Formulating the philosophy and ambition of space exploration into a coherent thought worthy of injection into Iron Maiden and 80’s pop-inspired metal is no small task, but Norway’s Christer Andresen and Arild Aardalen have been doing it with Keldian since 2005. Their melodic and atmospheric creations, which consist of 2007’s Heaven’s Gate and 2008’s Journey of Souls, have garnered them a small yet devoted fan base and much underground acclaim within the metal community.
Keldian is a studio-only project that Chris (lead vocals, guitars, bass) and Arild (synthesizers, vocals) created as a means to write music together and express themselves artistically. They are perfectionists at the top of their craft and have actually been criticized by music labels for not having enough “filler tracks” on their albums. Each and every song goes through a rigorous process and only the absolute best make it anywhere close to the final steps. However, the costs of building a home studio and making music purely for expression can get expensive, which is partially the reason why it’s been five years since their last album. But, after a wildly successful Indiegogo funding campaign in which the band raised 160% of their goal, they are back this year with Outbound, an album they claim is heavier and more aggressive than anything they’ve done before.
The two brains behind the project were nice enough to answer some questions recently about the creation of the new album, the future of the project, and much more!
It’s been over 5 years since your last album. What do you think the reaction will be like for Outbound?
ARILD: “Yes! At laaaaast!” and “this was sooo worth the wait” and “easily the best Keldian album so far!”… hopefully something along those lines.
CHRIS: I’m hoping for multi-million sales, glorious reviews and galaxy-wide fame!
Earlier this year, you said that Outbound was a bit heavier and more aggressive then the past two albums. What was the creative thinking process behind that?
CHRIS: The lyrics for this album are a little edgier, some of them deal with our frustration that man hasn’t already travelled to Mars and stuff like that. Huge resources have been wasted on war and weapons over the past 4 decades, resources that could have been used for peaceful space exploration and space travel.
We’re bound to get out there, this planet can’t hold us all forever. Unfortunately, we’re also spending enormous resources on programs for weaponized space control, moving warfare into space. Being outbound is a double-edged sword, and we wanted the album to show a little anger about this. Of course, being Keldian, we are fundamentally optimistic about the future, and the lyrics will ultimately come around to that.
ARILD: We also wanted to try a little bit more rough and unpolished soundscape for this album. A little bit more dirt and grime if you will. After hearing the finished mixes I think it fits the lyrical content really well, but at the same time it sounds unmistakably Keldian. It’s all relative you know. We’re still pretty far from the 70’s indie-rock sound.
The album is set to be released in October. Can you tell us an official release date yet? And will there be a single leading up to its release?
ARILD: Worldwide release is set for Halloween, the 31st of October.
CHRIS: Outbound was partially funded by our fans through Indiegogo.com, and contributors got an exclusive 2-track preview on September 14 as part of the ”thank you!” for helping us out. This is for the hardcore fans only, so there won’t be a general single release before the album. But everything will soon be out there!
Are there any songs that are especially favored on the new record, or perhaps one that is the most meaningful?
CHRIS: Man, that’s a tough one! When a new album is close to completion I’m always in love with all the songs… I guess I’m particularly fond of the chorus in ”Morning Light Mountain.” That was hard to write, and I think it’s arena-sized. But our philosophy is that every single track has to stand up, so we work as hard as we can on all of them.
ARILD: I think it’s hard for us to choose because we don’t allow “fillers” on our records. All songs are there for a purpose, they have meaning, and convey a message. I leave it up to the fans to pick their favorites!
You’ve said before in interviews that sci-fi and fantasy books, movies, and shows, make up for a lot of the lyrical themes of Keldian. What is the normal process you two go through to create a song? Do you generally write many more songs than are actually put to music?
ARILD: Since me and Chris live in different parts of Norway, we do most of the idea making process separately. When inspiration strikes, we jot down an idea. Either on tape or on paper. All of our ideas are then brought together when we meet in the studio. We do a bit of jigzaw-puzzeling, and the result usually forms the base of a new Keldian song. An idea can be anything from just a theme or a simple melody, to something close to a whole song. Sometimes we also start with ideas based on lyrics, or just a concept. During the whole production process songs tend to change a lot. Things may not work as imagined and the songs have to evolve to survive. The trick is not to get too emotionally involved with the original idea or concept. In the studio, it’s survival of the fittest.
CHRIS: I have buckets of unused ideas, mostly bits and pieces but also lots of nearly complete songs. But most unused ideas are unused for a reason, they’re simply not worthy of a place in Keldian writing sessions. Number 1: You have to put in the work and write tons of stuff! Number 2: You need a well-working editing mechanism! That’s the only way you’ll get to the best of the best of the best that you can do.
There are so many examples of great bands ruining what they’ve got by not editing themselves. Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II? Metallica’s Load and Reload? There’s a lesson to be learned from that: Don’t use EVERY IDEA you come up with just because it’s there. Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden was once asked how he could come up with so much great stuff, and he responded ”you’d be amazed at the amount of crap that goes through my head every day.” Listen to the man! In my experience, I have to work through 10 crappy ideas to get to 1 idea that rules. So you have to do that work, or you’ll be the sad guy down the pub who whines about the great stuff he COULD have done.
In a fan Q&A back in February, it was said that music videos were definitely a possibility in the future. Is that still the case? Are there any plans for a video in support of Outbound?
ARILD: Yes, this is definitely something you’ll be seeing in the future. It’s very doable these days, and fits the format of our two-man-band perfectly. We have some plans and ideas in the works but it’s too early to reveal anything just yet. You’ll just have to stay tuned for updates.
On paper, it seems like Keldian should be unknown. No live shows, self-promoted, and in comparison, not a very large social media following. Yet through Indiegogo, you still managed to raise well over the amount of money asked for towards production of this album. I’ve seen bands that have toured the entire U.S. 3x over, yet fail to rally the kind of support you did. Why do you think fans are so passionate about Keldian?
CHRIS: We try to communicate openly and directly with our fans, and we are dead-set on writing, recording and producing to the max of our ability. You’ll get no bullshit second-rate product from Keldian! We never stop short of putting all we have into every single song. In the end it comes down to music, doesn’t it? If people didn’t like our music, they wouldn’t support it.
ARILD: I think we were a bit surprised by the response and support ourselves. The Outbound campaign on Indiegogo was a quick victory. A very inspiring moment in Keldian history. I think we’ve proven our musical integrity. We deliver to the best of our abilities, always. So, if you like our music, it’s easier to support us when you know we’re not squandering your investment. And judging from the feedback we’ve gotten from the 2-track contributors preview… fans are not going to be disappointed this time either.
It seems like Keldian has always been all about the music. With the press and social media, artists often use their influence to voice their own opinion or update the world about what they have been doing every other second. But Keldian always remains quiet and off of the radar. You make music and then you take a break until you feel like making more music. Do you think this sense of artistic mystery plays a role in how people feel about Keldian?
ARILD: Well, a little bit of artistic mystery can’t hurt right? That way, all associations people have around the name Keldian, is about the music. This is the way we want to keep it. It’s not about anything else.
CHRIS: There’s only one reason why Keldian exists, that’s our passion for expression through music. All we need to communicate is in our music and lyrics. I don’t think fans would be very interested in what I had for dinner last Thursday or my opinions about the last general election. Having said that, it’s all in the lyrics. Well, except the thing about last Thursday’s dinner.
Since everything is now done in a home studio, are there any plans for other musical ventures involving the two of you?
ARILD: Not at this time.
What does the future of Keldian look like beyond the release of Outbound?
CHRIS: It looks bright! If people like Outbound and buy it, we’re up for doing many more albums. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
ARILD: Keldian will be around. Keldian is all about the future, and that’s where we’ll be.
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Coming October 31st