs. When the skeleton of the song is somewhat in place I take over and create the vocal lines. Then Tom works on filling out the arrangements based on the vocals, and send it to Kjetil again to see if he has got something more to add. Kjetil then writes the lyrics based on the vocal lines I have made and he spends a lot of time making the phrasing of each sentence work perfectly with the melodies. I guess you can say we work with our songs a bit like playing a game of ping pong.
T.V.: Interesting! So you don't work in an old style manner in a rehearsal room or studio together? Do you even have one where you practice together?
Cecilie: We only work together in the studio when we record the songs, but not in the process of writing them. I guess we are not a typical band meeting up once a week in a rehersal room playing our songs over and over. Since playing live would take a lot of time practising with a bunch of session musicians we prioritize making new music instead. We have a lot of different bands and projects we are active in, so we try to spend time on all of them.

T.V.: I see. The album, like every one of Omit and also of other bands that you are involved, is released by your own label Secret Quarter Records. Why on the first place did you take this decision to release your music on your own and not on one of the established labels?
Cecilie: We tried for a long time to get a decent deal with established labels. Either they were not interested, or the deals we were offered were horrible. We could not sign a deal that gave the label an exclusive right to our names for 50 years, no digital distribution, not being allowed to make music in other projects/band etc. We then decided to make Secret Quarters so we could own our own names and material. I guess a more estabilshed label could have given us a bigger audience, but it is not worth selling your soul for it. Secret Quarters is a small label with a main objective of releasing our own music. We do not have large budgets, since we pay for, and do everything ourselves, but I think we manage to maintain a high level of quality for each release.
T.V.: Yes you're right about that and from what I can see everything around Secret Quarters looks pretty professional. In my opinion the epic 30 minutes long song "Medusa Truth" is a creative peak of Omit so far. It has so many different facets in it. What can you tell me about this very song, do you feel the same about it?
Cecilie: Thank you, it means a lot to hear that what we are trying to accomplish is percived that way. "Medusa Truth" is, in my opinion, the perfect ending to the Medusa Truth series, and in a way it sums up all three releases when it comes to our diversity in styles and arragements. We always try to challenge the genre of doom metal, and at the same time we highly respect and love it. I guess that is what makes our music both appeal to fans of classical doom metal, and to fans that enjoy a bit more experimetal and challenging stuff. We have quite a few sections in odd meeters, like 9/8, 10/4 or 17/8 in the album as a whole, for instance.
T.V.: Even though that the music is in the first place in its basis doom metal, your vocal style is not really a typical for it, more for some kind of a symphonic metal stuff, in my opinion. I'm interested which vocalists are your main influences?
Cecilie: I have never really thought about my vocal style not being typical for doom metal. I do what feels right and what I think sounds good. Tom is always doing a good job at giving me feedback when recording our songs. We experiment with different styles and sounds that suits my voice. I am influenced by a lot of vocalists, I find it hard to mention only a few. But I repect and have always listened to Sissel Kyrkjebø, Kari Rueslåtten, Thom Yorke, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Kristoffer Rygg and Ellen Westberg Andersen amongst many. Lately I have been really into Eivør Pálsdóttir and Elsieanne Caplette.
T.V.: Very interesting names you've mentioned. And which bands/artists are the main influences for Omit sound in general?
Cecilie: Musically we are of course influenced by great doom metal bands like My Dying Bride, The 3rd And The Mortal, Saturnus, Esoteric, Skepticism, Paradise Lost, Anathema, Shape Of Despair and many more. When it comes to the sound for the mix/master Tom listened a lot to Magma at the time of mixing and mastering, and I think that influenced the sound quite a bit.
T.V.: I don't know if my information is right, but did you also recorded, produced and mixed the album on your own? Btw... it has a very good production!
Cecilie: Your information is correct. We do everything ourselves; recording, production and mix/master. We have our own studio right outside of Oslo, and we spent quite a few hours there recording everything. The production and mixing/mastering was done by Tom, and he deserves a lot of credit for the amazing job he did on this album.
T.V.: Do you have any plans to make a video, or a lyric video at least, for a song from the new album?
Cecilie: We do not have any specific plans to make a video. But a 30 minute video would be nice, maybe we should try to make it happen hehe.
T.V.: Tell me about the album title, Medusa Truth. I think that there's some symbolism involved...
Cecilie: The Medusa Truth title is a reference to a section from the book "The Mutiny of the Elsinore" by Jack London. The symbolism in this quote is open to interpretation, but we think that there is an existentialist flavour to it. It talks about the Maya Lie, which can be interpreted to be something akin to the lifelong delusion, the veil over man's eyes. The fact that some people chose to live the lie rather than face the truth. The truth is that life has no meaning. If you want to give it meaning you must find that meaning yourself. That is the Medusa Truth. Others may interpret it differently.

T.V.: What you are saying is pretty nihilistic point of view. So, why do you think that rather than facing the truth, most of people prefer to believe to this or another god that will grant them eternal life after they'll leave their physical bodies?
Cecilie: It is much easier to lie to yourself. The lie being that you have chosen to declare something to be true. You do not care if there is no way to back that up. Searching for the truth is difficult and requires scientific method. People are scared of facing inevitable death and ceasing to exist. They have a hard time dealing with the fact that even though you die, life and the universe carries on without caring. People seek comfort in the lie that life continues after death. That some deity has decided to give your life meaning for you is extremely convenient, and sometimes quite dangerous, depending on the lie of course.
T.V.: But don't you think, that if we are honest, money is the only real god in the world, or better said in society, that humans have created?
Cecilie: To a certain extent, and for a lot of people, I think you are right. We are driven by outer factors that actually do not mean anything. What do you need money for when you are dead? But we create a purpose with everything we do. I think it is something that is embedded deep in the human mind, that we have a need or a longing for a greater meaning in life. If we find none, we create one.
T.V.: And yet most of our time, except for some lucky ones who won on lottery or had rich parents, is spent only for getting money. That's how most of our lives go by...
Cecilie: Humans are sheep. We do what everyone else do and follow the rules of society. It is the only way we know and it makes us feel safe for some reason. There are a few brave people that give this constructed meaning of life the finger and do their own thing. They have my deepest respect and admiration. I myself try my best to not let my life be run be the standards decided by the community. I am not buying a house, I am not having kids. and I am more or less doing whatever I want to. I think a lot of "normal" people find me quite weird for not making the same choices in life as they do. But I have to earn money to be able to buy food and put a roof over my head. I guess I could be a lot braver, but this is as far as I have come.
T.V.: Indeed, that's my point, we all must do it that way. Ok, lets get back to music. Is Omit also meant to play some live shows?
Cecilie: We have no plans for playing live. We would like to, but not a lot of doom venues are able to host around 15 people on stage. We are only three members, and if only the three of us were to play live, over 50% of the music would have to be playback, and that is not our idea of playing live. In addition we would have to hire session musicians and practice for a few weeks at least, so the expences would be quite high. It might happen if someone is willing to pay for it.
T.V.: My first encounter with your music was the gothic metal band Vagrant God. I remember reviewing the self-titled album back in 2012 and I liked it very much. So, what's going on with this band of yours, anything new in the making?
Cecilie: There might be something in the making, but it is still so early in the process that I do not have any interesting news to share yet.
T.V.: And what about the other bands that you are active in, like Skumring, Havnatt or Dævvskævv? Anything to expect soon?
Cecilie: We have material in the making for all of those bands. Dævvskævv is the next up for release. For the next release you will find a good mix of pop, black metal and more experimental stuff. And maybe even a tribute to one of our other bands. Havnatt material is also being written and we hope to start recording some of it real soon. And, believe it or not, we do have material for Skumring, but we are waiting for Váli to finish his solo album. And that might take a few months, or a few years, it is impossible to tell.
T.V.: So, we can expect a lot of music from your side in the future! Are all of these bands/projects of the same importance for you, or do you have a one that is closest to your heart than others?
Cecilie: If erverything goes as planned, yes you can! Oh, that is a though question. They are all important to me, but they have a different  meaning to me. Skumring was my first band, so of course it means a lot because of that. Omit and Havnatt is musically very close to a lot of music that I like and have listened to since I was a teenager. And Dævvskævv is just a bunch of fun since we can make anything we want to, and we do not have to worry about the music fitting into a predefined genre.
T.V.: You already mentioned a couple of things before, but tell me, beside music, what else enthuses you in your life?
Cecilie: Nature and animals are very important to me. I do my best to help protect and repair what others destroy. I love watching the sun set over the ocean, or seeing animals in their rightful environment. I am also a gamer nerd and a movie enthusiast. I guess I like settings that leave me room to be by myself or with a select few people.
T.V.: Ok Cecelie, thank you for taking your time and giving me very interesting answers. I hope that our readers will find interest in Omit's new album. The last words are all yours...
Cecilie: Thank you so much for a very refreshing and interesting interview! I hope our listeners will enjoy the new album, and a special thank you to our fans that always supports us. It is very rewarding to make music when we get so much positive feedback.

Omit links: Official website, Facebook
Secret Quarters Records links: Official website, Facebook