Norwegian/Swedish atmospheric folk rock band Kalandra is active for more than a decade and long-term work is bringing its results. They might be still getting afternoon slots at big festivals and a support band role on the EU tours, but I can sense impressively rising desire of the audience to get more from them. They played a great show at Colours of Ostrava festival last year, where an audience was asking for bigger stage and longer set next time, as well as with Wardruna on the main stage. During the preparation stage, before European tour with Leprous & Monuments, Katrine accepted an invitation to present her top 10 albums, as well as memories on Colours of Ostrava, early days of the band and new music in progress.
Photos credit: Melanie Duperrex
Interview with Leprous bass player Simen Børven within Top 10 Albums Of series here
Hi Katrine, thank you very much for finding time for “Top 10 albums of” interview to promote your upcoming Prague show. I would like to kindly ask you to include ten albums, which played the most crucial role in your life. Around 4 – 5 sentences for each please.
I’ve decided to not show you my top-10 right now, but rather take you through my listening journey as a kid up until today. I’m fully aware there are lots of great albums out there I haven’t squeezed in, from Pink Floyd, Rammstein, Slipknot, My Chemical Romance… Also I’ve put them in the order I discovered them, not in the order the albums were released.
Christina Aguilera – Stripped (2002)
So you have to imagine me being “not a girl but not yet a woman” here. Those were the days. This album was daring in so many ways for me, but also vulnerable, powerful and even jazzy. It’s a really nice album. The song I related the most to at the time was probably Fighter. My teens were a whirlwind…
Enya – A Day Without Rain (2000)
Just listening to this again now, I think this has influenced me a lot more than I first thought. My dad had quite a few of her albums and I used to listen to this one in particular on a disc-man while on family road trips along the Norwegian fjords. Since the 90’s and 00’s are coming back, can we have an Enya comeback please? This album soon hits its 25 year anniversary…
Within Temptation – The Silent Force (2004)
This is special to me because I discovered it in a record store. I had no previous knowledge of the band at all. I remember I had some time to kill in the shop along with my dad. You know, I just saw the cover and thought that it looked like something I would enjoy, so I gave it a spin. Back in the day you could listen in the store on disc-mans with a pair of big soft headphones, and I was just transported right there in the middle of the shop. Female vocals with heavy guitar riffs and symphony arrangement. That album really also challenged my voice when trying to copy it.
Gåte – Iselilja (2004)
This album was quite defining for me as a teen. As a singer I found it vocally quite liberating. I’ve had a few vocal tutors through the years, and every single one had their own style of teaching and were always very specific with how things should sound. What I’ve learned from them all has been useful for sure, but at the end of the day if it doesn’t hurt your throat and you feel it sounds cool, just do whatever you like.
Eivør – Eivør (2004)
Vocally, so experimental! I had a vocal tutor at my local “culture house” as we call it. His name was Pål Espen Nilsen, and we’d always sing musical songs, you know. I think he noticed musicals wasn’t really my thing, so he asked me one day “what music do you listen to?” “What would you like to sing?”. And I replied.. “Uhm, Nightwish or Gåte”, and so we started testing out some stuff. And after that session he borrowed me some CD’s of Eivør. That was 15 years ago and that moment was crucial to my vocal journey. Her vocal range was already insane back then, and I haven’t really found any singers since who can do what she does. She does everything.
Sigur Rós – Takk… (2005)
Again, vocally; freeing and experimental. Also as some of the words are gibberish. So that’s when I was discovering once again that there are no rules to music. The arrangement too is just so soothing and experimental. It’s always giving me a good and optimistic vibe with hints of melancholy still which I love.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (1998)
Such distinct production and haunting vocal melodies, and it’s still relevant today. Amazing how it doesn’t sound outdated. It’s always giving me some sort of post-rave underground vibes, where unholy scenes and substances come to mind.
Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
It took me a while to understand at first. I need time to digest male vocals sometimes. But after a few times of listening and reading the lyrics, the vibe consumed me. It’s interesting with music you have to learn, because it’s teaching me to be a better listener, also around other people. It’s not about me, it’s about them. For me it was like extending my understanding of other human beings. Now I obviously love all of Thom Yorke’s projects.
IRAH – Into Dimensions (2016)
The world needs to hear IRAH! They’re a secret golden gem from Denmark. I’ve streamed all of their albums so many times. It just works for all kinds of situations. Their song Into Dimensions is a wonderful journey in vocal soundscaping and atmosphere.
Wardruna – Kvitravn (2021)
I will say that all of Wardruna’s albums have been a continuously played over and over again. Although the Yggdrasil album from 2013 probably was most defining for me, I chose Kvitravn because it’s the album I’ve listened to most and heavily invested into it due to me practicing it a lot.
Pandemic, Colours of Ostrava and new music
What were some of the albums that were helpful to you during pandemic and what are some inspirational albums that you discovered recently?
During the pandemic I was mainly just working on our own album. There was no time to listen to anything else. Recently I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Ukrainian and Russian acappella folk songs. I probably shouldn’t mention the two in the same sentence, but I do.
It is great having you back soon in Czech Republic. How did you enjoy your performance at Colours of Ostrava? I recommended a lot of my friends to check that show and there was only drawback they said: “They should get a bigger stage and more time.”
They are quite right, we should. Playing at Colours of Ostrava was a highlight for us from the tour last summer. It was the best festival experience we’ve ever had, and we would love to come back and do a full set sometime. Their support lit straight through the hearts in all of us. I remember crying into Jogeir’s arms after the show.
I gladly went again through your overall discography. Take us back please ten years ago, when you were releasing your first music. How were you formulating your sound and what were the main inspirations? As I am a long term fan, I feel some elements of The Cranberries, but what about folk inspirations?
I’ve actually never really been listening to The Cranberries. I think what you’re referring to is the yodel she does in the song Zombie? To me, my inspiration for that vocal technique comes more from Norwegian folk songs and also Sami joik. I recommend listening to some joik and you’ll see where I get it from.
Playing at Colours of Ostrava was a highlight for us from the tour last summer. It was the best festival experience we’ve ever had and I remember crying into Jogeir’s arms after the show.
It is great you never limited yourself and add elements of electronics and heavier guitars. Give us please an idea, how was Lullaby getting born? I really love both electronic heavy solo on the studio version, while live, it is an epic pure guitar sound.
Lullaby was made together in the rehearsal room I think many many years ago. It’s so long ago I don’t remember it. I wanted to write a song about The Black Death from the 1300’s. My other surname Ødegård comes from that era, so it was also an exploration of how death swept over Norway’a tiny population and left many deserted farms across the country.
I wrote my master’s thesis on marketing in rock music and one of the recommendations, I came across from respected sources, was to include once in a while some cool cover song. Give us please a story behind your cover of Helvegen from Wardruna. Brilliant performance with them at the main stage at Colours of Ostrava btw!
I loved Helvegen for a long time. And I’d seen some people doing covers of it, and I thought we would be able to do the same, but merge it into a modern soundscape. I knew it would provoke a few people, which also was part of my excitement for doing it, like putting vocoder on the vocals for example. I asked Einar for permission first to make sure, and he said “sure”. The rest is history.
You support your releases with beautiful drawings that really fit. Tell us please more about the story behind artworks. You cooperated with Kenneth Lien only for The Line from 2020?
Yes. He’s a close friend of ours. Every painted artwork we have has been made by him. He’s also playing on the Norse Lands album we made. He makes his own instruments and everything! He has a band of his own as well called Ævestaden which you should definitely check out.
I spoke about this with Einar Selvik and many others. Plus it really fits to your artworks. Are the walks in the nature, away from the civilization, helpful for you to clear your mind and filter your thoughts, and was it even more helpful during pandemic?
We managed to finish our album The Line when the pandemic hit in 2020. We lived in a small place in Valdres, Norway and finished the vocals for it there. Next to it, we also had some small part time jobs there we could do as well. It was great to just leave the city and get a new lifestyle for a few months. I’d love to do that again actually at some point…
Good results are worth the time it takes to make them, but I’m feeling really good about what we are creating.
Impressive work on Kingdom Two Crowns: Norse Lands soundtrack. Was it a long term dream of you guys to work on a soundtrack and are there any genre-wise dreams of yours for some other soundtracks? Listening to a song Greed, I remembered an amazing soundtrack for Dune.
Yes. We’re 90’s kids so gaming is a big part of our childhood, and it’s nice to take on a different project than just making music for ourselves. It takes us out of our own heads a little and focus more on what a gamer would want to hear or feel. Dune is great film and the soundtrack is incredible. Loving the ethnic vibes compared with machine and industry sounds.
For the end, please tell us about your future plans and if there is some new music in progress?
Yes we are working on new music, but you know, it takes time as we don’t create everything in recording softwares beforehand. We need to jam together in the room before we test things out “in the box”. And good results are worth the time it takes to make them. But that said, I’m feeling really good about what we are creating. It’s nice to feel us coming of age and knowing that our past effort has shaped us in how we create music now. Other than that we are performing at Hellfest on the 17th of June this year, so I bet we’ll be spending a lot of time making that show as great as we possibly can. We’ve never played a festival that big before so there’s going to be a lot of prepping-time when we come back to Oslo in March.