One of my favourite musical discoveries of 2014 came at the closing of the year. Occult, an ambient folk duo from Sweden create music that is beautifully eerie, deeply atmospheric and intensely memorable. I have lost count of the amount of times I have listened to their debut demo Skogen. I am proud to present this interview with a young band who, I believe, have an extremely promising future.
IA:Occult was created in December 2013. I’ve always wanted to express my feelings in some kind of music. I knew Hanna as a friend from school and since she is amazing both as a person and on the piano I asked her if she wanted to be a part of my band, she said yes and so it began.
Would you say that it has been a speedy process to get your first demo Skogen out into the world, or did it take longer than expected? What challenges were you faced with during its production, and are you happy with how it has been received?
In August 2014 we set a goal to release our first demo“Skogen”, which translates into The Forest in English, in December 2014. We succeeded with all the recordings, and they are now released. We’re currently waiting for the cassettes to arrive so we can start selling some demos. We’re pleased with how it all turned out, and arethankful for all the help we got while recording all the songs.
The inspiration for your first demo is heavily nature based. Has this passion for the outdoors been present since childhood? Why was nature the perfect theme choice for your first release?
IA:The lyrics to the Occult songs are based on thoughts about the forest, the nature in its whole, death, feelings and occurrences that has had its impact on me throughout all my life. All these themes have been interesting for me since I was a child, but it has all evolved now when I’ve grown up.
One of the thing that I greatly admire about Occult is that your sound is entirely unique. I am unable to think of one other band who have a sound similar to what you create. How would you personally describe Occult’s sound?
Our description of the Occult-sound is that it sounds pretty dismal and dark.
As a band with such unique flair, I find it hard to figure out which bands influence you. Who would you say has left a lasting impression? Who do you return to day after day? And what is currently spinning on the record player?
Hanna and I are not really inspired by any band or artist. We create music with our own ears. Our music is built by the forest, the nature, and life.
The video for your demo’s title track Skogen is mesmerizing in its beautiful, vintage looking simplicity. Was the production straightforward? Did the video turn out to be what you had originally envisaged?
IA:Thanks a lot. I wrote a short script about how I wanted the video to look like. We filmed a couple of different sequences at my favourite place in one of the forests close to where I live. After that I simply edited the video and added the music.
The title track for your demo is an utterly gorgeous, captivating piece of music. I haven’t heard anything quite as effective in a long time. Where was the inspiration for this track found, and how long was it from first having the idea, to uploading it onto YouTube?
IA:That makes us happy, thanks!I wrote the song”Skogen” in the summer of 2013. The thoughts and the melody behind the lyrics come from the deep forests and an outlook that is within me .After a year together we managed to finish the song and put it up on YouTube.
The first thing that really struck me when I first encountered Occult, was the maturity of the vocals. How have you developed your lyrical skills, and when did it first dawn on you that you could do special things with your voice?
IA:Thanks! I’ve never really took any lessons for singing, I have just sung when I felt like doing it. My voice developed as time went by. My voice is suited for the lower registers rather than the high ones, my voice sounds terrible if I try to reach high pitch.
We need to talk about the piano and it’s conjuring of mystical ambience. How was this talent arrived at? How many years of practise have gone into creating such a full and professional sound?
HANNA:I’ve been playing the piano for about eight years. I try to make the music feel peaceful, yet heavy and dark. To create the same feeling in the music as you get from the texts are important for me as well.
Occult was formed, to my understanding, in the Swedish town of Helsingborg. Would you say that the support for your musical endeavour was present in the town, or did you need to venture further afield to find those who would support and stand by your music?
We have not really marketed our band except for creating a Facebook page and putting out songs on YouTube. We feel appreciation from different parts of Sweden and some other countries.It is nice knowing your music reaches out to a pretty wide audience and that some people like it.
You have recently performed live in Stockholm and are due for another performance on the same line up as the mighty King Dude. What can people expect from an Occult stage performance, and can you put into words how it feels to get up there and present your work to a audience?
It is a great honor to be offered this opportunity.We are, obviously, very thankful for that. What are you supposed to be expecting from an Occult live performance? We try to express a message about all the things I mentioned before. We doubt you will enjoy our performance if you are the kind of person that likes to get really drunk and go crazy. If you are the kind of person who likes tranquility, we believe you would appreciate it.
What are your ambitions with Occult in 2015? Are we going to see some new releases? Are you able to reveal anything about what you are recording next?
We are not sure how everything will come together, but the current plans are that we will release another demo before the summer comes. Only time will tell after that.
Find & Follow: