About Me

Interview with Avatarium

“Death, Where Is Your Sting”, the new Avatarium album was released by AFM Records, on October 21, 2022, and marks a new chapter for the band. Guitarist Marcus Jidell introduced us to the release and its concept!

M.I. -  My Swedish friends, what a great honor it is to receive you and interview such an iconic band! How have you been?

Thank you and the pleasure is ours! We have been living life, you know, ups and downs but all in all things are going fine.

M.I. -  “Death, Where Is Your Sting” was out on October 21st, via AFM Records. Congrats on signing with one of the most important labels in the music industry. This is a new chapter for Avatarium and for you, musically and personally. In what ways do you think AFM will help you reach a higher path? What plans do you have for the future with this deal? 

We hope that AFM will be a good forum to get our music out to the people that should hear it. Our music demands attention from the listener, so it’s not for everyone I guess, but we can’t do it any other way. Dostovjeski says something like this in the novel Njetotjka Njezvanova “You do it for the love of art which you love exclusively for the reason it’s art and nothing else”. These are very inspiring worlds and I think love for art always has to come first, before money and fame. It might be easier said than done of course, but it’s an important aim for me.

M.I. -  You’ve worked very hard to cultivate your own road into the Doom Metal scene, with unique and contemporary lyrics. How did you write the lyrics for this album? What were your main experiences?

Jennie-Ann wrote all the lyrics and I think they are inspired by our time during the pandemic among other things. I know she reads some poetry that inspires her also. Sometimes I can come up with a subject and if she likes it, it might be an embryo to a lyric.
We usually talk a lot about the lyrics so that we both feel they work with the music, have something to say and deal with questions we are interested in. Jennie-Ann is also a certified psychotherapist and I think that inspires the way she reflects about life and the way she puts words together.

M.I. -  Every Doom Metal album is very dark, heavy, and poetic, yours is not an exception. For the creation of the lyrics, poetry had always an important role in it. What poets do you do read, that inspired you the most? Did you find new ones? Can you suggest a good poetry book?

I would recommend everyone to read Fjodor Dostojevskij, even though it’s not poetry, but he deals with every corner of our souls and it’s extremely enlightening, exciting and interesting. The only problem might be, that when you start reading his works it’s hard to go back to “normal” books.

M.I. -  To explore Avatarium’s world, the listener must have an open mind, to let the music get into the heart and explore the lyrics. New dimensions, Gods, Demons, light and dark can be felt. How important is an open mind for you? Do you think that it can help the new fans understanding your new creation?

I think having an open mind is always good in life and not to back off just because something is demanding or difficult to understand. But with that said, I think this album is quite easy to like at a first listen but hopefully it has several layers that you can come back again and again and explore new things in the music and lyrics.

M.I. -  This album follows the 2019’s acclaimed album: “The Fire I Long For”! Is it a continuation of it? Will it be a trilogy? Could you tell us more about it, please?

Every Avatarium album has its own identity, and this is important for us even though we follow a trail and a concept. We try to find different angles on each album both musically and production wise. We are very proud of the new album as we are of the ones in the past. But as Leif Edling said to me once: “If you don’t try to do the best album you’ve ever made when working on new material, it’s no use to do it at all”. I totally agree with that, and this is always our aim!

M.I. -  Death is a great fascination, therefore, the name for your record. What is it about death that fascinates you? Tell us more about the theme that you chose for the record.

I can only speak for myself here.
To be contemplating our future death, is a way to value the time we have here on earth and to try to live life as well as possible. Playing music and being creative is for me a contact with another, transcendent reality and that is probably why I continue to be a musician and still love what it brings to my life.
No one knows what happens when we die, that is for sure. I believe that when we are born, we get this “companion” who will walk beside us for our entire life. He is a trickster and a liar who always tries to put us or people around us down. Some people call him Satan. He is the voice in your head that says: “You can’t do this; you are not good enough” and he is the voice of envy when other people succeed and the voice of resentment and evil. I believe that when we die, we finally get rid of him. So, that would be one good thing with death if that’s the case. To think about this “evil twin”, who is always on my left shoulder, makes it easier for me to recognize when I’m behaving stupid, false, and vicious. The more I try to be humble and loving, the more silent that voice is, even though it’s always there. I hope he will be silent when I’m on my deathbed and that would be dying in total harmony and love.

M.I. -  Let’s talk about the music, shall we? How did you compose the music?

It usually starts with me introducing a riff, a musical idea, a vocal melody etc. to Jennie-Ann and if she likes the idea, we start working on it together. Many times, she doesn't actually but our silent agreement is that both have to like the idea to continue. Every day when I play guitar or piano, I come up with ideas and if I think it’s interesting enough, I record it on my Dictaphone. Now and then I go through my ideas and usually I don’t like more than one out of ten ideas. The times we feel that we have something that engages us both, we continue with the song. We get together and try to move forward and after a while, we usually both need time to continue with the composition on our own and so it goes back and forth until we feel we have a song that is good enough.
A big part of my creative process is inspired by Leif Edling and what he taught me. We always talk a lot about these things, it’s extremely interesting and very important for me to try to understand and get wiser in the creative process.

M.I. -  The bonus CD, on the limited Earbook, includes five tracks. Was it difficult to make arrangements for them? What new additions did you do?

The bonus CD is a part of a limited Earbook which is kind of a coffee table book we made that we are very proud of! It has beautiful pictures from the great photographer Niklas Palmklint and a personal story about the recording process written by Jennie-Ann.
The bonus songs are recorded live in the studio and are quite contrasting versions of 5 of our old songs including a “Dark-Surf-Style” version of “Boneflower”. I mixed it myself on the great SSL 9000 console that used to belong to Benny Andersson, from ABBA. All our limited items have always sold out, so I suggest getting one before they’re gone, if you like Avatarium.

M.I. -  This album is so awesome, clearly it is one of the best albums of this year. You’ve wrote two one of the best songs: “Stockholm” and “Mother Can You Hear Me Now”! Care to tell us the story behind them, please?

Oh, thank you, this means a lot to us!
“Stockholm”: I guess the song is about how you may live in a beautiful and peaceful city but still loneliness and demons (depression) can haunt you. When we measure our life standard, we almost always talk about how much money and possessions we have and almost never about things like, how much freedom do we have? or how much love do we give and receive in our lives? I try to focus more on these things but it’s very easy to forget.
We wrote this song together with Leif Edling and Jennie-Ann wrote a beautiful lyric, that in its sadness and darkness also brings some hope and light to us.

“Mother Can You Hear Me Now”:
We wrote this song together with our friend and former keyboard player, Rickard Nilsson, and I love how the song came out. The lyric by Jennie-Ann is also one of my favorites and I always think of my mother, who doesn't live anymore, when I listen to this song. The solo is a tribute to her since she loved music so much but never could understand “modern” music and instruments, as she said. My mother was a complicated person, and it took me some years to find peace with her memory. I finally reached that state of mind when there are mostly loving thoughts coming up thinking of her and that helps me to be more peaceful. 
If you ask Jennie-Ann about the lyrics, you might get a totally different answer though and that’s how it should be.

M.I. -  “An Evening With Avatarium – Live in Stockholm January 2020”… an epic live DVD which is a masterpiece. Do you remember the recording of it? What were the best parts? Care to tell us some secrets about it?

That was supposed to be the first show for the “The Fire I Long For” album. It was right before the pandemic and luckily it was recorded on camera thanks to my dear cousin Magnus Stenvinkel and the company he works for, Blackbox. I remember he asked me if we should film it and I was actually very skeptical since it was our first show, and they usually are not 100%. Anyway, we did, and after a few months, our sound engineer, Viktor Stenquist, sent me a mix he did on one of the songs totally on his own initiative. So, all of a sudden, we had footage and sound recordings from a show that turned out to be really good. We are blessed with these kinds of wonderful people in Avatarium and I will never take these things for granted and I feel very grateful to everyone involved. Stenquist did an amazing mix and Stenvinkel edited the video very nicely and the result is what you see if you have the DVD.

M.I. -  Two EP’s and four albums. What were your easiest and hardest to record? And the funniest?

Every album has its challenges and that’s probably part of the fun. Actually, everything in life that matters, takes a lot of effort and time, in my opinion. Parenthood is probably the ultimate proof of that statement.

M.I. -  Marcus is also a writer and wrote a book in Swedish: “Rovet”! Tell us more about it, please.

In my dreams, I would love to be an author, but the book “Rovet” is written by my dear friend Stefan Spjut. But I wrote music for the audio book that I’m very proud of.
Hopefully it will be translated to Portuguese so you can enjoy it as well. The book is a fantastic page turner about trolls’ way up north in Sweden.

M.I. -  You went to Summerbreeze Open Air to perform. How did it go? What bands did you see? What’s next for touring for you? Maybe coming to Portugal?

It was a great show, and it is always heart-warming to see our fans. People are sometimes even crying, and you can’t get a bigger reward than that. In life you never know what a blessing is and what is a curse. I’m happy where we are today, because it allows us to have a lot of creative freedom. We are not the biggest band in the world, but we have the best fans who are truly interested in music and art. Many times, when I meet a fan of our band, I feel that this person could be my close friend. We are allowed to explore new musical grounds and our fans follow us on this journey and even encourage us, what a fantastic thing!
We appreciate everyone who helps to spread the word about Avatarium so thank you for making this article!

M.I. -  Thanks again for the great honor of receiving you and interview such an iconic band. Do you wish to leave a message for the Portuguese fans?

I hope we’ll see you soon on the road and thank you for supporting music and Avatarium! We love you!

Listen Avatarium, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda