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Satyrian - For eternity (Jan Yrklund) - Online May 2006


First, a few generic questions. How would you describe SATYRIAN in a sentence or two?

SATYRIAN is an international Gothic Rock band, combining dark atmospheric lyrics with Wave, Rock, classical orchestration, piano and heavy guitars.

 

What would you like to tell somebody who has never heard of SATYRIAN?

Basically I’d like them to give the band a fair listen and though the band seems to get categorized in general as a Gothic Metal band, I think the band has more to offer that that very general term. A certain amount of open-mindness is definitely needed when listening to the album and I hope that we don’t let the listener get away too easy. The sound of the band is partly defined by the use of more singers than an average band, two female and two male. The songs are pretty much different from each other style wise, though there are majority of up-tempo dark Rock songs. But you can also find orchestral slow epic songs there, some industrial influences, Folk and even danceable tunes. Some songs are arranged plain and simple – straight to the point -, some then again are filled with hooks and breaks and are even close to Progressive Rock with lots of guitar work, piano and orchestrations. Also some songs have more Metal sound with double-bass drumming and metal guitars. So I guess it is a big challenge for a listener to get into, but once you do I’m sure you find the SATYRIAN world interesting and hopefully also enjoyable and at least worth to find more about.

 

What are your goals with SATYRIAN?

That is very good question indeed. I think that like every musician you hope for certain recognition for the work you do and in that way I’m no exception. I think that the purpose of the record is fulfilled once it touches the listener in a way or another. In this respect I think we are already on the right way since we have received many nice comments and personal e-mails from people who have enjoyed the music. That means very much to me. I have been already a while in the music business so I’m also realistic enough to see what is possible and what is not for a band in our style so I don’t think we’ll be up to the world domination here by any means if you know what I mean. I’m personally already satisfied knowing that we have a chance to release more albums and hopefully to find a steady place in the genre. Sure as for professional goals you always strive to make better records with better sounds and all, but that is the “boring part” of the process. The fun part is to be creative and get your creations released. There are many musicians, who don’t write music and are happy just with playing their instruments, but for me personally making music goes further than just playing an instrument and writing and arranging songs gives me that pleasure. A couple of nice concerts to go with that is very nice since for me the music becomes live on stage. Also there are still many countries to visit and people to meet out there, so one of the goals would probably be to do as many shows as possible – in as many countries as possible.

 

How is SATYRIAN the same and how is it different from other bands you’ve been in/are in?

It is the same in a way that we function as a band and we also do things like all the bands do, but it is also different in a way because there are no real expectations from it. You are in that way much more free with the music and the concept. You can actually do whatever you feel like and write different kinds of music. With many other bands I joined in when they already existed and had released some material, like LACRIMOSA, IMPERIA or ANCIENT RITES. Those bands had/have their style that people expect to hear. Though said that, those bands also evaluated through time. But basically you are kind of limited to a certain “style” so that’s why I always had side-projects to explore different musical fields. With SATYRIAN we actually start from the scratch – also one point why we changed our name from DANSE MACABRE. If you start a new band it takes a while before you get categorized and that gives us time to explore. The band is also based on a friendship, so I knew everybody for years already – except our singer Roman, who I got to know later. The core of the band, me, the bass player Milos and the drummer Merijn, have played years together and Oliver has been our producer in the past. Also Kemi and Judith I already knew for many years. In those other bands I had to get to learn the members when I joined in, which sometimes takes a bit of time. Except with LACRIMOSA, where I knew Anne very good from my ex-band TWO WITCHES. So with SATRYRIAN that natural chemistry of “knowing each other” already existed. In a way I feel that SATYRIAN is my main thing, because also the responsibility of everything lies more or less on my shoulders. But actually I don’t mind that at all, it is just part of it as I see it and other members sure have their own functions and tasks too. Maybe we are with ANGEL in a little bit similar situation, since there are also no expectations and you can explore different musical fields. What ANGEL is for Helena – a kind of method to explore her creativity in different musical fields – SATYRIAN is for me. Also the ways of working are similar. But I hope with the next record we will also experiment even more and I also hope that for ex. Roman, Kemi or Judith come up with song ideas. That would make SATYRIAN even more a creative factory as it already is now.

 

How has fan reaction to “Eternitas” been?

I’m very positively surprised so far. I‘ve noticed that there obviously is progress in response from the time of our former label Karmageddon Media. So I think our new label Lion Music is doing very good and has good distribution channels. For example, we hardly had any comments or e-mails from the USA in the past, now we get lot them. It seems that we have also found a new kind of listeners from the Progressive Rock scene, which is also very nice to notice. It is too early to say how the response from the live audience is since we’ve only played one try-out gig so far as SATYRIAN. That one was very cool though: we played in a Gothic dance party in an old church in Amsterdam. We thought they would never like us there since it’s mainly an electro dance party but to our surprise people seemed to like it pretty much and we even had to play an encore. We shot that gig also on film to be used on the promotional video clip we are currently working on. The location was just too cool not to be registered on film.

 

What’s the process for writing a SATYRIAN song? Is it planned out or does it come naturally?

It always comes very naturally. I don’t think you can force the creative process anyway, so the inspiration comes or it doesn’t come. You can never write a song by just sitting down and starting to work on it like technical routine – at least I can’t. Normally when getting ideas, I would just fool around with the keyboard, piano or guitar and most of the times I come up with a basic riff or melody to start with. Nowadays I think it is actually even more the piano which gives me inspiration. It is such a beautiful instrument and you can do everything with it. An epic song can just start with a single small flute melody for example. Then I use that as a hook line and build everything else around it. A heavier song would probably start with a heavy guitar riff. Actually anything can trigger your inspiration: a film you just saw and were touched by, a pop video clip you just saw on MTV, a poem that moved you, anything. And sometimes the ideas just come while jamming around on your own. I always write and arrange the songs more or less ready in my home studio and when I’m ready with that then the other guys get the material to get familiar with. After that we would enter the studio – in our case the Spacelab Studio in Germany. We use my demos as a guideline and record everything again. Oliver – our pianist and the producer – will arrange the orchestrations with me and the singers would be inventing vocal lines and lyrics. We like to spend a lot of time in the studio and many things and details are arranged there. Even sometimes whole intros, songs etc. So it is a very creative process to work together there. And quite much fun too.

 

A little more personal, the transformation from DANSE MACABRE to SATYRIAN is a rather storied affair, but different sources I came across in writing the initial review said different things about how it occurred. Could you give us your side of it?

Hmm, yes I know that there have been some stories circulating around. Probably the fact that we as a band never commented the split – or didn’t want to throw mud or accuse anybody – made some of the stories even more absurd. It was sometimes even pretty much fun to read some of those and we had quite many laughs too. Anyway, what basically happened is that for a longer time the band didn’t feel comfortable with our ex-singer. I don’t want to get into the details here, but I guess everybody who knows him has noticed the change to the more extreme with him. That was a problem for me and the rest of the band obviously too, since we didn’t share his views at all. So that was personal. While in the studio with this album I had made the decision to quit the metal band he was also in – for the same reasons. Everybody in the studio and also my friends and family knew about that. The final split took place in May 2003. The problem was that we had a booked and confirmed tour ahead of us in June in Finland, so we needed to find a new singer fast. The rest of the tour-line up was actually already part of the band since they all had taken part on the album recordings: me, Merijn, Milos, Judith (who was singing on our previous CD “Eva” as well), Kemi and Oliver. Kemi introduced Roman Schönsee (ex-PYOGENESIS, THE DREAMSIDE, THE BLOODLINE) to us and we liked his style so here we go. We did the tour with this line up and after the tour we decided to continue as a band and gladly everybody wanted to join in as full members. At that time we had a lot of discussions with our former label of what to do. We had the record deal so obviously they wanted to continue with us. They also supported the idea of finishing the album with the new members. So we started rehearsing, wrote the lyrics and entered the studio again in April 2004. After that session the album was finally finished and we decided to make a fresh new start with it and the band. At that time we started using our new moniker SATYRIAN. Actually we could have continued with the old name too and our label back then even encouraged us to do so, but that just didn’t feel like a right thing to do. We also wanted to take distance from the ex-singer and his reputation by this name change. The name is still out there, but we use it only to forward people to our new band and the site. For the rest the past is past.

 

How has your sound changed since DANSE MACABRE?

I think the main difference lies now in the vocals. We have much more female singing on the album and the interaction between Kemi and Judith is pretty cool to my opinion. Also the male vocals of Roman are heavy and rawer and also Oliver sings this time. As for the rest it is kind of direct continuation from DANSE MACABRE as the songwriting and the band is the same. So the playing sounds the same obviously. Also we used the same studio and more or less the same instruments that on the “Eva:” album of DANSE MACABRE. As for the music, I think we have here even more variation and different styles. The production sounds also heavier to me.

 

With the band members from so many different places, is SATYRIAN primarily a studio band or are there also plans to tour?

It is true that everybody is involved in different bands, Kemi, Roman and Merijn are in THE DREAMSIDE, Oliver and Judith in EVERON and I’m pretty much busy with IMPERIA and ANGEL. But as long as there is energy and motivation, that’s absolutely no problem. And at least I have enough inspiration for many more records. The fact that we live in different countries and different cities is of course a thing which limits us in a way that we can’t jam around as often as we probably would like to so the rehearsals only happen with a certain goal in mind: the recordings or preparations for them, or gigs. But nonetheless, everybody feels really connected to the band and playing live is what we also like to do, so certainly we will hit the road with SATYRIAN as much as possible. We’ll play on a metal festival in The Netherlands in July and in the autumn there are some shows planned for France. I’m also busy with negotiations with some booking agencies, so let’s see what comes out of that. But we’ll sure give some more shows to promote the album.

 

From reading the band’s biography, it took nearly three-and-a-half years (December 2002 to March 2006) between the beginning of recording and the release of “Eternitas.” What took so long?

Yes it is true that it took a very long time to record the album and to release it. The initial recordings lasted some two months I guess and then we returned for a few weeks later to finish the vocals, to change and add some details and instruments (we added also one more song to the mix). And of course we had to mix the album as well. So we were not like three years in the studio in a row (we’re not that rich you know =), though the recordings were a lengthy process anyway. Actually the first reason for the delay is the line up change and the replacing the ex-vocalist and after that it took us a while to prepare ourselves for the next recordings. After we were finally finished in April 2004, our label back then kept us waiting. At a certain point I asked if we could emigrate to a more suitable label anyway, because they were mainly releasing death or black metal. And finally the label agreed if that was what we really wanted to do and if the finances were right. So then I just sent a bunch of promos around to different labels and Lion Music was one of the first to catch my serious attention. When talking to Lasse in person I right away figured out that they would do a good job for us and they run the label for the right reasons. I’m still very good friends with the former label of course since we worked very hard for so many years together, so the switch of labels went down in a very friendly spirit. After that we had to wait a short while with the release schedule of Lion Music, but that was pretty fast in the end. So I guess this whole process took quite a while, but for different reasons, some of which were out of our hands. It was a rocky road to get it released indeed but we’re very happy to have it out there now finally!

 

Since there was such a difference in time between when the recording was complete and the album released, have you already started working on new material? If so, how does it compare to “Eternitas”?

As you can imagine we haven’t been standing still through all that time so there are plenty of ideas for the next one, the follower of “Eternitas”. As for the style I think it’ll follow the same paths: different atmospheres and different feelings. There will be some up-tempo Rock/Metal songs for sure but we are not afraid of experimenting with sounds or styles either. One thing I already know and that will be that we will take these experiments with two female vocals even further. We already in a way tried many things out when re-arranging some of the old DANSE MACABRE songs for live for two voices and that sounds pretty cool to my humble opinion. So I’m sure we’ll definitely do much more different things with the vocals the next time. And in general, as the releasing “Eternitas” took ages, we’re eager to start preparing and to record the next one. This time we won’t let it take as long for sure!

 

"Bridge Of Death” really sticks out from the other songs on “Eternitas.” What inspired this stylistic departure?

I’ve always had Folk elements in my music and I listen pretty much of that. Maybe it is something which comes from your native country and heritage as well, in this case Finland, because you still hear a lot of folk music around. As you listen to many Finnish bands, you’ll notice that too. Anyway, this song is a result of an evening in the studio from a jam session. I was jamming together with our drummer Merijn one evening with acoustic guitars and suddenly we had the basic chords for this song. The next day I added the flutes and the rest. So actually this one we wrote completely in the studio. As for the lyrics I remembered this poem of Henri Murger (who’s most known work was La Vie de Bohème). I was always very fascinated about it and I found it perfectly fitting to the folk feeling of the song. So we arranged the vocals and the lyrics as a theatre play with actors and different roles. It had a nice dark feel in it and all the four singers were performing. I like to experiment this way in the studio, sometimes a little bit of improvisation does the trick I find.

 

Given infinite resources/possibilities, who would you like to play a show with and where?

That is very hard to say actually. There are so many cool bands and musicians around. But all that is in reach if you get lucky. Therefore something that is impossible would rather trigger my imagination and fantasy, like going back to the past when the rock scene was in it’s begin days and not a huge industry like it is today. That’s why I always liked bands that made it by their own hard work, especially in the sixties. Also the seventies with the begin days of Heavy Metal and the guitar heroes seems pretty interesting period too. Especially when you consider the recording methods of those days and how evergreen some of those tunes have become nonetheless. And that “do it yourself” feeling was definitely there when those bands started. I notice myself also thinking sometimes how primitive we used to work in the eighties, playing live on an analogue recorder and all that. But probably the time makes a trick here since basically a “Rock band” is still a “Rock band” with the same instruments as always and the rock music itself hasn’t evaluated that drastically, no matter what we consider as “modern” now. Other types of popular music have done that evaluation rather and new genres have emerged. Only the sound – or rather our expectation of what sounds “good” in technical terms has been changing through the years and the working methods have become accessible for everyone now. But as for playing with whatever band of today, I take it as it comes. Therefore I don’t have any bands in my mind which would blow my mind or which I would die for to play with. There are some great musicians around I would like to work with on some of my projects and I know that there is much to learn from them. Also there are plenty of countries to explore still. I’ve never been to Japan, Russia or USA with any of my bands for example.

 

Is it important for you to make songs of a specific type or genre, or is it more important to simply make music?

I don’t want to limit myself for one genre or style personally, because I think there are good songs in every genre, from Black Metal to Techno. When I feel touched by a piece of music or beautiful lyrics I know this is good and I just simply enjoy it. Of course I’m a metal guy from the starters and my instrument is (distorted) guitar and that gives me kicks to play with, but generally I’m more of a “song person” than a “band person” if you know what I mean. I might like just one song of a certain band and that makes it my favorite at the moment. As for the songwriting, I just write songs, I never stand still if it is for this band or for that band. I don’t think you could even do that in fact, at least I can’t. Of course all the ideas depend about the mood you are in. If you feel bad, angry, happy, fine and all that. You automatically choose the approach – probably not even being aware of that – from your mood. It isn’t simply to explain in fact. But where it all comes to is just simply to make music, enjoying doing that – whatever genre it is – and hopefully you come up with something you can enjoy yourself and the listener as well. One of the things I really can’t do though is: writing any happy sing-a-long tunes. I might smile when I say that, but you got to count me out on that. It just isn’t there. Probably the melancholy and the sad side of life is guiding my moods or something, don’t know…

 

Now that “Eternitas” has been released, would you do anything different if you did it over again, knowing what you do now?

Probably not, it is part of what we believe in and a sign of that. I might think differently after a few years, but right now it is exactly like it was supposed to be. Technically there are things to improve, but that is like it always is. You might think to change a detail or two, but in the end I see it as a nice album for which we worked very hard together, so I’m only proud of it as it is.

 

If we were to look in your CD player right now, what would we find?

Hmm, believe it or not, today (3rd of May) my old buddy from the PRESTIGE time – Aku - came over to deliver some DVDs which had been converted from the old VHS live tapes of our band. So actually I have been checking that all out. It’s kind of journey to the past. So that is what is NOW in the player. But that’s not really what you are after I guess, so let’s see: the last album I’ve been listening was the new TÝR. I find it very refreshing album in their genre. I also have been listening to some demos of my other project SINMASTERS, which we still have to record. I think I have to disappoint you, but the last real CD I bought is already a time ago. I do actually order sometimes Metal or Gothic compilation CDs or DVDs to check out. The last band I saw live was ANTHRAX a week ago, in the original line up, so the spirit is still there I guess =)

 

Thanks again for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Well, thank you for this opportunity to say some words – I appreciate that. I hope that people will enjoy the album as much as we enjoyed making it and I hope to see you all around on our shows or at our sites. Cheers.

Discography:

2006: Eternitas (CD, Lion Music)

Keith Stevens



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