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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

MTV Iggy / February 2015


Feb 19th 2015

Moonsorrow Goes Beyond Folk Metal, Talks Neopaganism

Moonsorrow Goes Beyond Folk Metal, Talks Neopaganism
Photo courtesy of the artist

"we have a very deep connection to nature, even when it's not mentioned in our lyrics. None of us are religious pagans, but there's a core of paganism and it is nature"

By MTV Iggy
March 16, 2015 

By Julia Neuman

Finland’s vast forests, plentiful lakes and icy winters bring forth some of heavy metal’s most powerful tales of paganism and nature. No band recounts these tales quite like Helsinki’s Moonsorrow. The quintet, founded by cousins Ville and Henri Sorvali in 1995, channels their admiration for the great outdoors into epic sagas sung all in Finnish. Their songs are chocked full of heathen spirit and intricate musicianship, sometimes running for as long as 30 minutes.
The band often gets lumped into the larger category of folk metal, but in reality, they’re forging their own legacy. When folk metal’s popularity exploded in the early 2000s, Moonsorrow didn’t waiver in their style to match the trends. We caught up with bassist and vocalist Ville Sorvali and guitarist Mitja Harvilahti in Bergen, Norway, just before their 2:00 AM set at Blastfest, where they talked about Finland, their unique role in the folk metal craze, and the direction of their new album due out later this year.

How did you first develop your deep connection with nature?

Mitja: We were born in Finland, so we still have that kind of connection within the country. It’s not very hard, even if we live in big cities, we still have a bond with nature. One part of Finnish culture is that almost every family has summer cottages. Either they own one or rent one.

When you started Moonsorrow, what else was going on in your lives and in Finland in terms of music?

Ville: With my cousin [Henri Sorvali], we had a lot of musical projects going on. He had some sort of recording equipment at his parents’ garage. We basically went there every weekend when we didn’t have school. We recorded whatever ­– and Moonsorrow was actually one of those “whatevers.” We decided we were gonna do something more with it.

M: Yeah, and a little bit later, when we were in our late teens and early 20s, there were already bands like Ensiferum, for example. Many of the bands like Finntroll were emerging as well. We were already connected with a lot of the bands who were already playing. And the Finnish metal scene hadn’t grown that much yet in the year 2000, so when we were releasing our first album, it was still going up and catching on with the bigger bands like Children of Bodom and Nightwish.

At what point did you decide you wanted to separate yourselves from the genre of folk metal or viking metal?

V: If I’m to be blunt, it was the point when they started doing the same thing in Germany. But that’s not the whole story. We basically got tired that the whole thing got so popular within its own circles. Suddenly everyone started making music that tried to sound like us, or Finntroll, or Ensiferum. No one was really bringing anything of their own anymore. So we decided – because we always made stuff that sounded like ourselves – that now it’s time to do something different because there are already bands that sound like us.

How do you want to be known in the context of heavy metal?

V: I would settle with doing something that people remember after we’re done with the band. It doesn’t matter how they remember it, but if they remember it when the band is gone, then we’ve done something we wanted to do. I wouldn’t want Moonsorrow to be remembered as “the band who made the 30-minute songs,” because we’re much more than that. [Laughs] It’s become a bit of a burden, actually, that we made those three half-hour songs. Now people are asking, “When are you making an album that has 60-minute songs?” We did that and it felt right in the moment but it wasn’t the only thing we did.

There are some neopagan movements happening in Finland. Do you see yourselves as a part of that?

M: As far as I know, we’ve been an inspiration to people. I can understand that because we have a very deep connection to nature, even when it’s not mentioned in our lyrics. None of us are religious pagans, but there’s a core of paganism and it is nature. To worship nature is to respect and take care of it and find the deity in nature itself. In that way, we are very pagan.

V: When it comes to the old gods, back then when people couldn’t explain what was going on, they came up with these gods. And I can understand it perfectly and I respect it, but I’m way too scientific to start thinking that whenever there’s thunder, Thor is up there throwing lightning bolts. [Laughs] Back in the day, it was their own explanation. There is no reason for people to believe in that anymore, but it’s a good symbol.

How does Finland embrace your kind of music?

M: Well it does. Finnish metal is an export and public image of Finnish culture. It became so popular that the metal bands are one very important part of Finnish image. There are stupid awards that are given to the bands, but…

V: Yeah there’s also the Finnish Grammy for the best metal act, and we were once even nominated, because it’s a PR stunt. They always nominate one band outside of the mainstream just to make themselves look more credible. Those bands never win anything.

M: But we don’t have to be nominated or credited. It’s not about them giving us some respect. We are doing what we do, if we tour abroad, people like it somewhere, then that’s it.

A lot of metal bands wear blood, but what does it symbolize to you? Why did you start using it?

M: We started it in 2001. We had a Bathory cover show.

V: We were thinking, what would Bathory have done if they did live shows? Then we came up with the blood. Yeah, now that I remember it, it’s nothing more mysterious. [Laughs] It’s actually a very important part of the preparation of the show, at least for me. I can be very tired before the show, nothing interests me — I have just enough power to go to the fridge to grab a beer for myself — but then when I start putting on the makeup, and especially when I splash the blood and it’s cold, it kind of wakes you up. Oh yeah, I’m here to play a show!

What are you doing for your new album at the moment?

M: We have about 70% of the album ready musically. The whole process of just composing it has already taken years, and we ditched everything at some point. Within a couple months now we put together most of it, so it doesn’t require so much anymore to finish the songs, and then we’ll start writing the lyrics and stuff. But our way of working is very different from other bands. We don’t rehearse at a rehearsal room.

What kinds of vibes are you getting from writing?

V: Norway. We have a lot of influences from a lot of places, but it comes up every now and then that we were all brought up music-wise during the ’90s with Norwegian music. You can probably hear that again on the new album. Enslaved was basically our main influence when we started the band.
M: But otherwise, it’s quite variable musically.

V: Yeah, there’s a lot of progressive rock. Just not so in-your-face that you would actually recognize bands like King Crimson or Yes, but there are a lot of hints in chord progressions.

What’s your drink of choice?

M: Hmm! Right now I feel like gin and tonic.

V: For me, it’s usually beer, but gin and tonic is healthier.

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