“It’s a different way of doing things for me, I have never done something like this before.”

They say every cloud has a silver lining, multi musician Morten Veland has proved this during a worldwide pandemic. When he wasn’t writing material for his band SIRENIA, he had been working on reviving his solo project MORTEMIA. Before the release of the first single, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to Morten about this project.

For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us about Mortemia and how it came about?

It’s actually a solo project I started eleven years ago or so and I released my debut album back then with Napalm Records. The debut album was called Misere Mortem and the musical concept was a mixture between my extreme vocals and a choir. The music was a bit darker and there were more symphonic elements than I would typically do with Sirenia. After that, it was eleven years of silence with this project. For it was because of being busy with Sirenia so I didn’t really have time to work on this project but when the pandemic broke out, all of a sudden I had extra time on my hands. 

It was the perfect time to start working on Mortemia again and this time the concept it’s a little bit different. On the vocals, the choirs are not involved. What I am doing instead is having a guest singer on each track, all of them are well known and great singers within the metal genre.

Your first single The Enigmatic Sequel features Madeleine Liljestam from Eleine.

I am really excited about that and it’s a really fun project to work with. I feel really privileged to work with so many talented and amazing singers. It’s been exciting putting this all together, at the moment I have three or four songs that are almost finished and I have five or six songs that I am working on. My goal is to release one song every month from now on. It’s going to be a busy and exciting time for sure.

Can you reveal any other guest singers or is that a secret for now?

For the time being, it’s a mystery. It won’t be long until I reveal the next singer, I am putting the finishing touches on that song. I am looking forward to releasing these songs.

I suppose it’s part of the fun keeping the fans guessing.

It’s a different way of doing things for me, I have never done something like this before. It’s really cool with the way it’s done where it’s one month between each song instead of the typical way which is putting the whole album out there at once. Also, have a different guest singer for each song. It makes it an interesting and fun project to work with.

Did you already have in mind which singers you were going to pick for this project?

When I started writing the songs and I was working with them, I was thinking at times that this song would be perfect for that singer and so on. What was really exciting for me was when I started contacting those singers, wondering if they would have the time or if they would be interested. So far it’s been going really well and I have several fantastic singers that are a part of the project. I can’t wait to announce these to everyone.

I suppose it was easier to get in touch with these singers and to arrange the recordings as they are spending more time at home recording.

Yes. This was the perfect time to do a project like this and maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity. Normally, all these singers are super busy with their own bands constantly touring and recording their own material so I think it would have been difficult to put something like this together if everything was like it was before the pandemic. Ninety percent of the pandemic has been negative but there have been a few things that have opened up possibilities that wouldn’t be there under normal circumstances.

Given the circumstances with recordings, did all the singers record their parts over Skype or were you able to get some to your studio?

A lot of them recorded locally where they live, some of them have their own studio where they could record and others went to a studio in their home town. It would have been really cool to have them here to record it but with the pandemic and travel restrictions, it would have made it a lot more complicated. That was the solution that worked out best for everyone under these circumstances.

Is the idea after all these songs have been released to put onto an album?

I’m kind of thinking about that. My first idea was to release them as digital singles one by one but then I have thought on what will happen when I get to twelve songs to release a physical album on CD and Vinyl. That’s definitely an idea I am considering.

When the studios do open up and travel restrictions ease, have you thought about having all your guest singers together to sing on one track?

That sounds like a great idea but it would probably be more challenging to make that happen. It’s challenging now because of the restrictions. When things get back to normal, I think it would be impossible to find a day to make it possible for all these singers to come together. They are all busy with their own stuff so it’s something that will be difficult to arrange.

Reading your press release, it says you have gone to nineties bands for influences. Could you elaborate on that? Especially on which bands influenced you.

I would say the debut album was inspired by the nineties as well. I started my own as a musician in the nineties and it is a special era for me. I took the steps from playing guitar in my room to forming a band and taking it to the professional level, getting a record deal and starting touring internationally. Many albums that were released back in the nineties are some of my favourites so musically it’s a decade I am a huge fan of.  With the new Mortemia songs, they are kind of inspired by this era. Production wise, it sounds more modern and up to date. The songs are influenced by the nineties.

Are there any major differences between your debut album and the songs you are releasing?

I think the biggest difference is the choirs being replaced by guest singers, that’s the biggest change. Apart from that, I would say there are lots of similarities. It’s been eleven years so some things naturally would have changed even if I didn’t really notice it but it’s a natural revolution in a way. Also with production, it will be more modern and better this time round. I tried to keep the main essence of how it was back in the beginning and then trying to improve little things here and there.

Would you consider a live tour for Mortemia?

That’s really hard to say. I know as soon as things get back to normal, Sirenia will take up a lot of my time for sure. It’s something I will have to look into in the future if it would be possible. It wouldn’t be possible to bring all the guest singers for the tour so I would have to find some kind of solution there. It could be interesting to do something but it’s something I haven’t thought too much about at this point. It is definitely something I can look into later on if everything goes well with this project.

Speaking of live shows and particularly festivals, who would headline your dream festival?

I think it would be Guns N’ Roses. I think it was Slash that made me decide to play guitar. I have been a huge fan of the band since the very beginning and I’m still a fan now, I listen to the first four albums a lot. It would be really cool to have a chance to meet them.

What can fans expect from the project?

I think we covered most of it but one thing I forgot to mention is my extreme vocals are still there. It’s more like a fifty fifty split between my vocals and the guest singers. I am super excited about this and can’t wait to share the songs with the fans and I really hope that they like this project as much as I do.

Thank you Morten for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out and best of luck with the project.

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