SL: Hello, welcome to our little “Somber” blog and thank you for the opportunity of this interview.
First of all would you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us your role inside the band?
O: Hello and thank you for having us!
The Omit line-up is as follows:
Cecilie Langlie – Vocals
Tom Simonsen – Guitars, keyboards, bass and programming
Kjetil Ottersen – Keyboards and programming
SL: Let’s talk about Omit. What kind of music do you guys offer?
Could you give us a brief history about the band?
What about your latest album, The Medusa Truth Part 1? Is there a concept behind the compositions?
O: We’ve decided to label our music as Melodic Doom Metal, for marketing purposes at the very least. In this project we tend to feel like keeping the tempo rather slow and meditative and to focus on atmosphere. The slow tempo allows us to dwell on the harmonies. The music certainly holds a lot of melodic elements, and the production and overall arrangements surely also have a lot in common with a typical Doom Metal production. Even so, we believe that we might be a different sort of Doom Metal project; one that doesn’t really respect the borders or conventions of the genre all too much, and one that doesn’t necessarily rely too much on the guitar – the go-to, much-favored Pop/Rock/Metal/You Name It instrument of choice. Sometimes we love the guitar, other times is just a boring and overused instrument.
The project got started sometime back in 2009, some time after we (Cecilie, Kjetil and Tom) finished working on the self-titled Vagrant God album. We worked so well together and had lots of fun putting that album together, which led Kjetil to suggest that the three of us should try to write some Doom Metal. The writing and recording of the double debut album entitled Repose was to start shortly thereafter. The album was completed in 2010, but we postponed its release until September 2011 because we had to spend time setting up our own label in order to avoid releasing the album under unacceptable terms found in the recording contracts offered to us at the time. After a bit of work on side projects we returned to writing more music for the Omit project at the very end of 2013. This resulted in Medusa Truth, with Part 1 being released on November 26th, 2014.
As we started writing music for Medusa Truth we figured that it would be interesting to create a storyline for what we wanted to produce, not unlike those that go into the productions of your average TV series. As the songwriting progressed and the lyrics started to take form, we had to adhere to the timeline. So, there’s definitely a story there – one that is to continue with the release of the next part. We don’t want to give too many details away, however. A lot of clues have been given already, with our reference to the specific passage from Jack London’s The Mutiny of the Elsinore.
SL: So, instead of guitars, which instruments would most properly fit Omit’s typical sound?
I’m interested in the creative process behind your songs. How do you guys work when it comes up to writing a song?
What is your “modus operandi”?
O: Of course, we still like to incorporate both acoustic and electric guitars here and there, but we may not want to use them to the same degree as the typical Metal band. Sometimes we like to let other instruments take charge; such as violins, cellos and the like, pianos, synths, woodwinds, percussive instruments, various brass and something as rare as the cimbasso. When other instruments should take charge we let the guitars stay in the background, or make them shut up altogether. We’re not sure if we’ve been able to land a typical Omit sound just yet, nor would we consciously want to do something like that. We basically write the music that we like to write. If we had a bigger label or marketing people behind us, they would probably be very concerned with defining the Omit “sound” and making us stick to it.
The songwriting process in Omit is usually a back-and-forth of ideas. One of us will come up with some sort of theme, a motif, an arrangement or the whole basis of a track, and then bounce it off the others. This ping pong songwriting style is what forms the end result, with everyone contributing their ideas and modifications. As soon as we feel like a track or album is ready to be recorded, we head to the studio to record the version we want to make public.
SL: Since you’ve mentioned that, would you guys like to be signed to a “major” label (or anyway a bigger one)?
And what do you think about the music business of these days? Do you think that it could be possible for metal bands to make a living just with their music?
O: A major label: Probably not. A bigger indie label: Maybe. What matters most to us in the end, is what signing that contract actually means. Would it allow us to be as free as we are now with regards to writing what we want when we want? Would we be forced to do gigs and publicity stunts that we otherwise wouldn’t do? Would only the members of Omit always speak on behalf of Omit? Would we still own the rights to our own music, all recordings, masters, photos, logos, artwork and our own names? Would our music be able to reach a wider audience through more money being funneled into marketing? And so on.
For a long time, the music business has been attracting various middlemen motivated solely by making money. To make the most business out of a musical product, cost increasing layers has been put between the artist and the consumers. You have the agents and the managers – supposedly there to guide and aid the artist in navigating the waters of the industry. They usually take a big chunk of the artists’ incomes without actually doing any work that the artists couldn’t do themselves, most of the time. Then there’s the marketing people, not really worthy of further mention. And then there’s the recording process, with recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering studios and various producers.
You’d think most of these positions in the industry exist only to inflate the bills. Back in the day when recording an album involved lots of very expensive hardware, and setting up a studio was an insanely huge investment, having that kind of a workforce involved in producing an album made more sense. Today it really doesn’t make any sense, with digital technology being as cheap as it is and having come this far. (People are still trying to convince themselves that a lot of the old hardware still sounds a lot better than their digital counterparts, and that people are actually able to hear the difference in the end product – with the end product oftentimes having been subjected to loudness war style compression, effectively reducing any previously existing hi-fi elements to lo-fi.)
The artists should be able to record, mix, master and release their music themselves these days – provided that they pursue the know-how required to accomplish it (after all, good gear, be it hardware or software, isn’t helping much if you have no clue about what you’re doing). With underground bands, you do see many of them doing all of this themselves. But, weirdly, you don’t see that much of it when it comes to the bigger bands involved with major labels. Here, many of the unnecessary workforce elements still remain, with big, famous mastering studios earning big money for tweaking a few parameters on their compressors.
It’s great, however, to see that downloads and streaming are increasingly taking over for the physical media. Services like Spotify and WiMP are great and give people access to huge musical libraries that they can explore. Hopefully this leads to people listening to a wider variety of music, as giving something new a listen doesn’t cost you anything extra but the time it takes to listen. In addition, services like these provide artists with a really inexpensive means of distributing their music to (almost) the entire world. We’d love to see more non-Western bands and artists on these services, though.
Physical media is expensive to produce, difficult and time consuming to distribute and also limiting to the artist. Write something that’s going to be put on vinyl and you have to take into account how long your tracks can be in order to make them fit on one side. A digital file doesn’t really have any time restrictions, in the practical sense. On vinyl you also have to make compromises when producing the master. You don’t have to make the same compromises on a digital medium.
Though, it’s really hilarious to see labels out there using CD masters for creating the vinyl releases – and then marketing the vinyl product as superior and taking a lot more money for it. The fans having been told that it’s superior will believe that it’s superior and go buy it with their hard earned cash. They’ll then go online to argue with great passion that the vinyl version of the album sounds so much better than the CD version.
So, is it possible to make a living off this stuff as an underground metal band? That certainly depends on how much money you need in order to feel like you’re making that living. Living comfortably off the music alone is very difficult, but some members of bigger bands seem to do just that. Cut out as many middlemen as you can and you should be off to a good start.
SL: Let me say, an outstanding answer and a quite sharable point of view.
Everyone knows that Norway has been the cradle of Black Metal, and besides that, a lot of the greatest extreme metal bands are based in this beautiful country. So what is your placement in this environment?
How do you see Norwegian underground music nowadays?
Could you suggest some less-known bands that we should know?
O: We don’t really know much about Norwegian underground music in general or how we might fit into that whole picture. What we do know, however, is that Norwegian underground bands seem to be much more popular outside Norway than with the local audience.
SL: Unfortunately, we’ve arrived at the end of this little chat.
But if you have anything you would like to say to our readers and your fans this space is completely yours.
Many thanks for your time.
O: It’s been a pleasure! Thanks a lot for your time and attention. We’d like to thank all our fans who keep buying and listening to our music.