Saturday, October 8, 2011

Omit: The Interview

 Kjetil Ottersen, one of the minds behind melodic doom monster Omit, was kind enough to give us some insight into the band, the album, "Repose," and his current music choices. Check it out, and make sure to check out the album. It can, and will, redefine "doom."

First and foremost, we wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions. We, and our readers, greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for your interest in Omit! It will be my pleasure to answer your questions.
What is the story behind the name "Omit"? As a band, what led you to choose that name to represent you?
We wanted the name to be concise and communicative in terms of our musical expression, yet somewhat subtle at the same time.

Your style is succinctly described as "Melodic doom metal," but it goes so much deeper than that. How did you come together and create this musical direction?

Cecilie and I first worked together as members of Fallen (Norwegian doom metal act). By the time we left that project, we both had come up with extensive material which we felt necessary to take with us and channel into a self-contained framework. Omit became that framework, involving a completely different environment and musical scope. This was largely due to the participation of Tom Simonsen, who took great interest in the material and introduced to the mix a refreshing and experimental compositional approach. Technically, you could say that our musical direction is characterized by a mixture of diatonic and pandiatonic elements; function versus non-function, with the former brought in primarily by Cecilie and me, and the latter primarily by Tom.     

Who were some of your influences, both as a budding musician, and as a band?

Personally, I have always regarded Queen as my primary source of inspiration. I do not know about the other guys, though. As a band, there is no direct inspiration, to be honest.

You have all been in other bands. What has your experience in Omit been like, when compared to past experiences?

I think we can all agree that the keyword is professionalism. Each member knows his/her role and does it justice. This goes for administration and other extra-musical matters as well. I have never been involved in such a well-organized band relationship before.

What is the writing and recording process like for Omit? Where does each band member fit into the timeline?

Seeing as we have only done one album as Omit so far, I will refer to the process behind ‘Repose’.

 It all started out with the bulk of the album’s orchestral, piano and acoustic/clean guitar themes which I had written and recorded prior to Omit’s inception, coupled with sketches and near-finished vocal melodies and harmonies by Cecilie. Some rudimentary drum patterns also existed at the time. Figuratively speaking, all of these components would work as sporadic nodes between which Tom provided the interconnecting lines in the form of either entirely new or supplementary guitar riffs, additional instrumentation, and song arrangement; a somewhat unorthodox approach, but nonetheless intriguing. Drums were subsequently perfected by Tom, and Cecilie ultimately finalized the remaining vocal parts. Apart from a few exceptions, this was the main songwriting methodology. Whether we will pursue a similar one in the future is yet to be decided.

The lyrics for ‘Constriction’, ‘Dissolve’, and ‘Insolence’ were penned by Tom, ‘Fatigue’ by my former Funeral (Norwegian doom metal act) colleague, the late Einar AndrĂ© Fredriksen, and ‘Scars’ by me. The use of Einar’s work is with his family’s blessing as the legatees of his intellectual property.

Lastly, the recording sessions occurred at different points in time at different studios between 2006 and 2010. I did the preliminary engineering, Tom did the main engineering and mixing work, and we joined up for the mastering. The originally programmed string parts were transcribed to sheet and re-recorded by violinist Mira Ursic and cellist Rosamund Brown.

We hesitate to use the word "epic" to describe a band or album, but the word fits "Repose" so well. Tell us a little about the challenges of making an album this long, this grand in scope, without things getting stale.

I hold that the challenges are generally about making each song inherently progressive; that the sum of form and substance yields a momentum that makes the piece commence, mature and terminate in a sinuous fashion, regardless of its duration. It is fairly comparable to writing a sentence: A weak syntax will make the sentence fall apart and cease to communicate, but if carefully built, the sentence can go on for quite a while without losing its significance. In my personal opinion, this is a universal rule when it comes to writing popular music in particular, and I argue that it is highly relevant to serious music and folk music as well. I know too many cases where songs have been created by throwing parts together randomly and repeating them three-four times; a rather insipid formula that shines through in the end.

The album features a lot of rich instrumentation, ranging from the traditional bass, drums, vocal to the inspired use of real strings. What inspired you, as a band, to go beyond the norm and create a deeper sound?

I believe this is because we all perceive doom metal as particularly suited for uniting the three musicological distinctions and their typical instruments, i.e. serious music (commonly generalized as “classical music”), folk music and popular music. On ‘Repose’, all three distinctions are present, although folk music only slightly.

I would be crazy not to mention Cecilie Langlie's stunning vocals. They are powerful, yet so delicate and gloomy. What is it like to work with a vocalist with her talents?

The immediate answer to that question is “comfortable”. I feel very comfortable collaborating with Cecilie in a doom metal context because this music is her specialty. I have worked with several trained and untrained vocalists, and Cecilie stands out as one of those most cognizant of their own musical habitat, so to speak. What is more, she is a markedly able vocal composer; a skill which definitely contributes to flattering results considering that she decides exactly what to sing and how to sing it.   

As I am sure you have seen, the feedback in the online community seems to have been widely positive. How does it feel to see positive reviews from all corners of the globe?

Very humbling.

As a metal musician, what do you find yourself listening to in your spare time? What bands or albums have consumed your time lately?

I do not see myself as a full-blood metal musician, really, and I know that I can speak for everyone in Omit in this regard. True, I am and have been occupied with metal bands and projects, but that is only a portion of my musical activities; it is simply the metal music affairs of mine that have been officially released, and once a project goes public it quickly defines you as a musician. If anything, my background is mainly classical, i.e. trained pianist, guitarist and vocalist.

I listen to a variety of styles, e.g. progressive rock, industrial, trip hop, noise music, post-metal, synthpop, early Renaissance music, and impressionist music, to name a few. Moreover, I take music listening very seriously as a devoted audiophile, meaning that I consider sound quality and musical quality as equally important. Audio is basically the vehicle through which musical content is conveyed, and if the sound quality is mediocre, the music will not be properly articulated. Therefore, the combination of a fine-tuned listening room, a solid stereo system, and a good-sounding album is imperative. Unfortunately, in these times of ongoing loudness war idiocy, the last criterion is becoming increasingly rare.

Anyway, in the recent months ‘Mezzanine’ by Massive Attack, ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ by Sting, ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ by Cocteau Twins, ‘Violator’ by Depeche Mode, and ‘Lateralus’ by Tool come to mind.  

Are there any plans to take this album out on the road for extensive touring? If so, where would you want to play, and what bands would you hope to share a stage with?

No touring plans, I am afraid. If we were to do anything live in the course of this album cycle, it would be as single events with thorough live pre-productions somewhere in the Oslo-area.

Lastly, what are the plans for the future of Omit? Any thought put toward your next release?

We will eventually begin the writing process for our sophomore album, which is probably taking a more neo-classical turn. We shall see.

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