Welcome to the Moonsorrow Interviews Compilation!
Here you will find more than one hundred Moonsorrow interviews, many of which have already disappeared from where they were originally posted. Check the Index and Contact pages above and the notes in the left column for more info.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Metal Wani / January 2014


INTERVIEW: MOONSORROW Singer - “We Have Always Liked To Challenge Ourselves And The Listeners And Not Go The Easiest Route”

In the deeply vaste lands of black and folk metal, Moonsorrow have flourished and thrived. From the cold wintery lands of Finland, the brainchild of the Sorvali cousins (Henri and Ville) have definitely made a name for themselves, not only amongst the Scandinavian Metal scene, but beyond. Singing in Finnish and labeling themselves “epic heathen metal”, Moonsorrow have six epic albums (as well as one EP) under their belt. The latest album, “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa” saw the light of day in 2011. Moonsorrow are, undoubtedly, one of the finest in the genre, distinguishing themselves by incorporating accordion, jaw harp and tin whistle in their songs. Their particular brand of epicness translates quite deftly into long and imposing monoliths of sound, as they draw their inspirations from black and folk metal, with a hint of progressive rock in between.

Metal Wani writer Vânia F. Silva recently caught up with vocalist, bassist and lyricist Ville Sorvali. During this interview, Ville discusses Moonsorrow's sound and lyrics in Finnish, commercial success and much more. Read the entire chat below –
Greetings from Metal Wani. Let me start by thanking you for taking the time to answer our questions. Since this is our first time with you guys, I would like to start with the basics. How did Moonsorrow came to existence?

Ville - Hello there! We started with Moonsorrow in 1995, so we've been around for quite a while now. In the beginning it was just me and my cousin Henri making some demos, but in 2000 we finally got a record deal and found a complete line-up for the band.
There’s an aspect of you guys that I find quite peculiar: The band’s name is the only thing about Moonsorrow that’s in English, since all your compositions are in Finnish. Don’t you find this a bit ironic?
Ville - When we started with the band, the lyrics were in English. When we started to write in Finnish (sometime around 1998), we simply didn't feel like changing the name anymore.
I’ve watched one of your interviews in which you adamantly stated that you will never write your own material in English. Why is this so?

Ville - Never again, to be precise (the first demo was indeed in English). When we started writing in Finnish, it immediately felt like the best solution for Moonsorrow. The Finnish language fits our themes just perfectly, and since it's my mother tongue it also gives me a complete freedom of expression as a lyric writer. It has also given a certain image to the band over the years, so changing back to English now would be a strange move indeed.
But wouldn’t writing in English increase your reach when it comes to fandom, or is this something you are not interested in?

Ville - We've made a name for ourselves by being what we are. Surely writing in English would make our material more accessible, but it could also potentially intimidate our original fanbase. While fame and fortune are nice things to have, of course, I'd never aim at them by making compromises.
You mostly write about paganism, folklore and war. However, in your most recent album, “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa”, you’ve dwelled into the end of the world. Are there any other lyrical themes you would like to experiment with?

Ville - In the early years we had this one thematical box we played in, and it was heavily based on stories about mythology and legends. After three albums I started to feel a bit trapped, so I  started to explore a bit outside of that box too. "The end of the world" -concept had always fascinated me, and I finally had the chance to dwell into it on "Viides Luku: Hävitetty" and even further on "Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa". However, the next album is going to be something different again. Even I don't know much about it yet. ;)
Even though you had previously done long songs, “V: Hävitetty” was your first album to contain only two tracks, each of a very long duration. What moved you to do such a thing? How risky was it?

Ville - We just felt we needed to do it. Why? To prove ourselves that we can, I suppose. We have always liked to challenge ourselves and the listeners and not go the easiest route. We are constantly aware of the risks of "commercial suicide" but we don't really care.
Your sound has been changing throughout the years – Your demos were much more black metal than your debut, folk-metal, album “Suden Uni”. Then you steadily started shifting to the pretty much progressive heathen black metal you’re doing nowadays. Why the changes? Were you not satisfied with your sound, or did you just want to go back to your roots?

Ville - We don't like standing still, so we are always seeking to develop our sound. We are very much satisfied by all of our previous works, but we don't want to re-do any of them. Progressive rock and black metal might be the strongest connecting links between all the members of Moonsorrow, so elements of these two have naturally surfaced quite often on our albums.
Your artwork is also pretty different from album to album. I feel like you don’t exactly have a pattern, a distinctive and consistent style which you follow every time. How is your artwork decided each time?

Ville - We never sketch the cover art before we have most of the music and lyrics to show for (with the exception of "Suden Uni", both original and re-issue, for which suitable paintings already existed). It's our way to aim at conceptual integrity, and so the covers naturally turn out very different from each other. We have also intentionally used a different cover artist each time.
I must say that the Metallica and Merciless covers you did for the “Tulimyrsky” EP sound pretty impressive. Both of them are completely unexpected, but very Moonsorrow. What compelled you to cover these songs, despite these influences not being directly apparent in the sound that Moonsorrow has forged for itself?

Ville - When talking of the founding duo of Moonsorrow (me and Henri), Metallica and Merciless both had an important role in our musical upbringing. However, the choice of these two covers in particular was purely accidental. Henri made fitting Moonsorrow-style arrangements for both, Metallica just for the fun of it, and Merciless because we already recorded the Metallica cover and wanted to pair it with another. As the whole point of cover songs, in my opinion, is to sound more like the covering band than the original, I think both of these turned out pretty nice.
Can the fans expect more blackened versions of popular metal songs done by Moonsorrow in the future?

Ville - We have experimented on a few others, however we haven't managed to lay the same Moonsorrow-spirit on them as Metallica and Merciless got. We will only record something if it's truly worth recording, otherwise it's just for our own amusement at the rehearsal place.
It’s been an year since you’ve shifted labels and signed with Century Media. Instead of recording a new album, you went on to collaborate with Blood Music on a Box Set comprising of previous collected works of yours. Is there any kind of pressure for you to start working on a new album?
Ville - Indeed we have been signed to Century Media for quite a time already without doing a new album for them. However, they know us very well and they know that putting pressure on us doesn't help in creating new quality material. They will get their album eventually, and I have all the reason to believe that they will be happy with it. The box set was already discussed with Blood Music before any new record deal, it just took its time to take shape and is coincidentally happening now.
Last month you’ve toured Australia and by the end of this month you’ll besharing a stage with Rotting Christ in Tel-Aviv. These are pretty distinctive places – Are there any plans of going to another distinctive place such as India?
Ville - We've always liked to go to new places, so naturally we anticipated both trips (Australia and Israel) with a certain level of excitement. Basically we'd want to play anywhere where people want to see us play, but quite often it's not so simple, due to money, logistics or whatever. India would we a welcome trip as well, let's see if we can make it one day!
As a wrap-up, do you have any message you’d like to leave to your fans all around the world? Maybe to that one small-time band still in their basement, singing in their own language, dreaming of making it big?
Ville - Remember: music is for fun, recreation and therapy. Only a selected few will ever make it big, and it doesn't make the music made by others any less valuable. If you stay true to what you really want to create and refuse to compromise, you will feel proud of your work regardless of whether it sells records or not. And if you manage to sell those records and make a living out of it, consider yourself exceptionally lucky.

We would like to thank Ville for being available to respond to our enquiries, as well as for being so patient and kind! We wish him and the remaining members of Moonsorrow much fortune in all their future ventures and hope to write "Moonsorrow working on new album" soon enough.