NORTH OF SOUTH is an exciting entity that you should check out. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-Hi, Battle Helm’s team. It’s a true pleasure to be answering your questions!
Well… North of South tries to give the metal audience a unique and previously unheard experience. Mixing styles, genres and influences, I want the listener not to think only that they have enjoyed this album (which of course is a relevant goal), but also to come to the conclusion of having heard something different, rich sounding, complex to categorize and far away from some cloned bands.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Yeah, the election was a bit hard. Too many concepts, literary influences and artistic intents to summarize in just one, two or three words… Anyway, I think “North of South” captures that kind of nature of contrast that characterizes this band. Geographically, while I live in a city located in the northwest of Spain in a mountainous region where snow is frequent in winter, my country is seen in Europe as the prototypical land of sun, light and hot weather.
So it’s a kind of metaphor of what “North of South” is. All in the same pot: heaviness vs. melody, northern metal influences vs. Latin rhythms and Flamenco’s heritage, English lyrics vs. some Spanish references (something that, by the way, is gonna be intensified in future compositions)
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-I mainly listen to Metal, all kind of genres. From Melodic Rock to Grindcore. But I have a preference for extreme metal bands that don’t put aside melody. I love Swedish melodic death metal bands, like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, At The Gates. And also the old school stuff, like Entombed, Dismbember. Similarly, other bands that have evolved till getting their own sound, like Opeth, Katatonia, Moonspell, Amorphis, Novembre,…
However, I’m not really sure if these influences get reflected in my music, where also stands out my affection for some great 80’s Pop/rock bands (The Police, The Cure), melodic jazz and, of course, that substrate of Latin/Spanish rhythms that has inspired me throughout my entire life.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-Music and composing have been always the priority. At the moment, I really feel that North of South’s sound is in constant evolution. Yes… it could have reached some signs of identity, but only a few. I want to continue exploring new musical textures, looking for new influences to mix them with Metal and trying to define a very recognizable music language for North of South.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-Yes, I mainly share your opinion. Anyway, at this stage, it’s very difficult to fight against this phenomenon.
I think I am in between the old and the new listener prototype. I’ve bought a lot of music in my life. I think I have 4.000-5.000 CDs at home, but I acknowledge that these days I purchase very few cds comparing to some years ago.
Recently, I’ve reached the point of buying a CD but never listen to it, because I prefer to use Spotify…
However, I’m fully convinced that a musician has to be paid for his art and creativity in whatever way you can (cds, merch, patronage, etc).
And about your last point: for sure!! I really enjoy the integral experience of listening to a whole album. That deep connection between fan and artist is only possible when a certain atmosphere and mood has been created during 40, 50, 60 minutes…
Although there are some exceptions, the primacy of single track releases has a trivializing component for artistic musical experience.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-As your card presentation, artwork has always a very important role. Regarding North of South, the premise was to avoid some hackneyed Metal topics like Satan, blood, death, evil and other supposedly scary stuff… It’s something ok for other bands that I enjoy myself, but it doesn’t connect with North of South’s philosophy and artistic point of view.
So I knew I wanted a predominantly white cover with some elegant motif. The designer did a good job. At the same time, it symbolizes the exploring vocation of North of South as a band, searching for new musical territories.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Definitively, things have changed a lot. Since poor sales and piracy have almost destroyed music industry as we used to know it, artist communication has had to reinvent itself.
However, I’m not necessary pessimistic about this subject.
Social media are letting my music to reach every corner of the planet, as well as have a constant interact with the audience. This is the happier side… Anyway, you have to work very hard and in a very professional way to stand out in this massive competence pit.
Nowadays, visuals and Youtube are very important, so we have done two excellent music videos. British artist Andy Pilkington (who has recently worked for artists like Dee Snider, Orden Ogan, Gus G. and Flotsam & Jetsam, among others) did a fantastic job with first North of South’s music video.
A second one is coming. It has been made by Macedonian director Hristijan Konesky, who came along with a superb script. It will be premiered in a few weeks, so stay tuned!
In addition, I’m lucky enough to have a label (Rockshots Records) support, so North of South is implementing some mix of classic and new promotion.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-Releasing this project, it’s letting me live with more intensity and to know from the inside what has been my true passion for the last three decades: music and, specifically, Metal. So it’s been a fascinating journey, getting in touch with the wonders (most of the times) of Metal industry and community, and also their miseries (occasionally).
Talking about a scene, it’s a pity that Spanish metal bands are so unknown outside my country. There are some fantastic names, but having a strong language, as Spanish, is something that hasn’t encourage many bands for years to sing in English. Currently, things are slowly changing, but there’s also a lack of a potent Spanish metal label which could be very relevant for exporting our Metal to the rest of the world.
Check out some current splendid Spanish bands like Angelus Apatrida, Foscor, Avulsed, Dry River, Haemorrhage, Sôber, Saurom, Ciconia and Unreal Overflows, to mention only a few.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-As North of South is currently a one man band and a studio project, there are no plans in the short term for playing live and touring. I would love to meet the right people to be able to play live. Anyway, it’s not an easy task, because working alone gives me an absolute artistic freedom to develop my own musical ideas. And that is something that I don’t want to renounce to.
Metal history is full of awesome studio projects, bands that don’t play live, like Bathory, Witherscape, Darkthrone, I Legion, Disarmonia Mundi, Abigor,…
What will the future bring?
I hope it brings a lot of good news.
In the short term, September 28th is the scheduled date for the release of “New Latitudes” album. But i’m already working on new tunes. I would like to release more new stuff (maybe an EP) in 2019… We’ll see…
Working, experimenting and enjoying are the priorities for the next months. North of South has come to stay here for a long time, haha!!
Thank you, mates, for this nice interview. Best wishes for all your readers. Northern or southern, dare to explore New Latitudes with North and South, a different kind of metal!