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By: John McLaughlin
The Swedish duo A Swarm of the Sun will release album third album, The Rifts, on January 30, 2015 through Version Studio Records. It is a bleak and beautiful journey through the innermost landscapes of the heart and soul. A brooding album about losing hope, dreams falling apart, isolation and final moments of clarity and redemption. Unquestionably, this is the band’s darkest and most emotional album to date. John McLaughlin asked Erik Nilsson and Jakob Berglund some questions about the band and the new album.
Scroll to the end of the interview for an exclusive stream of the track ‘Incarceration’.
(((o))): A Swarm of the Sun is known for sounding dark and melancholic. What is it about this style of music that speaks to you?
Erik: It’s difficult to say really. It’s always been important that music is sincere, most of all. Dark and melancholic, calm or explosive, cinematic, it fills me with a sense of euphoria. Sad music doesn’t make me sad and aggressive music doesn’t make me angry. It’s rather the opposite to be honest.
(((o))): The Rifts is the band’s first release since Zenith from 2010. Was the length of time between albums a product of design, or of circumstance?
Erik: I had early on decided, that after the release of Zenith it was time to finalise a new album with one of my other bands Aoria. So much of my time was spent there. Zenith was a long a quite difficult writing process, and the time until we started writing The Rifts we used to shape ideas and our own expectation of what was to come next. This isn’t anything new to us. We’ve always started from a small conceptual idea that turns into something much greater than expected, but this time I believe we’ve managed to follow through far over our own expectations, which feels fantastic.
(((o))): How do you feel the band has grown in the time since Zenith, both personally and musically?
Jakob: Well, we’re older. Hopefully the music is more mature in the sense that it’s fearless. I think it is. I still listen to Zenith from time to time, and I think it still holds its own. But I believe this is so much more powerful. And we are definitely better writers.
(((o))): The music industry typically demands quick action from bands. Have you found that long stretches between releases makes the operation of the band difficult? Does the fact that your releases all come through your own label make it easier?
Erik: The fact that we’re running our own label does of course mean that no-one else is putting pressure on us except ourselves. If we were better business men it would probably be better to focus 100% on only one band and project at a time, since it keeps more attention to the band. But in all honesty, we’re in this because we love creating music, and even though it’s been some long stretches between the releases this band has been around for so long in so many forms, that it feels like a part of us.
(((o))): You’ve stated that there were some personal troubles that provided some of the inspiration for The Rifts. Did the creation of the album help you deal with them, and if so, how?
Jakob: Sure, but that’s really a major point in doing any artistic work. At least for me. Writing is a healing process in itself. But that said, the music isn’t about any given specific moments, troubles or events. That would be too easy to invest several years in. It has to go so much further than that. I don’t see a distinction between personal and art. It’s all the same. What happens in life shapes what you write, but also the other way around. It has to reach for places I don’t know about myself.
(((o))): Do you find it difficult to revisit those trying moments in the songwriting process?
Jakob: No, not really. You have to tap into certain feelings to get going, and you do it without thinking too much. One way of doing it is to use specific events or experiences as starting points for ideas, but they should quickly grow larger than the original. The process of writing is to constantly dig deeper and not know where it will end or what it will eventually become. It’s an exploration, it’s playful and it’s deeply satisfying when you realise how far you’ve gone. Writing turns horrible experiences into seeds of creativity, with the potential to evolve into something great. It’s a beautiful thing.
(((o))): If you had to pick one aspect of A Swarm of the Sun that you believe truly defines the band, what would it be?
Jakob: In the end it’s obviously us two that defines the band. I think we’re motivated by passion. We do it because it’s what we love to do.
You can pre-order The Rifts through here. Listen to the exclusive première of ‘Incarceration’ below: