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Vibeke Stene: “I am very proud of being a part of Tristania for so long”
Exclusive interview with Veil of Secrets' singer
interviews
11 декабря, 2020г.
Vera Donovan

Almost every fan of gothic metal of the late 90s — early 2000s knows Norwegian singer Vibeke Stene’s name. After many years as the lead singer of Tristania and five brilliant albums decorated with her memorable cold soprano, Vibeke decided to leave the band, concentrating on getting an education and establishing her family. However, to the delight of fans, after thirteen years of silence, she returned with a doom project Veil of Secrets, which she created together with her friend Asgeir Mickelson.

MetalGossip just could not miss the chance to have a talk with Vibeke, asking her not only about Veil of Secrets’ debut album “Dead Poetry”, but also about many other things.

MG: Hello Vibeke! Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you! Hope you and your family are fine in these difficult times.

Vibeke: Thank you. We are doing fine, surrounding our home with lights during this dark period with very few hours of sunlight.

MG: Please tell us the story behind the Veil of Secrets. Who came up with the idea of the band? How long did you work on writing and production of the album?

Vibeke: Me and Asgeir started working together with what has become Veil of Secrets, after he had presented his doom material to me. This was back in 2013. Asgeir already had material for a whole album, but some of the material didn’t work for our common soundscape, but we found inspiration for some new songs. The idea of making a band, not just a project, was something we both felt for. We would like to do our music live, too.

MG: Can you describe the musical style of «Dead Poetry»? What bands/musicians may have influenced your music?

Vibeke: It’s doom. It’s guitar based and strict but with a melodious contrast. It’s dark, sad and melancholic, but sometimes there’s a bliss of anger, light or even hope. We only use strings and drums and it gives the music its heaviness. We try to create an effect that crunch a little, that touches our inner strings.

I think Asgeir was influenced by Candlemass to make his doom before my time. Me, I have no actual influences. I find and create my melodies depending on other sound sources or feelings or thoughts or mood.

MG: Do you plan to go live after the quarantine? Have you discussed the possible tour with Asgeir?

Vibeke: We don’t have a plan for this yet, it is difficult to plan these things right now because of the pandemic, but we absolutely would love to take this live when it’s time.

MG: Perhaps it is too early to ask, but do you have any further plans for Veil of Secrets? Do you think about the next album?

Vibeke: Yes, we do. We have got some material already and made ourselves a home studio where we continuously will work together. I think it will be a good process. We work together very well.

MG: You once said that one of the reasons for your departure from Tristania, was that you didn’t like the direction the music headed. What was your own vision of the musical direction of Tristania? Did you have disagreements with other band members about it?

Vibeke: I wanted to go back to Tristania’s roots, not always hunger for new directions and experimentation. It was not always easy to cooperate on such a basis and not seldom there was an aspect of unprepared material when entering the studio. I mostly interpreted what others had composed, and so it ended up pretty stressful sometimes. But still I am very proud of being a part of Tristania for so long, and most of the material I vouch for. I wish all my former bandmates all the best.

MG: Please tell us about the mysterious Black Book. Was it the name of your solo album? And what happened to the lyrics that you’ve written? Did you use some for Veil of Secrets or are they still waiting for their time?

Vibeke: I always keep a black book. That’s where I write. I like to write with a pencil to feel and hear the scratch when my feelings, thoughts and ideas hit the paper. All my lyrics are in there, some of them are used and some may be.

MG: Tell us about your musical education. Back in the days, Einar Moen said that you have a classical education. Is it true?

Vibeke: Yes, that’s true. I started taking vocal lessons when I was fourteen years old and after that I kept studying music and classical vocal training through high school and college and some of my years at the university.

MG: What do you think about the importance of musical education, especially for singers?

Vibeke: I don’t think it’s necessary but I think it would be a strength to the outcome. It increases the contact with your instrument and gives endurance. It would also develop the ability to listen and cooperate.

MG: You made a theatrical debut in 2015. Please tell us more about acting and how it all happened.

Vibeke: I love to act and work in the theatre. It is another way to play your body and voice as an instrument. The work of finding the essence of the characters, to work with other actors and make that interaction endure, to feel the mood of the words and the sound and the air that’s created. The feeling of putting on the character’s shoes sets it. It has always been a dream to me to work in the theatre.

It all started with a conversation with Kai Erland, a friend of mine and screenwriter for three of the plays I’ve been lucky to participate in. I first got very interested in a story he told me about a woman who fell in love with a German soldier here where we live, during the second world war. After the war she was punished by the locals and her hair was cut off and she left her young son to escape the mob. When she returned to our little hometown she lived the rest of her life with these traumas, in shame, locked in her house. I got fascinated by Erland who had placed a window in the middle of his living room, where he wrote down the story while looking through the glass. As this story grew on me, I told Erland I had to play Silja; the main role of “Skammens Gissel” (“The Hostage of Shame”), cause I felt her. The window was brought to stage as the central prop to this claustrophobic play. I think it’s been published on YouTube.

MG: You were inactive for such a long period of time. What was your life full of those years?

Vibeke: Well, I finished my education as a teacher and I established a family, so those years were mainly filled with books and work and diapers and feedings and playing. And a lot of singing and gardening, of course.

MG: Did you miss the stage?

Vibeke: After some years, I did, or mostly I felt a hunger to create something with music. To use my inherent creativity for something more or bigger.

MG: Do you teach singing?

Vibeke: No, I don’t. I don’t find it fit into my schedule.

MG: In your opinion, what does it take to become a good vocal coach?

Vibeke: Firstly, you have to be a good communicator and listener, and you have to understand the body as an instrument. I also think you have to know and master several genres and ways to use your instrument. A good vocal coach would be patient and still make demands. The best vocal coach also has a huge range of material to work with and the ability to rest in some of it.

MG: Your voice sounds incredible on «Dead Poetry». What do you do to keep it in shape?

Vibeke: Thank you, I’m glad you like it.

To keep my voice in shape I have to keep my body, my instrument, in shape. I also have to accept that my voice will change through time, because of hormones, and be aware that it reacts badly to stress.

MG: Have you faced the negativity while being on the metal scene? Do the negative comments hurt you or you don’t pay attention?

Vibeke: I think I mostly have been met with pleasant comments and people. Negative comments can hurt, but will always bounce off if I let them stay with the commentator. In some cases, comments can be helpful to make positive changes.

MG: What do you think about the statement that metal music is dying as a genre? Do you think that bands must continue to constantly evolve, or is it ok to get stuck in «everlasting 2000s»?

Vibeke: Well, at least I am stuck, not necessary to the 2000s, but still not very far. I have problems seeing a close future with no metal. I still think this is a genre with many followers and more to come. I think there are more people like me, who need the relaxation extreme sound images can bring.

MG: Do you have any idols in music and singing?

Vibeke: None which I can call idols. That’s too huge a concept. But of course I have some artists that I admire and like to listen to. As for female artists, I can highlight The Shakespare Sisters, Kari Bremnes, Edith Piaf, Beth Gibbons and Heather Nova.

MG: Can you tell something to your Russian fans?

Vibeke: I am so honored and fascinated to see that we have so many listeners in Russia. I would love to meet you! I wish you all the best in your lives and I hope you hold on and keep safe through the pandemic, and that you enjoy Dead Poetry.

and five brilliant albums decorated with her memorable cold soprano, Vibeke decided to leave the band, concentrating on getting an education and establishing her family. However, to the delight of fans, after thirteen years of silence, she returned with a doom project Veil of Secrets, which she created together with her friend Asgeir Mickelson.

MetalGossip just could not miss the chance to have a talk with Vibeke, asking her not only about Veil of Secrets’ debut album “Dead Poetry”, but also about many other things.

MG: Hello Vibeke! Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you! Hope you and your family are fine in these difficult times.

Vibeke: Thank you. We are doing fine, surrounding our home with lights during this dark period with very few hours of sunlight.

MG: Please tell us the story behind the Veil of Secrets. Who came up with the idea of the band? How long did you work on writing and production of the album?

Vibeke: Me and Asgeir started working together with what has become Veil of Secrets, after he had presented his doom material to me. This was back in 2013. Asgeir already had material for a whole album, but some of the material didn’t work for our common soundscape, but we found inspiration for some new songs. The idea of making a band, not just a project, was something we both felt for. We would like to do our music live, too.

MG: Can you describe the musical style of «Dead Poetry»? What bands/musicians may have influenced your music?

Vibeke: It’s doom. It’s guitar based and strict but with a melodious contrast. It’s dark, sad and melancholic, but sometimes there’s a bliss of anger, light or even hope. We only use strings and drums and it gives the music its heaviness. We try to create an effect that crunch a little, that touches our inner strings.

I think Asgeir was influenced by Candlemass to make his doom before my time. Me, I have no actual influences. I find and create my melodies depending on other sound sources or feelings or thoughts or mood.

MG: Do you plan to go live after the quarantine? Have you discussed the possible tour with Asgeir?

Vibeke: We don’t have a plan for this yet, it is difficult to plan these things right now because of the pandemic, but we absolutely would love to take this live when it’s time.

MG: Perhaps it is too early to ask, but do you have any further plans for Veil of Secrets? Do you think about the next album?

Vibeke: Yes, we do. We have got some material already and made ourselves a home studio where we continuously will work together. I think it will be a good process. We work together very well.

MG: You once said that one of the reasons for your departure from Tristania, was that you didn’t like the direction the music headed. What was your own vision of the musical direction of Tristania? Did you have disagreements with other band members about it?

Vibeke: I wanted to go back to Tristania’s roots, not always hunger for new directions and experimentation. It was not always easy to cooperate on such a basis and not seldom there was an aspect of unprepared material when entering the studio. I mostly interpreted what others had composed, and so it ended up pretty stressful sometimes. But still I am very proud of being a part of Tristania for so long, and most of the material I vouch for. I wish all my former bandmates all the best.

MG: Please tell us about the mysterious Black Book. Was it the name of your solo album? And what happened to the lyrics that you’ve written? Did you use some for Veil of Secrets or are they still waiting for their time?

Vibeke: I always keep a black book. That’s where I write. I like to write with a pencil to feel and hear the scratch when my feelings, thoughts and ideas hit the paper. All my lyrics are in there, some of them are used and some may be.

MG: Tell us about your musical education. Back in the days, Einar Moen said that you have a classical education. Is it true?

Vibeke: Yes, that’s true. I started taking vocal lessons when I was fourteen years old and after that I kept studying music and classical vocal training through high school and college and some of my years at the university.

MG: What do you think about the importance of musical education, especially for singers?

Vibeke: I don’t think it’s necessary but I think it would be a strength to the outcome. It increases the contact with your instrument and gives endurance. It would also develop the ability to listen and cooperate.

MG: You made a theatrical debut in 2015. Please tell us more about acting and how it all happened.

Vibeke: I love to act and work in the theatre. It is another way to play your body and voice as an instrument. The work of finding the essence of the characters, to work with other actors and make that interaction endure, to feel the mood of the words and the sound and the air that’s created. The feeling of putting on the character’s shoes sets it. It has always been a dream to me to work in the theatre.

It all started with a conversation with Kai Erland, a friend of mine and screenwriter for three of the plays I’ve been lucky to participate in. I first got very interested in a story he told me about a woman who fell in love with a German soldier here where we live, during the second world war. After the war she was punished by the locals and her hair was cut off and she left her young son to escape the mob. When she returned to our little hometown she lived the rest of her life with these traumas, in shame, locked in her house. I got fascinated by Erland who had placed a window in the middle of his living room, where he wrote down the story while looking through the glass. As this story grew on me, I told Erland I had to play Silja; the main role of “Skammens Gissel” (“The Hostage of Shame”), cause I felt her. The window was brought to stage as the central prop to this claustrophobic play. I think it’s been published on YouTube.

MG: You were inactive for such a long period of time. What was your life full of those years?

Vibeke: Well, I finished my education as a teacher and I established a family, so those years were mainly filled with books and work and diapers and feedings and playing. And a lot of singing and gardening, of course.

MG: Did you miss the stage?

Vibeke: After some years, I did, or mostly I felt a hunger to create something with music. To use my inherent creativity for something more or bigger.

MG: Do you teach singing?

Vibeke: No, I don’t. I don’t find it fit into my schedule.

MG: In your opinion, what does it take to become a good vocal coach?

Vibeke: Firstly, you have to be a good communicator and listener, and you have to understand the body as an instrument. I also think you have to know and master several genres and ways to use your instrument. A good vocal coach would be patient and still make demands. The best vocal coach also has a huge range of material to work with and the ability to rest in some of it.

MG: Your voice sounds incredible on «Dead Poetry». What do you do to keep it in shape?

Vibeke: Thank you, I’m glad you like it.

To keep my voice in shape I have to keep my body, my instrument, in shape. I also have to accept that my voice will change through time, because of hormones, and be aware that it reacts badly to stress.

MG: Have you faced the negativity while being on the metal scene? Do the negative comments hurt you or you don’t pay attention?

Vibeke: I think I mostly have been met with pleasant comments and people. Negative comments can hurt, but will always bounce off if I let them stay with the commentator. In some cases, comments can be helpful to make positive changes.

MG: What do you think about the statement that metal music is dying as a genre? Do you think that bands must continue to constantly evolve, or is it ok to get stuck in «everlasting 2000s»?

Vibeke: Well, at least I am stuck, not necessary to the 2000s, but still not very far. I have problems seeing a close future with no metal. I still think this is a genre with many followers and more to come. I think there are more people like me, who need the relaxation extreme sound images can bring.

MG: Do you have any idols in music and singing?

Vibeke: None which I can call idols. That’s too huge a concept. But of course I have some artists that I admire and like to listen to. As for female artists, I can highlight The Shakespare Sisters, Kari Bremnes, Edith Piaf, Beth Gibbons and Heather Nova.

MG: Can you tell something to your Russian fans?

Vibeke: I am so honored and fascinated to see that we have so many listeners in Russia. I would love to meet you! I wish you all the best in your lives and I hope you hold on and keep safe through the pandemic, and that you enjoy Dead Poetry.

Many thanks to Lily Scarlet for her heip with the questions

Photo: Petter Sandel

Vera Donovan
Vera Donovan
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