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Gothminister (II)
Interview mit Bjørn Alexander Brem [Gothminister], 09.09.2008, phoner



Im letzten Interview mit Bjørn Alexander Brem, dem Kopf von Gothminister, sprachen wir hauptsächlich über die Studioarbeit zum neuen Album „Happiness In Darkness“. In diesem zweiten Interview mit Bjørn soll es nun konkreter um die Songs der neuen Platte und auch die geplante DVD von Gothminister gehen. Ferner unterhielten wir uns am Telefon über Beziehungen, Horrorfilme und Comicbücher.
 
The date of the album-release is coming closer. Are you nervous or anxious?
 
Bjørn: I´m not anxious if people gonna like it or not. I usually make music for myself. Then you just have to hope that also some other people will like it or share the same taste as you. Of course you hope for the best (laughs) and it`s always cool when you get great feedback.
 
I have finally received the promo version of the album last week and it`s a really cool album, I have to say. A big compliment from my side!
 
Bjørn: Okay, cool. That´s very nice to hear. But the album you received has only nine tracks. The covered song is missing and we also have a couple of cool remixes for the club single. Actually last night I received one of the remixes and I realised that it has a lot of good ideas, but it wasn´t quite finished, so I decided to remix the remix. (laughs) So one of the remixes is like a collaboration between me and a DJ. And the other one is made by the guitar player of Mortiis. That remix is more like Rob Zombie Star. The other remix is more in an electronic Apop-style. Then we have the cover-song and the original version of “From Dusk Till Dawn”.
 
How long did it now take to finish the whole CD?
 
Bjørn: It´s a longer process. We started to record some stuff last year and then we went into the studio to record the guitars this year, so it took like nine months maybe. The album is gonna be mastered tomorrow along with the video tracks, because we also have three live video tracks on the album from Méra Luna 2006.
 
As the album is full of great tracks I would have a real problem to choose one song as a single. But which points does a song have to fulfil to become a single?

 
Bjørn: It depends. If you mean a radio single, of course they have a certain groove and have to be interesting in the very first seconds. The chorus should be catchy and come within one minute or something. I think, the record industry and commercial industry they think that these points are very important. In one way I agree, because I always try to cut away uninteresting parts of a song and try to go more directly to the point. But to me the most important thing over all is either a songs works or it doesn´t work and then comes a good rhythm and a good melody. That is always nice. And then finally of course I would mention a cool production, but that is not as important as good melodies and rhythms.
 
Into which music genre would the new Gothminister-album fits best?
 
Bjørn: I don´t know actually, but at least my idea was it to bring some songs a little bit back more to the club vibe again, because that was my main idea with Gothminister. Our previous album was maybe a little bit more metal with louder guitars, I think. (laughs) But my main idea with Gothminister was actually to make danceable songs and beats which could work in a club with heavy guitars, so just doing that crossover thing. I feel that we maybe went a little bit back to that like on the first album, but still the new album sounds more organic to me. You can actually hear people playing the guitars and drums, even more than on the previous two albums. So “Happiness In Darkness” is one step back, but still one step forward, I guess – maybe a blend between the first two CDs. (laughs) But still we`re quite deep into the industrial and electro-rock-area, I think.
 
“Happiness In Darkness” – where can we find this message in your songs, I mean, how do the album title and the content of the new album fit together?
 
Bjørn: First of all I have to emphasise that “happiness in darkness” has always been our motto which I probably have explained before. These songs are very much focused around relationships and my own experiences with this and how you sometimes fall really deeply in love, but most of the times the ones you really fall in love with, you can never get or have. (laughs) Lots of people recognise this. What is forbidden is also very tempting. But in the end I try to think positive about all these experiences that life consists of impressions and that we always carry these good memories with us – it doesn`t matter if you get this person and live happily ever after or it was just a nice story to remember.
 
It seems, you don`t have that much luck in relationships…
 
Bjørn: No, I don´t. (laughs) And a couple of songs from the new album are actually about one person I met and who really made an impression on my emotional life, but I think we wouldn`t have become happy after all. But it was such a nice story and she suddenly disappeared out of my life. It was just really strange, but I look back at it now and I think, it was a really great experience after all. For example the song “Freak” is really about people or a person that is driving you mad.
 
So with this song you´re also referring to this strange girl?
 
Bjørn: Ja! I think, I talked about her before, but I`m really happy that I didn´t end up with her. But I think, she was a great person and I learned a lot from this experience.
 
But for what kind of girl are you searching for then?
 
Bjørn: It`s very difficult, because I´m into the gothic scene, I work as a lawyer and I was previously a tennis player, so if you have any idea what girl I should search for, let me know. (laughs)
 
You were a tennis player?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, I´m maybe a difficult person, but you shouldn’t think that much about what would fit to you. Just let it go and see who you meet. Don´t think too much!
 
Who´s your “beauty after midnight”?
 
Bjørn: I don`t think it`s the “who”, it`s more a feeling or my first memories of when I got into the scene. I was really curious about all the visual effects people wear on these gothic parties. The whole vibe is something really special. And when you first get into this, I think, you will never wanna get out, even if you think “Okay, now I have to change. I have to stop doing this”. But you´re kind of hooked and it`s a really beautiful thing with all the dark vibes. It just has become a part of me and I´m really happy. If you see, I went to one party with the other lawyers and one night I told them about my life of the last couple of years. They said that they have really boring lives in comparison to that and they wished that they had experienced the same things. We`re lucky to have the scene. For me it`s really inspiring.
 
How does your “dark side” look like?
 
Bjørn: (laughs) Well, I`m really tempted by things that are kind of taboo and a little bit scary and forbidden. But I still think that there should be a limit, so I need a kind of balance. But I´m really curious about things, you know!?
 
Okay, but what kind of forbidden things do you mean?
 
Bjørn: (laughs) It could be anything from censored stuff in movies, sex, anything. I think, it`s really tempting for us to try to expand horizons all over. So we are the persons tracked by the dark scene, but in a positive way. People from outside think that we`re really depressive and sad and everything is bad. But I really get happy from the whole thing.
 
In the song “The Allmighty” and some others you`re supported by Nell from Theatre Of Tragedy. With which other artist would you like to work together some day?
 
Bjørn: One of my dreams would of course be to meet Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails and also Charlie Clouser, one of the greatest producers and remixers. He worked a lot with Manson and Nine Inch Nails. Another favourite is Michael Gira, the singer of The Swans, an art rock band that doesn´t exist anymore. But Michael had a really great voice. So to meet anyone of those would be great, but maybe more realistic would be to pick someone from the same scene. I mean, I admire a lot of artists in the scene like Stephan from Apoptygma Berzerk. He has a great sense for melodies and he`s a really clever guy. Theatre Of Tragedy have many great things, Mortiis…We have a lot of friends, so we probably do some projects together sooner or later.
 
Last time you promised me to tell me more about the cover-song on the new album. So now it`s time to reveal the secret.
 
Bjørn: Which song do you think it is?
 
I have no idea, sorry. It could be everything.
 
Bjørn: But do you expect anything?
 
Can you give me a hint? Do I know the band?
 
Bjørn: Yes, of course you do.
 
Is it from Norway?
 
Bjørn: No. It´s an American artist. He started as a child star and used to be in a band with his brothers and sisters. They were five persons.
 
Are you sure I know the band?
 
Bjørn: It`s not a band, it`s more a solo artist. His first name is Michael, second is Jackson.
 
Oh okay, yes, I know him. (laughs)
 
Bjørn: I decided to do a cover of “Thriller”, because this song did fit and it was kind of dark, maybe not the original, but I made it much more darker of course.
 
So you´re a little Michael Jackson-fan?
 
Bjørn: I`m not a fan actually, but I really admire him. I think, he´s a great artist. It was a cool thing to do something totally unexpected and also it fits into the concept of the album “Happiness In Darkness”. Of course one thing is that “Thriller” is still the world`s most selling album according to Guinness at least. He sold more than 100.000.000 albums and it`s the darkest album-theme he has. But when he made “Thriller”, it was the happiest period of his life. So there you have once again “happiness in darkness”. (laughs)
 
Well, I was more thinking about that you covered some darker band…
 
Bjørn: Ja, of course, but also we made a couple of funny samples in the song as well, so it`s not meant to be taken really, really seriously. We gonna perform it live now for the first time in November at the Electrostat. It`s a Norwegian festival. We gonna have some dancers doing some kinda coreographie. I don´t know how people will react. Probably a lot of people will be angry and throw with a lot of shit after this (laughs), but we`re kinda used to this in the Norwegian scene, at least in the gothic scene. I mean, everywhere we play in the metal and rock scene and more or less in the electronic scene – and it`s a really small scene – some people are always really jealous, because we`ve been a lot in the Norwegian media. They think that probably their own band should be in there. They just say a lot of bad things, but I think you have to ignore it.
 
Can you already give me some hints about the front cover of the new album?
 
Bjørn: I really wanted it to be as good as possible, so we spent some extra money on a new photographer. We have a separated photographer and designer working together. On the cover you´ll see a picture of the Gothminister-character in the front and I changed the style. The hat is gone and I have a new outfit which looks a little bit more modern. In the background you have a city silhouette that looks like London from the Jack Ripper period with a lot of fog, gothic buildings and churches. It looks really spooky and a little bit like a painting.
 
So not like a real photo?
 
Bjørn: No, because we added some filters on it to make it looking a little bit more dirty just to get the right vibe. It`s not like a perfect picture, but I think it`s the best cover we ever had. I can send the picture to you by email right away.
 
Yeah, that´s cool, thanks. Would Gothminister also work without dark make-ups?
 
Bjørn: I think yes. We were actually talking about it that maybe already during the next tour we will slowly take off a little bit of the make-up, a least the white stuff. It`s really important to change, but the best thing is that you do what you feel like. Until now I felt like the make-up has been a good thing to wear on stage most of the times, like 99%. Just 1% you feel like a clown if you play on really small stages and don´t have any proper light equipment. In bigger stages, I think, it`s really cool to have make-up on. But it`s hard work to put on make-up every day on a tour and all the clothes getting destroyed and ruined. So we`ll see. But if we take everything away, we should start another band, because the visual effects are a big part of Gothminister.
 
Coming back to the songs: Ever thought about creating lyrics in your own language?
 
Bjørn: No, not with this project, but maybe I should, because I used to write a lot of novels when I was younger. Some people said I have a big talent.
 
Ever published anything?
 
Bjørn: No, because I mostly wrote those novels in school. I always got top grades when we wrote novels and really bad grades when they stopped this. After some years you weren`t allowed anymore to write just fantasy novels. We had to answer questions and write an essay about politics or something like that.
 
So you mainly wrote fantasy novels?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, a lot of them. “Beauty After Midnight” for example was a fantasy character from long time ago dealing with drugs, believing she was living in the middle ages and she was also attending illegal house parties. When I was 17 years old I had a really bad experience with a house party. It was my 17th birthday and instead of going to this really cool night bar where everyone else went to, I went with a friend of mine to this illegal house party and everyone disappeared. I was chased by some gay people on the dancefloor. There was really depressive, monotone music. I really felt sad about the whole setting, so it was also a part of her person and maybe also one of the inspirations for Gothminister. I was always into metal and trash metal, but I also really liked disco and more club beats. But at that house party it was so depressed and monotone. I wanted to make some happier and more melodic music with heavy guitars you can dance to.
 
To what extent would you say that the country you`re living in is an inspiration for the music you´re creating?
 
Bjørn: Norway is a really pompous country if you look at this nature with the mountains and fjords and maybe that`s one of or the main inspiration for us. Recently we went on this mountain to perform a show and it looked really good. I don´t know if you have seen any pictures…
 
No, I haven`t.
 
Bjørn: I can send you a picture of that as well. It just fit perfect, because it was like pompous music on a 1550 metres high mountain over the sea and they brought us there by helicopter. They broadcasted the whole concert on the biggest national TV station and it was also broadcasted live and wireless five kilometres away to the festival area on a big screen. That was maybe the highlight of this year. (laughs) Maybe it will go to the Guinness Norwegian Records, because nobody has ever played such a high rock concert in Norway before. But I have some trouble to register at Guinness, because you have to send there a letter. They have no phone and they have no email. So I have to compose a letter and try to get the record. But that`s not the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning like looking forward to write this kind of a letter. But the concert was very special and even more inspiring for us.
 
Which other crazy things have you already done in your life?
 
Bjørn: I started up with comics when I was six years old. By the age of eight and a half I was in Norwegian magazines. This was something my mother had fixed, because she thought that I deserved it as I had already created 70 comic books and started writing on six or seven full books. It was quite early by the age of eight and a half, like I said. I made some really spooky and dark stuff. (laughter) I watched a lot of horror movies.
 
In that age?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, I was allowed. I was at the house of my grandparents in the weekends when my mother was studying and didn´t have time. My grandfather just laughed and went to bed, but my grandmother and me stayed up until 12 to watch horror movies. I was around nine years old. You know how grandparents are! They are like “Okay, we allow it to do that!”. I don`t know if that was a good thing, but probably it has a lot to do with my interest for the dark side. Although the movies were scary, I was there with my grandmother and I felt safe. Maybe that`s also a reason for the “happiness in darkness”, because when I watch a horror movie, I go back to my childhood which was really happy. Maybe that is also why I get happy from this dark stuff. That`s probably a good reason.
 
How would you continue the sentence “Music is…”?
 
Bjørn: Music is my life.
 
In our last interview you told me that “Happiness In Darkness” will be the last album of a trilogy. In how far are all three albums of you connected with each others?
 
Bjørn: By trilogy I meant that the Gothminister-project was originally planned for three albums, so the albums are not actually connected. But in a way you have the “happiness in darkness”-motto as we talked about it. It´s in the cover of the first album, it`s the last song on the second album and it`s the name of the third album. In that way I see a kind of connection.
 
Are you really sure that you will end the era of Gothminister with this third album?
 
Bjørn: (sighs) I´m not sure. A lot of people said to me “You have to wait and see about the feedback!”. I mean, I change what I think every day, so I will never say “I will never make another album” (laughs), but right now it`s just been too much, so I need a little break. So far I got some really good response on the new album and I`m really happy with it.
 
You already mentioned that there might be some new projects in future? Musical ones?
 
Bjørn: No, I´m not sure yet, but the drummer and me we were talking about doing an electro project just for fun and maybe we gonna do a project with some people from Theatre Of Tragedy. I just talked to Nell about that, but nothing concrete.
 
But the main focus will be on your lawyer job?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, and still on Gothminister of course, because I almost spend more time for Gothminister (laughs) than for my office. Okay, it`s almost 50:50. But I´m thinking about side projects that if you wanna do something with music you should do everything you can to push the main project. The most important thing is to get this project as big as possible, playing in front of people as many as possible. If you have a lot of side projects, maybe you`ll loose your focus. But it could be good for a while just doing something completely different to get a new inspiration.
 
Do you have your own lawyer`s office by the way?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, I have my own law firm.
 
I checked out your website. Do you share the firm with your sister?
 
Bjørn: No. My mother has a big house and I rent one floor in there in the city as for an office, but my ex-girlfriend Sandra, she was really good at photoshop, so that´s why my mother looks like my sister, I think. On the picture you might have seen on the website she looks like 20 years younger after the photoshop session.
 
So Greta is your mother?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, she´s my mother. (laughs)
 
From your lawyer job back to Gothminister: You mentioned a DVD that will be published in 2009. Can you already give me some hints?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, we have recorded one full show in the Netherlands. We supported Lacuna Coil back in 2006. We have the whole WGT-show from 2006 and three songs from the Mèra Luna-show. Of course we also plan to make a full show recording from a future concert with the new songs. Also we have a lot of road movie stuff from our tour in the US last year, especially one show where we had Bruno Kramm von Das Ich as a guest on the Keyboards. (laughs) That was really fun. We also have a lot of backstage material and crazy stuff from all the years. I was even an evil wrestling manager. The Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo had this big wrestling show where I was coming out shooting flames from my hands and they played Gothminister all over. People from sitting position were just rising up and showing fists in the air. (laughs) That was really cool. Then the wrestlers came out and the goth curse actually hit again, because one of this new guys – you know, this is all just a set-up, but still you have to be pretty fit in order to fall in the right way – so he was just lying there really beaten up or acting and I was poking him with a stick and was really making fun of him. Then I went backstage and they came out with him with the ambulance and lots of oxygen masks. He had broken three rips and had to be brought to the hospital. I was kind of thinking that he`s acting really good, but his injury was actually true. Another thing is that one of the best wrestlers from Norway did a tour in America and he wanted to use a Gothminister-song as an intro song. (laughs) So he videotaped it. He fought against a giant who was 2,30 metres tall. The wrestler was beaten down and the giant was supposed to hit him with a chair, but he hit him with the wrong metal-side, so he got this in his face and was bleeding all over. But he was supposed to win the match and he did. Nevertheless there was another goth curse as he was hit with the wrong side of the chair. I mean, these strange things happen all the time.
 
And I see, you have enough stuff for a DVD…
 
Bjørn: Yeah, absolutely, but I think we need a main concert, a new show as the last show was already filmed in 2006 and it`s a little bit old.
 
Are there some Germany-shows planned with the new album?
 
Bjørn: Yeah, we`re just waiting for being confirmed on a European tour, but we just had some demands. The booking agency is on vacation, I think. But it looks like it`s gonna be a tour in February with Tiamat and The 69 Eyes. We haven´t agreed on the terms yet. We don´t know.
 
How are you going to celebrate the release of the new album?

Bjørn: We already did actually, but just celebrating the recording, of course. We had a party in my apartment. Levi from Mortiis was there and Nell, the guys from the band and some friends and we got pretty drunk (laughs) and had a good time. We also went out to a bar where we know people and the DJ played some of the songs and we had a really nice evening. But we also plan to have a release party in Oslo when the album comes out.



Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken from promotion.dansemacabre-group.com
Website Band: www.gothminister.com


(c) Zillo Musikmagazin / Ausgabe 12/08-01/09 / www.zillo.de

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