Emilio Crespo (vocals) and Mike Lamb (guitar/songwriting) from the band Sojourner answered some questions about the release of their new EP Perennial, line-up changes and working as an international band.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Sojourner with your own words?
Emilio Crespo (vocals): Hello! I’m Emilio and I’m the vocalist and lyricist for the band. I would describe us as an Atmospheric Metal band. Under the atmospheric umbrella you’ll find Melo Death, Black Metal, Doom Metal and all these other genres that we bring to our sound. It seems dumb to have 30000 tags so Atmospheric Metal sums it up nicely, I think.
Mike Lamb (guitar/songwriting): I’m Mike Lamb, the primary musician and songwriter of the band, thanks for having us!
The band just released Perennial, a new two-song EP. How do you feel about that? What about feedbacks?
Emilio: We feel fantastic about it all. We were super excited about these songs and couldn’t wait for everyone to listen to them! The press has also been super accepting of the new members and the EP so all in all, we’re very satisfied.
We all know Sojourner had to face line-up changes, first the departure of Chloe Bray, then Mike Wilson. How did you deal with their decision? How did you look for other musicians to replace them?
Emilio: You pick up the pieces and you move on. Slowing down was never an option for us so we held some auditions and Tom and Lucy were the ideal choices for us. We did think it would take longer to get new people but it was actually quite quick.
Newcomers are Lucia Amelia Emmanueli, Tom O’Dell and Scotty Lodge (even if he played live alongside you since a while). What made you think “yes they are the ones we need”?
Emilio: When we heard Lucy’s voice we just knew that she was the one. Her broad range and dynamics fit our sound so well and we knew that she could also do the old songs justice and even do more than we could before.
Mike: Tom was a logical fit, we’ve known him for a long time and it would be nice to have a secondary writer in the band to contribute some ideas for the next album. He held auditions like everyone else, but what he brought to the table in terms of his singing ability and the fact that I think he’ll fit in songwriting-wise made us all realise he was the person for the job. Scotty, naturally, has been in the band since 2018, so we love the guy.
Perennial, the new EP, has two songs. How did you compose them? What led you to write a song which is similar to your very first song?
Mike: Both tracks were to give a sense of familiarity, a bit of a throwback to Empires of Ash, as a means to calm the waters and remind everyone that had concerns that the band hasn’t really changed in any appreciable sense other than gaining two fantastic new vocal additions. Relics of the Natural Realm is the B-side to the EP for a reason, as it’s basically just a recontextualisation and reinterpretation of the song Heritage of the Natural Realm as a way to introduce our fans to Lucy and Tom vocally in a setting that anyone that already knew us would be very familiar and comfortable with. It was an easing of tensions and soothing of expectations, I guess you could say. The song Perennial was more of a statement of Sojourner’s old-meets-new approach going forward, reclaiming the sound that we started with while incorporating everything that has come since.
On every song you created, there is an amazing blending between Black Metal’s raw violence coupled with screams and Folk influences, ambient quietness and clean vocals, how do you manage to create such a balance?
Mike: It’s just how I naturally tend to write things and always has been, so it’s hard to explain exactly…but I really love the juxtaposition of beauty and atmospheric ambience against moments of sonic violence. There’s something about extreme dynamism that I find really appealing to my personal tastes, so it comes out in the music I write! Emilio is a master of his particular blend of extreme Metal vocal styles, and Lucy adds the missing piece with cleans that are versatile enough to incorporate into the songs in greater amounts than we ever have before. Tom’s ability to produce those beautiful, choir-esque vocal interludes lets us play with a palette that we never had before this newest lineup, so I’m very excited about the future and what we can do.
At the beginning of 2020, Covid-19 fucked a lot of things up in the world, how did you deal with the situation as a band? Did the pandemic had any impact on the EP?
Emilio: We all still work for a living so it didn’t impact us that hard. It was more the disappointment of seeing our shows fall like dominos that was the worst part. When we do get back onstage we have to promote two releases instead of one so that’ll be fun!
Mike: Thankfully Covid didn’t affect the EP’s production, I did everything except the three vocalist’s parts in my home studio so we managed to keep things rolling despite everything.
The band recently signed with Napalm Records, how is the collaboration with this label?
Emilio: We’ve been with Napalm Records since the end of 2018 and it’s been killer so far. On a personal level, Napalm Records was a dream so I’m definitely happy about it. Also, our team at the label are just a cool bunch of people. We get along with them well and they actually care about the band so that’s a plus.
Maybe you already have plans for the future? Have you already begun to compose new material for a next release? If yes, what can you tell us about this new stuff?
Mike: We’ve slowly begun work on new material, but it’s still a while off. I’ve been quite busy with some other ventures which impact my life a little more directly as I’m currently between countries and visa situations, but Tom and I have begun poking at some early ideas. If Perennial could be viewed as a bit of a reset to our roots as a band, the next album will be a progression of that sound, with the added flavor of what Tom will bring to the table, which will be interesting to hear.
Sojourner is an international band, is it easy to compose remotely?
Mike: Thankfully it is, the bulk of the composition is done by myself at my studio, and Emilio works on vocal and lyrics ideas at his studio. As I mentioned, Tom and I have been working on some very loose ideas for the future album but it’s been smooth-sailing so far!
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Emilio: Not sure I can answer this one without sounding douchey… but I’ll try. I think what I like is that we have developed a sound that you can’t find in many bands that we share the “genre” with. When you hear us, you know it’s us. To stand out amongst the sea of bands has always been a goal for me and I think that’s what keeps my drive and excitement for the band at a high level on a constant basis.
Mike: That’s a difficult question haha it doesn’t really work that way when it’s your own music, you have a totally different relationship with what you write vs how you feel as a fan of a band. I think just that fact that the band’s output is something that I can confidently stand behind and say is a 98% pure distillation of my vision of what I wanted it to be from the start, and bar a few things here and there, I’m totally happy with it.
What is your best and your worst experience as a musician ever?
Emilio: Best – starting Sojourner with Mike. Worst – my first couple bands haha!
Mike: Best – starting Sojourner with Emilio and watching this thing we’ve so carefully poured ourselves into grow to be received in ways we never could have imagined. Worst – having catastrophic guitar tech issues during our debut show at North of the Wall in Glasgow while being able to hear absolutely no definition through the foldback monitors, so I had no idea how bad it was until it was too late.
Maybe you already heard about the french Metal scene? Which french bands do you know?
Emilio: To be honest, the past few years I haven’t delved too much into bands and have probably forgotten some I used to listen to back then… but the new album that the band Seth put out recently is ridiculously awesome.
Mike: Yeah definitely, I’m a huge fan of Alcest, Les Discrets, Angellore, Year of No Light, Gojira, The Old Dead Tree… there are far too many, the French scene is fantastic.
How did you discover Metal music back in time? What about Folk Metal?
Emilio: Nu-Metal was my gateway, as I’m sure it was for many others around our age. But you naturally progress and find more and Folk Metal was one of those. I think around 2005 I started to listen to more underground or extreme styles of Metal.
Mike: All the classic ways with an older brother showing me Metallica, Megadeth etc… then through the usual avenues of Nu-Metal etc., before really hitting on the chords that struck deepest with me when I found Agalloch, Tristania, Theater of Tragedy, My Dying Bride and bands like that.
Do you remember the first time you played an instrument? When and how was it?
Mike: Yeah, I remember picking up the guitar to begin with…it was around 20 years ago now haha and I was just as terrible as everyone else learning. Learning your first instrument is a pain in the ass and seems impossible, but after you get good at one instrument the learning curve of tackling the next one, which for me was the piano after I had become good at guitar, was a lot easier. You can transfer a lot of the skills and theoretical side of it easily.
Do you have hobbies aside from music? Do you also have a job, or does your music income allow you to live?
Emilio: I love to game, exercise and explore nature. I still work for a living still but maybe one day I’ll be able to live off of music but you never know… it’s a tough thing to do.
Mike: I love writing music and have several projects, so that’s my main passion, but I love reading, games, and just spending time with my partner. I work as a Producer at a games publishing company in Sweden, and while I don’t make enough to live off with music, I think I’d always want to have the balance of a job and music simply because I love my job as well haha but if I didn’t work in games, I’d probably try to make a career out of music and music production.
What if I ask you to compare Sojourner’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Emilio: You’re really trying to give me a brain hemorrhage with this one haha. I honestly don’t know. Anything that has a lot of ingredients but work together perfectly and tastes fucking good!
Mike: Pizza. There’s a lot of shit going on there, but somehow it all works because it’s held together by cheese.
I saw you twice on stage, first in Paris during the tour with Draconian and Harakiri for the Sky in 2019, then after at Cernunnos Pagan Fest in 2020 in France, do you have special memories from those shows? How do you feel when you’re on stage?
Emilio: Ah man, thanks for coming out to the shows! I do have special memories from both. As a fan of art and history, it was mind blowing for me to think that we were playing a show not only in Paris but on the fucking river Seine! I loved that show so much and can’t wait to be back. Cernunnos was also awesome cause the atmosphere of the festival was so cool and of course it was nice to play on the main stage and have the entire room packed.
Mike: Oh awesome! Both shows were really special, playing to a sold-out crowd almost every night on that Draconian and Harakiri tour was so special…and Cernunnos was just amazing, I’m so glad we got to experience that right before Covid ground it all to a halt.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Sojourner and three other bands!
Emilio: Katatonia, Unleash the Archers and Shadow of Intent. All three are very different from us but hey, a guy can dream can’t he?
Mike: Katatonia, Unleash the Archers, Be’lakor, Insomnium, Sleep Token, Loathe… honestly though, I’d be more than happy just repeating the Draconian and Harakiri tour, that tour package seemed to go down really well and a lot of fans of both of those bands actually ended up liking us which was a pleasant surprise.
That was the last question for me! Thanks a lot for your time, last words are yours!
Emilio: Thanks so much for taking the time! A special thank you to everyone who’s supported us throughout the years and we hope to see you all on the road very soon!
Mike: Thanks for taking the time and take care! Talk again soon!