About Me

Interview wtih Vestindien

With a name taken from the last known brothel in Bergen, Vestindien was formed in 2009 as an hardcore band with a heavy metal twist. But only one year after the release of their 2011 EP “We are the Lords of Hellfire”, Vestindien called it a day.
Some years later, the band re-emerged and is about to release their debut “NULL”, in which they present a quite unique approach to a dark, harsh and sinister old-school metal sound.  
Metal Imperium was quite impressed with their new approach and asked them a few questions which were answered by Slettsnok & Speed Queen.

M.I. - The band’s initial brief foray into the music scene generated a considerable amount of interest thanks to the frenetic live shows, and enthusiastically received 2011 EP “We are the Lords of Hellfire”. Why did you decide to call it a day shortly after?

We needed to take a step back, get some sleep, and figure out how we wanted the project to proceed.

M.I. - When did you realize you HAD to be back on the scene? Why?

We have been making music continuously during the hiatus, but never anything that would live up to our standards. Until around 2018, when we started to see the contours of what is now NULL.

M.I. - You have named yourselves after the last surviving brothel in Bergen, Vestindien. Why? Did you have great memories from that place and wanted to immortalize it?

Vestindien is in the same area we had our first rehearsal space, and the great grandfather of Speed Queen worked there as a janitor. We figured it would be a fitting name for us at the time.
Still is.

M.I. - Vestindien kicked off with a classic 90’s Hardcore sound, and now has replaced it by one that embodies the essence of Black Metal, Punk and Old School Rock’n’Roll. Why the change in style?

For a band that has existed for over 10 years I don´t think it's a drastic change. If we made the same music now that we did all these years ago, that would be a very sad thing, I think.

M.I. - Don’t you think your sound change might confuse your fans? What can they expect of “Null”?

Well, to be honest we don't care that much about what other people think. We make music first and foremost for our own sake. That's probably why we haven't bothered releasing anything either. 
In NULL, people can expect an album that is thought through, sonically, lyrically and conceptually.
We would never release anything into the world, that we didn't think deserve people's attention.
Far too many people have too low standards, and there is a lot of half-assed stuff out there.

M.I. - In your Facebook page, on the 23rd September 2019 there’s a post saying “Null is out”… what happened then? Was it really out or was it put on standby? Was it released independently then or what?

We released the song NULL on another local label called Eget Selskap, who is run by some friends of ours. When we signed with Dark Essence we decided to re-release it in the new version.

M.I. - On the 28th March 2020, you had a Vestindien DJ-set livestream. How did it go? Have you done any other events to promote the album?

The livestream was taken down by Facebook pretty fast, because we were playing music we didn't have the rights to. But we had a nice evening playing records for each other. There haven't been any events yet, but we will have a small release-party the 12th of February at Victoria Cafe in Bergen. And do a live concert at Hulen on the 20th of February.

M.I. - The “new” release date is 12.02 which is 2021 backwards… anything intentional about this?

Everything we do is intentional.

M.I. - Anyway, the band’s been active for a long time, so why has it taken so long for your debut album to be released?

The project has been put on hold for the last 7 years. So for us to release anything during that time would be of no use. We started writing for the album in 2018, then recorded some of it during 2019, and finished in the spring of 2020. I don't know if that is a long time or not, but for us it was perfect. In that way we can do all of the other things we enjoy in between. We are in no hurry.

M.I. - How did the deal with Dark Essence come up since you’re a bit different from the other bands in their roster?

When we had finished the album, the only label we sent it to was Dark Essence. We saw DE as the only alternative to releasing it ourselves. They liked what they heard and, a few days later, we signed to the label. We are, of course, very pleased with that.

M.I. - The Hardcore roots are still present in the new tracks… What are your most important musical influences? 

All music we listen to influences us in some way, but it's hard to pinpoint one band or artist.
We all grew up on the classic Norwegian Black Metal-bands, but are not tied down to metal alone.
We enjoy listening to anything from Ivar Medaas to Cirith Ungol.

M.I. - You have no tracks in English. Care to let us know what topics you address in your lyrics? What inspires you to write?

All of our lyrics are in English, but the titles are in Norwegian. I don't know why it is that way, but it was an idea and it felt good. We never sit down to write music without an omen of something arriving. It could be a line for a lyric, a melody or a drum beat. What inspires the writing could be anything from a trip into nature to occupying myself with a craft, or just taking a ride on the bus. I find it useful to be able to be present in my own mind, without disturbance. The topics for the lyrics are usually triggered by a need to process some kind of information that has been given by the world outside of myself.  

M.I. - The title track has already been released… what reactions has it received?

People seem to like it, and some people even get why it was written. That is a good feeling.

M.I. - Why is “Null” the best title for the debut album?

NULL was the only alternative. NULL is the summary of the record.

M.I. - The cover for “Null” is completely different from the one for “Meldrøye”… who created them? 

The visual art is created by the same people who create the music: Slettsnok & Speed Queen.

M.I. - “Null” has a very intense cover. What’s its meaning with the naked person in front of that door in a black “environment”?

The visual art is a manifestation of the sonic art of the album. What we do visually and what we do sonically will always be connected. It has a meaning to us, but it is not up to us to explain to others.

M.I. - How does the writing process take place in Vestindien? Do you share tasks or do you have someone responsible for doing a specific task?

All of the music and lyrics are created by Slettsnok & Speed Queen.  We refine it in the studio with the rest of the band.

M.I. - According to you, “Null” is about not feeling comfortable in or being able to understand a fake neon world. Do you believe society is fake? Do you despise it?

I cannot speak for the whole band - we are five individuals with five different ways of seeing things. I often find myself feeling lost in a world where people are so detached from themselves and our nature. The chase for money, status and material things seems to be the norm. I don't think that is a healthy way for humans to live.

M.I. - “Null” is about destroying norms and rules embedded in us through endless years of lies. Which lies are you referring to? Which lies have we been fed?

The lies of religion, the lies of “democracy”, the lies of the media, the lies of the educational system. 
It is all made to suppress and control the freedom that is in all human beings.

M.I. - “Null” is about taking a stance on how and why to live. Do you fear death? Do you know what’s your life’s purpose? Do you question that?

I do not want to die, but I don´t fear death. What I fear is not to live free - if we are not free to live by our own will, there is no reason to be alive - to me, freedom is the purpose of life.

M.I. - About the track “Meldrøye”, Vestindien said: “Exploring and expanding one’s mind is crucial to help us understand that we are not placed above nature. We are nature”. Do you think society is disrespecting nature? Do you believe we will eventually end up killing ourselves because of greed and money?

We are most certainly disrespecting nature, and there will never be an end to that before there is an end to us. When you take more than you give back, the relationship will eventually grow sour.
And it has.
I really believe we will end up erasing the human race eventually. But what I fear is the suffering we will see before that happens.
Maybe not a bad thing for mother earth, but definitely a sad thing, I think.

M.I. - Have you got any plans for concerts or tours already or will you wait and see what happens with this virus situation?

We are doing one gig at Hulen in Bergen after the release of the album.

M.I. - If you were granted one wish… what would you wish for?

For the smaller plants in the forest to get the light they need, one must cut the largest trees.

M.I. - Metal Imperium would like to thank you for your time. Can you please share a message with our readers?

Read books, learn a craft, keep your body strong and your mind stronger. Take care of the places and people you love. Do not listen to the government, they are not your friends.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca