Niklas Kvarforth is the infamous frontman for Swedish black metal outfit Shining, a band that has been on the scene for fifteen years, facing numerous line-up changes. Niklas has always been at the centre of controversy when it comes to Shining and he discusses all things Shining with Valkyrian Music editor Nico Davidson.
Nico: Hi Niklas. You alright?
N: Right then, you have a new album coming out in October, is there anything you can tell us about it? Like lyrical themes or if it’s going to differ from previous releases?
K: Well, one thing that is really strange, for this album anyway, we decided to change producer. There’s also a kind of black metal vibe to it which hasn’t been present on the last album, it’s refreshing in a way, that a lot of people will get both amazed and upset at the same time. I don’t know. I’m looking forward to seeing your reaction to it and I’m looking forward to playing it live.
N: I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the new album. Speaking of Shining releases, you recently released the covers EP, Lots Of Girls Gonna Get Hurt, what gave you the inspiration to do a covers EP?
K: We always record covers, you know, stuff like Depeche Mode covers, and we did six more covers when we were recording the album because I added some I wanted to learn so I use my clean voice. And some of them turned out pretty decent I think, so that’s one of the reasons or the reason that we released it, so our listeners could listen to what we listen to, to show there’s darkness in other things than Mayhem and Burzum.
N: When you released the EP, what was the fans’ reaction to it?
K: I don’t know because my manager made me not have a computer at home because if I do, I just do stupid things, being a self-destructive idiots that I am, sometimes, I start to look up bad rumours about me to get myself upset and get a reason to have a drink. So yeah, I don’t know but from what I heard from other people and the band, it’s gotten a bit of a possibility but there will always be people to complain. In a way, that doesn’t really bother me that much to be perfectly honest.
N: I guess this will be associated with the new album coming out in October, how do you write new material and songs? Do you write the lyrics first and music second or vice versa?
K: I go straight through all the music and lyrics, then I have this method to perfect an album ‘cause often I couldn’t use a guitar because I have a problem with my right arm, so I’m sort of making albums in my head, every single melody and bass line and drum beat and everything. Then if I still had that album in my head, I knew I had to record it, otherwise I’d start all over again. Now, on the other hand, I haven’t been writing the music a lot since I moved from Norway but when I start, I also invite the other members from the band to try and put something to it as well. We also have this new bassist, a very young guy, and me and him went to rent an apartment in Helsinki for a couple of weeks, which was not a very good idea, when it comes to alcohol and other stuff, and we actually managed to write the album and he wrote several riffs for it, which really surprised me. He had the basic ideas in that really impressed me.
N: You’re quite the controversial figure in Shining and obviously the music stands out well enough on its own, so how did the controversial antics at live shows come about?
K: Do you mean why I act like an idiot on stage sometimes?
N: Well that’s one way of putting it.
K: Well, when I write or if I do anything, I guess I want to do it 110% and if that means that I or others get hurt or whatever in the process, then it’s too bad that had to happen but when it comes to it, half heartedly, that’s what people usually do because that’s why they release like five hundred crap metal albums every month and crap labels. You get the picture and it’s nothing that’s ever pre-meditated, I get angry sometimes and being controversial, we had a show in Sweden back in 2007, I’m guessing that’s the show you’re referring, that went on the news and we weren’t able to play live in Sweden because of that. I mean, it wasn’t that extreme. I read a lot of reviews from other, like, high profile magazines but they didn’t write the reviews based on as if they were at the show, they just read stuff on message boards and stuff and started writing their own reviews, pretending that they were there. I don’t know about being controversial but it’s not my intention, at least not in this day and age.
N: Shining’s lyrics deal with suicide and self-harm, is there any reason you write about that specific subject?
K: Well, suicide has proven to be very… Useful for my agenda. I mean, when you get older, you get a bit wiser and you don’t listen to clowns like me who preach that you should, you know, cut yourself open, beat up your sister and rape your mum and dad. Some people, usually kids, get affected by this, suicide and depression and emotions in general. It’s a very easy thing to take advantage of ‘cause when you’re young, you’re always very vulnerable and, as you know, you always seek answers and start searching, so it’s pretty easy. So, that’s the reason why the suicidal theme are there.
N: You’ve guest appeared on several albums in the past and several musicians have guest appeared on Shining albums, how do you choose which musicians and bands to work with?
K: I have these really grand contrary things, being an eccentric megaloegomaniac like I am, so I aim to get Rihanna on an album but I might not work out with Rihanna even though I’d really like it to, so I have to go with things people might not expect. It’s just like that I like guitar solos so it’s then combining it with Peter’s or Rob from Anthrax, who also makes a solo on the new album. We just sit down and discuss it and usually other people in the band think I’m idiot because of my will, to let’s say, use different markets that they really don’t want to use but at the end of the day, I’m boss so…
N: Yeah. Right, as the main songwriter of Shining, what would you say is the song that defines the band as a whole?
K: Hmm… That’s very, very, very hard to say because… Each song has a memory to it. I think Claws of Perdition would be the one, I guess, although I haven’t written the lyrics for that.
N: Going back to what we were discussing about live shows earlier, how do you prepare yourself to go on stage and perform?
K: Usually through meditation, to get the bad images out but it easier to stay hidden if I’m already extremely pissed off and arrive with the commute, seeing the promoters and getting the bad wine and women who wear stockings, that’s awful. There’s always something that can disgust you. Dry mouth for example, if it’s paper. You know, I really like paper, I like the smell of it, the feel of it. But I don’t like it when the corners are, you know what I mean.
N: Yeah. Last question now. Anyway, in a career spanning 15 years, you’ve already conquered so much with Shining and the other projects you’ve been apart of. Do you feel that you can further as a musician? You know, what do you see as your next mountain to climb?
K: There’s always a mountain to climb and you always have to aim higher, my philosophy is to be do something better than the thing before, so if I got to a point where I couldn’t bring anything new to the table then it would be completely useless for me to make music then I focus on something else. But I think I can do something like another six albums.
N: Let’s hope so! Alright, thanks for your time, Niklas.
K: Thank you for the interview.
N: You’re welcome, hope you have a great day.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF RENATA ‘PIENI’ LINO AND TERHI YLIMAINEN.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Don’t forget to check out Valkyrian Music on Facebook & Twitter for more updates:
http://facebook.com/ValkyrianMusic – http://twitter.com/ValkyrianMusic
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =