Hot off the Press

Carmen Elise Espenaes of SAVN

by Craig Newman
– Columnist —

Norwegian symphonic rock group SAVN have just released a new, eleven-track self-titled studio album. The band was founded by The Sins Of Thy Beloved members Stig Johansen and Anders Thue. Stig Johansen asked Carmen Elise Espenæs to write some songs which morphed into SAVN (the name means deprivation.) Carmen Elise Espenæs talks about the band and their new studio album in this exclusive interview.

Carmen Elise Espenaes of SAVN

CN: Hi Carmen, thanks for your time to answer some questions and talk about the new group and album. While Midnattsol is inactive for various reasons and it gave you time recharge and were you inquiring on other music projects when Stig contacted you to sing one song?

CEE: Thanx to you too Craig!
No, not at all, it didn`t cross my mind that I wanted to play in another band. Everyone in Midnattsol is working on a full time basis, so we need a while before we have written a new album. In the last years many things have happened in Midnattsol, also regarding our private lives, so then the song writing process for the fourth album has lasted longer than the other ones. Still, we are motivated to give out a new album and many ideas have been made.
When Stig called and showed me the first songs of SAVN, I was really blown away, it was so beautiful, I just had to say yes! I didn`t expect it, because I thought it would be more like a copy of The Sins of Thy Beloved, but this was like a fresh new wind, and still it contained many of the elements that I adored from The Sins of Thy Beloved. I was about to give birth to my daughter at that time, but as soon as I came home from the hospital, I wrote the refrain like out of the blue and a couple of weeks later I recorded it in studio.

CN: What dose SAVN mean?

CEE: It`s not that easy to translate it in a perfect way, but mainly it means deprivation. Longing is also part of the meaning. After years of silence at the music front with his former band The Sins of Thy Beloved, Stig felt a kind of deprivation of music. He didn`t feel like himself anymore and needed to start a new musical chapter in his life. That`s the reason why he decided to ground a band called SAVN. When I first heard the band name SAVN, I felt inspired at once and thought about the great deprivation in my life at that time, and what role it plays in Anders’ and Stig`s and other people`s lives. It was a very interesting process, and it became clear that our first album should be self-titled and treat the theme deprivation. Each song stands for itself and treats an issue, but at the same time they are all connected with each other. Every song is about a kind of deprivation, longing or loss, and all the songs are about feelings, thoughts and experiences of the band members have or had, so it`s a very personal album. I think many of the listeners can relate to the songs in one way or another, and I hope that the little hidden messages in between will shine through …

CN: There were songs being worked on when you decided to form this group?

CEE: Yes, Stig started the songwriting process some years ago with his basic guitar ideas, so when I got involved, a few songs were already made. I was allowed to make some changes though, and the three of us started rewriting every song and wrote new ones. I think we inspired each other to let out the best of us.

CN: What is the sound of the album?

CEE: It contains a good portion metal and rock, with elements of Goth and Folk in between. Beautiful melodies from string instruments and piano are often to be heard, and it contains a lot of melancholy. There are many guest musicians, which make variation on the album. I think fans from different music areas will enjoy our songs, because we have got feedback from different kind of people that they like SAVN, that`s so cool!

CN: To me Goth is about looks where the music sound mixes orchestra with rock. What are your influences when writing the words to the music?

CEE: A big inspiration source when writing lyrics, is the pure and mystic Nordic nature, the effect that the nature has on me is magical. I have a beautiful forest in the nearby and love to go for a walk there. Sometimes words just come into my mind along with the melody, like in the shower while singing, while other times I sit down in my living room, light candles, listen to music, drink a glass of red wine and get creative  Personal experiences of the band members related to the theme deprivation were as mentioned the main inspiration for the lyrics of this album.

SAVN CDCN: On this album is your first time singing with your sister Liv of Leaves’ Eyes? Ever sang together in the studio or on stage?

CEE: I have sung several times on Liv`s albums (for Leaves Eyes), like on the songs “Into the light”- Lovelorn (2004), “Irish Rain”- At Heavens End (2010), “Sigrlinn”- Meredead (2011) and “Eileen’s Ardency”- Symphonies of the Night (2013). We also had the great chance to tour together with Midnattsol and Leaves Eyes promoting our new releases in 2011. I sang together with Liv on two of their songs, so we shared stage together. It was amazing, I will never forget it, it was a memory for life! But Liv had never sung on one of my albums before, so it`s of course very special to me that we sing together on “I Am Free,” it means a lot to me. We had talked about it earlier that it could be fun to finally have her voice on one of my records, and now it finally happened. We`re forever grateful for the fantastic job Liv did!

CN: Would you and Liv want to sing together on albums and on stage? Would you join her for Leave’s Eyes shows or if she does more solo projects and shows?

CEE: Yes, we would love to, I`m sure it will happen in the future! We are not only sisters, but have always felt like real soul mates and supported each other in every way, so It would be my pleasure to join her on both shows and albums  Our voices fit so well together I think, and the songs we have sung together are very close to my heart. Many people have said that “I Am Free” is their favorite on our new album, hope you guys out there like it as well!

CN: Also Michelle from End of Green is a guest vocalist. What song dose she sing with you?

CEE: “The Demons In Me. I am a big fan of End of Green, and Michelle`s voice is so emotional and fit perfect to the song. It was a huge honor for me that Michelle actually wanted to contribute, we`re so grateful for it! The result was just magical and so beautiful, I got goosebumps the first time I heard the duet in the end of the song. It was over all expectations!

CN: Will there be another SAVN album?

CEE: Yes that is our goal, we have already started writing new songs. The reviews and feedback have been so overwhelming and so much better than expected, and that motivates us even more to write new songs. In this place we have to say thank you so much for the support!

CN: Maybe plans to tour the US, Latin America and Asia? If so what bands you might tour with and possible Leaves’ Eyes?

CEE: We would love to tour around the world and meet our fans face to face, but first we have to wait and see how the fans like our new album. The first step is to spread the news about SAVN and promote the album and release our first music video. So far we’ve got overwhelming response, so it looks promising. Hope to meet you one day on the road!

CN: Also there’s music cruises in Europe and Florida. Examples like Monster of Rock Cruise and 70 tons of Metal are gaining more popular … would you like to do these?

CEE: Oh that would be awesome, one of our dreams for the future! I’ve seen lot of pics from it, it looks like huge fun and a once in a lifetime experience.

CN: What I have heard of the album and I like it very much and the quality of the music and your vocals. And others who like this music will like it too. What would you like to say to the fans for this new album and what to expect or not at your shows this year?

CEE: We hope that our fans in the USA will like the album, and that our new songs will give them something special! Stay tuned on our homepage and our FB-site, where we keep you informed! If you want to pre-listen to our songs, go to Soundcloud or watch our trailer on YouTube We have brand new t-shirts for you, so check out our merchandise on Rock on!

CN: Thanks Carmen for your time and answering the questions.

CEE: Thank YOU Craig, it was a pleasure, wish you all the best further in life!

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