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Vagrant's Stanley Robertson: "There needs to be an image, a concept on every point like music and visual. Good music is not enough, there is a need to be something, that makes you different"

Interview with Stanley Robertson from Vagrant
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 21 February 2020, 10:35 AM

It is like a constant struggle. When you have something in hand that has a pretty clear potential of becoming more than a great idea, but rather a stepping ladder into a creative and profound future. For the Melodic Death Metal band, currently a studio project, Vagrant, it is evident that once the right folks arrive, all hells will be breaking loose. Judging by their latest "The Rise Of Norn" album, it is a positivity. Steinmetal had a chat with Stanley Robertson of the band about the project, taking the music forward, the new album and more…

Hello Stanley, pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Thanks for having me, I am doing great and are happy to be here.

As the mainman behind the being that is called Vagrant, let’s start with how it all started. What motivated you to form the band? How did you decide which individuals to recruit to work as part of your newly foundation?

I formed the project at the age of 17 to put my own vision of art to life, to understand life better and put my experience I made into something. I knew all members personally or from friends and asked them for help since there is some stuff like vocals I can't do. I told the people about my vision and looked for the ones, that understood it and saw it a similar way.

Would you say that Vagrant, as an idea, follows a specific path, or it rather shift towards various themes? What has been your vision for Vagrant?

Yes, it does, VAGRANT is always telling concept stories on the albums, it's not about single songs, it's about stories. And the music is always a bit more diverse and experimental. It is basically telling my story of what my life looks like and how it would sound like if there would be a soundtrack for my life.

Do you consider Vagrant to be a studio project? Is there a chance for it to become a full live band one day?

It is a studio project at the moment, because of member issues. We can't find the right ones with the skills and motivation to make the best possible out of it. So we decided to keep it as a studio project for now.

Recently, Vagrant released its debut album, “The Rise Of Norn”, via Black Lion Records. How has it been received up till now? Does the final version of the album fit the way you envisioned it to be?

We received a lot of positive feedback for it until now, so that's great. In the end, we would have made a lot of stuff different, because the album was written in 2016 and we developed a bit. But want to focus on future projects now.

What made you sign with Black Lion Records for the release of “The Rise Of Norn”? Was it a mutual interest from both parties? How does this label contribute to your efforts?

Oliver of Black Lion showed interest in us after a friend showed him one of our songs. So he asked if we want to sign to Black Lion for this album. So we made a deal for both fitting, so both are happy.

Musically, Vagrant entrusts its whole within the boundaries of extreme Metal, of its melodic end. There are traces of the Gothenburg era, along with qualities of Black / Viking Metal. How do you perceive your musical direction? While writing the music, has it crossed your mind to experiment perhaps? Maybe to step out of what to be rendered as the normalities of the genre?

Well, we experiment a lot and basically don't care which or what genre we cross since we want to achieve something that sounds like VAGRANT. And the musical direction will change in the future, because we and our next story changed. There will be some elements like orchestra, that will stay, but the rest of the style will be another direction since we realized during that release, that some elements don't work out as expected. The Viking theme will be no part of the band anymore since we don't consider us a Viking band and just used some elements to fit our last Viking based story.

What can you tell about the songwriting process of “The Rise Of Norn”? What were your main focuses for this release music wise? To which details you provided more attention?

It's hard to say, we paid the most attention to the right mixture and make it sounds like a whole album and not like a collection of songs. That was the hardest thing I would say.

Correct me if I am wrong, the drumming on “The Rise Of Norn” are computerized. Have you thought of going onwards with future releases with a drummer? What do you think are the advantages of computerized drums?

We would love to have real drums on our future release, but we are not fortunate enough to have a good one by our side now, who can play what we have in store for future release. We had a lot for audition, but it never worked out, sadly.

The artwork featured for “The Rise Of Norn” is quite inspiring and thought provoking. Who made it? How did your vision for the album came to life within the artwork?

The artwork is by Pierre Allain D. There are a lot of elements of the album inside like the dying warrior, who is the protagonist of the story, the woman in black, who is a metaphor for the Norns and fate in general. So a lot was planned, but we gave the designer freedom in coloring for example and so on.

What is the lyrical concept behind “The Rise Of Norn”? What is the rise of Norn actually? Which myths and legends inspired you while writing the lyrics?

There are not really legends or myths behind it, it's a fictional story of a young warrior, who is unsure about his fate and direction in life. He wants to break up and find something new for himself but listens to much to the others and their vision of how he should live his life, which causes his death in the end. So it's about fate if it is existing and how to find out about your own fate.

A tough question no doubt, which of the album’s songs is your favorite? That one songs that means the world to you? Please elaborate on your pick

I would not pick a single song, because it's about the story and all songs work together and don't do it on its own. Playing wise and composing wise, "Spirit Of Valor" is my favorite, because of the strong main theme and the composing and arranging behind it.

What is your plan for Vagrant in the coming year? Is there already a new album in the works? Will you be supporting “The Rise Of Norn” is any way?

The new album is already finished, written and recorded. We work now together with a new singer to finalize the vocals, but the album will come at the end of this year.

To which other bands have you been listening recently? Any particular newcomer that do you believe will become the next best thing?

My current favorites are bands like Ne Obliviscaris, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Alcest or Leprous for example. It's hard to say who will make it and be consistent over the years. A band like Oceans has the potential to grow in my opinion, if they keep on working and be focused.

An off topic for a bit. With the technological advancements, it is possible for bands to get themselves out there with an album pretty fast, without even using an actual studio in the process. Do you believe that the market is too swarmed nowadays for new artists to get recognized and noticed or it is good that there are now more options to be heard?

You don't need an actual studio anymore to make good recordings, yes. But you need a lot of knowledge to record properly at home and make a good release, there are a lot of mistakes that can be made. And it's great, that everybody can present its music today. And if you want to stand out, you need more than good music. There needs to be an image, a concept on every point like music and visual. Good music is not enough, there is a need to be something, that makes you different.

Stanley, I wish to thank you for this interview. I think you made a fine debut, and I am anxious to hear your next offerings. Cheers mate.

Thank you for having me and I can't wait to share the new work with you all.



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