DREAMARCHER - Ruben Aksnes
... We have a vision of making the beautiful parts even more beautiful and the heavy, ugly parts even more heavy and disturbing.
Ruben Aksnes, bassist and singer of DREAMARCHER, talks about different aspects of their musical background, the relationship between landscape and soundscape and about how brewing beer, hiking and snowball-fights can boost their creativity.
Hei, Ruben, hvordan går det? I hope this is proper Norwegian...
Hei, det går bra! Very good Norwegian indeed.
Ok, let’s start with the first question: As the musical world today is literally drowning in sub-genres and DREAMARCHERs music is very versatile, how do you describe your own music? Both, in terms of genre and, more important, in your own words?
It is always hard trying to describe your own style, especially when blending a lot of genres. So in the search for a label on what we do, we have sometimes called it post-metal. What we mean by that, is that we kind of have base in metal, but are branching in many directions from it. Maybe post-rock/metal would do our music more justice, as it is pretty broad, but I feel that also that is way too narrow to actually say anything about our music. In own words I would say that we apply the feel and vulnerability to the ballsy and heavy rock and metal.
When other people talk about your music they often refer to your nordic origin concerning nature. Do you really see a connection between surrounding landscapes and the music that comes from it? Or is it just the lack of new metaphors? Is there a connection between landscape and soundscape?
We really do feel that the music is some kind of reflection of the landscape around us. For instance, we usually do writing at a cabin up in the mountains, and it seems that there is a lot of things happening when writing so close to the nature and landscape. It seems easier to get ideas down and finish things up. It could also have something to do with lowering the tempo and don’t getting distracted from the day to day tasks one has at home. But without being able to point at a certain thing, it definitely has an impact on our music.
Most of the people behind DREAMARCHER originally were jazz- and session-musicians, is that true? Would you tell us some more about your musical background and how things finally ended up in forming the band?
Yes, it is true. Kim and Viljar have education form the university in performing jazz. I have education in music technology. We have known each other for a long time, Me and Kim since the age of three. So we grew up playing together and have studied together. Although we got interested in jazz and other styles at some point, we have always loved heavy music and feel that that is the thing that is closest to our hearts. So when we wrote this record, the band didn’t actually exist. We recorded it, and then founded the band because we felt that it was so good that we should get out there as a band. Then Ari didn’t feel up to continuing, so we asked Viljar and Odd to come along. Now we feel that the band is in great shape, and we are much stronger as songwriters – so it will be very cool to show people the new things we have going on!
Could you try to explain what made you eventually come back to your metal-roots after this exploration?
I think it is a basic instinct. The things you grow up with and have great memories attached to, will always feel right when you go back to it. Like watching a movie, you loved as a kid or so. So after we had explored some different kinds of genres and then eventually just started jamming on some riffs it just felt right. Then we started writing some songs and things just escalated in a way.
Does it make things easier or sometimes even harder, to have such background and knowledge?
For the most part it just makes things easier. It just gives us more of a vocabulary, and maybe a different vocabulary that helps us in creating our own sound. But sure, sometimes we end up making stuff that luckily never gets published, as it is far far away from what we want to be (laughs). So in that way it can be a distraction.
Which other musicians or bands had the biggest influence on DREAMARCHERs music and what exactly fascinates you about them?
We actually decided to start writing the songs when we heard DEAFHEAVEN back in 2013. Their sound was something new and unique that we hadn’t heard before. And that was very inspiring. In addition to the music, also the thought of doing something new that didn’t root in old genre boundaries was something that was very important to us. So DEAFHEAVEN definitely has had the biggest direct influence on us as a band.
Who’s writing the lyrics for DREAMARCHER? Are there special themes and stories that you want to tell, something like a message behind the lyrics on the new album?
On this record we wrote the lyrics somewhat as a collective. Although I am the main writer at this point, we reviewed the lyrics together. The album reflects certain emotional contrasts that some of the members were going through personally. So it’s a rollercoaster of feelings and textures ranging from anger, joy, fear and loneliness. We chose images that reminded us of how scary the world can be to a child. Innocence and vulnerability. The album is really about contrast, which also reflects in the music and the songs.
Since the combination of screams and polyphonic vocals, as found in “Burning the remains”, sounds very unique: do the lyrics or the emotions you want to express influence your style of singing? Or what else were the ideas behind that?
I would say yes. I think it is important that the way you choose melodies, the way you sing or use the voice should be a reflection of, or have a relation to the lyrics. Also because of these contrasts we use both clean and scream vocals. It gives us a much wider range in expressing emotions. We also worked with collective vocals on this album, which we felt gave it a very unique, new sound.
You also use soundscaping to create atmosphere. Could you try to explain what soundscaping means to you and how it is done? Is that something one can learn, or is it kind of intuitive?
Soundscaping is very important for us. As with the vocals, it gives the possibility of creating a wider range in the music, and it also gives the hard-hitting parts more weight. The soundscaping is often built around a structure that we find by jamming together. Then we find certain things that we stick with, cues if you like, and use them further in improvisation. So when we play live, things are always different than on the record, but you can still hear some main elements that is the same. It is indeed something that you can learn. It is also something that we explored a lot when studying jazz. Jazz music is in many ways built up by that kind of thinking, so it is something we have worked with a lot.
And between all that work, what are your resources of creativity? Do you have activities or interests besides music that let you recharge and get fresh ideas?
Music has always been our main interest. But all of us have a close relation to nature and landscape, as we come from a place with very beautiful nature. One example is that when we were writing some songs for our next album, we went to a small cabin in the mountains, rigged up a mini studio, and isolated ourselves for a week (with no internet or phone) while writing and recording demos. We also then had the possibility to just walk out the door and go for hikes, skiing, light a fire or have snowball fights. It is very nice to be able to just do something completely else, and then go back to work with new ideas, fresh ears and an open mind. Aside from that we love beer, so we brew beer together and hang out a lot.
Since there have been changes in DREAMARCHERs lineup, will this affect your music in any way? What musical concept do you have in mind when you think of the next album?
Both guitarists (Viljar and Odd) didn’t participate in making the first record. So this will definitely have a great impact on the next record. The first record was built on and around contrasts, and we will try to keep that in the music. But at the same time, we will probably expand a little on that and make even bigger contrasts and also have everything in between. We have a vision of making the beautiful parts even more beautiful and the heavy, ugly parts even more heavy and disturbing. Also, there will be more riffs! Apart from this, we haven’t really settled the entire feel and vision of the album yet, but it will be there soon.
You were on tour all October with KAMPFAR and VREID in Europe. How was it?
The tour was great. It was a lot of fun traveling with Kampfar and Vreid as they included us and were really nice to us. We also learned a lot from playing every day for 14 days in a row and also watching these bands every night, so we are very hungry for more tours and concerts!
Ok, so what are you going to do next?
We are finishing up the writing process for our next album before Christmas – so we have planned a new cabin-session in December and recording in 2017. Then we will do some gigs in Norway during winter, and we are also working on another tour in Europe during 2017. We want to work hard and maybe we’ll release the next album already next year. We’ll see!
Thank you very much! Do you want to leave some final words for our readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and also please check us out on www.dreamarcher.net.
Hier findet ihr das Review zu DREAMACHERs gleichnamigen Debüt-Album