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Confidential's Astrid Klara Mjøen: "I wrote the music to help myself. Putting my thoughts to words and music made me feel strong"

Interview with Astrid Klara Mjøen from Confidential
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 April 2022, 4:57 PM

It won't be the first time, nor the last, when a music album is its creator's personal journey. However, every album is different, stories might be parallel, yet different, life's aspects change from person to person. The Norwegian songwriter, and singer, Astrid Klara Mjøen, unveiled her past experience through a new band, Confidential, which released its debut album, "Devil Inside". The measure of intensity of the story, an emotional endeavour, is highly felt with each passing song. Steinmetal had a good talk with Astrid about how this venture came to be, diving into the album, and its creative process.

Hello Astrid, I am happy to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been?

Hi! First of all, thank you so much for having me.

Last night I came home at 00:00 CET, after our very first live show! We played at Oslo Hardrock Festival, and it was a blast! Crowd was amazing! Also, Kalidia from Italy and ELEINE from Sweeden were on the stage with us the same night. It was awesome! So, to answer your question, I feel great!

It was a first time for me to hear about your new band, and to appreciate you as vocalist and songwriter, and I am glad that I was fortunate enough. Let’s start with the basics, what were the contributing elements for the foundation of Confidential?

I started the songwriting the summer 2019. I wanted to have good demos of the songs so I could listen to them. Because the only recorder I had been using was the voice recorder on my phone. Somebody mentioned that a guy named Frode Hovd had a studio in his basement (Aldaria Studios), I reached out to him and that was the start of this journey. He saw potential in the songs and pushed me to do more with it, luckily!

As a vocalist, is it your first time writing and recording a Metal album? I guess that the scene itself is not new to you. Any past experience with other bands of the genre?

Yes, this is the first time writing and recording songs ever. I have always liked metal from my early teens, Symphony X was my favourite band back then. Now I have Eleine as my number one!

It took me a bit to understand that the band’s name is probably derived from the fact that this foundation is close and personal. It is you opening up your soul in a way, telling your story through Confidential. Is that the case? If not, what does it intend to portray?

This stems from the very beginning of the songwriting. I had no plans sharing my music since the songwriting was my therapy and emotional outlet if you will, to survive in the day-to-day life after some rough years. It was sort of “Confidential” material. Frode, as mentioned over, saw the potential in the music. Now I hope my lyrics will help other people who are feeling down or depressed, I hope they feel empowered and that they're not alone!

Confidential’s debut album “Devil Inside”, released by Massacre Records a little while ago, is quite the experience. With the album being your first, what were the initial responses to it?

The response has been overwhelming! Since this is a very personal album, I was a bit anxious for the reviews to come. How would it feel if we got bad review’s..? Turns out, nothing to be anxious about! We got really good reviews, and a lot of messages from fans. We appreciate every single one of them.

“Devil Inside” is presented as your personal diary, I must say that it is quite the exposure. The created story that follows that album revolves around a character, sharing experiences, whether good or bad. How much of that character is you?

Everything is me. My inner thoughts, battles, and demons, but also the strength I found on my way out of the darkness.

This title for the album is strong, and it can be interpreted in many ways. My trial with it is that there is an evil in you that you are struggling with, or rather trying to protect yourself from evil, yet you fail in the process. To be honest, I might be mistaken with the evil concept to begin with. Help me out here please?

The album lyrics and haunting melodies is about all the Devil’s I’ve had inside for years. So, it felt natural to use that as a Title for this album.

Writing the lyrical end of the songs was probably quite a venture, as if to retrace past journeys, bump with old memories and sorts. How did it affect you mentally while working? I presume that not all of this story is picture pink?

I wrote the music to help myself. Putting my thoughts to words and music made me feel strong. So, this journey was important for me to be able to move on with my life. So, this album made me stronger, and I hope our listeners will feel the same!

Since “Devil Inside” is close and personal, as mentioned, can it be rendered, in your opinion, as an escapism from the general reality of things, with the pandemic out there gradually slowing down, and the war in the East?

I think all music can be used as an escape from the cruel world were living in. Every person has their own taste in music. If our listeners manage to use the music for this purpose, I am glad.


In order to fulfil such a story, I guess it was only natural to provide the album with a dramatic setting, going cinematic and symphonic. In your view, how does this musical direction sit well with the storyline of the album?

I had a vision in my head that we need the music to be dramatic, we had to have parts that were so naked that it’s only the voice who is in focus, but also have parts that are massive! There was no question in my mind that we needed symphonic sounds and Latino choirs to paint the perfect music picture.

This question comes partially on the band’s formation, along with the influence on the music. Was the direction of the album chosen, and emerged into, due to core members of the band, or was it already set in stone as you were recruiting? Did the new musicians have an influence on the songwriting as well?

Lyrics and melodies/harmonies were pretty much set in stone. Frode and I produced the songs in Aldaria studios and David made all the rhythm guitars. Jonah Weingarten who we hired to do all the orchestration made two songs for us, “My kiss of death” and “My evermore”, we made all the arrangements around it. And it's actually Charlotte who sang the lead vocal on the chorus on “My kiss of death”.

I think this process will be different on Conf2. Since now we have to make music for the purpose to release it and also, we are a band from the beginning.

As co-songwriter for “Devil Inside” you worked with Catalyst Crime’s orchestrator Jonah Weingarten. I had the pleasure to listen to the outcomes of the debut Catalyst Crime’s album, and no doubt he was the right person to choose to work with. How do you find the chemistry between you too while working on “Devil Inside” songwriting? What did Weingarten contribute in terms of his experience to fulfil your vision?

Working with Jonah is a dream. He works fast, and he understand our vision for the music! It was great having him and his experience on board!

What can you tell about the songwriting for “Devil Inside”? What is there between the lines that are beyond the hooks and the masterful orchestrations? What elements from your experience did you bring forth to this process?

What´s written between the lines for “Devil Inside” is fear, pain, sadness, rage, and hope. It expresses some of the most painful feelings that touches the listener´s pain. Each person will read between the lines differently and they will all be correct. It´s a story of pain and sadness, finding a small flame of hope and taking control to rise above.

No doubt that “Devil Inside”, being the debut album of a totally new band, is a process of learning of your own capabilities, as a musician and as a songwriter. What can you tell in regards to what did this album teach you about yourself, both as a vocalist and a songwriter?

First of all, the process learned me that I could write songs. I did not know or believe that I had that skill. Also, I understood the power of music, this album and these songs, alongside with my two beautiful boys, were the things that got me through a living nightmare. And for that I am forever grateful! I know now that It’s important to believe in yourself and never stop, no matter what other people say or do.

It has been like that in various albums that I listened to in the past, and I guess that this phenomenon keeps going. I couldn’t comprehend why such a tight, and influential, song such as “My Evermore” was deemed to be a bonus track? It has a strong presence and could have been a great hit

We had to choose one song as bonus track since the Vinyl did not have room for the whole album. It was a really tough choice, but we have a lot of ballads on the album, so that’s why “My evermore” got excluded from the Vinyl and was set as a bonus track on the Digi-pack.

I found “Queen Of The Dark” to be different in contrast to plenty of Symphonic Metal oriented songs, it is not just about the hook, and it sure has it in plenty, but it builds up not in an expected way, there is a way to go right until the punch. I was glad about that diversity. What is your appreciation of this track?

This track is one of the most personal tracks on the album, I even had to think twice before being able to release it. The build-up had to be this way so the listeners can “feel my pain” if you will and hear my voice clearly.

Gathering up energy as it goes, “Release My Symphony”, proves the band’s capabilities on delivering massive hits. Both heavy, melodic and angelic in its vocal performance. What can you share about the creation of this particular track?

This was one of the first songs that I made, but with a different version and it was not meant to be on the album. One day I told Frode that I had this amazing chorus that we just had to use! So, I drove to the studio, recorded the chorus and made a version the same day. The song was done the same day and we could send it to Jonah.

Is there a plan to have Confidential become a live band, since “Devil Inside” introduced session members on bass and drums for the purpose of the recording? Anything that you began working on in terms of schedule?

We already had our first live concert Friday 8th of April at Oslo Hardrock Festival. It was an amazing evening! Other bands playing that night was Kalidia from Italy and Eleine from Sweden. Madeleine Liljestam from Eleine joined us on stage so we could do the duet “Black Angel” together! RAD!

Astrid, I wish to thank you for your time for this interview. I was highly impressed by your debut, enjoyed your voice and of course the music. All the best, cheers.

Thank you so much for your kind words and for having me here! Much love Astrid


 



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Edited 05 July 2022
 

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