Interview with Carmen Elise Espenæs conducted by Bill Zebub
Have you undergone any kind of vocal training between your last album and Nordlys? I almost got into a car accident when I listened to the CD for the first time. I was not expecting operatic vocals and such beautiful sadness in your voice.
Oh my. I am so sorry to hear that!!! I could never forgive myself being the reason for a car accident!! I hope everything is fine with you! I didn`t plan to change my voice in a more operatic direction or use more technique or something like that . I think very less when it comes to music – I feel more. I felt that I had less breath, so I found out that I don`t have so much volume in my lungs and had to get some sprays to be able to breathe better. I didn`t want to have chemistry in my body and I went to a singer with a lot of experience and asked her how I could breath in a better way. She taught me that, and it is almost too good to be true, after one or two hours, both she and I were so shocked about the differences we heard in my voice that we were speechless. I am so happy about the changes, I have even more fun with singing and I don`t get dizzy after some songs, like before. Now I have more volume and depth and I can use my voice in many more different ways, lower tones, higher tones, whispering, loud – everything feels so easy after these few changes, but I truly hope it will not cause any more troubles.
I will suffer any trouble in the world for your voice! Is it stressful to be the sister of Liv Kristine? Do you feel like you must try very hard to make your own flavor of vocals so that people do not think that you are using your sisterhood as a selling point?
I love being Liv’s sister – she is so gorgeous and I could never live without her! We had a special relationship since I can remember, always helping each other out and supporting each other. We are soulmates in every meaning of the word! Regarding the music, I wouldn’t say it is stressful – it has brought much more positive effect than negative for Midnattsol!! I mean, Liv is well known in this business and is touring a lot, so through her a lot of people got to know about us. In other words, for the promotion it opened many doors. And of course, it is positive to have the connections – through her I have since I was a teenager the chance to meet great people in the music business. In the beginning, I got totally shocked that people really cared so much about it or even said I just tried to be her or something – I was quite sad about it. But now, I look on the bright side of it like the song taught me. The people that knows us know that we hadn’t come where we are now, if we wouldn’t work hard every day, burning for what we are doing and having that quality of the music, lyrics, artwork and so on. It is so difficult to get a good record deal today, it is definitely not enough just to have the same last name as a well-known person – it is the whole package that you have to deliver. And concerning me as a person, I don`t need statements from the outside to be happy with myself, so I just do my thing calm and relaxed and people can think what they want .
I have been commanding people to listen to the second track, “Skogens Lengsel” because it is a perfect song, and I feel that anyone who hears this will immediately want to buy the Nordlys album. When I hear your voice on that song I have to stop everything that I am doing. I’m absolutely paralyzed. Are you aware of how powerfully your voice affects people like me?
Wow, man, what shall I say to such a special and beautiful compliment? I have no words, you really got me speechless, and believe me, that is really not happening often. I am really not a person walking around with the nose in the sky, so you will not hear fantastic words about me coming from my mouth. But the fantastic fans are really so kind, spending a lot of their precious time writing and supporting me, so I have to admit that I get the impression that they like what they hear. I just wish I would have more time to write straight back to them, but my life is so hectic at the moment! But I really try my best showing how much it means to me and I try to answer everyone. Thanks again to you for your kindness. I will not forget your words!
I do not speak your language but I was nonetheless deeply affected by “Skogens Lengsel.” I think that words, in songs that have such high emotional, are not necessary for the enjoyment. It is like hearing a goddess cry. No words are needed for my heart to be siezed. But of course, when I discover the translations of certain operas I love the songs even more because of the poetry. Will I find your translation to be poetic, or should I forget all words and just dream of your voice?
Wow, I honestly have to say that you speak in such a beautiful way. I am totally affected by it. Thank you so much for the compliments. I am really really honored!
You know, I am more of that opinion that one should not analyze or think too much about rules – I just think that one should write what you want to write and transmit the feelings and thoughts that are inside the lyrics. Poetry without content so-to-say is nothing for me. I don`t try to do certain rhymes and so on, but of course I do my best to find words that can express in a good way what I want to say. So my lyrics are honest, real, and filled with emotions. Many people tell me that my lyrics are poetic, but I think each one should decide that for themselves. And an important thing to remember is that when you translate it, it has not the same effect as in the original language. To be honest, I want to avoid it, because you can`t translate the special atmosphere of the individual language. It is really not the same when you read these lyrics in English.
But of course, I love languages and I can understand that is interesting to understand what I am actually singing about. Here is a little description of what the song is about: The setting of Skogens Lengsel – The longing of the woods – is in the deep deep untouched woods in Norway. There is a little house hidden in these woods and inside there is laying a person waiting for someone, or something, to come. It is a deep longing, because the person needs it so badly, but it never came, so the person sends his/her longing words out and can almost see feelshe longs for so near, but still, it is so far away…
How coincidental, for you see, the song made me long for you, and I know that I will carry a heavy stone for the rest of my life. You gave me the dream of loving you. We can never meet, and so the only feeling I will have is that of adoration from afar.
Is there a chance that you will tour the States?
I never actually had the chance to go the states, and people that have been there are telling about the fantastic landscape and the great variety. It would be so fantastic to experience your country!! But unfortunately, we haven`t planned anything concrete yet, so I don`t think it will be in the nearest future. But who knows? Let’s hope it won`t be that far away! We will keep you informed about where we are going to play live on our homepage www.midnattsol.com , which now is in English as well.
You have recently lost a band member. As you search for a replacement, do you wish for the band to go into a darker direction? I think that if you make an album of pure sorrow I will have to journey to Norway and give myself to you as a slave for as long as I live.
I have no words to express my sadness about the leaving of Chris. It was a huge shock for all of us. But we stay friends and keep the good memories. That is the most important thing. We all wish him the best in life and are so grateful for everything that he has done for Midnattsol. About the futural direction of Midnattsol, is too early to say right now . We just have to wait and see how things develop. But anyway, you are always welcome to come to Norway and be my slave- (laughs)
Be careful with your words, goddess, for I could leave everything for you. Do you advise a warning to be placed on the “Nordlys” album, like “Do not drive or operate heavy machinery?” I think there may be some injuries otherwise.
Yes exactly, and we also write it with big warning letters and signs on our homepage! No, just kidding! You are so cool, man.
Are there any female vocalists whom you would like to talk about?
For me, great singers are able to give you something really special through their voices. This happens in a very high level when it comes to my absolute favorite singer – Lisa Gerard. She has such a strong, powerful and incredible voice. She gives me so much. When I listen to her, I feel almost kind of another dimension. Enya is also one of my favorites, beautiful voice. I just bought her “best of” album. For some weeks ago I discovered a Norwegian woman that is very successful in Norway at the moment, Elvira Nickolaisen, and I simply can`t stop listen to her deep emotional voice filled with so much volume. Her music is not metal, but I love her voice!
I shall find the Norwegian singer’s albums now. I am already very familiar with Lisa Gerard and I agree with you about her. Maybe we do not have enough in common to get married, but even if we shared every trait, relationships ion which the woman is so much smarter than the man are always doomed. Therefore I can only be your slave, not your companion.
Is my reaction to Nordlys uncommon? What I mean is, have other people told you that Nordlys is ten million times better than your first album?
Thank you so much! It has to be mentioned that we as individus and also as a whole band have developed enormously. Musically; the new cd is more complex and has a lot more details and extras for the listeners. In our opinion you can also, after several times listening, hear something new from the instruments or the vocals that you hadn`t noticed before. And I can assure you that your reaction is not uncommon, not at all!