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Mørke - Interview

Interview with: Susanne Dahle Johansen, Stig Johansen
Conducted by: T.V.

Do you miss the old glory days of gothic metal, that time in the mid 90s and early 2000 when bands like Tristania, Theatre Of Tragedy, Trail Of Tears, Within Temptation, The Sins Of Thy Beloved, Sirenia and some other beauty and the beast acts, gave shape to what was called gothic metal. That dark romantic, mystical yet heavy pristine sound got lost somehow with further development of the style, some got lost in mainstream, some added too much electronics, others went into pop waters and some into extreme metal, others into indie/alternative rock, and the new bands that called themselves as gothic metal were actually not interested in this specific style anymore, so, somehow that vibe got lost. Now we have it back, Norwegian duo Mørke, a band formed by gothic metal legend, the ex-The Sins Of Thy Beloved and ex-Savn member Stig Johansen, together with his wife, the beautiful siren Susanne Dahle Johansen, are on mission to bring back those days. Mørke is deeply rooted in the 90s gothic metal, but yet their music feels fresh and somehow new, Mørke are not just a mere copycat, but are able to make their own distinguishable sound. In late January the two released their debut album named Death Embraces You All, a captivating, dark, beauty and the beast, haunting album that brings shivers (read the review over HERE), and just recently Mørke released their first official video for a new song "From Dusk To Ashes", a song which predicts that more is yet to come from this Norwegian vault. Susanne and Stig were kind enough to take some time with my questions and explained a lot of things about Mørke, their debut album, future plans, about the gothic metal genre and many other interesting things.

T.V.: Mørke is a new name for most of the people in gothic metal scene. Can you say some things about the band to present it to those of our readers who still haven't heard of you?
Yeah, sure! Mørke is build from the love of the 90s old school gothic metal scene. Both me and Stig have a huge love for the early gothic metal bands like old Tristania, Theatre Of Tragedy, etc, and we just couldn't understand why the gothic metal bands are so different today, that's why we wanted to start our own band to bring the old style to life again.
T.V.: Even though that is a new name, Stig Johansen is a well known name in gothic metal, as a former member of The Sins Of Thy Beloved. And like you said the main idea to form Mørke is to revive the gothic metal spirit from 90s. Do you think that the gothic metal of today is lacking such a sound?
Stig: Most of it sounds like shit. Say no more. 
Susanne: Yes, it feels like it is becoming more mainstream for every year. It is not as dark, heavy and emotional as it used to be.
T.V.: I can agree with this to some point. Ok, even though that the main inspiration of Mørke comes from there, I find it quite original and it still feels like you wanted to do something new.
Susanne: Yes that's true. We wanted to make music that is 100% our own, without infuences of the media and not following the mainstream scene, and what is "expected" from todays gothic metal bands.

T.V.: You released your debut album, Death Embraces You All, in late January. Tell me, after some months since the release, I wonder how are you satisfied with it, and what about the response from media and fans?
Susanne: We are actually a bit overwhelmed with the response. We got so many wonderful messages from both old fans of the 90s gothic metal scene and from fans who are new to the genre. And we would like to give a huge thanks to all who have supported us!
T.V.: The album was self-released and I wonder why did you decide to release it that way? Were you opting out to any labels or was there no interest for that?
Susanne: The reason why we wanted to release it ourselves is that we didn't want anyone else to influence our music. It might sound a bit harsh, but it can change the music and the vision that we have for our band. We have been offered contracts for some record deals, but we have told them no.
T.V.: Where it's possible to buy your album? You don't have it on Bandcamp and I can't find it on any online digital shops?
Susanne: The album can be purcased on itunes and Amazon. We hope to get physical albums sometime in the near future though.
T.V.: The album is pure beauty and the beast goodness if you ask me, and you did a really good job with everything around it. Tell me now about the title Death Embraces You All. Any special meaning in that? And what about the lyrics, where the inspiration comes from?
Susanne: We did decide that Mørke is going to be a band with no boundaries, and that means in the lyrics as well. The title Death Embraces You All comes from one of our earlier songs which is featured on the album as well. It is a song about life and death, and no matter how hard people want to live and stay young forever, death will embrace us all eventually. So it is a very harsh truth in the title, who can make people think what they want to accomplish before they die. So if you think about it the title is quite bittersweet! The main inspiration for the lyrics is of course all the beautiful Norwegian nature that we are surrounded with. That is something that really boosts my creative writing process, but some of the songs are based also on life experiences.
T.V.: I'm interested how the compositional process went. If I understand well than Stig is responsible for the music and you for lyrics?
Susanne: Mostly, it starts with a guitar riff that Stig makes, then he builds up from that with the other instruments, and he always want me to take a part of that process as well. So I often come up with ideas for the songs and make some changes here and there.
T.V.: Were there no other musicians involved in the recording process?
Susanne: No, everything what you hear is our own work.
T.V.: A couple of days ago you released a very nice video for the track "From Dusk To Ashes". It's a track that was not featured on the album, and I believe that this means that you are working on a new material?
Stig: Yes we are! We are planning to release a new album in the nearest future.
T.V.: So this song is from the upcoming one?
Stig: Yes, this will be one of the songs of the new album. And we are also excited to reveal that we will release one more song in the nearest future, but that will be the last one before the album releases.
T.V.: I'm really looking forward to hear it. Now about the video... How it was making it and how are you satisfied with the final result?
Susanne: We knew in the beginning that the video was going to be quite dark. So we do feel that it is very different from the most gothic metal videos you see today. The filming process was so much fun, even though we scared some local hikers with our cransy contact lences, haha! But we are very proud and satisfied with the result and all the lovely feedback!
T.V.: The music of Mørke in its basis has some elements also from other genres, not only gothic metal. I can find some extreme metal, black metal, doom and death metal as well in it. I believe that your influnces are quite wide?
Susanne: Yes. We are both fans of bands like Dimmu Borgir, Burzum,...  So we get influences from many places.
T.V.: As you mentioned Dimmu Borgir, I wonder what do you think about their new album, Eonian?
Susanne: It is an amazing piece of work, and we really like it! It was worth the wait!
T.V.: Indeed it's really fantastic. Back to Mørke now... We were talking before about the new stuff of yours and the new track "From Dusk To Ashes" shows that you will follow similar style on your next album, or will there be some differencies in the sound of yours?
Stig: We are planning to make the next album a bit more darker and emotional, and with a bit better sound, as far as our homestudio allows.
T.V.: Will you have any live shows or is Mørke meant only as a studio project?
Susanne: We have planned to have live shows in the future, but we need musicians for that and a really good drummer, so time will tell.
T.V.: Tell me what actually the band name Mørke means and how did you come up with it?
Susanne: I remember we came up with the name in a late autumn night, while discussing our new band. The Norwegian word Mørke means darkness, so we felt it fitted very well.

T.V.: I always wonder why Stig didn't decide to revive The Sins Of Thy Beloved and create something new with that already established name. Maybe this is in the air somehow or are The Sins Of Thy Beloved dead and buried?
Stig: The Sins Of Thy Beloved has been over for a long time and it was time to create something new.
T.V.: And what about Savn? I found that band also pretty interesting...
Stig: I decided to leave the band many years ago, it was not that type of music I wanted to play, but luckily I met my future wife there, when she was in the music video "Hang On", so that I am forever grateful for.
T.V.: And you Susanne, were you before Mørke involved in any other band or musical project?
Susanne: I was very active in singing, but I did not know anyone who liked my type of music before I met my husband. So it just became very natural when he ask me if we could start a band together.
T.V.: Regarding to your amazing vocals I believe that you had some vocal training? This kind of voice can't come up just out of nowhere?
Susanne: No, I have never had any kind of vocal training, it just come from practice. But thank you!
T.V.: And who's responsible for your outfit, dress, the looks,... pretty awesome by the way, really dark sexy goth thing...
Susanne: One of my dresses are made by the wonderful Sarah in Moonmaiden gothic clothing, but I have dressed like this as long as I can remember, so that is basically what my wardrobe consists of.
T.V.: Cool! And beside music what are other interests in your life?
Susanne: Most of my time goes to writing music, but I also enjoy walks in the forest and photography.
T.V.: What's spinning in your music player right now? And do you have any music recommendations for our readers?
Susanne: Currently I'm listening a lot to bands like Elusive, Dismal Euphony, Long Night and Burzum, so those are bands worth checking out!
T.V.: And who are the vocalists that influenced you the most?
Susanne: I really don't have any vocalists that influences me, I sing in my own way with my own voice.
T.V.: That's true, but still some reviewers mentioned that your voice reminds sometimes to Liv Kristine or Vibeke Stene. What do you think about this comparisson?
Susanne: I take that has a huge honour to be compared with such amazingly talented vocalists. When I first started as the female vocalist of Mørke I was a bit nervous, but I have been greeted with open arms by the fans and gotten so many nice comments, so now it is more of a natural thing for me to record in studio.
T.V.: Ok, that's good to hear! Before the final question... can you maybe give us some more details about your second album? When can we expect it, what will be the title, will it also be self released, and so on?
Susanne: We can't reveal too many details yet, but it will be self released as it was the debut, with the same or at least similar music style as our previous album. We do hope to release it by the end of this year of the beginning of next year. We can also reveal that we are planning to release another music video for a new song before the album releases.
T.V.: Great, I'm sure that those who follow our webmagazine will be thrilled about it. Thank you for taking your time with answering my questions. Anything that you would like to add at the end of this interview?
Susanne & Stig: We want to thank all of our fans for the support and thank you so much for having us!

Mørke links: Facebook, YouTube