Bjorn Strid

The Night Flight Orchestra

Björn Strid is the vocalist for THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA and SIOLWORK, both Swedish Metal and Rock institutions that took part on being one of the greatest acts from Sweden. Metal Temple writer Caio Botrel had a nice opportunity to chat with him a little bit.
By Caio Botrel
June 20, 2020
Bjorn Strid (The Night Flight Orchestra) interview
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Greetings Björn, its an honor to have you here at Metal Temple online magazine. How have you been doing during this crazy days of infection?

Björn Strid: It's strange and I'm sort getting used to it now. It's not too far from how my life looks normally when I'm home from tour, because I stay a lot at home when I come from tour. But it's just weird to think that might not be any shows until next year and… I don't know, it's a really weird situation and sometimes you find yourself forgetting about the whole situation and then when it hits you, it feels like its a movie… you know what I mean? It's like a surreal feeling that this is actually happening and you have to remind that it is actually happening, it was not a nightmare or a dream… This is actually happening right now, but I mean that here in Sweden we can consider ourselves lucky, because we are not in a complete lockdown. We can only know maybe half or a year from now that if it was the right decision or not. I would lie if there hasn't been times that I did not worry about Sweden's strategy. There's nothing we can do about that, we might trust the government, trust this sort of organization and stuffs like that. Its a very peculiar situation, but we are really trying to take responsibility and not move around too much, not going to hit bars and hang out. Stockholm downtown usually there's people gathering, they sit very close and that's crazy that people can't actually do that. So I try to take my sort of personal responsibility as much as I can.

Well, that's great man. I've believe that is the right thing to do, because at least our general haven't seen anything like this before. The last time it happened it was during the Spanish Flu, long ago.

Björn: Yeah, I mean, it almost feels like life before and before Corona still going on, so its not after yet. It's a really weird feeling and sometimes you find yourself like "is this actually happening?" "am I in a movie?", sort of.

Did that kind of thing change your view from the world? I mean, are you going to see things a little bit different from now on?

Björn: Yes, I guess in a way. I think we all take things for granted, but I think maybe it will bring something good out of everyone… to appreciate what you have, like the small things in life. Because I think that we've reach the peak when it comes to social media and the way we consume things, maybe this actually did something good in the end. Its not like we wish it happen, there are so many people dying, it breaks my heart. When you hear all this stories and my girlfriend is Italian as well, she's from north Italy and she lives with me here. We heard some stories from Italy as well, about how they had to choose between who's gonna live and who's gonna die. That's nothing I would ever wish to happen, but hopefully its going to bring out something good, I hope. I've also seen, there's been a lot of right-wing movement in Sweden the latest years and they post so much of that in social media, semi right-wing propaganda, people sharing articles and everything is the immigrants faults. I've seen so much of that and now that's completely gone, nothing and nobody talks about that. It's all about corona and there are these people who believe that they are social media experts posting it too "this is a conspiracy" and stufs like that, but at the same time is a breath of fresh air, not having to see all of this sort of semi right-wing propaganda running through the social media. I'm happy about that.

With everything that is happening, how it affect the music scene in Sweden? Because I know that there are people that aren't getting any money, so they can't buy albums, shirts or any other kind of merchandise? Bands like TNFO and Soilwork can handle, but and the small bands and venues?

Björn: It's too early to say, we are seeing all the summer festivals being cancelled and every band here is trying to re-book their tours, but they also need to have a plan C as well (nervous laugh) if the Fall doesn't happen. We still can do shows or tour that is in the Fall, but if we cant, we will need to do it in Spring instead. So its very interesting, its going to be a little bit of overkill when everybody will release albums at the same time, everybody needs to line-up their tour at the same time and people just can't afford going to that many shows, so its a lot of competition and its a pretty ugly situation. I try to stay at home doing a lot of vocals and guest session and I'm grateful that I can do that and there's a lot of stuff winding up, a lot of people interested and people are very excited about it, so am I. It's a win win situation, but as far as it going to drag out all the way through this year and maybe also next year, who knows if festivals are going to happen next summer? We don't know that… Some experts are saying that things are going to get back to normal at the earliest the fall of 2021, so I mean… its a scary situation. People are doing a lot of streaming shows just like everywhere else,  You could potentially do a show, with like 50 people but they all should be 2 meters far from each other and obviously that's not happen.

It's weird to believe that in the metal scene we would be hanging out two meters from each other, we are metalheads we like to gather.

Björn: Yes, that's the whole point of it. That sort of intimate feeling and that's also why we also realized that shows are the last thing that is going to return to normal in life, out of everywhere, because there's nothing more intimate than a Rock show (laugh). The restaurants are going to open, maybe theaters, but an actual Rock show? I think its going to be the last thing to go back to normal.

Let's talk about your early days as a musician, how did you get yourself into music and what influenced you back then and what influence you now?

Björn: Well, I never really had a plan of becoming a musician, I was actually sort of a sports guy, I was into hockey and I've played hockey since I was seven years old up to when I was sixteen, so that was sort of my dream… to become a professional hockey player in NHL in America or Canada. That was sort of my plan, but I always loved music and my first discovery was probably The Number of The Beast by Iron Maiden that my mom bought me a cassette at a gas station when I was seven years old and as soon as we put it in the car, I think my life changed very much there. I have to thank my mom for a lot of music in the car and I loved listening to radios… I was listening to a lot of pop music in the 1980's but also Metal and Hard Rock. I was all over the place and I still am. There was something about melodies that was so comfort for me as a kid and it made me dream away so much, generating pictures in my mind that enjoyed and I think that when I was thirteen that's when I started sort of picking up an instrument. I've got an acoustic guitar and then I sorted kind of did something in the church… I don't know if you did that in Brazil as well, but it's not that common these days.I wasn't really religious or anything, but it was like "okay, if I do this maybe I can get a gift, a electric guitar" that's saddly one of the main reasons why I started (laughs). But I got a guitar and I played in a Punk band, then I played in a Reggae band and then I started a Black Metal band. I was really all over the place and I think I got introduced to a lot types of music, which I think is good. I just enjoyed playing with friends and partying… I got more and more into Metal and then I met Peter Wichers who's no longer in the band, but he is a founding member. He came out to me and asked if I wanted to sing in this band that he was about to started and I said "well, I'm a guitarist, but lets try it out". It was sort of random all of it, but yeah. Here I am, twenty-three years later.

Continuing on this topic, what are the things that drives your most intense desire of making art? I mean, what motivates you to get out of bed, go on tour for weeks, go to the studio and stuffs like that?

Björn: I don't know, its been a very natural thing to me and it brought me so much joy, you know. Creating something from stratch, creating a melody that later on turns out to be this full song with other people playing and it all sort of connected to each other, through the music. I think that's its really the beauty of it. I have a little vocal studio at home and its actually a cottage outside the actual house, so I go there everyday and I go to work everyday (laughs). Its only five meters to the cabin or cottage, but that's the vocal studio and where I spent most of my days. I try to do a routine, sit in there and just experiment. That's the fun part, you can come up with a melody before you go to bed and you record it on your phone and you think "I can't wait to record that song in the morning when I get up" and then you go out to the studio and play random with it and maybe later in the same day you might have a song. I think that's just magical in may ways. That's maybe something that you can take for granted after all those years, but when you really think about it, that's pretty cool. It doesn't take much, but at the same time it takes so much out of you, because you put so much effort on into it… so its sort of a personal relationship that I have with music.

It's really good to see that something that was first created inside your mind reach so many people all around the world, it doesnt matter their language, culture or country. They understand it.

Björn: Yes, I think that's its one of the things that I actually do this session vocals and guest vocals for bands from all over the world. They might have this thing in their mind, they wrote this song and they are passing it to this guy in Sweden and I'm just sitting in there thinking what am I gonna do with this… so I ask if they have any structure and they say "no, just be you and create something" and then I send it back to then. Its pretty damn cool, it really is.

You have a nice vocal tone and you also use different techniques as we can hear on TNFO and Soilwork. The clean and growling vocals. How did you develop your techniques and there are any tip to share with your fans?

Björn: Well, like I mentioned before, I like melodies and singing is a way to create melodies and I liked to do that as a kid. But then I got more into guitar, because it seemed like a cooler thing and it really happened again when Peter asked me to become a singer of this band that he was about to start. I guess I felt a little bit curious about like: maybe I can pull it off, it sounded curious… and when I noticed that I sort have a talent for it, the sky was the limit and I just wanted to develop and find new ways to sing trying stuffs. It was always in my mind to become better and find new voices and ways to express myself. Singing in different keys, low or high, harsh, clean falsetto voice. So it was a whole new world and dimension that opened for me and it became very interesting. In the beginning of Soilwork it was really tough to be a frontman and also deliver the vocals, specially when we started to have both clean and screaming vocals; the switch was really hard at the beginning and I didn't feel very confident. A lot of studio experience, a lot of albums and a lot of tours makes you gain confidence and your voice is getting used to it… I started practicing a lot and I became more and more confident and then later on I did some projects here and there and I started Night Flight and I think that I grew a lot from starting The Night Flight Orchestra, because it was a completely different music expression and that was the next time. I think I needed a challenge and now I feel I've developed so much as a singer and I take that with me to Soilwork as well and I also feel that I have become a better singer in Soilwork as well. This two bands creates the perfect sort of playground for me (laughs) as a vocalist where I'm allowed to develop more and more everyday. As for tips for vocalists, the most important thing is that you find your voice and build your voice from there, instead of… well, of course you have your heroes and favorite vocals that you want to sound like and usually is where you start, but chances are fairly big that your range might be different. For example I can say about Mille Petrozza, his voice is very like high and high screams and it might be natural for him and he was and still is one of my heroes. That sounds cool, so I started to try doing the high range, but I felt that my voice was suffering and I couldn't do it in a natural way, so I sort had to go back and find my range which is more like mid range and start from there and learn the technique. That's where I have the most power, going from there to high and lows. Find your voice and then develop it from there and then sort of take more and more inspiration from your idols, but find your voice. I think that's the most important thing, because is how you develop.

I have a fan question now which is: Whats the main difference between The Night Flight Orchestra and Soilwork and also did TNFO influenced the sound of Soilwork over time?

Björn: Well, its hard to say. For me and David the guitarist in both Soilwork and Night Flight… we are the main composers of both bands, so its interesting how we can sort of switch. But for us its totally different music expression, two completely different units and when we right a song we know for whats it is for. Never in a scenario we write something that comes to a point where we need to chose, so we always have this kind of mindset that we can switch easily between The Night Flight and Soilwork and its just very interesting for us, because its so different. Of course I hear a lot of people saying that maybe the latest Soilwork album, reminds people of The Night Flight. Maybe I can understand it in a way, but for us is very very different. I think its a matter of your sense for melody that sort of comes with you whatever you go, so of course your sense for melody will cross over between the bands and I think that now people have a reference where they can compare. Of course I like working with melodies, but 99% of the time I know exactly what is it for, if its for Soilwork or The Night Flight Orchestra. We both feel that we have the best of both worlds, we have everything we need and we can channel all of our influences, feelings, thoughts and truth between these two bands, so I feel really lucky in that sense.

Well, lets talk about the new album "Aeromantic", I have listened to it and I think that its one of the nicest Rock release of the year. Even my mom is enjoying it (laughs). How the writing and recording process happened in there?

Björn: Oh cool (laughs). Well, we usually write the songs separated and usually have a recording session, more than one recording. Is never a scenario where we book a studio for six weeks and do the whole album. We do a week here, then after ten days we do it again and it becomes more intense and focus that way. So that's been working for the band very well. We do the demos and its very basic stuff, so its really in the studio where everything comes together. Some of the songs might change a lot, specially the vibe in the songs. Is really interesting to see the songs taking shape in the studio and its extremely creative unity. We can probably really a double album per year if we wanted to (laughs), but we don't wanna push our luck. But its a very productive sort of team. We love writing songs and we never really stop and I think that's the beauty of it. We do an album, then we do a cycle and then we have to approach the next album and start writing songs. We never feel that, because we just keep on going writing songs and we we feel that we have enough songs to shape an album, that's when we start to get serious and book the studio for some sessions here and there.

Cool! I've read that you guys used the same drumkit that Abba used on Super Trouper in 1980. How was that experience, I mean its a piece of history.

Björn: Well, I wish it was in the same studio as well, but it wasn't. It was just actual kit that they used, but still, that's amazing. Basically Per Lindvall who played drums with Abba, he was in that studio just a couple of months before we entered and the owner of the studio told us that he was there and he left his drumkit and never picked up for some reason, so he asked if we wanted to use it and we were like "wow, of course we want to use it!". That was absolutely magical and he told us a story that Per told him, that it was the very kit that he used on Super Trouper album, has some history for sure. I'm sure that it was also very inspiring for Jonas as well and for too, obviously.

Well, I am a brazilian portuguese speaker and I must say that I was pretty excited to hear some brazilian speech on the song "Servants of Air". Who had the idea?

Björn: Well, we were collecting some female voices from all over the world and different languages, so that was about time to have some brazilian as well. Its basically friends that we reach out to… we have friends all over the world by now, doing so much tour all over the world, so we just reach out and it became a little bit of a trademark. It makes you feel sort more world like or exotic in a way. It brings to a little bit of a new dimension as well.

You released three music videos, being for "Golden Swanson", "Divinyls" and "Transmissions", they are all pretty different from each other and a full plate for the fans. Are there any other plans to release more music videos from that album or its done?

Björn: No, I think we might have some video coming up, but we are definitely planning on keeping releasing videos. The latest one released was "Golden Swanson" about two months ago, so there going to be another coming out maybe before summer. We like making videos and be different from each other as well. Each and every song is painting up its own picture I think, even tho they are still connected somehow.

You guys just did a stream from Tivoli Helsinborg a couple of days ago. Are there any other plans to do that sort of thing until you guys can hit the road again?

Björn: Yes! I mean, everything is pointing towards it and we might do another stream maybe in the fall. So its definitely something we are looking into, because we had so much fun. We didn't think that was gonna be fun without a crowd and of course we missed the crowd, but it was a new feeling. It was weird, but it was a lot of fun (laughs). It was interesting and we did very good, also we felt that the production team did a fantastic job as well, so they capture the vibe of The Night Flight Orchestra in the best possible way without a crowd, you know. We got a lot of positive response and people saying that they felt like they were actually there, so that's all we have asked for. We definitely succeed in that sense, so it might be something that we will look into again. Maybe late summer or in the fall.

It was one of the best streams I've seen during the quarantine. There were backing vocals, clothing and stage production… it felt like a DVD.

Björn: Yeah I know! The band was on fire, we have a great team and we had so much fun and we also came across to people sitting at home. It feels really good.

What expectations do you have for when its all over and also can we wait for The Night Flight here in Brazil?

Björn: Yes, that's definitely something that we wanna do and it seems to be a quite demand, specially from Brazil. A lot of people are discovering the band, so its definitely something in the plans. Of course is going to take a budget to fly all of us over there, but who knows? Maybe something can happen next year.

Last but not least, feel free to leave a message to your fans out there. I want to thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed it.

Björn: Absolutely, it was a very good to chat. I just want to thank all of our brazilian fans who picked up our new album. We are working hard to be able to play live for you and we would love doing that, so please just request our songs in the radio and tell local promoters to book a bunch of our shows (laughs) and we are going to do everything we can to come to Brazil and stay tuned!

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