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Morten Veland – Pushing the boundaries with Sirenia

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It has taken 12 years, six albums, and a failed attempt in 2010, but Norways’ Gothic Metal masters Sirenia are at last headed to Australia.  Guitarist and founder Morten Veland is looking forward to finally making it downunder.

Veland’s enthusiasm for the Australian tour comes through immediately. “It’s something that we wanted to do for a long time, we are really happy we are finally making it happen,” he explains.   “Australia is quite a different space compared to Norway so it’s something unique. I know that we have a really tight time schedule while we are down there but I hope there will be some free time where we can travel around a bit and see some of Australia.”

It’s been a long wait for Australian fans, and the band is looking forward to playing a mix of material on this first tour. “For Australia we have a long set list and we’ll do songs from all six albums,” says Veland.   “Of course there is a little bit more focus on the new album which is a natural way to do things.  Our fans have different favourites, some prefer our old songs, some prefer the new stuff, so we’ll try to make everybody happy.”

The new album is the recently released Perils of the Deep Blue. Veland has spent more than two years writing and recording the 14 tracks and is justifiably proud of the final results. “We spent an enormous amount of time writing and recording it,” he laughs, with a strong emphasis on ‘enormous’ .  “Especially the recording process, we put so many hours into that and in the end all the hard work paid off for us.  Every album we definitely put huge amounts of time and effort but this time we were really pushing it to the limit and extreme lengths. “  Having spent so long making the album, he’s also finally finding the time to sit back and enjoy it.  “When I listen to it now, I listen to it with fresh ears.  At the time while you are in the middle of the process it can be quite chaotic and you can start to lose a bit of judgement, you’ve heard the songs so many times.  It puts a smile on my face to listen to the album now.”

Pushing the limits for the album is a theme he returns to again and again. This philosophy extended out to the instruments used, even including exotic choices such as the theremin on some tracks.  “I wanted to bring some new stuff to the table for sure, to do something different,” he explains.  “Another thing we did was to write some songs in Norwegian.  And again I have  guitar solos with a slide.  That’s a cool effect and something different to do sometimes, if it works out for the benefit of the song, instead of the normal guitar solo.”  He also laughs about the a side effect of pushing boundaries, ”I notice when we perform the new songs live it is more demanding than performing the old material.  With the guitar work it’s something that has become very clear to me!”

Sirenia’s early years were marked by a steady turnover of members, particularly the female lead vocalist.  Veland admits this constant need to search out replacements made it harder to keep the focus on the music.  But the arrival of Spanish-born vocalist Ailyn five years ago has brought much needed continuity.  “Having a stable line up, you get experience together, you know how you work together, you know how to improve things, you find the things that work well and the things that you need to work on,” he says. “I’m very happy we’ve really found the right people.  On a personal level, on a musical level, we work well together and we are thriving in each other’s company.”

This growing experience comes through clearly with Ailyn’s performance on the new album.  Her range and delivery have moved to a new level on Perils of the Deep Blue in Veland’s opinion, “Ailyn wanted to push herself to the maximum and deliver new and different things.  She brings a great performance to the album and she did a great job in getting the vocals to a higher level.  I really feel that we have been growing quite a bit with this album.”

For Veland, Sirenia is an all-consuming passion.  He writes all the music and lyrics, plays almost all the instruments during recording, takes on the role of producer in the studio, then takes his music on the road to promote each album.  Although  he thrives on the energy of live performance, he admits that song writing  is his biggest passion. “I’ve always been very fascinated by the creative process, composing the music and seeing how a song evolves and turns out.  That gives me the greatest kick, just sitting in a studio and working on a new idea. It’s like a huge fantastic feeling of achieving something special.  In many ways I consider myself a composer and songwriter rather than a musician.”

As anyone who has seen Sirenia live will confirm, Veland has no trouble backing up his composing skills with his musicianship.  A fact that will be made clear to Australian fans for the first time very soon.

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