SKYBLAZER is a musical project started by song-writer and multi-instrumentalist Johannes Frykholm in 2021. The debut album Infinity’s Wings is due for release in a matter of days. Ahead of this release, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to Johannes about the album, origins of the project, mental health and which video game characters would make up a great band.
Hello Johannes, thank you for joining us today. You are due to release your debut album Infinity’s Wings. For those who don’t know who Skyblazer are or about the album, can you tell us what it’s all about?
So, I started Skyblazer because I had written songs outside other musical projects I have been in for the past ten years. Finally in late 2019/early 2020, I decided to record everything and in the beginning, it was about making this album but then I realised whilst recording it that recording a full album takes a long time. Whilst at that point I was inexperienced, I had learnt enough to get some songs out so I started with the EP Time For Deliverance which was some of the songs that were supposed to be on this album but also there were a couple of songs from the back of my mind which I thought wouldn’t make the album but it will make the EP.
It was a way of bringing all my song ideas that were never released out so it will be really fun to see what people think about these songs. Musically, the style is melodic power metal in the veins of the really uplifting, happy power metal bands of the early 2000s such as Freedom Call, DragonForce and Power Quest.
I was going to ask if the songs for this album were written when you were younger or if they were written recently.
It’s half and half for the songs on the album. Songs such as Eyes Of Serenity, Turning Time and Under The Blazing Sky as well as a couple of others but songs like those were written as far back as 2012/2013. It was the same as the EP; some of the songs had great structure but then eight/nine years later, I looked at them and thought the lyrics weren’t very good or these melodies and/or chords are really over used, what can I do to make myself more proud of it. So it was a bit like that.
Songs like One Million Ways have been changed up a lot from how it was when it was first written but songs like Eyes Of Serenity and Under The Blazing Sky are almost completely identical to their first version. Except for the lyrics, none of the original lyrics are on the album; everything is completely re-written.
Since a lot of these were written ten years ago, were these lyrics changed due the any life lessons you learnt over these ten years?
I wouldn’t say life lessons. I think from just being more able to write better lyrics now; it’s comes from the mind so being more experienced as a lyricist, it’s a bit easier to write the lyrics now. Also I think back in the day, I made decisions on what each song was going to be about so the song lyrics were really random and looking back, I didn’t know what they were about or if this was about a certain video game. So I wanted to be completely sure on what each song was about and if they had a similar theme. I wanted it to be clear to me when writing the lyrics to this album.
The album itself; does it follow a story or a character?
It’s not a concept album but all the lyrics are about leaving a dark past behind to look forth to a bright tomorrow. They sort of go about it in different ways all of them, most of them follow that logic. Songs like Across The Heavens and Turning Time do it from an angle where we are the ones that have messed up and that we have to change something. Whilst songs like One Million Ways and Shine Fourth are more along the lines of something happening to us and these songs are that inspiration for us to look to more positive things.
Shine Forth definitely did that for me, it helped me find that inspiration again after feeling burnt out so thank you. Turning Time is also another favourite, it has that important message along to a tune that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sonic The Hedgehog game so rock horns from me.
Yes that’s also one of things I wanted to achieve. I wanted some of the songs, at least the chords, riffs or melodies, to be similar to a classic video game as well. I mean the name Skyblazer is taken from a classic Nintendo game and so in a lot of ways, I want that harmony from those Super Nintendo game say the Genesis games to influence the songwriting.
Under The Blazing Sky brought the battle music from Final Fantasy to mind.
Yes, that track is meant to be really chaotic, in your face and very fast all the time with no stops at all. I think Under The Blazing Sky was what I call a result of my eighteen year old self trying to write a Rhapsody song. I think parts of it sound really primitive and juvenile but I also really love it because it’s so in your face.
For this album as well, you got a lot of the guest musicians from your EP. Am I right in thinking there are new guests as well?
Yes of course. I think the guests that are recurring or returning for the album are Desiree [Lind] who recorded the choir vocals for this album, Jack Stanley who did a guitar solo for Destiny To Seize has done lead guitar and solos for at least three of the tracks. Same with Fredrik [E. Enochson] from Palantír has also recorded lead guitar for several tracks.
The new ones that are here are Vide Bjerde from Vandor recorded a guitar solo for the EP, now recorded the lead vocals for Across The Heavens. We have the bass Ollie Bernstein from the Japanese band Illusion Force who does a great intro monologue of the album. Another guy from Vandor, Jack [L. Stroem], who did really cool guitar solos for Eternalize The Dream. My band member Libor [Křivák] from Symphonity recorded a great guitar solo for Shine Fourth. We also have way across the pond that helped make the album great, so Jeff Taft previously from Adamantis who recorded a guitar solo from Turning Time and Fabiel [Perez] from Septum Project who recorded for Across The Heavens.
In terms of recording, which song or songs were the most challenging to record?
In some way I think it maybe the longest track on the album Eternalize The Dream was the most challenging. Both in terms of recording but also mixing because I think when you have in your face power metal songs that never let off the dynamics, as in they’re always really loud, fast and strong, they are easier to mix. However when you have to blend it with ballad parts and parts that are only piano and soft vocals, so where the dynamic shifts between the two, then I think it’s more difficult and challenging. That song was the one that took the most energy from me to finish because it was also one of the songs I wrote the music to nine years ago. It’s one of the ones I am the most proud of because I really love all the different song parts in it. The lyrics were also really challenging, I wanted them to be really good. On that song, the biggest guest David Henriksson who was the singer for the first two Insania albums and one of those being Sunrise In Riverland which is one of my favourite albums from the early 2000s.
One of our key aims at Rock Out Stand Out is to spread the message of mental health awareness. As the new year is starting; do you have any advice for anyone who is anxious, worried or depressed about entering a new year?
I heard a new years resolution from a friend of mine that I thought was really good; she said she was going to write one letter every week and send it to a new person. Whether it be an old or new friend, partly because she wants to take a break from social media but also trying to start new connections. When sending messages in an online chat, you’re waiting around for a reply but with a letter, you can’t really wait around for that as once it’s sent, that’s it and then maybe you get a response.
Do you have songs you turn to when you need a release, to chill or need a boost?
Yes, I think it’s difficult to say what exact songs but for me it’s a boring idea as most of the music I listen to is pretty much power metal. It makes me sound like I don’t have a wide music taste but I think in some ways, the songs that the most uplifting to me are the ones that maybe touching on something a little more human. I liked a lot of the fantasy power metal and sci-fi power metal but usually if the lyrics are too rooted in plots and stuff, it makes it hard to connect to. I think songs like Children Of A Dream from Power Quest is one of the most uplifting songs because a lot the lyrics in that song are kind of sad but I think it can also be uplifting if you listen to it from the right perspective as well.
Going back to video games, which video game characters could you see in a band?
I think probably Link from Medura’s Mask as anything as he can play anything in that game so he would be the instrumentalist. Then Link in Windwaker as the conducter then you don’t have to have any other musicians.
Do you have a message for Skyblazer fans and Rock Out Stand Out readers?
I’m really looking forward to releasing this album, it’s a very big passion project of mine. The songs I have written in the span of eleven years or so and I am really looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks. Also just because this album has taken ten years to make, I want to promise everyone that it won’t take that long for the next album to come.
Thank you Johannes for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the album release.