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With their debut Repose, Omit have released one of the most convincing Doom albums in 2011. Their combination of extremely slow, emotional Doom Metal, symphonic elements and excellent female vocals serves well to revive the Norwegian Doom scene. Singer Cecilie Langlie took the time to introduce the band more closely and answer some questions.

Interview with Omit.
1. How did the present line-up of Omit come together?

Kjetil Ottersen and me made a lot of music when we both were a part of the band Fallen. This music never got to be released. After we quit Fallen we always felt that this music deserved to be recorded and heard. This is where the idea to start Omit came from. But we were in need of more members for the band, and this is where Tom Simonsen came into the picture. We had just been collaborating on the Vagrant God album, and it felt more than natural to ask him to join the ranks of Omit. The music that Kjetil and me wrote as members of Fallen were not entire songs, just parts, melodies and string arrangements. Tom then did a great job of peacing it together and adding his own work.

2. What’s the idea behind the band’s name?

We were looking for a band name that is short, easy to remember and fits our musical expression. "Omit" means "to leave out" or "fail to mention" and for us "Omit" represents the emotions and atmosphere that we want to express through our music.

3. As far as I am informed, it took a good while until Repose was finally released in this form. Did you take your time to perfect the recordings and do you think they benefited from that?

We spent many months trying to land a deal with various record labels. While we were wasting our time reading contracts, we figured that we might as well go back into our studio and do some things that we never got the time to do, but always wanted to. This included recording real strings, improving the sound of the drums and doing a complete remix and remaster. We feel that the Repose album sounds a lot better thanks to these changes.

4. The compositions themselves must have been written a while back. Did you already compose anything new in the course of that timespan or did you completely concentrate on finishing and releasing Repose first?

We have already started composing new material for Omit. Since it took us a little while to get a record deal, we had time to start recording new material while waiting for the right label to show up.

5. So how and why did you end up founding your own label Secret Quarters instead? Did the search for a suitable offer become too much of a nuisance?

The record deals the record industry is offering today are impossible to accept. They want to own your name, all music you ever make, and all rights to everything you ever do, and if you are lucky you get 50 copies of the printed CD as payment. We do not expect to earn much money from the kind of music we make, but to sell your own name for 50 copies of a CD are not acceptable terms. We also need our freedom as musicians, and if we want to make pop or rap music we would like to be able to do just that without a label telling us what we can or cannot do.
We established Secret Quarters to get away from all “evil” contracts. We felt that we were wasting lots of time reading contracts and negotiating terms to no avail. We know it takes a lot more work to run a label, and that we might need some time to become good at promoting ourselves. But it is worth all the work when you know that you are in total control of the rights to your own music and your own name.

6. What inspires you – both musically and personally – to create this particular brand of music? It can hardly be a self-evident choice for talented musicians to dive into the realm of bleak, depressive music this deeply.

To me Doom Metal is very beautiful music. I don’t really consider it bleak and depressive. I always feel joy when listening to or creating melodies or harmonies of this sort. I get inspired to make music by the music itself, a certain harmony, a certain chord, a certain melody or a certain atmosphere or sound.

7. Considering the classical hints in the vocals as well as the consistent, if not predominant use of classical instruments – how closely connected do you feel to classical music, how important is it to you?

All of the members of Omit have classical training in our respective instruments and we all draw great inspiration from great composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók and Edgar Varèse to name a few. When it comes to the vocals I absolutely get inspired by going to concerts and listening to classical music, as well as any other type of music.

8. Among these other types of music, are there any in particular which inspire your own songwriting, singing style etc.?

Not really. I get inspired by good music, and good music comes in many forms. But I can mention folk music, classical music and Metal as my main inspiring genres.

9. Few bands in the Doom underground use classical instruments, and to some degree, this may be due to the very limited budget most of them have. Was it hard for you to get the guest musicians involved?

We are very lucky to know some very talented musicians from “Den norske musikkhøgskolen” in Oslo. So it was not that hard to get the guest musicians involved. We owe a great thanks to Mira Ursic (violin) and Rosamund Brown (cello) for adding that little extra touch to our sound.

10. Many people, especially within the more extreme fields of Metal, tend to have an ostentatious aversion against Metal/Rock with (especially classically tinged) female vocals as a matter of principle. How do you feel about this, being affected by it yourselves? Can you think of any other bands which, in your view, prove such aversions wrong and actually create something intense?

Well, since I am the one performing the female vocals I will give you my opinion. And the truth is; I really don’t care about what others expect from a certain genre or that some people think that women can’t do this or that. I feel that the music and my vocals are a good match. I feel that the kind of emotion, atmosphere and sound we want to create with our music could not have been the same with male grunt vocals. There are many good examples of Metal bands using female vocals and succeeding at that. Bands like Draconian, The third and the mortal, Tristania etc. I am positively surprised about all the good feedback on the use of female vocals in Omit. Maybe the times are changing? When releasing De glemte tider with Skumring I heard a lot more whining about the use of female vocals than I have done with Omit.

11. Did you have any specific reasons to use Einar Fredriksen’s lyrics for one of the songs?

The reason for using Einar’s lyrics is that I already finished the vocals to that particular lyric when we were a part of Fallen. The lyrics are beautiful and we really liked the vocals and it would be really hard to write new lyrics that would suit the vocals. We contacted Einar’s family and they kindly allowed us to use his lyrics for the song “Fatigue”.

12. How important are lyrics for you in general? Are they crucial in making your musical vision complete?

The lyrics are not crucial but they certainly play a great role in the making of a song. We like having lyrics that underline the atmosphere in the music. We like using lyrics that can be interpreted in many ways; it’s up to the listener to find his/her own understanding of the lyrics.

13. There is no flute player credited in the booklet. I take it the flutes are in fact synths then?

Yes, you are right, the flutes are programmed. As you yourself mentioned earlier, hiring classical musicians is not cheap. And we chose to record the instruments that are most prominent and left some programmed, as the flute. For the next album we hope to be able to record even more instruments. We also felt that the programmed wind instruments sounded more “real” than the programmed strings. As such it was more crucial to record real strings.

14. I am confused about one particular piece of information given in the booklet, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one: It says “All drums programmed by Tom Simonsen” while you actually have a permanent drummer listed in the line-up. Does this line only refer to the short electronic drum pattern in “Insolence”?

The music and recordings were all done before Omit had a drummer. Bert Nummelin joined the band at a stage when re-recording the drums would have delayed the release. So to answer your question - and it also says so in the booklet - all drums are programmed.

15. What are your thoughts on the Norwegian Doom scene, both past and present? Do you see any potential for the future?

The Norwegian Doom scene around the 90s used to be quite thriving with bands like The 3rd and the Mortal, Theatre of Tragedy, Funeral, Paradigma, Tristania, Lamented Souls, Black Lodge and others. They were all producing really good classical Doom Metal, and many also used female vocals. The Norwegian Doom scene today is quite different with more male vocals and less classical Doom Metal. There are some promising acts out there as Sahg and The Fall of Every Season. But the scene is not as productive and thriving as before. Hopefully Omit will add a little something to the Norwegian Doom scene.

16. I understand that most or all of you are active in several other bands/projects, including Vagrant God and Havnatt. Could you give our readers some basic information about those projects? What kind of music do they have to expect, what are your current plans/activities?

Havnatt is made up of Tom Simonsen and me. The style is dark folk music, and we use Norwegian lyrics by the late author Tormod Skagestad. Secret Quarters will be releasing an EP and one new album by Havnatt, in 2012. The EP is getting released early in 2012, and is a re-release of the Havdøgn EP. It is an extended, remixed and remastered version of the EP, and two completely new tracks have been added.

Vagrant God is made up of Kjetil Ottersen, Tom Simonsen and me. The style is gothic Metal with both female and male vocals. The debut album will be released by Secret Quarters in 2012.

17. For those readers who have not been following the scene that closely over the past few years, could you say something about the planned collaboration of Kjetil and yourself with Fallen and the reasons why it was cancelled altogether?

There’s not that much to say about that matter, but the remaining member of Fallen was not particularly easy to work with. Some people consider themselves “king of Doom” and act according to that. Stealing other people’s material, taking credit for things you have not done yourself, negotiating record deals without telling the rest of the band etc., are things you get quite fed up with. If you look at the line-up for both Fallen and Funeral I guess you can see a pattern. People tend to leave both bands, as did we.

18. As a side note, any news on new Skumring-Material?

We have made new material, but we are still waiting for Váli to finish his debut album.

19. In case you have already begun writing for another album, what stylistic direction do we have to expect from Omit in the future? What would you like to achieve?

We don’t really want to give away the stylistic direction right now as much can change in the making of an album. The instrumentation will be similar and so will the vocals. You may hear stronger links to early 20th century composers. The overall sound will not be far from Repose and Omit as people know it today. One clear goal is to record as many real instruments as possible for the next album. As such, the budget for that album will be bigger. We also hope that we can be able to reach a bigger crowd by trying to promote ourselves better.

20. Are you planning any live performances?

No, we are not planning any live performances. We would need quite a big stage to fit our 15 to 20 musicians on stage at the same time. Rehearsing and touring will also be quite expensive. But that does not mean that we do not want to play live. If a booking agent or venue offers us the right deal, it will happen.

21. So it is no option for you to reduce your live line-up to the essentials and maybe play the additional instruments from tape for the time being? Of course it would be a compromise, but I think it’s quite a common method, and live performances are always a good means of promotion – which, as I understand, is one of your goals at the moment…

We care a lot about how our music sounds. Playing guitars, strings or backing vocals from tape is not actually an option for us. We know that this is common, but when we play live we want to create an authentic atmosphere and give the audience an experience which is different from listening to the album.

22. Traditionally, the last word is left to the artist. Now is the time to say anything that you would like to get out there and that has not been covered by the above questions.

We are really grateful for all the positive feedback from fans and the press. It is very encouraging to receive such fantastic reviews for a debut album. A big thank you to all who bought the album and listen to our music.

Thanks to Doom-Metal for good and interesting questions and for being the best place for staying up to date with the Doom Metal scene.

Visit the Omit bandpage.

Interviewed on 2011-11-28 by Dominik Sonders.
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