INTERVIEW WITH SOJOURNER intervista di Daniele Pietrini

MELODY LANE had a great interview with the atmospheric folk black metal band SOJOURNER.
Black Metal tag feels a bit disingenuous since we're influenced by it but it's really only a portion of our sound. We tend to go by Atmospheric Metal most of the time, because there are elements of Black Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Folk Metal, and a tonne of other stuff scattered in there. Atmospheric Metal just sort of catches it all tidily..."

MELODY LANE: First of all, also if it can sound a bit expected…Can you tell us where does the name SOJOURNER come from?
EMILIO CRESPO: One day I was just thinking of possible names (one of the hardest things to come up with) and the word Sojourner just popped in my head. Due to the theme of the lyrics being about fantasy and nature it fit perfectly. The definition of a sojourner is someone who doesn’t stay too long in one place and moves around. Much like characters in a fantasy book, game or movie, it fit perfectly.

MELODY LANE: The line-up of the band is confirmed, is it the same from the beginning of the band…or have you had changes in the last years? Can you tell us something about the roots of SOJOURNER? And where the band was born?
MIKE LAMB: Yeah, the lineup as it is now is the final lineup of the band, plus Scotty Lodge on live bass, who we consider a full member of the band. Without the members we have now Sojourner wouldn't be Sojourner, so that's not going to change as long as the band is around! However with the live lineup this changes occasionally, since we have members going back and forth between New Zealand and Europe it can mean we need to have stand-ins at times. Emilio and I started the band back in early 2015, adding Chloe and Mike Wilson soon after, and then between our first album 'Empires of Ash' and our second album 'The Shadowed Road' we recruited Riccardo on drums. I started the writing back home in Dunedin, New Zealand and Emilio's always been based in Sweden so those are the real 'hometowns' of the band...musically in Dunedin, NZ and lyrically/vocally in Malmo, Sweden.
EMILIO CRESPO: Mike and I were in touch in 2014 when I discovered his other band Lysithea, which both he and Wilson are in. After some time we decided to do something together and this all came about. The rest is history.
CHLOE BRAY: I was initially going to just write the tin whistle and do some occasional vocals as I did on a couple of Lysithea albums. I was working on a folk project at the time, and I think Mike came to me with the first section of Bound by Blood and Heritage of the Natural Realm without tin whistle to see if I wanted to add something. I loved the direction it was going in so much that I ended up joining and writing as a guitarist too.

MELODY LANE: Can you list us 5 songs, from SOJOURNER discography (including new material), that can define the sound of the band … 5 songs that can help our readers to know SOJOURNER at the best.
MIKE LAMB: My five would probably be: first - 'Heritage of the Natural Realm', since it was our first single and it got us 'noticed' or put us on the genre's radar in a small way I guess; second - 'Homeward', as it's often a fan-favorite; third - 'An Oath Sworn in Sorrow', since it covers the darker side of our sound and has some of my favorite vocal sections from both Chloe and Emilio; fourth - 'The Shadowed Road', which might be my favorite Sojourner track overall; and fifth - 'Trails of the Earth', which for some reason is one of the tracks that I've always felt quite fond of. There aren't any tracks I'm not fond of or regret though, which is a nice feeling. I'm proud of both albums so far start to finish.
EMILIO CRESPO: It would have to be Heritage of the Natural Realm, An Oath Sworn in Sorrow, The Shadowed Road, Ode to the Sovereign and Titan for me.
CHLOE BRAY: Fairly similarly: Heritage of the Natural Realm, Homeward, An Oath Sworn in Sorrow, the Shadowed Road, and I’m going to throw in the Pale Host because we’re working on something in that direction for the new album at the moment!

MELODY LANE: Tell us something about the creative process of your music. Is there a main composer or we can talk about a team work? The songs come from ideas of a single member and then the band works on these ideas in the studio jamming together, or your songs are written in the studio and all the members compose together?
MIKE LAMB: Chloe and I do all the songwriting and it's a pretty even 50/50 split. We put it all together musically, record it, and then we hand it to Riccardo with demo drum ideas and he tweaks and adds his own flair to it, and Mike W. does his bass parts, and Emilio adds his lyrics and vocals. So it's a good, efficient system and it works really well for us.

MELODY LANE: Who writes lyrics and words in SOJOURNER? Can you tell us something about contents and messages of the lyrics of your songs?
EMILIO CRESPO: I write most of the lyrics with Chloe joining in every now and then. I also had Anders Jacobsson of Draconian (with whom we just wrapped up our European tour) write the lyrics to Titan.I usually have them stay within the realm of fantasy and nature. That general umbrella allows for many different kinds of emotions and attitudes. It really depends on what I feel. I will say that I will explore some darker themes on the new album so be on the lookout for that!
CHLOE BRAY: My contributions are complete nerdery – the song The Shadowed Road is loosely based on a post-apocalyptic fantasy book I've been working on, and The Pale Host was inspired by an description of an ancient Greek hero’s burial.

MELODY LANE:  After time, are you totally satisfied with your choices about sound and the writing of your old albums? If you could… would you change anything?
MIKE LAMB: There isn't much I'd change about either album so far, they are what they are and there's nothing that sticks out to me as one of those things you end up massively regretting. Perhaps, if I could do it over again, I'd make some tracks a bit more succinct here and there, but there aren't any parts I regret.
EMILIO CRESPO: That’s the best we had at the moment of each album and you need to be proud of that. The biggest issue for a musician is to nitpick at their earlier works. While I can be guilty of this at times, there comes a moment where you just need to be happy with what you put out and move on to make the next one even better. We all grow and the new albums will reflect what you learned and got better at.

MELODY LANE:  Apart from the dates you’re doing around Europe with Draconian and Harakiri For The Sky, any chance for us to see SOJOURNER playing live here again in Italy in the next months/year? Maybe summer festivals?
EMILIO CRESPO: Well, it all depends on promoters being willing to bring us over. There is a common misconception amongst fans where it’s believed that a band decides where they go. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If there is enough demand somewhere, a promoter gets in touch with the bands booking agent and we strike a deal. So far in only 10 months of playing shows we’ve played Italy 3 times so I’d say that’s a good sign that we’ll be back! With all that said we can’t stress enough that you need to make yourselves heard to promoters! 

MELODY LANE: Could you tell us two bands, from the actual international scene, you’d like SOJOURNER to tour with?... Two bands that would represent a perfect line-up for SOJOURNER to play with. And why these bands?
MIKE LAMB: Well, playing with Draconain and Harakiri for the Sky was huge and they're both bands I admire massively and have for a long time. I'd love to play with Borknagar and Wormwood one day too. I personally love both bands, and don't feel like it would be an entirely inappropriate lineup even if they're not entirely in-line stylistically. Also, we're good friends with Oystein (the man behind Borknagar) since he produces our stuff, so that would be nice to hang out with him and the guys. We loved hanging out with Harakiri and Draconian though, that was a lot of fun and we'd do it again in a second. Oh, and Insomnium, that would be amazing. There some bands I'd love to tour with that would be completely inappropriate stylistically but are some of my favorite bands, like Midas Fall and Raised by Swans...but that would never work haha.
EMILIO CRESPO: A dream of mine came true already since we toured with my favorite band of all time, Draconian. So that’s one checked off my bucket list. Other than that, I would say Unleash the Archers and Wolfheart. Three different styles there but I feel it would work. If I learned anything from touring with Draconian and Harakiri it’s that tour packages with different style bands can work very well. Being the opening band and having a packed venue every night proved to me that people enjoy that moreso than four death metal bands of the exact same style where, more often than not, only the headliner gets the packed crowd.
CHLOE BRAY: Moonsorrow, because they are one of my favourite bands and there are a few small similarities in the folky sound which might mean that some of their fans would like Sojourner too. I also like to dream that if we ever get over to NZ/AUS we could tour with Be’lakor!

MELODY LANE: We know that ‘to define is to limit’… but how do you define SOJOURNER sound? Are you a Black metal band…an Atmospheric black metal band… A Folk/Epic black metal band Or…?
MIKE LAMB: I feel like the Black Metal tag feels a bit disingenuous since we're influenced by it but it's really only a portion of our sound. We tend to go by Atmospheric Metal most of the time, because there are elements of Black Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Folk Metal, and a tonne of other stuff scattered in there. Atmospheric Metal just sort of catches it all tidily.
CHLOE BRAY: Slightly-blackened folk-influenced atmospheric/epic metal?

MELODY LANE: Which musicians are/have been your main musical inspirations? And which are your favorite bands nowadays?
MIKE LAMB: Personally, Agalloch were huge inspirations, as were Katatonia, Novembre, The Morningside, The Foreshadowing, lots of soundtrack stuff like Akira Yamaoka, Toshio Masuda, Joe Hisaishi, Clint Mansell, John Murphy...I could go on and on about inspirations, but it's just a big melting pot of all the stuff I love that's fed into how I personally write music. A lot of stuff that isn't metal too.
EMILIO CRESPO: Too many to name but to keep it short I’ll say Draconian, Doom:VS, Katatonia, the Norwegian Black Metal bands, and yes, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park is the reason I started doing vocals to begin with. When it comes to favorite bands nowadays, I don’t really have favorite bands anymore with the exception being Draconian. The rest are just bands that I really enjoy and respect.
CHLOE BRAY: Moonsorrow, Borknagar, and Rotting Christ have probably been my three consistently favourite bands over the years, and if we can ever capture anything even close to their energy then I’ll be happy! I also want listening to Sojourner to feel a bit like listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack so I have to give Howard Shore his due.

MELODY LANE: As a musician, what has been your biggest achievement to date and what do you want to achieve in the near future?
MIKE LAMB: My biggest achievement so far has been what we've managed to do with Sojourner, producing these two albums, signing to Avantgarde Music and then Napalm Records, and managing to take it live despite the fact we're a very scattered, international band. It's stressful at times and takes up a lot of energy, but I wouldn't ahve it any other way. In the future I just want to keep making great albums and continuing the trajectory we've been on.
EMILIO CRESPO: Sojourner has been my biggest achievement. Releasing music I stand behind 100%. I also never thought that I would be in the position of having worked with Avantgarde and then to be signed to Napalm Records as well as touring in a nightliner with my favorite band (let’s not forget the amazing souls in Harakiri for the Sky). This has been very rewarding and we’ll try the best we can to keep the machine going!
CHLOE BRAY: I think for me the thing that beats everything else is talking to someone after a show and hearing that a song has affected them in some way. Knowing that I felt a certain way when I was writing and that it made another person who I’ve never met feel the same way is really powerful. I’ll always be proud to have made music that can do that.

MELODY LANE: In the end…A message from you to all MELODY LANE readers.
SOJOURNER: Thank you all for the support and being the reason we’ve gotten this far. We are extremely grateful and will continue to give you our best!