At the age of 9 (!!) Swedish Karl Johansson started a musicproject where he wanted to express his feelings into music. For christmas that year his parents gave him a keyboard and he started making tunes and writing lyrics. Years went by and slowly the project grew into a full blown band. Several names and a breakup later, Gothtanica raised from the ashes. Karl Johansson made it his own project once again and decided he would be better of doing things by himself. About these things and some other stuff, I had a brief interview with Karl.
Hey Karl, thanks for making some time for Maizter Underground! To start things of, your father is Anders Johansson ( Ex-Hammerfall, Ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) and your granddad was Jan Johansson (a famous and talented jazzpianist). What was it like, growing up in a musical family?
It was really interesting, because for me it was the normal. I got to experience the whole musical journey from the start.
You started Gothtanica when you were about 9 years old. What do you think about the music you created back than?
The first songs that I did was with my father in the year 2003. He had two songs without any vocals on and he asked me to sing on them just for fun. 2 years after that I got a keyboard as a christmas gift from my parents and that’s when I started to write music on my own. Now I think they sound awful and it’s not even real lyrics on the songs. It’s like a weird mixture of german (because I had just found Rammstein at the time), english and swedish. I created one album called “Fire World” back in 2005 with eleven songs and “Dark Electronic Power” in 2006 with eight songs. Then in 2007 the first “real” album was released called “Project 1: Birth”. I have a plan to maybe do a reworked album on the two first “demo” albums when they turn 20 years with real lyrics and an awesome production.
What song are you most proud of and why?
The song that I am most proud of yet is probably the song “Everlasting Dream” from the album “Atrum Silva”. I made that song to be an incredible “the big final” type of song to end all shows with and everytime I play that song live it’s just an amazing experience. It’s also a 10 minutes long song, but It does not feel like it. It’s just an awesome journey throughout the song.
Where do you find the inspiration for your music?
Back in the day it was a lot of inspiration from the atmosphere around me, especially the nature, the smell, the view, the air, everything from nature. I could write songs just out of the blue if I was in a beautiful place in the world. The foundation of my inspiration are the bands Rammstein, Pain, Deathstars and Cradle of Filth. I wanted to combine all of those bands into one sound which became the sound of Gothtanica. I also put in some influences from other bands that I like, to make a more unique sound sometimes.
Does the music you produce, reflect your feelings/soul in real life?
Most of the time, yes. In most of the songs I include thoughts that I’ve been bothered with, and sometimes it’s just little horror stories that I come up with. It depends on my mood at the time.
How long does it take you, to produce one song? Starting from scratch to the finished product.
It really depends on the situation. Sometimes it can take a couple of hours and other times it can take several years. It depends also on which tools I have at the moment.
Do things like Covid, influence your music?
Not so much in just Gothtanica, but in other bands it does a little more.
What do you prefer: part of a band, or being a “one-man-band”? And why?
I prefer a one-man band, because I have had some serious issues with band members in this project before. In the year 2013 there was a treachery in the band where my bandmates fired me from my own band and “stole” the name which was “Perception of Darkness” at the time and that really broke me down in sorrow and anger. And then later again in 2015, I started up the project again under a different name which was “Seiber” with other band members. But then a lot of difficult problems within the band and the band members occurred, so we split up in the summer 2015 because thats when I really had enough. I took a break from the project and played in some different bands. Then in 2017 I wanted to start up the project again with all of the songs I’ve made within all of the bands I’ve had in this project as a one-man band. So now it will always stay a one-man band forever. That was the dark side of the story. The good side to this story is that I can do whatever I want to do in this project. I can be myself and who I want to be and make what I want to make.
All the music you write yourself. What about the lyrics and the artwork?
All the music is made by me, yes and the lyrics from now-on are also written by me. But back in the days, most of the lyrics were written by friends of mine. That was because I was terrible at writing lyrics back then, haha. I have now studied lyrics and poetry more so I think that I am now capable of writing lyrics. The artworks are made by me as well throughout different programs.
Are you planning on a new album, since you released 3 new tracks, and a reworked one in a relatively short time?
Yes, I plan to have the album completely done this summer. It will be a twelve tracks album. The fun thing is that I started to work on this album back in 2017, but different stuff came in the way to finish it. But now all I have left is the vocals, so it will be done for sure this summer.
When doing a show, do you work with the same musicians? Or does it change every show?
I try to stay with the same musicians each gig, but it depends on if they have the time or can get free from work etc.
Is there anything you want to add/share to your fanbase?
I just wanted to say to all of you, from the bottom of my heart thank you all so much! You are the reason that I do this and the reason thats keeping this dream of mine alive. May the dark be with you all and I hope to see you all in the crowd again soon enough! With love from your own Karl the Darkness!
Next to being the mastermind behind Gothtanica, Karl Johansson is part of several other bands. In Swedish based Tungsten for example, Karl plays bass gitar as wel as screaming and growling vocals. Furthermore Karl created covers of Rammstein, Ghost and others. At the time I spoke with Karl, he was in the finishing stages of his new and upcoming album named Själavals that is scheduled for release in the later stages of 2021.