About Me

Interview with Sojourner

“Premonitions” has a unique and beautiful cover and the album is beautiful in every way (musically and lyrically speaking). Mike Lamb and Emilio Crespo talked with Metal Imperium about it, the songs, personal experiences and a videogame. Hope you enjoy it!

M.I. -  Let’s talk about the new album: “Premonitions” which will be released on May 8th, via Napalm Records. A very beautiful album, with a unique sound, Sojourner at its best. How would you describe it?

Mike L.: Thanks for taking the time to interview us! I would describe it as ‘atmospheric metal’; there are elements of melodic death, doom, black metal, and influences pulled from all over the place but, in the end, it just sounds like us, I think. It’s our most personal work by far though. 

M.I. -  How was the writing process for the upcoming release? Has it remained the same, or did it happen in a different way?

Mike L.: It basically remained the same as it always has, Chloe and I write the music and then Emilio adds his vocals, Mike records his bass, and Riccardo tweaks the drums I write and records them. This system has worked really well for us since the beginning, so I don’t see us ever really changing it up.

M.I. -  This your first record under the Napalm banner. Did they give you creativity freedom? Musically speaking?

Mike L.: Yeah, we maintained full creative control over the music, artwork, visual approach, and everything like that. That was the first thing I talked through with Napalm before we signed, making sure that we wouldn’t have any of that interfered with, but they’re an incredibly friendly and supportive label and they go out of their way to let us do our thing while supporting us at the same time.

M.I. -  Does having an international background affect the sound of the band, in terms of creativity and influences? In what ways? How did you meet? Because you are from several different countries, is the name Sojourner (pilgrim) appropriate?

Emilio: Mike and I met after I had heard his other band, Lysithea, and became a fan. I messaged him and, after talking for several months, we had the idea of starting up Sojourner. I guess you could say that about the name! Haha! The name came to me out of the blue one day. It just fit so well due to the sound of the music and also the lyrical themes being so fantasy and nature based.

Mike L.: It makes live shows and the general friendships of the band really fun, because everyone’s coming from a different place. In terms of creativity and influences musically, it doesn’t really change things at all, because the two of us that write are from the same place and have a lot of the same influences.  

M.I. -  Your sound is a blend of aggressive vocals and clean vocals and they fit perfectly. What influences your creativity? What were the main influences?

Emilio: We each have our influences. A lot of them can be the same but there is such a wide range of music that we listen to in this band. With the vocals, we just give the song what we feel it's asking for. We don't feel like we need to adhere to certain genre expectations. Some songs may have more cleans and some may be harsher. Our influences are wide: Borknagar, Insomnium, Draconian, Alcest and the list goes on and on.

M.I. -  The album was mixed and mastered by Øystein G. Brun (Borknagar’s guitarist) at Crosound Studio in Norway. How was it working with a musician whose band has a similar sound to yours?

Mike L.: When I first reached out to Øystein, it was because I love Borknagar so much and I had noticed that he had opened a studio. I feel like he understands the band so well and gets what we’re going for. He’s also one of the nicest guys ever, so we along so well!  

M.I. -  The artwork was done once again by Sebastian Luca. We can see the use of colours, to represent your music and both arts blends very well. What ideas did Sebastian and you have for this cover? Do tell us the story for it, please. I know, from reading a post on your Instagram, that it was about a recurring theme in one of Mike’s dreams.

Mike L.: Yeah, it was a recurring theme of a dream I kept having, just a weird, arbitrary image that kept popping up. So, I talked to Bast and I mentioned that those were the colours I really wanted to be present, that vibrant yellow against a deep, nocturnal blue. Then he came back with this, and it was perfect!  

M.I. -  Let’s talk about "The Deluge", released on the 6th March, directed by Oliver König. You’ve said and I quote: “’The Deluge’ represents the personal journeys that the members of Sojourner have endured for the past year. A deluge/flood is a devastating event that leaves a trail of destruction in its wake and this is encapsulated in the melancholic lyrics, hard rhythm and blistering leads of the track”. It clearly emphasizes from every point of view, from each other. In what way? Was it difficult for you?

Emilio: We all went through a tough time personally last year, unfortunately. The good thing about going through tough times is it brings out the best in my lyrics. “The Deluge” was written during my worst period. I used the element of water as a symbol of me drowning in the despair that I was feeling at that particular time. It's a very real and pure song in every way. The lyrics were actually written before and the song around them. It's not the way we usually work at all but for this song it felt right to do it that way.
Mike L.: Yeah, like Emilio said, it was a very tough year for a few of us in the band for various reasons. The worst year of our lives, collectively, I think. There was a lot of loss, regret, and incredibly deep hurt going on and I think that came out in the album in various aspects. Not a time any of us would ever want to relive, but the album is a testament to surviving and living through hitting rock bottom. 

M.I. -  “Fatal Frame” is written and based on “Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly”, a game you play and are fans of. It’s the heaviest and most technically difficult song on this album. Why did you decide to base it on the game?

Emilio: I had been trying to write the lyrics based on the game for over 10 years. It's my favourite game of all time and the story has always captivated me in a huge way. While Mike was visiting me last year, we played through the game and he pushed me to give it another go. I wrote a piece of the lyrics and, some time after, he sent me the full song. I was amazed by it as it was exactly the kind of track I had envisioned for so long. The rest of the lyrics came together effortlessly. I'm very proud of this one, personally, since I feel it was a very long time coming!
Mike L.: When it comes to basing songs on games and stuff like that, we love acknowledging the things that shape us as musicians and people. Video games are one of those things, so we write about what we love.

M.I. -  Iberian Warriors Metal Fest in Zaragoza, Spain, will be on the 30th and 31st October. What do you expect from this experience?

Emilio: Having lived in Spain for 6 years prior to moving to Sweden, it's gonna be very cool to play in Spain. I attended many shows in Spain while living there and the crowds are awesome. We're hoping to receive the same wild type of crowd haha!

M.I. -  You’ve played at XII Milagre Metaleiro Open Air, on August, last year. How would you describe the experience? Did you have the opportunity to see the city and some bands play? Which ones?

Emilio: It was definitely a very cool experience to play so far away from big cities and be in this little mountain town. The festival itself was very accommodating and we had a blast. The only bad thing was that due to some delays during the festival we played at like 4am and finished almost 5:30! But it was a very cool experience and a nice chunk of the crowd stayed behind to watch our show and gave it their all as if it was still 7pm. We were very tired right before the show but the very moment we stepped on stage, all our energy was back and we were in total sync with the crowd. Definitely an experience that we'll always remember.

M.I. -  Thanks so much for your time. Any final words?

Emilio: Thank you so much for your time and we truly appreciate all the support that we've been getting from old and new fans alike. It's so heartwarming to see how many people enjoy what we do. A lot of work has been put into this band but without supporters, none of it would have happened on the scale that it has. So, thank you all!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda