Saturday 8 April 2017

An Interview With Simon Ohlsson from VOKONIS

Vokonis have been riding the crest of a wave ever since their formation two years ago. They released an acclaimed debut album – Olde One Ascending – which found a loyal following within the Doom/Stoner Metal community.

It's from the strength of that album they were immediately signed to the coolest record label around. Ripple Music.

Vokonis quickly got to work on their highly anticipated follow-up – The Sunken Djinn, An album that is more Doom Metal orientated then it's predecessor. Vokonis have also been asked to provide a song to the forthcoming full length animated film – The Planet Of Doom.

So these guys are not going anywhere soon as they have a ton of awesome riffs to slay the world with. I caught up recently with Simon (Guitars/Vocals) from the band to see how things were with the band.


Hi Simon. Thanks for doing this interview again. Especially when you did the Skype Interview originally. Apologies for that not recording correctly. How are things with you today.

Hey Steve! Thanks for having me. No problem at all mate. We’ve come far but are not immune to technical difficulties. Yet! Having a good day, about to record a music video.

We are here to talk about your new album The Sunken Djinn. What can people from that album. Does it have a different sound from your debut album.

I would have to say that as far as production goes this album is a lot more dynamic than our debut. We had access to a bigger studio and I think that’s definitely noticeable in the production. Song wise we tried to push ourselves a lot. We wrote the record during the summer of 2016. We had a lot of time to focus on just writing and getting ideas that have been laying around together. We didn’t rush anything as we really didn’t have any time limits.

Did you do anything differently when recording or making the album.

We recorded it basically the same. The main difference was that we have grown so much closer as a group so it went really fast. It took us under a week to get it done. We aimed to get a big modern sound and I hope we achieved it.

What’s the overall theme of the album.

The album deals with several things such as loneliness and escape. We use different kinds of symbolism on the record. As we are affected of how our planet keeps getting colder socially, it’s hard not to react to it. In that sense, this album is much more aware effort with the lyrics, and for me personally it was therapeutic to get a lot of emotions out. I poured myself in it.

Well obviously I’ve heard which I thank you for sending me over a copy. Great album indeed. What I noticed was that the Stoner Metal element from your debut album whilst still there has been primarily replaced by a Heavier Doom Metal aspect. Would you say that was a fair statement on your new album. 

First I’d like to thank you for the kind words. I would agree ab
out the change in tone. We’ve matured since OOA, and the way it presents itself is that we’ve dropped that stoner rock element. It comes naturally for us to write heavier songs now. It wasn’t intentional, If we had more of a “rock” idea then that felt forced since we had a different sound in mind.

You’re now signed to the best record label out there. The mighty Ripple Music. How did that come about. Did you have offers from other record labels. 

That is perhaps one of the craziest things I’ve had happen to me musically. Being headhunted by Magnus at Into The Void Radio and being introduced to Todd at Ripple is an unreal feeling. We approached a few other labels before Ripple reached out to us, nothing that went anywhere though.

We’re very happy with Todd and the family. They made us feel at home right away. And it kind of made sense for us to sign with Ripple as they haven’t really focused on the heavier side of things. I think it’s fair to say that we can begin filling up that space for them.

Photo taken by Jens Eliasson

What are Pope and Todd’s verdicts on the album. Are they pleased with the final version.

I don’t know if Pope has heard it but I know Todd loves it. Which makes me feel very happy. That means we share a vision and future which is very important to us.

Who designed the fantastic artwork. And how much input did you have with the overall final design. 

Tessa Najjar designed the front art, Pontus Ottosson did the layout and designed the back cover. We’re very happy with how it looks. When we approach a designer, we give them an idea and just want them to do their thing with it. Because something made you consider the artist in the first place, might as well make them go nuts with the idea haha!

Tessa really nailed what we wanted for a cover. The colors she chose complements each other beautifully, and it’s got a lot of detail if someone wants to delve into it while listening. That’s another thing that’s important to us, the art and music should enhance each other. We feel this is the case here.

You’re from Sweden and the Swedish Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene is highly thought of in our little community. What is the local scene like currently in Sweden. Is the scene perceived the same way as it by the global Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community. 

The Swedish scene is full of great bands. So that’s huge plus, I never have to attend concerts anymore since we’re playing shows with all of my favorite bands! I don’t know if we’re really aware of our place in the community. But I’m very thankful that we’ve gotten such great reputation.

What are your future touring plans. Will you be performing primarily local shows or travelling abroad to perform at festivals as such. 

As of right now we’ll focus on Swedish shows, such as Krökbacken. But we’d jump at the opportunity to tour with an agency once the album has been released and has landed. We have taken on the task of arranging a Swedish iteration of RippleFest. Us, Craneium and Kingnomad will be performing two nights in September. Curated by Magnus at Into the Void Radio.

Has it surprised you the journey that Vokonis have taken since you have formed. Two albums and an upcoming appearance on the Planet Of Doom film soundtrack.

Very much. First of all I had no intention of being a vocalist. That came out of necessity. But we’re very proud of our short history. We want to keep doing what we’re doing and see where it takes us. As of right now I’m just happy to be involved with such great people. Todd (Ripple Music) have been exceptional with us. As I said previously, we felt at home from the start and we’re very happy with the direction we’re going. We can focus on the music and enjoy the ride a bit more now.

Looking back would you do anything differently. 

Not really. We have achieved what we have thanks to the way we’ve done them. So I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now we have to talk about the upcoming Planet Of Doom film. How did you become involved with that project. 

Once again it was Magnus of Into the Void Radio that made the connection. Once we got introduced to David and Tim it all went very fast. They liked what we are doing and we like what they’re doing. It was a perfect match.

I’ve heard you’ve recorded a new song for that film. Does it follow the same path as The Sunken Djinn or Olde One Ascending.

It doesn’t necessarily follow either of them. Maybe a mixture of the two. It starts off doomy and ends almost hardcore. We tried to match the screenplay and match Tim and Davids ambitions as far as the animation goes.

Have you seen any footage of the segment from the film that will feature your music.

We haven’t. So, it’s very exciting to see what they come up with. I co-wrote the lyrics with Tim (of The Planet of Doom) so that was a first for us. If it follows the lyrics it will most certainly be outrageously cool. Haha!

Are you still shocked you will be involved with a film that features a wide range of amazing artists.  

Big Yes! For me, Slomatics is THE doom band. I love them and get continually inspired by their work. Their latest effort is probably the best album of 2016. Still listen to that. And of course, being in on the same project with bands such as Mos Generator and Wo Fat is very much insane. 

OK. 2017 is a few months old now. What have been your favourite albums you’ve heard so far this year. I know we both agree on Mastodon. Any others impressing you.

Mastodon have grabbed me by the balls once again. They totally floored me with Emperor of Sand. They seem to always include new elements in their sound. Even though I don’t like the second track, every other track seem to make up for it. There’s so much good stuff happening on Clandestiny and Jaguar God.

Spidergawd IV is another album that I’ve listened to a lot. I really can’t let it go. Those two are definitely on my top 5 of the year already. Furthermore, I anticipate the new Presolar Sands album to be really good. I love their previous stuff. And knowing us and how we sound we await new Sleep and High on Fire with big anticipation.

Well Simon, thanks for doing this interview. All the best with your future endeavors such as the album release and Planet Of Doom in 2018. Do you have anything to say to your fans before you go.

Thank you for having me Steve. Always a pleasure. Will be a lot to keep track on if you’re into Vokonis. So stay tuned.

Words by Steve Howe and Simon Ohlsson