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Interviews : “A very creative time” – Interview with Jorn Viggo Lofstad (Northward, Pagan’s Mind)

By on October 12, 2018

Jorn Viggo Lofstad – Northward

Northward is a project that has been in the works for over a decade, beginning in 2008 as a collaboration between Jorn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan’s Mind and Floor Jansen of Nightwish and After Forever fame. Though the songs have been on the back-burner for some time, debut album Northward will finally be released in October this year. I caught up with Jorn Viggo Lofstad to chat about the album, the process and the long wait to reveal these songs to the world.

Jorn is clearly excited for the release of the album: ‘It’s been very nice to release this album, it’s about time. After the project was put on hold early in 2009, we never knew that it was going to be 10 years until the songs on the album saw the light of day. But now that it’s been released we are both very happy and proud of the result.’ Remarkably, very little changed in the songs across the years and I was impressed at how modern a collection of songs written a decade ago still sound. Jorn explained: ‘The album was written the first half of 2008 and later we recorded the drums and a little bit of the guitars and then we just stopped… When we picked up the ball again in 2017, we were listening through to all the songs together again and thinking ‘This is still up-to-date, do we need to change a lot of stuff?’ and I was also curious how Floor felt you know? But we were listening through it and it just felt really good… So the only thing that was changed was the lyrics on the ‘Northward’ song… and then we changed the chorus on the song ‘I Need’ but except for that we didn’t change anything, it’s the plan and how the demos were made back in 2008… I hope people will like the variety of the album as much as I do. I think there are songs that you get hooked on right away, but there’s also songs that kind of grow on you after a while.’

The cohesion of the songs appears to be born from the closeness of the collaborative process between Floor and Jorn: ‘I would never be a part of that kind of sending-file thing, I don’t like that way of writing and I don’t think it brings out the best… When we started about writing music together it was, we had to meet up first to see if we had the right kind of songwriting chemistry, and we did, so we decided to go for it… We had like 6-7 long weekends over a 6 month period where Floor travelled up to Norway and we would have this long weekend just sitting in my apartment and we would have a small studio setup there and we were just sitting, listening to tonnes of music, throwing ideas back and forth at each other, jamming and having a really good time. That’s how we wrote all the songs, coming up with ideas and creating them together and making the most on the spot. When we had a good idea we just recorded it there and that’s how we wrote the album, it was a very creative kind of time… We decided that we didn’t want to write music that was going to be the same as our main bands, so this music came very naturally to us.’

Part of the fun also came from adapting Floor’s famed operatic style into more of a hard-rock vibe: ‘That was one of the motivations for me, because I knew that she was capable and able to pull this off. [It was] very exciting then to be a part of writing melodies and stuff for her and pushing her in a direction that she has not been before. She really nailed it – of course, now she has grown and the vocals on the album were recorded in 2017 but if you listened to the demos in 2008 you would be very impressed by what she did back then also… In heavy metal music to just take away all the orchestral parts and the heavy layers of keyboards and choirs, just strip it down to the drums, guitar, vocals and bass and really nailing that, I think that is one of the hardest things you can do as a singer and I think that what she delivered on this album is world-class.’

While plans for touring seem to be difficult to arrange with the schedules of Nightwish and Pagan’s Mind, Jorn didn’t entirely rule out the possibilities in the future: ‘From my point of view, I would think that, if it’s a possibility of doing this in 2-3 years we should maybe combine it with a second album and then we’d have a lot of songs to play.’ Finally, we briefly discussed what came to mind for Jorn when thinking of Australian music: ‘The first thing I’m thinking of is [sings opening chords to ‘Beds are Burning’ by Midnight Oil]… That song was the first thing that came to my head. But of course AC/DC… AC/DC is like Iron Maiden, like, y’know, Top 3 metal or hard rock bands in the world ever. You can’t come around that.’

To find out more, head to the band’s official Facebook page and website. Pre-order your digital copy of Northward’s debut release here. Various physical formats available here.

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.