Khoma - Like the climate of Sweden
The ones of you who have been following the (metal) news in magazines, e-zines and of course your all-time favorite source of heavy information Metalrage, know that Khoma is just about to release their second record ‘The Second Wave’ through Roadrunner Records. The ones who have been paying attention well know that I was touched by this record and I felt truly honored to talk to Jan Jämte to speak about the band.
Hi, this is Siem from Metalrage. How are you?
I’m ok, I’m a little bit coughing though but please don’t bother it.
Ok, I got a little cold as well. Shall we start then?
Well, with the second album being released next week, Khoma is being compared to bands like Radiohead and Tool which have such a huge fan base and are overwhelmed by positive reactions. How does that make you feel?
*Laughs* I don’t even know what to say about those reacting. It is so amazing to hear such things being said about the cd. We really didn’t expect it to happen and it’s even surprising us at the same time.
The first cd in 2004 ‘Tsunami’, we made that completely for ourselves. It wasn’t even meant to become a cd in the first place. We just wanted to make some music with each other and we knew a friend who had a record company so we could release that album. With the new cd, we were still totally free to keep Khoma’s feelings on the record. We were not restricted and it reflects how everyone feels.
Wow. That sounds amazing. You really describe all these happenings like it’s overwhelming. Do you feel honored to be able to express yourself in this way?
I think I feel happy and thankful. Everything that is a result of this is a bonus. We never thought to release one record. Now we have a second one and we didn’t even think to be on this label. All the things that are being said about us, the hype; we feel like it is happening outside. It doesn’t feel realistic to happen to us, Khoma.
Well, personally I was surprised about the fact that you seem to be able to create an amazing sphere, without that many sounds. Especially at the end of ‘Hyenas’ with the guitar solo and the vocals I almost feel emotionally attached. How do such ideas for songs emerge?
It’s nice of you saying that, because one of my personal favorites is also ‘Hyenas’. When we practice, and I think every band is doing it this way, we just look for the moment where everything around us is no longer important. Then it is just the members of Khoma and at that time, the only important thing is for Khoma to make music, to be creative.
I understand. But still, a lot of bands play a chord like ‘C’ for instance. Maybe tuned lower or higher, have a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge etc. That’s not the case with Khoma is it?
I think a chorus is not important or necessary. The only important thing is that the song is honest, that it is a result of the pure things you feel at a specific moment. We try to get that feeling when we rehearse, play live or listen to the cd. Maybe Khoma is more about creating moods instead of making music. Maybe like in films. Movies often use music to strengthen some kind of emotions being projected on the screen. I think that comes close to what we try to accomplish.
About those emotions. A lot of reviewers explain the album by placing themselves in some setting. Speaking for myself, I projected myself on top of a mountain, maybe a cloudy day, watching the world and thinking about the things you sometimes should think about personally.
Pff, that’s tough to describe in another language. I know the word for it in Swedish, to explain what reactions I personally get but in English… Maybe it’s the feeling to be completely overtaken by the music. Maybe it’s about feelings of freedom, the feeling of being totally calm and relaxed.
Well, what setting would you choose to listen to the album then?
‘The Second Wave’ really fits with the climate of Sweden, you know with the darkness in winter and all the light in summer.
I know what you mean. I’ve been in Helsinki this winter for two months.
Exactly, it’s maybe a little depressed but also free. It works good when driving away from home for a long time on those roads that seems to have no end. It’s a good thing from Khoma that it is able to put all different things together.
So you talk of calm emotions and relaxation. But I’m working for a metal e-zine and I wouldn’t call Khoma metal would you?
No Khoma is not really metal. I thing Khoma actually doesn’t come from one specific scene. We don’t feel like we need to play and sound like something specific. We just started to be together in 2004. And with these members being able to be together we just started to play and make music until we found our own space where all ideas come could emerge.
But is there really one Khoma? I thought that there were three core members and three participants. Could you explain that distinction?
We started with five to six people and play. We did not intend to be a real band in the first place. We didn’t need to be members of something new because we were already seated in different bands, except for myself. We didn’t even aim to release a record. But now, we had one record released and got this opportunity to sign with Roadrunner it is just not possible for everyone to be in Khoma full-time, not everyone is able to play live all the time. So we have a core of three members to write the music and the others help us to perform live, make photos, do the artwork to make Khoma what it is right now. The core exists of three people; Me, Johannes and Fredrik but in total we have about thirteen to fifteen people to help us out and to make Khoma being able to exist.
And when playing live, how man persons are there on stage?
Right now we have six people performing our songs live.
And I’ve heard that last week, the first ‘Second Wave’ show was on the calendar. How was it to play the new songs live?
Yes it was the first gig of this record. It was exciting because we had these songs ready for some time, no we were living with these songs for such a long time now. And we had a lot of fun. Ten minutes afterwards I was totally exhausted. It was funny because some of us thought after five minutes: ‘Come on, let’s go on stage again and do it even better this time!’ Of course that wasn’t possible but it makes clear how much we wanted to play the songs live.
And after this gig, will there be a European tour?
Right now nothing is booked yet. We only have one gig confirmed in Sweden on a festival. But we’re not a band that will be touring all the time. Still, we want to come down and hopefully we will sooner or later. But as you know, everyone is also being very busy with other bands so it would be impossible for us to be touring around all the time.
Then I have a final question, because in your biography you explain the record like ‘For us it is all about freedom and quality of life’. Now I’m a health education student so it’s pretty obvious what quality of life is. But what do you mean about it when explaining Khoma?
Oww, ahm, I think there is actually no real way of defining it. It’s very personal, it’s something you feel. Maybe it’s a way of doing things. Personally I feel bad when I cannot be creative, being involved in everything that is creative about Khoma and states for the creativity we try to express. So creativeness is a component of quality of life.
But it is also people not telling you what to do, not feeling restricted in your needs. Maybe it’s freedom. But then, it’s also relationships and being free in those. Everything is important. Especially when being artistically, it is important to be creatively free. Like you hear someone saying: ‘No one is telling me what to do’.
Ok, so quality of life is more emotional than physical?
Haha, well, I was a swimmer until I was 20. It was a part of my life. There were times not being able to train meant something like dying. Back then I felt like doing nothing was just not possible.
Haha, that’s funny. I’m an athlete myself and I just came home from my training.
Then you know what I’m talking about. Quality of life is about expressing yourself in a way you feel good in. Of course, now the physical part has changed in the musical part so that’s why I talk more about emotions now.
Ok, thank you very much for your time. I wish you all the best with the promotion for the record and hopefully you will be able tom come to Holland some day.
I’d definitely like to that and hopefully we will do that some day. Thank you very much.
And then it was over. Actually it is pretty amazing that I can just speak to someone who is about 1300 kilometers away in Sweden. But, personally speaking, so is ‘The Second Wave’. It’s being released on the 3rd of April. Watch for it!