Greetings. I hope you're enjoying a fine day.
K. Bäckström > Greetings. Well, I am, it's been a day of doing things, and since we have a lot of things coming up with the band it's exiting times too.
How do you describe your music to someone unfamiliar with your works? Are there some bands you'd feel comfortable comparing your music with?
K. Bäckström > Moloken’s music is from the heart, which means whatever we feel a need to express could be written into a song. It's often the dark and/or repressed thoughts and feelings that find their way on paper. I think we are a metal band with a rock sound that plays doomy/gloomy songs. We are inspired by bands that have pushed the envelope for music in general, not just within the different genres, so not just the music itself but also the production – or, in fact, the lack of production. The 1970’s natural rock sound that many of our favourite bands like Rush, Yes, King Crimson etc. had at the time feels natural to us. Add to that, that we grew up with 1990’s death and black metal scene in Sweden and Norway like Opeth, Entombed, Mayhem, Katatonia etc. and then later on found some of the amazing hardcore bands have gotten to us as well like Breach, Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan.
Moloken was born around 2007 as a side-project, but by 2008 you released your one-song debut CD-EP as a full band. When did it become clear to you that Moloken could become something much greater than just a solo/side-project?
K. Bäckström > Well, me and my brother Nicklas have had a vision about creating music that feels unique and that would have room for all the elements that we like ourselves in music for as long as I can remember . Indeed Moloken was at first a my sideproject and was actually born as early as 2002, but became a full blown band in 2007 when me and Nicklas finally took the time again after our first attempt Slow Death (2005-2006). The first couple of years I only made demos for myself handling vocals, playing guitar, bass and programming drums. In 2006 I recorded the first real recording, a unreleased EP called “Six Songs of Happiness” and it made me realize that I could actually make all the ideas in my head come true musically. When me and Nicklas started jamming in the summer of 2007 our intention was just to create since I had all these riffs. We asked Jakob if he could help us and play the drums on this song that we had made, but it wasn’t really until we had put the song on tape that we realised that this was indeed what we had been waiting for. So, we took the name Moloken and here we are.
Is the band currently a democracy, or do you remain the "dictator" of the group?
K. Bäckström > As soon as the Moloken turned into a band, democracy has been our way.
What were your original intentions and ideas that led to the creation of Moloken? Was the intention just to create slower and heavier music than you did with your hc-punk band of the time, or..?
K. Bäckström > Looking back, there were several aspects that led to the creation of Moloken. When me and Nicklas started jamming we didn’t have a name or a grand plan, but it was like all the missing pieces from our previous bands, grand ideas and general thoughts on music fell into place when we recorded the debut EP “We All Face The Dark Alone”. I remember that when listening to it, we all felt that the music had all the elements we talked about growing up and that is was far beyond 3 guys just jamming together. Moloken ceased to be a side-project at that point without us even knowing it. This happened because it was what I always wanted to do, and now there was three of us with the same view on things.
Back in 2002 I had alot of these ideas that were just much more progressive, metal and just another focus than the straight on hardcore-punk i played with The Pookie Syndrome. In a way I tried to force some of my “not hardcore-punk” ideas which, in my opinion, can easily be heard on both of the last 7”-EPs we did as well as on most of the songs on the KAOS album.
Your songs tend to be of the longer kind, so I'd be curious to know whether they're more often born as a result of jamming, or are they more about pre-planned compositions?
K. Bäckström > Most often one of us presents the backbone of an entire song and then we jam the final result so to speak, adding everyone's personal touch to the song. From time to time we just jam, too: Casus is an example of such. But we don’t really think about length in that way, I think it comes out that way naturally since we don’t play that fast.
Is there any special symbolism or such behind the name Moloken, or how was it chosen as the band's name?
K. Bäckström > I first heard the word on the swedish radio around 2000 or 2001 and it immediately stuck and I felt connected to it. It is an old swedish word for “downhearted or gloomy”. It's nothing I try to be, I just have it in me, and that makes it feel appropriate to what we do musically.
Moloken's lyrics are bleak, even desperate. Where do you draw the influences to create your music and its lyrics? Are they more often influenced by other bands and musicians, or by something else?
K. Bäckström > For me personally it has always been about taking the time to clear my head and to connect with my inner self, and then the material comes flowing. I have learned how to turn that into music and lyrics by determination. Both the music and lyrics are a way for me to express the darker and more unspoken sides of me, so it fills a great need and also works like therapy. But how I do it is of course inspired by the bands, artists, writers and expressionists that I feel are doing the same. I have always wanted to create my own musical world that is an escape from the real world, but with a brutal truth feeling to it.
Aside of desperation, does Moloken have a thematic or even an ideological foundation?
K. Bäckström > The bleakness and desperation is not intended. We don't want the music to be self-fulfilling. For us it's a chance to get away from it all by screaming our lungs out. But yes, there is a thematic side.
All your releases so far have a really stylish hand-made cover arts. How did you find the artist to make them?
K. Bäckström > It’s Kenny Lindström, a friend of mine. His previous art made us approach him, and he delivered.
The newest Moloken-album "Rural" was released in late 2011. As it's the only Moloken- release I've heard this far, could you tell us how it differs from your earlier works? I've got to tell you that I really adore the album's production with its strong bass- sound and dynamic mixing.
K. Bäckström > Rural differs quite a lot from our previous releases. Both the "We All Face The Dark Alone"-EP and "Our Astral Circle"-album have a more coherent feel to them. Rural is an experimental and fragmented piece of art, hence the artwork. We didn’t want to “trap” ourselves in a corner too quickly, so we gave ourselves the opportunity to do what we felt like rather than having a strict concept.
Why was the album titled "Rural"? Is there some theme that carries through the album that its name would reflect? How about your earlier album "Our Astral Circle"?
K. Bäckström > At the time I was living on the countryside pretty much alone with my family and it struck me as a very ambivalent place, it was fragmented in many ways with urbanisation that leads to dying villages. The will is there but the times are hard. All this felt appropriate for the songs. Our Astral Circle is about exploring the many ways of the lives we live. Most of the time we repeat ourselves in our day-to-day life, but when we finally break free from the loop, more branching occurs on the twirling path.
What could you tell us about the meaning behind the album's cover artwork, with the birds entangled in a net?
K. Bäckström > The artwork as a whole reflects that the album holds many explorations of our music, as the songs tend to have a broader range and showcase that we are not a genre-specific band. It's unlike our debut full lenght "Our Astral Cricle" which feels more unified.
What kind of reception has the band met so far, regarding both live-activities and your physical releases - or do you follow the feedback you get?
K. Bäckström > So far 90% of all reception have been great. Moloken is primarily a live band but we haven't really had the chance to tour the way we would like to. So, most of the positive criticism is about the recordings we've made.
As you have a background in punk, have you noticed if you've been more favourably received by either the punk- or the metal-crowd? Your music has elements of both, so I'd assume you have followers from more than one strict genre.
K. Bäckström > Well, in my opinion the punk/hc-people are just more open-minded in general so yes, we have been more accepted there but the metal scene is closing in. But yes, we tend to have followers that love quality music in general rather then the typical metalhead, I guess.
All of Moloken's releases have been published by your own label Discouraged Records. Was it clear to you from the beginning that you'd be publishing all your releases yourself?
K. Bäckström > No.
Speaking of the label, was it founded just to release Moloken's works, or did you have bigger plans on your mind from the get-go?
K. Bäckström > It was not founded for Moloken's work, I have bigger plans for it of course.
You've released quite a variety of styles so far under the banner of Discouraged Records, from modern death metal to heavier sludge of Moloken and to the very experimental electro-punk of Borg 64. It seems that each label is struggling these days, and noting that you aren't strictly profiled to one genre... how is Discouraged Records doing?
K. Bäckström > We are a nonprofit organisation and our goal is to to help bands in getting out there. We do this with pro-distribution, promotion and general advice on pretty much everything since we’ve been around to make a lot of mistakes ourselves. When you as a label don’t have the intention of making money the priorities are very different to major labels. But we're trying to learn the essence of the business and to use that, so when the money does keep coming in we will have a lot of good things to do with it.
Do you have an opinion on illegal downloading and digital releases in general?
K. Bäckström > Well, I am old school and feel that a digital release isn't a real release because you don't have anything to grab and read to fully take in what you are listening to, since the art and lyrics are totally important for the experience. Regarding illegal downloading, I have always felt that the fans will support the bands they like in one way or another. That's all that matters in the end.
What are your future bands for Discouraged Records and, of course, for Moloken? Any new albums or split-releases coming up in the future?
K. Bäckström > Well, since we focus on bands from the north of Sweden, they're mostly unknown bands. But Crowdburn and Lahey are two bands with new releases on the way. Regarding Moloken, we do have a lot of material ready and we will record an EP as soon Jakob (our drummer) has healed his broken foot. After that we will continue on the work on our third full-lenght. It'll hopefully be out in the fall of 2014.
Regarding what I asked you about the band's lyrics... How do you see the near future of Sweden, Europe, even the world? I'd assume that you won't be running out of inspiration anytime soon if the news keep on getting bleaker and bleaker, heh.
K. Bäckström > Well, I feel that a new wave of right wing politics is, and has been for some years now, blowing all over Europe, which of course always leads to the worst of things.
Anything you'd like to add, discuss further, ask..?
K. Bäckström > I humbly thank you for your time and excellent questions.