Interview with guitarist Joni Snoro
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: August 14, 2021
Finland's symphonic death metallers Ephemerald, formed in 2016, have slowly but steadily been working on the material for their debut album, going with the idea that taking your time with your music and lyrics can pay off in the end. That's exactly what happened with their debut album, Between the Glimpses of Hope, released on Inverse Records in February 2021. Since its release, every single review that they have received seems to have been extraordinarily positive, which does not surprise me when the album has been in a relatively heavy rotation in my own jukebox.
The last time we had a conversation with the band was in 2018, so it was only appropriate to contact them again, now that they have their debut album out, to ask what they have been up to during these tough Covid times and whether there are any possibilities to see them live somewhere in the coming months.
Guitarist and songwriter Joni Snoro stepped in to satisfy our curiosity regarding these matters and some others too...
How has life been in these very unusual times with no gigs or festivals and with all the social restrictions? Have you suffered mentally?
Joni: My personal life has been pretty similar the way it was before. There weren't any music-related plans or Ephemerald gigs. For me personally, this virus thing hasn't been that bad, but it has been hard for other musicians and people who work in the music and event businesses. It's been really sad to follow all the trouble people have gone through due to this pandemic. I hope that life will start to roll as normally as before Covid-19.
As for some better news, Ephemerald's debut album, Between the Glimpses of Hope, was unleashed in February this year. The album was a long time in the making. Can you tell why it took such a long time to get it to this point and what kinds of things delayed the album?
Joni: I am going back to the first question. This Covid-time was kind of blessing for us in that we finally had a chance to finish the album. All the instruments were recorded back in 2018 but because of the world's situation our vocalist Vesa (Salovaara, also in Vorna) found the time to finish the lyrics and record the vocals for the album.
BETWEEN THE GLIMPSES OF HOPE
What can you tell us about the album in general? Is there a concept between each song that links them up together for one storyline?
Joni: There is no linear storyline through the album. The album has more like a general theme and each song contributes with a different view on the subject. Vesa, who wrote the lyrics, described the theme this way:
"Between the Glimpses of Hope is about countless new beginnings and attempts to break free from the shackles of the past towards a better tomorrow. There lies hope in the unseen future, yet things are never going to change for the better for good, if it is mainly the external circumstances that are changing without a profound change in oneself. Thus, you're going to greet a familiar darkness after the first rays of dawn have withered away."
To me, the album is really massive and epic-sounding and represents quite a few different subgenres of metal, from melodic death metal to folk metal to black metal, etc. Was keeping the doors open for your creative juices and not caring one way or the other your main goal? I guess when being creative it's pointless to limit yourself to tight boxes and just kind of let go in order to get the most out of your creativity. Your thoughts on this?
Joni: Yes, I think that you somehow answered the question already. When I write music for Ephemerald, I never think too much about those genre boxes. For me, it might end up being a bad result to try to make material within some certain type of genre box. It's always better that you have a chance to create something with a wider scale music-wise, allowing you to think outside of the box, so to speak.
Does everyone feel like they gave their absolute maximum performance on this opus?
Joni: While we were recording the album everyone gave the absolute maximum in the process. Of course, you always find something later which would have worked better or differently but anyhow we are still happy with the end result. Like you said earlier, the album took a long time to get it done but for example we did not overdub anything on the album to keep the spirit and the right vibe of the time of the actual recording.
DON'T GO CRAZY IN THE STUDIO
Do you feel that sometimes being an overly creative person this flourishing yet overwhelming creativeness might even turn against the original vision of whatever is being created?
Joni: Sure, it's possible. For example, if you can't finish a track, just move on and leave it like that and return it later when you have an idea about how to finish it.
Nowadays when almost everyone has their own home studios, it kind of makes things even harder. I mean, I have been thinking if I was good enough with recording at home that would be a nightmare for me because I could always re-record parts over and over again endlessly trying to find a better sound or something and I honestly think that the end result can be actually not that good with that kind of recording method. I like recording my parts in the studio and after the recordings we don't touch them anymore. It's got everything to do with that magical moment when you capture something for the first time, without letting the studio technology make you crazy with overdubs and all that jazz.
What inspired you to write songs with such striking atmospheres and different moods that put cold shivers down one's neck?
Joni: Ephemerald is inspired by life. Every song that I wrote for the album is based on real stories, memories and feelings of life. Vesa also provided lots of soul to the lyrics and his lyrical contribution includes the same ideology, based on life in general.
And now that the album is out, there's a kind of end of an era feeling. One circle of lifetime is closed now and it's time to move on.
Due to the album's epic and pompous nature, some people might be tempted to compare Ephemerald to such names as Wintersun and your ex-band, Frosttide. Is there something that you'd like to say about this subject matter?
Joni: People can compare us to other bands as much as they want, whatever fits their world best. That's totally fine by me.
When measuring the sheer intensity level of "Servant", I don't know why but for some strange reason some parts reminded me of Wintersun's "Eternal Darkness (Autumn)" song off The Forest Seasons. Perhaps both Juho's nonstop hammering had a lot to do with this weird reference/observation...?
Joni: Hmm... Maybe? I think that you should write some sort of an answer to your question when I have one still being fully formed in my mind, haha...!
LIFE GOES ON...
"Into the Endless" is the last song on the album. What is it all about lyrically?
Joni: Vesa is in charge of Ephemerald's lyrics and so I consulted him on this one. He said,
"'Into the Endless' is about how you're forever tormented by your own mind yet constantly trying to overcome it. You can try to suppress and avoid your unpleasant thoughts, etc. but in the end, you have to face them and yourself, or those things will make themselves known in other ways which bring all kinds of wonderful troubles to spice up your days.
The song's message can also be interpreted this way; no matter what you do, you're never finished. Life goes on and on and the moment you stop trying and fighting back is the moment you'll find yourself lost. There's no happy ending, only the finite journey and you should try to make the most of it."
How tough was it for you to put the songs in order on your debut? Were you all on the same page as to which song would open the album, which would serve as the last song, etc. or did you go through some painful debates?
Joni: That part went really smoothly for us actually. When we were recording the album, we had time to think about all these kinds of things after the recording day. We made the decision about the reasonable song order without wrestling against each other too much, haha!
How many songs did you write for your debut album? Do you have any leftover material that you may well use for your next release?
Joni: I wrote all the music and we recorded 10 songs for the album. After the recordings we realized that there was one song what didn't fit the album's atmosphere, so eventually we just decided to leave it off the album. But musically there's no reason to throw that song into the trash can, so maybe it will see the daylight someday.
You told me earlier that signing to Inverse Records was a relatively easy decision because you knew the label guy in advance, which makes communication easier for both parties. Were there other negotiations with other labels before you made your final decision and signed with Inverse?
Joni: Yes. There were some negotiations with a few labels but in the end, we didn't want to wait any longer to release the album and we decided to release it independently with help of Inverse Records. That felt best and I still feel that it was a good choice.
Many of you also play in other active bands (Vorna, Apocryfal, Voidfallen). How does time management between those other bands and Ephemerald work?
Joni: I think that Ephemerald has fit perfectly with the band members' other projects. Ephemerald isn't that active, though. For example, we don't need to rehearse for live shows so there haven't been any problems so far.
What were some of your personal expectations regarding your debut? Do you believe that you exceeded some or all of them?
Joni: Musically I'm really happy with the result! Of course, when you take time off from the album and listen to it over and over again, you can always find something that could have been done a little bit differently. But like I said earlier, it's a picture of that era where we lived, and I can stand fully behind it.
I bet the album has already received quite a lot of attention in the media by now. Do those articles make you feel you have done something right on your debut?
Joni: Yes, there have been lots of reviews about our debut in many music magazines and Internet platforms, more than I could have ever imagined. When I read them, it really makes me think that we have indeed done something right on this record. Then again, it's always great to hear feedback in any case, good or bad.
Now the album should be getting heavy promotion, both before and after its release, the latter being difficult due to the restrictions on performing live because of the damn global pandemic. You have released three singles off the album, how much have those helped you to gain some new fans? Do you have any plans to shoot a real band video in the coming months perhaps?
Joni: Ephemerald started from the bottom like every other band so it's easy to see that every single track released brought us some new listeners, which is absolutely great! And now that the album is out, there are lots of listeners who haven't found the album yet and I can, of course, wait patiently until they find it eventually.
And, about the real band video, that's not in our plans at the moment.
What are some of your personal expectations about the second half of 2021? Do you hope to get some gigs booked for late this summer or at least for the end of the year? What does your magical crystal ball tell you about your chances to play live in 2021?
Joni: Ephemerald is not a typical band who plan when to release music, then do shows and repeat the same recipe all over again. We don't even know if Ephemerald is going to do live shows ever. First, our main priority with this band was to release music added with some life stories to the world and I must say that live shows are not included our near future plans at the moment. But then again, never say never. We don't plan our future with the band too much. We live in the moment and also like to keep some mystery about us for the time being. Time will tell what will happen in the future, though.
Cool! I suppose that's all I had in mind for this chat, so thanks a lot for your time, Joni, and may your future path be filled with memorable rewards and a fair amount of success as well. The closing words are, of course, yours, sir... ;o)
Joni: Thanks to everyone who has already listened to Between the Glimpses of Hope, supported us in one way or the other and also provided some feedback to us for our debut album! Keep the spirit up!
|Other information about Ephemerald on this site|
|Review: Between the Glimpses of Hope|
|Interview with Ephemerald on January 13, 2018 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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