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Triosphere 2014 Interview

Triosphere 2014 Interview
(via Skype)



The snowy reaches of Trondheim, Norway is home to many fine metal bands, and the four-piece outfit, Triosphere, continues to stake its place within the flourishing music scene locally and internationally. Fans have had a long, four-year wait for Triosphere’s third album, The Heart Of the Matter, but good things come to those who wait. The new album adds symphonic elements (sparingly) and a surprisingly tender ballad to the existing melodic power metal base layered with progressive elements and a strong rock sensibility. However, the heart Triosphere’s sound remains the distinctive voice of Ida Haukland.

Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker circled up with vocalist/bassist Ida Haukland to chat about all things Triosphere. Dive in for an inside look at The Heart Of The Matter, how Norway’s darkest day shaped one of the album’s most surprising songs, adventures on the high seas, and much more!

Sonic Cathedral:  Sonic Cathedral is very happy to welcome back, Ida Haukland, vocalist for the Norwegian band, Triosphere. Hello, Ida! Would you start off by giving us an introduction to The Heart Of The Matter?

Ida:  First of all, good evening! It’s great to be here on the phone with you … or on Skype, to be more precise. An introduction to The Heart Of The Matter: This is our third album, and it will be released in North America on the 2nd of December [2014], but it’s already out in Europe. It has been four years since our previous album, The Road Less Travelled, but it’s been four years that we have spent well -- both with touring, general promoting of the band and that album, and taking our good and thorough time to make an album that we are really proud of. I just have to say that we are very, very happy with the way that the album turned out, and that is also why it takes a bit of time to release an album, because we will never let it go out to the public before we feel that it is every bit as much as we want it.

In a general sum-up of the sounds, you might say that it’s a combination sound-wise of our debut album (Onwards) and our second album (The Road Less Travelled) in terms of that this one has more bite, more edge. It is faster, but it still has the same, or even perhaps more, emphasis on good melodies and the big, epic feel that was more present on The Road Less Travelled than on Onwards. All in all, it’s a full-blooded metal album, but we feel that we’ve managed even more to have good, catchy melodies and just good-hitting songs. Yeah!

Sonic Cathedral:  Something that seems to be different with this album is the use of guest musicians.

Ida:  Yes, just like on The Road Less Travelled, we have been working with two … what shall I say … additional “partners in crime”. First, there is Chris Pettersen who has done all the strings and orchestration. He also did that on The Road Less Travelled, so it was natural for us to contact him for this album because we worked so well together. He is extremely talented! We don’t use much strings and that kind of element throughout the album, but it is definitely an important and effective element that we use to emphasize certain parts of a song or a melody. So, he understood exactly what we wanted so well on the previous album, that it was natural for us to also invite him in on this one. And we are so happy about the sections that he made for us.

Also on keyboards and piano, we have a friend of ours here, who is called Espen Godø [from Lumsk]. <laughs> That name is probably a bit difficult to get in English. But nevertheless, he also did keyboards and piano parts for us on The Road Less Travelled, so we have two guest musicians with us from also the previous album. But in addition, this time, we have two guest guitarists. First there is this good friend of ours from a very well-renowned band in the prog environment around the world, Jørn Viggo Lofstad from Pagan’s Mind. He is doing the guitar solo on track number eight on the album, “Relentless”. The reason for it is simply because he is an extremely cool guitarist and really cool guy, so we just thought it would be really cool if he could try to put a solo on one of the songs. We more or less let him choose himself which song he wanted to play on. So, we think his unique style made a great contribution to that kind of song.

Secondly, as a result of my work on the Samuel Arkan’s Epysode album, Fantasmagoria, I got to know Simone Mularoni of DGM, and thought he really plays awesome guitar! I think Marius, the composer and guitarist here in Triosphere, as the third track on the album “The Sentinel” started to really take shape, he more and more started to say: “Hey, could you call Simone, and ask if he could like to try sections of a solo or something? Because I think his style would be PERFECT on this song.” Simone said “yes” straight away, and the result was just amazingly cool and exactly what Marius had had in mind to get that final, perfect “piece” in the song. So, two guys who followed us from the previous album, and two new ones!




Sonic Cathedral:  Wonderful collaborations! Of the 12 songs on The Heart Of The Matter, which ones have you road-tested live?

Ida:  Uhm, the thing is, we’ve only played ONE of the songs from this album live, up to this point. I think we didn’t feel that we had reached goal yet with the songs, except for this one, “The Sphere”. That one has been played live, but we played it live for the very first time in March of this year, when we did a festival [Trondheim Metal Fest] here in our home town. So, we still have that big moment to play the entire album live ahead of us. We are looking very much forward to it. <laughs> Yeah, it’s always with a slight feeling of terror when you’re going to perform completely new songs for the very first time, but we should be able to pull it off by now.

Sonic Cathedral:  Do you have an upcoming release show, where Triosphere will play the entire album?

Ida:  Yeah, we do. It is completely unofficial yet, but we have a date here in Norway, which we most likely will be able to do. That is just before we go on the 70.000 Tons of Metal cruise, so I think we will be able to do the release concert in our hometown in Norway. Aside from that, we haven’t planned anything, but we will do at least one more release gig in Norway, where we do the entire album. And of course, if we get the chance anywhere else, it will be really awesome! But most likely, when we go out touring again, we’ll have to take a few songs from the other two albums as well, but the release concerts will be playing the album from beginning to end, for sure.

Sonic Cathedral:  For North American fans, the first opportunity they’ll have to hear Triosphere’s new material will be on the 70.000 Tons of Metal cruise in January 2015. What do you have planned for that, other than shaking off the snowy Norwegian weather?

Ida:  <laughs> That’s actually a good question because, first of all, we’re thinking: “Ah, it’s AWESOME to get away from Norway in January, and into (of all the places in the world) the sunny Caribbean seas.” It’s an insane thought! I don’t think we’ll really realize that we are going there, until we are actually there. But yeah, we are looking insanely much forward to it. We were really shouting out loud from pure excitement, when we got the word earlier this year that we were confirmed for the cruise. We have heard so much cool stuff about it from others who have been playing there.

Of course, it’s such a unique concept, so we really don’t know completely what to expect, but we will for sure do our absolute best to give everyone who comes to see us a great experience. How much we will be playing, we don’t know yet. We haven’t gotten the details. <laughs> But I know that we will be playing two times, as will all of the bands that are on the cruise -- one time from Florida down to Jamaica, and the second gig will be from Jamaica on back to Florida. We will try to be clever on how we put together our setlist, so we can present ourselves in the best possible way, and the new album and the band in general. Of course, we will absolutely be open to suggestions, so maybe we will put something out on our Facebook site in advance to see what people are thinking and whether there are any very specific songs that a majority would love to hear. We will see!

Sonic Cathedral:  As a North American fan, I wish that you guys could sneak some shows in before or after the cruise.

Ida:  Yes, we will see if it is possible because we are traveling over to Miami a few days in advance and also staying a few days after the cruise. So, we’ll see what is possible to get done. Because of course, it will be awesome for sure! And in general, throughout 2015, we really hope to be very active on the live front, and (of course) to finally start playing more outside of Europe as well. So, that is definitely on our main To Do list! <laughs> Let’s see what can be possible.

Sonic Cathedral:  A song on The Heart Of The Matter that seems like an outlier is “The Heart’s Dominion”, for which Triosphere released a lyric video. That song has more of a symphonic sound, with strings and a choir. Was that an intentional departure for the band?

Ida:  Well, I think maybe I should start with saying that we always just make the music that we love. And that’s why I believe that we have several songs that are pointing in slightly different directions, at least as I perceive it. You have “The Sentinel”, which is very heavy metal; you have then “Breathless”, which is more something else <laughs>; then you have again “The Heart’s Dominion”, which is (like you said) much more symphonic and epic. So, we do get different type of sounding songs, all according to the music that we feel like making. The final result is always a combination of several aspects, and there is a lot of work with putting everything together.

When it comes to the choir on this song, it is again an element that Marius wanted to have to emphasize and build the guitar riff that is in the intro and midway through the song. And that [choir] really also fit well with the overall atmosphere in the song and the way that we progressed as we figured out how to arrange it properly, when we got all the orchestral parts from Chris and also when we got all the vocal parts done and the lyrics were done. Overall, the choir part was a necessary element for getting … do you say “a red thread through” in English?

Sonic Cathedral:  Yes, we do.

Ida:  Ah, you use that term! So it makes sense to you, if I say that it was a necessary part to keep the red thread through the whole song. To tell the story, in general, it was the right element for that kind of song. The lyrics in this song are also much more dramatic than the other songs, so I think it was just a natural development of everything -- of the guitars, and the choirs, and the vocals, and the lyrics, and everything else. But again, it’s undoubtedly something that we hadn’t done before, so we also thought it would be interesting to release that song first to really trigger people’s curiosity, especially those who know us from before.




Sonic Cathedral:  For the choir, did you layer the voices of band members, or did you bring in additional voices?

Ida:  That choir is actually one-quarter sampled voices that Chris made for us, and three-quarters all me. <laughs> The sampled voices from Chris served only as a basis or foundation, so to speak, that filled out the sound On top of that, that’s me times 16. I arranged my voices in traditional … gah, now I’m lacking the English words. <laughs> I arranged them as you would for a traditional choir, with the bass, the tenor, the alto, and the soprano, and then recorded each voice four times before it was mixed properly together. So, it’s me and some additional sampled voices underneath.

Sonic Cathedral:  Ah-ha.

Ida:  Yeah!

Sonic Cathedral:  Ida, you described the choirs and symphonic elements as being necessary to carry the red thread through on “The Heart’s Dominion”. Is there a red thread that runs through the album as a whole, or is each song free-standing?

Ida:  Both yes and no. Uhm, this is probably also a good time to comment on the album title, The Heart Of The Matter. <laughs> Okay, I will start at the beginning. The album title was a title that Marius came up with quite late in the process, actually. But it suddenly just hit him. First of all, as we started to see the whole of the album, it was evident that the sound on this one … more of the feel, actually … it was the very core of our sound, the very essence of what we feel is Triosphere. We have really drawn out the essence in the songwriting, and cut out everything that is unnecessary. So, the title refers sound-wise that this is the very core and essence of us.

Lyric-wise, we also saw that that title would fit perfectly as well. I am not sure why, but I’ve always been quite fascinated by relationships between people, between larger groups, and between societies. Yeah, you can scale it however you want. But I saw that, this time, the lyrics to all the songs, they always revolved around what I believe is the heart of the matter in all our lives, which is love. Not necessarily love between two persons, but the love you have for something or someone -- love as the immensely powerful emotion that it is, and how it (on one level or more) controls the things we do and the decisions we make. Both in good and bad ways, it can guide us, or delude us; it can give us strength to follow our ambitions and dreams, or it can take us completely astray, and even maybe lead to the destruction of everything we have around us. So, the songs are kind of tied together with themes or stories, I might say, that have a relation to the part that love plays in one’s life in one way or another. But it’s not a continuous story. It is a common theme, but they are individual stories.

Sonic Cathedral:  Would you mind giving us insight into some of my personal favorites … I pretty much love the album from beginning to end, but …

Ida:  Awesome!




Sonic Cathedral:  … “My Fortress”, “The Sentinel” and “Virgin Ground” really stood out for me. “Virgin Ground” is probably the softest track I’ve ever heard Triosphere do.

Ida:  For sure! “My Fortress” might as well have been called “The Awakening” because it’s a story about how one can … to pull in more the actual title … that you can build a fortress around yourself. You think that you’re being guarded within a fortress, but perhaps you’re actually being cut off from something because you build walls. The song is directed a bit towards that moment when you’re slowly starting to realize that this fortress you’re hiding within or keeping yourself within has perhaps just blinded you. You haven’t seen what it has actually been doing to everything that surrounds you, and you’re slowly waking up and starting to question: “Okay, what is happening? How did things come to this? Has it gone too far?”

I don’t answer that in the lyrics, as least in the way I picture it. But it’s a question of whether you’ve pushed everything over the edge, or if there is still hope to save what is left. So, it’s a bit about a misunderstood protection of yourself or of someone else or of something else. I tried to leave it open for interpretation because you can see it in different ways.

“The Sentinel” is actually a bit on the same storyline as “My Fortress”, but a bit more deluded perhaps. <laughs> The lyrics start with “darkness came in persuasive ways”, and if I were say it much more simply (but much less interestingly), I could say that “ignorance is bliss”. The comfort zone: It may not be the right place to be, but sometimes you can just wall off yourself into not seeing or hearing everything that is uncomfortable. Then you stay in there, and you believe and you think and you hope that: “Something will come and save me, or someone.”

I don’t spell it out completely in the lyrics, whether it is yourself that saves you (like I’m trying to write around in the chorus) or if it’s someone else who is the sentinel, who is the guardian … well, that also I leave open if it’s a guardian towards something or a guardian for yourself. <laughs> Again, you’re waiting and hoping for something, and it may not come. Although ignorance can be bliss, it may not be that for all time.

I think it’s really, really difficult to talk about the lyrics, because when I sit and write them, I’m so much into my own head-space. So, it’s a bit difficult to recap and make it more concrete. But anyways, when it comes to “Virgin Ground”, that has a very concrete story behind it. I have written that song about the 22nd of July, 2011, which was the worst day in recent Norwegian history, since World War II, and was the day when the awful terror attack happened in both Oslo and Utøya. It was an event that had such enormous impact on the entire country, obviously.

Since this happened in 2011, it was during the writing session, and I really wanted to write a song about it. It was really, really difficult because I didn’t want to say anything specific about it, but I just wanted to express some feeling around it. So, I think I wrote that lyric probably 10 times before I felt that it was right. Actually, it’s inspired by an article that a very famous writer in Norway had published in The New Yorker. His name is Jo Nesbø, which might be a bit difficult. <laughs> I have to give him credit for the title, because in his article, he mentioned that phrase, “the virgin ground”, and whether we will be brave enough to take back what we’ve always believed before -- that we are a safe haven still -- or will we let fear take over.

Sonic Cathedral:  That gave me goose-bumps. I remember reading about the attack, and being especially shocked because it happened in NORWAY.

Ida:  Yes, that is probably why the impact was soooooo huge, because we really could not believe that it happened, and we really could not believe the way it happened either. We STILL can’t. If I felt that I could write the right kind of lyrics for it, then I wanted to have one on the album. For me at least, I managed to write one which I think gave my story of it.

Sonic Cathedral:  For each of the previous albums, Triosphere released at least one official video. Are you planning on a video for The Heart Of The Matter?

Ida:  Well, I would definitely say that we HAVE TO release a video. <laughs> But we haven’t started planning any yet, so we don’t know which song or when. I hope that we will be making two videos at least from the album, but of course, it’s a lot of timing and finances and stuff. So, it will come, but we don’t know which song will be most likely. Of course, it will be very interesting also to see if there are specific songs that are being really mentioned time and again, now as the album is getting out. So, we’ll see.

Sonic Cathedral:  For Ida Haukland, right now, what is the thing that is bringing you the greatest joy?

Ida:  <laughs> Okay, that is easy: It’s the band! Absolutely, for sure. Now that we’ve finally gotten through the toughest period of making the album, and now that it’s finally out, it is undoubtedly the greatest joy -- seeing the feedback so far, being so happy with the result ourselves, and just the excitement now with trying to plan further, promoting the band, and working on trying to arrange tours and general activities for next year. I am really excited, and I’m positive and hoping for what the future now can bring in the wake of this album. So, right now, it’s all about the band, and it’s really exciting days for sure!




Sonic Cathedral:  Ida, what would you like to tell your Triosphere fans directly?

Ida:  Well, first of all, I have to say a million thanks for the amazing support! I think it’s fantastic -- all the feedback, all the Facebook sites -- we read everything. It is so important, and we can’t thank people enough for their great support and inspiring words. And for all those who have not yet checked out the album or for those who have not heard about us, I think I could just sum up … almost paraphrasing, actually, something that a guy had written about our sound … we have something for every taste. Of course, it’s still within the metal genre, but we have something for every taste. So, I believe that, if you pick up our album, you will find at least something you like. To all of you who are already supporting us, thank you so much! To all of you who don’t know us, pick up the album, and give it a try. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Sonic Cathedral:  Thank you so much for taking time out of your Sunday evening to talk with Sonic Cathedral, Ida. I also meant to say congratulations on being named one of the top female bassists in metal!

Ida:  <laughs> Thank you so much for that! That was REALLY cool, I must say. And thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate the promotion.


A big Sonic Cathedral THANK YOU to Dustin Hardman at AFM Records for setting up the interview!

Read Sonic Cathedral’s 2012 interview with Ida HERE.

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