Interview with Midnattsol

Carmen Elise & Liv Kristine

In 2018, the folk metallers of Midnattsol have returned after a 7 year hiatus with some surprising news with lineup changes and a new album. With the band now back, I wanted to take the opportunity to request an interview with Norway's well-recognized sister singers, Carmen Elise and Liv Kristine Espenæs! Emailing the promoter of Napalm Records, she was gladly able to take in my questions and forward to them.


Here, we get some insights on the process for “The Aftermath”, their business and personal life, some motherly advices, and plans for the future in and out of Midnattsol.

“Hello Carmen and Liv, let me be the first to say congratulations on the new upcoming album, how does it feel to be back together with Midnattsol after 7 long years, but this time with new members?”

Carmen: ‘’Thank you so much! ☺ I can't describe how happy we are that we finally made it to finish the songs and bring out the new album! Thanks a lot to everyone who supported us through all these years and never gave us up, that means a lot to us! It is always an exciting time when you have the songs finished and are going to release them soon, you have this special feeling in your stomach and just want to show them to your curious waiting fans, hehe. ;) We are also proud of the fact that we are going to release a limited edition of vinyls. Hope the fans will like that too!’’

Liv: ‘’Thank you so much!’’

“So back in early December, the band gave fans a pre-Christmas surprise that Liv has now taken the role as second vocals, many are so excited about the Espenæs sisters finally together in a band. How were the reactions the two of you had?”

Carmen: ‘’I was so surprised and over the moon of happiness! To sing together with my soulmate, that is like a dream coming true! I’m so looking forward to the future. And now we get to see each other more than earlier, so cool! We also have so many possibilities together when it comes to the vocals! Our range of voice together is quite big, with Liv with her angelic voice reaching incredible high notes and my rather folky voice coming quite deep. I also think that our voices fit so well together!’’

Liv: ‘’I am very, very happy about the fact that we now are in the same band. It's like a dream coming true. I feel such positive vibes, acceptance, artistic freedom and good friendship in Midnattsol. Moreover, there is something magic when our voices join: we have completely different singing manners and techniques and at the same time we complement each other.’’

“Originally Liv, you were planned to be a guest on the album, what was behind the decision for your permanent status?”

Liv: ‘’Most of the demos were already completed when I joined in, first of all to join in as a guest vocalist. I was and I am amazed by the band's work and artistic quality. It just happened as we recorded my vocals at Daniel's place that we came up with more and more ideas. Then we just thought... “Why not just join Midnattsol?” it was kind of already in the cards. Carmen and I just skyped about it on one wintry Saturday morning and agreed to go for it! ‘’


“Was Carmen mostly responsible for the lyrics or was songwriting duties became shared once you joined?”

Liv: ‘’As mentioned above, most of the songs existed as demos when I joined the band. The album's title "The Aftermath" just blew me away as if that could have been the title of my own musical work. As I got to hear the songs in their demo version it was such a revelation. The message of the album brings my own experience during the last years to the point. The folk and traditional elements also show how important our heritage is being born in Norway, raised by the rugged coast of Stavanger and influenced by Scandinavian history and tradition. It makes so much fun to sing in Norwegian and Swedish and just suck up the raw, clear, Nordic metal sound. I am very happy about the compositions on "The Aftermath". I wrote the lyrics and the melody lines for "Eitrdråpar", which I fell in love with straight away already in its original version.’’

‘’What can you tell us about the recording process for “The Aftermath”, how and when did all begin?”

Carmen: ‘’In fact that the songwriting process was very inefficient. We had so many ideas and couldn't finish the songs, because we focused on different things and musical directions. We also had different ideas how the songs should be written. Huge private changes in our lives such as getting children, building houses, new work, etc., didn’t make it easier. All in all, the years went by, but luckily, our keyboarder and organizer Daniel early 2016 said: “Guys, now we need to finish these songs, it's now or never!” and then we started going through all the material and ideas that we had (which were a lot), decided what we wanted to use and rewrite, and we wrote some totally new songs as well. And the process went very well this time and made a lot of fun! It's cool to think about the fact that we are able to write songs together, even though we live in two different countries!’’


“Will this album have a familiar sound to your previous release“The Metamorphosis Melody”?”

Carmen: ‘’Yes and no. There are similarities and differences. I guess one can hear the red line through all our albums, but when the band constellation changes, you will at the same time hear new elements as well. Stephan has brought his influences to the album, so that you can hear that some of the songs are darker, longer and more complex. At the same time, you have songs that can remind you of the first album, acoustic, calm, emotional and folky songs. Liv with her contribution makes the album really special, we never had her voice on our earlier albums! There are also a bit more folk elements on our new album “The Aftermath” I think. In addition, the total freedom we had on this album led to many new things we hadn't tried out before. We hope our fantastic fans also like the new songs!’’

“The video for “The Purple Sky” is actually the band's first official music video (not including the studio videos), how was the experience filming the video?”

Liv: ‘’The video was shot near Mosbach in a beautiful forest, moreover, nearby a river. We had the perfect weather (it was cold, foggy and rainy) and friends and family members of the band turned up in Wellington boots with umbrellas, sandwiches, hot tea and chocolate to help the best they could to make everybody feel good despite the chilly weather.’’

“Are there any message(s) or concept behind the title “The Aftermath”? Like the word “EGO” as seen in “The Purple Sky” video, what do you want fans to hear from this album in your own words?’’

Carmen: ‘’The title should be a symbol of the consequences of our actions, and it is connected to us on a personal level, but mostly it should remind us on how we treat ourselves, other ones, the nature, the animals, the earth in general. “Syn”, the woman on the cover, is a goddess from the Norse mythology who you could compare with “Justicia”, the goddess of right and wrong. She should also be a reminder of the fact that everything comes back to you, we can't continue like we do. We are destroying our earth and every living thing including ourselves! Now is the time to wake up, we should open our eyes and bury our ego (like you mention ;))! I think the focus on our looks, on money and power – it's such a wrong perspective. What about what life is really about? Inner Values like love, friendship, peace, trying to make the best out of life on earth without destroying people and the environment around you – what happened to them? This is our message on “The Aftermath”, and you can see a red line through the songs when it comes to this theme.’’

Liv: ‘’The album's title "The Aftermath" just blew me away as if that could have been the title of my own musical work. As I got to hear the songs including Carmen's lyrics it was such a revelation. The message of the album brings my own experience during the last years to the point.’’

“What songs from “The Aftermath” are your favorites and what tracks do you think the listeners may like the most?”

Carmen: ‘’My favorites are exactly the same as Liv’s, just in the opposite order hehe, and included “The Unveiled Truth”. It always turns out that the fans have different favorite songs, we got that feedback on all our albums. This time I guess “Forsaken” and “Syns sang” will be the most mentioned besides the ones promoted, but you never know! It will be very interesting to see!

Liv: ‘’"Eitrdråpar", "Vem kan segla", "Forsaken" and "Syns sang" are my momentary favourites. I also thought it was a good idea to shoot a video for "The Purple Sky". It's hard to choose anyway. Playing the songs live also gives you a different feeling sometimes.’’


“After the release party on May 25th, will the band begin touring? If not, what countries or cities would you two like to go in the future if possible?”

Liv: ‘’There will be some single shows, yes, moreover, we will play at some festivals next year but there's no tour planned for 2018. ‘’

“Now I want to ask some personal questions. First of all, Carmen congratulations on your beautiful children, how does it feel that you’re a metal mother? Especially to two young ones.”

Carmen: ‘’Oh thank you so much, they are the love of my life, they mean everything to me. Being a parent of small children takes of course most of my spare time and is the most difficult «job» there is. The fear of losing them or that something should happen to them is really overwhelming. At the same time they give me much love and joy, and my life would never be the same without them.’’


“Any fun stories you like to share ever since becoming a parent? And any advice you two would like to give to new or those who would like to become a parent?”

Carmen: ‘’Don’t get children if you don’t 100% want to, because it is not something you can let go of afterwards, you need to be absolutely sure that you want to have a child at this point. You own it to the child that you go «all in» afterwards and do what it takes to take care of your child. I actually got my daughter on my birthday, and my son on my father`s birthday, which is only one week earlier, it's so cool! So you can imagine how «peaceful» and «special» my birthdays are, hehe, with lots of kids running around and all the preparations I have to do. I never think that it's my day hehe! ‘’

Liv: ‘’Always be honest to your kids. They see through you. Moreover, laughing a lot and enjoying each other's company within the family is so important. Always let your children know that you are there for them, whatever happens. We all have to make our own experience, however, when things go utterly wrong it's not about failure but about touching the ground, the base, sometimes leaning on the shoulder of those who love you and finding your path. As long as there is empathy and a healthy system of values within, we can trust that the path is a well-meant and healthy one.’’

“Now Liv, in 2016 you were dismissed from Leaves' Eyes and not long after that, you lost access to your original Facebook page, what was going through your mind? Did you feel like the odds were going against you?”

Liv: ‘’That was an utterly strange happening. All of a sudden my Facebook was gone! I still don't know what happened. Since then, I've just taken distance from the whole drama which a few of the members (Krull/Bauer) of Leaves' Eyes created. I still find it very strange that Krull/Bauer find it fair and cool to just kick me out after keeping their plans concerning their new female singer a secret, although I actually smelled it and asked them to tell me openly about their plans. Krull/Bauer told me a couple of days before the next show that they had decided to tour with another female singer. I was concerned about my son and my whole situation after the separation from Krull and I had to accept it somehow, but in deep sorrow.


However, I was really confused and didn't understand why they didn't change the band's name before the next album. Why can't they just change the band's name? Leaves' Eyes was founded and based on my personal experience and history. The music came into existence because there was a concept, and the songs complemented a concept, a story I wanted to tell. The other original members, Chris Lukhaup, Martin Schmidt, Matthias Röderer and Sander van der Meer (who joined in later in the early period) do not doubt this fact. Anyway, the music of Leaves' Eyes was once magic to me, and I am happy and content to know that the Leaves' Eyes fanbase still enjoy it. Music is there for pleasure and inspiration, and I will stick to this point and to the good memories. Krull/Bauer are not my problem anymore and I walk my own path.’’

“How affected were you by that situation Carmen?”

Carmen: ‘’I have tried to support my sister the best I can. Of course I have suffered with her, but most important I have tried to remind her of how strong she is and what solutions there are. I really admire how great she has managed all this, I'm sure that many other people could never have stood on their feet after all these things had happened. In many ways I see that the message and some of the songs of our albums fit to what she has gone through as well.’’


“When one door closes, another one opens, after the dismissal you still continued doing what you love for more than 20 years, you were featured in many collaborations since 2016 such as Akoma, Eden’s Curse, Tanzwut, and even with Cradle of Filth again 14 years after “Nymphétamine”. What did you reflect from those 2 years?”

Liv: ‘’FREEDOM. Happiness is about freedom. I am just extremely happy to be the artist I am here and now with nearly 30 years of experience. I enjoy the freedom to be creative, to move on in my own tempo and to include new inspiring people in my team. Parallel to Midnattsol, and a soon-to-be released album of Sabbathian (Anette Gullbrandsen), and I'm working on my upcoming solo album.’’

“In 2016 at Metal Female Voices Fest, you both shared the stage performing “I Am Free” with SAVN, I remember Carmen mentioning that it was the most personal duet for her because it made you two feel so much closer than before, how was it performing it live?”

Carmen: ‘’Yes that's true! It's my best live experience till now, it was absolutely AMAZING! Sister power! It meant so much to me, and we had lots of fun together backstage. Someone stole all my makeup at the hotel, so we were like running around trying to find something that fit me, hehe!’’

Liv: ‘’I will always remember that special appearance which I had with Carmen and SAVN at Metal Female Voices Fest in 2016. That was after I had been forced to leave my own band, Leaves' Eyes. Carmen called me to come on stage and it was a magical moment for me to feel her warm embracement and support. I can't wait to play live with Midnattsol! It means so much for me to share stage with my sister. In that very moment, Carmen was the "big sister".’’

“While being in music industry for so long, does it get difficult finding inspiration and lyrics to songs?”

Carmen: ‘’No, absolutely not! I am very passionate person who talks and writes a lot. I have always something to say or sing about and feel inspired by lots of things around me. The music and the lyrics are the best way to come with thoughts, experiences, etc. And the awesome feedback that we get is motivating a lot as well!’’

Liv: ‘’No, not at all. I guess I have been equipped with a hyperactive artistic mind. It just never stops working and it has been like this since I was a little girl.’’


“As singers, you must have been inspired by others. What musician(s)/artist(s) have motivated you to become what you are today?''

Carmen: ‘’I started writing music and sing before I owned a record, so I guess it's just in me. When it comes to metal music, my sister, who is 8 years older than me, brought me to metal concerts, tours, festivals, etc., so I got inspired there, and Ozzy, who was played by my father all the time when we were younger. My favorite singer is Lisa Gerrard! ‘’

Liv: ‘’Ozzy, Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Montserrat Caballe.’’

“And aside from being singers, do you have any other professions? And How do you balance your business and personal life like spending time your kids, family, friends?”

Carmen: ‘’I am a full time language and music teacher for youth, and I have the responsibility for a class at the secondary school. I think it's extremely difficult to balance it all, there are so many things I want to do, and I never feel that I have finished something. I want to be more with my children, friends, etc., so these are feelings that I carry inside every day. Please give me more hours a day so that I can sleep hehe! ‘’

Liv: ‘’Next to my musical career, I am also working with autistic children and youth with special needs. I also teach German, sports, English, Norwegian, Yoga and meditation. What an inspiring path! Both ways are so important to me and I really am happy and comfortable with everything I have achieved, moreover, I have such a wonderful home and beautiful family and I enjoy my daily life together with my son, soon-to-be-husband and dog(s). I have found the perfect balance for me, I have reduced touring and play only single shows because my family needed to come to peace after the storm in 2016, I needed to build a new home. I am full of energy and plans and I just love life. Some day my family will move back to Norway, but there's no hurry. I believe that there is a plan behind everything, and Karma, like on "The Aftermath" takes care of the rest.’’


“So other than Midnattsol Carmen, you're also in another musical project called SAVN with Andres Thues who is former member of The Sins of thy Beloved, any new music planned for the project?”

Carmen: ‘’Actually it’s Øyvind Lende I’m working with now, and we`re nearly finished with a whole album! We have huge plans for the near future, so stay tuned!!’’

“And as for your solo career Liv, in December 2017 you gave a world premiere to a new song called “Nightshade” in Nagold, will we be expecting another solo album soon and what musical direction will you be taking it?”

Liv: ‘’A handful of demos are ready and I'm just awaiting the "go" from the record company. It will follow in the veins of "Vervain". It will be a really heavy album, influenced by different songwriters. Great melodies, deep emotional settings and lyrics with direct language and a clear message. I've collected a pool of brilliant pieces of music and I'm just enjoying the whole creative process. I've included a number of new professionals in my solo-team which feels really refreshing. Tommy Olsson (Theatre of Tragedy) and Micki Richter (Liv Kristine Band) are two of my composers who will contribute to my sixth solo album.’’


“Now what's an interview without being asked some questions from our readers? Carmen, if given the chance for Midnattsol to collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?”

Carmen: ‘’Vincent from Anathema, because he is the best male singer I know of! He sings in such an emotional, honest and touching way, he has inspired me in so many ways. ‘’


“Now a question for Liv, from Gothic to symphonic, Viking to folk, what's your favorite style of metal performing in?”

Liv: ‘’I can't decide! The songs or musical pieces inspire me in the way I sing or choose the words for my lyrics. ‘’

 “Here’s the last question from one our readers, what are your goals and dreams for the future, personally and professionally?”

Carmen: ‘’To get more time hehe, could you please make a spell and let that happened for me? That is my biggest wish right now ;) I really want that Liv and her family moves back to Norway as well, that would make another dream come true. One goal for Midnattsol is to write a new album without a couple of years, so that the next songwriting process will be the shortest in Midnattsol’s history. I hope that the fans will like the next album of SAVN that is soon ready. And when my children get older, I want to play live for fans around the world!’’

Liv: ‘’As mentioned above, there's a lot going on music and artistic wise. In the future I will also start giving workshops concerning "the inner voice". I am working on a new homepage which will contain and share my music/artistic work as well as important themes, ideas and interests which I have learned to stand up for, moreover, included in my own personal process for the last years. After my whole life changed a couple of years ago I have discovered who really are my true friends. I also thank my world-wide fanbases for always staying strong and present, for always supporting me. And, as already mentioned above, some day my family will return to Norway when time is right.’’


“We have now come to the end of our interview, what would like to share or say to our readers of Lyrical Spell Magazine and to your fans?”

Carmen: ‘’Thank you for being the best fans in the world, we love you so much! Thanks for waiting all these years and still support us! Without you, we wouldn't be where we are today! Take good care of yourself, other ones, our animals and mother earth.’’

Liv: ‘’I have the best fanbase in the world. I am forever grateful. Thank you to all of you who turned up in Nagold, Germany last December at my solo show. Some even came all the way from Chile. You are amazing!’’


“I want to thank you both so much for your time and consideration for answering these questions and I can't wait to see what future is in store for Midnattsol, may we see each other on the road soon.”

Carmen & Liv: ‘’We say thank you from the heart!’’

Midnattsol’s new album “The Aftermath” is out now through Napalm Records available on digipack and vinyl.


I would like to give special thanks to Daniel Fischer of Midnattsol and Claudia Steinlechner of Napalm Records for making this interview happen!

For More Info Visit:

Midnattsol's website:

Midnattsol's Facebook:

Carmen’s Facebook:

Liv’s Facebook:


By Joshua