Alice Hartvig responded to Johan Karlsson’s advertisement for a pop vocalist for a metal project with interest and skepticism. She was an accomplished vocalist, but she had never worked with metal music before. She was the ideal fit for Johan’s vision after a brief conversation and a demo recording, though, and We Are To Blame was created.
They started writing the first chapter of the We Are To Blames story along with guitarist Urban Granbacke. They try to bring a new perspective in a well-known voice by fusing pop vocal lines and melodies with the powerful metal foundation. They want to bring music that moves the listener by using powerful lyrical themes that are near and dear to them.
Progressive metal, power metal, and melodic death metal can all be heard in the band’s music. combining Alice’s vocals with both symphonic and electronic elements, with a strong emphasis on giving each song its own identity.
The group is currently putting the finishing touches on their debut EP and is eager to share their music with the world.
The second single from “We Are To Blame” is called All I Want To Say. a lengthy metal duet of eight minutes with Tom Englund (Evergrey, Silent Skies, Redemption). Check out the song and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you all come from and how it all got started?
WE ARE TO BLAME: We come from quite different backgrounds musically. Johan and Urban has their roots in metal music of different forms, while Alice comes from the pop world. She also is a recurring member of the cast at Astrid Lindgrens World in Sweden, a theme park built around swedish author Astrid Lindgren, where she performs plays and songs. Johan and Urban knew each other and had both shared stage and worked together before (Johan mixed the debut album of Urbans other band Era of Ephemeris), and Alice responded to an add in a regional musician group on Facebook.
2. Did you guys have any formal training or are you self-taught?
WE ARE TO BLAME: Alice is a licenced music teacher, and Johan has a university degree in music production. We all studied music at high school level, but we have all also been playing music in our free time for years. So I would say a solid mix between the two!
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘WE ARE TO BLAME’?
WE ARE TO BLAME: Influences come from a lot of different places, and is an ever evolving process. We take influence from everything that we like or what moves us. We are influenced by the music we listen to, the events of our lives, the people we have met along the way and each other. If you want more insight into our individual influences, be sure to check out the “Origin” playlists on our Spotify profile! There each member has the chance to give you a guided tour of each of our musical upbringing.
The name “We Are To Blame” was Johan’s idea, and comes from the point of view that we as humans tend to blame governments, institutions, companies, religions and so on for the things that go wrong in the world. Don’t get me wrong, all of those has been part of problems, but at the end of the day there is always humans calling the shots. So maybe the institutions themselves are not the issue, but the people running them…
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
WE ARE TO BLAME: We aim to write strong songs with great and memorable melodies, as well as lyrics that touches both us and our audience. Hopefully the sum is greater than the parts. As far as to describe our sound, we probably move somewhere between progressive, power and melodic death metal (Gothenburg sound) combined with pop vocals.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
WE ARE TO BLAME:
Music is emotion, and is always influenced by the people creating it. For us, it is up to the artist to decide what they want to convey with their music. Writing music is a way for us to express ourselves, to have an outlet for what we feel and to touch on subjects that affects us. But we fully understand that different people want to do different things; some want to write about politics, some want to write about their beliefs, and some want to write music to party to. Everything is OK, as long as you do what you want to do and stay true to yourself.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
WE ARE TO BLAME:
Expectations are a dangerous thing, so we try to stay away from them! We do this because we enjoy it and think that we have something special to bring to the world. Of course we hope that others enjoy it as well, but the catalyst for writing music always needs to come from yourself, or it won’t be honest.
We do have goals that we are working towards to keep moving forward, but at the end of the day, if we are proud of our work it’s a success to us.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
WE ARE TO BLAME:
Each song always starts with that first idea. It can be a melody line, a riff, some lyrics or a chord progression. Then we let that first idea guide us. What feeling are we looking for? What do we want to say with this idea? Then we keep building on that idea until we have a skeleton of a song. Once we are at that stage, we go into pre-production, record demos and start fine-tuning. Since we live in different places it involves a lot of sending files back and forth, but it has worked well for us so far!
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
WE ARE TO BLAME: Since we started the band in January 2020, the obvious answer for our common music career is the Covid pandemic. It definitely affected the schedule for us, but we chose to just work around it. Since we where a new band we didn’t really have any pressure to release something, so our situation was easier to deal with than for a lot of our fellow musicians out there.
As far as life goes, we all suffer losses and dark times throughout our lives. We use a lot of our own stories in our lyrics, and it is a great way to process things that happen to us. Hopefully, it also helps people to realize they are not alone.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
WE ARE TO BLAME: Each song we have released so far has gotten way more positive response than we could imagine when we started this! All the people listening to what we do, commenting on our social media platforms, sending emails and interacting with us has been a huge support and really pushed us to keep this going. As of now, we are just excited to be in the position we are in and to keep going forward, write new music and enjoy ourselves together with our fans out there!
KEEP IN TOUCH:
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | SPOTIFY | BANDCAMP | WEBSITE | YOUTUBE
Photo credits: Joakim Aukea