Musical Discoveries: How are the ladies of Octavia Sperati doing these days?
Trine C. Johansen: We are doing just fine thank you! Summer came a bit late to Bergen this year, but now it's finally here, for a little while at least.
I guess I should start by asking about your gender since you don't see too many all female metal bands. What have been some of the challenges with getting people to take Octavia Sperati seriously as a band?
To not see us as a real band based on the fact that we are girls is nothing but an old fashioned and nonsense attitude! Playing, together in a band, is all a question of interest, patience, rehearsal, and of course a hell of lot of talent neither of which are related to gender!
Back home we never really felt it hard to be accepted by our fellow metal musicians, probably because we know them pretty well, and they all understood from the beginning the amount of hard work we put into this project. This is our experience; as long as we put serious work into the band, people take us seriously!
After just a few gigs in Bergen we were offered a support job by Enslaved for their release party for the Monumention album, and after that gig we have been considered a natural part of the metal scene in Bergen! With regards to the international scene; we're signed to a British label, and they absolutely take us seriously as a band!
But having said this; prejudices towards everything that is "new" is a known fact. For us this cuts both ways, we probably get some extra attention for being all girls, but then again we have to prove that we are "good enough." But attend an Octavia gig, and we'll prove it wrong!
Does it bother you when people dwell on the fact that you are an all female group?
Not as long as it's possible to move on after the gender question is answered. Noteworthy is the fact that we're actually not an all female group anymore! Our new drummer is male.
How does your debut album compare, both musically and lyrically, to your early recordings?
The tracks on the album have evolved over a longer period, which makes some of it a bit "older" than others, and can be compared better to the tracks on the "Guilty" demo. So since the days of the demo, there has been some evolution going on for sure. Some of the more recent tracks are a bit harder and more intense, without leaving the heavy fundamentals. The lyrics have always been based on Silje's personal experiences.
Since this album is your introduction to music lovers all over the world, what kinds of things did you want achieve on it? What do you hope it says about the band?
When we first started out we just had an urge to make our own music and be able to perform it live. This is of course what we still want to do, as it's what it is all about, isn't it? With the album out, we are very satisfied with reaching out to an audience outside of Norway, and to be able to play gigs and meet new people! We hope new listeners from all over the world will get the chance to be enchanted and enriched by the dark, groovy Octavian atmosphere!
Your music reaches far beyond the boundaries of metal. Do you find that most of your fans are metal fans or are fans of other styles of music?
We experience that there is some sort of a mix of metal people and more rock-oriented people in the crowd. Our main inspiration comes from metal, which includes far more extreme sorts of metal. Having said that; we don't want this to be a limitation of the band! As the different members have their own personal preferences and musical backgrounds, we are open to inspiration from other music styles. This musical mixture might attract different sorts of listeners, which is good.
Would you call yourselves a metal band?
Yes, we definitely consider ourselves a metal band! Metal is a very broad and complex genre and we consider Octavia a band playing melodic, doomish metal.
Can you tell our readers a little about the "Without Air" songs that end the album and the thoughts or inspirations behind them?
Gyri: "Without Air" consists of several different parts, with two main parts which became the 'before' and 'after' tracks. They were actually written separately. We had the slow, melancholic part ready and arranged for a couple of years, knowing that we wanted to expand it into something powerful and suggestive but just taking our time to find the right continuation.
The lyrics are also written in two turns--originally they weren't intended to fit together--but the idea of gradually turning the song into something massive and more brutal fitted well with the different moods of the two pieces. The first part is quiet and 'humble,' building up to a climax which is somehow relieving, with more powerful and insisting vocals. The lyrics, vocal lines and music interact both thematically and musically. So the song turned out like we intended or even better perhaps.
The inspiration behind it is basically the 'nature of nature' and the larger-than-life state of everything around us. The first part of the song has almost a 'bird perspective,' with a positive and optimistic tone which changes into a more subjective, human stance as the song becomes more violent. When it 'breaks loose', it pictures the ferocity of the cycles of nature as well as the infinity of it all, and also how small we are--in terms of time, size and space. With just a little hint to how destructive we become in our mortal fear--or rather fear of life--trying to compensate for the smallness of our lives.
Candlelight is a well known metal label and their presence here in the United States is getting much bigger. How has your experience with them been so far?
So far we are very pleased with the work Candlelight has done for us, great promotion. When we visited UK recently, we really felt that they had spread a good word about the band in advance! Experiencing that we think we have been a priority at the label and that gives great 'guts' to the band.
How has the support of a record label changed the band or your approach to the band? Was there a lot of pressure?
Right from the start we have been working very hard with the band, with both the music and the promotional work. So the pressure from a label, which also has been working very hard for us since signing, didn't come as a shock to us really. The differences we feel are the higher budgets and the great network they represent. It feels very rewarding to work together with competent personnel from the label, and to see the results internationally!
Do you plan to tour to support the album? If so, will you come to the United States at all?
This summer / autumn the main focus seems to be UK! We just had a mini-UK tour in June, and we'll be back to support Paradise Lost in September and Cradle of Filth in November. Of course, other gigs might come up later, and we're definitely hoping to come to the US as well, but as of right now there is no concrete plan.
Do you have any parting thoughts that you would like to leave our readers with?
Thank you for the interview. Please check out our homepage, sign our guestbook and keep yourself updated as well. We'll be posting news and tour dates as soon as we get them. Stay metal! Cheers!