"Don't think that you are anything, don't think that you're better than me, you're not special... that's the law of Jante."
Konvent are one of the newest and exciting metal bands to emerge from Denmark in recent years and having unleashed their thunderous album "Puritan Masochism" via Napalm Records back in January, it was only fair that GMA gave the ladies an interrogation... of course we played nice, after all their own brandished style of Death / Doom Metal should not be taken lightly, nor should the musicianship of this fearless foursome. Bassist Heidi Withington Brink and vocalist Rikke Emilie List spoke to us about the fortune they've had with the debut album, the label signing and the growing international fanbase they have. In addition to this they spoke about what the whole Jante law concept is about, why vinyl is a gemstone of Copenhagen and how the Danish Metal scene is embracing a new wave of bands.
Heidi, Rikke, can you tell us how the band name 'Konvent' came about?
"It came about because Heidi suggested the Danish word 'kloster' which means 'monastery' or a 'convent', but that name was already taken by another band, but we really liked that word and we kind of fell in love with the 'k' in the beginning. Then I [Rikke] suggested what about the English word 'convent' and then just replace the 'c' with a 'k', we thought about it for I think about 3 months; we just tried to brainstorm band names and in the end Sara was like "what about that word 'Convent'"? I kinda like that and we all agreed that we actually like that, so yeah that's how the name came to be. I really like the idea that Heidi suggested because I think it's funny to have a word that indicates an institution; monasteries and convents, there's no storytelling in that word."
How did you choose Death / Doom Metal as your sound, what or who inspired you?
"[Heidi] It was never something we decided upon, it was just when we got together; at the time Sara and I were jamming riffs together and this is what just sort of come out, we never decided that we're going to play Death / Doom Metal. We all knew that we wanted to play something heavy, something evil sounding and we wanted to use grow vocals, that was only the few things we thought about. So it was a little bit accidental that this is is what came out, Sara and I will always agree a lot when it comes to riffs, I feel like we've never been very against things when it comes to music; we agree a lot upon the genre, what we play and the different things we want to explore."
Being an all-female metal band, do you feel there is as much stigma towards female musicians or has it lessened over the years?
"[Heidi] I wouldn't know how it was before, I can only of course talk about how it is now and I feel like the stigma is the thing that people want to call it 'female" and put that in as a genre as well; but it doesn't really define the genre. A lot of people don't even know that we are girls when they listen to our music and I feel like maybe it's getting better because more women are getting out there and doing it; showing other women that it's normal and the more we normalise it, the more people hopefully won't see it as something special.
But of course we as only most girl bands do, we were just on tour and I experienced a few times getting called some kind of sexist remark - trying to sell out my gear and stuff like that, that's annoying... that's really annoying because you're trying to do your job and what you love the most and it's kind of like, it hits you, gets you out of the bubble of how awesome it is being in doing this and then suddenly someone says something, and you just have to go out and just breathe and be like OK it's just one jerk and the rest of the audience is really nice, so you still have to go out and do your best, and not let it affect you.
[Rikke] It is a hard question to answer, but I feel like personally I'm seeing more and more women in metal, mainly as the lead vocalist or bassist or keyboardist. But I think that more and more women are popping up on bands you would stumble upon through social media, metal blogs, whatever I think it's becoming more open, or I think that more women are thinking 'hey we can actually do this as well, this is not just a boys club'. So I think that we're seeing a slow but steady increase on women in the metal scene."
Having released your debut album 'Puritan Masochism' earlier this year through Napalm Records, this must have been a dream start for the band?
"[Rikke] Absolutely and the album has been received so well, we've had a lot of positive reviews and have sold a lot of our records on tour this February and we honestly cannot believe it (laughs), it's been a very overwhelmingly positive reception of this album, so we couldn't be happier."
Can you tell us more about 'Puritan Masochism', how you came up with the title, the song titles, the creative process duration, etc?
"[Heidi] Regarding how long it took to put together, it's been a process ever since the demo which was recorded back in 2017, back then we already had one extra song which was too new to put on the demo... I can't remember which one but it's one of the songs on the album, ever since the demo we've been working on and writing more material for an album, but it wasn't really before we got in contact with Napalm Records that we really started being more serious about 'OK we really now have to get started', even that took us a while because it's not always easy; especially if you're new to making music and you have to figure out 'how am I best creatively?'; what do I do when I feel a lack of creativity?
So it's been a process, but I feel like the guitar and bass have gotten into a really good rhythm where we write riffs at home and then we send it to each other, trying to get a feel for it and then we try and record it into a program on the computer and then we send it to the guys, and then try and go into the rehearsal space and soon as we have a song it usually goes fast, because Rikke is very fast at writing very good lyrics and Julie is also good at finding drums when we're set. It's been... I'm excited for the next album, because I feel like we know each other better now, but regarding 'Puritan Masochism', the title would you like to talk about that Rikke?
[Rikke] Initially it was just the title of the song, but we really really liked that and we decided that we also want to use that title as the album title and then maybe change the song title, but we couldn't just come up with another song title and so in the end we just keeping it as both. I think it's just us not being organised and taking the time to think about all these things (laughs), because you know when we were recording the album there were so many things to keep a track of and plan, suddenly you've reached your deadline and [panic]."
What do your parents think of your music?
"[Heidi] They are very, very supportive; all of our parents and I think our parents are our biggest fans because they've been with us from the beginning. They were some of the first people to hear the first few songs, they're at our our shows. My mum and Rikke's dad have been with us on tour as drivers from the recent tour and we've had several of our parents as drivers heading to different gigs. So they're very, very supportive.
[Rikke] As for them liking the music, my mum has been very open and was like... 'no' (laughs), but she still supports what we do so (laughs)...
[Heidi] Actually the other day, my mum was sitting outside in the garden in the sun and she was listening to music and I just came out and thought she was listening to some of the music she likes listening to, then she took her earphones out and gave it over to me and she was listening to our album!!! So she likes it, I think she likes because she knows it's her daughter who made it because you wouldn't listen to it otherwise I think [her mum starts shaking her head]."
With that in mind do you feel that people who don't listen to metal, sometimes just don't understand it?
"[Rikke] Absolutely, I think that a lot of people who don't usually listen to metal hear a song and they completely shut down because all they can hear is someone screaming, and that it's an uncomfortable noise, but the thing is with metal you need to invest time in listening to it and listening to it again in order to try and get into it. When you do, it just becomes great, not all the music I listen to now is from the first time I heard it, but you've just got to give it one more shot and one more shot again and suddenly you get it; that's how I feel about it. It's about giving it a chance."
Would it be easier to do Death / Doom Metal in Danish or English in your opinion?
"[Rikke] Actually we're working on a new song right now where I've incorporated some Danish...
[Heidi] What? I didn't know that.
[Rikke] Yeah well maybe actually get with the programme? (laughs)
[Heidi] I've been sick and doing my exams just for the record (laughs).
[Rikke] But yeah so everything is kind of up in the air right now, maybe we'll change it, maybe we'll keep it, but that was just a feeling I got when I wrote the riffs for this new song and I was just like 'Ok I feel like singing to this in Danish, let's try it out', but yeah I feel like it depends on the song and not necessarily the genre."
Denmark has had a long history in metal with the likes of King Diamond, Hatesphere, etc., do you feel that we're nowadays experiencing a 'New Wave of Danish Metal'?
"[Heidi] I definitely think so, I think that there are so many bands right now doing really great both in Denmark and outside of Denmark as well; I haven't seen a time like this since I've been listening to metal. I think it's unique and I think it's very, very and really cool that we're [Konvent] able to be a part of that because there are so many other great Danish bands right now... it's insane, so many different genres as well.
[Rikke] Yeah I agree actually, I feel like we can really see new bands want to experiment and not fit into a certain genre, I think people are sick of seeing bands just trying to sound exactly like Cannibal Corpse or Slayer or whatever, so I feel like a lot of bands right now are really trying to do their own thing and are succeeding in doing a really good job. It's a great time to be in Denmark, except for when there's a lockdown and you can't actually go to concerts."
With that in mind, are you discussing new music and merch ideas for Konvent frequently during the lockdown?
"[Rikke] Yeah I think we're in touch almost everyday, talking about new riffs and keeping each other updated on what we're working on at home, trying to plan as much as we can; getting inspiration and seeing how much we can do from home. It's very frustrating at not being able to be at our rehearsal space.
[Heidi] Yeah we actually just last night, Sara and I updated our riff library where we share the riffs that we have made and we just updated it with all the new riffs that we've had on our phones and it was actually quite long all of a sudden, all different riffs and was almost like an album that we have here, we just have to like put the puzzle together; that's the hard part. But yeah it's going to be fun to get to play together and try some new things out, because 2 weeks before the lock down I was at home and not in the rehearsal space because I had an exam. So I really, really are longing to get out there again because the other guys started doing a new song and I really wanted to be there as well, it's going to be good."
Have you had any instances where you've had fans reach out to you from unsuspecting places?
"[Heidi] (laughs) yeah from all over the world, it's crazy. Especially, this is something we had happen a long time before the album, we would get contacted by several people from around the world but especially with the album we have gotten a lot of attention from North America because Napalm Records has a base out there who are really good at doing PR and getting reviews, interviews, etc., so we're getting a lot of attention from over there. But also South America, Asia, Russia, Australia, all over Europe."
For metalheads visiting Copenhagen, in your opinion what are the best sights, attractions and venues to go to?
"[Heidi] Loppen in Christiania is a very good venue for music, they have put on a lot of metal as well, then there's Pumpehuset where we played our release show and then there's a lot of smaller venues also - places like Amager Bio, Basement, Vega... [Rikke] - you can go for the building alone, it's just so beautiful (around the 14th-15th century) and is protected by the Government, meaning it cannot be knocked down.
[Rikke] I've seen a lot of concerts at Vega, such as Gojira, pop bands also play there, it's a venue you can go to for everything. But when it comes to the sights, I feel like that there's a lot of craft beer, bars in Copenhagen and it's like, just pick one and its going to be great (laughs)."
Could you please explain to non-Nordic people the concept of Jante law?
"[Rikke] That's if you feel like another person is showing off, or bragging and you get a feeling inside that they shouldn't do that or that they should be humble, I think that that's what it means. Or it's a feeling that you can't yourself be ambitious or aim for the stars, it's about knowing your place and staying humble, not bragging, keeping quiet I think.
[Heidi] Which can be good and bad in different settings, it's kind of like don't think that you are anything, don't think that you're better than me, you're not special... that's the law of Jante."
Is Jante law still very much engrained in Danish society?
[Heidi] Of course there's always going to be people who like to tell the world how great they are, you will always have those kinds of people, but most people in Denmark I would say are pretty humble, you don't think about how much you make, you don't really speak about it if you have a lot of wealth - you keep that to yourself because you don't want to try and make the other people feel bad or inferior. So we're like the opposite of the USA, here it's like don't think you are anything.
[Rikki] But I think it can also apply to bands as well, like some people think it's not OK to go out and say 'I want to go play on the other side of the world, I want to do this where I am living, travel the world and tour and be a professional musician and just aim for the stars, go 100% out on this idea - this could result in bands holding things back in case they're concerned about what other people might think. So they're lowering their own ambitions because they don't want people to think that they're bragging, when you look at the band Volbeat - they have made it, they're doing this for a living and are touring the world; people worldwide love their music, when you hear Danish people talk about them, sometimes it can be a bit negative and you just want to feel like, is it because of the music? Do they not like it or have you actually not heard of the music, but you just don't like the idea of them succeeding, which one is it? I think there is a bit of Jante law when we're talking about a band like Volbeat."
Your debut album "Puritan Masochism" was released on Vinyl, are you into Vinyl yourselves and are you used to it?
"[Heidi] Yeah we're all so used to it because, I feel especially in the metal genre here in Copenhagen, vinyl is a pretty big thing if you're into this genre, I have collected vinyl since I started getting into the music business since 2013, I don't have a lot but I always used to buy the ones from the bands I was always putting on as a promoter and I used to have a vinyl club, where I would meet up with 3 of my friends; we would have some vinyls with us and discuss about music, so it's definitely not a new thing to me."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"[Rikke] Since we played in the UK about a month ago (around February), we just want to say thank you to the people who gave us a warm reception in the UK; we're so surprised that people actually showed up, yes OK we played along with a bunch of local bands, but it was packed when we got up on stage and people were just awesome. I think we just want to say thank you to everyone who showed up, we can't wait to come back and see more of the UK.
[Heidi] Yeah we're coming back in November to play in Sheffield at the HRH Vikings Festival, somehow we ended up playing a Viking festival (laughs), but the UK was so much fun. Other than that we would like to send thanks to all of our colleagues at Napalm Records because they've done such a great job, we know they must be having a lot of work these days with the cancellations and everything so, keep up the good work."
Deathcore is either regarded as taboo within the world of metal music, or as a misunderstood genre baying for recognition as a valid form of metal music. Either way the fact remains it's an unrelenting force that continues to enthral and dominate in both the underground and mainstream realms of metal, from the high-fliers of Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Is Murder and Whitechapel to the newest practitioners of the genre; in this instance Denmark's Hanging The Nihilist. However despite the genre's viral appeal, it has on numerous occasions fell flat as becoming 'generic' through bands using the basic formula of riffs, breakdowns and nothing else. So, how does one escape that ever-growing void of unoriginality? It's simple, experiment and tinker with various sounds to create something people will dub as a 'signature tune' (think Whitechapel's frontman Phil Bozeman and his rapid-fire vocals, or BMTH's Oli Sykes's raspy screams, etc). For the Danish sextet in Hanging The Nihilist, this is exactly what they have done and are on course to bring to the fore the sound of 'Danecore'.
The band agreed to embrace hygge and speak with GMA about their forthcoming EP 'The Crow', the Danish Metal scene and how they aim to avoid the clutches of 'generic Deathcore'.
"The scene is small and most of us know each other in one way or another, however, it seems to be constantly growing"
For those who do not know of Hanging The Nihilist, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Jon, Berna and Emil (guitar, keys, drums) played in a band before Hanging The Nihilist (HTN) that broke up because of creative differences. They decided to not stop writing music and were joined by William (bass) in early 2016. Marc's old band had just gone on a hiatus, so he joined during the summer of 2016 after being persuaded by Jon for almost a year. We played without a second guitarist for a long time because we couldn't find the perfect fit, so we decided to write 'Crow' with just one guitarist. Right after we finished recording Crow, we found the perfect fit in Casper (guitar), who has been a a HTN member ever since."
How do you distinguish yourselves from the already over-saturated genre? What makes your style of music not generic Deathcore?
"We're naturally very inspired by the international Deathcore scene and the hype that's been built around it. We do try to add different elements that aren't as common, such as the piano (which is responsible for the creepy vibes), as well as the way Chris has mixed and mastered our EP which definitely makes it stand out. We're inspired by the way bands such as Lorna Shore add a horror "feel" or vibe to the music using a guitar, and we're trying to give our music a similar feel with the use of a keyboard rather."
You must be stoked to be releasing your 'Crow EP' next year, will you be touring in support of it?
"If the opportunity strikes. For now our focus is on making sure "Crow" will be well received, and everything past that, we'll deal with as it comes. "
Could you give us a brief breakdown as to what each song title means?
"Marc says:- lyrically...
How strong is the Danish Metal scene lately? What is the current scene like? What challenges are there?
"The scene is small and most of us know each other in one way or another, however, it seems to be constantly growing. People like Mirza (CEO of Prime Collective) does a wonderful job of furthering our scene and making sure that the Danish metal scene is taken serious internationally as well. A challenge for us, especially being a Deathcore band, is that we're one of few Deathcore bands here, which means that it's difficult to get a lot of shows going, without it being the same bands and line-ups every time. However, positively, geographically-speaking Denmark is in a great spot in-between massive metal countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany."
How did you get into playing metal music? Who did you grow up listing to?
Most of us seem to have either metalcore or heavy metal backgrounds at least.
Berna, do you feel that more and more women are engaging with metal music and that it's becoming less male-dominated?
"I think that it is kind of balancing out and I think that it is great. Women are being more and more accepted in the metal scene now more than ever. Since I was a kid I have always had big female idols in this scene such as the vocalists from Nightwish and Arch Enemy, and now seeing that it is becoming more accepted I also become more confident with my music and live performance and way more motivated than before."
For metalheads visiting Copenhagen and Hillerød, what sights and attractions could you recommend?
"All metalheads that visit Copenhagen must check out our friends in Cabal and their live-show. They're not just incredible musicians, they're incredible performers."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and the rest of 2018?
"For the rest of 2018, our plans are to play a show on the 14th December, as well as releasing 'Endless Crime' on the 7th December. We're working on merchandise and the release of 'Forgotten' as well as "Crow" in its entirety in 2019. We're mostly just looking forward to hearing what people think of "Crow", and we've already begun working on new material."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thanks to you guys for reaching out, thanks to Prime and Chris Kreutzfeldt for the work on Crow, last but not least, thanks to everybody who checks out Hanging the Nihilist.
We're looking forward to seeing what you'll make out of this!"
Forever Still are a young Danish Alternative Metal band who have without a doubt came out of nowhere, having released their debut album 'Tied Down' and then end up signing with Nuclear Blast; 'Tied Down' was then re-released', to then secure a slot on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock is a tremendous achievement given the band has been around 7 years... well actually it's Maja Shining and Mikkel Haastrup who lead the front-line and are supplemented by live musicians (who include Rune Frisch).
Despite their seemingly sudden explosion onto the metal circuit, they've been around since 2010 and have released 3 EP's prior to their big break. Denmark has had a decent record of metal exports from Artillery to King Diamond and from Mnemic to Raunchy and are still delivering more and more top notch metal bands like Akoma and of course Forever Still.
Mikkel was up for the task of informing us what makes the band tick, the state of the Danish Metal scene, Mikkel's music tastes among other things that make Forever Still as equally if not more important than Denmark's biggest exports besides metal... bacon and Lego.
"In Denmark, we have this 'jante law ' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept [regarding the lack of Danish music exports'.
How long has Forever been around? What does the band name mean? What style of metal do you play?
"We released our first EP ["Breaking Free"] in 2013, and have just been going on from there.
It's a long explanation [meaning behind the band name], Maja came up with it, we talked about it and it's just the feeling of being stuck, you feel like you're forever standing still but also the feeling of when you feel at ease, you're 'forever still' - so it's a double meaning, Maja is apparently very poetic I guess :)"
It's definitely melodic, so it's like we're one of the softer bands at this festival [Bloodstock], if not the softest. But we've always been into these pretty huge choruses, that's what we really focused on the first album [Tied Down]. Maja played a concert with another band, I was like wow she's just amazing and I wanted to focus really on the vocals, so that's what we did on that.
The new one we're writing now we're trying to focus still on the big choruses, but we want to do heavier riffs cause we're really into that, and our new drummer is really really f*cking cool... I love playing with him I play bass myself so you like love him with the drums so... it's going to be like heavy riffs and big huge choruses."
So Mikkel how did you get into metal music?
"Ah, I had just started when I was really young, I started listening to... I can't even remember, I think I started off with softer bands like Placebo and then I just went into liking Nine Inch Nails, and then I got into heavier stuff like Marilyn Manson... it's just a gateway into heavier stuff and it's been an upward slope like heavier and heavier, but still I think this band [Forever Still] is into softer things as well... I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, I've been listening to a lot of electronic music lately and I really enjoy that. For me it's just melody and that's what I sometimes miss in metal right, for me at least I miss the... like if it's only screaming I get a bit bored so I like a combination."
So as a band you're Melodic Metal, but have different sounds going on at the same time?
"Yeah yeah, on the new album we want to like focus on... like I said I'm really like into electronic music so I want to make that a bigger part of the next album, but like I said still focus on the riffs and I'm into really interesting rhythms at the moment so we do a lot of songs and try to play in different time signatures that are really weird but try to make them sound easy to listen to"
Is the Danish Metal scene still as strong as it has been? Would you say it's the smallest in Scandinavia?
"Nah I think it's getting better, but like we're really focused on getting out of the country because there's not a lot of like... the audience there is too small so we really enjoy in playing outside Denmark especially in the UK, you've got such a strong community for metal.
Yeah I think so, Denmark didn't used to be that much into metal, I think when we started there was like this feeling that you had to sound like an 80's metal band to be anything big in Denmark and it just doesn't work outside the borders. But in Denmark, we have this 'jante law (Janteloven)' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept and I think that's the reason why you don't see that much music coming out of Denmark"
So what do your parents think of metal music Mikkel, what support do you get from your family / friends?
"My parents aren't into music, actually my mum really hates music so she's like if there's any kind of music... when I grew up she was like 'can you f*cking just turn that off!'. My dad is really into jazz and stuff, but really doesn't like heavier music so yeah I didn't get anything from them heh.
The way we built this band it's just Maja and I doing everything ourselves without any support from anyone else and that's how we started, I think the first album has quite an isolated sound as well and that's just because we were like 'we can do this'. We just do everything ourselves, so we recorded it and mixed it, shot our own videos and everything. I think that it worked out really well"
Having just finished your set, opening the main stage at Bloodstock, what plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"We're playing Sabaton Open Air next week [was 19th August], then we're going back to the studio to just record and write, so that's the plan for the rest of the year and then hopefully the album will be out early next year and we'll start touring a lot. We've been on some amazing tours at the end of last year and at the start of this year with Lacuna Coil and Children of Bodom, so hopefully we'll get some great support for us and then do a headline tour as well"
Aside from the core Scandinavian countries, would you play in the Faroe Islands? What do you know about the metal scene there?
"Yeah I would love to, they've got the G! Festival up there, I would love to play that and I would love to see the nature up there. My best friend is from the Faroe Islands, so yeah, we'd love it.
I don't know a lot about the music from up there actually, they've got all these strange names as well because they call themselves something from their own language [Faroese]"
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yeah I would just love to thank Bloodstock for letting us play this festival, it's been amazing!"
'Tied Down' is out now via Nuclear Blast.
_With Crash Mansion I spoke to (L-R - Chris Jackson, LJ Hardwood and Sammy Scarlett; Kidd was not present at this time (far left)) outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.
With Silent Descent I spoke to Tom Callahan (far left) outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.
With Scarred By Beauty I spoke to Jonathan Albrechtsen (centre) _outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.