Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Svalbard Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?

 We're fiercely independent. We pride ourselves on being mindful, hard-working and have a strong DIY ethic. All of our songs are thoroughly researched social commentary. We won't ever lyrically or musically dumb ourselves down. We all have very ecclectic music tastes, which reflects itself in our music - we're not concerned with fitting in with a genre. We just play whatever we love. We know we're never going to make it!

2.How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recordings?

I would say we sound like an explosion in the heart, a lump in the throat or a punch in the gut; depending on the song. Our album is a cake of many layers, most of them bitter sweet. 
There is definitely a post-rock / dream pop influence within our heaviness; we're big fans of bands like Alcest, Mew, Mono, Dirty Three etc. In general, we all have varied and eclectic music taste, which amalgamates itself into some kind of Swedish Crust Hardcore Post Rock beast. 
I always find it complimentary when people say they find our music hard to describe / categorize, because all of my favorite bands tend to be like that. I don’t think we consciously try to sound like part of a particular genre, or have obvious, direct musical influences. We just go with what we love, whether it’s distortion, delay, clean passages, blast beats, or d -beat – if it feels good to us to play, then it becomes part of our sound.
The most important thing for me in music is atmosphere; so anything dark, broodying and heartfelt is what inspires me the most. When I write a Svalbard riff, I search for that feeling not for the ‘right’ notes.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?

Track by track, 'Perspective' is about the glamourisation of sadness in alternative music. People who promote depression as a cool thing; as if it's a necessary artists requirement. It bothers me because genuine mental illness is still hugely stigmatised in society. If only we could be as accepting of the reality of despair as we are of the image of it.
'Disparity' is about the gap between the projected self and the real self. The dangers of manipulating your own identity to perfection online; thus creating an unattainable target for yourself in the real world. This song is asking the question: how much does social media breed discontent? 
The Vanishing Point is about ex band members, who claim to be in it for the long haul but they run away from any real commitment. It's about when you can see that change in someone, the growth of their disinterest and you can just feel them pulling away.
Expect Equal Respect is about how when you define a musician by their gender - you reduce them to it. I hate it when Svalbard are called 'Female Fronted' - A) I'm not the front person, I'm the guitarist who does a bit of vocals! B) Highlighting someones gender makes it seem as though it's a relevant factor when it's not. You can't hear my ovaries on the album. But when someone describes your band by a physical attribute such as gender, it makes you feel as though that's all they've noticed. They don't care about your songs, they care about the fact that your a girl. Which is so stupid. Stop treating women as if they are novelties - anyone who plays music should simply be referred to as a musician, regardless of their sex, orientation, race or religion.
'Unrequited' is a bit of a lovelorn ballad. 'Unnatural Light' concerns how social media has become the "opium of the masses" by locking its users into a permanantly distracted state. It provides an outlet for people to moan, thus preventing them from taking action in the real world. They just type a status, then stare at the screen all spent and subservient.
Our album is called One Day All This Will End. It sounds like a pessimistic title, but it wasn't intended to be. The idea that we're trying to convey is that both all good things and all bad things will pass. The happiness won't last, but neither will the sadness. It's about the flow of opposites that rise and fall against each other, never settling in one state forever. When I think about the phrase 'one day all this will end', it fills me with a sense of relief because it celebrates the eternal possibilities of change and the passion that embeds itself within an awareness of the finite.


4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Svalbard'?

Svalbard is an archipelago, all on its own. Sometimes we feel like that as a band, as we don't really fit in with a particular scene or sub-genre. So the name kind of symbolises that. 
Svalbard is also one of the settings in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy; we really love those books and I think our icy, post-rock tones would make a fitting soundtrack to the bleak tundra setting of that story!

5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?

The two words I would use to describe our live performances would be 'sweaty' and 'cathartic.' I completely lose myself every time we play our songs, which is a blissful state to achieve for an over-thinker like myself! 
Our 30 minute set always passes by in a blur; when it’s over it feels a bit like being woken up from sleep – because you realize how immersed you were in the music. Even when gigs go badly, the rush of playing heavy riffs as loud as you can with 3 of your friends is always the best feeling ever. 
Playing in Svalbard is by far the most physically exerting band I have played in. Something that isn’t mentioned often in metal / hardcore is how much screaming hurts; after every show I ache all over and feel completely drained. But even that ache itself is a lovely feeling, because it symbolizes that you played your fucking heart out.
It's hard to list the best shows we have played, because every gig is different and has it's own good or bad parts. Playing festivals such as Temples and Fluff Fest was an incredible experience - we were overwhelmed by the positive responses we received there. I always find it particularly moving when I can see the crowd shouting the lyrics with us as we play.

6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

Our next, and last gig of 2015, is in Cheltenham next Friday. We are currently planning 2 European tours for 2016, plus a few weekends in Scandinavia and the UK. We hope to be as busy as possible touring the album next year!

7.A year back you were part of a split with 'Pariso', what are your thoughts on the other band that had participated on the recording?

There’s not many people / bands you meet who straight away you instantly click with. But from the moment we played our first gig together in 2013, we had that with Pariso. They've since become our best friends. Whilst hanging out in London together, Liam and Alex from Pariso came up with the idea for the collaboration record outside an ice cream parlor. It felt like the next logical step for us and Pariso to get musically married, after the honeymoon that was our European tour together! We even have matching 'P / S' tattoos, which stands for Pariso and Svalbard forever.
It's such a shame that Pariso have split up now, they had so many crushing riffs and released tons of awesome records. We played at their final show in September this year, that gig was insane. It was a very mosh-tastic, very emotional farewell. We miss that band already.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

As I write this, I am currently listening to the new Ghost album 'Meliora.' Boy, do they know how to write a prog chorus! Amazing stuff. I have also been enjoying the 'Les Revenants' soundtrack by Mogwai and 'Excercises in Fulity' by Mgla this week. 
Many of our influences aren't directly obvious in our sound: The Cure, Nasum, Fuck The Facts, Nick Cave, Tragedy and Explosions in the Sky inspire us greatly with the feelings their music evokes. It's always the "feeling" we want in our music, not necesssarily the emulation of a particular style. 
We've recently been going crazy over Pink Shiny Ultra Blast, but that doesn't mean our new album is going to sound anything like theirs! But when you find a band whose music affects your heart, it can lead to your own little explosion of ideas, however different they may be. The Svalbard mentality is that different is always good. 


11.What are some of your non musical interests?

Well, I'm a bit of a roller coaster enthusiast. I travel the world riding roller coasters and writing about them. At the moment I have ridden 339 different roller coasters! 
I also draws cute, Japanese-inspired art under the name 'Cherry Cats.'
Liam and Mark both love riding their bikes and watching films.

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Yes, check out the following bands! Dawn Ray'd, Mine, Cady, Hexis, We Never Learned To Live, Anta, Earth Moves, Group Of Man, Ojne, The Tidal Sleep, Venom Prison...we could go on and on!

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