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Shining's Niklas Kvarforth - ''There’s absolutely nothing that will stop me from achieving my goals.'' | FESTIVALPHOTO

Shining's Niklas Kvarforth - ''There’s absolutely nothing that will stop me from achieving my goals.''

In light of their new album, ''IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends'', Festivalphoto spoke with Shining frontman Niklas Kvarforth about the album, touring, and the growth and evolution of one of the most controversial bands of our day and age.

First of all, thank you for your time. I figure things must be extremely busy right now with the album and everything, so let's cut to the chase. IX just came out and it's pretty much a masterpiece, getting really good reviews in general, aside from the reactions of ''purists'' who disapprove your evolution. You were, of course, expecting these extreme reactions. Are you satisfied with how everything is turning out regarding reviews, promotion, etc.?

To be frank with you, I have always felt that getting either fantastic reviews or truly bad ones is always way better than getting those dreadful in-betweeners. As an artist I cannot think of any worse reaction than being assessed as mediocre since that would mean you haven’t achieved either a high or low but just plain nothingness. Sure, there will always be certain people who just want me to remake “Within Deep Dark Chambers”, but all I have to say to them is "sorry, but I’m not 15 years old anymore". Once we signed to Season Of Mist things have really improved on the promotional side of things, which was also one of the main reasons we decided to go with them when choosing a new label. It could always be better of course, but at the time being we have nothing to complain about.

You started Shining almost 20 years ago when you were about 13 I believe, and clearly there's been a lot of evolution, as Shining keeps growing and becoming a force of its own. Did you ever imagine that things would turn out this way and reach this ''magnitude''?

I was actually twelve! And yeah, it’s pretty fucking weird that we’ll be celebrating two decades of antihumanitarian activity next year. I never thought I’d see that day to be honest with you. However, since the very beginning there has been an agenda with this band and obviously it has evolved over the years, but needless to say, the original intent is still there, stronger than ever, and I can assure you that these values, and the main mission of the band, will always remain the same no matter what. And although some might have a problem understanding the choices I made and so forth, there’s absolutely nothing that will stop me from achieving my goals.

Throughout the years and since the beginning, you and Shining became known for your extreme actions and views, being the bottom-line ''the force feeding of suicidal imagery'', however things have changed, as they do, and that seems to be less blatant as before, as something that is now expected. It is still very present in the atmosphere and darkness around the band, but more...'''subtle''. Is there a special reason for that, aside from sheer growing, or do you still consider everything as ''violent'' as before, musically?

Things haven't really changed as I said, but rather they have been refined and are now being used in a more effective way. The thing is, there were certain aspects of the live shows, for example, that resulted in us being placed a category where many promoters refused to work with us because of what was being said online, and more often because of the rumours surrounding Shining in general. Point is, yes, there is a certain danger to Shining, but that danger has been openly promoted since day one and the few occasions where things have “gone wrong” on tours or during live-appearances, have largely been blown out of proportions by the media and by faceless morons who thrive on discussing things on forums and other social networking sites - things that are based on nothing but second-hand information. We have evolved into a fierce and unstoppable live act as the years have passed and I find it rather frustrating that there are still people who refuse to work with us because of all these rumours and so on. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, violence, eeriness and absolute darkness will always be a part of Shining, but don’t go to one of our ceremonies disrespectfully, in the hope of catching a glimpse of some future scandal or something likewise idiotic, because that’s not what we are there to do. We are there to hypnotize you with our sonic perfection. The madness is ever-present and it will affect you when you attend but you need to let the darkness control you instead of going looking for it in all the wrong places. I am not GG you know, I just happen to have a short fuse at times, but so does Axl Rose and Glenn Danzig.

Picking up on that, and excuse me if it's too personal, looking back you yourself were much more hateful, violent, and extreme, and that change is noticeable in interviews and live ceremonies. Do you think you have changed a lot? Obviously, people change, but how do you view that in yourself?

Obviously I am not in my mid twenties anymore, but I feel that the darkness itself is more present than ever in not only the art I am presenting to this world of ours but on a personal plane as well. I have no need to show this filthy world that I am a man of my word, and honestly do not care too much if people doubt me or not. As the years have gone by I have learned a thing or two about how to do things properly and how to avoid devolution by simplistic and narrow-minded behaviour, although it’s hard at times considering one is surrounded by idiots. And not only has this contributed to a personal spiritual growth overall but also to the luxury of not having to socialize with others as intensely as I had to back then in order to get all things relevant done. I truly enjoy the silence I can occasionally grant myself, and I believe my achievements stand as testimony to what one can do if one truly burns within.

Shining have toured through many places, and have spread the darkness as far as Japan and Canada. Certainly this expansion must be both a great experience and opportunity to reach a ''broader'' audience. Can you talk about that and the future for Shining regarding touring, and what's ahead for the band in general?

Yes, Canada and Japan were both great experiences indeed. It felt extraordinary to cast our shadow over those territories for the first time ever, and I really look forward to continuing on that path so that our venom will evolve into an epidemic as time passes. In support of the new album we’ll embark on several smaller tours throughout the planet. We are choosing to do things this way instead of longer tours like we did in the past for many reasons, but mainly because it will allow us to concentrate on each territory in a more focussed manner and have our ceremonies held at better, and more suitable, venues, and with the breaks in between. This will allow us to be physically able to put on way better shows on each occasion, something that simply isn’t possible when one is imprisoned in a night liner for a month or two, with basically only alcohol and poorly cooked chicken as fuel.

The current line-up is fantastic in my opinion and it seems to be lasting, and stable, which is news for Shining. Are you happy about that, and working with the rest of the people in the band, and would you like to keep it this way?

That’s fucking weird too I must say. I do enjoy where we are at now, but we’ll never know as Shining is somewhat of a catalyst for turbulence as the years have proven. But yeah, I hope the line-up can remain intact as long as possible.

So, like I mentioned, I consider IX a masterpiece. All Shining albums come from a great darkness even if it manifests differently music-wise, and also it shows great evolution, mainly in your vocals, and also great musicianship. It also went back to the numbering ''formula'', but contained an intro instead of the traditional 5th instrumental track. What were the reasons for that and how was the creative and recording process like for you? Was it hard, both physically or mentally (since you put every ounce of your soul into your work) to record and create?

Everything I do is obviously demanding both physically and mentally, which is inevitable when you do things whole-heartedly, but I personally don't see any other way of doing things. The reason I chose to bring back the numbering on our albums is because of what happened with “Redefining Darkness”. It was a great album in all respects, but, as I found out the hard way, it also proved that in the end some things shouldn’t be tampered with, and thus Shining had to suffer the consequences that followed. The other tradition, which on IX has been renewed rather than broken, is that one of the tracks remains an instrumental, in this case the intro . When mixing the album it felt a bit weird though I must admit, as I am used to that fifth soul-fucking track before that final, and usually most intense, darkness sets in. But, in retrospect when listening to the album now, I think the decision was without doubt an excellent one.

Now this upcoming week, you're playing at SWR Barroselas here in Portugal, 4 years after your last visit to this country, which I will of course be attending. Since it's the first gig since the album release, can we expect any surprises and what are you expecting from the gig? Are there plans for another ceremony in our country?

Yes, it was quite a while back since we played in Portugal, and SWR is one of the few festivals we will be doing this summer before going on our autumn/winter crusade. I don’t really understand what you mean by surprises but I can assure you that you’ll get to see a more powerful and determined Shining on stage than ever before. What am I expecting? A new legion of devoted followers to be born out of the ashes. As regards to other ceremonies to be held in Portugal during 2015, I cannot comment on that for the time being unfortunately, but who knows? We will be revealing territory after territory, week after week, and maybe some of these will come as a pleasant surprise to yourself? Patience…

Writer: Ana Raquel Mendes
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