Sojourner is what can be called an international band, with members from New Zealand, Italy and Sweden. The band plays an Epic Atmospheric Black Metal with some Folk. The introduction of the tin whistle adds an extra level of delicacy, thus making this band unique. Being so far from each other, they don't play often alive. But the best news is that they are coming to Portugal to play at XII Milagre Metaleiro Open Air, in August.
So far the band released two albums: Empires of Ash (2016, reviewed here) and The Shadowed Road (2018, reviewed here).
Mike Lamb (guitars) and Emilio Crespo (vocals) kindly answered my questions.

Hello Brothers. Thanks a lot for this interview to Sounds from Apocalypse and for coming to Portugal.

Sojourner: Thanks for having us!

Can you briefly tell us how were Sojourner born? And how was the lineup gathered?
Mike L.: Sojourner was created in early 2015 when Emilio and I first made contact online, he contacted me about my band Lysithea to say he enjoyed the album and we decided we’d like to try to do something together. Chloe joined pretty much straight away and we wrote ‘Heritage of the Natural Realm’ together, Emilio put his vocals on, and we released it as a single soon after. Since then we’ve added Mike Wilson on bass (before we released Empires of Ash) and Riccardo on drums (before we released The Shadowed Road).
Emilio: It was basically how Mike said it happened. In the end we are a group of like-minded individuals that enjoy making this music that we’re releasing. It’s truly an amazing experience.

Is the band happy with the success and recognition from the first two albums?
Mike L.: We’re very pleased with it! We appreciate the response immensely and couldn’t be happier with how both of the albums have been received so far.
Emilio: When we started out we could have never imagined it would grow to this point. The support has been insane and all the fans, press, labels, distributors, promoters and more have made this possible.

Being so far away from each other, how is the process of creating new songs?
Mike L.: Chloe and I write and record all the music, and we do the full demos for each song, then we’ll get Riccardo to make some additions and final touches to the drums and Mike Wilson to write and record his bass parts. Then once the songs are complete, we get Emilio to put his vocals on and we’re good to go! It’s a very easy process since the music is written and tracked in one place with Chloe and myself, which makes it much easier than if we were all in separate places. That way the only things we’re sourcing from outside of our own studio is drum tracking, bass, and vocals. So in many respects it doesn’t actually work very differently from most bands!

Do you want to tell us about the Metal scene in New Zealand?
Mike L.: Each city has its own metal scene, and there are some great bands coming out of the country. Dunedin’s metal scene sort of ebbs and flows, but the issue is that there’s a lack of decent venues down South. There used to be a lot more when I was in bands around 2005-2010, but a lot of them shut down. The North Island definitely has a more active metal scene overall, but I haven’t really directly been a part of that so I can’t comment too in-depth and could be wrong in saying that, since it’s been a few years since I was a part of it directly, I’m mostly going by what friends have told me from back home. More and more fantastic bands are coming out of the country and getting international recognition though, which is fantastic.

How are your expectations for the Portuguese show? Have you collected some info from Riccardo, that played here with Atlas Pain, last year?
Emilio: Riccardo has told us amazing things about the festival and we’re very happy and excited to play it already. We’re having withdrawals from playing live so it’ll be a great show filled with energy!

Besides Riccardo, is this your first time to Portugal?
Mike L.: This is my first time personally! I’m really excited to see some of the country!
Emilio: This will be my first time in Portugal ever so I’m expecting a fantastic experience.

Are you planning to take some days off for some sightseeing?
Mike L.: Yeah, Chloe and I are staying for a few days after the show to explore and have a bit of a vacation, so it will be great!
Emilio: I will be in Portugal some days before the festival to explore.

Do you know any Portuguese Metal bands? Besides our ambassadors Moonspell?
Mike L.: Besides Moonspell, I’m a huge fan of Vertigo Steps (now sadly disbanded) and Before the Rain. Those are the only bands I can think of right now, but I’m sure there are many more!
Emilio: My favorite one would have to be the black-ish doom band, Desire. Their song “(Love is...) Suicide...” is one of my favorites of all time. Such an amazing band.

What are the next plans for Sojourner? When can we expect a new album?
Mike L.: We’re currently midway through writing and recording the new album, we’ve got 4 fully-demoed songs complete and Chloe and I are working on the remaining songs right now. In terms of what to expect from it musically, I’d say to just expect an evolution of the sound from the previous two albums. Chloe and I are really against just repeating ourselves musically every time, we want to keep pushing the band outward in new directions with each release. We just want to make music that we love and that we’d listen to basically. The foundations of the band’s sound are already laid out, so we’re just consistently building on those. We can’t confirm anything right now in regard to a release date, but I’d say that early next year sometime is a safe bet.
Emilio: The process is full on right now and we’re working very hard on making this the best album we can. So far we believe it’s gonna surpass anything we’ve done before and we can’t wait to show you all what we’re doing.

Will the new cover art maintain the same idea of sacred building ruins?
Mike L.: We’ve been discussing ideas, and I’ve got quite a few ideas in my head I want to explore further, but we’ll leave that as a surprise for people to discover once it’s unveiled officially haha. From the starts there’s been quite a defined and purposeful aesthetic direction, but the artwork needs to evolve with the music, so expect the same elaborate art quality as before at the very least.

Last December Sojourner signed a contract with Napalm Records, one of the most important and dynamic record companies around. What are your expectations?
Mike L.: Just that we can continue doing what we’ve always done, and continue pushing in our own direction without interference. Napalm have been fantastic to us so far, really supportive, and have let us entirely be ourselves without any attempt at directing where we’re going with the new material. They are letting us just be ourselves and continue to do what we would have regardless of what label we were on stylistically, which is incredibly important to us, so it’s really nice to have a label that’s supportive of what you are rather than seeing you as a band to be molded into something else. It’s everything we had hoped it would be so far, so we couldn’t be happier. I’ve been a huge fan of Napalm bands since I was a teenager, so I couldn’t be happier being where we are.
Emilio: Signing with Napalm Records has definitely been a dream. Myself, I grew up listening to a lot of the doom, gothic/doom and dark bands that Napalm was so known for back then. To nowadays be on the label is something I couldn’t have ever imagined. They have been amazing so far and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship with them!

Can you tell us about Lysithea, your parallel project with Mike Wilson (Sojourner bass player)?
Mike L.: It’s a melodic doom band I started back in 2008. It’s very different from Sojourner, but I’m really proud of what we’ve created so far and it’ll be something we continue to do in parallel with Sojourner in the future. I’ve passed the reigns to Mike W. a bit more in terms of the running of Lysithea lately, just because Sojourner has taken so much of my attention, but the next album we make with Lysithea will definitely be much more collaborative and we’ll start working on it once the new Sojourner is finished!

Do you want to share your most remarkable experience as a musician (a show, touring with a band...)?
Mike L.: I mean, first and foremost, it’s the experience creating music that you love and hearing people talk about it in a similar way to how I talk about bands that I love. It’s a special feeling, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much of a dream being in that position is when you’re starting out. My personal favorite live experience so far has been Dark Troll Festival; there was something magical about the atmosphere and the whole festival that was just incomparable to anything else I’ve ever been to. We recently had a great tour with Draconian and Harakiri for the Sky as well though, and there was something incredibly satisfying playing 16 shows in a row and really getting to fully immerse yourself in the experience of playing live that much. Dark Troll still takes it for me though, a ruined castle in the German countryside was really a dream venue.
Emilio: I think I can speak for most musicians to when I say one of the biggest dreams is to have that record deal in hand from a label like Napalm and embark on a full tour around a continent on a tour bus. Some don’t want to admit it or are lying haha! I got to do just that but it was even better since I got to do it alongside my utmost favorite band of all time, Draconian. I still wake up sometimes and look back on it and think “Did I really get to do that?”. It’s truly amazing. We also made some amazing friends with the guys in Harakiri. All the guys were just fantastic souls and I’m glad to call them friends. Special shoutout to M.S. from Harakiri.

Do you want to leave a message to the Sounds from Apocalypse readers? And the Portuguese fans?
Sojourner: Thanks for having us along and we hope you all have an amazing time at the festival in August!

Thanks a lot for your time, very looking forward to meet you in Portugal and see Sojourner alive!

   Sojourner Facebook
   Sojourner Bandcamp
   Sojourner - Titan
   Sojourner - Ode to the Sovereign (North of the Wall & Dark Troll Live Reel)

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