Poised to release their stunning debut album Puritan Masochism on 24th January, Copenhagen four-piece Konvent already sound like a band ready to take on the world. Combining elements of death, doom and black metal, the Danish quartet are carving out a rich, hypnotic sound of their own, propelled by a distinctive and emotive doom guitar style enhanced with a powerfully commanding death metal vocal presence. Raised on a healthy diet of Black Sabbath and brought together in 2015 through a mutual love of all things heavy, this year should see the quartet break out of their Danish home city and deliver their crushing sound to larger crowds around Europe and beyond.
We spoke to vocalist Rikke Emilie List about the band’s formation, their writing process and her personal hopes for Konvent’s future.
Going back to 2015, how did the four of you meet and how did you decide to form Konvent?
When our first drummer Mette [Marie List] started taking drumming lessons in 2015, her teacher (Nicolai of Dirt Forge) told his roommate that he had started teaching a girl. His roommate was our bass player, Heidi [Withington Brink], and she instantly contacted Mette, asking her if she wanted to start a band. It had been a dream of Heidi’s to start a band for a long time but all the musicians she asked didn’t have time in their schedules to start a new project. Given that both Mette and Heidi were more or less on the same level on their instruments, a band also seemed like an ideal opportunity to practise as well as write music. They looked for a guitar player and asked Mette’s study buddy Alexander (also from Dirt Forge) if he would suggest the idea to his girlfriend Sara [Helena Nørregaard], who Mette knew had previously played in a band. They also needed a vocalist and asked me (Mette’s sister), because I had been taking extreme metal vocal lessons with a metal vocalist for about six months at that time. I was game and we all met up at a rented rehearsal space for an afternoon and tried jamming to The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. The vibe was good and we decided to form the band and get our own rehearsal space. After three years, Mette had to quit the band due to her studies and we were very lucky to find Julie [Simonsen]. Julie was only 18 at the time but had played the drums for six years and blew us away with her talent when she auditioned, and it was a no-brainer. Our final formation was established.
Who were your early influences, which bands got you into metal?
All of our Dads raised us on Black Sabbath. When Julie was little, she and her dad also listened to Kiss and Led Zeppelin a lot. When Sara first learned the guitar as a teenager, her biggest influence was Nirvana. Heidi was a big fan of The Darkness in her teens. In my early high school years I was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers a lot but then I discovered Rammstein and became a huge fan.
What’s the current metal scene like in Copenhagen, in particular the death and/or doom scenes?
All four of us live in Copenhagen and there are so many awesome Danish metal bands that we have the opportunity to go see. Looking at the live music scene in Copenhagen today it seems like it’s only getting better and better. There’s a big underground metal scene and loads of great bands to check out. There are a lot of venues putting up metal gigs, with both local and international bands, and our calendars are basically always full of shows that we want to go to. But it does happen that our favourite bands go on a European tour and then don’t visit Copenhagen or Denmark at all. There are a few doom bands in Denmark but that scene is not nearly as dominant as the death metal scene.
Metal can often be a very male dominated environment. Have you come up against any challenges or difficulties in achieving your goals so far as a result of this?
Absolutely not. When I first joined the band, it was actually with my fists raised caused I assumed that we would be getting stupid comments based on our gender, but that never happened. Everybody (men and women) have been very supportive and curious about our band and the fact that we’re all women hasn’t really been a big deal.
What advice would you give to any young girls or women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Do it. Don’t think about, just do it. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will have band conflicts. But all those things will make you better, more skilled and stronger. You don’t have to be perfect at your instrument or vocals before you form a band. You can learn as you go. And remember that even the most talented and experienced metal musicians out there still make mistakes on stage in front of everybody, but it doesn’t stop them.
Before playing our first concert, we were literally shaking. It was absolutely horrible, but we did it, we didn’t die and from then on it just got easier.
Puritan Masochism feels like quite a leap forward from your debut EP. What was different this time round in terms of the writing and recording process?
We were very happy with Patrick Fragstrup from Wolfrider Studios who produced our demo. But when it came to our debut album, we wanted the producer to be someone with a bit more experience. We had heard a lot of good things about Lasse Ballade from Ballade Studios, so he was the obvious choice and we couldn’t be happier! He had so many ideas, knew how to get our best and was very patient when we started our “bro talks”, haha.
With your sound incorporating elements of death, doom and black metal, do you ever feel yourselves being pulled in one musical direction over another, or do you all kind of meet in the middle when writing?
When Sara and Heidi write riffs at home, they don’t think about fitting them into a certain box, they just write. We want to keep challenging ourselves and not stagnate or feel like we have to fit into a certain genre.
You’ve stated that the title-track is about how we as humans tend to compare ourselves to others, almost setting ourselves up for failure. Is this something you’ve experienced personally?
It’s about doing things or thinking things that actually hurt yourself, which for example could be comparing yourself to others. I think everybody compares themselves to others all the time. It’s a switch that’s hard to turn off, and it’s hard to ask yourself what actually makes you happy, if you have to leave other people out of the equation. We like to dive into dilemmas and worries like that, when we write lyrics.
What further detail can you go into regarding the album’s lyrics? Is there one central theme, or are the songs quite different from each other in that respect?
When we first started writing the album, we talked about setting an overall theme of losing control of your life. But we don’t like to go too much into details about the lyrics because we greatly appreciate it when the listener can make up their own stories and images in their heads.
What are your plans for 2020 and beyond, do you have any long term goals for Konvent?
We are about to head out on our release tour which will take us around Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. In the Summer we will be playing Gefle Metal Festival in Sweden and In Flammen in Germany. In the Autumn we will be going to the UK for the HRH Vikings Chapter III, which will be the first time for us to go to a viking festival, haha. But of course we would love to add more dates to our schedule! We are already writing new material, so 2020 definitely won’t be a boring year for us!
Our longterm goals are to play outside of Europe and our biggest dream is to play at 70,000 Tons of Metal, haha!
Puritan Masochism is out 24th January via Napalm Records. Our review can be read here.
Words: Adam Pegg