With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to ENSIFERUM. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
A band name sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-That’s true, band’s name can instantly tell to a person who has never heard their music, what kind of themes band has in their lyrics and possibly gives a hint of the actual music style. Of course world is full of exceptions and in the end it’s the band’s music and live gigs that determine things in a bigger scale but good name can catch peoples attention. I have to say that Markus, the founder of Ensiferum, was really lucky when he found the word ”Ensiferum” from Finnish-Latin -dictionary. For me, ”Ensiferum” fit our music and lyrics themes perfectly (once you know what it means, heh).
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Overall, Ensiferum’s music’s corner stones are Nordic folk music and melodic death metal but we also love so many other genres so there lot are influences from them too. If with house Gods you mean bands that have influenced our music, I would say that if you mix Basil Poledouris’ ”Conan The Barbarian OST” with ”Amorphis’ ”Tales From The Thousand Lakes”, spice it up with some NWOBHM classics like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and as a secret ingredient you add some traditional Nordic and Irish folk music, your ”Ensiferum-soup” would be quite close to the truth.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Not really, the main point is to create music that resonates in our hearts, no matter what the tempo is.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-I have always said and felt that Ensiferum is more a live band than a studio band because we the honor of having the craziest fans in the world. The interaction with them, seeing them go berserk during a gig gives so much energy to us and that again reflects back to them and usually after a gig we are dead tired, like a truck had driven over us. That’s one of the best feelings in the world because you know you have given all you got.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-I have always had the pleasure to work with professional and ambitious labels but I know it’s not the case for every musician out there.
That’s true that you can record and mix an album in your home studio nowadays and upload it to streaming services and buy adds. But the problem is that so can every other musician. So fans are drowning in to adds of artists’ they might not know and I guess most of the time not so many click those adds. So the instead of trying to get people to listen to their music, artists have to be creative how to get people’s attention.
Labels used to a guarantee that what they release, is high quality material and most of the time you would follow certain label’s releases because you knew what kind of music they mainly worked with. I think this mentality is still there but not so strong as it used to be. Huge advantage for an artist who has a label in their corner is the know-how/connections/followers that a label can offer. With one post they can reach hundreds of thousands of potential new listeners while a starting artist can have really hard time convincing even few new listeners to check his/hers new song. Easy times to record good sounding music, tough times to get someone to listen to it. So gone are the days when a musician could just write music and wait good things to happen. One has to be very active and focus much more to things outside of the actual music.
Things are always changing and going forward, it’s just a natural thing but for the change of music industry was so rapid that many people are still lost how to manage in the new world.
Nowadays as an artist I like very much the idea that my music is out there for the whole world to enjoy, but I can also honestly tell that it was not the thought I had in my mind like 15 years ago when piracy numbers went sky rocketing and record sales started to fall dramatically. But one just can’t cling on to the past because the world goes forward. It’s an honor that people listen to your music and the biggest thing for me is to play live and share those moments with my band mates and our great fans around the world. There is no royalty check that could ever buy you that feeling.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
In a way ”the value” of music has decreased a lot because you have everything available for free, just click of a button and you have all the classic albums and all the new releases to listen to. But I really think that metal music has maintained it’s value (I’m not talking about money here) better that many other genres. Metal-heads rarely choose their favorite albums from their music libraries just to be played as a background music.
Like I said earlier, I really like the idea that all my music is out there for people to find and enjoy. It really comes down to the fact that I love composing music and even I love even more to play live. So the fact that my music is out there to be shared among countless potential new listeners, who then might come to our live shows, is very inspiring and uplifting. In the end, what’s the point to record music if no one can listen to it?
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-Good cover has to have something that catches your eye and fits the music of the album All Iron Maiden -covers by Derek Riggs are fantastic examples.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-In Finland the metal scene is quite small so many members from other bands are our friends. Of course the climate is not the same as it was 20 years ago when you had a metal bar in every second corner in Helsinki but overall metal is still very big thing in Finland and new talented bands keep rising all the time.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-Personally I’m not afraid of that I still have my CD-collection in a storage but mainly I listen to and buy music from streaming services. This doesn’t worry us too much. We keep composing and releasing new music as before but as I said, Ensiferum has always been a band that loves touring and most of all, to play live gigs and that’s what we are going to do as long as we breath.
What lies in the future?
-Who knows. The COVID-19 -situation is a good proof that we should always appreciate the good things and most of all the people we have in our lives because everything can change in a heartbeat. Of course things will settle eventually. I hope in the future we can keep on creating music and doing tours, because those are one of the best things in life.