Friday, February 24, 2017

interview: The Commander-in-Chief (part 1)

The Commander-in-Chief is becoming better known every year due to her work as a guitarist. In the world of metal music people have noticed her versatility as an artist, as a guitarist and vocalist interested in various styles and techniques. After several demos, singles and EP, her debut album was released in 2016: I Am. It is great that her first full-length album has seen the light of day because now we are getting a better picture of The Commander’s music, including through a couple of official videos for tracks from said work.
That’s not all that is going on, however. Actually, there seems to be a whole lot more activities that she is taking on. In fact, it often seems like there is something, some new project, a new endeavor that is on the horizon. That feeling that there is more than meets the eye with The Commander-in-Chief motivated this interview.
The really exciting part of all this is how The Commander took the time to do this interview in proper and professional way. You know, it makes sense, The Commander has a winning personality, a winner’s will and it only makes sense to her that if you are going to do something, you better do it well or not do it all.
This publication sent her some difficult questions, but she took them on seriously and this interview is the result. The interview is long and touches on several topics, including some are considered very controversial in today’s fearful, politically-correct context.
Here is the first part of the interview. The second part will be ready soon.
Hello, The Commander-in-Chief! How is 2017 treating you so far? I keep up with your news and events, and I know that in 2016 there were several highlights, such as performances and interviews on television and also on the radio. So, what is next on the agenda for you? You have been taking on some other projects, haven't you? What can you tell us at this point?
Hi there! Yes, 2016 was a good year overall, I always appreciate national & international exposure. You always need that as an artist. The majority of my time was invested in a secret project that carried on into this year as well. I do have some major announcements coming up soon and I also have some new music to release which I’ve spent a great deal of time working on.
I just released an illustrated lyric book which I’m really excited about, I’m always happy when I bring a project to completion especially if it involves my own ideas, of course. I enjoy being a complete artist, I’m at my happiest if my days are diverse and not too repetitive. I have too much unreleased original music it actually bugs me at this point, so my aim is to release as much as I can this year, I also have enough material for a double metal album, I have the title and know exactly what I want. I’m not too sure when I will shift my focus back to metal, though.
Your album I Am was released in 2016. Before the album, you had demos and an EP in 2012. Can you give us the basics on your album? How many instruments do you play on the album? Do you have guests and session musicians for the album? Where did you record it and did you work with a producer? Are you your own producer?
I always thought that I would get the opportunity to re-record the songs from the demos I made, however we often don’t get exactly what we want and have to make choices and adjust. If I had to choose between recording new music or re-record the old, I would of course prefer to move forward. So my album is a collection of various recordings that were recorded between 2010-2015.
I spent a great deal of time working on “artist development” working towards finding and developing my style which I think we succeeded with in L.A. back in 2009-2010. Yet there was a general dissatisfaction regarding some of the instrument sounds, particularly the horrendous guitar sound which was the result of the engineer/producer trying out his new tool: a digital amp emulator. His extensive use of auto-tune did not reflect well on my voice and singing either, it’s the first and only time we’ve ever had a vocal recording sounding so fake. So we re-did some of the guitars, got some of the songs re-mixed, drum sounds replaced; etc. The songwriting was really good though which is why they were included on the album.
The Evolution EP was recorded in England with metal producer Sterling Winfield in late 2011. We both wanted an organic approach so there is no trickery on the recording, neither with the drums nor the vocals. It’s a good, solid natural recording, with strong songwriting, with solos reflecting my technical abilities at the time. I obviously arrange my songs and co-produce, my manager, mother and Bel-Canto vocal-coach Elisabeth is a phenomenal vocal producer. indispensable in so many ways. L.M.A.O was for some reason not included in the Evolution release, but is included on this album.
The track “I Am The Commander-In-Chief” was the last metal track to be released from me as a single in 2013 before I crossed over and spent 3 years focusing on classical crossover. That track was co-produced with my good friend engineer and producer James Mottershead who I’ve worked with on nearly all of my recordings since late 2011.
The rest of the tracks were recorded in 2015. I tracked the guitars myself and did the vocal recording with Elisabeth. We sent the files over to my good friend guitar shredder Stephen Platt who did a guest guitar appearance on one of the tracks, while mastering, mixing and pretty much putting it all together. We were also joined by Hans Menacho on drums who sent us his files from Peru. I was very glad to have him back on board as we worked together for very many years. He is a great drummer.
I wrote all the music, re-wrote a couple of metal classics, did all the rhythm guitar and 99.99999% of the leads and solos, I did all the singing and arranged all the instrumentation supervising session bass players & drummers. I also did 99.9999% of all the backing vocals. I have a very creative mind. The songs are best enjoyed with my lyric book as people will then get a proper impression of how my creativity works. I see the book and the album as a creative “screen shot” of how I used to work and think when I was in my late teens & early twenties.
Metal Archives says that you began in 2008 and with your first demo in 2009. How long have you been playing guitar? Nowadays you live in the United Kingdom, but you are originally from Norway. Did you move to the U.K. for career reasons? Are there more opportunities for you as an artist there than in Norway?
I started to play the guitar in 2005 and signed a management deal with my opera singing/manager-mother in 2008 when we launched me as an artist with 2 demo songs, an animated video I had made myself, my illustrations and an imaginative crazy bio on Myspace, when that was still relevant. We built an online fanbase and relocated to London from Chicago. I had my first shows in the UK, gained my first independent press and recorded a demo EP. The EP funnily enough caught the attention of producers over in L.A. so we relocated there for a year working on artist development. While we were there we solidified my musical identity as a writer, I switched to a 7 string guitar, we created the uniforms, did a proper photoshoot and almost finalised the concept of who I was as an artist, which was cemented in 2011 when we got an organic recording that reflected well on me in terms of sound. I’ve only improved as an artist since then, which I take great pride in. I’m very grateful for the support that I’ve received from my mother. She is amazing.
We have now lived in the UK since 2011 as a family. I’ve lived the majority of my life abroad and consider myself to be an international Norwegian. I think location is a bit irrelevant at this point due to how the music industry has changed. I like Norway, but have lived so many years abroad that I enjoy being in an English-speaking country. I live in the countryside but it only takes me some minutes to get into Cheltenham and a couple of hours to get into London. I’ve grown very fond of living here and become homesick quite easily actually, this doesn’t mean that I’m reluctant to travel, I do what I have to do, but I’m always very happy when I come back home. It’s not exactly ugly where I live. My ideal life situation would be to have a home in the U.S. and the U.K., with a cabin up in the fjord lands of Norway. That’s my dream.
You are probably tired of this question, but I have not read about it yet. Can you tell us a bit about life was for you growing up in Norway? What part of Norway did you grow up in? Was there a lot of music in the house? Were you obsessed with guitars from a young age?!
I was born in Bergen and used to speak the local Bergen dialect, which I’ve sadly lost over the years. I went to the “Old-Bergen" kindergarten and was surrounded by books and music at home. There are old pictures of me dancing around with a self-made “Duplo” microphone. We eventually moved to the Norwegian “farm-land” where I spent a great deal of time running around outside, which I loved. When I was six we officially moved out from Norway to Italy, where I also spent a great deal of time running around in the countryside :) I was a very happy child. I've spent the majority of my life living abroad in various Western countries but came back to Norway during the summer holidays and most Christmases when I was a kid. I also attended Norwegian schools on three separate occasions, but I never moved back. My childhood was a very happy and privileged one. I felt very loved, had everything I needed and experienced a lot that my peers did not. I don’t really have any complaints. I never did until I became a teen and our lives changed dramatically.
I was never interested in guitars. I wanted to be a pop-star and an archeologist as well. Funny enough, I loved catchy pop-music and even started a pop-duo when I was eleven with my best friend. I always loved to dance and danced all the time. My dream was to play drums. I decided to pick up a guitar in 2005 as I needed a songwriting tool and the guitar was convenient. I was never a fan of the instrument. Not even today am I a fan of instrumental guitar shred-music.
Your videos on YouTube show that you have varying interests, from history, like Vikings, and opera vocals. How do you balance all these things with your musical career?! You also have a children’s book? Is that correct?
Yes, in 2014 I published a children’s book that I illustrated and wrote back in 2013 to my younger siblings :) I’ve received opera training since I was in my late teens from my mother, who is an opera singer. She was educated in Italy by an accomplished Italian opera singer called Aida Meneghelli who had the same teacher as Maria Callas. There are videos of Aida on YouTube singing with Placido Domingo! The first time I stood on a stage I was there to turn the sheet music for my mother’s pianist. My mother was and still is a great singer, who received great reviews for her singing. She combined recitals with having a large family. She is a very good vocal coach and has several students over Skype and in real-life.
I personally like to be a complete artist I said above, but I think that the more creative you are the harder it is to keep track of everything. Something always has to be the focus and in my case that has largely been the guitar, so my opera training has dragged out as voice is my second instrument. I love to read, in fact the whole family does. I think my brother is more of a history buff at this point than I am, which is why I made the Viking video with him. There was a request on my FB from people who suggested that they wanted to see that topic addressed in a video blog.
After spending many years and hours with my nose buried in my guitar I’ve tried to come back to the person I used to be, I always had a number of interests but all of this was neglected in order to become a great guitarist. I started to play late and felt that I had to practise more than everybody else. All focus remained concentrated on the dream when I started pursuing music as a career, I’ve tried to bring more balance to my life for a while now as balance is the single most important aspect of all things. I’m also better at looking after myself which was something that I was bad at for many years. I always neglected my own well-being as I was so consumed by my obsession, whether it was songwriting or playing impossible classical pieces on the guitar.
Another project that you have is your blog. Recently you critiqued the anti-Russian propaganda and paranoia. Why do you suppose that Russia, the Kremlin and Putin are so convenient to blame for so many things, including Trump winning the election. Why do the leftists like having someone like Putin to blame when liberals do not get what they want? Clinton lost. “It’s because of Putin!” Well, what about the fact that millions of Americans, including American women, voted for Trump in the states that matter?! Have you noticed that the feminists can’t explain this issue? Millions of women wanted a politician that they saw as a businessman that speaks his mind, like on radical Islam. Do you think that the radical feminists are angry with women who think differently from them?
It’s a very primitive reaction to blame everyone else. Modern liberals seem to be governed by their emotions to the extent that they make decisions that seem generous in the moment without any thoughts about the consequences. This is how people normally act when they are very young, this is how you make mistakes and learn. It becomes a problem though when people never learn and keep on blaming everyone else, which can be commonly seen among militant Marxists and other revolutionaries. They think they are the good guys, which is why they also believe that political violence is alright. There has been a very childish reaction to Trump’s victory, I hope that those celebrities who have threatened to “blow up the white house” or who’ve said that they would like to kill the president get a visit from the authorities.... Blaming everybody else, throwing temper tantrums and encouraging the populace to “fight in the streets" should disqualify anyone from holding any type of public office, especially if they are considered adults.
It’s obvious that there are some who are just born with a “complaining gene.” We are spoilt in our part of the world. I don’t think there’s ever been a point in history where people had it better. There is healthcare for everyone, there is so much food that the poor are obese, everyone has access to some sort of education, pollution levels are much better than they were under the industrial revolution for example, you will not be imprisoned or chemically castrated just because of your sexual orientation, women can get an education, work their way up into the system. You can come from a minority background and become the leader of a nation or go into important government positions in a country that you weren’t even born in. We’ve come as close as we can get to Utopia and should just be happy, but no. Then you get people complaining about trans-gender bath room issues, micro-aggressions, sexist snow-removal and pronouns. There is no end to the stupidity. I believe in equality when it comes to the starting point and opportunity, but it has now been brought to my attention that those who talk about egalitarianism usually advocate equality when it comes to outcome. Which doesn’t make any sense to me.
In terms of Russia, to campaign for the presidency of the USA while constantly blaming Putin, doing everything to piss off Kremlin is very unwise. The fact that all of these peace-loving liberals have been calling for a full-on confrontation with Russia in Syria is equally worrying. Russia might not have the upper hand in terms of boots on the ground, but they do have nukes and it seems like all of Russia’s allies in the Middle East are “enemies” of the West. When you look at the Syria conflict, Eastern European Ukraine and the current trolling from Iran, one has to wonder where this will lead. Peace is what’s best for everyone.
It must be very difficult to lead a nation, trying to protect it while still being on good terms with the international community. There are a lot of bad people out there who wants history to be constantly altered, like the idiot over in Turkey. It is therefore important to tread a bit carefully sometimes.
Duginism for example is an ideology coming out of Russia which actually is very scary. Dugan advocates that the West has to be de-stabilized to strengthen and empower Russia. Duginism wants America to be isolated and refrain from interfering in European matters. Dugan advocates that Russia should side with whichever opposition is most convenient strategically in order to weaken the West. However, neither politicians nor the media ever mentions this and try to make us hate Putin since he doesn’t support gay people for example. We are supposed to hate Russia because Pussy Riot were arrested. So you are evil, I guess, if you don’t support disgusting anarchists and revolutionaries.
The thing about the current West is that cultural Marxism won the peace, if that could be said. We have a society “where anything goes” so if you criticise this you’ll be labeled an evil bigot. Cultural Marxism has attacked all aspects of the creative professions, journalism and the school system. Any institution that affects how people think. So rebellion against everything is promoted as good even if it doesn’t make any sense. Standards are evil, success is evil, family values are evil. Anything that holds a society together is constantly fought against by those that I’ve just started calling “deconstructionists.” They keep on moaning about social constructs, yet they are the worst when it comes to social engineering. Or should I say, failed social engineering. Of course, the West will then blame “Putin the bad guy” for everything and of course they will hate Trump. It matters little what they do, they’ll be hated regardless because they represent masculinity, patriotism and social order. It would be very easy if we could say: "Here is the good guy and here is the bad guy," but life is seldom that simple. You just have to pick a side that you feel will protect your interest in the best possible way.

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