Interview with Ephemerald
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 13, 2018
Ephemerald is a completely new group in the underground Metal scene featuring both current and ex-members of such Finnish names as Frosttide, Vorna, Apocryfal and Prayed and Betrayed. Ephemerald's music could be described as epic and massive melodic Death Metal with murky and dark elements from bands like Insomnium and Brymir.
So far, these Finns have released a couple of digital singles ("I Bear Fire" and "Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole") and the response has been overwhelming. Many see the band as the next big thing coming from northern Finland, but time will tell.
The Metal Crypt was curious and contacted the band to get more details about this new entity.
Luxi: First, thanks for accepting my interview invitation.
Vesa: Thank you for the invitation, always a pleasure.
Joni: No problem at all! It's our pleasure!
Luxi: Second, let's dive into the main subject, which is Ephemerald of course. In your own words, how did this band came about?
Vesa: The idea for the project came from Joni. He had composed some songs alongside his main band (which at that point was Frosttide) and in July 2016 he asked me if I'd be interested in doing vocals and lyrics for them. I happily accepted his request as those songs sounded very good and I thought it would be fun to do music together. Juho had also offered his help with the drum recordings. I'd say Ephemerald became an actual band when Lauri joined after he and Joni ended up leaving Frosttide in October 2016. That was the main spark that led us actually doing something instead of just talking and planning things.
Luxi: Having only heard a couple of samples via the band's YouTube channel, I have to say I was truly impressed by the band's massive, picturesque and epic extreme Metal sound. They make me think of Ephemerald in the same category as bands like Wolfheart, Brymir and even Wintersun. I guess you are aiming pretty high, both musically and visually, correct?
Vesa: Nice to hear that, thanks! Sure, having big goals and vision helps keep things fun and interesting. None of us would get satisfaction out of this without aiming high and trying reach a certain standard in everything we do, considering all the time, effort and money we have to "sacrifice" to do this.
Luxi: For me personally, the song "Till the Sea Swallows...." was quite a ballbreaker type of a song, full of nearly unbearable heaviness, massive epic-ness and everything in between. Did it take a long time to come up with a song like that? Undoubtedly this song isn't something that you can just pull out of your sleeve every single day to impress people...
Joni: First of all, thank you! Great to hear your thoughts about the song.
Vesa: The song itself didn't take too long to find its complete form. To be honest, it shouldn't have taken this long to release "Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole" after the release of our first single (which was in February 2017). It was about problems with time management more than anything, combined with a few setbacks, which were not in our hands.
Joni: As a songwriter, I put all my focus on one song at a time. For me every song is an important part of the album concept and the idea about putting "ok" songs to an album doesn't sound right to me. Happily, we don't have to do that.
Luxi: Besides songs like "I Bear Fire" and "Till the Sea Swallows Us Whole", do you have any new teasers that you have finished or are currently in the works?
Vesa: Who knows! We are most likely focusing on a bigger release next but it is not out of question to release more singles if it feels like the right thing to do. We have several plans, time will tell which ones we are actually going to execute.
PUSHING FORWARD WITHOUT ANY LIMITATIONS
Luxi: How would you describe the new material that you are working with at the moment?
Lauri: In my opinion, if we look at those previous singles, some of our new stuff is more aggressive but at the same time it captures even greater emotion. We are pushing both lines even more than before.
Vesa: The material is very strong overall, no doubt about that. The way I see it, Ephemerald has its own, somewhat distinct sound already, but there's still variety between the songs. We are constantly trying out new things and looking for new ways to develop our sound. The band is hardly one year old after all.
Joni: I don't know how high the bar is for upcoming songs. After I have finished a song, the first thing I think is "can I stand behind it?" If yes, then I know that it's ready to go forward! And about the new material, we don't have any limitations. For sure there will be fast, hard and dark Ephemerald songs and, of course, it's possible that there will also be slow, atmospheric and peaceful songs which can be instrumental or acoustic with only clean vocals, etc.
The musical range in my head is huge and I'm thankful that in this band people listen to all my song ideas and don't judge them! I need to say also that for me the atmosphere of the song is the most important thing and how it makes you feel. Vesa's lyrics are also a very important part of these songs. They seal the project and give the final, magical touch.
Luxi: Hmm, is less more or is it the opposite when you think of how far you want to stretch the band's sound towards new musical directions? Do you have any standards or limits? Is open-mindedness the right word when composing material for the band?
Vesa: Being open-minded is always good, but I think we all share pretty much the same vision of how we want our first album to sound. Let's see what happens after that. I believe it's best to follow the path that inspires you and you are currently feeling the most passionate about.
Joni: How can less be more? More is more! Hehe but seriously, "open mind" is pretty good key word. If you are not open-minded and worry too much about what other people think you're going in the wrong direction! At this point I'm not thinking how the music of Ephemerald will develop in the future. It will develop for sure as we are also developing all the time as human beings. Our mind and body go hand in hand. But maybe the best key sentence for me is still (like I said before) that I can stand behind the music I do. If you question that, then that's not 100% of you.
Luxi: How do you keep the songwriting process challenging personally?
Vesa: It's never easy to come up with great ideas. For me personally, a deadline has been both the greatest muse and challenge when writing lyrics and vocal arrangements in Ephemerald. The lyrics and vocal arrangements for both singles were written approximately a week or two before we hit the studio, partly just the night before. Those were some goddamn intensive writing sessions, to say the least. That's something I'm not too used to with my other projects. Still, I'm quite happy with how they turned out since it's been awhile since I've written lyrics in English. For me the most difficult and time-consuming task is to get the fundamental idea, concept and structure of the song just right. After I get that down, it's pretty easy to be creative and play with the words.
Joni: I'll try to challenge myself by breaking my normal formula of making songs and I try to add new, different spices and hooks every time I'm writing a new song. Sometimes I can surprise myself with what I actually just did, and that feeling is great. Challenging myself keeps the songwriting exciting and I can learn from every song I make. But yeah, of course, sometimes getting a song done can be a really challenging process. Sometimes it can come very "easily" but that's only the flow in your mind not the quality of the song.
Luxi: Is one of your plans to make a digital promotional package for labels around the globe, just to see where it all might lead?
Vesa: That's definitely one way to go, but so far we haven't had to do that kind of stuff.
PIRATE SHIP HEADING TOWARDS VICTORIES
Luxi: How are responsibilities shared within the band or would you rather like to see this band more like a collective unit in which everyone supports the band in any area they are capable of supporting?
Joni: Ephemerald is like a pirate ship and the members are the pirates. Together we shall go through the storms and together we shall enjoy the victories. The ship is as strong as its weakest pirate and we don't make anyone walk the plank so yes, I see us as a collective unit.
So far, we have had clear roles; I have written the music, Vesa has written the lyrics and Lauri and Juho have given their input with regard to playing their own instruments. That method has worked very well for us, but, of course, if anyone throws out a song/lyric idea we'll listen to it.
Vesa: We're are trying to utilize everyone's strengths the best we can. Still, everyone is welcome to contribute to just about any task there is.
Luxi: What are each member's best assets that make Ephemerald such a strong and professional sounding act? I am pretty sure it all comes down to some of your past band experiences...
Vesa: I agree. And I guess another thing that really helps is that we are all very dedicated to practicing and developing as players of our own instruments.
Luxi: Does playing in Ephemerald restrict you from playing in other bands?
Vesa: It would be ideal if one could concentrate all his focus on one thing at a time, but that's often not possible. Studio sessions (and when on tour, eventually) are one of those rare occasions. I personally have so much going on with my life that I have no choice but to prioritize on a regular basis, depending on the current level of urgency and importance of the matter. Compromises had to be made, that's just how it is. For example, my other band Vorna is currently writing its third full-length album as well, so I'm basically writing two albums simultaneously. Needless to say, I'm not going to make any compromises regarding the quality of those albums, so frankly things will just take a bit more time.
Luxi: I am a bit curious to know what's your deal with Italy's Rockshots company anyway? Are you officially their "property" now or are you still free to go with any label opportunities?
Lauri: We were working in the studio with our first single "I Bear Fire" when Rockshots Records first contacted us and showed interest in releasing our music. We were a totally new band at the time and only had one fully completed song. Still, we thought it would be important to have a label release our first single. We didn't want to make record deal for an album so early because we didn't know what we actually wanted to do and where we were going with our music, plans and schedules. In the very first place, we just wanted to make one song and look at the future after that. It was great that Rockshots Records were so open-minded and we found a solution that was the best for both sides at that point. Huge thanks to them for their great co-op with us! Everything has gone so well so far.
Vesa: However, no deals have been signed yet regarding our upcoming releases. The way I see it, there's no reason not to continue our cooperation with Rockshots at the moment. It would be stupid to ignore it if something reasonable does come across, though.
NEXT BIG THING COMING FROM THE LAND OF A THOUSAND LAKES?
Luxi: Do you believe in yourself to the point that this band has the potential to become the next big Finnish Metal band on the map of international Metal?
Lauri: Yes. Totally!
Juho: Yes. We believe so. Our goals are high and we already have history from previous bands. We can make music that stands out from the crowd. So far, the reception has been exceptional both from fans and critics alike.
Luxi: What are some of your personal expectations and/or hopes for Ephemerald? What would it take for you in your personal life if you left everything else (by this I mean job/studies mainly, however) just to focus on this band full-time?
Lauri: I hope that this band is going far. I hope that we continue making great music and we play crazy shows around the world. And most importantly, that we manage to keep this crew of great friends together.
About the second question... I wouldn't do that again. I have done that once before. I mean... I saw the world and met amazing people during the old era. But at the same time, I didn't enjoy playing as much as I do now. Right now, when I'm doing "real" work and time is money for everything in my life, I enjoy everything we are doing with full force and I can give the band more from myself than before. This way, music is truly a force that helps me keep myself on track in life in general.
Joni: Of course, you need to dream big and have passion to reach your goal, otherwise there wouldn't be a reason to do this. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing now we have good chance to release many albums, do lots of shows all over the world, gain lots of golden memories and meet lots of great new people in the future.
About personal life at the moment my dream would have a golden road between the band and a "normal" job. For example, now I work at a local record shop and I have seen that that's probably my dream "normal" work and it's also related to music. But if there is change, to only focus to making music in the band and still have money to live then I would be ready to jump on that train. Otherwise I'm totally fine with this situation.
Luxi: Proper marketing is an essential part of a band's success, besides the music, of course. Are there certain requirements that you expect from a label so that you'd feel like, "Hey, things might work after all"?
Vesa: It all depends on what we are trying to accomplish. For a digital single, requirements regarding the release are totally different than on full-length album and require different things from both sides. Then there is this unholy trinity of expenses, income and promotion...
Luxi: Do you have a booking agency to take care of gigs or is this still in your hands?
Vesa: The time will come as soon as we have enough material we are satisfied with to play a full show. We know and have spoken with a couple of booking agents, but it's perhaps too early give it too much thought at the moment. We'll get back to it when we're ready.
Luxi: Do you have anything special planned regarding your future live shows? Any special, eye-catching backdrops or anything comparable to that so that people would know what they are paying for?
Vesa: I believe it's important to offer a show that is pleasing for the ear and also for the eye. This topic is again something we'll get back to when the time is right.
Luxi: What do you believe and/or hope Ephemerald can achieve in the next 2-3 years or so? Now give your very best shot in a role of Nostradamus...? ;o)
Vesa: 1-2 albums, tours in Finland and Europe, lots of great memories and I'm afraid that tens of thousands of debt, but hope it would be the other way around.
Joni: Actually, I answered this earlier. Within the next 2-3 years we have released our debut album, done our first shows in Finland and Europe, we have gained many great memories and met many great new people!
Luxi: I think that sums up the whole conversation. My sincere thanks for your time for getting this interview done and all the best with your upcoming endeavors with the band. If you have any last comments, then be my guest...
Vesa: Thank you for the interview! Hopefully the small elite group of brave and determined readers made it all the way down here; be sure to check out Ephemerald's music, you are worth it!
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