Some time ago Swedish atmospheric post metal formation Khoma released an album full of re-recorded songs, entitled “All Erodes”. ThisIsNotAScene caught up with vocalist Jan Jämte who was more than willing to share his insights on this remarkable album. He spoke candidly about the selection and polishing process, the hardships of being in a band, Khoma’s past and their future.
All Erodes comprises of leftover songs from previous recording sessions. When did you decide to finally release those songs?
We’ve done three albums so far and every time we ended up with songs that didn’t make the cut, because they didn’t fit the flow or the general mood of that specific album. We felt very strongly about those songs, so we decided to shelve them for later use. By the time we started to think about recording a fourth album we realised we had so much material lying around and this would be fun to revisit. We wanted to make it more of a special and limited release to give something back to all the great people that make our fanbase.
What was it like for you, personally, revisiting those older songs again?
It was a fun experience and sometimes I was quite surprised how well some of the songs had aged. I was still able to relate to those songs, despite all the different directions and moods of the material. It was surprisingly easy for us to put them all in a cohesive musical frame, certainly when you realise some of the material was written more than ten years ago. It was a really compelling experience.
Was there a lot of restructuring involved in order to make all the songs fit the overall flow of the album?
For some tracks, yes, although that depended from case to case. Some songs only needed to be remastered to make them sound fresh again. Other songs needed to be remixed and with others we altered the arrangements to improve the overall coherence and quality.
Another aspect about Khoma is the fact that you guys pay of a lot of attention to the artwork. Do you think there’s still room for elaborate packaging and presentation in this day and age of (illegal) downloading and MP3s?
I certainly hope so. Despite all the changes lately in the music industry we still believe in the traditional album format, which also includes elaborate packaging and artwork. We want to give our fans the best product we can deliver; our fans know and appreciate that. As with ‘All Erodes’ we wanted to give our listeners something more than just a batch of re-recorded tracks, hence the elaborate artwork. We want to convey a certain set of emotions with our music and our visuals. There’s a deeper meaning that connects the music and the artwork together. We want to provide our listeners with food for thought and provide stimulation for all the senses.
On the Khoma website ‘All Erodes’ is presented as a closure for a certain era in the band history. What does the next chapter hold for the band?
Khoma has grown from a three piece to a six piece band. In the past the core of the band was formed by me, Johannes (Persson – guitars) and Fredrik (Kihlberg – vocals/piano) and we wrote and recorded our music with some friends, but they were never a part of the band. This time around we decided to operate more as a proper band by adding three new members. This will enable us to explore new musical territories. They have been a part of the Khoma live band for quite some time and this time we decided to let them be a part of the creative process as well. They’ve given the band new energy and vitality, so good times ahead!
Are you guys working on new material?
Yes, we’ve already started working on new material, but inviting new people to the creative process and letting them fit in takes time. It’s literally a process, because people need to find their groove and we have to establish a new working method. Me, Fredrik and Johannes know each other from the inside out and we’re all strong minded people, so writing material between the three of us is quite frustrating at times, let alone having three new people in. Their arrival changed the whole group dynamic, so like I said before it takes time to make it all float.
Aren’t you afraid this may complicate or stall the creative process even more, because you have to take six opinions into account instead of three?
Haha, perhaps, but with six people aboard we have more directions we can choose from, so this will prevent us from ending up in a creative deadlock!
Many members of Khoma are active in other bands as well. Cult of Luna is arguably the most well-known of them. They’ll have a new record out soon, will this curtail any touring possibilities?
The funny thing is that Khoma actually started out as side project away from Cult of Luna and over time it grew substantially in popularity and significance, so it became its own entity. By 2005, Khoma became just as important as any of the other bands we’re active in. This means we have to plan our live activites more carefully. This means that this year will be for Cult of Luna and the next one for Khoma. With Cult of Luna having a new record out soon this will mean that there won’t be much activity on the Khoma live front. However, both bands will be touring together on in the spring. For the rest, we’ll have to see how things will develop.
The last few years Khoma has been almost exclusively in Scandinavia. Do you guys have any plans to tour in the rest of Europe as well when the Cult of Luna tour is done?
We certainly want to do that when the next Khoma record is out. We actually had a tour through Europe planned, but because of several reasons we had to cancel that. We are really looking forward to doing an extensive tour through Europe, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that with the next album. One of the reasons why we haven’t toured much in Europe is because at the time we were signed to Roadrunner Records and after some time the people who signed us and worked with us got replaced and after that our working relationship with RR turned sour and that caused some friction within the band as well. The fun of actually playing together got lost in the process. So with the release of the follow up album we decided to do things on our terms to preserve the fun and joy of playing and creating music together.
Khoma also received some prestigious music awards and you guys participated on the soundtrack of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Which of those accolades means the most to you personally?
Difficult question; Khoma has received quite some praise of what we’ve been doing and we’re really grateful for that. The biggest prize for me is the privilege of making music together with these guys and the fact that the band is still together after so many years. Making the ‘Final Storm’ album was a very frustrating process and Fredrik was completely fed up with Khoma, he literally walked out the door, slamming it shut. Despite it only being released in Scandinavia it did really well and it gave us the chance to reflect and congratulate ourselves because we actually survived all this shit and came out on top of things. Surviving that ordeal was really good for us.
Finally, Khoma will play the Pelagic Fest in Berlin in May this year. What are your expectations?
I’m really looking forward to that! It will be held in Dead Set in Berlin; I love that city. We’ll be playing alongside Cult f Luna, The Ocean and some other great bands. It’s organised by the same people that did Friction Fest and we always enjoyed playing there. Like I mentioned before, we were planning to tour in December, but that got cancelled. Receiving an invite to play the Pelagic Fest was a nice surprise. We’re going to rock their socks off!