Interview with Elias Westrin
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 8, 2021
From the beautiful city of Sundsvall, Sweden, comes a highly talented guy named Elias Westrin, who became interested in playing music at a pretty young age and later on got his fix from Finnish-tinged Metal music, specifically bands like Insomnium and Wintersun.
Taking a part in a music production school pushed Elias even further as he did a music project that eventually landed him a deal with the Swedish label Black Lion Records. He calls this project Maestitium and four songs can be found on their EP, titled Tale of the Endless.
The EP reached curious ears at The Metal Crypt and we wanted to learn more about the band. We reached Elias via email and he kindly told us how things started and how one thing led to another and so on...
How's life, Eli? Feeling totally exhausted and tired due to all the restrictions the darn virus has caused in our societies all around the world?
Elias: Hi Luxi! I'm doing fairly good. Pretty exhausted, indeed, both due to the pandemic and due to the fact that I'm in school. The pandemic is not making school life any easier!
IN SEARCH OF THE "RIGHT" SOUND—THE FINNISH SOUND
As for your band Maestitium, I read that it was born when you attended a music production course at Hola Folkhögskola outside of Kramfors, Sweden, and this school project ended up being put out as an EP and everything sort of started from that. Was it as simple as that?
Elias: Well, it kind of was. I have always wanted to make music in the vein of Finnish masters like Insomnium, Wintersun, Kalmah, etc. I tried for years, but it never turned out right to my ears. When I started attending Hola Folkhögskola (communal college), I basically said to myself "fuck it, I'll just spend as much time as needed on each song and not have it decided what the format will be (EP or full-length)".
Were there any real challenges fitting the songs into this musical mold that created a coherent and pleasing EP?
Elias: The real challenge was constructing the "sound". Did I want to make it technical, fast, kind of like Wintersun, or did I want it to be a bit slower, more atmospheric and melancholic, like Insomnium? I basically decided to have the foundation based on Insomnium, but some of the riffing inspired by Wintersun. My love for black metal also showed its face here and there. But overall, making sure all the songs fit together properly was the biggest challenge.
I am curious to know what your background in music is? The music you have created with this band isn't something one could create overnight, but certainly would take a lot of time, passion, determination, and all that in order to get something this emotionally strong and moving. What do you eat/drink? ;o)
Elias: I started playing guitar about 12 years ago, at the age of 10. Within the first six months of playing, I had already written songs. The idea of creating a song from scratch was very intriguing for me, even early on. I played in a lot of bands throughout my teenage years, everything from pop to punk to metalcore to death metal. As I am young, and started playing at a young age, I didn't really have anyone to play with my own age, and hence I started teaching myself how to use DAWs and record my own music.
As for what I eat and drink, it's mostly coffee, water and Italian food ;)
You do all the vocals on the EP, both the growling and clean. Which style do you enjoy more and why? Is it easy to switch from death growls to clean vocals, and vice versa?
Elias: That's a great question! I started off as a clean vocalist years ago. I went to a vocal coach for three years. I always did a bit of growling, but nothing serious. As time went on, I was amazed at some of the sounds and timbres you can create as a harsh vocalist, and that became more exciting for me. Growling/screaming is my favorite, but it is also more straining. Clean singing is fun, but I find myself having more creativity with the harsh stuff.
FINDING THE RIGHT GUYS TO WORK WITH
How did you find Anton Flodin (Deathbreed) and Nils Fjellström (Nordjevel, ex-Dark Funeral) to on the EP? Did they understand how you wanted this band to sound, making things easy and painless in the studio?
Elias: I met Flodin and Fjellström through a Judas Priest tribute band I'm in. Fjellström plays drums and Flodin plays the bass. They are both incredibly easy to work with, and when they heard my demos, they understood right away what I was going for. I had written some basic drums and Fjellström spiced them up amazingly, exactly as I had envisioned. Flodin is just a badass bass player with insane power.
Would it be realistic that at some point they would become full-time members of the band?
Elias: Flodin and I have talked about it, and it is a big possibility he will join the project permanently. As for Fjellström, he is a busy man and at this time there are no plans to making him permanent. He will feature in the recordings if he has the time, that's basically our plan.
To me, being a Finn, I felt strongly connected to your music due to the unexplained melancholy and sheer beauty of the brutality found in it. It kind of points in the direction of Insomnium and Wolfheart. Do you have some Finnish blood running in your veins? ;o)
Elias: I do actually! My uncle (on my mother's side) did one of those DNA tests and turned out to be 20% Finnish or so, and I know I have Finnish ancestry on my father's side. As far as I know, I'm Swedish, Wallonian, Finnish and Spanish.
FAN OF EMOTION AND ATMOSPHERE
How important and essential is it to add deeper emotions and feelings into your music? Do you enjoy more atmospheric and melancholic music that's meant to touch people's minds and souls deeper than more straightforward, aggressive and brutal music?
Elias: It is very important for me to fill my music with emotion. It also reflects the type of music I listen to. For instance, I'm a bigger fan of black metal than I am of pure death metal, simply because black metal generally is more sorrowful and features more atmosphere. I do enjoy some good old Cannibal Corpse, Grave, etc. as well, but the melancholic stuff is where my heart lies.
How essential are lyrics as a part of your music? Are they equally important and meaningful to you personally?
Elias: Lyrics are weird for me. I have a conflicted relationship with them. I never listen to the lyrics, and if I do it's on my 5th-6th listen of a song. Nevertheless, I do find them important. When I do look up lyrics, I want them to be poetic. I dislike lyrics featuring swear words, for example, and much prefer lyrics that work around single words to describe a feeling. Vocals are important, and lyrics are important to a degree, but the relationship between vocals, lyrics and instrumental is the most important by far.
Nature is often a great source of inspiration for many musicians due to its peaceful and cleansing effect on our minds and souls. How does the presence of nature work for you especially in your creative phase of songwriting?
Elias: I love nature, but I am bad at visiting it. I'm a fairly lazy person by nature. When I wrote Tale of the Endless, I spent some time out ay my family's lake house, overlooking a fairly grand forest. When I ran out of ideas, I'd go outside and just sit, waiting for inspiration for come. To add to this, I write more music during winter than I do during the summer. Snow, darkness and silence is very inspiring to me. I also picture landscapes in my head when I write songs.
SUNDSVALL—YESTERDAY AND TODAY FOR THE METAL CULTURE
From what I know, Sundsvall has some nice landscapes as well as mountains, sea, lakes, etc. Do you find Sundsvall's geographical location inspiring for your creativity, too?
Elias: As a mostly city kid growing up, the geographical location of Sundsvall probably never really inspired me. That being said, it's very close to nature. Just a few minutes outside of the city and you'll reach forests and hills. It's very cold as well, since it's fairly far north.
Sundsvall, like many other bigger cities in Sweden, with 50K+ inhabitants, has its own like-minded people living there who share one passion; Metal music. What can you tell us about the underground metal culture in Sundsvall with its venues, bars, music shops, and other places that connect metalheads from Sundsvall and surrounding areas?
Elias: Metal, I'd say, used to be a bigger deal around the late '90s up to 2010 or so. We have one bigger metal club, called Club Deströyer. I've seen bands like The Haunted and Vader there, and they do feature some bigger bands from time to time. We have had some fairly successful metal bands from here, like the black metal band Setherial, and the tech death metal band Soreption. But overall, we don't really have a living breathing metal scene, sadly, but this is hopefully changing with me working on Maestitium, and my friends over at Svartghast (black metal) working on their stuff.
THE FUTURE PLANS FOR MAESTITIUM?
As for your debut EP, titled Tale of the Endless, it's got four tracks, and it makes the listener hungry for more. How much new material is ready? Is there anything you can reveal about it for curious parties?
Elias: I've gotten a lot of comments about this, "why only four songs?", etc. And the simple answer is time. No, not the never coming Time II album by Wintersun, but rather the fact that it takes me about two months per song, sometimes more. I have had an issue in the past where I never release anything, so I decided to call the whole thing done at the end of my school year and release it what I had made. This was a great decision, as I now have great motivation to make a full-length. At this point in time, I have four songs 70% done. It will be a continuation on the sound established on the EP but feature some faster songs as well as some more interesting chord progressions. Hopefully, it will be more of the same, as I don't feel like changing the sound after just one short EP is a smart move and not a move I want to make.
I bet the next logical step is to get your debut album recorded. Would you say it might be realistic to be back to the studio in the fall of 2021 to record the band's debut album?
Elias: The plan at the moment is to have the album demos done by the end of 2021 and enter the studio by early spring 2022. That's really all I've planned for myself. I still have some stuff I want to do with Tale of the Endless, like playthrough videos, so that will devour some of my time.
Are you aiming to play live with the band when society gets back to "almost normal" again?
Elias: Playing live is not off the table, but also not yet planned. It's basically just me and Anton in the project that are available to play live, the rest would have to be session musicians. Not easy to find, as I don't have hundreds of euros to spend on each musician.
What else do you have on the table as far as developing ideas for the future?
Elias: As for the future of the band, I have two full-length album themes planned. I usually start with a theme, then go from there. Another thing is that I would love to make merch, press vinyl, stuff that fans of the music might enjoy having.
That's all I had in mind for this chat, so I want to sincerely thank you Emil for your time and wish you all the best with the band. May your path be rewarded with some pleasant and cool surprises whatever those might even be. Any final thoughts and/or greets perhaps to wrap up this conversation in a proper way...?
Elias: Thank you, Luxi! It was a great interview! The last thing I might want to add, a bit off topic of the metal discussions but, if you have mental illnesses, you're not alone. There are more of us out there, fighting every day. Music brings us together. Take care of yourselves and those around you. The tunnel might seem dark and never ending, but there is light on the other side, if you just continue walking.
|Other information about Maestitium on this site|
|Review: Tale of the Endless|
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