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From Månegarm and Into The Realm of Nattsjäl

From Månegarm and Into The Realm of Nattsjäl

From Månegarm and Into The Realm of Nattsjäl

The mighty Nattsjäl of Sweden has arrived, featuring the participation of Jonas Almqvist and Pierre Vilhelmsson from the early glory days of the long running Månegarm.  Also within the realm of Nattsjäl is Thomas Vikström from Therion as well as former Månegarm vocalist Viktor Hemgren making a guest appearance.  After the well-received debut album Of Chaos Supreme, Nattsjäl returned with lightning speed and skilled precision to unleash their second magnum opus of sonic intrigue entitled I Marors Djup.  

Highwire Daze recently had the opportunity to interview Jonas Almqvist to discuss the creation of Nattsjäl, working with Pierre Vilhelmsson once again on the new project, his time spent within the ranks of Månegarm, and so much more!  Read on…

How did you and Pierre Vilhelmsson come together again to form Nattsjäl?
We both left Månegarm a while ago. He left Månegarm some while earlier than me. I had to leave Månegarm because of some illness – a burnout, or you can call it.  When I was better and wanted to come back to Månegarm, the other guys had stabbed me in the back and had taken over the band which I started, so that was not very fun. Anyway, there was a period, this time I haven’t spoke to Pierre because he left to another part of the country, so we haven’t talked for a long while actually. And then my son persuaded me to start making music again because I was a little bit angry, and I thought I would never play music again, but he persuaded me to start playing and in a little scale helped me to start a studio in my living room.

Things got progressing. I started to speak to some people, because first, it was just a thought of me doing some crazy stuff just for fun, but then it started to grow. Somehow, I thought of Pierre because he is one of the greatest text writers, I think. We always have worked well together. So I think I just reached out to him and asked if he wanted to do some stuff again and well, he thought that was a very good idea. [laughter]. From there, it has just snowballed, you know?

How did Thomas Vikström from Therion and Stormwind become involved with the band?
Yeah, that’s actually also very funny because my idea was to keep it just very casual and very nothing special. And I thought, I have never sung before, just backing vocals on stage, but never lead vocals, so I thought I will do everything myself. So, I started to sing at home, or scream, if you call it, and it progressed because first I wanted to do like black metal and just very raw, but then things moved on and I wanted to have more melodic singing and stuff.

Well, I know my limits [laughter] and that kind of singing was not for me, maybe ten years ahead. So I listen much to Therion and I really love Thomas and his voice. So I just contacted him and asked if he wanted to to sing a little bit. Then this was the first record, I think we were doing an EP, just some songs, just for fun, and to my surprise, he really liked the idea, and “Yeah, sure!“.

These days you can send files to each other and he has a studio at home, so we recorded here and we sent the files to him and then in Spain, he did his vocals there and send it back. That’s how it started and it sounded great, you know? [laughter] So that’s the way he got involved in the band.

I Marors Djup

Viktor Hemgren, who was also in Månegarm on the first album, I believe, only appears on the song, “I Am The Flame”.  What was it like working with Victor again and how did Victor become involved?
Yeah, that’s very really funny. We have had a little bit of contact since the first Månegarm album. Unfortunately, we had to part ways for some reason. I don’t remember. It was a long time ago, but we have had a little bit of contact and I know he does more of techno stuff now, so he doesn’t do very much metal, actually. I think he works with music, with very pop music and stuff.

Somehow, we just started talking and he had listened to the record and thought it was very good. So I just asked him, “well, do you sing anymore?” But no, he said “No.” unfortunately, but I said, “Let’s try it for fun. It will be for old time’s sake“. He has a friend in Stockholm that has a studio that’s a very famous studio. So, we sent the song there, and he did sing it in that studio and sent it back just for fun to see. First, we’ve thought, maybe he can do some dubbing on the real song in the background, but it actually sounded so good, so we thought, well, we should give him the song for himself, you know?  I think I was very surprised because I think he sounded better than when he did the Månegarm songs, so I think he will be on more songs actually in the future, but we’ll see.

For fans of your previous band Månegarm, how would you describe the music of Nattsjäl?
I think we joked about it someday here, and we said it’s like we have mentored a new genre like buffet metal [laughter]. In Månegarm, you have a genre, you have a style that you have to keep. So here, I guess I have free hands to do whatever I feel like for the moment and what comes out, so it’s much more fun. It just gets what it gets. It has to be in the realm of metal and some kind of spiritual folklore and black – that universe, but otherwise it can be very broad, you know? So, yeah, it’s more fun to be creative because I can do whatever I want.

Has Nattsjäll performed live yet? Or do you plan to do so in the future?
It’s just a studio project so far because we live in different parts of the country and also in different countries. We have on this record, we have also Christian Vidal from Therion doing four of the the lead solos. He’s from Argentina and Thomas lives in Spain, and so it would be quite difficult to make a gig right now anyway, but hopefully in the future, I hope we can make some gigs all along the way, but we’ll see.  You have to rehearse first [laughter]. It’s not easy too, but it can be done.  I know Therion have done it so I guess it can be done, but then you probably would have to meet. Let’s say, you have a gig in Germany or something, then you probably have to meet at the hotel a couple of weeks before and try to rehearse a little. It’s not so easy but it can be done.

When you look back on that first Månegarm album, Nordstjärnans Tidsålder, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
Yeah, I actually listened to it not so long ago, I guess it was to listen to Viktor’s vocals.   We were quite early with a lot of things. One of the first bands I think, to do this kind of music and we make breaking new waves. So, I think it’s very original and very fun to listen to because it’s fun for me. I brought all almost every song on that one so it’s very fun to listen now, because I really liked what I did, like “wow! that was not so bad, you know?“, that was really good. So, yeah, I like the record very much like.

What was it like being signed to a label called Displeased Records?
[laughter] Unfortunately, they made the name. We were not so very pleased with them, actually. That was not very good. Well, you can’t blame them for all, but when they sent the contract, it was very long and had a lot of paragraphs and we didn’t hire any legal help because we didn’t think we could afford it, but we read through it and thought “it looks okay.” We were happy to make record and the contract was for five records and so we think that’s good [laughter]. But we signed away all rights to our music, basically, it’s called STIM in Sweden.  So, we didn’t get any money from when they printed records, and a lot of stuff was just up. Some record labels did that back in the days. That was not very nice, so we were very displeased actually with them for a while there.

Of Chaos Supreme

Displeased with Displeased records, love it [laughter].  Okay, so when you look back on the final album, self-titled album you did with Månegarm, what do you think of that now in retrospect? And that was on a totally different label, Napalm records?
Yeah, at that time, I had so much in my life, so I was beginning to burnout. I was on that path, so I didn’t write much of the music on the album, actually. I think I just wrote two songs and some lyrics. I was beginning to get a little bit tired there. So that was the last record, unfortunately. But it was a good record and Erik writes very good music, so they did it well without me, actually.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the current members of Manegarm?
No, not at all. You know, you think you are friends? I mean, we started this together a long ago and Erik was with us from almost the start. So I mean, I started the band, actually. Everything has been my idea and Pierre also. We have the image and everything. We had been the brains behind all this. Then just because I got sick and then I want to talk to them because I was getting better, and I thought, “Okay, let’s have a cup of coffee and talk“, you know? They just said, “No, we have found a way that works better, we don’t need you.”  They didn’t even want to meet me and that was really not nice, actually. So, no, I don’t talk to them, and I don’t know if I ever will actually. We’ll see.

What’s up next for Nattsjäl?
Right now, we did this record like very fast after the other one because my son, who’s also the producer and stuff, he is going away to study in another part of the country to be a music engineer – to study music production and get even better at what he’s doing.  So the next phase now, we will probably release the songs one-on-one, like singles for a while, and we will make them together because we already have the new name for the next album ready. The thought, it will be concept album. It will be a concert album probably called The Chaosweaver. This is exclusive for you though [laughter].  I think we were quite sure we will do it. So yeah, The Chaosweaver, and we probably do singles and then we make it all to one record in the future.

We can’t work like we have been doing for the other records. And then when my son comes back, we have said we’re going to build a studio, a real studio, and we’ll see. But yeah.

Well thank you for the exclusive there [laughter].
Yeah [laughter], you’re welcome.

Is your son in any other bands or projects?
No, and he wants to be anonymous. Right now, he does not actually play metal. He plays more pop music and stuff, but he has done a lot of good things, but he hasn’t released it yet because he will only release it when he’s satisfied with it. For him to be satisfied with something, it has to be hundred percent, so we’ll see. But he has said that he probably will release some stuff in the coming years, so we’ll see.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the States who have been following your career since since Månegarm?
It would be really, really fun to play again in the States. That’s something I would really like to do in the future. So, I can just say I hope to see you someday again because I had a real, real blast last time. So hopefully, some time we can meet again.

Nattsjäl is:
Jonas Almqvist: Guitar, Lead guitar, Harsh vocals, Bass, composer of music and lyrics
Pierre Vilhelmsson: Lyrics media and composer, vocals
Thomas Vikström: Epic clean vocals and ideas
Mr X: Drums, Studio recording, mastering, mixing guitar composing

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Nattsjäl on Instagram

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