Six Dumb Questions with Vokonis

vokonis

On May 13, Swedish riffbringers Vokonis will issue their new single as a herald for the June 9 arrival of their second album, The Sunken Djinn, via Ripple Music. That June release puts The Sunken Djinn at about 13 months after Vokonis‘ first full-length, Olde One Ascending (review here), came out on Ozium Records as one of the best debut offerings and best albums of the year. Such a quick turnaround can be a tricky proposition in terms of one record being too informed by its predecessor or listeners not being ready yet to embrace a new collection, but this is something that Vokonis have subverted through palpable, willful sonic growth.

Comprised now of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, the three-piece began life as Creedsmen Arise, putting out a demo, Temple (review here), in 2015. When they brought in Johansson to take on the bassist role, they became a different band, and as they move into The Sunken Djinn, they’re clearly engaging in the work of finding out and conveying the band they want to be. In the meantime, a formidable response for Olde One Ascending led to their signing with Ripple and has placed marked fan expectations on what their second record will be. Hazards of the trade.

Listeners who took on the prior offering will be glad to know, however, that Vokonis‘ propensity for crash and nod, heft and groove remains intact throughout these seven tracks. The key difference is a tightness of delivery, an efficiency of purpose, that makes a song like sub-five-minute centerpiece “Blood Vortex” swing as much as it lumbers, and gives the airier vibe of “Calling from the Core” and the noise-wash finale experiment of “Maelstroem” their proper breadth amid an onslaught of chugging, dense tonality. Ohlsson was kind enough to discuss some of the shifts Vokonis has undergone to get to where they are, and you’ll find the Q&A below.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

vokonis the sunken djinn

Six Dumb Questions with Vokonis

Tell me about writing The Sunken Djinn. Was there anything in particular you wanted to accomplish coming off of Olde One Ascending? The songs are shorter this time around. Something done purposefully, or just the direction the writing took?

We took some time listening to Olde One Ascending after its release and tried to summarize what concepts we wanted to bring forward and use in our progression and what concepts we felt we where done with.

Some of those concepts that we left behind were the ”rock” elements we had. We felt that we didn’t really have anything to add in that direction. So we went with shorter, more direct songs.

In conclusion I would say that it was both done on purpose and that it just happened. We tried to be conscious about certain stuff regarding the songwriting process like structures and the length of the songs more on this album, but at the saMe time, what happens happens. So the general sound was just a natural progression.

How did “Blood Vortex” come together? What went into the decision to make it the centerpiece of the album?

It was actually the first song we wrote after we had recorded Olde One Ascending. It’s probably one of those songs that have had maybe three or four iterations before we settled on the form it is on the record. We felt that we wanted to convey to people that we want to do new things. That we won’t release the same kind of album three times in a row. And I think it’s a kickass song!

It seems like Vokonis have built considerable momentum since the name change from Creedsmen Arise. What do you think has allowed you to garner such a response? How much is your audience a factor when you put together songs?

Yes, it does feel like that. And we are happy with the change. It was very well needed for all of us. A clean break and a fresh start. I don’t really have an answer to that other than I hope people understand that we are very grateful to everyone following us and to everyone enjoying our music. It feels like a blessing and we want to make the most of it.

And I think that ties in with how we put together songs. We kinda owe it to the audience to be the best we can be in terms of writing, performing or even our online content. So the audience factors in not in what direction we want to go rather than we try to push ourselves above and beyond for them.

How do you feel the band has developed since Jonte joined? How has the dynamic developed between you, him and Emil over the last couple years? I can hear you on this album beginning to move past your influences and really find your identity as a band. What do you hear when you listen to The Sunken Djinn?

Jonte acts as the glue of the band. He’s a lot older than me and Emil. So he has a lot of wisdom we simply do not have yet. It has definitely caused us to grow closer as a group.

That translates to us knowing exactly where we are musically with each other. Even if we’re listening to a lot of different stuff we know what we want to do with Vokonis.

That’s assuring to hear. To me, Olde One Ascending is a record I am very proud of. It gave us a lot of insight of what it’s like to make a whole album, so we tried to capitalize on that and have The Sunken Djinn become a lot more ”us,” if that makes sense. So when I listen to it, I get this feeling of how much we’ve progressed and how we are able to realize our goals in terms of songwriting.

Tell me about your time in the studio for this album. How long did the recording process take? When were you in, and how do you feel about the tones you were able to capture, and how on earth did “Maelstroem” come about?

We were in Studio Underjord, a really cool studio in Norrköping, Sweden, with a guy called Joona Hassinen. He really brought the best out of us. And we had this enormous live-room to track in. So drums, bass and guitars all have this gorgeous natural reverb.

Recording took about four or five days. It was an extremely pleasant experience for us. We wanted this fat, modern production that I think we managed to get. And that’s just something I’m very proud of. Us being able to record that fast makes you understand how much we’ve grown individually and as a group. I have much more control over my voice now. So I had no problems doing all of the vocals in maybe a third of the time it took to record for OOA.

I should mention that like last time around, this album is a concept album. It deals with the themes of escape and search for something better. I won’t go into detail, But the lyrical content is much closer to my heart this time. And ”Maelstroem” ties in to that. It acts as the aftermath of a certain disaster occurring to the main subject of the album.

Any tours in the works, closing words or other plans you want to mention?

Tours are in the works, but the only shows that are confirmed at this rate is two awesome festivals both located in forests actually, though they’re in different countries. Electric Meadow north of Lviv, Ukraine and Krökbacken festival in Leksand, Sweden.

Thank you so much for having us. It was a pleasure.

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