When you watch a video clip or listen to a song on your streaming devices, you only witness the finished product. When you visit a concert or a festival you witness the live music and the stage performance or your favourite artist! But before all that can be enjoyed, there are a lot of things taking place to make it all happen. Artists, musicians, bands, venue directors, they all have their own story to tell! In this series I’m going to talk to several different people, to find out what the stories are behind it all! From a “big shot” artist, all the way to promotion and record companies. In this episode Ylva de Lune.
In Germany in early summer 2020, Alpha, with over 20 years of experience as a musician in several bands, saw potential in the voice of Ylva and encouraged her to record the vocals for their first song, By the Sea. When the song was mixed, mastered and published on YouTube, it was obvious, that an album would follow. Not fitting in one genre, Ylva de Lune takes different parts of various genres, like Blackgaze, Shoegaze, Post Black Metal and Doom Metal, to create a new way of blending them together. Clearly influenced by bands like Alcest, Swallow the Sun or Cult of Luna, they always find their own sound to make Ylva de Lune unique. I’ve got the chance to have a lengthy and above all really interesting and open talk with both Ylva and Alpha.
Hey guys! First of all thank you for your time! It means the world to us at Maizter Underground. How are you doing? Covid and all?
Alpha: Hi!, first of all thanks for having us, it’s a pleasure. We are currently more or less good, having in mind all the situation with the pandemic, we can’t complain at all, there’s people who are in a worse situation.
You can be known for your work in Ylva de Lune but you did not pop out of the ground and started making music. Where and how did your life as a musician begin and what were your influences? (if any)
Ylva: I grew up playing classic instruments and getting a classical musical education and I played many years in orchestras and ensembles. Singing was never something I did in a “professional” way, it never was more than singing in the car or at home.
My metal roots are in Black Metal. But the borders within the genre are nowadays wider and that’s a good thing in my opinion. We call our genre “Blackgaze”, but we are somewhere between Post-Black Metal and Doom.
Influences are for sure Alcest, this you can hear clearly, but we never wanted to be an Alcest copy. Some compare us to Amesoeurs or Lantlos.
I try to be open minded for new music, because it’s always a good way to learn better skills or to get inspiration, but I always make sure to never copy something.
Alpha: I am a self-taught musician and started playing in bands circa 98.
When we started Ylva de Lune, I was listening a lot to bands like Alcest or Swallow the Sun so this could be our main and most obvious influences, especially Alcest, which can be found in the majority of our songs but with a touch of our own I like to think.
But we are also influenced by other bands from Blackgaze to Post-Rock stepping into Doom.
For instance we like use black metal progression chords or melodies but adapted to our own way, maybe we can have a part of a song which the base are blacky or dissonant riffs with Ylva clean vocals on top, and that leads to another kind of vibe/atmosphere.
In 2020 Ylva de Lune was formed. An atmospheric post-black metal project that has released its debut in June of 2021. What made you guys decide to form Ylva de Lune?
Alpha: We actually met by coincidence, and I heard Ylva talking and thought “Ey! You have a nice voice tone, you sing?” and she was like “Nope, I can’t sing!” And I was like “Yes you can, just do it!”.
So, I had a demo of a song, in an Alcest kind of vibe and offered that she, if wanted, try to lay some vocals on it, just for a try. After that this demo ended up being our first song By the Sea, and after hearing the result, we both decided that we liked it a lot and should record a full length album. With no pretending, you know, we did it just for fun, just to play and record music that we like to hear ourselves.
Ylva: It was exactly like this. We talked and he asked me out of nowhere if I ever considered singing. Actually I never thought about where this question would lead to. But I was super curious if I could sing a song and Alpha encouraged me and helped me with everything.
I never recorded anything before, so we also talked about things like the hardware I would need and I got lessons in “how to use an audio interface and recording software”. As I said, I knew absolutely nothing and this was a whole new world for me.
Alpha is an experienced musician who recorded several albums in the past, so we could get really quick to the point where we recorded our first song. That it would lead to an album was not clear (at least for me) at this moment.
Ylva de Lune brings Atmospheric Post-black metal / Shoegaze to the block. What makes Ylva de Lune stand out in comparison to other bands in this genre you think?
Ylva: I think that the combination of all the genres plus the clean vocals makes us stand out. I got some feedback that some people would also like to hear growls/screams on the next album, this is what 99% of the Blackgaze bands do, which is great, but is not our style of music.
Apparently we don’t fit in any genre. I read so many different genres on websites/magazines etc., that this shows us that we are on the right path to our own identical style.
Alpha: As we stated before, we have an obvious influence which is Alcest, but we think we give it our own “touch”. We move between Blackgaze, Post Rock, Post-Black Metal, Shoegaze even Doom… etc. The instrumental base has all these elements, and then Ylva does her magic and lays some ethereal vocals on it, transporting the whole thing to another place, making it something different.
We think that the combination of the instrumental part and the clean Ylva vocals has a unique touch and vibe which makes us different from other bands. The influence is there, it is obvious. But we think we are not the same. Or at least we hope so.
With the possibilities the technology today has to offer it seems easier to create and record music from good quality. Do you experience that too, and what do you prefer? Doing (most of) it yourself of work together with producers etc?
Alpha: I am very much a friend of the DIY philosophy and as you said; with the technology nowadays, you can record at home or home studio and make it sound quite decent, in my opinion if a song sounds good, it doesn’t matter if you recorded it at your basement or at super big studios.
In fact that’s how “I” was recorded. I wrote and recorded all the instrumental parts at my home studio and Ylva did the same with vocals at her mini home studio. Then we send ideas through the internet to brainstorm and when we think the song is finished, then I mix and master all.
To me it is a good, more relaxed way to work, because we don’t have a deadline to hurry up to finish it, or pay for studio time which is not cheap.
Ylva: I love the way we work, because I have all the flexibility I need. I don’t have to go on day X to a studio, I don’t have the pressure to have everything fixed and finished at this date. I can take my time and if I change a vocal melody 20 times or I want to add another vocal track, so be it.
After Alpha sent me the files, it’s my time to get creative, to find melodies or to write lyrics. This needs time and for us the most important, the correct mindset. Of course we see it in a professional way and we work hard to achieve a great song, but we don’t want to lose the attitude, that music is our way to express what we feel and what we want to share and that it is not a “we have to make an album as fast as possible” thinking. Because we do everything by ourselves, we have the opportunity to do it exactly in the time and way we want to.
Ylva de Lune hasn’t got (much) opportunity to play live shows due to covid pandemic. With only two band members in the official line up, there are some challenges to conquer when it comes to live shows. How do you plan to do that?
Ylva: It would be quite challenging to organize this. When we formed the band we didn’t think of playing live in the first place. It all evolved naturally so people are asking us if and when we play live. But as you said, it would need musicians and a lot of organization. I would love to bring our music “to life” and perform it in front of an audience.
Alpha: We are currently not 100% close to live shows, but if the moment would arrive, we would need for sure session musicians as well as trigger some stuff, because there are parts with a lot of layers which can’t be performed entirely live. This also implies some stuff with logistics which we would have to see how to solve.
It would be a challenge for sure but by now we don’t think about that, we are currently thinking more on writing our second album.
The most recent release is called “I” and was released in June 2021. How was the album received and what do you think of the album itself, now it is out there and people had time to listen etc? Are there things you would have done differently?
Alpha: I think the album was received quite good, having in mind we didn’t sell thousands of copies and the market is quite saturated, but the reviews we got I think are not bad.
I don’t think much on how people receive it but I care more about if we like it or not. I mainly do music for us to like.
Counting “I” I have recorded like 6 records, counting 4 albums, demos and EP’s on other bands and I think “I” is the best of them in which I have participated.
Regarding doing things one way or another, as a musician you always think that you are never satisfied 100% with your own performance. For example you think, this riff I could have played more tight or done this way or that melody like that. But things are like that, you must find a point of saying, “that’s it, it’s already good”, then it makes no sense to keep modifying. If not, one would never stop writing and recording.
I am very proud and happy of the final outcome.
Ylva: I had no idea of my abilities when I recorded our first song. And I didn’t know what my voice was capable of at this point. It was important for me to not stand in front of the music and I asked Alpha several times to mix my voice more quietly into the song. With every song I gained more confidence and experience and I tried different vocal techniques. I think every song has the perfect place on the record, but if I would re-record By the Sea again, I would change this. On the other hand it is our history and it is good as it is. Otherwise we would not have put it on the record.
I remember Alpha said to me “when the record is finished, the real work begins”. I didn’t know at this point what he was talking about, but I found it out really quick, when I started to learn about labels and reviews and PR agencies, which do the work for bands. We don’t have a PR agency, so I had to do it all by myself. And when I started with writing and sending our EPK to labels and magazines, we already had the date fixed for publishing the album via Bandcamp and today, with the experience from back then, I would slow down everything and take more time for this whole process. This is the only thing I would change, but it was also a good way to learn it for the next album.
Heading towards the here and now. Is there anything to report when it comes to new music?
Alpha: Well, we are working on the second album, but now we are more calm. We have some ideas for a couple of songs we are working on right now but that’s all I can tell.
Ylva: We are not in a rush. Due to the fact that we are unsigned right now, we don’t have to fulfill label contracts or any deadlines. We write music for us, music that we like, and when we think the outcome is good, we will prepare the release of the second album.
Globally it seems the worldwide pandemic is slowly getting under control and thus more and restrictions are dismissed. Are there plans for live shows or a tour in the (near) future?
Alpha: Probably not. Plans in near future are songwriting and recording for the second album, then decide when to release it etc.
Is there anything you wish to share with your fans, or want to add?
Ylva: Our fans are incredible. They are located all over the world, from Australia to Japan to Finland to Germany. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the support and the kind words we receive. All I can say is thank you to all of you.
Alpha: I would like to thank each and every one who has supported us in any way and of course your magazine and this interview, which is a way to let us be known and reach more people with our music.
Thank you very much.
Thank you Guys! We are honored to had the opportunity to talk to you guys! For now I want to thank you both for your time and I am sure we all keep a close eye out for Ylva De Lune. On behalf of everyone at Maizter Underground I want to wish you alll the luck in the world with all that crosses your paths in the future!
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