Forest Of Shadows interview (10/2005)
|With:||Niclas Frohagen [All Instruments]|
Forest Of Shadows
- First of all Niclas I'd like to thank you for giving me the chance of interviewing you, the personality behind one of my favorite bands!
You're welcome and I'm flattered.
- Would you mind telling us a few words concerning the history of the band for all those that haven't heard of Forest Of Shadows yet?
Well, the band was founded 1997 in Halmstad, Sweden as a solo-project of mine. In 1998, after the first demo "The Silent Cry", me and the band relocated to Gothenburg and found a new member in multi-instrumentalist Micce Andersson. Together we started a long process of refining the sound and direction of the band. During this time two demos that consisted mainly of remakes from the first demo, were recorded and they gained good critics. In 2000, we recorded and produced the mCD "where dreams turn to dust". After various kinds of problems the album got released by the english label "Rage of Achilles" in the autumn of 2001. The deal with ROA also included a full-length which would later be known as "departure". Producing this album would turn out to be a longlasting and painfull process though which resulted in it being rearranged and rerecorded three times. Not only did Micce and all his instrumental talent leave the band for various reasons but also the label ROA ceased to exist just before the release. Fortunatelly the finnish label Firedoom showed up and rescued the band from total disaster. In the autumn of 2004 they finally released "departure". Currently the band, that has become what it once started out as - a solo-project of mine, has just just finished producing a remastered re-release of the mCD "where dreams turn to dust" that will be released in the end of 2005 on Firedoom. New material is also being written as we speak but what it will end up as lies in the hands of the future...
- Congratulations on your latest release, "Departure", I, really, wasn't expecting something less than an in depth and emotionally composed album by you!
You're expecting quite a lot and I'm glad that I was able to live up to it all. Actually I would never dream of not living up to such expectations since. I couldn't release an album that has been done in a haste and that doesn't have any depth whatsoever.
- How did you come up with the name Forest Of Shadows? Judging from your utterly poetic lyrics there's always a reference to a forest, a forest harmonizing with the most doleful tales, becoming a forest of shadows, shadows turning to memories that hurt, to nightmares, to tears, to melancholy…
I hate to break the illusion but there wasn't much thought behind the name when I took it. It was merely supposed to symbolize something rather beautifull and haunting, that is the characteristics of the music I wanted to and still want to create.
- What I really liked on "Departure" was the fact that you didn't remain stable to the sound Forest Of Shadows had on "Where Dreams Turn To Dust" and the demos of the band. You chose to take the sound of the band some steps further, yet, sounding always Forest Of Shadows.
I wouldn't say that the songs differ that much from the older stuff on a more basic level but soundwise it sure is a big step into a new direction. Not only was I able to finialize the album by myself and thus put a more personal touch to it than I was able to on "where dreams turn to dust" but also I had different references both in terms of composition and production. I guess my main goal was to make it sound less "classical" since I knew that I couldn't compete with the super productions made in expensive studios with proffesional producers. So I went for the alternative and different solution.
- The cover of "Departure" seems in a way simplistic, but it represents in the most appropriate way the oblivious and grieving feeling of a band bearing the poetic name Forest Of Shadows.
Less is more. I like simplicity both musically and visually. It adds a feeling calmness but also in this case a feeling of bleak desolation.
- The mourning feeling is present, as always, but this time you chose to leave behind the folk oriented ideas with the violin and flute passages that had been a part of Forest Of Shadows for years now. One of the reasons you left behind these passages was the fact that Micce Andersson left the band around 2002?
Musically I wouldn't say that the album is less folk oriented. I guess it's just a matter of instrumentation. The reason why I dropped the violin is as you said that Micce left the band since he was the violin player. I just didn't really see any reason to mimic what he would have done in a synthetic way and I didn't know anyone else that played violin so I just dropped it. Why get stuck on a single instruments when there are so many other to choose from out there.
- The place of the violin and the flute passages have been replaced by acoustic and low-tempo trip hop oriented passages if I may say, harmonizing beautifully still with the sound of Forest Of Shadows. How did you manage to place such references in the sound of the band? They are pacing in such a great way with the doom/death metal outbursts that have always been a characteristic of Forest Of Shadows.
To me it felt very natural for these passages to be where they are. I didn't squeezed them in there just for the sake of it. The reason why they harmonize as good as they do with the more classical metal parts is probaly because the compositions were quite abstract in terms of instrumentation and thus it became as natural to play it with electronics as with guitars.
- Another change one may notice are your clean vocals, they sound pretty different in the way they are being used on "Departure", yet always remaining Niclas Frohagen. Such type of vocals paces wonderfully with the trip hop passages or the emotional and musical outbursts where you choose to sing with your clean melodic vocals as well.
The clean vocals are definatelly as I see it one of the top improvements on "departure" compared to the old recordings. For the first time in the history of the band I was actually quite satisfied with what I had accomplished. I guess for every recording I get more skilled and get to know my voice better and how to use it.
- Your grunting vocals remain utterly expressive and very extreme, emotional in their own desolate and desperate way and harmonize wonderfully with the moments they enter a song escalating the emotional charge of the song. What should we expect from Forest Of Shadows vocally in the future? More grunting or more clean vocal passages? Or a golden balance of these two types of singing?
I like the golden balance between screamy and more clean vocals but I won't add anything just for the sake of it. So it's all up to the compositions. I really would like to see both more of the extreme and the melodic in the screamy vocals.
- Are you working on something new at the current time concerning the future of Forest Of Shadows? Any album in your plans for the forthcoming future?
Yes, I have some material that I have been working on lately and I do have plans for releasing the stuff some day but I can't say when.
- Is it possible for Forest Of Shadows, since it is an one man band and there are no standard members to work together except for you, to evoke the same mourning feeling as you achieve in your albums at the live shows of the band?
Everything is possible according to some and in this case I it definatelly is. Still, it would require a lot of work to find the right people and to rehearse and arrange the shows and as it is right now I don't see that happening. There is too much going on in my life as it is and I rather focus on the recordings.
- What I have always liked in Forest Of Shadows was the fact that they were harmonizing their influences in such a way that they are getting lost in the magic and exceptional aesthetic of their music as a band! When I listen to a song composed by Forest Of Shadows I can tell for sure that it is Forest Of Shadows since your music has an intense personal approach in its overall existence; music, emotions, atmosphere. Which bands would you consider as your main influences?
I'm glad to hear that you think Forest of Shadows has a truly unique sound. I guess it could be a consequence of rather different influences and the fact that the songs aren't composed as being metal, doom or whatever. It's just melodies and rythms that happens to be played with guitar and drums most of the time. My influences then. Well, they are changing all the time and at the moment I'm quite into what I would refer to as post-doom, that is bands such as Isis, Cult of Luna, Koma and stuff like that. Another type of music that influence me quite a lot at the moment is progressive rock and by that I mean the type that is more dirty, dark and rockish. I really think there is much to learn from bands such as Anekdoten and Paatos. Apart from this there is the everlasting influence from swedish folkmusic, dark electronica and all kinds of dark/doom-metal in general.
- Once you had covered Katatonia's "Rainroom", a brilliant cover if you ask me, catching the original feeling of the song. Have you covered any other songs, on stage probably? If so, which ones? Are you planning on covering any other song on an official Forest Of Shadows release in the future?
We did "Brave" by Katatonia live once and during the same gig we also did an instrumental version of a traditional swedish song called "Vårvindar friska". I don't have any plans for doing any covers in the future but who knows. It would most likely be more as interpretations than imitations. I never really liked the thing about doing covers that sound the same as the original.
- Some years have passed since the first days of Forest Of Shadows. How does it feel when you look back? How were you dreaming the future days of the band back then?
There has never been any high pretentions or ambitions in the band. Well, ofcourse we had dreams in the beginning of getting signed and releasing albums and all that but as soon as that stage was reached we were quite satisfied. Still, it's really interesting to look back and see, or actually hear, how it all started and to get a feeling of that initial musical vision.
- Concerning your lyrics, they are of the most beautiful, doleful and mourning, at the same time, lyrics I have ever read! They are pure poetry to my eyes and they harmonize in a perfect way with your vocals and the music of the band! When is the right moment for you to sit down and express you feelings in such unique and expressive ways?
Whenever I feel inspired I guess, which mostly happens late at night in solitude after having experienced something inspiring such as a good book or film.
- Concerning Ningizzia now, I was talking to Stephane the other day and he told me that there's a chance of you two coming back together and start composing the new Ningizzia album by the end of the year. Is it true?
Yeah, there is a chance. I really like the stuff that me and Stéphane has accomplished thru the years and I do think there is much to be done. It's quite hard to find any time to spend on that project though but I guess that will come one day, or I will have to take some time.
- What does Ningizzia mean?
It's the name of an ancient summerian god. Very cliché.
- "Dolorous Novella" is a novella to lost and dark times. References from Forest Of Shadows are obvious in the way some songs have been composed, but for sure the bands aren't the same since you and Stephane try to express something different, more nightmarish, haunting and at the same time beautiful in its own way. The folk references are intense through the whole duration of the album and they make the overall aesthetic of olden times more intense.
Initially the bands were quite similar and the stuff that I did for the bands at that time was pretty much the same. But after a while Forest of Shadows became more and more focused around simplicity while Ningizzia continued to work on its diversity and the difference between the bands became more clear. I could still write and use the same song in both bands though without it sounding misplaced so I don't think the difference is that huge.
- What's your opinion on Stephane's other project named Inborn Suffering?
I haven't heard more than rough demo recordings and it wouldn't be fair to judge the band from that material.
- What is your opinion about the doom metal scene nowadays? Which bands would you consider as important for the genre for the time being?
If we are speaking true doom I would say the most important bands at the moment are Shape of Despair and Funeral Orchestra. Then again I don't listen to that much doom at the moment so I'm probaly missing quite a lot. Why I'm not listening to doom metal is simply because I find it hard to find new and fresh bands. I really like the genre but I don't see the point in listening to the same songs over and over again. I also think a lot of bands are lacking that magic that makes them interesting. They are way too focused on being true to the genre and they get lost in all clichés.
- I'd like to thank you for your time answering this interview and thank you as well for the beautiful music throughout the years! End the interview in any way you wish and add a very special to you lyric of Forest Of Shadows…
Well, thanks for interviewing me and for doing it in a less typical way. It's really fun to be interviewed by someone who really cares for the music and that gives you intelligent questions. Cheers.
||Posted on 02.10.2005 by "It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."|
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