Interview: Dead Soul

Hi. I am Niels Nielsen and I am the guitar player with Dead Soul when we play live, but in the actual band I am the producer, the mixer, the engineer, the writer. I play all the instruments with my old man Anders, who does vocals and guitars.

This is your first tour in the UK?

“Yeah, we played one small show in Islington, London before this tour to try things out that are not at home so this is our first run of shows in the UK.”

How have the shows been so far on this tour?

“Amazing. I mean, its hard to say… each and every night has been great in one way or another. Of course, some nights are more amazing than others, but overall, really, really good… and that is so much thanks to the guys in Ghost and their crew. They’ve been treating us in a royal way. Getting great support from them all, we’re like a family.”

Touring with Ghost, you must have gained a lot of knowledge from touring with a band with that scale of production?

“Yeah, and you have to be on a certain level to do a tour like this. Even as support, you need to be efficient and know your place. I’ve been touring with them as a tour manager years ago, so we have a good connection, but the fans are open to what we do and they come early to check us out, so we are really blessed.”

You seem to be a band that has quite a niche following in the UK. The fans you have here seem very committed.

“Yeah. We seem to have a few at every show that know all the lyrics. Its like, how did you even find those? They’re not even out yet, haha. I freak out, because I tend to forget a word or two, and its like here we are in fucking Glasgow or something, and the fans know the lyrics better than me, haha.”

You released your album at the end of October. I take it, it’s been well received by the fans?

“Well received in the way that it is quite different, but its still Dead Soul? You can’t really compare them to our previous releases. Some people are like ‘oh wow, you did an even better album this time’, then of course, some people think the old stuff is better because they’ve heard it more or whatever, but, both reviews and fans seem to be… people have an opinion, people want to write to us, and not just keep it to themselves.”

I think fans miss being able to interact with bands. Is fan interaction something you actively seek?

“Yeah, of course. I try to write a response to every Facebook comment. It takes time, but its worth it, for sure. The fact is, that when we left Scandinavia, a lot of people had not heard ‘In The Darkness’, so ‘The Sheltering Sky’ is their first contact.”

Did you touch upon any new influences with the new album?

“Umm… well we never really discuss what we are going to do. We just write songs and then produce them in an interesting way in the studio. We wanted to make it more electronic, more rock, faster and slow. Stretch it and make it more dynamic, and sound a bit more expensive I guess. It’s the chapter two of the same book. Were finding new things to write about too. The lyrics… it’s also important to not be standing in the same place writing the same lyrics all the time. It’s interesting.”

How do you go about writing your material? Are you a studio based, or in a practice room?

“Well, I mean, since I own the studio, I’m there every day. I guess in the beginning, we were more finished and we just produced them. Now were trying to be more together and write the songs in the studio. The lyrics are still, that’s Anders’ part, and sometimes they’re done in the studio, but mainly beforehand. I like to burn the midnight oil. Sit down and write when its fresh.”

You came fourth in the Swedish vinyl releases?

“Yeah, when we released it, people seemed to really want the vinyl version. We pretty much only sell vinyl. Even at the shows in Sweden. But if you go to like Finland, they’re like ‘why did you bring vinyl? We just want the CD’. And in other countries, its like 50/50. But it’s a growing market if you look at the overall music sales in vinyl. It’s coming back, and I think its the perfect format for buying the artwork. You might listen to the album on your phone anyway but, I mean CD was always a bit plastic and cheap.”

Do you think the internet, and downloading has helped Dead Soul, or do you find your fans mainly come from live shows?

“Without internet now, I don’t think, if you’re a small band it’s mouth to mouth. And now there are not many places to see bands anymore. People don’t actually care for music that much anymore. I think the internet is the main area for people, so when we released our first stuff, suddenly people from Brazil heard about us. Someone told people there was a cool support band, and they heard it, and then you have a fan club in Mexico or something, haha. And we haven’t even been to Mexico, haha. I think for music and spreading, like MTV when did they last show a music video and will Dead Soul ever be on there, probably not so. I do love physical stuff, but I think the internet is so immediate that people can just press play and have it.”

You were just talking about venues dying out. Is that a common occurrence in Sweden?

“It’s like everything. Its getting so damn expensive to do anything. So people are not prepared to go work late hours and see bands if they cant make money. It’s a shame, I mean, live music is still actually where I live in the same town as most of the guys in Ghost, we have a very good track record for live music. Like, every night now there are three or four places that are doing it. They do a lot of local bands, which I think is the most difficult. You can never become a good band or good musician if you cant play live. So I like that they do that. But then it becomes a lot more difficult for the commercial bands trying to get the numbers in. Ticket prices go to insane levels. Its insane in Sweden to go to see a show. I don’t know what the average price is for a show over here, but a show in Sweden like this would be like £30. That’s the problem. People can’t pay that, and if they can, they can’t buy the t shirt, haha. We need, like, a balance. Of course, live music will survive, but its just got to find a way to become affordable again.”

Have you seen a dramatic rise in venue closures?

“Every now and then you hear of classic places shutting down, mainly because they are too shitty. So they would need to like repair everything and they can’t afford to do that. But, that’s also two sided. I also like old rock clubs, but I also like a pristine new building. It sounds great, but there’s also the expense.”

Going back to the origins of the band. Where did you come up with the name ‘Dead Soul’?

“We did have a conversation about a band name which would be Dead Soul, but we didn’t have a band, and we didn’t have intentions to have a band… but we did send an email. We sent a song to Anders of In Flames, just to see if he liked it, nothing more than that. I knew that he had a label, but the intention was not that. He replied with ‘I love it, what is it? I want to sign it. What is the name of the band?’ Anders happened to be at my apartment, so we were like, should we go with Dead Soul? It’s a pretty good name, and we do have an explanation for it, so it felt good. It’s called Dead Soul. Going from not having a band, to five minutes later having a band and a record deal for one song, haha. People think we are called Dead Souls after the Joy Division song which Nine Inch Nails covered. I haven’t heard that song actually, but its not from there.”

What was the explanation behind the name?

“I think that, we decided on the band name and when we lived with it for a while, it makes more sense. The explanation, the whole thing about Dead Soul is the combination of Niels’ work with machines and synthesizers,  which is kind of dead in that area. I’m coming from the blues and sort of southern soul, for me the main ingredient, and the best thing about music, is the soul. Otherwise it’s shit in my words. Its the combination of making the machines work with a human being. The theme were sticking to anyway.”

You have a sound that is very difficult to pin down. Where do you find your influences coming from?

“I think when it comes to writing the actual music, because we take a difference from producing and writing, we really try to write a solid song on the guitar. We went even more into that with the second album, trying to figure out the melody and the actual idea. When it comes to the actual production, you can borrow ideas. That’s what a good producer can do, borrow ideas without stealing, in my opinion. I can tell you so many weird influences that would make no sense for you, but for me, it makes perfect sense. The first record was more influences from the likes of Kanye West and Lana Del Rey. The beats, some of the reverbs. On the new record its a lot of techno. Like German weird techno, and also classic records like an old Pink Floyd record or Pearl Jam… just this little thing that I want to borrow. So we don’t really try, because it would be too obvious if we went to steal everything that Trent Reznor does, then we’d be a copy of Nine Inch Nails. Now we do things, and we can still be back to music but we are our own band. We didn’t form the band with the same musical taste. I mean, Anders is into his thing, and I’m into my stuff, so we can’t really be like we are going to be this band. I mean, if our favorite band was Metallica, then it would be quite obvious to have more Metallica material in there, and I think that’s a really good thing for us. We almost never talk about references when it comes to songs. I have my vision of a song, and he has his. Rarely, we talk about that. It just melts together. Sometimes we tell each other afterwards, Anders do you know this part I thought about that Rush song, or that hip hop song, and I’m like what! It makes sense when he tells me about it, but I don’t hear it to start with. I think that’s really good.”

Going back to Sweden, what would you say the differences are, aside from show prices, between shows at home and the UK?

“It’s a lot more people here in the UK. In Sweden, the biggest bands can’t even go to the very small cities. They have to stick to the big ones. That’s a main thing, like here, we can do eight shows. In Sweden we do like 2? And err, the whole climate of making music is different, because we have a tradition of having places to rehearse and we seem to have a pretty good standard overall in Sweden. Families are able to spend money on their kids to buy instruments from a young ages. We’re kind of spoiled in a way. We had computers and the internet before everyone else in the world, so the whole technology side for a guy like me, I got my first computer when I was 7 years old in 1990. I started making music on my computer when I was ten years old, and I’ve been doing it since then, just like plugging my guitar in. We have so many bands for being such a small country. Some of them are actually really good.”

What is the Swedish government’s view, with regards to the arts?

“I think its really good in Sweden. We have several organizations that support the arts, music and art. If you need help as a band, you can get help to find a place to rehearse. You can even get gear if you can’t afford it, and education up to a certain point, is free of charge. It’s really good. A good environment that has allowed so many bands to thrive.”

Are there any local bands that you think we should be keeping an eye out for?

“We have two similar big cities that are close, so I live in one, and Anders lives in the other. There’s a label called Gaphals. They put out a lot of local bands. They’re starting to gain bigger bands as well. Like you said, now we actually have two new venues and stages, so suddenly we get good bands coming. I would say check out that label, Gaphals, and just because of that I can’t tell you any bands. I’ve got something along the same lines, a band that we know really well that we did a show in London with called The Great Dischord. They released a new album on Metal Blade. They’re really, really good. A wonderful record of progressive metal… really impressive and great people.. w.ok really hard to get their name out there. They should really, I mean people are picking up, but they should really take off. They are super talented. A female singer and songwriter, and she’s something else. She’s amazing. She’s singing in ways, she’s actually singing on the opening track for us, doing some backing vocals, because she’s so good. We wanted that Pink Floyd Gosbal sound, just like, ‘Thea can you come here?’ We have all different bands like heavy metal bands, and they are releasing records and trying to tour. It’s not like, every band can’t be Ghost, but I think that when you see one band taking off, you will have 50 other bands trying. Ten of them will actually be pretty good. They’re a huge inspiration. Even in our home town, they’re so fucking massive. Even commercial radios play their songs, haha. They’re on national radio!”

For people who haven’t heard of you. How would you describe yourselves. and why should people buy your music?

“Well, if you are into atmospheric music of a darker kind, but are bold enough to try something that you haven’t visited before, then I think you’ll like Dead Soul. It is different and it is… you should never describe your music… but it’s great because, right now, there are not too many bands doing what we do. It’s electronic. We are not a metal band… we never said we were so.”

What are your plans for 2016?

“We have some plans in the works and in the shadows. After this tour, we’ll probably play some festivals, tour again next year. I mean, were not the kind of band that you would see on Download, but I think we’ll be hitting those more experimental festivals on a smaller scale. Of course if they asked us, we would consider it, but its not our main focus. Its a very important festival, but I wouldn’t say it’s for the artists.

Great, thanks for talking to us.

Dead Soul have now finished their run of shows with Ghost, and are now back in Sweden. We eagerly await information on their upcoming shows and hopefully a return to the UK in the near future.

Interview: Siôn Roe]]>

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