The Midwinter Meltdown festival took place for the first time in January of this year in Randers, Denmark. Powermetal.dk’s Thomas Nielsen was there and was duly impressed with the organization of things and the overall relaxed atmosphere. He decided to probe a bit further into the background of the festival by asking festival organizer and Clonecircle guitarist Morten Sandberg a few questions.
TNI: Morten, congratulations on a fine festival! I trust you’re happy with the event?
Morten: Oohh…YEAH! It couldn’t have gone better. We had a totally sold out concert within the first 2 hours of the event. I must say it was a huge success!
TNI: When did you begin the preparations for the festival? Did you do pilots, i.e. smaller events before launching Midwinter Meltdown?
Morten: Well, actually we did a kind of pilot concert at the same venue in January 2006, where Clonecircle played alongside Svartsot and Aloop. And already then we saw the potential for that kind of bigger event in the small town of Randers.
Naturally we wanted it to be a bit bigger this time, but last year's event was the kick-start to the idea of a one day metal festival! So the planning for this event has been going on for around a year.
TNI: How about next year? Will there be a Midwinter Meltdown 2008? Perhaps two days instead of one?
Morten: There will certainly be a Midwinter Meltdown 2008. This was the first time for us at this scale so we learned a lot from it. The planning group will soon sit down and discuss what next year’s event should be like, so right now I can’t say if it’s gonna be a 2 day event, but it’s not a bad idea! Of course that also depends on the economic situation!
TNI: Randers is not exactly a big place and I gather that the place where the Midwinter Meltdown took place, Undervaerket, is partly or fully subsidized by local council. Did you as an organizer of an all-day metal music event experience any resistance or hesitation from the people behind the venue?
Morten: The place of the event - Undervaerket - is not run by the local council but as a self-made institution. Of course it gets some funding from the council but the city doesn’t interfere with the events and everyone at Undervaerket was very cooperative. And we actually got a 10.000 Dkr. guarantee from the city council in case of the event losing money.
So there was no hesitation at all from anyone, only positive responses.
TNI: You are a performing (and recording) artist yourself and you know how you’d like to be treated when you come to a venue where you’re going to spill your artistic guts on stage. What have you done in your role as organizer to make the bands feel at home here during the Midwinter Meltdown?
Morten: It’s always good to have been on both sides of the fence..he he! As an artist you’re always pleased when the things in your rider are actually there - and maybe a little bit more... So with this event we tried as hard as possible to make the conditions backstage as we ourselves would like them, and I’m sure all the bands felt good, there was a very good vibe in the band area, the food was nice and there was more than enough beer!
TNI: What was the initial plan with the festival website? Nothing really happened there?
Morten: Yes - that’s one thing we have to do a lot better next year. The first draft of the site was just to link to band pages and for a minimum information, mostly it was for people to see that there was an event, and it was just made as a digital version of the poster. But that's something we’re gonna do much better in the future - there should surely be much more info on the site, like how to get to the event, where you can sleep in Randers, time schedule, pictures, links, contact etc.
TNI: Let’s focus a bit on Clonecircle. The concept is fairly unique as far as the Danish music scene goes. Tells us a bit about the idea behind Clonecircle.
Morten: Well Clonecircle is a band that has a very controlled concept - it’s not only about the music but also the presence! It’s something that we have been working on for almost 4 years, and we have always seen the band from several angles. Of course there’s the music, but there's also the visual side and the soundscape and the surroundings. We want to make these elements merge down to one unit.
We control everything ourselves and we produce the music at our own studio. Furthermore all artwork, video, photo, styling, website etc. is done by us.
TNI: Who’d you state as your main influences as a songwriter?
Morten: For me personally I’m very influenced by several songwriters like Marilyn Manson, Black Sabbath, Rammstein, Metallica, Paradise Lost, Die Krupps, and probably a lot more that’s hidden away in my head!
TNI: Your visual concept on stage mixes goth and industrial just like your music does. Where did the inspiration come from?
Morten: We have a very dark and black minded universe going on in our lyrics and music, and the styling reflects on that. We are constantly trying to underline that feeling on stage with controlled lightning and video effects. So I guess it’s a mix of influences by people like the artists mentioned above combined with our own styling and a sense of the overall mood.
TNI: I noticed that your debut, ‘Superimposed’ (2006), was sponsored by the Danish Arts Council. How did this come about and is this typical for metal releases?
Morten: In cooperation with our label Midget Records we found a fond that was concentrating on supporting band that had a international appeal as well as a label, so we just filled out the form, sent in our demo recordings, and we were granted 50.000 Dkr. So that was a very nice start to the project. I don’t recall any other metal act getting support from this fond, so no it’s not at all a typical thing for metal releases!
TNI: If you look at Midget Records’ rooster, you’re not exactly the typical Midget Records band, are you? In fact, you’re the only metal band on the list… How do you expect them to elevate you to the stars? Do they have the necessary genre expertise?
Morten: Midget Records is a small Danish independent label and do not concentrate on one genre only. The reasons for us to choose them is very good personal relations with the label manager, who understands the genre and loves our music and the fact that we have total artistic freedom. They don't have the largest network worldwide but they are working hard to get us out there, so we are pleased with them so far.
TNI: Are you working on new material just now? What kind of direction will we see you guys taking?
Morten: We are always working on new material because we have access to our own studio, and it’s so easy for us just to lay down ideas onto the computer, when we're in rehearsal and so on. And we're planning to get some whole new songs recorded over the summer, so hopefully we end up with enough material in the end of the year.
So far the new songs points to the heavier, faster and more aggressive side, but also dig into a more experimental electronic universe!
TNI: (Singer and bassist) Martin obviously has a talent for creating visual concepts (Martin did the cover art for ‘Superimposed’). Is this something he does professionally? And what do you guys do when you’re not cloning circles?
Morten: As I mentioned earlier we do everything ourselves, and that we can do because we all have the education to do so. Martin is an art director for a living, and I'm a video producer and sound engineer. Kim - our drummer - works for a television company, and right now Thomas is working with promotion of our local football team. So in a way we're a perfect match, besides the music as well!
TNI: Which five CD’s would you rip for your MP3-player if you were to spend three months on a deserted island?
Morten: Ok, not an easy chocse but it would be something like this:
Rammstein “Mutter”, Marilyn Manson “Mechanical Animals”, Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath”, Mercenary “11 dreams”, AC-DC “Highway to Hell”
TNI: Thanks a million for taking the time to enlighten us, Morten – any last rants for the readers?
Morten: Well I would surely like to thank all the headbangers that turned the Midwinter into a fucking great Meltdown in Randers - you made the festival a success, and hopefully you will spread the word that Randers ROCKS! If not some time before we'll see you next year!!!
Visit Clonecicle's website.
Interviewed by Thomas