“Try to be honest, with others as well as with yourself…”
Requesting for a second interview, Helena returns to Lyrical Spell Magazine so we can cover more about her solo work, Angel, a project that’s been on hold for years as Helena has had commitments with the music of Imperia and as well her personal life.
During the “Flames of Eternity” cycle, Michaelsen has been dropping hints about new songs in the work for the long-awaited sophomore album, 'A Woman’s Diary – Chapter 2’, and has already announced a personal upcoming titled “Angel Maria” which is set to be released in late April through Massacre Records. In this interview we talked about what musical direction will this album be talking and some very personal conversation that inspired the album, plus a single review for a rare occasion.
“Hi Helena, its really great to have you back with us and congratulations on the release and the great reviews for ‘Flames of Eternity'! How’s everything?”
Helena: “I’m using a lot of time to work on the case around my daughter, trying to help her out of the terrible situation she is in. At the same time, I made a single for her and as well do a music video for that song. Besides that, I try my best to continue a private life, I just moved to Germany to live together with my boyfriend.”
“Oh yes… I’ve been keeping up on the situation on your page for quite awhile now, didn’t know you have moved though. But were the receptions what you and the band we’re expecting?”
Helena: “As my lyrics are all coming straight from the heart, I in particular appreciate that fact that in most reviews the emotional intensity is pointed out. I feel really honoured with the extremely positive receptions of the album so far.”
“It’s a great album, you deserve the positive reviews for the band’s hard work! So, in our last interview we talked about Imperia and now, we're going to cover more about your solo project Angel, care to give a brief summary about the solo project and how it got started?”
Helena: “I started writing songs at very young age, in my early teenage years, so for me this is a natural way of expressing myself. This is a part of me that I could not necessarily live out in the bands I have been a member of, so that's why at some point I started a solo project as well. I consider Angel as a diary of my life in a way, so rather than writing books I turn it all into songs and get it out that way.”
“What sets Angel apart from Imperia even though they consist of the same members?”
Helena: “First of all the difference is that in Angel, it’s all my own songs. For the new album, there will also be other musicians playing on the record so it will not be the same lineup there was on the first album.”
“I do want to ask some questions about ‘A Woman’s Diary – Chapter 1’. The album carried emotional lyrics, but also does Imperia, how do you know which idea or song fits which project?”
Helena: “There is not so much a rational choice actually. I usually write all my lyrics spontaneously, they're in a way snapshots taken from my life at the point where I am at in the moment of their creation. Still, there is a significant difference in approach between Angel and Imperia. In Imperia, usually I receive finished songs from Jan Yrlund, it’s the music that carries a certain vibe and inspires me for lyrics that blend with the vibe of the music. In Angel it's typically the other way around, the lyrics are there first, and then I create music around it that matches the vibe of the lyrics.''
“The project is also said to be Gothic metal, but the album is very diverse like pop in 'Glow in the Dark', orchestral in 'Mother', and obviously metal like 'Lead You Through the Fire'. Would you still label the as a Gothic metal project or something more like avant-garde or experimental?”
Helena: “To be honest, I do not care for that type of categories too much and I do not think the music needs to fit a particular category. I do not want to put any limits to myself when it comes to what type of music will be on an Angel album, I just let the music come naturally and whatever feels right is right for me. Of course record companies do need kind of a label to stick on an album, and back then Black Lotus (the company that released ‘A Woman's Diary – Chapter 1’) chose for the label ‘Gothic metal'. But as you said, it does some songs on the album justice, but there is a lot of songs on there that do not fit under that category. In a way, the music of the album doesn't fit into one category, and I suppose this will be the case with the next album as well.''
“Thanks for clarifying the sound, and I have to say, the song that really grabbed my attention was 'Darkness', where you did so many voices like witchy, operatic, and screams. How did you interpret the performance?”
Helena: This recording was made very spontaneously, I did not think much about what I was doing. The song ‘Darkness’ is about a very dark and traumatic period in my life, and turning this into a song actually was like facing my demons. So the way I sing it, and the type of voices I am using, are my way to recreate my own emotional state I was in during that period. In a way you could say it almost serves as kind of a self therapy, it is my way to make peace with the past so it will not be my future as well. It's better to face and overcome your demons than letting yourself get haunted by them for the rest of your life.”
“Did you ever kept an actual diary as the album name suggests?”
Helena: “My music is my diary, already from very young age that has been my natural language to express myself.”
“Moving on to ‘A Woman’s Diary – Chapter 2’ which is finally about to the light of day, the main question is why did it take so long for to the sequel?”
Helena: “There was just a lot of life coming in between, so I just wasn't in a situation that would have allowed me to devote the amount of time for it I would have needed.”
“Is it early to ask if the album is planned for a 2019 release?”
Helena: “It is a bit early indeed, but to make a qualified guess I suppose the album should be ready for release in early 2020 rather.”
“Once again, at least it’s finally seeing a release date! May you give us some insights on the direction you will be taking in the album this time, or will it be like chapter 1?”
Helena: “It will be quite different from the first album, the songs on the first album were mainly about my past, some of the songs on there I had written already in my teenage years. The songs of the new album will be about the here and now, and in particular about all that happened to my daughter and myself between June 2014 and now, where we’ve been exposed to serious crimes committed towards us by officials in Froland commune and the network around it.”
“That was also my next question, that the album is the result of the Froland commune for what they've done to you and your daughter.”
Helena: Yes, it absolutely was. I will add a police file of 18 pages with this interview, including photos and other proof documenting the political crimes and sabotage done towards us. Feel free to use and publish as much of it as you see fit with this interview. This situation had it, that I have been dealing with enormous amounts of frustration, and one of the things I did to get that out was to practice excessive running. I took it to a point where I had ruined my ankles that much that I could barely walk anymore, and the song is also telling about that. At the same time the song has a very hopeful message, talking about protecting and caressing my daughter, and about my faith that the abuse and the criminal things done towards her will stop and that she is brought back into my care very soon.”
Documents are below this interview.
(WARNING: the file contains some unsettling details!)
“I think everyone should have the right know about these heinous acts. How often do the Froland commune interfere your commitment with your musical career?”
Helena: “They repeatedly tried to stop me to write lyrics talking about what happened to us, by threatening me in all ways possible and even using physical violence.”
“What a bunch of cowards in trying to silence you, but that doesn’t stop you from continuing speak out about the corruption and crimes committed in the Froland commune on your pages. Has your story made impact in other places?”
Helena: “The mainstream media are shy to touch this kind of topic, but several alternative media have picked the case up and have been writing about it. Right now, the topic also gets a wider public attention because of the book ‘Stolen Childhood' written by English writer Steven Bennett, which was just released and is talking in detail about the Norwegian ‘Child Welfare System' and the terrible and traumatic consequences it had for the lives of countless children and their families. This inhumane system is getting more and more attention internationally, the Norwegian Child Welfare System has been taken to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg several times and was repeatedly sentenced for violating the human rights of children and their parents.”
“There is a single that is on the way soon and it will be titled after your daughter, Angel Maria. Having the opportunity to listen to the sample, I can tell the words are definitely straight from a mother’s heart. Was it hard for you to write the lyrics?”
Helena: “Not at all actually, they came at once and straight from my mother's heart, so actually they were written in just a few minutes.”
“What is the message you hope to put out there once listeners hear 'A Woman’s Diary – Chapter 2’?”
Helena: “Basically the message is, that regardless of position or status, religion or ethnical background, we’re all equal and have the same right for justice. This is going to be the message of the album, and my hope is that this heartbreaking case and all our tears will help somebody else in their future.”
“And what will be your plan in the future for you and your daughter once she’s back home?”
Helena: “I will try to heal all the damage done to her emotionally, psychologically and physically, and to just have a normal family life with her and my boyfriend.”
“How how 'angel’ connect to you on a personal level and how did it come across as the name for the project? Was there been a moment in time where someone considered you their 'angel' or ‘their light'?”
Helena: “Just following my belly feelings, I have saved the lives of several people throughout my life. One of them later said to me that he had just been ‘following a light' and had seen me as an angel and in 1999, I got a drawing from a fan who had drawn me as he said he had seen me on stage. He named the drawing ‘kindled in flames' and also portrayed me as an angel, I will add the drawing with this interview so please feel free to publish it.''
“Of course, the drawing looks really amazing and shows how much inspiration you have on people. With that being said, if you can have your fans remember you by one thing, what would it be?”
Helena: “I'd like to be remembered as a person who hates injustice in the world and has been fighting for equality for all, a person who always treated her fans with respect and gratitude, and who did everything straight from the heart and was honest in her music and lyrics. As someone who still believes that love is the strongest force in the universe and will defeat all hate and evil in the end.”
“That is very humble of you, I’m sure your that’s how your fans think of you, but before we head to our last question, is there anything you would like to add that I have missed or not brought up?”
Helena: “No, actually I think for this interview you've got it all. That's thanks to the questions you're asking, that show you have real interest into not just the music, but also the artist behind as a person. I have a lot of respect for that, so thanks a lot for another really interesting and heartfelt interview.”
“That really means a lot to mean Helena, thank you. As I began as a writer for Lyrical Spell, I wanted to have some personal connections in our interviews so we can show personal sides from artist like and how much we can respect from them. So here is my last question for you: what kind life advice you would like to offer to those who are reading this?’’
Helena: “That would be to not judge others, to not look down on others or misuse somebody's weakness. Try to be honest, with others as well as with yourself, try to lift each other up rather than putting each other down, and no matter how hard the world may treat you at times, always try to remain kind.”
“Thank you so much for your words Helena, that concludes our interview. Thanks for coming back to talk about your solo project and going in-depth about your life. I hope the future for and Angel Maria will be seeing good signs, take care!”